Fitness overhaul: A year of focusing on health

IMG_9105

This time last year I was fresh from doing the Body Coach Shift, Shape and Sustain plan. I was, as he says you should be after following the diet and workouts, lean. In fact, I was probably too lean, and looked the thinnest I had been in a long time. My body struggles to build muscle due to a connective tissue disorder, so it would have taken a lot longer for me to start feeling like a Bay Watch extra. I also admit to getting tired of 6am gym sessions.

They DO make you feel good, they are a good start to the day, they do set you up well and improve concentration, but I just love sleep and I love to snooze and I like my groggy morning routine. The only morning exercise I do now are Sunday runs, and they rarely begin before 9:30. I don’t look the same as I did a year ago, but I can’t say I’m not fussed by it. This whole year of overhauling my health and fitness was about more than a flat stomach and strong looking thighs.

I wanted to turn my health around. Of all the goals you can have, I felt like this was a good one. I’ve been documenting it all on here along the way and looking back it’s been quite an achievement. I wanted to get on top of my Ehlers Danlos symptoms, I wanted to maintain my new found fitness, try out different kinds of exercise and feel generally better about my myself. It’s December this week, so the year is almost up (bye 2016 please don’t come again) and it feels like a good time to, shall we say, take stock.

Needless to say, some of my endeavours have failed. I won’t be ending the year by drinking a kale smoothie and examining my abs in front of the mirror come NYE. I might not be a fitness model, but I’ve been so much healthier this year. I’ve had less colds, I’ve had less bad pain days with sore joints, I’ve not had any issues with asthma, I’ve not spent weeks with a lingering cough and I’ve not been hammering down the door of my GP every other week. I’ve made some positive changes, some unsuccessful changes and some unexpected changes.

I gave up coffee for a while, but now I’m back on it. I’m drinking it now in fact, enjoying every last drop of it’s frothy goodness. I can’t give up caffeine, it didn’t work for me, and I don’t think I drink enough for it to be a problem these days. BUT I have succeeded in massively cutting down my sweet intake (apart from one mishap last week where I ate a whole bag of Haribo starmix after a really stressful few days) and that’s got to be a good thing. I’ve never been a chocolate person. I’m a very serious sweet eater. Pick and mix, Haribo, fizzy laces- if it’s sour and coated in sugar, I’m on board with it, but this year my teeth have had a welcome break.

In the summer I ran my first 10k, which for some may sound like a walk in the park, but for me it’s a big deal. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to run due to hip problems, but I built up some strength, worked hard on the weekends and made it all the way round the central London course as part of the Vitality London 10K. I’ve also spent the year experimenting with different gym classes- some definitely NOT for me because I cannot deal with being shouted at while I try to hoist a bar weight above my head in a squat position, and some which I’ve loved. Spinning, circuit training and step aerobics have been the winners. I do have to alter some of the stuff to suit my joints, but I’ve learnt to not be shy in the gym when in the gym.

I’ve changed up my diet, replacing even more meat with pulses and veg-based meals and I eat fruit every single day. I’ve started having a proper breakfast at work, usually just porridge, and I’ve tried (though not always succeeded at) not eating rubbish while my dinner cooks because I’m hungry and impatient. I’ve also upped my intake of all the green stuff we get told is so good for us, and I can how say that I genuinely like broccoli. Last year I merely tolerated it, crazy times.

The best thing for me though, has been the absence of illness. Anyone who knows me well knows how much I battle bad health. I have bad joints, limp a lot, get inured easily, get a lot of colds, have issues with my kidneys and I am the UTI queen (not something I want to be queen of even remotely), so this year, with less illness, less antibiotics, better health and happier insides has been so welcome.

The one thing I need to work on for next year is getting my stress levels sorted. I wrote about this last week and got quite a few tweets from people who suffer the same. If I can keep up this years health journey, or even improve on it, and make myself less stressed, I think I might actually have made it. Maybe I’ll even buy a juicer and go on a detox. (Just kidding- NEVER.)

 

Stress isn’t reserved for a certain age

Enlight1-10

“You’re too young to be stressed!” This has got to be one of the most irritating, fist clenching things to be told when you feel like stress is your life. I read a lot about anxiety and depression from brave people who feel they can share their experiences, but not a great deal about stress. Stress has been a constant factor in my life since I was about 21. It stems mostly from dealing with an unpredictable chronic illness and feeling constantly on edge about my health, but along the way other things have come along and joined the stress party.

I could definitely do more to deal with my stress levels. I know there are things I do that directly contribute to making myself worse, but it’s hard to break the cycle. Sometimes I feel like stress feeds me. It adds fuel to my productivity fire and that’s definitely not healthy. I used to buckle under stress and resort to sitting in a heap ignoring my problems, playing Words With Friends, or laying under a duvet sadly googling symptoms and convincing myself death was coming. Not really a good way to live your life, I can tell you.

I was getting some blood tests done last year and the nurse had to stop just before she attempted it to make me relax my posture a bit. Blood tests are hardly joyous activities, so she assumed that I was scared, but I wasn’t. I have no fear of needles and after having about as many medical examinations and tests as hot meals over the past few years, I’m not remotely bothered by having blood taken. I was just stressed. She chatted to me as she was filling up tubes with my red stuff, and asked me if I was having a busy time at work, then pointed out I was chewing my lip. “You seem really stressed sweetheart, try to take some time to debrief yourself and relax” were her (I think fairly accurate) parting words to me.

The problem is, Even though I’m 26, and most certainly a fully-fledged adult whether I like it or not, I still get asked what I have to be stressed about. it’s a big sweeping statement for someone to tell you that you’re fine or worried over nothing when they don’t live in your head. Lately, I’ve had plenty of reasons to stress due to trying to buy a house, and most people are sympathetic to the fact that it’s a pretty heinous task and understandably stressful, but being told I’m too young ‘to be stressed out’ or ‘what do you really have to stress about, you don’t even have kids yet!’ really pushes my anger buttons.

Going out and having a good time, socialising, being busy, having hobbies and maintaining a good job doesn’t mean you can’t be stressed. Being young, having fun and seemingly appearing like a normal twenty-something person doesn’t mean you can’t also be suffering with a huge weight on your shoulders.

Young people deal with a lot of stress. If anything, the technology-heavy world we live in where everything is in your face, on a phone screen and going at a hundred miles an hour, probably mean it’s worse than ever. In a world where buying your home or renting a reasonable, fit-for-purpose space to live in costs more than most people can afford or dream of affording, there’s plenty of reasons for young people to feel the strain. Worrying about a future where you have the life you want in an extremely tough climate is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s plenty of disillusionment going on in the world with young people, which unless you live under a rock you’ll be full aware of.

I want to make 2017 a much better year for getting stress under control, because this has not been a good year for controlling the amount I feel like a walking ball of rage and worry. If you need to try and achieve the same, I feel your pain and you have every right to feel stressed and feel you need to recover as the next person, regardless of if you’re 16 or 46. Long live stress balls.

New York City- expectation Vs reality 

IMG_0423IMG_9582

New York was never high on my list of cities to visit. I’ve always preferred the idea of tropical climates, palm trees, or historical places with castles and cobbled streets. I didn’t watch Sex and the City growing up (I know, who am I? What am I? I’ve heard it all) and the only thing that ever made me think I would like it was the breakfast culture (I really do feel that strongly about morning eating) – pancakes and coffee are my happiness.

But I just never found the idea of some good breakfasts enough to flit across the Atlantic, weirdly enough. It was really, as it is with so many things, Instagram and blogging that grabbed my attention to New York properly.

I started to come round to the idea I would probably like NYC on top of the glowing recommendations from friends and colleagues and all the posts and photos I’d seen proclaiming it the best place on the planet. On top of that, my boyfriend was always very keen on going. He even looked into studying there which was news to me, and brought up the fact he wanted to go pretty much every time the place popped up on TV. I still wasn’t that fussed though, and we kept making other travel plans, so we just didn’t go.

Then this year, I decided to score some big girlfriend points when he turned 30 and booked a secret trip. I did it at work on my lunch break and then sat and googled ‘things to do in NYC’ for half hour. After that day, this secret trip became an obsession. I couldn’t talk about it at home, we couldn’t plan it together, so I just researched in secret and compiled massive lists of stuff we could do, eat, drink, walk to, look at, buy etc etc. By the end of the six month wait to actually tell him (we got drunk with all our friends and I made them put on Statue of Liberty masks and hold flags when he went to the loo then shout at him when he reappeared) I think I wanted to go more than him.

We only had two days of us both knowing we were going to talk about what we would do and be excited and squeal over the idea of the Rockefeller Centre view and Shake Shake. I don’t know how I went from so unfussed to so stupidly excited over a city, but it happened. It happened in a big way.

IMG_9687

IMG_0120

We expected to get there and fall straight into food comas, marching down 5th Avenue looking for bars and proceed to tick off all of the tourist trips with breaks every so often to eat burgers and get milkshakes bigger than our faces.

So, it was quite a come down when we spent the first day in a complete, underwhelmed, intimidated, slightly confused daze. It was NOT the blur of utter joy and excitement and calories I expected. We couldn’t navigate the grid system, we were shocked by just how packed the streets of Manhattan were and we really needed to sit down.

Looking back, it was obviously jet lag, immense tiredness, a stress comedown (our flight there was cancelled and we did a mad dash to a different airport and I forgot to pack to knickers) more than New York itself. Fast forward 24 hours later and we both looked like heart eye emojis, full of happiness, watching the sunset on the Brooklyn Bridge.

I definitely think the place would horrify people who don’t like the hustle bustle of big cities, and it is pretty intimidating the first time you step outside and try and navigate your way around, but as we’re used to London, we managed to get used to this quite fast. It’s actually smaller than London, with a much more simple subway system IMO, but it was more intense than I thought.

Overall we flippin loved New York. We loved it so much. It was so much better than I imagined after we got past the grid map confusion, the subway confusion and the dizzying jet lag. After day one, we spent the entire week talking about the nearest possible date we could return.

There’s a vibe about NYC that you just can’t find anywhere else, and believe me, I hate myself for saying that, buts it’s so true. It’s got everything to the point that you find things you never you wanted. We didn’t want to spend time inside, we didn’t want to waste time sleeping, we just wanted to be in the middle of everything. It’s like you pick up this new kind of energy that sucks you into NYC culture and makes sure you don’t want to leave. From the food, to the 24 hour service, to the shopping and the architecture, it’s like falling down a rabbit hole into a new life.

From strolling through Brooklyn eating bagels, to sitting outside in the sun drinking and watching the world go by, we fell hook, line and sinker for everything- even the people.

And then there’s the super sad feeling when you have to leave. Really, super sad.

I want to go back as many times as possible and although we ended up loving it for reasons we didn’t expect, I think you could go back and have completely different experiences every time. It’s going to be top of my travel list forever.

5 times the internet has been good lately #7

IMG_0019

It’s been quite hard to find much good in the past couple of weeks. The news has been doom, gloom and fear and I’ve spent much more time reading about what we can expect from THAT election next year rather than my usual random selection of articles. However, not everything is bad, I have read some nice stuff and watched lots of videos of cats staring out humans to try to keep the balance at bit. These are the links I think are worth clicking if you find yourself with a spare half hour and a cup of tea, or a cocktail in a cup clearly meant for tea (it is winter, we need to treat ourselves):

1) The Obama years, through the eyes of the White House photographer – The Atlantic

So I know this is election related, but I am such a massive Obama fan, and I really love these photos.

2) You can fall in friendship at first site – The Pool

I have a couple of friends who I knew I needed in my life pretty much the first time I met them, so I kind of believe this. I’ve never ever been a believer of ‘love at first sight’ because I find soppy thing horrible, but this is different.

3) Why you should buy from independent brands this Christmas – The Little Plum

I wholeheartedly support this. As someone who has recently been swallowed up by sites like Etsy, I can see a lot more value in shopping this way, avoiding chains and finding gifts for people they aren’t going to get from anyone else. It’s also nice to support people who are out trying hard to make a name for themselves.

4) 15 things that happened the year the first Harry Potter film was released – The Radio Times

It makes me feel almost uncomfortable that 15 years have passed since Philosopher’s Stone hit the cinema, but it’s true. We are all getting older every day. Happy Friday.

5) Scrotal recall, now called ‘Love Sick’, is coming back – Digital Spy

So this isn’t the usual kind of thing I stick in these lists, but this made me happy. I loved this show. I think I  watched it for the first time in bed when I couldn’t be bothered to change the channel or something, and I massively got into it. If you haven’t seen the first series, give it a go if you can find it. Series one was called  Scrotal Recall (lol) but it’s back soon on Netflix as Love Sick soon.

The Big Pink home fundraiser, checking your boobs and cake


A couple of weeks ago we had about 25 people descend on our kitchen for tea, coffee and more cake than I think I’ve ever seen in one afternoon. While I don’t see that there needs to be an excuse to drink hot drinks and eat carrot cake, this little tea session was all in favour of boobs. To be more exact- it was for Breast Cancer Care.

My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago and due to her being young (still in her early forties at the time) and incredibly fit and healthy, it was a complete shock to our systems and a terrible time. It still is a shock really, but she’s a lucky survivor and recently had her two year mammogram, which came back clear.

We’ve always been into fundraising in my household, and already did a fair bit for charity and Cancer Research before this happened, so this year we wanted to give a little something back to a breast cancer charity following my mum’s treatment, so my sister signed us up to host one of their Big Pink events. If you fancy turning your hand to some home fundraising I really recommend this. BCC sent us a pack with a few ideas and resources to use including stickers, games and money collection boxes.

We made some games, including pin the nipple on the boob obviously, and put together a raffle. We also made pick & mix, put up bunting, and bought lots of pink treats in a mad dash round the Tesco confectionary aisle- nothing too arduous, and nothing too stressful. In the end, in return for a really nice day, sugar rushes all round and many rounds of boiling the kettle, we made almost £300. Really not too shabby for a day in the kitchen, and it was FUN! There are tons of home fundraisers like this that you can sign up to, and I will 100% be up for another one. It really does feel good to do good.

And also, more importantly than anything, CHECK YOUR BOOBS. I know so many people that don’t do this, and after the past two years, I can’t see any reason not to. It takes minutes, you can do it in the shower during the time you usually stare into space or think about if you’ve already washed your hair or not. Knowing your own boobs could save your life, so start bonding with them. Tell your family to do it, tell your friends to do it, tell your colleagues and your neighbours. Here’s a handy little guide of how to effectively cop a feel.

Watching Gilmore Girls as an adult has been about more than just nostalgia

img_9555

When I first saw that Gilmore Girls was on Netflix, I ignored it. I loved the show when I was in my early teens but I kind of didn’t want to revisit it in case I didn’t like it anymore, or it was just  unwatchable as an adult. Obviously, I was wrong about both of those thoughts, because after taking the plunge a couple of months later, I’m addicted and ploughing through about three episodes an evening while my boyfriend sighs but secretly enjoys it.

I like mindless TV. I like being able to stick something on and mostly zone out and not have to think about it or get really nervous or upset or feel any kind of emotion. This is pretty much what I thought I would get out of re-watching Gilmore Girls. A bit of nostalgia, a bit of ‘ohhh Stars Hollow looks like the dream I bet it’s so safe and clean and a good place to have kids’ and a bit of light relief from stress and tiring stuff happening in my life.

But actually it’s made me think quite a lot, which probably isn’t for the best most of the time, but hear me out.

The main theme of this show is complicated relationships. You’ve got Rory and Lorelai who are best friends, two peas in a pod and also mother and daughter. Then there’s Lorelai and Emily, who roll through season after season with tension and rows and bitterness- the kind of relationship you might have had with your mum when you were really young and thought you knew much better/didn’t remotely understand each other- and maybe even now too. Oh and of course there’s Luke. Loveable Luke, with the backwards baseball cap and the dream breakfast location as an office. The whole love affair between him and Lorelai is pretty much every crush you’ve ever had that you feel you can’t act upon, played out over black coffee and looks that last a bit too long.

I can actually resonate so much with a lot of this now I’m older and dare I say it, slightly wiser and more emotionally together. Balancing a relationship with your parents is hard and can be even harder when you have different views, grow to live very different lives and want very different things. Moving away from home and shutting the door on all the things you don’t like about home is easy, but it’s not a good resolution as many people learn. It’s also the foundation of this TV show.

Watching Emily and Lorelai struggle through TV life with practically nothing in common and utterly different outlooks is really interesting, because while it’s an extreme example, it’s hardly uncommon. 

Surprisingly when I was 12 I didn’t realise how well this show does at picking out the bad, hard and grizzly bits of family life. It’s definitely all a bit too glossy on the surface, but there are times when I really feel like I’m a reliving an awkward meal time at home. You know the kind you realise most people have but at the time made you want to smash all the plates and break things? 

It’s much easier to sit and realise how complicated the whole family dynamic really is once you’ve turned into an adult yourself. 

I didn’t expect to watch and reflect on family and relationships or how much family life and feelings change as you grow older. I just expected to roll my eyes at Lorelai and Luke’s refusal to admit they luuurve each other and wonder how I can end up living in a Pinterest town like Stars Hollow. So thanks Netflix for the chance to reflect and feel like I’ve actually emotionally developed in the past 10 years.

If you want a Luke’s mug like mine you can get one from Etsy here.

The spring 2017 travel hit list

I currently really need to crack on with saving up for important stuff like a fridge and a bed, but the cold and the dark keep leading me to Sky Scanner. It’s like I’m magnetically drawn to looking at holidays I definitely cannot book at least once a day. We already know where we’re going for our next big trip and it’s been in the works for almost a year now, but there’s also this growing list of places that can be done on a weekend, with cheap flights and a cheap Airbnb, so it’d be rude not to visit them. Travel logic.

If I had unlimited funds or just happened to stumble upon an envelope of money with ‘Lauren, please have a good time with this cash’ written on it, these are the places I’d book up for spring next year:

1) Lausanne, Switzerland 

I will hopefully get here in the spring next year on a road trip, but a school friend went for work recently and spammed social media with the most beautiful photos. It looks like the kind of place you want to visit while it’s still crisp outside.

2) Florence

This has been high on my Italy hit list for ages for all the obvious reasons like food, history and now this sunset photo.

florence

Image: Maelick

3) Plockton, Mull, Scotland

I went to Skye a couple of years ago, and we could see straight across to Mull, which looks equally as stunning.

 

4) Segovia, Spain

I read about Segovia in this Guardian article and did a lunchtime google image search of it (how I pick basically all of my travel destinations) and now I must go.

segovia

Image: Raul A

5) Lake Skadar, Montenegro

Me and my boyfriend have been talking about going here for about four years, but it’s not the easiest place to get to. I want to travel around Montenegro and my many research sessions on it suggests late spring is a nice time, particularly for the lakes. The whole country looks postcard perfect.

Trying to find comfort when illness is beating you

img_1493

This time three years ago I was going through a truly terrible time with my health. I was ill, I was in pain, I was in and out of hospital and GP appointments, having blood taken every week, struggling to go to work and feeling completely defeated by a body I felt trapped in. This wasn’t the first time I wanted to unzip myself, chuck my body away and start again. It was just the latest bad spell, but also the worst I’ve ever had.

Dealing with long term, chronic illness can be really awful at times. It can be scary, lonely, confusing, frustrating and incredibly upsetting. That feeling of wanting to bang your head against a brick wall repeatedly is common, as is the feeling that nothing will make the situation better. Nothing. Doesn’t matter how many of your favourite things you try and cram into one day, while snuggled up in bed with supportive people and all of the carbs, nothing will help you feel like you again. This was pretty much my default feeling for six months.

Needless to say, it was bad times.

I haven’t sunk that far into a health black hole since then. I’ve managed to keep myself teetering on the edge during the worst days, but mostly I’ve been clear of feeling that only bad things can happen when it comes to wellness and my body, which is promising. It’s definitely a feeling I aim to keep up well into 2017 and beyond. The struggle still exists, like right now for example, I am at work in a lot of pain just because I went ice skating yesterday- ‘fun things can’t happen to me because I pay for them in pain.’ This is not how I want to be feeling. I need to remember there was always a small chance it wouldn’t agree with me. That doesn’t make it any easier though.

It is incredibly draining to be battling a health problem and feel like there’s no one around you that understands or who can really help or make a difference. Be it mental health or a chronic pain condition, the stress is the same. I’ve talked to many people who suffer with conditions similar to mine through taking part in online chats, networking on Twitter and reading blogs on the subject, and though I would never pretend to understand how one person feels, I know that there’s a level on which we can all relate. There are problems that crop up and again and again such as:

-Trying to explain to friends/families/colleagues why you are feeling ill but knowing they won’t be able to truly understand.

-Struggling to deal with the explanations people want when you can’t follow through with a plan, can’t attend an event, or just need to stay home because you’re having a flare.

-Dealing with how unfair it feels that people around you have good health when you are constantly dealing with symptom after symptom.

-Trying to not let health win- basically trying to make sure you can still lead a happy life and try to come out on top, even on the bad days.

-Accepting that sometimes the bad days will end bad and you can’t make them better.

-Getting setbacks when you’ve been feeling well for a while, or trying hard to make improvements to your health.

These are just a few of things I know I feel when it comes to my chronic condition, and I’ve discussed all of these with various people who struggle with health problems. From IBS to endometriosis, bad period pains every month, arthritis and even skin cancer- the diagnosis might be different, but it’s helped me a lot to remember that I’m not the only one. The universe hasn’t singled me out to suffer while everyone else has a party and a jolly good time of it. It takes a long time to take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone in feeling ALL of the emotions and confusion, but it can help, even if just a little.

10 sources of happiness at age 26 and a half


The past few weeks have been stressful, busy and really long. When I say really long, obviously I mean they’ve gone ridiculously fast and here we are staring down the barrel of 2017 and more importantly, CHRISTMAS AGAIN! I’m just saying they’ve been long because it fits with my current ‘life is hard’ mantra. 

How it’s time to start wheeling out mince pies and making plans with every friendship group you have to go ice skating, I’ll never ever know, but this year it’s welcome. I need festive fun and lighthearted gingerbread snowmen and twinkly lights and all that other jazz. The lead up to Christmas is full of stuff that remind me of childhood happiness, which leads me onto happiness now. 

Happiness. Happiness when you’re aged 26 and a half like me, or you know, a few years either side of that. The past weekend has been a chance to breathe and do stuff that oozes happiness- mostly edible, but still, and I’ve realised how much happiness has changed for me. These days, these are the things that make me feel fuzzy or say YAY out loud: 

1) A really well baked cake. Like, a cake you can try while it’s baker eagerly looks on and comment on how moist it is and how perfect the filling is and ask what the recipe is even though you know it’s blatantly BBC Good Food. 

2) Rain. A day where it rains like the world is ending (let’s say Sunday) so you have the perfect, damp excuse to just stay indoors and not do the washing you had planned and not move much and feel actually rested. 

3) Waking up in a house that was cleaned the day before. I never thought I would be this person. I never thought the faint smell of bleach and clean bedding and lemony stuff would make me feel content BUT IT DOES. 

4) Waking up after 8am. Every week that passes sees my ability to sleep in diminish slightly further, even more so with a hangover. 

5) Quiet public transport. Yes, this is essentially a list of what’s most boring but isn’t it true? Isn’t people not shouting, not having loud phone calls with their cousin, not cackling and not arguing on your train carriage the greatest thing? 

6) Caffetiere smell. Needs no further explanation.

7) Those amazing ‘dine in for two’ meals that M&S started and now most supermarkets have copied that sometimes come with wine and can definitely be a dine in experience for one when the hunger is real. 

8) A really well ordered and empty inbox. 

9) Jeans that fit. I never really appreciated well-fitted jeans until this year when I discovered well-fitted jeans. There’s no going back to jeans that bunch up at the knee or slide down your bum. 

10) A clear, sunny view of my home city. 

Mercato Metropolitano- London’s Italian market 


It’s rare to find a place in London that has that ‘wants to be really cool’ look and the whole pop-up vibe that actually works and isnt just an overpriced gimmick. I’m a sucker for all the seasonal city events and anything themed, but I never go back more than once. Places like that rarely live up to expectations and are often gone before you get the time to visit. 

Mercato Metropolitano looks like a pop-up, looks cool and I’ve been back three times now. It’s essentially a big indoor/outdoor Italian market nestled behind the Elephant and Castle roundabout. It’s permanent and open from 11am to 11pm. There’s fairy lights, stalls selling cocktails, £5 sourdough pizzas, fancy wine, incredible gelato and loads of craft beer. 

If you don’t want Italian food, you can also grab Vietnamese bowls, massive cheese burgers, fries topped with shredded steak and as much cheese and bread as you could ever hope for. 

The gelato is to die for- you need to try the sesame and the caramel as a matter of high importance. And while you’re at it, try the red wine from the Italian wine stall, they’ll let you sample as many as you like. If you don’t want to sample wine, sample beer. There’s beer for everyone- raspberry beer, sharp Italian beer, Camden ale, pale ale and you can also get fresh lemonade, mulled wine and bottle of fizz.



It’s at it’s best in the evenings after six but don’t be alarmed if you get there and the outdoors is empty- it’s all moved indoors after dark for winter. If you find yourself in the area during the day, you can get coffee and churros, big grilled sandwiches or a pizza to go. 

It’s 100% worth a trip for dinner- good for dates, good for after work drinks, good for lazy hungry Sunday afternoons- just good generally. There’s also a jungle themed cinema you can only access through a secret entrance and a cosy little wine bar with twinkly lights. Put it on your London to do list- and take a scarf while it’s winter, it’s a market after all.