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I come across quite a few people in London who, aside from travelling abroad, have rarely ventured outside of the M25. There’s often the assumption that the north is full of pit villages and that it’s ‘grim up north’. This happens more often than you would think, so I always have a photo of Tynemouth beach looking all beautiful so I can belligerently push it in their face show them just how beautiful it is.

Tynemouth is a small town near where my other half, Joe, grew up. It’s full of little independent restaurants and cute boutique shops on the main street, Front Street. Then there are the two beaches – Longsands and King Edward’s Bay, the latter of which has a cute fish shack serving up whatever the local fishermen have caught that day. If they haven’t caught anything, it won’t be open! Both beaches are ridiculously clean and never seem to get horrendously busy. Although the same can’t be said for nearby parking.

Here are a few food and drink recommendations off the top of my head:

  • Dil & The Bear // HERE //  Cute spot for coffee and cake.
  • Longsands Fish Kitchen // HERE // Fish and chips! It also has a really nice restaurant at the back that does brilliant seafood.
  • Riley’s Fish Shack // HERE // I’ve not actually been here yet, it’s always been closed when we’ve tried to visit as per the explanation above, but I hear AMAZING things.
  • Davanti Classico // HERE // A nice Italian that’s always busy. I’ve had both pasta and pizza here. It’s really good simple food.
  • Crusoe’s // HERE // I’ve not ever been here for food, but it’s a nice spot to have a drink as it’s right on Longsands beach.
  • Di Mio’s Delaval Ices // HERE // This is a little bit further up the coastline but it’s SO worth the walk. It’s hands down the best ice cream in the world and has won a shitload lots of awards to prove so.

It’s a really lovely part of the UK that not a lot of people from the outside the area know about, so if you’re in need of a weekend break, might I suggest you visit beautiful Tynemouth.

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Want to know a little secret about running? No one actually enjoys it. Sweeping generalisation there I know, but the majority of people I speak to who run say that sure, the feeling afterwards is great, but the actual run itself? It’s a love-hate relationship.

I got into running about 3 years ago now and trust me when I say that I never thought I would be a runner. I was the one at school that would do absolutely anything to get out of crosscountry. It’s funny because I felt like no one ever taught me how to ‘run’ and by that I mean the breathing techniques, the strategy to pace yourself etc. I think if my PE teachers had taught me this at school, I wouldn’t have developed such a phobia of running.

It was actually Joe, my other half, who randomly suggested we started running. He’s from Newcastle and said that he’d always wanted to run The Great North Run half marathon. I, unapologetically, laughed in his face when he suggested we do it, but I did agree to have a go at running again.

I’ll never forget the first ‘run’ we did on the beach. I literally had to stop and start every minute because I was so out of breath. I honestly thought I might collapse, but I pushed through and over the course of the next couple of months I did the couch to 5K training programme. I can’t recommend this enough if you’re new to running. They even have dedicated apps that coach you along now. When I ran for 20 minutes straight for the first time I actually couldn’t believe it and it was at that point I knew I’d caught the running bug.

A few months later I did my first 5K and shortly afterwards I decided that I was going to do the half marathon too. I did a training plan through the Nike run app this time. I’m not going to lie, there were parts that were hell. I remember doing a 10 mile run in the summer heat and wanting to curl up in a ball.

When September rolled around I could not have been more scared for the half marathon, but the energy and atmosphere were electric. I’ve not really experienced anything like it before. Plus, Geordie’s are SO friendly so the amount of cheering and handing out of sweets/ice pops really helped push me along. I ran solidly up until mile 11, at which point I had a little walk for 5 minutes because my hip was killing, then carried on. The feeling when I finished was just unreal and I rode off that for a good few weeks meaning I didn’t go out for another run for a couple of months.

When I started back up again it was hell, so lesson learnt, give yourself a little break but get straight back into it. I’m one of those people that needs ‘the fear’ to run, so I’m a big advocate of signing up to a race to ensure you stick to your running plan and fit your runs into your schedule, which leads me nicely to where I am now. I’ve got a 10K planned at the weekend the final KM is around the Olympic Stadium so I’ll be able to practice my Usain Bolt pose.

So after a lot of waffling, here are my top tips for running:

  • Start slowly. If you have to stop frequently that’s fine – it’s part of the process.
  • Read up on running breathing techniques unless you want to be gasping for air after 5 minutes.
  • Don’t invest in fancy running trainers until you’re sure you’re going to continue with running, otherwise, it’s just a huge waste of money.
  • If you are going to invest in running trainers, go to a proper store and don’t buy online. Get a gait analysis done at the same time as you might need insoles.
  • 1000 mile socks will save you countless blisters. They’re made of an internal sock, and an outer sock so the material doesn’t rub against you when running.
  • Use the Nike running app. I’ve tried them all and Nike is the most accurate. MapMyRun is hideously inaccurate in my experience. It once told me I ran a 02:36 KM – utter bollocks!
  • Wear running leggings/tights that actually fit. The last thing you want whilst you’re ‘in the zone’ is your pants riding down. My favourite ones are these Nike Epic Lux Capri ones because the waistband is really wide.
  • Get a banging playlist. I’m unashamedly a fan of 90’s/early 00’s dance/trance. Think ‘fly on the wings of love’ by XTM & DJ Chucky. Clubland FTW.
  • Running is 100% mind over matter. Your body is meant to run. If you’re having a difficult run and you’ve not got any impediments, it’s your mindset holding you back. Just tell yourself that your body is so capable of running and that you’re going to smash it.
  • It’s not enough to just ‘run’ if you want to be fit. Try adding in HIT sessions and strength training into your workouts – it’ll make a massive difference to your run. I’m aware of how much of a bore I sound right now…
  • Work out your best time to run. I will never, ever, be an early morning runner. I’ve tried it a few times but it’s just not for me.

Do you enjoy running? Do you have any tips I’ve missed off?

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If you ever have a few hours spare in London, get yourself up to the Sky Garden for a cocktail, or 3. Located at 20 Fenchurch Street, otherwise known as the walkie talkie building, the Sky Garden offers panoramic views of London from 35 floors up, so is definitely something to add to your London bucket list.

Visiting the Sky Garden is completely free, all you have to do is book online. However, it does tend to get fully booked up at the popular times, as you’d expect. Within the Sky Garden, there’s the Sky Pod Bar (the main part of the Sky Garden where those that have just booked to come to see the views tend to walk around), Darwin’s restaurant and apparently another bar and another restaurant that I’ve not seen. I’ve visited Darwin’s once for work. I’ll be honest and say I thought it was a little style over substance, so save your pennies and have a few drinks in the Sky Pod Bar, then go somewhere else for dinner.

With regards to the Sky Pod Bar, cocktails are around £12 and there’s a service charge too. Nothing crazy given it’s London after all, but something to keep in mind. Most recently I tried the Chelsea Garden – a lovely gin-based cocktail which was delicious and far too easy to drink.

I always say that the Sky Garden is brilliant first date territory – impressive views, good music, and delicious cocktails!

Details:

  • Address: 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 8AF
  • Transport: The nearest tube is Monument. Canon Street is the nearest train station and is about a 10-minute walk.
  • Website: http://skygarden.london/
  • Booking: Advised.

 

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Last weekend Joe, my brother Tom and I climbed the O2. I bought it as a little present to them both, Tom for his birthday and Joe for getting a new job recently. It’s always been something I wanted to do seeing as it’s so close to where we live in Greenwich, so last Saturday we headed down to North Greenwich.

You start off with a quick briefing where you’re talked through the structure of the O2, a bit about its history and shown a walk-through of the actual climb. Next you get all your gear. I’d advise against wearing a skirt/dress because of the harness you put on – not flattering and most likely you’ll flash everyone too! You also get either a boiler suit or gillet (depending on the time of year you climb), a safety chain/lock that attaches to the front of your harness and climbing shoes – bring socks! You climb the O2 in groups of around 15, with the whole experience lasting around 90 minutes.

The walk up itself is quite steep at some points (the highest incline is 30°) and if you’re scared of heights (the highest point is 52 metres) then it might be one to give a miss. The walkway is made of fabric and feels almost like a trampoline. It’s very bouncy so if someone in front of you jumps, the whole thing moves! The guide who takes you over advises against this though!

Once you reach the summit there’s an observation platform that gives amazing views of East London. We spotted the Shard, the Olympic Park, the Thames Barrier, Maritime Greenwich, as well as brilliant views of Canary Wharf too.

I loved our climb up the O2 would really recommend it – definitely one to add to your London bucket list! They also do a sunset climb and twilight climb too, both of which sound amazing!

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Hebden Bridge is a resilient little place. I’ve been visiting for the majority of my life and each time there’s a horrible flood that threatens homes and businesses, it seems to bounce right back. It’s the perfect place for a weekend stroll, as it’s full of quirky shops, independent cafes, and beautiful buildings. I recently visited there whilst I was back up north so I thought I’d round up some of my favourite spots.

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The Yorkshire Soap Company // 6 Market Street // HERE – Think Lush, but better. This place is an Instagrammers heaven. You’ll easily spot it on the high street because it has a stream of bubbles drifting through the air. They do excellent bath bombs that make fantastic presents (they gift wrap everything really well too), as well as all your usual bath potions and lotions.

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Jules China & Tableware // 2 Garden Street // HERE – A crockery addict’s heaven. I adore this place that’s stacked high with plates, bowls, mugs and other china and tableware. My favourite section is the blue and white section (house goals), but make sure you take a look upstairs too.

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Mooch Café // 24 Market Street // HERE – A cute little café with amazing sandwiches, salads, and other homemade delights. I get their cranberry and brie ciabatta – delicious! They also do lovely cakes and the staff are so friendly. It’s the perfect place to mooch about (ha, geddit?) for a couple of hours.

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The Lamppost Café // 13-15 Bridge Gate // HERE – Another lovely café that, as well as serving sandwiches and salads, also caters for man’s best friend. Pooches can get dog ice cream (!), dog beer, dog cupcakes and other treats, which actually look just as tasty as the human equivalent!

Old Gate // 1-4 Old Gate // HERE – I’ve never actually tried the food here, but it’s perfect for a drink in the sun. It does tend to get quite busy in the summer months – definitely a sun trap!

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Something Sweet // 11 Bridge Gate // HERE – I dare you to go here and not leave with something! Their homemade fudge is an absolute must, plus they’ve got all your favourite old-fashioned sweeties, as well as lots of imported chocolate and candy too.

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There’s also the farmers market that runs every weekend, plus there are a few other spots such as Organic House Cafe and Spirals, but unfortunately due to the winter floods they’re not quite back up and running yet. I’m sure they’ll be back on their feet in no time!

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