Swimming like an Olympian at the London Aquatics Centre

The London Aquatics Centres was the venue of the swimming and diving competitions during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Olympic Park closed for a long time after the event and re-opened for visitors on 5 April. I think the Aquatics Centres has been open for a while longer. It’s run by GLL under the Better brand – just like many other public swimming pools in London.

I went there a few weeks ago with my swimming buddy and it was actually really nice to be back in the Olympic Park area.  Walking up to the area was quite nostalgic! It brought back memories, spotting that strange tower (the ArcelorMittal Orbit) in the distance and then actually going inside the Aquatrics Centre and wait – I’m allowed to swim in here? Where I was previously a spectator to the diving world championships? Amazing!

It is actually a really beautiful building from the inside and it’s such a luxury to have all this space. We swam in the 50 meter pool. It was huge compared to the suffocating 18 meter basement pool at LA Fitness that I normally swim in.

We had booked our slot for 10 o’clock and that seemed to be early enough to beat the crowds and the families that were arriving closer to 11am.

All in all it was a really great experience and I definitely want to go back soon. Mainly because of the vast amounts of space. Nothing beats a 50m pool!

All photos shot by me on my Canon EOS 5000 camera on 35mm film.

A visit to SPIN London

SPIN is a cycling exhibition that last took place in The Old Truman Brewery in East London at the end of March. It’s an annual event. I popped in for a couple of hours because I was interested in all the cycling related little shops that were exhibiting. There were a few actual bike shops and lots of clothes and crafty shops – all related to cycling. And I’m talking about the ‘lifestyle’ type of cycling rather than the competitive ‘lycra’ type of cycling.

For some reason there is an unwritten rule that cycling and coffee go together. I still haven’t really understood where this is coming from but there seems to be universal agreement among the cycling community. So in addition to the obligatory coffee stand, a cycling related art gallery had a picture that was painted with coffee. Way to combine these two favourites! Read about the coffee painting workshop

I personally cycle to work whenever I can but I probably fall more into the lycra type cyclist category – I usually wear sporty outfits and reflective neon jackets. I’m more concerned about safety than I am about looking cool. At the same time I can’t really cycle in my work dresses. It’s just not practical.

It is quite a big effort (and an expensive one at that) to be a stylish cyclist. Not an effort that I want to make – but I still enjoyed all the pretty things that were on display at SPIN.

SPIN London website

All photos shot by me on my Canon EOS 5000 camera on 35mm film.

Cardigan Club Cafe

*** Update 23 June 2014: This cafe is unfortunately closed down now. Very sad! :(  Now I have to get my breakfast elsewhere…***

I’ve been smitten with that new cafe in Tufnell Park, the Cardigan Club Cafe, ever since I discovered it a couple of weeks ago. I think it has been open for a few months now but the outside is relatively inconspicuous. I guess that’s why it hadn’t really caught my eye.

It has really cute decoration and you can tell that the owners put a lot of effort into it and have great attention to detail. The walls are covered with a mix of cardigans, Vietnamese rice bags, old knitting magazines in picture frames and tons of other stuff. Upstairs they have comfy couches and book shelves. Downstairs they have tables and a three window seats where you can look outside into the street. They also have some vintage props like an old typewriter and sewing machine.

The food is a mix of Vietnamese and French. The coffee is good and so far I’ve tried the Vietnamese breakfast omelette (“Yellow Fever” – also comes in bread roll) and the garlic pork pork banh mi baguette. Both were excellent and I’m sure I’ll go back there very soon!