Archive | June, 2013

Return to Regent’s Park Rose Garden

28 Jun

It still amazes me that a place this beautiful is within walking (and jogging) distance from my flat. As promised, I went back last week with my good camera when the roses were in bloom. There were a few bushes that were still budding and I’ve been checking on them each time I run. If we ever get another sunny day I may have to go back to take even more pictures.

I took more than 100 photos, but here is just a selection:

queen marys garden regents


red rose ladybug

orange pink rose

There was a school group there tasked with sketching the flowers. This little boy was goofing around until he spotted a bee and freaked out. I used to be absolutely terrified of bees, but now I realize they won’t bother me if I leave them alone (although I didn’t really because I kept sticking my camera in front of them)

kid rose

polinating bee

This is my favorite photo — my favorite color rose with my favorite shallow depth of field.

queen mary's garden

The ropes surrounding the garden were even covered in roses!

regents park roses

The place was filled with tourists taking photos (yes, if we want to get stereotypical, many of them were Asian)

asian roses

I couldn’t get over the color of these flowers, my camera didn’t do it justice.

blue nile flowers

I walked back by the pond and caught these two in a stand off:

heron standoff

Couch to 5K Week 5

21 Jun

The Couch to 5K Week 5 plan is as follows:

Run 1: Jog 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes, jog 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes, jog 5 minutes

Run 2: Jog 8 minutes, walk 5 minutes, jog 8 minutes

Run 3: Jog 20 minutes, NO WALKING

anchorman that escalated quickly

I dreaded Week 5 since I began the program. Back then running for 5 or 8 minutes straight seemed impossible, but 20 minutes?! No way. But I am happy to report that I just did it!

victory is mine

(OK, I took a 30 second walking break when my nose was really running, I was going up a small hill, people were in the way, and I had to cross a street — but those are valid excuses, right?)

I’ve been talking to some friends and family lately about running. I always ask the same silly question — “When you run, do you run the WHOLE time?” I posed it to my friend who has done a half marathon (she laughed and said yes), as well as my brother who is a casual jogger. He countered, “Are you running or jogging?” He said running he could barely make it down the block, but he jogs a couple miles slowly. I realized this has been my problem.

i wanna go fast

Pacing. I am a champion* sprinter, but running a 5K (or longer) is about endurance and stamina — the proverbial “slow and steady wins the race.” So instead of “running,” I’ve been jogging slowly. Then when I finish the designated C25K program for the day and catch my breath, I go to a hidden trail near my flat and run as fast as I can for 10 seconds, just for the Ricky Bobby in me.


*4th grade field day, 50 meters

An unwelcome flatmate

18 Jun

Last Tuesday I got home from dinner with a friend and was in a good mood — I finally got to see not one, but two shows at Shakespeare’s Globe, and was going to [FINALLY] see the Spice Girls musical “Viva Forever”* the next day. I had a proverbial spring in my step as I moved a box to decide on a nail polish — that’s how good life was going, I had time to seriously contemplate how to do my nails.

Then it all went to crap.

When I moved the box a spider emerged. A big spider. So big I told myself it had to be fake, although that would also be troubling because I don’t own any fake spiders. It was at least the size of a ¬£2 coin (half dollar for you Americans). I stood there frozen for a minute as the spider and I exchanged mutual “What are you doing in my flat?!” looks. I think we both thought the other would go away if we didn’t move. Eventually I grabbed the nearest shoe and went for the kill. Swing and a miss. The spider disappeared among the wall of boxes. I pulled each of them away from the wall slowly, ensuring he would have nowhere to hide. I couldn’t find him. I hit each box trying to scare him out. I lifted a Tesco receipt off the floor (the fact that there are random Tesco receipts among my sheet music and nail polish is a sign I need to clean my apartment) and the spider emerged. This was my chance, he was out in the open! And I missed. Worse, he got away and I COULD NOT FIND HIM.

spider taken meme

That has got to be one of the worst feelings in the world, knowing there is a giant bug loose in your house somewhere. I started getting phantom spider syndrome — I would be sitting in the living room, far away from the room I last saw the spider, but was convinced he was crawling on my legs or in my hair. I took to Google to try to calm myself. I learned that spiders do not crawl on you while you sleep and bite you, there are no poisonous spiders in the UK, and spiders are actually good for your house because they eat other insects. That’s what I decided to believe — Mr. Spider was doing me a favor, has been living in my flat undetected for years, and if it weren’t for my happy nail polish perusing, I would be none the wiser.

nice spider meme

So I did a thorough check of my bed before going to sleep and tried to forget about the giant spider. I cautiously put my makeup on every morning, glancing at the corner I last saw him. I convinced myself that I scared him so badly he left the flat for good, or as one of my friends put it, “Charlotte returned to Wilbur.” I had almost forgotten about him until Sunday — five days later.

I had just gotten back from my run and was taking out the trash in the bathrooms. I came out into the hallway, garbage bag in hand, when I saw him. He was just chilling in the middle of the hallway, completely exposed. We exchanged “You again?!”s and I briefly contemplating letting him live, since maybe this was really his home and he was just trying to survive, but then I thought “NOPE” and he met his untimely demise at the bottom of my running shoe and was promptly disposed of with the bathroom trash. I’m sorry, Mr. Spider, but you made it too easy this time. I hope you did not leave a family behind.

…Suddenly the possibility of moving doesn’t seem too bad.


*(“Viva Forever” was every bit as awesome as I imagined it would be and I don’t know why the critics hated it so much. It’s a musical based on the music of the Spice Girls, you can’t expect a deep, thought-provoking plot.)

For want of a shower

13 Jun

They are currently renovating the penthouse unit in my building, and have been for ages. I’m pretty sure China has built 100 skyscrapers from scratch in the time it’s taking them to renovate this one flat. Almost every day they’re pounding, drilling or freaking me out when I wake up to see a giant crane carrying supplies up past my bedroom window, but the worst is when they turn off the water. They did this on Monday, but they sent a formal letter warning us about it. It was inconvenient, but I worked around it.

Then today I got back from my run (week 4 of C25K — I can run for 5 minutes straight now! It’s amazing!) and wanted nothing more than a refreshing shower. The water came out slowly and got increasingly hotter no matter how far I turned it to “cold.”

Taking a cold shower is the worst, but I can assure you that a scalding hot one is no picnic either. Eventually the hot water reduced to a trickle and I knew I was in trouble. I called reception to ask if they had turned the water off again because of the renovations. The porter didn’t think so, but told me to call back if it wasn’t back on in a half hour.

What was I supposed to do for a half hour?! My hair was soaked with a mixture of water and sweat and I wasn’t sure if I should put on my dirty clothes or clean ones. I had to decide quickly because the doorbell rang. The porter brought two workmen to look at my bathroom. They stood with their dirty boots on my nice clean bathroom rug and fussed with the faucet (I’m sorry, “tap.”)

“It’s warm in here, did you take a shower?” one of them asked. I stood there with my wet hair trying not to laugh. “I tried to…”

They sent one of the guys upstairs to tinker with pipes while he spoke to the guy in my bathroom on the phone. Soon the water came blasting on, and I was filled with relief. Then they shut it off again. “Now we know what the problem is, so we’ll try to have your water back soon,” one of them said.

I should have asked them to define “soon.” Because silly me guessed 5 to 10 minutes. I tried to get some work done, but all I could think about was a shower. After an hour went by I called down to reception again. “They’re working on it, it won’t be much longer,” the porter told me. So I made lunch. Another hour went by. And another. Eventually I said screw it, put my hair up in a bun, and took a “redneck shower,” which I’m told just involves reapplying deodorant and some body spray. I was tempted to go full Honey Boo Boo and wash my hair in the kitchen sink (where we still had running water), but that would be too much.

honey boo boo kitchen sink
Eventually they turned the water back on FOUR hours later, right as I was about to skype with my mom. It’s funny, I wanted that shower so badly I almost resorted to using the kitchen sink, but eventually I got over it and accepted that it just wasn’t going to happen today. In a way, it’s like running — once you accept that crapping out (like showering) is not an option, you can power through. And now I have incentive to power through tomorrow’s run because hopefully it will finally end in a shower (*knock on wood*)

My running breakthrough and backtrack

10 Jun

I think I can understand now why other people enjoy running. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel like this most of the time:

hannah girls jogging

But I’ve started to feel good afterwards. So good, in fact, that I promptly forget how miserable I feel during my jogging intervals and start looking forward to my next run. I just finished week 3 of Couch to 5K, which involved intervals of running for 3 minutes straight. That seems like nothing, but seeing how much I struggled with 60 and 90 seconds in the first two weeks, it was a big deal for me. I had a breakthrough on Friday which should have been so obvious: water.

I used to drink a lot of water before I went out and when I got home, but none while I was running. Carrying a bottle just seemed too cumbersome. But I decided to try it on Friday and it made such a big difference. I didn’t even mind carrying the bottle because it gave me something to do with my hands.

im not sure what to do with my hands

I was feeling good — I had just finished my run without crapping out and was on the cool down, when I realized my headband was missing. I like to wear a headband to keep the sweat and flyaway hairs off my face. It’s not a fancy fitness band — it’s a cotton headband that I bought at least 15 years ago during my headband phase. It had sentimental value — I was not going to just leave it on the ground somewhere in Regent’s Park. So I backtracked, scanning the ground as I walked. But walking is slow, so I started running — not so much for fitness this time, but necessity — I needed time to get back and shower before going out to lunch with a friend. I alternated jogging and walking all the way back to the rose garden, where I saw a glimmer of blue hanging off the main gate. My headband must have fallen off somewhere in the garden and someone hung it up on the gate hoping I’d find it. I tucked it into my pocket (who knows where it had been) and took off towards the zoo, having backtracked about a mile. I felt no shame ordering french fries at lunch.

The incident reminded me of the time I lost my ID badge for work in Chicago, which is a bit more important than a headband. I scanned the sidewalk between my office and apartment in a panic and eventually found my badge hanging from a fence where someone had obviously placed it. I guess sweaty headbands and ID badges are not top theft items, but it’s still nice when people are nice.