Dog Friendly London Bridge (AD)

The spending money for our day out was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own

Dog Friendly London Bridge - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

 Where I go, my dog goes.

Since Loki joined our family a few months ago we’ve been having a great time finding all the best dog friendly places to hang out in London. There are loads of cool cafes, shops and pubs that welcome pups all over the city and we were thrilled when we were asked asked us to check out where to hang out with canine companions around London Bridge.

The most obvious place to visit around London Bridge is Borough Market, but heads up it isn’t dog friendly (with the exception of guide dogs). We decided instead to head down when the market is closed on a Sunday and explore what else is on offer in the area, and it was well worth thinking outside the box! We found some real gems, and plenty more places that we’re planning to head back to very soon!

Dog Friendly London Bridge - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

 Aesop

5 Park St, SE1 9AB

Just off Borough Market is Aesop, one of my favourite shops in London.  I love Aesop’s products, and because Loki has been a bit stinky recently I figured it was about time we pick him up some of their lovely doggie shampoo for his next bath, he probably won’t appreciate it but he will smell lovely. The shop itself is lovely and welcomes canine companions with a scratch behind the ear while the assistants offer humans fab skincare advice. Nothing is too much bother, without there being too much fuss.

Dog Friendly London Bridge - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

3Bis Gelateria

4 Park Street, SE1 9AB

 I was so gutted we didn’t manage to try this ice cream because I have it on good authority it is epic, but unfortunately the queue was pretty long and Loki wasn’t up for waiting! The café itself welcomes dogs and their humans and offers a quieter alternative to some of the busier spots in the area (vital if you have a little dog who likes to get all up in everyone’s business).

Dog Friendly London Bridge - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Vinegar Yard

72082 St Thomas St, SE1 3QU

I love all the open air spots that are popping up across the city, and Vinegar Yard is my latest find. Sitting in the sun, sipping a G+T from the Tanqueray Gin Bar while Loki sniffed around was bliss and it was so lovely when the staff brought him over his own bowl of water and took the time to give him huge fusses (his favourite thing ever). The great thing about spots like this is there’s always loads of choice when it comes to food and drink, and we opted for Nanny Bill’s amazing Mac and Cheese Croquets (I have a big thing for croquets right now) which were delicious, followed by Secret Nick’s Frozen Custard, which was thoroughly tested by Loki! Browsing the vintage market was a great way to occupy Loki when he got a bit wiggly, and although I didn’t buy anything I did spot Knembroidery’s cool embroidery which I’ll definitely be investigating further.

Dog Friendly London Bridge - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Dog Friendly Pubs

 Because the weather was so beautiful when we visited London Bridge we didn’t end up visiting any of the pubs in the area, but there are a few that I know are dog friendly and we’re looking forward to trying in the Autumn….watch this space for reviews!

 *Thanks to Hotels.com for making this fun day out happen. As always, all opinions are my own.

Running in the City

Running in the City - A Pretty Place to Play

Back when I first started running I was lucky enough to make friends with an awesome group of women who called themselves Team Naturally. Founded by Leah, we were a virtual run club who'd meet informally for long runs and brunch. Those runs really boosted my confidence at a time life was pretty difficult, and I made some amazing friends! Over the years life has changed for a lot of us, we've all got new goals and priorities and don't get to run together as much. I do miss those Sunday run days, so when Charlie and Veronica suggested a run and brunch I jumped! 

Running in the City - A Pretty Place to Play

Meeting a bunch of people you don't really know outside a random restaurant in Moorgate brought back such fond memories of Team Naturally's Sunday runs, and it took me to one of my favourite parts of the city for a weekend run. Monday to Friday this area is teeming with people in suits rushing around, but at the weekend it's dead, which means there's lots of pavement to play with! After a quick warm up with Veronica we were off, following the tunes down to the Tower of London for a game of dodge the tourist as we ran across Tower Bridge and down to County Hall. Somewhere along the way I managed to roll my ankle, something I've not done for ages, and always a scary moment! Luckily no damage was done and after a quick wiggle I was off again, but it was nerve-wracking for a moment! 

Running in the City - A Pretty Place to Play

Trotting along the river, chatting away, is the nicest way to spend a morning. Sometimes you run with a group and things just don't work out, people sprint off, others get left behind, the chat is a bit rubbish. That wasn't at all the case on this run! Everyone was so kind and friendly, waiting for each other, running at the pace of the slowest person, looking after each other. Everything I value the most when running in a group! 

Running in the City - A Pretty Place to Play

Crossing the river at Millennium Bridge, and taking in the best view of St Pauls in the city, we headed back to The Folly for a well earned brunch. Especially well earned given it was Mike and I's anniversary at the weekend and I had a little adult headache! Unfortunately The Folly didn't really follow through when it came to brunch. It took 50 minutes for our coffee to arrive with no apology, and although my omelette was good, it wasn't amazing. As a last minute venue (our first choice was closed for renovations) it was a good shout, but I wouldn't rush to go there again. I would however run with this lot again, it was just lovely!

Thank you so much to Veronica and Charlie for organising this get together! 

Lady Garden Run 5km

Lady Garden Run A Pretty Place To Play

It's always good to kick things off with a bang, especially when that thing is a new marathon training cycle. Yes, I said marathon. For various reasons I'm postponing my ultra marathon and instead I'll be running Bournmouth Marathon in October. It's a decision that I feel really good about, and if this year has taught me anything, it's that my gut is usually right.

Back to kicking things off with a bang. To know where you're going, you need to know where you're at, and what better way to work that out than with a 5k time trial! Time trials are a regular feature of my training, and I have to admit they're sessions I dread. It is hard to push yourself. I run because I enjoy it, not because I want to push myself to the point where I feel sick. However, because I've decided to train in a particular way, a way that'll mean I'm stronger and will enjoy my marathon more, these bursts of discomfort are a necessary evil. But, after experiencing time trial dread last training cycle, this time I needed to find a way to make the necessary evil less, well, evil. As luck would have it, the first day of this cycle coincided with the Lady Garden Run, and it turned out to be the perfect antidote to time trial fear. 

A race around Hyde Park that raises funds for the Gynaecological Cancer Fund, a charity that is doing amazing work exploring precision therapies to treat a range of cancers. I try to take part every year, and it's one of the few charity races I do. It's nice because it's a small run, it has a community focus, and it's sponsors mean the goodie bag is on point (hello Nail's Inc polishes). Plus Lululemon do the t-shirts. Those fun perks aside, the work that Dr Dr Susana Banerjee, Consultant Medical Oncologist and Gynaecology Research Lead at The Royal Marsden, does is groundbreaking, and I hope will make a difference for a generation of women to come. If I can support that by running a 5km time trial I'd have to grit my teeth through anyway, well then I will. It's good motivation.

The route takes in the sights of Hyde Park, a 5k lap (twice, if you're doing the 10k) that skirts along The Serpentine and then snakes through the park, zigzagging through shady trees and across the open grass (where I may have caught the sun - wear sunscreen people). The Lady Garden Run isn't on a closed course, so there is the odd runner and walker out and about, but the course has been designed in a way that dodges most of the crowds. Or the swarm of runners could've put them off. Some of the paths are a little narrow, so there can be a bit of congestion, especially as this race is about as far from a club run as you can get (kids! dogs! buggies! walkers!), I love that, but real speed demons might not be into it. However, Hyde Park is so flat it's easy to overtake if you need to, without being an awful person about it. 

The plan going into this race was to go flat out. It was a time trial after all. Originally I wanted to use my watch to gauge how I switched up and down the gears (how much I pushed myself at any given point), but it didn't sync in time for the gun, so this one was on feel. Using my breathing to gauge where I was at, when I could push, when I needed to pull back, cranking it up as the miles passed under my feet. In and out through the nose at first, in the nose and out the mouth as I pushed, in the mouth and out the mouth as I crossed the line. For the whole race I knew I was doing things on my body's terms, and it paid off, a PB 27:30 on the gun. Progress compared to where I've been at. A surprise after legs feeling like lead for weeks. And a medal, who doesn't love a medal?! 

Turns out time trials are ok. In the right environment.