Weekend Reading

There are so many tabs open on my laptop this morning that I thought it would be a good idea to pop them all here, so that you can enjoy your lazy bank holiday Monday with them too!

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Kathrine Switzer illustration by Will Jarvis

Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon. Women were thought too “fragile” to be able to run long distances, and attempts were made to forcibly remove her from the race. This was only in 1967. Women weren’t admitted to the Boston Marathon until 1972. NINETEEN SEVENTY-TWO. I know.

I read Elif Batuman’s novel The Idiot a couple of weeks ago, and loved it. This is a great interview from Vulture.

I am late to the Father John Misty party, but look at this interview. (Also his new album is great.)

Zadie Smith On Optimism & Despair. Heart eyes.

Cities now have a 1:300 ratio of foxes to people. I think Woolwich’s ratio is higher.

George Saunders exploring What Writers Really Do When They Write for the Guardian is, obviously, wonderful.

I’m moving to Leytonstone next month (eep!), so I’m on the hunt for new haunts. Emma Jane Palin’s guides to Leyton and Walthamstow are good. Send me your East London recommendations!

I’m off to eat more chocolate – hope you’re having an equally sugar fuelled weekend!!

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Yin Yoga

Yesterday, after a week of 30th birthday shenanigans (hi I’m a grownup now), Harriet and I went to a three-hour Yin Yoga class at new studio The Yoga Space London, on the Royal Arsenal.  Added bonus; I got to test out my fancy Liforme yoga mat too. Ha.

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Three hours sounds like a lot of yoga, right? Wrong. Three hours of yoga is amazing.  Technically, I guess, it was two and a half hours of yoga, and then half an hour of a sound bath and savasana. I am so zen now.

The Yoga Space website explains Yin Yoga like this…
Yin Yoga is very much the practice of slowing down. We live in an increasingly, fast paced environment, how often do we really take time to connect with sensations in the physical and mental body?
Yin Yoga provides an opportunity to slow down and connect with ourselves. Postures are done mainly seated or lying down and are held for several minutes allowing the muscular system to relax and soften. Yin yoga encourages self-acceptance, space, inner enquiry and a state of peace.

Having three hours to practice it was a perfect amount of time, and went really quickly!  There were no standing poses, but the class definitely had parts that were pretty challenging – holding a pose for 5-10 minutes is harder than you might think (also, I’m apparently much bendier on one side than on the other…?!)

Lying under a nice fluffy blanket with an eye mask whilst Dolores worked her gong magic was a perfect end to the class.  There’s an hour and a half gong bath at the end of this month, and – work allowing – I’m definitely going to go.  It’s the most chilled I’ve felt for a really long time.

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I’ve borrowed this picture from The Yoga Space London’s facebook page – look how cute the little room is!

The Yoga Space only opened its doors last month, and this was the first class I’ve been to there, but I loved it.  The studio is such a nice little space, with a great big window at the front, and the classes are all really small.  There are going to be Yin Yoga workshop classes every month, as well as tons of daily classes in all different sorts of yoga – the class schedule is here.

Harriet and I followed up our super zen yoga class with a LOT of carbs and wine (first one v recommended, second one not so much – drink lots of water) at Con Gusto, and honestly I could eat the gnocchi in there forever.  As an end to my birthday week off work, it was pretty awesome.

I’d love to know if you’ve done a Yin Yoga class before, or if you’ve tried a gong bath (I was really intrigued, and it was so great) – what do you think?

 

 

(DISCLAIMER: I paid for my workshop place, and only decided I was even going to write about it after going – Dolores set up The Yoga Space London by herself and its incredible.  Go support her and the studio, and get your head decluttered at the same time.)

A return to the Royal Hotel

Hello!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  The first couple of months of this year has literally whizzed past, and I can’t believe it’s March already.  Anyway, here is my momentous return to this neglected little blog, and what a return it is. It’s also a return to The Royal Hotel, which I visited not long after its reopening last year.

The restaurant upstairs has got a snazzy new menu, the downstairs bar has got amazing new cocktails, and – excitingly – the basement is opening soon as a brand new absinthe bar.

Let’s (always) start at the bar.

The Royal’s mixologists are continually testing out new cocktails, and they’re adding signature recipes to the menu all the time.  I tried one of the new ones, The Sloe Paddington, and it was delicious.  Sloe gin (tick), raspberry gin liqueur (tick), lemon juice, mint, and marmalade. God, it was good.  Mama Bear had a  mock-jito because she was driving, and it’s probably a good job, because it was gone so quickly that if it had had alcohol in it, it would’ve gone straight to her head. Ha.

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After a couple of cocktails, our table was ready, so we went up to the ballroom to eat.  We had some bread and hummus whilst we debated the rest of the menu, and for starters, I went for the soup of the day (everywhere should do carrot and chilli soup, all the time), and Mum had pan seared scallops with black pudding and pea puree fondant, pancetta, and sour cream, and I have to say, it looked stunning.

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For mains, I opted for the new vegetarian dish, a braised garlic and herb puy lentil tapalone, and, inspired by the wildlife that has taken up residence in my parents’ garden, Mum had coq au vin style pheasant (!)

Our mains were really good; Mum said she wasn’t sure she’d eaten pheasant before, but that she’d have it again.  My plate looked like a flower when it arrived, but I deconstructed it pretty quick.  The only thing I’d say was maybe a downside was that it was mostly lentils; the tapalone is like a dumpling filled with lentils, and there are lentils with the green beans too.  It was good, but if you’re not a big lentil fan, it might not be for you.  On thinking about it, it actually might be a vegan option, rather than just vegetarian, but I’ll have to check!  We munched it all up and had a little break to decide on dessert.

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I didn’t manage to take a picture of my lemon tart before I ate it, but Mum and I shared that and some mixed sorbet – the flavours change about, but the lemongrass and basil is loooovely. We’d spent so long nattering over dinner that the parking had run out by the time we were finished, so I took a few instagram pics of the sun setting out of the window, and then we dashed back to the car.

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I should also mention that the service at the Royal has been AMAZING both times I’ve been.  The staff are friendly, and chatty, and really know what they’re talking about. If you have no idea what a tapalone is (just us?), they’re happy to explain anything, and they were superb.

I’m excited to see what the absinthe bar is like when it’s done – it’s something really fun and different, and Southend is really pulling it’s socks up on places to go out.  It’ll have a gin distillery any day now 😉

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*We were offered dinner and drinks at the Royal Hotel in return for an honest review.  As ever, all words/opinions/pictures are my own!