Floral Bench at Covent Garden London

London Marathon Weekend with sightseeing and shopping!

Last weekend, we had a child free weekend in London. Eddies mum came to stay to look after Luna and the kids, whilst we headed off for the  train from Nottingham to London St Pancras.

Eddie and I were so excited as its years since we last had a trip to London.  Of course nothing is ever that straight forward for us, so first to back track to Thursday…..

Thursday – the day before London

The Orthodontist was due to fit Tom braces, so I took an impromptu day off work.  I also had to go to buy him a new school blazer. Also, I hadn’t so far taken a day off over the Easter half term. I ended up going to two different shops for the blazer, one in Nottingham and one in Derby, as the Nottingham store did not have the blazer in stock.

Hair bleaching…..

Next on the list of jobs to do, was bleaching my daughters hair. She wanted to go grey, but her hair was too dark. The type of bleach she’d bought was where there were four powders in a box, and you buy the bottles of bleach (developer?) separate.  Chloe had bought 2 bottles, so I popped back out to Superdrug for more as I knew it wouldn’t be enough.  It took another 4 bottles and 4 hours to lighten her hair.

Chloe was going to apply the grey colour on the Saturday.  Typically, Chloe’s work then phoned wanting to know if she could work the next day (Friday) as someone had rang in sick.  Panic!!!  We realised we would have to put the one box of grey on and hope for the best. In the end I coated the top, sides and underneath so she could at least tie it back for work.

It took until 12.10am and I had to be up at 6am as Chloe was at work for 6.50am – eek!

Friday – the day we went to London!

Thanks for bearing with me and reading this far!  Finally the start of the weekend!

Our train to London was at 10.30am, we arrived at the train station for 9.30am, as my sister gave us a lift.  It was fine though, as neither of us had eaten so we decided to pop to Starbucks.  We shared two brekkie sandwiches and had a coffee each, whilst listening in and people watching.  There was an interesting meeting taking place, and we were trying to work out what was going on.  I know, we are too nosey, but its interesting trying to guess what’s going on, and unusually it was more Eddie listening than me!

On the train, we sat opposite another runner who had done the London Marathon multiple times before.  She gave us great bits of advice – for me for where to stand, and for Eddie, about his bag and belongings.  She explained to him, how well organised the bag drop is. Basically, it is so busy he needs to be self sufficient and have stuff that would enable him to manage, should he not be able to meet me after for whatever reason.  We hadn’t even thought about that, but it was sound advice.

After the train got in we had the mad idea to walk from London St Pancras to Blackfriars, where we were staying – it actually wasn’t a bad walk and we enjoyed it.  But after check in we got an Uber to the Expo at the London Excel.

The Expo at London Excel

The expo was brilliant – lots of really expensive merchandise, but also lots of freebies too.  Eddie purchased a ‘stick of torture’ – it’s used to massage sore muscles etc.  We also entered lots of competitions for various other marathons around the world.  But the most important bit; he picked up his all important number and timing chip.

We came out at about 5pm and we were starving so we had a quick burger between us, as our table for dinner was booked for 7.30m which felt like a lifetime away!

We got back to the hotel for about 6.30 so just enough time to get changed, head down to the bar for a quick drink before meeting my sister and her husband (another marathoner) who were staying at the same hotel, and who we were going for dinner with.  Dinner was fairly low key, followed by a lovely walk long the Thames.

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After a good nights sleep it was time for sight seeing.  First we went to Covent Garden – some lovely shops here including Muji, Kiki K and lots more. Lovely floral benches where everyone sat to take pics, they were beautiful.

From Covent Garden we went on to the British Museum and then on to SpitalFields Market. It was the first time I have ever been there. Again a lovely indoor market, with lots of food vendors and other things too.  If you haven’t been to London before, I highly recommend all of these places. We went back to the hotel and then on to Oxford/Regent Street.  By now, we had walked about 12 miles according to my Apple Watch! So much for a rest day for Eddie.

Floral Bench at Covent Garden London
Julie on a Floral Bench at Covent Garden London

We hadn’t made any plans for dinner, but we decided to go to Pizza Express so Eddie so that he could ‘carb load’

The restaurant staff let some young boys on skateboards have a table just behind us. Teens are sometimes given a hard time. Young people can be ignored or not treated fairly in a restaurant, but these lads were clearly not there to enjoy a nice meal.  Ordering a couple of drinks and starters, they only ordered more when they were asked to leave.  A few of them were in and out and at one point, I think there were about 8 of them (which felt a bit intimidating). The staff told them to leave, but they wouldn’t and instead sat swearing, talking about drugs and stabbing someone!

In the end, we only had one drink each, and we were left for ages after we finished our main, with no one asking if it was ok or if we wanted desert.  We did complain and got the equivalent of the drinks knocked off the bill. In hindsight, we probably should have just walked out, but that’s not really our way. We sympathised with the staff, but they handled the situation badly. It hasn’t put us off Pizza Express, but it certainly wasn’t the enjoyable evening we had hoped for.


Sunday – London Marathon Day

At 5.30 am the alarm went off, but it felt like we hadn’t slept at all.  Everything annoyed me during the night. The smoke alarm was flashing; the light from the corridor shone under the door; the noisy air con (that wasn’t!) – none of it bothered me the night before, so I know it wasn’t an issue with the room, it was me.  Obviously, I wasn’t running, but I knew Eddie hadn’t recovered well from his injuries from last year. The injuries had plagued his training, so was worrying about him being able to complete it all.

Eddie left early to get to the start and even though there was a problem with the train, he still got his bag on the lorry.  I had an easy, leisurely breakfast and by the time I hit the tube, it was quiet.  I went to the birdcage part of the course at St James Park which was about 800m from the finish.  The one thing I will say is that the atmosphere is unbelievable. I don’t think I could run 26 miles, but if anything, the support and atmosphere certainly makes you want to have a go.  There are so many people down there, it isn’t a place for someone who hates crowds – and for shorter people like me, you find that you spend most of your time watching on your toes!

He managed to complete the race. It took him an hour longer than the last marathon he did 2 years ago at Lake Windermere , but his leg went at mile 6 so he ran walked 20 miles so did so well to even finish it.

Edward Buda with London Marathon Medal
Eddie with his Medal! Apologies for the photo – I was very emotional so not my best work!! I have tried to blur the people around who didn’t ask to be in my photo!

His finish time was 4 hrs 54 mins – still quicker than I would ever do it in, even uninjured!!  Eddie has gone though various emotions; First, at the finish he was quitting running, then just not running marathons, later he was just not running London again. He will enter the ballot again as he now has unfinished business!

After the race we managed to get to Wagamama for late lunch. Eddie couldn’t really eat, but I was starving by then.  After lunch/tea we only had a bit of time before heading off to the station for the late train back.  Why I decided a train back at 8.35pm, with a change of train at Grantham, would be a good idea I’ll never know! I think I did it purely on price!  We finally got into Nottingham train station at 10.50pm and home back in Ilkeston at about 11.30pm.

And that was that. A very long, tiring, but very enjoyable weekend came to a close. If he does it again next year I think I would probably stay on the Sunday night too.  We only went back on Sunday because of getting the kids to school on Monday.  Who knows Chloe may be driving next year. The only other thing I would change, is that I would probably try to not do quite so much on the Saturday!

Hope you enjoyed this post – sorry it is sooo long!!  I knew it would take a while to write, so I have been chipping away at it all week!

I have another post on what I bought at Muji, that won’t be quite so meaty though!!!

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