Saturday, 25 June 2011

London for Free

Green Garden Lunchtimes | Bunhill Fields EC1
Monday 27 June - Friday 1 July 2011, 12.30 - 1.30pm

As much as I heart London, it is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Yet I've realised with a little bit of digging you can find lots of ways to enjoy the big smoke without parting with a penny.

Next week, the City of London is running their successful Green Garden Lunchtimes in Bunhill Fields (near Old Street). An hour of freeness every weekday ranging from a handy bike surgery to tai chi & yoga classes, massage & reiki treatments, and a wildlife talk & history tour.

I trot down Old Street all the time and was completely unaware that a stone's throw away lay 4 hectares of the lovely Grade I listed green space of Bunhill Fields, hidden by the traffic of City Road. Not only is it a protected haven for wildlife and conservation but up until the late 19th century it was also used as a dissenters graveyard. Yep there are still some gravestones around, notably those of the writers William Blake & Daniel Defoe, but still it remains a very popular spot with nearby office workers and families who go there to catch the sun and feel the grass between their toes.

So if you're thinking of popping down one lunchtime next week there's no need to book just turn up and who knows I might see you there as Yoga Place, the studio I teach at, are running the free Thursday yoga class and I'll be around to lend a hand.   Also never fear, should the great British weather be less than reliable (though I heard its going to be sunny) all the talks and classes will take place under gazebos.

Bunhill Fields, off the City Road, London EC1 
(nearest tube Old Street)

Monday 27 June - Free drop-in tai chi class provided by Mei Quan Academy

Tuesday 28 June - Free bicycle surgery, maintenance and repair checks by local bike shop Look Mum No Hands!
Wednesday 29 June - Meet 12.30pm at the gardeners hut for a history tour of Bunhill Fields by the City Guides (£5)
Thursday 30 June Free drop-in hatha yoga class provided by Yoga Place
Friday 1 JulyFree talk about urban wildlife and biodiversity from the Natural History Museum.  Plus free drop-in advice and treatments from qualified experienced practitioners in Reiki, Yoga, Massage, Chiropody and Osteopathy from the Wren Clinic.

Images 1, 3 City of London Corporation

Monday, 20 June 2011

Big Hair Indeed

My hairstyling routine has been transformed: well, inasmuch as I didn't have one before and now I do. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I don't spend money on my hair. I go to good stylists (only about three times a year but still) and I rarely use anything other than Aveda products (although I have to admit to recently reverting to home dyeing - I'm not made of money). But my styling has always left a lot to be desired. I was very much of the rub-my-fingers-through-my-hair-whilst-holding-a-hairdryer-near-it school then I'd make a half-hearted attempt to use a round brush to get some semblance of a shape. It tended to look OK when it was first done but a few hours later it would invariably end up looking flat.

Now all of that has changed because I've discovered the Babyliss Big Hair. I first read about it on India Knight's blog and thought it sounded good but not for me - her hair looks to be of the big curly variety and she was extolling it's taming capabilities. I mentioned it to a few of my curly friends and thought no more about it. Then Sali Hughes did one of her video columns about it in the Guardian and as her hair is similar to mine I thought I'd give it a go.

What a revelation! I find it incredibly simple to use, and the volume I can achieve is so great I actually have to hold myself back otherwise I'd be forced to start power-dressing à la Alexis Carrington Colby to offset my bounce. I won't go into the detail of how to use the thing (check out the aforementioned video if you want to see it in action) other than to say it's a dryer with a revolving brush on the end. I know, it doesn't sound amazing but it really is. So much so that I bought one to take to Berlin and despite its size I have taken my original with me on weekends away. To really appreciate the significance of that you should remember that I am someone for whom comfort wins over style every time. Or so I thought. But now I am the queen of the do. The first time I used it Coffee Boy asked me if I'd had my hair cut - and nearly every week I get someone asking me if I've been to the hairdressers. So if you're sick of trying in vain to make your mop look top-notch, give it a whirl. For me it was £45 very well spent.

Images: 1 & 2 BaByliss, 3 Amazon
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