gratitude

weekenders on our own

Just a perfect day
Problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own
It's such fun
- Lou Reed

Sometimes the best days are the unplanned ones. 

shoreditch-street-art-a-nahu

We expected rain, being stuck indoors, winter still blowing its frosty breath over the city. Instead, it was pleasantly overcast when we met our friends at Old Street tube and took the scenic route, through the streets of Shoreditch which are like galleries with vast, colourful murals everywhere you look, to a cafe for the best vegan burger in London:

essential-vegan-burger
cassava-chips
street-art-broadway

 

Then we walked around Columbia Road, past Hackney City Farm where we saw baby goats frolicking in the grass, and then up to Broadway Market where we stood elbow to elbow with East London's hipster population jostling for vintage clothes, killer brownies, raw milk, giant cheese toasties, coffee and sourdough bread. I came for Frida.

Actually, I think it's meant to be a blend of Frida and Diego!

Actually, I think it's meant to be a blend of Frida and Diego!

 

Then we walked back to Haggerston along the canal. The sun came out and we unpeeled ourselves from our coats with glee. We made a brief stop at Proud East for probably the best Virgin Mary I've ever had:

virgin-mary
phil-and-lisa
phil-and-tom

Refreshed, we walked further along Regent's Canal up to Islington. The air was cold but the sun was out, and I could smell the sweet perfume of violets on the banks, wood-fired stoves in the canal boats, and coffee from the riverside cafes. We saw a group of friends drifting along the river in a floating hot tub. I took note of the company for future reference!

We wandered through Camden Passage, as the stallholders began to wrap their unsold wares in newspaper and box them up, and there was still a queue at the Breakfast Club. We stopped for a pint in the Camden Head (our new favourite place in this part of town).

tom-camden-head

When a day turns out to be unexpectedly fun, in the gentle company of true friends with whom you can just be yourself, with delicious food, refreshing beverages, the weather surprisingly fine and the promise of spring hovering on the horizon.....these are the days that I live for. 

the writer's garden

"The soil is warming. We gardeners grow ever more watchful, sniffing the air as excitedly as beagles, peering into the vegetation to detect those first thrilling signs of life. Is that a distance haze of green? Wait: did you hear birdsong? At long long last, after months of enforced dormancy, we tell ourselves it might be time to begin." - Charlotte Mendelson, "Rhapsody in Green"


The last weekend in March, I planted early potatoes. A week later, the rhubarb we'd given up for dead did a Jesus and came back to life, the blueberry bush began sprouting green leaves and the cherry tree exploded in pink blossoms.

Tom and I went out for a run and came back to a generous bag of horse manure on the front step, gift of our mechanic, also a keen gardener who told me rhubarb loves horse manure and he had a reliable local source.

My packets of seeds have been out on the bench for the last few weekends, waiting for the right, ripe moment to sow as April marches into May.

As Charlotte Mendelson writes in her lovely book of essays, this is such a nice time of year to be a gardener - a time where hope triumphs over experience, where we sow and are thrilled by the potential, like applying for a job we really want - you send your CV off, put the seed in the ground, and for a while, anything can happen. It's a lovely feeling.

Today I planted french beans and courgettes (zucchini), and there is a tomato plant on my kitchen windowsill. The cherry blossoms are falling and fading, to make way for the green leaves and fruit. The potatoes are thriving. The rhubarb is Trump-like in its determination to beat all the odds and completely take over. 

I love my garden. I hope it will be an abundant year, in every sense.

how I started running again

As most of you would know, I run for beer! :) 

As most of you would know, I run for beer! :) 

On Sunday I ran the RunThrough.co.uk Finsbury Park 10k race. It was -4 degrees, I ran with about four layers on, wasn't able to keep my no-toilet-break record, and stopped to walk twice, but I finished! And that was all I wanted.

It’s been a strange couple of years for me. Full of incredible highs, but equally full of lows. Stress, anxiety, grief, burnout…. they certainly make life less fun. They rob you of the ability to see the bigger picture. My wellbeing/self-care is always the first to suffer when I feel like that. But the desire to run, to keep up the kind of training I'd been doing, had completely left me, After years of running a half marathon every weekend, I was exhausted and needed a break.

That's not to say I've not gone running since then - but it's been jogs round the block when I could be bothered, really. But until Sunday I hadn't run a proper race since 2013. Sunday was my first 10k in all that time.

I started running again last year. Once a week, with a group at work. I was in a very apathetic place, very much with a can't-be-fucked-what's-the-point mindset, but figured once a week was better than nothing. Most weeks I managed between 4 and 5k on those runs. It wasn’t a marathon, but, as I say, better than nothing.

I spent so much of last year feeling utterly drained, unable to move forward. Spending such a long time in the company of your past takes a real toll on your sense of self, I discovered. I spent a lot of last year wondering who the hell I was any more. Things that used to be so easy for me were suddenly REALLY BIG THINGS. Like going to parties where I didn’t know anyone. Like writing. Like running. Those things used to excite me, give me energy. But now I NEEDED energy to do them. It was exhausting, frustrating and left me in a bit of a heap.

2017 is only 26 days old but I’ve already bought new running shoes, done two park runs, my standard run with my work running group is now 6k and now I’ve done my first 10k race in nearly 4 years.

Six years ago, almost to the day, I had just started training for the London marathon. I was doing 10ks before breakfast. So you might think it’s a bit disheartening to only be doing 5ks and 10ks considering how fit I used to be. But it’s really not. I feel so happy, so grateful, to be running again I don't care about the distances. I just want to run. It's part of who I am. Something I didn't realise until I wasn't doing it any more.

My life has been a series of ebbs and flows, ups and downs. You can’t have one without the other. The story I shared in The Latte Years keeps going. I’m not the same person who went through all those highs and lows in the book – I’m not even the same person who wrote it, a mere two years ago. I’m a work in progress, always. I’m (still) learning that when life gets a bit much, as it does for all of us, not to let go of the things that take a bit more effort than sitting on the couch with Netflix and crisps, because it's those things that truly light me up from the inside.

Returning to running - not just a jog here and there when I could be bothered - has been marvellous. Not just the joy of being physically active and pushing my body beyond its comfort zone, but I’m remembering how to be my own cheerleader. I’m remembering how important it is just to show up and give it a go - you don't have to be the best, just do YOUR best. How important it is to just run your own race and not worry about what other people are doing, how much further ahead they may or may not be. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my good health, for the ability to run at all. I have been reminded that negative thinking, in running and in life, is a luxury I simply cannot afford.

Most of all, thanks to running, I feel more like myself than I have felt in a very long time.

PS: I totally signed up for that 10k because of the medal. Isn't it beautiful?

philippamoorerunthroughuk10kfinsburyparkmedal