ON RUNNING

I am definitely not made for running. I famously tried once to run (slowly) for three days in a row – having not really run at all prior – aged 15, and ended up in bed all day, projectile vomiting on the fourth. My body finds running disagreeable.

A podiatrist who treated my feet several years ago and prescribed me incredibly expensive insoles (one of which I also famously managed to lose on a night out last term. How one manages to lose a shoe and insert at 3am on Oxford Street remains a mystery. Bins were scavenged and checked the following morning, to no avail). My arches were declared a lost cause, and my pronation a source of distress. I was told I would be able to walk a more pain free if I always remembered to wear my insoles and promised to buy supportive footwear (I unfortunately have not touched a supportive sandal since), and abstained from heels (something I have also failed to do). Running was off the cards unless I bought a second and equally expensive pair of insoles in a different shape, with vague threats about my Achilles coming away from my foot.

Fast forward to the second year of uni and I became a little bored of in-gym cardio. It’s pleasant sometimes. I can go on my phone, and don’t break a sweat. There’s air-con, and no chance of running into pedestrians. I already spend enough time as it is in the gym though, and decided I wanted to see a little more of London – and what better way to do it than at a pace.

Okay, admittedly a slow pace. I ran like a snail to Hampstead Heath in September. It took me 20 mins and I was very out of breath afterwards. I caught the tube home. Those of you that have followed or dabbled in couch to 5km will know that it isn’t easy, starting to run. Most people don’t keep up the commitment either, but I’ve come to enjoy it as a designated period for thinking things over, blasting Spotify, getting out into some greenery in the midst of London, and seeing about 20 dogs a morning. Unfortunately I’m such a massive creature of habit that I have now run the exact same route consistently for 8 months, but I’m still pretty happy.

tan enough to hide how red I am

Running a half-marathon was initially my friends’ idea. I’m pretty passionate about mental health awareness and would like to raise both funds and awareness. It seemed like a pretty obvious way to combine the two. I didn’t really train as such, just continued to run for an hour, 2-3 x a week around Hampstead and back. I did the equivalent distance of 26km once the weekend prior and found it pretty gruelling – and that even with a coffee break in the middle.

The actual half marathon was a lot easier than my practice. I mainly have my running partner (and best friend) to thank for that. We sort of silently yet unanimously decided not to stop, and made it round in 2hrs. We started right at the back-of-the-back, and I cannot stress to you the level of people-dodging that went on for the first half hour as we were packed like sardines – something that I hadn’t premeditated. Other than that, the sheer number of people, both supporting charities, and families ready to support any and everyone, are the main reason it’s so much easier. People are caterwauling and throwing haribo at you and bashing drums and waving signs and egging you on in every way they can, so not stopping becomes easy.

Other than 3 black toes and a severely sprained midfoot, my feet also held up sort of okay.

SLEEPWALKING

Some people have weird habits.

Some talk to themselves (we’ll easily overlook that as the first stage of insanity and view it as more of a cute quirk for now).

Some bite their nails (also me). Some also sleep walk, sleeptalk. I’m not an avid sleep walker, don’t get me wrong. It happens only once every few months, so it’s still a bit of a novelty. 

haven’t surprisingly been caught on camera sleepwalking, so you can have some footage of me in bed instead

One of the girls with whom I shared a room in boarding school bought this niche new app that slyly recorded us all as we slept. Surprisingly, no midnight conversations from me, but I was constantly privy to the light snoring and even more absurd sleep-mutterings of five girls. Maybe my sleepwalking knows when it’s being recorded and decides only to rear its head surreptitiously.

My sleepwalking certainly isn’t a new development. Despite highly protesting a 7pm bedtime and futile attempts to escape, I was also occasionally found dreaming whilst out and about the house as a child. Always on a manageable and slightly entertaining level; I’ve certainly never found myself outside, striding down the street at 4am in my pyjamas, or trying to drive (thankfully, I’m bad enough at driving awake).

only relevant because of the pjs

Sleepwalking appears to be a long-lasting condition (I would use the term chronic but that makes it sound like an insufferable disease, whereas my experience so far has been amusing and hardly detrimental). I did go through a period in halls, in which I woke up once outside my flatmates room, clawing on the door in the middle of the night like something fresh out of The Shining. You probably already know that I touted earplugs for a good night’s sleep in a previous blog post. I’ve also woken up in the middle of the night and found myself stuffing said earplugs into my mouth in a more bizarre episode of sleep walking (thankfully I woke up before anything was swallowed).

As amusing as sleepwalking is, it begs the question of what exactly the cause is, and why only a select few experience the joys of waking up wholly disorientated, midst cooking a haute cuisine meal, or trying to shave the cat (don’t panic – I haven’t made it as far as either of these – yet).

one of us is asleep

Somnambulism is the proper term. Sleepwalkers tend to be out and about in the deep stages of NREM sleep. 1-15% of the population is said to experience these onsets, and it is much more prevalent in children than in adults. The exact cause remains uncertain, but some scientists speculate that it is a repercussion of the brain trying to go from the deepest stage of sleep, directly to wakefulness, without reversing through the stages of the sleep cycle. Alcohol and antidepressants exacerbate nocturnal wanderings,

Sleepwalking horror stories are abundant. It’s pretty easy to bring to the stand as a form of defence for larger scale crimes – for who could surely prove whether or not you were conscious, or comatose, disregarding the blood on your hands.

One thing is for sure – the impression that waking a sleepwalker is dangerous is a common myth. It’s always better to wake your dozing friend if you find them ambling about the hall at night.

AFTERNOON TEA AT THE RITZ

we look almost put together, considering the cirumstances

I think it was almost a year to this date that I last dragged myself out, horribly hungover, for afternoon tea at the Sanderson, and remembered to blog about it. This highbrow venture was swiftly followed by an unplanned trip into Camden and a tattoo to balance out the dignity and decorum, so overall an interesting Sunday.

The concept of afternoon tea remains slightly perplexing to me, and I complained that going at 11.30 am to the Ritz, a year later, was terribly early for tea and cake – especially after going out the night before – but still managed to drown my hungover sorrows in sugar, cake and scones.

You get what you pay for in terms of food and service; every waiter is incredibly attentive and proper. You get your tea poured for you. A glass of champagne was offered – towards which I balked, deeming alcohol to be the last thing my hangover needed – and the respective jokes about hair of the dog were courteously exchanged.

I’m not really at the level of blogging where one whips out a professional camera and teeters on a seat to get good angles of food. It’s more a case of stealing furtive, blurry shots of dishes, and swiftly forgetting what I’ve eaten before I get to post about it. Nonetheless, afternoon tea includes an array of sandwiches, three cake type petit fours, scones, and additional cake if that isn’t a wide enough assortment of cake to tickle your fancy. The menu boasts of a whole 18 different types of loose-leaf tea, and they apparently employ a Tea Sommelier (from what I understand, the equivalent of a wine connoisseur, but for tea), who travels the world just to bring the finest of teas to your doorstep. The Ritz is also one of the only traditional afternoon tea hosts to offer a complete vegan menu (on this occasion, I decided not to force vegan cream upon myself), but I’ve read that it is just as good.

I have a pretty simple palate, even when it comes to desserts (I’ll happily opt for chocolate chip cookies over any nouveau cuisine pudding any day of the week), but was pleasantly surprised by the sweets on offer. I may also have been hungover enough to blissfully fill my mouth with anything sweet.

not wholly sure what this was but some sort of rhubarb/white chocolate mousse biscuit

A universal tip for afternoon tea at the Ritz (or really anywhere) is telling them that one of you is celebrating a birthday. One of my friend’s sort of was (albeit a month late). Any mention of a birthday and you get a free cake, lit candle, and a brief rendezvous of happy birthday on the piano. Not quite as embarrassing as an entire restaurant yodelling happy birthday, and who in their right mind would turn down free cake.

Staging a proposal is potentially also worth a shot – you never know, you might even get a bigger cake. 

the ritz

150 piccadilly

london

£58pp