Tag Archives: london

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How to survive WTM: escape from it!

Do the very letters W, T and M have you burying your head in your laptop? Do you always feel like you haven’t really achieved anything, despite wearing out your soul and your soles pounding the floors of the Excel centre? Or perhaps you’ve never quite worked up the energy to get there at all, assuring yourself that you aren’t really missing anything?

Yes, WTM can be exhausting. It can suck up the whole first week of November and spit you out with nothing but a bagful of business cards to show for the ride.

But it can also be lucrative. It can bring you new clients, help you in setting up press trips and give you ideas and inspiration for the future. It covers 182 countries, attracts some 5,000 exhibitors and generates £2.2billion in industry deals. Sounds exhausting right? Well, attack the event in the right way and you will find it useful. Promise!

Here are my top tips for getting the best out of it:

Register in advance

You can do this online here and print your entry badge out before you get there. Then just pick up a lanyard and sale through at the entrance without queueing.

Slow start

It can take a while to get to the Excel centre during the show so don’t plan any appointments too early in the day – why not have a leisurely early morning coffee instead? The show opens each day at 10am but I’d recommend scheduling your appointments from 11am onwards to allow time to get there – and for a decent breakfast!

Travel light

Avoid the cloakroom queue (at both ends of the day) by not bringing any extra bags with you and wearing a light jacket that you can carry around with you. Bring a small bottle of water too.

Plan plan plan

The stands are spread over an area the size of more than nine football pitches but mercifully they are arranged by geographical area. So plan to visit all European destinations or all your Asian contacts one immediately after the other. Once you have your appointments confirmed print off a schedule including all stand numbers and contact phone numbers – you’re bound to be running later at least once.

Stay in the city

It may seem like a good idea to stay close to the Excel centre but once the show closes each day at 7pm there’s no reason to be in this part of town. Get a hotel somewhere central instead and you’ll be able to escape into the city each evening for some well-deserved time off (or to attend the various evening events).

Make your escape

Had a productive day making new contacts and deals? Then it’s time to stop, step away from the Excel centre and give yourself time to recuperate. London has plenty of restaurants where the letters WTM mean absolutely nothing – time to head out into the city and forget all about it, at least until tomorrow.

Check out my guide to the best escapes from WTM on Pearlshare here.

 

PEARLSHARE

Pearlshare is a fantastic new travel recommendations app, which not only lets you save your own favourite locations in the places you visit but also share these with friends – and grab recommendations from trusted sources easily.

I’ve written several guides for Pearlshare. Download the app on the iTunes store here and start exploring. Perhaps with my Best escapes from WTM guide, or my London restaurants with a view guide.

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Pearlshare guide: the best London restaurants with a view

Eating out is not just about the food, is it? It’s about so much more, the service, the decor, the atmosphere and, for me, the view.

I love dining overlooking my favourite city in the world, London. And for me this is one of the best things about eating out, that it gives you the chance to sit and look out over a view you would otherwise never be able to enjoy. The perfect steak or a tasty lobster is always made better by a view of an iconic building such as St Paul’s Cathedral or Tower Bridge I find and there are restaurants around the city that offer diners just that.

Whenever I’m celebrating a special occasion I head to one of the city’s rooftops. I’ve toasted my wedding anniversary with a view over the Square Mile and celebrated my birthday in a Kensington rooftop garden. My husband even proposed on a rooftop – though where exactly remains a secret!

I love London’s rooftop restaurants and I’ve written a guide to my favourite London restaurants with a view for the fabulous Pearlshare app. For a taste of this guide check out my top three below – special occasion excuse optional!

Duck and Waffle:

This upscale City of London restaurant never closes – so if you fancy sushi at 3am this is the spot! The menu features the eponymous dish, a sweet and sour creation that I highly recommend, as well as numerous small plates focused on fresh seafood and high quality sushi. Come with a group and sit at one of the round tables in the dining room’s centre or visit a deux and ask for one of the small corner tables for views in two directions.

Oxo Tower Restaurant:

Everybody knows this building on the River Thames, and at its top is a brasserie, cocktail bar and formal restaurant. The restaurant is worth splashing out on, though be sure to ask for a table in the row next to the windows for the best view north over the city. The all day dining menu includes dishes such as seared scallops and Welsh lamb rump and there are great steaks too.

Aqua Shard:

Ok, so it’s not at the top of Europe’s tallest building (you’ll have to pay for View from the Shard for that view) but you’re still on the 39th floor here and the views back over London are epic. Watch the latest City of London skyscrapers taking shape and wonder at the majesty of St Paul’s Cathedral as you dine on high quality mains such as roasted monkfish with Morecambe Bay shrimps and slow-cooked Blythburgh pork belly.

Pearlshare is a travel resource for travellers who want independent information on where to go and what to do on their travels. With guides written by locals and by experienced travel writers, you can trust Pearlshare to offer you a guide for your next adventure. Download the Pearlshare app here and see my full guide to London’s best restaurants with a view here.

 

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London Loop: Moor Park to Elstree

Walking this section, Number 10 from Moor Park to Elstree, made us realize very quickly how disappointed we had been with our last section. The book (“London Loop“) had warned us that there was too much road walking between Elstree and Cockfosters and it was a relief to be back to greener paths today, starting with Oxhey Woods.

This section is the farthest from home we have completed so far and it took us through areas we had never even heard of, Oxhey Woods being one of them. It turned out to be a real hidden gem, with hardly another walker in sight and mile after mile of woodland path where the only noise was birdsong.

We reached Pinnerwood Farm and Pinnerwood House in just a couple of hours, picking our way through the mud by their stables and stopping to take photos of the charming house reflected in its lake. Once again, we were blown away by where some Londoners live, so close to Hatch End station and yet so rural and so quiet.

We skirted the edge of several fields, passing the ends of numerous gardens and peering into suburban life through back doors and windows. And then suddenly we were crossing the main west coast line to Scotland, Virgin trains thundering underneath us.

It was soon forgotten – the rural landscape between Bushey and Stanmore turning out to be a real delight, with stonking views over the London skyline. Doug climbed on an old pillbox for a better look and we debated over whether that was the Gherkin on the horizon or not – it was, though it looked tiny with the Shard looming so much larger to its right.

Also looming large here is Bentley Priory, Fighter Command Headquarters during the Battle of Britain and still RAF property today – which explains the double wire fence along the pathway here. It is a surprisingly beautiful building, a Victorian house with an Italianiate tower – and yet another of the Loop’s surprises.

The final stretch of this section involves getting under the M1. We walked for some 15 minutes across farmland, passing horses and discussing what we would have to say about walkers seen from the motorway – for the first time beginning to understand why you might find yourself emerging from a gas works beside an A road!

The motorway rushed overhead for a few minutes as we crossed the busy roundabout here but, like the railway before it, it is also soon forgotten. Because just a few minutes walk further on we reach Aldenham Reservoir and find a vast dam and a pretty sailing lake, now just starting to twinkle under a setting sun.

It was beautiful, but it also made us appreciate how long the day must be to fit in a whole section of the London Loop. Two hours by tube to reach Moor Park had undone our early start and we staggered exhausted into Elstree and Borehamwood station just as darkness began to fall. There was no spare time on this section and although it is one of the longer ones, we have learned an important Loop lesson – no early start is too early.

 

OUR WALK:

Start point: Moor Park station (Metropolitan line)

Finish point: Elstree and Borehamwood station (Thameslink)

Length: 12 miles (19.3km)

Time taken: six hours

 

 

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London Loop: Elstree to Cockfosters

We haven’t been doing brilliantly at keeping up our 2014 challenge to complete the London Loop. Too many weekends away (me), too much golf (my husband), too many late nights and resulting over-long lie-ins (both of us), and suddenly it’s mid-March and we’ve done one half of one section.

Not to worry, the weather has turned, the days are getting longer and there are plenty of weekends for walking ahead, starting last Sunday, when we completed section 11, from Elstree to Cockfosters.

This section of the loop starts at photo4Elstree and Borehamwood station and we began our walk with an ascent up to Woodcock Hill Village Green, above the Elstree Tunnel. From here there are views as far as St Albans and a pair of red-brick circular buildings that our ever-useful “London Loop” told us were air shafts.

Unfortunately these bucolic views turned out to be somewhat few and far between on this section and our next mile or so, to Moat Mount Open Space from Scratchwood Open Space, turned out to require crossing the busy A1.

The early spring sun had brought out plenty of picnicking families, but I couldn’t quite understand their desire to sit in these vaguely green open areas either side of the three-lane highway, the sound of traffic buzzing in the background, and we were glad to escape onto the Dollis Valley Greenwalk.photo5

The path here follows Dollis Brook and the recent wet weather made this a boggy prospect, the path reduced to a thin ribbon of gloopy mud between two hedgerows. There was quite a lot of grabbing onto branches and leaping over puddles to save our boots. Fortunately mine are pretty waterproof, and I had my Sealskinz waterproof socks to give me the certainty of dry feet.

As Chipping Barnet (one of a bewildering number of Barnets we encountered) came into view, the path turned to tarmac and we spent more time than we would have liked passing through housing estates and playing fields.

But then – shortly after passing High Barnet tube station and Hadley viewpoint – a real treat made it all worthwhile. Monken Hadley is an ancient village long since swallowed up by the London sprawl. It is located at the edge of Enfield Chase, the same royal hunting forest that our house is located in, and yet I did not know it existed. Here we pass beautiful 18th-century cottages, one of which was once home to Scottish explorer David Livingstone, a run of 17th-century red-brick almshouses and dozens of vast manor houses and mansions that cause us to argue over which will be our home when that long-planned lottery win comes through.photo6

We are nearly back to Cockfosters and one of our favourite local pubs now, but the loop has one more surprise up its sleeve. In the middle of thick woodland, just after crossing the East Coast main line to Edinburgh, we follow our guidebook on a short diversion it tells us is “well worth” the effort. We walk up a few steps and suddenly we are looking out over a vast lake, surrounded by trees and echoing with birdsong. This is Beech Hill Lake and I stand for several minutes mesmerised by it.

photoJust a few minutes from here we reach the Cock and Dragon, our favourite local destination for Thai food and a pint. Over fiery stir fries and pints of Greene King IPA we discuss our next attack on the London Loop. Section 11 might have involved far too much tarmac and far too many roads, but it also yielded several pleasant surprises and I’m looking forward to plenty more on the rest of the route soon – perhaps even next weekend, if we can get out of bed.

OUR WALK:

Start point: Elstree and Borehamwood station (Thameslink)

Finish point: Cockfosters station (Piccadilly line)

Length: 10.5 miles (17km)

Time taken: five hours (partly slowed due to boggy ground)

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London Loop: Cockfosters to Gordon Hill

IMG_4511I’ve always wanted to walk the
London Loop, a circular path around the city that runs through green spaces for some 150 miles.

Since it’s January and everybody we know is pledging to stop something (drinking, smoking, eating anything tasty), my husband and I decided to start something instead. So today we started the London Loop, by tackling the section closest to our Enfield home.

We began at Cockfosters tube station (taking the 307 bus from Enfield Chase station) and set off along a very muddy path into Trent Park. This is one of our favourite destinations for a Sunday stroll and we weren’t the only ones romping across its grassy open spaces and through its woodlands this afternoon.

But today it was serious – we even had a guidebook, the
super-detailed “London Loop“. It felt like an unnecessary indulgence at first to be using a guidebook within just a mile or two of our home, but we soon learned something: the house in Trent Park, which we have walked past dozens of times, was used as an interrogation centre for enemy airmen during World War Two. This new information made a very familiar destination seem suddenly fresh.

Trent Park, Enfield
Trent Park, Enfield

The book also encouraged us to stop and take in the view from the highest point of Enfield Chase, the ancient hunting ground that is now much diminished, thanks to Londoners like ourselves needing homes to live in. We paused for a while, sinking into the mud as we marvelled at just how much greenery there is so close to London’s infrastructure.

From Trent Park we crossed Hadley Road and walked through farmland and along Salmon’s Brook, a narrow waterway we know only too well from our local golf club. The path along here became increasingly boggy but my Scarpa hiking boots held up well and we slipped and slid our way along the muddy fields below the Ridgeway.

The busy Ridgeway road, from Enfield to the M25, seems insignificant today

The Ridgeway is our route to the M25 but today it seemed insignificant – a tiny sliver of tarmac across open rolling countryside. I have always darted my eyes away from the road ahead to glimpse the view but today I could really soak it in – so much better!

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The last section of our walk towards Clay Hill is all new ground, crossing Turkey Brook and heading past The Red House (the sort of mansion we can only dream of…!) to Hilly Fields Park. Section 12 of the London Loop continues on to Enfield Lock from here but we decide to leave the trail for today.

We want to finish our 150-mile London Loop adventure back here – the closest point to our house – and promise ourselves that 2014 won’t finish before we do. And now I’ve said it here, that’s a challenge!

 

OUR WALK:

Start point: Cockfosters station (Piccadilly line)

Finish point: Gordon Hill station (First Capital Connect)

Length: 5.5 miles (8.8km)

Time taken: Two hours

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My top 10 trips of 2013

In 2013 I spent a third of my year on the road, taking 31 trips.

Some of these were short breaks close to my North London home,  others took me as far afield as Macau, Australia and the USA. Every one of them was interesting, inspiring and worthwhile – but of course there were favourites.

Here is my countdown of my top 10 trips of the year:

10. Walking on the much underrated  Isle of Man. Thanks to Visit Isle of Man.

9. Quadbiking, canyoning, hiking and river tubing in Highland Perthshire. Scotland. Thanks to Highland Perthshire.

8. Food and culture in Macau. Thanks to Macau Tourism and Hume Whitehead.

7. Butler for a day at the Lanesborough hotel, London. Thanks to the hotel, Daniel Jordaan and Luchford APM.

6. Boat trips, snorkelling and seafood in Cyprus. Thanks to Visit Cyprus and Kallaway.

5. The world’s shortest flight in Orkney.  Thanks to Visit Scotland and Loganair.

4. Krakow and Zakopane for the BGTW AGM 2013. Thanks to Representation Plus and the Polish tourist board.

3. Green spaces and great food in Glasgow. Thanks to People Make Glasgow.

2. Hiking in  Gran Canaria. Look out for my article on this in the Express on Saturday January 4th. Thanks to Macs Adventure.

1. Swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Thanks to Tourism WA.

 

I would like to thank everyone who helped with my travel plans in 2013. Looking forward to working with many of you again in 2014. Happy new year!