Friday, December 08, 2006

London calling

I was away on business for most of this week - London on Monday and Tuesday night, then on to Newcastle on Wednesday and most of Thursday. In London I was staying in a hotel on the south of the Thames, just across the water from Canary Wharf. Before I arrived I hadn't really appreciated that the hotel was on the south side of the river - I felt the name 'Hilton Docklands' was a bit misleading, to be honest, as that had made me think it would be on the Canary Wharf side - but it did turn out to be a pretty good place to stay. For a start, it meant I was able to get a boat to and from the centre of London each day, rather than stand crushed beside 50,000 grumpy Londoners on the tube or the DLR. Getting a boat to work reminded me of Sydney, albeit about 15 degrees colder, and I found it to be a very satisfactory and relaxing method of travel. During my trip I managed to see the world famous Itsu sushi bar in Piccadilly - I felt a warm glow as I walked past - and another highlight was my superb breakfast both mornings. It may not be the ideal runner's meal, but it is hard to beat a Hilton breakfast of bacon, sausage, 2 fried eggs, a couple of pieces of fried bread, mushrooms, beans, haggis and toast. I'm hungry now just thinking about it. It was absolutely superb.

The other advantage of my hotel's location was that I was able to go out a run on part of the London Marathon course. On Tuesday night I headed from the hotel up to Surrey Quays, then along the marathon route backwards to Greenwich. I even went round the Cutty Sark (which, incidentally, had had its mast removed, something I hope is fixed before the 2007 London Marathon), before turning round at a petrol station and coming back more or less the same way. I ran for about 75 minutes in total and covered about 10 miles. It was certainly better than sitting like a sad and lonely old man in a hotel room (or bar) on my own.

We had a business dinner in Newcastle on Wednesday. A great deal of wine was consumed, and I consider it quite impressive that I managed to get up early the next morning and go for a 4 mile run along the quayside. It probably wasn't the fastest run I've ever done, but I'm pleased to say that the fresh air did me the world of good. When I'm out of town I often use my run as an opportunity to see a bit of the city - this was no different, and I enjoyed seeing the way Newcastle's quayside has developed in the 10 years or so since I was last there.