Archive for Walking
While posting a series about my London stay, I bumped into that great American holiday Thanksgiving. Deciding to hold off on sharing my London food finds until we had made our way through the end of the year, I now find myself well into February. Given our current clImate, it’s an opportune time to talk about the wonderful foods of London and what each cuisine brings to the table, literally and figuratively.
My first find was a simple meal which will stay etched in my memory as the ideal post-theatre snack. After an evening show, we returned to South Kensington in need of just a light something. Of all the small Italian eateries lining Brompton Road, we found the one that satisfied that need. I noted the name of the restaurant as Pasta by Mama, but I don’t think that is correct. If any readers identify the insignia on the plate above, please help me out with the correct name.
Our next find was during an exploration among the narrow streets of Spitalfields. This immigrant community has also become an area energized by a young crowd of fashionistas making their way through open air markets, small shops and outdoor cafés. We opted for Shad, a Bangladeshi restaurant housed in a building on Brick Lane home to earlier restaurants. The building can be identified by the frying pan atop, an emblem historically used by braziers. As we enjoyed our meal, a large screen television was showing live footage of the Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.
Along with scoping of restaurant finds on our own, we benefited from friends living in London and friends of friends who shared their dining favorites.
One of those friends shared a favorite stop on the South Bank, the Green Room. I felt at home in this neighbourhood diner serving British food in an open airy space. Seating includes props and scenery used at earlier shows at the National Theatre, located nearby.
Later in my stay, I met with Elizabeth again for a lecture at the National Gallery and tea at the exquisite Ham Yard Hotel hidden away in a courtyard near Soho.
Stopping for tea and a light lunch is such an enjoyable way to spend time with friends. I rendezvoused with Katherine at the Victoria and Albert Museum . We met several years ago on the Iron and Ice voyage, two of the few travelers on that journey who enjoyed sightseeing on foot.
My travel partner reached out to a friend of a friend in the Somali community of London. He shared with us a favorite of his, Yogiz Dairybar & Eatery located near Stratford and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. We enjoyed lamb on a bed of rice with condiments on the side. I learned that a banana is generally served with all Somali meals and is sliced and eaten along with the main dish. We also enjoyed the samosa (or sambas, a pastry with savory filling) and a cup of tea.
Finally, let’s talk about the first meal of the day: Breakfast. My best breakfast during the London stay was definitely British. On a misty morning at the Holland Park Cafe, I chose the Traditional English Breakfast and was totally satisfied with the choice. It included some of the most flavorful sausage I have had. From the eggs to the tomato, I could identify the freshness in each bite.
There you have it. Mix in friends and acquaintances old and new, some familiar cuisine, and some that stretches your palette and dining experience. The result will be warm memories and new food knowledge to take home with you.
To enhance your travel and dining, I suggest keeping an open mind and an inquisitive palate.
When I saw a January 1 mid-day hike at a nearby state park posted on Meetup, i signed up. I expected to meet with six or eight other hikers usually hiking with the group.
Instead, the parking lot was filled with families, dogs, groups of friends, all ready to begin their new year following a trail through the woods of a state park.
All in all, more than one hundred of us followed volunteers from Friends of Pine Grove Furnace State Park with Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn along the leaf-covered trail.
It seems I am a latecomer to the first-day hikes. State parks across the USA have been hosting hikes on January 1 for the last six years. In Pennsylvania alone this year, hikes were occurring at different times of day and night at more than 20 locations. That included a Last Night Hike in one park where they rang in the new year on the trail. Another park hosted a night hike that focused on owls in the park.
My particular hike distance was just over three miles. That distance was fine for me as I’ve been nursing a minor injury. Leaders took us down a relatively flat and newly renovated Mountain Creek Trail.Although Laurel Lake at the start was frozen over, temperature at hike time was in the high 40’s. The hot chocolate and cookies at the mid-way point were an unexpected treat provided by park volunteers.
I’m thinking this will be a great new tradition. Probably not the same state park, but wherever I happen to be on January 1, I will be looking for a First Day Hike.
Tell me about your First Day. Any hikers who found yourselves in a state park?
Seldom do I give advice, but for post-marathon days there is a process I believe is essential: Be moderately active, but as lazy as possible. Take for instance, my Chicago Marathon post-race day plan and execution:
1. Book a flight late in the day to provide some lazy morning time. This allows a runner to wake hungry during the night, dig into their goodie bag of miscellaneous bars and fruit, then fall back asleep until the sun peeks through the curtain.
(Too early in the morning for a goodie bag photo.)
2. Walk out of the hotel with no particular destination other than water and sunshine.
3. Learn something even though you didn’t intend to, such as Chicago’s use of solar compactors discovered on our stroll down the street.
4. Watch a fleet of sailboats patiently wait for one the drawbridges to open.
5. Take a silly selfie.
6. Observe Chicagoans outdoing us in the “kick-back” category as they spend their Columbus day kayaking the river, doing some toe-dipping in the fountains and napping in Centennial Park.
7. Find something you didn’t expect to see. For us it was a building that looked like it has always been in the South Loop, but it wasn’t familiar to me.
We asked a couple of Chicago’s finest who happened to be waiting to direct traffic for the parade route (remember, it’s Columbus Day). We learned the building is the Harold Washington Library Center. After a peak inside (well, more than a peak, we stayed awhile and had to convince ourselves to finally leave), we learned it hasn’t always been here. A research librarian told us it was built in the 1980s and opened in 1991.
8. Enjoy the parade. Step back out in the sunshine, find a place to sit on the curb and watch as bands, politicians and vintage vehicles pass by. Yesterday, you and 40,000 other marathoners were the parade. Today, it’s their turn.
Although primarily Italian American, there was participation from every ethnic and cultural group and political organization I was aware of in this city.
9. Retrieve bags from the hotel, grab a cab for Union Station and wave your sister off on the commuter bus.
10. Depart like a real Chicagoan and take the El train to the airport. (Thank you strong young guy who offered to carry my bag up the two flights of stairs to the platform.)
That’s my strategy for a kick-back post-marathon day. How does yours compare?
I registered for park runs several years ago when I first learned of them from a British blogger. For anyone unfamiliar, park runs are free timed 5K’s run entirely by volunteers. They are not about racing, but about running for everyone. Each park run provides an accurately measured course and timing to allow the runner or walker to compare results against themselves over weeks or years.
So far, we have only a couple of park runs in the USA. Although none near my home, a runner need register only once and you are set to run a park run anywhere they are held. I registered with the organization and received my initial sheet of bar codes. Since receiving the bar codes, they have been sitting in my miscellaneous running folder. I thought to pull them out to travel with me to London.
London was a great location to experience my first park run. Since there are more than 100 park runs established within the 32 boroughs of London, I had a wide selection to choose from.
I decided on one about five underground stops from me. Convenient, and I liked the sound of the name: Putney Green. The Putney Green stop is only a few blocks from the Fulham Palace Park Run. The 5K takes place in Bishop’s Park near the Fulham Palace, home to bishops since 700 (yes, that’s right – 700).
The course is two and a half laps around the park, so runners are running along the River Thames for a distance three separate times during the 5K. One of the runners informed me that this portion of the river is the site of the Cambridge University Boat Club and the Oxford University Boat Club boat races, renowned in Britain.
Several hundred runners turned out for Saturday’s park run here. A friendly group, as are most runners around the world. I was putting in a medium hard effort but wanted to enjoy the run and the running company, having done a number of solo runs the previous couple of weeks.
With a total of 340 participants at this run, finish times were in a wide range, Several runners at the front of the pack did sub 18-minutes, with first place at 16:48. There were a number of walkers and several families running together. I fell somewhere mid-pack with a time of 27:07.
Along with the clock time, results also show each participant’s age-graded percentage, a nice plus. Within a couple of hours, participants received an email with their time and place. My email came with a nice congratulation on having run my first park run. If I do more park runs anywhere in the world, those results will be available along with my results at Fulham Palace.
Following the event, runners were invited to join others at the Drawing Room Café in the Bishop’s Palace. The café offered a selection of coffees and teas along with wonderful pastries and artisan sandwiches. Although the interior of the cafe was lovely, so was the day. That brought most of the post-run group to outdoor tables overlooking an expansive green.
The park run morning offered an opportunity to visit a borough of London I had not yet seen. When and if the opportunity presents itself, I will return for the friendly company and historic sites that are a part of everyday life.
If you get a chance to do a park run while traveling anywhere, take the opportunity. You simply need to register with the organization prior to participating and remember to bring one of the bar codes (you will receive these in the mail after registering) with you.
I look forward to hearing about your next park run, especially if it is your first.
Come with me on my longest marathon training run through the streets and parks of London. The course I primarily followed was a 20-22 miler found online courtesy of the Serpentine Running Club.
It’s a cool, misting Saturday morning, perfect for a marathon training run. Pacing will be a problem on this route. We’ll just do the best we can and enjoy the route.
Let’s start just north of the South Kensington station making our way on the street between the Victoria & Alfred Museum
and the ever popular Natural Science Museum.
At Mile 2, we’re moving into Hyde Park.
At mile 3, we’re at the Buck Hill Gate of Hyde Park.
Mile 4 & 5 takes us through Kensington Park past Kensington Palace and its gardens.
By Mile 6, we are headed south looking at the Chelsea Kitchen restaurant across Kings Road.
Mile 7, just down the road we find the Chelsea Football Club.
Mile 8 brings us to Imperial Wharf. And here is where we get a bit confused, with traffic rerouted and pedestrian walkways closed. We’ll put on a couple of miles chasing in circles until a fellow runner helps us find our way to the Thames path.
Mile 10, the rain begins to pick up as we pass the beautiful small Cremorne Gardens. We’ll forego the photo since the rain is hampering the view.
Mile 11, here we go crossing the Thames River for the first of several times on this route. We take the Battersea Bridge across to Battersea Park.
At mile 12 through Battersea Park, there is plenty of open space and beautifully maintained playing fields as well as a fantastic track.
From Battersea, we head back across the Thames on the Chelsea Bridge. The sky in the photo below tells you we have more miles of sloshing to go.
Mile 13, we are passing Pimlico Park. and stopping a moment to enjoy this little jewel. The rain lets up a bit just in time for a photo.
It’s then time to cross the Thames again, this mile on the Vauxhall Bridge.
It’s also an opportunity to see the Thames at low tide.
Through Mile 14 & 15, the crowds along the river are so thick that anything more than a fast walk isn’t possible without moving away from the river and chancing getting lost. (Didn’t I warn about pacing problems earlier?)
It does provide the chance to do some touristy stuff as we walk past the skateboard park
and get a photo with river traffic, Parliament and Big Ben in the background.
By Mile 16.5, we are at the Tower Bridge.
Back in London at Mile 18, we’re making our way across through heavier rain and heavier tourist pedestrian traffic. They are undeterred by the rain so we’re in for another mile or so of fast walk/jogging.
Most of the crowd is here to see London Tower which is worth seeing in any weather with probably 1500 years of history within its walls.
Now heading back to our start up Westminster, we are around Mile 19 and we hear church bells ringing as we edge along the perimeter of Saint James’s Park.
Having picked up extra mileage through our mistakes on the course in Chelsea, we don’t complete the area around Green Park but as we approach Mile 20, we do get a chance to peer in to Buckingham Palace.
Finally around Mile 21, we pass by the Marble Arch and back into Hyde Park.
We run along it perimeter until it joins Kensington Park. Here, we will cross the street and cut around the amazing Royal Albert Hall with the rain still coming down.
Wet and weary, let’s finish up on the backside of the Natural History Museum and call it a day.
Although it was a bit of an unorthodox run, the miles are done. Thanks for joining me. It’s always good to have someone along putting in the miles.
Most of us don’t need motivation to get out on the trail, but if that is the case for you I have a film to recommend. This week, thanks to one of my local libraries, I had the opportunity to see a documentary film, “Trail Magic – the Grandma Gatewood Story.” Director Peter Huston was on hand for discussion.
The tale of Emma Gatewood is intriguing; a woman raised in Appalachia who survived a 20-year marriage to a wife batterer while raising a large family. After raising her children, divorcing her husband and a chance reading of an old National Geographic article about the Appalachian Trail, she threw a few things in a bag and set off. Emma, known as Grandma Gatewood on the trail, became the first woman to through hike, making her way from Georgia to Maine.
That’s the overview of a woman who set out for a long walk and in doing so ultimately became a celebrity and then used that celebrity and knowledge to be a vital force for establishing trails in her home state of Ohio
Although the film is intriguing, I plan to pick up Ben Montgomery’s book “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk” to learn more about this woman’s life.
I thought of her as I was on the AT for the first time since February. I joined a group for a fast-paced after-work hike up Blue Mountain. Her notoriety and eccentricities are a part of why that trail is there for you and me today, to through hike, go out for a trail run if we choose or simply put in a fast-paced after work hike.
The film is being presented at a number of locations. Check the links on the Facebook page for upcoming showings and discussion.
Would any of us complete a successful through-hike in a pair of Keds, know how to supplement food from the forest and have the gumption to knock on doors asking for a meal along the way? Not me. But I will take that after-work hike and the occasional trail run. Thanks, Emma.
There is no other way to say it. I’ve fallen in love with Cheyenne, Wyoming.
On a recent travel exchange with Friendship Force, I was introduced to this wonderful city and the surrounding area. The scenery, outdoor lifestyle, friendly people and food made for a memorable trip.
Our band of 16 travelers was hosted in the homes of Cheyenne Friendship Force club members. From my host’s home, after giving myself a couple of days to adjust to the 6,500 ft. elevation, I slipped out the door for some early morning runs. A nearby dirt road led me up a steep hill to the water tower and a ranch meeting the outskirts of the city.
I supplemented those runs with several hikes during the week. For our first hikes and sightseeing, we dressed in layers ready for weather changes and cooler temperatures as we would gradually climb to around 10,000 feet.
Our convoy route took us through Laramie, then slightly south dipping into northern Colorado for a few miles before turning north again. Along with fields of cattle and horses, we spotted antelope, mule deer, elk and goats. Sadly, we also saw fallen trees and others still standing but with dried dead limbs, evidence of the pine beetle destruction known as beetle kill. Enroute, the mostly brown flat land turned to hills, then craggy mountainous region.
With a stop and museum tour in Encampment, we enjoyed our first of several delicious picnic lunches eaten in the brisk, thin mountain air.
With fall weather changing from sunshine to rain to sleet and back to sunshine again, we proceeded to Aspen Alley and the Snowy Range. Making our way across Medicine Bow National Forest we appreciated the beauty of the gold leaves of the aspen where trees had not quite peaked, but were lovely nonetheless. Standing quietly at the edge of the forest, the aspen make a murmuring sound our hosts described as trembling.
Some of us decided to hike the road through the Alley and meet drivers on the opposite end. We then continued on driving by or making stops and short hikes at Silver Lake, Mirror Lake, Snowy Range Lookout points and Libby Flats at altitudes up to 10,800 feet.
We stopped at the Continental Divide near Centennial (think James Michener’s novel by that title) where we later had stopped at the Old Corral for dinner. The building is authentic western with large tables and wooden walls. not to mention a worthwhile gift shop and a hotel, frequented by cyclists, hikers and sightseers.
Wyoming has a beautiful wide-open sky. This particular day, it put on a spectacular show with a morning rainbow that guided us through the first hour or so as we dipped south, closing our day with a distant evening lightning show during the dark drive back to Cheyenne.
So ends our first full day of this trip. So much more to tell on another Travel Tuesday.