A golden Spring walk

It is Spring, and fresh things are blossoming and beginning.

Fittingly, I start a new job at the end of this month, and I am beginning to think about how I will commute there. For the last fifteen months, I've had an incredibly easy journey to work – I'm based in a hospital that's just a ten minute walk from home. The new job is a little further away, but still a short commute by London standards. I could catch the tube (just four stops – and thirty minutes door-to-door), or I could cycle (I think about thirty minutes too), or I could run!

Running to work wouldn't be as hardcore as it sounds. I would start by running home, just once a week, and then slowly (over six months or more) build up to the point where I could run either in or back, two or maybe three times a week, and cycle and tube the rest of the time. My shifts are going to be shorter than the ones I do in my current job (10 hours rather than 13), and they start and finish at varied times (I will do a mixture of earlies, middles and lates) – so to some extent how I commute will be dictated by what shift I am working (I would happily run home after an early but not after a late, for example).

Google maps told me that the run would be between 8km and 9km, which is well within my capabilities, so today I set out to figure out precisely what my route would be – right down to which side of the road would be best to run on, and where to cross major junctions. I caught the tube to my new hospital, and then turned around and set out to walk back home.

Appropriately for a spring walk, I discovered when I stopped for lunch that I'd inadvertently been taking photographs of all things yellow. Flowers, street art, an ice cream van…I think maybe at this time of year, the fresh, clean yellow of the ubiquitous daffodils wakes me up and energises me, so that my eye is drawn to other objects of the same colour.

And when my food arrived, I laughed out loud, because it seemed I was still drawn to golden yellow shades. This is at the wonderful Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick, right next to the Olympic Park, where they serve the best pizzas I have EVER eaten. This was a sweet potato, Stilton and walnut pizza, which I washed down with a pint of their best cider.

As I walked out of the far side of the Olympic Park, and arrived back in Leyton I knew exactly which road I would have to take back home: the one that takes me past 'the yellow house'…

…where, amazingly there was a woman walking past in a yellow coat as I stopped to take a photo.

How do you commute to work? Would you ever consider running as part of your commute? Do you have a choice of how you can commute? I'd love to know.



The details in the fabric*

This is a decorated piece of discarded chewing gum on the Millennium Bridge in central London; it's about 2cm by 2cm and most people walking over the bridge would just glimpse something colourful out of the corner of their eye and carry on walking, admiring the stunning views of the Shard, St Paul's and the river. But I was curious enough to squat down, take a photo, and look at it more closely (causing a little bit of a pedestrian traffic jam – sorry, folks).

It turns out that there are hundreds of these tiny works of art on the bridge. Once your eye tunes into them you realise they are all over the walkway. Aren't they lovely?

They are made by Ben Wilson, popularly known as Chewing Gum Man; you can find out more about his tiny works of art here.

I was on my way to the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey – a lesser well known gem of a museum, about five minutes' walk from Borough Market, that is well worth a visit if you've not been before. Their current exhibition is Liberty In Fashion, and I was so excited to be going. I have loved Liberty designs since I was a teenager, when I used to buy quarter metres of Ianthe Art Nouveau tana lawn in the red colourway (no longer made it seems), to embellish my denim jackets and jeans. This is still my most favourite Liberty print – in any colour – and I still think it goes beautifully with denim.

The exhibition had dresses, jackets, stoles, scarves, skirts and blouses from the last 140 years – all made from Liberty fabrics, and many of them made by Liberty too. My favourites were the ones from the turn of the 20th Century and the 1930s because the garment construction was as exquisite as the fabrics.

I love the tiny floral prints, and the beautiful smocking, piping and gathering details that make the dresses so glorious.

Tiny things, made with care and attention to detail; I think they're just as enchanting when they're made from old chewing gum as they are when made from silk or lawn.

*I lifted the title of this blog post from the Jason Mraz song of the same name – thank you, Jason Mraz! It's one of my favourite songs – and not just because it has the word 'fabric' in the title.


Out of doors

I’m just coming to the end of three days off, and I’ve spent spent most of my time out of doors. On Monday when I came off nights I HAD to have a few hours sleep before I could do anything. As it was sunny and crisp, I slept on the sofa with the window wide open next to me (and a quilt on top of me so that I was still cosy enough to sleep). It was blissful.

Later that day Olivia and I went to a yoga lesson in our local park. This class is put on by Our Parks – an amazing scheme which offers free outdoor exercise classes to local residents in parks across London (you can see which boroughs are a part of Our Parks here). Yoga with my girl was just what I needed after a run of nightshifts. We stretched and bent ourselves into unexpected shapes as the sun set across the park, and I let go of everything that had been difficult and challenging at work over the weekend.

Then yesterday I went for a massive thirteen mile walk along the canals of East London – with a delightful lunch date in Broadway Market in Hackney to break things up halfway through. Canal walks are always a joy – so much to see: boats, houses, bridges, locks, ducks, swans, factories and street art.

Today I went out to Epping Forest to see if I could find any signs of autumn. I am eager for autumn: it’s by far my favourite time of year. I had a joyous walk, even though autumn has barely begun to make itself known here and it’s still very mild and green.

After all this fresh air and exercise I don’t mind going back into the ITU for a few days – and maybe when I go back to Epping Forest at the end of next week, there will be a few more signs of autumn.
















Releasing the pause button

I had two and a half weeks off between the shifts, and we went down to South West France to stay with family. We were looked after, loved, fed and plied with wine.


I felt a very long way from the home, especially when Graham and I were hiking in the forests and river gorges.

We're back in London and back at work now; and as wonderful and soul-restoring as a summer holiday is, it's also lovely to be back home. I am realising that my days off have acquired a routine and a rhythm too over the past few months. I enjoy routine, but our holiday has left me restless and I am now craving an injection of something new. So I've started a list of adventures – large and small – to be done on days off.

Let's see where they take me.