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London Calling, Paula and John Candy

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London Calling, Paula and John Candy
London Calling, Paula and John Candy
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UK London Calling, Paula and John Candy

In the 4th of Dylan Wykes' articles of his Edinburgh World Cross and experiencing English culture we follow his visit to London and the final part of his John Candy - Trains, Planes and Automobiles - with a boat thrown in on his way to Rotterdam

London Calling

I just spent a day in London, trying to see the sights. Much to my delight I had no trouble navigating the underground system in London. Having spent 4 or 5 weekends in NYC over the years helped with that.

Had an interesting experience on the train journey in from Loughborough.

The train stopped maybe 2 stations shy of London St Pancras. At that point the anticipation and excitement was as high as it gets! The conductor came on and said things are bit congested, we just hit a few red lights, shouldn’t be longer than 3 or 4 minutes before we arrive.

A few minutes later he comes on again and says there has been a security alert in London St. Pancreas a suspicious package was found. The bomb squad should be there in 5 minutes, they’ll clear it out and we’ll be on our away again in 10 minutes!

This was all delivered in a very casual, personal manner. I thought, wow, they certainly handle these things much differently from good ole Homeland Security in America. In the States some computerized voice would have come on and said something like the security level has been raised to Red, people would have no idea what it meant, then some sirens would probably start going off and panic would hit.

The guy came on the PA a few more times increasing the delay time. Eventually we did have to evacuate the train and take the underground into London.

Once in London the day went without any further bomb scares.

Surprisingly, I actually found the older, perhaps less hip, sights and areas such as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace to be far more interesting than the shopping areas around Regent and Oxford Streets.

Although there were a few different stores in the area it was dominated by many of the same stores you’d see in big cities in America. I am not sure if there is anything note worthy about purchasing a shirt from Urban Outfitters in London, but I couldn’t see the point considering everything was so ridiculously expensive.

I did however purchase a shirt at H&M for $5 because I was freezing!

Picadilly Circus was a bit odd to me. It had that overwhelming sense of Global Capitalism, with big billboards and restaurants like Hard Rock Café and TGI Friday’s (or restaurants along those lines). But, most of the buildings were really old and weren’t reaching into the clouds.

I guess I was trying to make too may comparisons with Time Square. I stumbled upon a guy selling nuts, in what appeared to be the same fashion as ‘NUTS4NUTS’ stalls on the streets of NYC. I love NUTS! So had to try them, despite this guy being the only guy in all of London I’d seen selling them. Well, he should quit, because they paled in comparison to the NYC nuts.

Although a tour guide or a decent guidebook would have helped with the history behind some sights, all in all, it was a good day. London is an astounding mix of really old buildings with amazing architecture and modern consumer culture found in many big cities all over the world.

I would definitely love to spend more time there. But, I have to put the feet up and start focusing my energies on conquering 26.2miles at 5:07/mile!

How hot can you go???

I managed to be very good about eating healthy and cooking most meals in house, for most of my stay in Loughborough.

But, on the weekend we decided to venture out for a meal.

Going to a traditional British pub probably would have been a bit lame for the people I was with. So, they decided on this place called Nando’s . It is a chain restaurant in the UK– similar to Swiss Chalet (for you Canadians out there) - specializing in roasted chicken, roasted chicken, and roasted chicken.

(TheEd edit - Nandos is a chain originally from South Africa with a Portuguese theme )

It was a fun experience though, because you got to select the level of spiciness of the Peri-Peri marinade on the chicken.

There slogan was something like ‘go ahead set the world on fire, you owe it to yourself’.

There was big talk of going Extra Hot, but the waitress sort of talked us out of it and we went with just Hot.

We did sample some Extra Hot wings and were disappointed we didn’t go Extra Hot for everything. There was also bottomless soda and bottomless frozen yogurt involved, which made for a very filling experience.

Everyone seemed to enjoy things so much, and were so tempted by the Extra Hot that we returned the next night for a Jumbo platter all Extra Hot. We also emptied the apparently not so bottomless frozen yogurt machine twice on our second visit!


I was out on one of my final training runs this morning, an easy 45 minutes. I headed to the Outwoods, the forest I ran in on my first day in Loughborough, for two laps around.

The woods was mostly filled with dog walkers, but I did see someone coming towards me at a quick pace. As this someone got closer I realized it wasn’t just any old runner, it was Paula Radcliffe.

She gave me a friendly ‘hi ya’ as she flew past me in the opposite direction.

I thought about turning around and trying to run with her, and maybe asking her for a bit of advice, but after realizing that might be a little weird I also realized she was going far too fast for me. (I hope she was doing a session, but my best guess is that she was just out for a regular training run).

I knew that Paula went to University here and Thommo pointed out where she has a house here (right near the Outwoods). But, I knew she spent a lot more time at other training bases in Monaco, the Pyrenees, etc. I don’t usually get to be awed by running stars. I’ve met, ran past, and lined up with some of the best in the World including Haile Gebrselassie.

But, for some reason I thought it was really amazing to have Paula Radcliffe run past me on her home training grounds. It was really motivating and I picked it up the rest of my run, in case I crossed paths were her again, I didn’t want to look like a plodder!

Plane, trains, and automobiles………and boats too!

Getting to Rotterdam from the UK is pretty straightforward.

There are a lot of discount airlines that operate out of smaller airports, including East Midlands (not far from Loughborough).

But, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to take the boat across the North Sea. It turned out to be a bit of an adventure.

I took the train into London (no bomb scare this time) made a transfer and then arrived at the ferry. I boarded straight away, because I wanted to get to sleep. It was about 10pm at that point.

I decided to have a wander around before going to sleep and the boat was actually really nice. It had a couple of restaurants, two bars, a mini-casino, and a movie theatre. So, I guess if you wanted to stay up all night there would be plenty of entertainment.

The sleeping quarters were nice. Basically just two bunk beds, a desk, a closet, and a bathroom. I managed to sleep really well too. I was warned that the north seas could be pretty rough and I might have trouble sleeping.

When I woke up, I pigged out at the buffet breakfast, to start my carbo-loading!

final article - Rotterdam and the race
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