Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Out Of The Box!

Right, from the outset I need to declare this post has nothing to do with CrossFit, so you can stop reading now. Goodbye. However, if you are still reading this post it is akin to a British Tourist Board advert. Still here?

I believe 80% plus of clients at CrossFit SE11 are foreign nationals it was not far off that when I coached at CrossFit London.  London is incredibly multi-cultural and diverse.  When I speak with our visitors they all say the same things, it is welcoming, modern thinking and exciting.  I pursue my interrogation, "where are you from?", "are you working or studying here?", "where are you based?", "how long have you been here?" and then "where have you visited?" It is the last question that causes, not always, an awkward pause, that moment that they have to declare they have not been anywhere other than London and often only central London.  I appreciate we are all busy and particularly visitors from Europe want to spend their free time visiting home and family. But having recognised this I still want to urge you to maximise your opportunity to go see the rest of the Tin Islands (our ancient Greek title).

To follow is a blatant hard sell of some the beautiful places I have seen covering the south island of Jersey the south coast including the Jurassic coast, west to Wales, east to Norfolk and north to Scotland but firstly starting with our home town of London village with some suggestions you may not be aware of.

London, capital city, if you live and work here you get to see it with different eyes to the tourist. The daily commute demands you shuffle onto public transport headphones in and face buried in the Metro.  You are blind and deaf to your surroundings. And on your day off, CrossFit, a pub, maybe the local park if it is dry?

The Daily Commute
But take a look around:
Central London Old and New
Grab a walking historical tour or if you are brave enough a Duck tour or go for a Sunday run along the Thames. Visit our amazing museums some of the best are all in one place South Kensington. The Natural History Museum is my absolute favourite.
Natural History Museum
Take a walk along the South Bank, theatres, music, food and street entertainers. Stop and look at youth culture smack bang in the middle of high brow mainstream art. Make the most of it there is a campaign to remove it.

South Bank Yoots

The London Eye

 At night get out of the pub and club and see the city with different eyes.

Yes This Is London.

No It Is Not Las Vegas.

Take The Time To Stop And Enjoy.

I can go on but I want to take you out of central London and show you some of our gems on the periphery. Head south west to one of our largest royal parks, Richmond. Still by the Thames so you can enjoy one of our best assets as well as a magnificent park and you will see more than dog walkers, and babies in buggies.

I Know An Actual Stag
And He Has Some Friends

No That Is Not Bambi
Take a visit to historic Hampton Court, learn about the Tudors and get lost in the maze. It really brings the child out in you, just like eating an ice cream does.

Learn About The Ghosts Of Our Past
Head to north London and the area of Hampstead Heath. The largest open wilderness in London. Spectacular views of the city, open air swimming and all on the Northern Line too.

Not Just Planes Land In London
Walk, Jog Or Run.
I am going to finish with a point that London is just as beautiful in the winter too and the parks are still open and can be enjoyed.

South London In The Snow

All That Is Missing Is Santa.
I am well aware that this post is fast becoming a slide show and maybe that is all it is. But a picture is worth a thousand words, no? So hold on I am going to take you on a whistle stop tour of the British Isles with a quick visit to our neighbors in Ireland.

Jersey an island crown dependency but not part of the UK and has its own parliament and legal system, part of the Channel Islands archipelago. If you are a non EU citizen make sure you are all stamped up before departing the mainland.  Some amazing modern history along side the very ancient history. What happened there during World War II is shocking not only for what occurred but also that so few know about it.

St Helier

You Can Actually Walk Around The Whole Island

Moving on to the south coast covering Kent, my second home, and the Jurassic coast including Beachy Head and the hidden treasures of Dorset and the New Forest. Below is Belle Tout light house you can actually stay there and did you know they actually moved it back from the cliff to save it! Only a few miles from Bournemouth.
Belle Tout B&B Beachy Head

Sunrise At Belle Tout
The View, Simply Stunning Beachy Head
Bored With Walking The Cliff, Climb It.
Go In Land And Go Back In Time

Corfe Castle And The Local Historic Train Ride
Tranquil Lulworth Cove
A Short Walk To Durdle Door
Looking Back To Lulworth Cove
The Villages Feel Frozen In Time
Moving along the coast to Brighton you can get here in about 35 minutes via the fast train from Victoria or straight down the A23 in just over an hour. It is vibrant with three distinct centres, the modern shopping centre, the historical The Lanes with its shops and foodie places and to the east the arty and eclectic collection of independents. If you are short of time then Brighton is a great day out and even better night out. They have a bar that only does whisky and another that only does tequila!                            

Brighton Beach - Not The Nudist One
View To West Pier
I am going to head round to the Kent coast on route you should visit Hastings, Battle and Rye. When you hit Kent skip Folkestone and Dover but head up onto the cliffs, St Margarets Bay is the first place in England to see the sun rise and the closet point to France, marvel at just how close it is. You might see someone starting their Channel swim from there. Be careful when you use your mobile you might actually be on a French network. Before we head north I will stop at Whitstable you should too. A small fishing town famous for its oysters and a stones throw from Canterbury an impressive cathedral city. 

Whitstables Chocolate Box High St. 

A Glass Of Fizz With The Sunset

Sunrise Is Stunning Too Maybe No Fizz

Whitstable Beach And Oyster Bay Co.
All the above are just south of London all can be done as a day out or a short weekend. Go and discover them. Before heading north I am going to dart east to Norfolk and then west to Wales both just 2 to 3 hours drive from London.  Norfolk is vast and flattish with wetlands, broads and stunning beaches looking out to the North Sea it really is old Saxon England and the village names are entertaining alone. Visit Wells-Next-The-Sea and follow the coast road east and west you cannot fail to be impressed.

Enjoy Your Own Beach

Wales, in particular the Gower Peninsula, sublime coast line, walking, cycling, camping and surfing all in one of the worlds most beautiful places, it is in the top five! It has ancient history by the bucket load and a real example of our small islands diversity, just look at the language.  Grab a tent and enjoy the place and all that it offers. 

Views Out To Bristol Channel

Never More Than 70 Miles From The Sea

View From The Camp Site

Our last stop will be Scotland but before we get there I am going to take you across the Irish Sea to Ireland. You can go anywhere in the Emerald Isle and you will have fun. The people are amazing the towns and cities are full of fun, the craic is ninety! The coast line is breath taking you can fly to Kerry airport for £40, do not be alarmed it may look like you are landing on a farm but it is an airport. From there get a taxi to Dingle. It is on the west coast and the next stop is America. Dingle is bonkers I will not say anymore than that. Go discover.

I Can See New York

Hire A Bike

Emerald Isle
We are going to shoot north to Scotland.  I have missed loads out on route, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumbria you could visit any of these on route and I recommend you do. Scotland has some fascinating history, evidence of some of the oldest human settlements through all the ages to the Romans and beyond. Edinburgh has a castle on a volcano! I cannot add to that. Whether you go west, wet with sandy beaches and lush islands or east, the same but slightly drier you will fall in love with the place, guaranteed. The Highland Games, folk music, walking and wild camping are just some of the treasures and of course the whisky

The East Coast

And Its Crazy Skies
The Cairngorms

Take a walk into the Cairngorms, for experienced walkers only, but it is a most beautiful experience. This can be easily reached from a train from London Euston to Aviemore. I catch the sleeper so I arrive in the early morning with the whole day in front of you.  Walking through the Chalamain Gap has a real sense of leaving the modern world and walking into the wild. You can go days without seeing a single soul. 

Chalamain Gap
Pitch By Loch Avon
Or Sleep In A Bothy, They Are Free.
No Traffic Lights Here
Nipping across to the west coast visit the Georgian town of Inveraray and the islands of Skye and Islay among others.  On a sunny summers day nothing will ever look as verdant as these places. You can actually buy a travel ticket that will get you on buses, trains and the ferries. 

Inveraray and Loch Fyne

Loch Fyne Produces The Famous Smokies.

Scotland has some amazing produce too from local beef, salmon, smoked fish, cheese and of course as already mentioned the whisky. All these can be enjoyed at some of the colourful spectacles like the High Land games.

Grass Fed Beef, Delicious And Cute.
Ok hopefully you will have kept up on this whirl wind ride around the British Isles and our neighbours. I have populated the post with hyperlinks to web pages that I hope will be helpful and persuasive please take a look. I hope you are now convinced to get out of the box and go see it all for yourself.
Bon voyage.