London Fiction: A Short Story – Part II

A Pilgrim’s Journey
I reach the tube station at around 08:30am after a short walk and brief pit stop outside for a second fix. The set-up looks like a food truck. “Oh, how we’ve grown to love a pop-up” the cynic in me screams. It’s a bit fraudulent really because the silver caravan and it’s fold-out canopy have been parked here for the duration of my tenancy. Probably longer, in fact. I debate clearing this detail up with the owner, but what the hell difference does it make. I’m here for the fix, like everyone else, and that’s it. Its the hollow heave before the deep dive underground, and that’s far more important than conceptual discrepancies.
London Fiction: A Short Story - PT II
     There’s a rhythm. These once-weekly interactions typically pan out the same way. “Morning, Ciaran,” he says as I reach the front of the queue. The name thing is disarmingly familiar, and while I’ve always admired people’s ability to remember fatuous personal information, it’s particularly troubling in this context because I don’t remember introductions ever taking place. Even more troubling is the fact that I don’t know his name. He’s just the coffee guy to me.
     We must have done the exchange at some point. It wouldn’t surprise me because most of the time in these sorts of situations I concentrate so hard on the angle of the handshake and getting my own name out in audible English that I overlook the need to absorb the information coming directly at me. Information such as names, and occupations. Ages and home addresses. Friends names and spouses. So now, every morning I listen painfully hard to the other customers in the queue as they exchange early-morning banter in the hope that one will mention it. But they never do. Either they don’t know his name either, and they struggle to store this sort of information all the same, or they’ve sussed me out and are withholding the information maliciously just to watch me struggle. Like a bunch of pop-up coffee-shop sadists. For a minute I consider the possibility and throw a couple of glances to my neighbours before talking myself down.
     Most days, I prefer to run or ride to work. The more solitary options. Especially in the sunshine. But the sweatier and more active alternatives cause a consequent build up of spare clothes and dirty kit in my office locker, and that requires regular circulation in order to maintain the expected hygiene standards. As a result, I’m forced to make this weekly pilgrimage on the tube and, like the heat versus noise dilemma, there’s no way to win.
     Anyone who lives in a major city with overused transport links will understand this already, but for those of you who are unaware of the London tube system, let me try to break it down for you as best I can: it’s an intricate network of underground and overground railway tracks and tunnels that can get you from one side of town to the other within thirty minutes to an hour for anywhere between £2-4 with a pre-paid contactless card called an Oyster.
     That’s the easy bit. What they don’t tell you, though, is that the tube system is also a place where happiness goes to die. There’s another important thing that you have to accept before trying to get anywhere in London: everyone else’s journey is far more important than yours. The respective morning rituals, urgent meetings and personal space requirements of other commuter ants will take precedent over all. And they will crush you with their determination (both metaphorically and physically) if they have to. So it’s elbows-out upon arrival and, for fuck sake, do not even think about making eye contact.
     The commuter ant is a furious creature of habit, too. I’ve regularly tried to define my own commuter-characteristics after acute observation just so that I can avoiding falling into the commuter trap, but it’s difficult to avoid. They gather on their familiar platforms in the same spots every single day, and as more people pile into the station, anxious expressions break out across the faces of those nearest the tracks as they inch dangerously closer to the edge in attempt to claim their territory.
    Typically, most are so fixated on avoiding human contact altogether though that their eyes remain glued to their smart phone screens or their heavily weathered copies of Metro. There’s the occasional anxious side glance at the arrivals screen, or a wrist watch, but the eye movements are kept to an absolute minimum as it might result in having to acknowledge another human being – And it’s really fucking hard to be a ruthless bastard once you realise that you’re competing with other fellow humans.
     There’s a bit more anxious movement as the next train arrives, and even though it’s already pretty compressed when the doors open, nothing will stop the obnoxious from taking their chances. I carefully step into one of the small gaps between the sweaty bodies, trying to cause as little disruption as possible, but within seconds I’m pushed deeper into the carriage and my conscious attempts are swiftly undermined. The Smug Prick who shoves me seems pretty pleased with himself once we’re moving again. He’s scowling, visibly irritated by what he was ‘forced to do’, but also satisfied having proved that more bodies could fit, at the expense of our collective dignity. A classic example of London’s routine passive aggression.
     The book that I was reading is now clamped between the forefinger and thumb of my left hand. My left elbow has somehow wedged itself between a man’s lower back and his backpack, and my right arm is pressed into the soft part of a woman’s waist (worth noting here that she’s currently standing like a mummified Egyptian royal). I couldn’t move even if I wanted to. We all look at each other and exchange apologetic glances. “Sorry,” our eyes say, “but given the option, I obviously wouldn’t be groping you so intimately.
     I close my eyes for a minute, willing the bodies to fuck off with all my heart but removing another sense means I quickly lose my balance as the train slows, jutting my elbow a little deeper into my neighbor’s torso with an unsteady wobble. She grimaces. The Smug Prick grins.
     I remind myself to stick to buses.

London Fiction: A Short Story – Part I

Up and atom.     
The roars echo around the apartment like thunder, flanked by bursts of electricity and the ghostly moan of heavy machinery in motion. The screeches reach my ears so rapidly that they don’t even linger long enough to influence my dreams. The explosive sounds of charged particles colliding together.
London: A Short Story
     One of the trains sounds like a Tye Fighter on approach, but the sounds are already drifting off into the distance when I wake with a start. Moments ago I was convinced that the Central Line Eastbound was descending directly upon on my whereabouts. It’s only 05:20am but the trains are already hard at work. Pack mules. Commuters gotta commute. Trains gotta move.
     I prop up on my elbows, groggy, and stare out over the mezzanine balcony through the huge Victorian-style windows. I can see the ants already in motion. My eyes are typically struggling at this time of day, but I can see apartment lights flipping on and off, even as the sun commences it’s early ascent, and local A-road traffic is already queueing up.
     If I squint, I can easily place myself in Shanghai or New York or another random grouping of nondescript urban towerblock developments. Pretending the tree tops in the foreground are a corner of Central Park offers a strange comfort. The sort you get after your first few days on holiday – there’s the sense of familiarity, but everything is still strange and exciting too.
     Outside the window is London, though. Not New York. East London, in fact. Stratford, specifically. I’ve seen the same towerblocks-and-trees landscapes enough times in Hollywood outputs to know it’s pretty close to most other major cities though; the same gentrified contemporary cityscape. London feels enough like foreign soil to me already that it may as well be Tokyo, save the language barrier. For this morning’s daydream, I settle for New York.
     I kick my legs out of the bed, and stretch as I stand. It’s uncomfortably warm. London summer time. Muggy, humid. The sheets are already strewn over the wooden floorboards. The temperature is climbing, and the tall ceiling means that all of that hot air congregates over my bed like a cloud of humidity, driven by one singular motive – to plague my attempts at sleep. Spreading the windows as far as they will reach is my only respite, but it’s a catch 22; between road traffic, the tweets of early risers, and the incessant artillery barrage of overground trains, I don’t stand a chance. It’s either the heat or the noise. Or both.
     It’s a notably long apartment. Long and tall, but not particularly wide. Obviously, that’s not how an estate agent would sell it though. They’d use words like ‘cosy’, and put emphasis on the ‘exposed brickwork’ instead, appealing to the inner-interior designer that was never realised and a superficial need put unnecessary details over actual fucking floor space. The bathroom and kitchen lie near the narrow entrance, situated underneath me, and a short hallway expands into an open plan living area with the floor-to-ceiling window at the far end and a kitchen.
     The window is obviously the selling point; the feature piece that justifies the price point. You could probably use the balcony as a driving range, if you were so inclined, or practice conversions from the far end of the apartment, if you fancied yourself as Johnny Wilkinson. You’d have a hard time swinging a cat around though. Clearly, during the planning phase, they only stopped long enough to consider linear leisure activities.
     It’s probably worth noting at this point that this is not my apartment, either. I mean, I technically sleep here, and my things are here, but it’s my fifth room in eight months. I’ve been in this location for seven weeks already, and I’m approaching the end of my short tenancy. Soon I will return the keys to the owners. Again. The dawning displacement doesn’t register anymore. This is my new normal. Life hopscotch. And I don’t really notice either. Apparently London does that. The people here always make a point of saying it hardens you, but the reality is closer to numbing. There’s a certain passive nature that’s adopted by London-livers. It’s like a coping mechanism. Survival techniques, I suppose.
     I start down the stairs, and the morning routine ensues. An early wake up call leaves a lot of time, so while the espresso pours I slice a few chunks of bread and place them under the grill. I’ve been through phases with healthier morning rituals, but this one seems to be the safest. By the time I join the commuter ants, I’m typically doubting all of the decisions that have preceeded that particular moment, so I figure that making myself as happy as possible during this early window helps level things out by the time I reach the office. That’s my logic, at least.
     The coffee machine is mine. But the couch is borrowed. The plates, the cutlery, the chopping board. Those are borrowed. 99% of the things in this oversized bedroom are on loan. To me, at least. At first, the prospect didn’t bother me. “Hotel’s are the same,” I would say to myself. “Just borrowed beds and bathrooms.” After a few weeks, though, you start to realise that you can’t relax. You can’t settle. I guess this is why people don’t live in hotels.
     The kitchen is probably the only exception. It’s like a neutral space. Things pass through there, constantly going in and out, being used and washed down again for re-use. It’s like a shared space, a communal space that anyone willing to use can rightly have shared ownership of, provided they put it back how they found it.
     I lean back against the worktop and scan the room, taking sips from the finished coffee in a borrowed Cath Kidson mug. Everything else may as well be shrink wrapped. The rocking chair looks inviting from this angle, but it’s more like a sculpture in a gallery than a piece of furniture. ‘An early masterpiece from Charles and Ray Eames‘, the placard would read. The stories belong to the artist or owner, and they’re just allowing me to interpret from a distance. “No, of course you can’t actually sit on it,” the gallery staff would scold, “Do you think this is a fucking waiting room?

The Lifespan of Time

Like any fine Whiskey, flavour comes with age.

The Swatch X-Rated was released in the Autumn of 1987 and, having been swiftly removed from the production line, over the years became a highly coveted collectors item due to its rarety, especially within the hardcore movement with it’s immediate ties with the ‘straight edge’ community.

Its clear ‘X’ face made it a statement in itself, and well over 20-years since its original release, having been worn by many groundbreaking straight edge bands (consequently inspiring hundreds countless knock-off versions), the watch carries more status than was ever intended during it’s brief production lifespan.

What was once a simple no-thrills design, put on the market priced at only $20, is now worth more than ten times this amount to the right bidder…

After my Grandad passed away in the mid 2000’s, I religiously wore the throw-away, 80’s-style digital Casio watch that had once belonged to him as a way of honouring his memory, but after a few too many battery changes and strap breakages, it became an absolute burden to maintain (although, ironically enough, the Swatch X-Rated is now in the same position… But I digress).

The Lifespan of Time

So, on the journey up to my 19th birthday, my Dad presented me with a slightly weathered paper parcel which, to my astonishment, contained a genuine Swatch X-Rated, with a receipt which dated it’s original purchase right back to 5th December 1988.

Somehow, my father had tracked down a humble Swatch collector who had managed to keep this gem for the 21 years that would prelude this particular purchase and convinced him to part with it so that he (my Father) could surprise his son (me) for his 19th birthday… Another watch with an all new level of meaning. He handed it to me early fearing that if he held it any longer then by the time we hit January there would be no guarantee that the thing would even tick anymore.

I made the switch, and religiously wore this classic as a way to honour the generosity of my Father, as an homage to my Grandad’s Casio, and as a deceleration of my own personality – The watch represented my taste, my choices, and my journey. A timepiece that not only told the time but quietly resonated the stories of three generations simultaneously.

As I write this, on the 3rd June 2015, the watch doesn’t tick. Countless amounts of battery replacements cannot compete with the fact that some things simply aren’t built to last – Not still able to function at least. Still, I’m reminded of the significance that small heirlooms can carry, and for that reason it finds it’s way back to my wrist.

The Lifespan of Time

Celebrating the Manchester Marathon with ICNY

Manchester Marathon Crew - SWRD

The Greater Manchester Marathon is fast becoming one of the most important dates in the Still Waters Run Deep calendar, and now offers runners the flattest course in the UK. It’s ironic, really, that none of us started out considering ourselves runners, but as we continue to put in the mileage each week we get closer and closer to the goals of most aspiring endurance athletes – We get stronger, we get faster and we gradually run further, and over the space of a year, we went from one entry to five.

We wanted to celebrate the incredible efforts that our runners displayed on their training journey, so we came together with ICNY Sport to commemorate their hard work and determination – there’s a reason why we wear the worker bee on our shoulders, you know…

Photography: James Measom



Time Won’t Wait For Me

The Oxford Dictionary defines procrastination as ‘the action of postponing or delaying something’, but the people of the Wiki-kingdom put the nail in the coffin with their more elaborate version:

Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time…

Has it really been eight months since I used this blog?

Time flies when you’re busy though right? I’m sure I heard that phrase somewhere once before only it included something about fun as well… Nothing’s coming to me though. Alas. Here’s a brief and entirely non-linear recap of my last eight months in phrases and images – And yes, you’re dead right in that this very post is just a way for me to avoid another job higher up the priority chain!

First things first – I waited patiently. I waited impatiently. I stretched. I screamed. I wobbled. I hobbled. And I ran. And then I ran some more.

I flew. I drove. I snoozed on trains. I walked. I glided and I slided. I traveled the world to both new places and old, for the purposes of both business and pleasure – and sometimes even both simultaneously.

I fell in love with Canada all over again.

Aside from the travels themselves, I explored, with old friends and new, and my partner in crime too. I ate food – incredible food – and discovered some incredible new spaces and places in the process.

I followed my feet…

I worked – a lot…

In amongst it all, Still Waters celebrated their first birthday with an alley-cat race, and it was huge. I still haven’t been able to recap it properly…

And so with that final splurge, a new cycle begins. Let’s go 2015.

Bring the change.



In July 2012, Bridge The Gap officially came to London for the British 10K, which saw Nike’s running crew elite descend on the capital for a weekend of fast times and fast living (Meanwhile, in the rainy city of Manchester, Rich and I were in metaphorical running diapers, sprinting hills and scouring dirt trails pretty aimlessly beyond the acknowledgement that something called ‘Run Dem Crew’ existed… Life has a funny way of bringing things together, eh). So after two years of one-up-manship and a notable expansion of the running crew scene, the weekend of the 21st-22nd of June would see #BTG’s return to the big smoke, and Run Dem Crew‘s chance to host once more.

The challenge? Run Hackney Half Marathon. Distance: 13.1 miles… Terrain: Urban, winding, hilly… Conditions: HOT, treacherous, unforgiving

So the Still Waters Run Deep crew travelled staggered, and I followed Rich on Friday evening with the weight of the world our bespoke Sy Illustrations Cheer Dem prints, 50 newly pressed Still Waters tees, my weekend’s kit and Terry Dolan (the bike) strapped to my back. I can’t remember the last time I travelled light to London, but this was an exceptional amount of baggage, even for me… Transporting this up hill from Euston to Brick Lane with the help of Dani Fej and Sorrell was a definitely an enlightening experience…

With Saturday morning came the first of the weekend’s sunshine, and energy. The itinerary started off with an early morning stretch of the legs followed by a BBQ at Nike’s newly refurbished NIKE LAB 1948 space located on Bateman’s Row, Shoreditch.

Nike Lab locations exist in six different global spots, including London, offering Nike the opportunity to fuse physical retails spaces with digital experiences driven by product innovation. 1948 has been Run Dem’s home for a minute, but the regular facelifts create an exciting environment for visitors.

Due to on going knee issues, I’d built up to the morning’s run being the extent of my physical exertion that weekend – where running was concerned at least – and made sure not to waste the opportunity to run alongside international visitors from Patta Running Team, NBRO, and Run Pack Berlin, not to mention my Still Waters comrades.

Our intended 5km shake out became a 10km tourist spot tour, but the clear skies and company provided the necessary adrenaline buzz to override any little niggles in my legs. Seeing Saturday tourists part like the Red Sea as a 100-strong pack of runners flew across London’s Millenium Bridge was a personal highlight.

And if you needed reminding what makes us different to other running movements, what better place to stop for a crew shot than inside the Tate Modern?


We separated into speed groups for the returning portion of the run, and regrouped back at 1948 for some BBQ and beverage action courtesy of the Nike camp. A long day in the sun wound down via Thai & Lao Streetfood at Boxpark, and a trip to Shutterbug in search of a World Cup suitable screen. Most needed their rest for the race that would follow…


Sunday started in a paradoxical frenzy, with my body firmly planted in holiday mode and my brain telling me to move. My partner in crime for the day, Liz, rocked up 30 minutes late which postponed our early start with Cheer Dem Crew but resulted in the accidental discovery of The Gallery Cafe – a quaint vegetarian and vegan cafe located in St Margaret’s House Settlement in Bethnal Green.

St Margaret‘s is an independent community charity space which has been initiating and funding projects and activities to serve and enable the community since 1889. The settlement facilitates over fifty office and meeting spaces, including a large hall, resource center, and even three enterprising projects: Ayoka, a boutique charity shop; The Create Place; a workshop based arts and crafts centre; and, of course, The Gallery Cafe.

The space is as warm and welcoming as the staff, and the food exciting and inventive. The cafe promotes sustainability through the use of biodegradable packaging and sourcing produce through local suppliers. Fresh, cruelty-free and with profits driving straight back into the charity, there wasn’t much to dislike – Apart from the 15 minute deadline we had to reach mile 12 on the race course. Our brief haze fell quickly back to the reality of the task at hand. We ate fast and rode faster.

The 9/12 mile cheer station was cleverly positioned in the middle of a bridge over the River Lee Navigation in Hackney Wick offering each runner two chances to pass – A greatly appreciated boost for everyone suffering in the unrelenting heat. The road curved and climbed into mile 9, which meant that every encouraging word felt like a tail wind pushing forward, and while the second pass of the cheer station into mile 12 was a decline, after the twists and turns through the Olympic Park, it was a much needed kick coming in to the finishing mile…


It was a brutal race, but for Still Waters, it was important lesson too. As a predominantly fledgling crew, we are still pretty romantic about the whole running and racing experience, but our less confident runners realised new limits, and our more confident runners experienced new struggles. It might sound slightly sadistic (don’t get me wrong, seeing my friends struggle was not a thing of enjoyment by any means) but without days like these, you never discover how far you are willing to go for the things that you want.

Despite the persistent heat and the rolling hills, the challenges faced were respective to every racer. For all, it was a humbling experience. And more importantly, it was an experience shared. Mirka guided Jamie to the completion of his first ever half marathon. Bangs sat tight with younger Melanie through her first race experience, and after younger Mac experienced cramp at mile 4, Sarah stayed with him to the finish line, ensuring that his determination didn’t falter.

Naturally, races form the season highlights for crew runners as they set personal goals against both casual and vigorous training regimes, and more often than not races offer the foundation for most Bridge The Gap trips, but Hackney Half offered an oddly refreshing perspective; for most, it seemed, the challenge became the distance itself. PB times made way for humble finishes. Ego’s stood aside to leave room for the accomplishments of others. This was #crewlove in real time.


After the race came some early partying at Crate Brewery, and after the early partying came the after partying at Casa Negra. I hit up Alpress Espresso on the way through Shoreditch for a quick refreshment and we were good to go…


Our Monday was an intended active recovery day, so with half the crew still lingering around London, we made out on bikes and headed steadily for Regent’s Park. Broadway Market was our starting point with another vegetarian breakfast covered this time by Cafe Maloka.

Cafe Maloka (previously named Cafe G) is a hidden gem. Despite not offering a great deal of cooked food, their predominantly vegan offering covers the basics without falling into the category of predictable. More importantly, their wall to wall selection of tea’s remains unrivalled.

Our route (after about 45 minutes of faffing around to pick up 6 Borris Bikes) took us canalside past Central St Martins, all the way through Camden Down, and out to Primrose Hill. We made a few pit stops along the route, which gave me regular opportunities to sample my hand-delivered cold brew courtesy of Takk in Manchester – It went down a treat, Oll, so thanks for that..!

Although Primrose Hill is the name for the surrounding area, for the most-part the name represents one of the only points where you can get a clear view of Central London. Surrounded by Victorian terraces, Primrose Hill doubles up as one of the most expensive and exclusive residential areas in the city, planted in the urban belt that separates London from the suburbs.

The 256ft mound offers a brief respite for wayfarers, and an opportunity to reflect against the urban expanse, bringing our weekend to a close.

IMG_9857Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

You can see all of the after party and weekend imagery courtesy of the guys from Rosie Lee over at BTGLDN.

The Home Advantage


The Home Advantage is a term that describes the extra kick that the home team receives when representing in their own territory. The upper hand that allows them to command the advantage over the competing visitors, the push from the home crowd, the familiarity with the twists and turns… It’s that little niggle in the back of your mind that says ‘if you’re going to go hard anywhere then do it right here…’

Team sports in the UK, and football especially, take the home advantage very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that these factors are even come into play during a stadiums development. We’re talking features like uncomfortable seats, a significant reduction in available luxuries on game days, with Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium even fitting Hall of Mirrors style mirrors into the Away Team dressing room.

The truth of it all, though, is that the home advantage is psycological in nature, and that with the right training and mental preparation, no amount of deceptive displays can throw a focussed mind off it’s target. The Great Manchester Run? Case in point. Our first crew deep race on home turf. 10 runners. 10 different running styles. 10 completely different levels of expectation. 10 PB efforts. The weather was picturesque and sun was shining, but the heat was truthfully challenging, and uncharacteristic. Only one water station at the 3km marker meant that runners were dropping like flies as a result of dehydration… A challenge that we and many others dug deep and rose above, but even that could have easily gone the other way.


It triggered the thought – with Run Hackney looming in a matter of weeks, how will we fare against the renowned Run Dem Crew as they represent on their East London stomping ground? The Crew Love is strong amongst the Bridge The Gap community, but for a lot of our guys this will not only be their first experience of this international gathering, but their first half marathon – there’s a lot to prove. These two factors alone are big enough, but when combined with a completely unfamiliar location, the result could be a pretty large stumbling block for the unprepared. This is the reminder that running is as much a mental game as it is physical. The distance alone is daunting enough. And when the crew element comes into play, the solo dynamic of running transforms traditional distance running into a highly emotional team sport.


It’s a funny thing, really… We proudly talk about our wide community, but the nature of competitive sports means that there is always an elephant in the room – “Who’s better..?”. And despite having the utmost respect for our international family, can we honestly say that there aren’t some friendly rivalries in the mix..?

Given that I’m still on the bench, that’s probably not for me to say, but in the nature of friendly competition, I’ll let the infamous Mobb Deep do the talking:

“I got,
lots of love for my crew that is
No love,
for them other crews and rival kids.
All them out-of-town ****** know what time it is,
and if they don’t,
they need to buy a watch.
Word up.”

Hackney Half, we comin’ for ya…

The Big Smoke

If there’s one place in the UK that inspires me consistently then it’s London. As the countries capital, it is only natural that is is the most populous city in England, and with such a mass of people comes a variety cultures, communities and experiences. With so much happening in one place, it’s hard not to feed off the energy.

So I temporarily left my perch in Manchester for an all work and no play themed weekend in the Big Smoke, seeking out London’s Graduate Fashion Week and the consequent buzz of excitement that falls therein.

But first, London’s fresh coffee and fresher food. It would be rude not to, right? After a bit of mulling over, our initial destinations included the ever rustic interiors of Pizza East – Incredible food, but vegans and vegetarians be warned. These guys take meat pretty seriously –  and the uncontestable Nude Espresso. In an age where every artisan coffee independent thinks they are redefining the game, Nude Espresso let the product speak for itself. If you’re ever in the area, take a minute to appreciate the craft.

This year’s Graduate Fashion Week was hosted in the heart of the street style death trap that is Brick Lane at the Old Truman Brewery. It’s an incredibly uninspiring space when stripped back to it’s bare bones, but with the right vision it certainly has the capacity to impress.

Aside from the gaunt interior, though, the work on display was pretty impressive, and with such a high standard hitting the catwalk shows, it was easy to forget that the creations we were seeing were graduate creations. The product of three years of grafting on an incredibly limited budget, with the burden of horrifically high tuition fees looming overhead.

My evening came to a close after a long evening of shmoozing, midnight waffles at The Diner and a tourist tour down along the Thames via Tower Bridge.

I made a point of rising early the morning after, although this wasn’t a difficult task given that I normally start my weekends around 8am anyway, and the sun was blazing. I capitalised on the opportunity to grab a tan, venturing all the way from Brick Lane to Kingly Street in search of The Detox Kitchen’s Deli. I told my stomach it was going to be worth the wait.

The Detox Kitchen specialise in packaging up and delivering meal plans for people who are looking to remove all of the unnecessary processed pulp from their daily diet, but due to the popularity of their produce and the current health food boom, it was only a matter of time before the concept would transfer over to bricks and mortar.

The Deli on Kingly Street is the brands first stand alone store – although not their first physical presence, after opening a space within Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge over a year ago – and while the space itself is small, and the menu limited, each item has been carefully considered to deliver optimum deliciousness that’s wheat-free, dairy-free and absent of refined sugar.

Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds provide the foundations of their creations, but their vision is simply to provide clean and exciting food, without all the bullshit, and they deliver.

Rosa‘s was our exit strategy meal, but our stroll to Euston included a detour via Goodhood for some train reads courtesy of Champ Magazine. All good things come to an end.

Five Days In The Dirty South.

Last week, Daisy and I ventured to the filthy, dirty South of England. As far South as we could go, actually. All the way South to her home town of Penzance, Cornwall, to be exact, to visit her growing family, and to celebrate her mum’s birthday. It’s strange to think that after 4 years, this is the first time that we’ve made the time to do the round trip, but a 400 mile drive each way isn’t something to be scoffed at…

We started bright and early on Saturday morning in an attempt to pip the Bank Holiday commuter traffic, and didn’t do a bad job avoiding it either (until we hit Bristol) and completed the straight drive in around 9 hours, with a couple of necessary brew pitstops along the way. Despite the forecast, however, the weather that greeted us in PZ was as abysmal as the clouds that had followed us for most of the journey.

After showing our faces to the nearest and dearest on the night of our arrival, I was keen to explore as much of the area as possible while we were there, so on Sunday we headed for Falmouth in search of the Wildbeest Cafe, a newly opened vegan cafe boasting an exciting range of Thai and Mexican inspired dishes. While this little harbour town might seem like an odd location for a specialist cafe like Wildbeest, their mouth watering menu and impeccable attention to detail seem to be enough to keep the locals happy – And the travelers alike. Daisy has recently undertaken a strictly raw vegan diet, and was spoilt for choice. The cafe’s raw Pad Thai went down a treat, and the Raw cheesecake was so good that we had to ask for a little extra to take away too… The chasew, pecan and coconut base was truly incredible.

A lot of people ask me the same questions when they discover I’m vegetarian (“Well, what do you eat then, just vegetables?”) and I must admit, I sometimes have the same reservations when it comes to veganism. It just goes to show that with a little dedication and understanding (otherwise known as a little less ignorance) there are no limits to what you can create with food.

I could easily see myself settling in Falmouth. It’s stretching coastline provides a stunning view, and tourism appears to keep the town alive even during the wetter seasons; thriving, even. Boasting an exciting range of progressive restaurants and cafes just like Wildbeest, and the sort of nick-nacks that I can’t help but walk away with, Falmouth is a seaside destination that does much more than tick the boxes of cliched ice cream cones and boat rides. My bank account was grateful that Folklore was closed over the Bank Holiday weekend.


With Monday came the sunshine, and an exciting return to the Eden Project, one of the many Landmark Millenium Projects that sprouted up around the UK in the year 2000. Eden is very unique, both in its construction and in the way that the business is run. It is an educational centre, a charity and an exciting tourist attraction too, all built inside a 160-year-old exhausted China Clay quarry near St Austell, Cornwall.


The striking Biomes are not only awe inspiring, as their honeycombed spheres spread across the base of the quarry, they also provide carefully controlled climates that have allowed for the recreation of Mediterranean and Rainforest environments, with over 1 million plants and wildlife contained within. Maintained by a mix of paid employees and volunteers, Eden is an inspirational learning space for both children and adults alike, and it adapts with each season to bring the place to life.

St Ives was our final port of call. Limited battery meant limited images, but I couldn’t believe how much the town felt like being in Hawaii (OK, not Hawaii, Hawaii, but kinda close…). I don’t think photographs would have done it any justice either way, but with the town’s tropical plants and overgrowth, humid weather, sun, sand and sea… I didn’t realise places like this even existed on our own shores.


The lay of the land means that everything spills out into the town centre. Overspill parking located at the tip of the hillside creates a constant flow of  people descending like a colony of ants to the beaches, so it was alive with residents, tourists and sun chasers by the time we arrived in the early afternoon. With it’s four beaches, a Tate Gallery and thriving water sports scene, St Ives has quite a bit to offer culturally – It even has the capacity to keep a small time streetwear scene happy through the guise of The Academy Store.

So that was that. A flying visit, that brought showers and sunshine, and friends and family together, including aunties, nieces and cousins that met for the first time. Sadly short, but all the more sweet.

In Retrospect: New York (State of Mind), January 2014

I first picked up a camera in 2006, but it wasn’t long before the weight of an SLR became a burden and my passion faded… By 2010, I relied on my smartphone alone to capture moments, and instead of compiling them into albums and sharing them with my friends and family with the stories that accompanied, each shot would receive a quick spot of editing and hit the relevant social media channel.

It’s a funny thing the way smart phones have played a role in changing, well, pretty much everything… But it’s something I find myself thinking about more often, and if I don’t make any changes to the way I live now then I will have no photo albums to share with my kids, and I may even miss the memories and stories as they happen. I don’t want to miss that golden Instagram moment after all…

From now on, where I go, the camera goes too (within reason). So far this year, I’ve set a new standard for globetrotting, hitting three different countries in the first three months, and the first trip of the series was none other than the Big Apple which presented a great opportunity to put this resolution into practice.


A room with a view. It was hard to believe that I’d been higher than this when visiting The Shard, London, but being surrounded by endless high rises really warps your perception of size.

To set the scene, I’ve been dreaming of visiting New York since I was small. I think to most westerners, New York City is a pilgrimage that everyone has to make in their life time, but thanks to the influence Hollywood cinema, this was one I specifically wanted to make in the depths of winter – And, oh, did I get my way. Snow is one thing, but a snow storm in New York is another. High rise canyons create wind tunnels that whip every bit of exposed skin into submission, making anything higher than -23°C feel like a heatwave.

The trip itself was a celebration of epic proportions – highlighting not only Christmas and New Years, but also my birthday which had passed earlier in the month, my Mum’s birthday which would take place while we were out there, the year of my Dad’s 60th, and the general togetherness of being away as a family unit. My brother, Alex, was present with his other half, Sophie. My Mum, my Dad, and of course my partner in crime, Daisy.


Windswept and jet lagged, we hit up Times Square in the snow immediately after checking in to our hotel.

The proximity of our hotel to Times Square can literally be described as a stones throw, and no amount of cold was going to stop us venturing out into the city, starting with this cultural intersection in the heart of Manhattan. Iconified as the ‘The Crossroads of the World’, Times Square was already alive with preparations for the approach of Super Bowl XLVIII. As part of the celebrations, Times Square would transform over the next few days into Superbowl Boulevard, playing host to a variety of football-themed experiences and inviting key broadcasters to broadcast live from the central media hub, and it was already alive with excitement.

The first of many out-of-focus tourist shots.


Our first full day in the city invited new weather, too – almost. The same sub-freezing temperatures, fine, but a clear enough sky to appreciate the grandeur of the towering skyscrapers that enclosed our hotel, and a view of the harbour which served as a reminder that Manhattan is a city surrounded by water. Daisy and I were keen to make the most of the fact that we had arrived on a Sunday, and ventured straight over Williamsburg Bridge after breakfast in search of the infamous Brooklyn Flea Market.


We started out feeling fairly optimistic that morning, and had expectations that we would spend the bulk of our trip on our feet. Having spent most Christmases and winters in the Canadian Rockies, we figured we had experienced the worst chills the world had to offer, and that faux-fur lined hoods and Vibram soles would be sufficient defenses against the cold. We made it across 11 blocks before we caved and hailed a taxi… But the brief bit of fresh air meant I caught my first real glimpse of the contrasting architecture I had expected to find, and this SWMPY gem.


Brooklyn Flea Market was a breath of fresh air. While I enjoy my share of flea market shopping back home, the bulk of flea and vintage markets that the UK has to offer are fairly stale – You can expect to see a fair share of dusty plaid shirts, Barbour jackets and ‘worn in’ Converse. Williamsburg’s Sunday Flea, which takes it’s proceedings indoors through the winter, opened my eyes to an otherwise undiscovered level of craft, hosting a wide range of sellers that possessed visual merchandising skills that could easily rival Macy’s holiday window installations, and a selection of some of New York’s most inviting food vendors.

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New York City is a funny place… There’s something oddly familiar about almost everything that gives this city it’s character – Yellow cabs, the subway, sky rises, bagels… – in the sense that you’ve seen it time and time again in popular cinema and big budget US TV series’, but it’s still incredible to experience all of those things first hand.

Strolling through Brooklyn with my parents and Daisy.


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Day two was a designated retail day. We started out as a group and met for breakfast at one of my favourite places to visit when in London (Le Pain Quotidien) before heading our separate ways. While that might seem like a bit of a cop out to some, their family sized tables meant the 6 of us could easily break bread and share stories from the previous day’s events. Mornings that start with good coffee and eggs in the company of my nearest and dearest will forever remain my fondest.


Daisy and I headed for Lower Manhattan and the West Village with my parents by exiting into the Meatpacking District via the High Line, an interesting walkway which runs between West 20th and West 30th on a historic freight rail line above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. The public space provides a unique way to escape the hustle and bustle of the New York streets, and hosts food vendors and cinema screenings during the better seasons.

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After that, it was a case of ticking boxes. New York has been at the heart of the fashion industry for some time, most notably by playing a role in shaping the direction of the streetwear movement in the early 90s – A movement that I’m sure most wouldn’t predict would hit the main stream two decades later – so it was insightful to witness the same sights and sounds that influenced the generation that brought the whole thing to life, the same retail locations on the same streets.


Fresh & CO was easily one of the best discoveries we made. Flavoursome fresh made-to-order food with good quality produce.


Nike’s 340 Canal Street Pop-Up was still present in the form of the NYC coffee truck floating outside Nike’s 21 Mercer location (although worth noting that it’s not actually rigged up to serve coffee), and The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the West Village was an interesting and accidental discovery too. The window decals were hard to miss – As was this guy tripping over dog leads. If my marketing career falls short, at least I know I can take my chances in NYC as a dog walker. Cafe Habana on Prince Street was an essential pitstop too, as the corn-on-the-cob is literally incredible.

Day three marked our last full day in New York, my Mum’s birthday and our only remaining opportunity to hit the key tourist spots before sunset (The timing was really important. My brother exercised his military precision and planning skills to ensure that we hit the middle of Brooklyn Bridge heading into Manhattan as soon as the sun went down). Our agenda consisted of breakfast at Ground Zero, followed by the Staten Island Ferry for a view of the Statue of Liberty, then a rush via any other missed locations, before a group wide rendezvous at the Brooklyn Heights Subway entrance and a scenic stroll back into Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge.

As romantic as the plan was, nothing prepared us for the bitter cold that would greet us at the half way point, and our PM plans to visit the Golf Club at Chelsea Piers was called short. Still, crossing the infamous landmark as the overcast sky faded to black and the city came alive with tungsten light was an incredible experience. One last subway ride home, and a stroll through Superbowl Boulevard before dinner with the O’Neill clan and our last night in the city was done.

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IMG_6627Superbowl Boulevard post-transformation. IMG_6629 IMG_6628

Our short stint in NYC meant that the bucket list was only half completed, but a late afternoon flight left a few remaining morning hours available for a desperate scramble to Grand Central Station, Central Park and the MOMA. We made the most of our last chance to eat at Fresh & CO, and flew through for breakfast and a quick lunch time pick up for the journey home.

Central Park was probably my favourite moment of the trip. Again, it’s another one of those places that I’ve seen so many times before in films and television that it had become almost trivialised in my mind. Seen it all before… But imagine trudging through miles of snow, fighting against a bitterly cold wind to the backdrop of busy New York traffic only to discover 778 acres of beautifully crafted park land slap bang in the middle. The contrast of this against the New York City skyline only emphasises how pure this park really is. Truthfully, it left me momentarily in awe.

It was the calm before the storm that was the journey home. The chance to dip my toe in all that New York City has to offer. But I’ll be back… Sooner rather than later too, I hope.

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