Posts Tagged ‘Covent Garden’

London in the Snow!

I woke up this morning to some serious snowfall outside of my window. The rooftops of neighboring buildings were laced in snow and cars were covered with inches of powder. After getting my morning workout in, I headed to the local Starbucks in Covent Garden to meet up with Steve, a friend of a friend who’s in town as part of a whirlwind tour of Europe (in true backpacking form). We spent the day touring around Central London and as I was showing him around, I realized how different (and beautiful) London looks when it’s covered in snow! It gave me a whole new perspective of the city. Check out our little tour through snow-covered parts of town:

Trafalgar in the winterAfter cutting through Covent Garden and checking out the Piazza, we made our way to tourist hot-spot, Trafalgar Square. Check out the water — frozen over!

National Gallery in WinterWhile we were there, we hit up the always amazing National Gallery. We were in and out in about thirty minutes, but we caught some great glimpses of Monet, Cezanne & Van Gogh. I always forget how pretty this place is inside!

After passing the Buckingham area, we made our way to Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey to snap some pictures. So pretty!

Big Ben & the London EyeAfter checking out the sights (and before grabbing delicious lunch at Pizza Express), we took an alternate route back and stumbled upon quite possible the prettiest place in London! The bird-covered pond looked absolutely gorgeous with the snow all around, plus it made for some pretty incredible pictures.

We also made some cute new friends!

All around super fun day. If you haven’t been out in the snow yet, it’s a must! It’s definitely a chance to see everything in a whole new way.

Lots of love,


Super Saturday!

I finally went out last night for the first time in weeks now that everyone’s back in town! It was so great getting to see everyone again; highly reinvigorating and a good way to start Lent Term. Aside from the amazingness of seeing everyone again, I also discovered one of my new favorite places in London: Porterhouse! We started our night there yesterday and they have my most favorite strawberry-kiwi cider drink (they score automatic points for that), plus a great atmosphere and a live band! Here’s proof of happiness:

With classes beginning on Monday, I hadn’t had a great deal planned for today. My friend’s boyfriend is in town until tomorrow and we all planned on linking up for lunch today so I could finally meet him. After looking for veg-friendly joints around town, we decided to hit up Covent Garden’s Food for Thought. Now, I have been to FFT on one occasion, but it was for take-away late in the evening and the selection was super limited. Today, however, we were (literally) first in line when the doors opened and had a seriously delicious veggie meal! I was the only vegetarian in the group and the other kiddos (read: carnivores) loved the food, too! Super healthy, super affordable, super homemade and super delicious! If you happen to hit it up while you’re perusing Covent Garden (it’s on Neal Street), definitely opt for the Caribbean stew if it’s on the menu. It’s a bowl of pure deliciousness. I surmise it’s secretly laced with crack cocaine; it’s highly addicting. Side note: it’s cash only. Sad.

After our rendezvous in Covent Garden, P. and her boyfriend, A., had planned on catching a matinée showing of Les Mis at the Queen’s Theatre in Soho. Since I didn’t have any afternoon plans (aside from doing nothing and being holed up in my room), a small group of us ended up going together! We snagged tickets for a super affordable £15 each and ended up with a pretty decent view! I am a serious musical-lover and I definitely expected great things of one of the most renowned musicals of all times. Although the performance was great and the music was spectacular, I wouldn’t see it again. There are some musicals that I would see over and over (The Lion King, Wicked, Phantom), but this is definitely not one of them. It’s pretty depressing & the plot is semi-confusing if don’t familiarize yourself with it beforehand. That being said, it was still a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon & worth £15! Next on my list of musicals: Avenue Q. I’ve been dying to see it for months & I am definitely going before it stops playing (March 2010).

Now it’s 730P, I’m back at home after a fun-filled (and freezing!) day and am ready to sit in bed in my pajamas drinking hot chocolate (Wen, if you’re reading this — I DO like hot chocolate). Class is starting Monday and the reality is finally setting in. Gotta get a few readings done today and tomorrow so I can bring my A game this week!

Hope everyone’s weekend is superb!

My Four-Day Weekend Begins!

Setting Up Shop in the Library!

Now that I have officially chosen my schedule, my classes are relegated to a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday schedule, which frees up Thursday through Sunday! Although I had hoped that my four-day weekends would be used for the greater good (read: traveling to far off destinations and general fun-having), I have decided that days such as today, when travels are not planned, my Thursdays through Sundays actually prove to be amazing days for studying and catching up with class work. Although my classes only occupy a few hours of any given day, the readings and projects outside of class are a whole different story. I am currently in the library (my new home away from home), studying, finishing up a paper that’s due on Monday and trying to get as many readings as possible under my belt before the weekend officially hits. I would imagine tomorrow would be uncannily similar.

I can’t say I mind much, though. I rather like being able to hit the gym in the morning and then following it up with some intellectual stimulation. The library almost forces me to be productive and it feels pretty good to get things finished. I’ve decided that I’m a perfect check-list user: I love the feeling that comes with being able to check off blank little boxes; even the most rudimentary items on the list feel like a feat when I get to tick the box!

On the bright side, I was able to actually go out and socialize last night! First and foremost, I hit the Social Policy Society meeting at 630P where I was elected Social Chair of the Society (yessss!). Essentially, I get to be a party/networking planner for the society — right up my alley and I think it will be a good outlet for my unused planning energy. Post-Social Policy meeting, I hit up the Maple Leaf in Covent Garden, a fun little Canadian bar where we got to celebrate my fellow North Americans in all of their Canadian glory. Although I didn’t get to order a rye and ginger or poutine (typical Canadian fare, I guess?), it was a small induction into the coolness of being Canadian. We migrated to a fun little joint called the Dirty Martini on Russell Street to partake in 1/2 off wine from 1030 – 1130. Magically, I made it home just a bit after midnight and got a fair night’s sleep in!

After all that fun, it’s definitely time for me to get some work in — time to sign off the internet and turn my focuses to essay writing and CV perfecting!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Marks & Spencer > Sainsbury’s, and Other Observations.

Before I get into the amazingness that is Marks & Spencer, I should probably start by re-capping last night’s events. On Sunday evening, whilst fighting off some jet lag and caffeine withdrawals, going out and socializing wasn’t number one on my list. Thusly, Alex and I discussed organizing a little get together to take place last night, wherein we could actually meet all of our facebook friends. As one H. Joe Puentes put it, “What good are facebook friends if you never get to actually meet them?” I think in this case, that point was supremely valid. Our ‘little get-together’ of six or seven people ended up being a good 20+ LSEers who ended up joining the party. We ended up hitting up The Prince of Wales pub on Drury once more and enjoyed every second of it! Meeting everyone that we had been talking with for months was super fun, and the mix of personalities ended up making for an eventful (and hilarious) night. After seeing the close of the Prince of Wales for the evening, we headed across the street to finish up our night.

Prince of Wales PubMia, Alex & I at the Prince of Wales pub!

O'Neills, Drury Lane

Now, if I would have thought things through more clearly, I would have determined that hanging out until 130A and drinking on an empty stomach would not be conducive to waking up at 630A to head to the Sports Centre for an induction. As fate would have it, my alarm didn’t go off at 630A and instead I slept until 845A. Oops. Luckily, they were able to get me in at 1130A and I got a good solid mid-day workout in before heading out for the day.

I topped up my Oyster card (which I’m borderline obsessed with) and hit the tube station to take a ride down to Oxford Street. A friend from my complex and I hit up O2, Primark (to get some basic necessities at a ridiculously amazing price), H&M, Selfridges and Marks & Spencer. First let me say, if you’re ever in the area, Selfridges & Co. is the most amazing, brilliant place ever. If there were a heaven for shoppers, this would be it. It smells like amazing shopping when you walk in — the floors are white marble and the building screams ‘handbags here cost more than your education.’ Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth checking out.

Selfridge & Co.{This picture doesn’t do Selfridges justice!}

The Marks & Spencer hub is on Oxford Street as well and it has helped my official transformation to London life. I thought I was going to have to live on pre-packaged Sainsbury’s/mediocre 3 bean salad for life. Instead, we found the most amazing grocery shopping at Marks & Spencer and realized that we could actually stock a kitchen and cook! I’m planning on making another trip down there for some basics later in the week. Fortunately, M&S has a branch in Covent Garden, about five minutes from my place.

Lessons from the last 24 hours:

1. Marks & Spencer is 23498294 times better than Sainsbury’s
2. Multiple pints of apple cider + jet lag + lack of food & caffeine = a bad combination
3. Hanging out with people definitely moves the acclimation process along a thousand times faster than normal
4. Dressing in layers is key. The tube is about a million degrees when everyone and their mom is riding it during rush hour. Uncomfortably hot.
5. Sitting at Hyde Park with a pre-packaged M&S lunch and intelligent conversation is actually an enjoyable way to pass time.

6. Pret a Manger (a cafe-ish joint in London) is not pronounced ‘Prett a Man-jer.’ It’s pronounced ‘Pret a Man-zsay’ (with a French accent.) Pret a Manger is French for “ready to eat” … who knew?

I definitely need to pack for Germany tomorrow — I’ll be leaving for Oktoberfest Thursday afternoon! Craziness!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Exploring the City!

It has been such a jam-packed day! I have had an amazingly productive day and have been on the go for a good 9 hours! I met up with Alex this morning in Trafalgar Square so we could explore the city together. Although I got a bit lost and ended up taking the long way to Trafalgar, it was definitely a sight worth seeing! The square houses Nelson’s Column and faces the National Gallery, which is a gorgeous sight unto itself! Amazingly, all of the national museums in Britain have free entry — perfect student outing!

National Gallery, LondonTrafalgar SquareNelson's Column, London

In honor of the London Design Festival, the square also hosted a giant chess set game with 32 unique ceramic pieces inspired by English culture, monarchy and the city of London.

Chess Table

After linking up, we headed south past the Thames to catch some awesome views of the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament — the day was absolutely beautiful (70 degrees and mostly sunny!) so the view was perfect!

London EyeBig BenBig Ben & Houses of Parliament

Post-Big Ben, we hit up Covent Garden for a bit of sightseeing and lunching! Although it was crazy packed, it’s such a great area — aside from loads of awesome shoppes (think L’Occitane & Lush!), there was an indoor market of sorts where people can purchase fresh fruits & veggies.

Covent Garden

Aside from the sight seeing, I also managed to get a lot done! We hit up H&M where I purchased a few Euro pieces (leggings & a couple of sweaters), plus I purchased a blowdryer, got a SIM card for my cell phone & purchased an Oyster card to use at the Tube stations! Although I’m pretty exhausted (and it’s only 745P), it was a super fun day and definitely made me more optimistic about living in London!

Tomorrow is a morning meet up with a couple of girlfriends plus a jaunt to LSE & maybe a visit to the British museum!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

To check out more pictures of London, click here.

When in London…

It’s now 930P, London time, and I’m sitting in my accommodation, typing away thanks to the internet connection that I just got working! I have now been in London for about six hours and have made it from the airport to my flat without any issues and got a permanent room assignment. The verdict? Not the biggest or the fanciest rooms, but definitely more spacious than I had anticipated and the kitchen is actually pretty sweet! The bathroom (W.C., I mean) and the shower are super tiny, but I think I can manage.

High Holborn Room ViewI am (obviously) in the process of unpacking still and definitely need to hit up a Primark & get some real sheets, but I have a twin bed, a desk (to the left) a night stand with a few drawers & loads of plugs. I just bought an adapter for about 5GBP at a local shoppe.

High Holborn Room View On the left (about five feet from the end of my bed) is a vanity with a sink and cabinets. The “closet” with the open door on the right is incredibly small. I have three jackets in there now with a couple of pairs of jeans and some shoes, but there is no way I will ever get all of my clothes in there. I’m trying to be as resourceful as possible, but I may need to hit up an Ikea!

ShowerTeeny little shower… the toilet is in a different room.

KitchenThe kitchen extends a bit further than this picture would allow, but it has a fridge, a freezer, a table, stove, dishwasher, cabinets, utensils, a microwave, a coffeemaker and an iron + ironing board! It’s totally equipped and it’s big enough for all of us to be able to sit and enjoy! Thank God — morning coffee is in the picture!!

After getting moved in, I definitely went into a bit of panic mode. My internet didn’t work and my iPhone isn’t configured to actually call anyone yet. Worse, the O2 shoppe and the banks are closed on the weekend (even on Saturday!) so it looks like I will be bankless & phoneless until Monday. Luckily, I did get my internet running so I feel much less overwhelmed and much more connected. I also snatched up an Oyster card for public transportation, a converter (to plug in my laptop) and changed some money at a cash point. I’m still a bit overwhelmed, but I think tomorrow will be much better when I’m on a normal schedule and get to explore. Plus, I am (hopefully) meeting up with a girlfriend to explore the city together, which will be nice. On the bright side, the weather is gorgeous — 70 and mostly sunny. Here are a couple of pictures of the area within about a half mile of me:

Street PhotoLondon PhoneboothShaftesbury TheatreThe theatre is literally across the street from my complex <3.

Time to put some clothes away and get oriented — hoping tomorrow is a better day!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

The Cost of Being a Gym Rat


CardioI actually contemplated learning to enjoy running. I figured if I could enjoy running, then I could – in effect – have an amazingly inexpensive way to exercise anywhere! For the coming year, I could run by the Thames in the mornings instead of hitting up the gym. Well, unfortunately for me, I hate running. I’ve tried to like it, but I can’t. It’s not particularly enjoyable for me and, additionally, I find that I feel better after working out at the gym. Hopping on the elliptical, tossing around my massive 5 lb. weights… there’s something fantastically invigorating about it. Perhaps it’s being in an environment where other people are working out and getting healthy that makes me feel accomplished. Regardless, this feeling has definitely lead to an addiction to gym-going and being a gym member. Accordingly, I have to pay to be able to go to a fun place to exercise; to be able to use the cardio equipment & weights. Although the $30 per month membership that I now have through 24 Hour is more than worth the small cost for me, I have had to look at various gyms in the London area for the coming year to find the best student deals to accommodate my addiction. After emailing a few local places, here’s what I’ve found {please note, LSE has a gym available at £100 for the year, but I have yet to hear anything good about this so-called “gym”}:

Cannons – Bloomsbury
Mecklenburgh Place
Bloomsbury, London WC1N 2AY
Telephone: 0845 2413836

Cannons – Covent Garden
11 Endell Street
London WC2H 9SA
Telephone: 0845 2413840

Central YMCA
112 Great Russell Street
London WC1A 1DD
Telephone: 020 7343 1700

Central Point Gymnasium
New Oxford Street
London WC1A 1DD
Telephone: 020 7240 6880

Fitness First – Embankment
Concourse Level, 1 Embankment Place
London Wc2N 6NN
Telephone: 0870 8980602

Fitness First – High Holborn
246 High Holborn
London WC1V 7EX
Telephone: 0207 831 4911
Pricing: £38 per month for a 3 month membership; £33 per month for a 12 month

Jubilee Hall Club, Covent Garden
30 The Piazza
London WC2E 8BE
Telephone: 020 7863 4835
Pricing: £44 per month EFT — this gym is loaded: tanning, group classes, therapies, etc.

LA Fitness – Holborn
Lacon House, 84 Theobalds
London WC1X 8RW
Teephone: 0870 607 2143
Pricing: According to a website I found (I still need to verify this) £19.99 per month for a student membership with limited hours, £30 to £40 per month at full price!

Oasis Sports Centre
32 Endell Street
London WC2H 9AG

Soho Gyms – Covent Garden
12 Macklin Street, Covent Garden
London WC2B 5NF
Telephone: 020 7242 1290
Pricing: £50 per month as an EFT payment, £155 up front for 3 months or £500 up front for a 12-month contract

Check this website out for a pretty comprehensive list of gyms in Central London!

Does anyone have any gyms that they recommend for students?


 Signature Stamp - Shannon