Listen to a Londoner: Paul McConnell

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Paul McConnell

Paul is a born and bred londoner. Having lived in Central London his whole life, he spent his childhood within a 15 minute walking distance of Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. His favourite thing to do in London or anywhere else is to hang out with his friends on a Saturday afternoon watching the football, or spend it with his lovely fiancee going around all the markets and shops.

LLO: As a born and bred Londoner, how has the city changed since your childhood? Anything you miss?
PM: The city has changed a ton. There is a lot more diversity now, with many different cultures, and its made london more of a melting pot. You really can get anything you like from any culture in the world in london.

LLO:Which part of the city are you most familiar with and what’s the best thing about it?
PM: I’m most familiar with central london as I’ve grown up within walking distance from Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. My favourite part of London is the Southbank and all the bridges that cross the thames – so relaxing and beautiful.

LLO: Best London discovery?
PM: Great family run Italian restaurant near Notting Hill called Ffionas. You have to be there early though because they only have 8 tables.

LLO: If you’re in the mood for some last minute live music, which venues would you check first to see what’s on?
PM: Brixton Academy have shows all the time where you can always pick up tickets on the day, or if you walk through Camden you’re sure to find something you like.

LLO: Tell us about a memorable moment that could only have happened in London.
PM: It has a be a marathon weekend which consisted of 3 live football matches, 3 nights out clubbing and about 3 hours sleep during all 3 days.

LLO: Know of any great little hole-in-the-wall pubs, restaurants or coffee shops that are worth stopping by?
PM: The Black Horse just behind Oxford Street is a great pub, great food, all fresh the same day.

LLO: If you were to leave London in the near future, what 5 things (people not included) would you miss the most about the city?
PM: 1.) Arsenal football club 2.) The London Eye (near where i proposed to my fiancee) 3.) Being able to hear Big Ben on a quiet night from my house 4.) Fish and chip shop on Sutherland Street in Pimlico (best fish and chips on earth) 5.) My mum’s roast dinner

LLO: Best pub to watch your favourite football team on match day?
PM: Either the Barley Mow in Vauxhall or Victoria’s Sports bar above Victoria station

LLO: What about a great venue to go watch some live sport (not necessarily football!)?
PM: Wembley or the Emirates Stadium, or Battersea Power Station where they have live festivals, extreme sports/extreme Winter sports.

LLO: Share a random London fact that not many people would know.
PM: The actual City of London is only 1 square mile. All other major roads such as Oxford Street, Piccadilly and Regent Street actually come under “The City of Westminster”.

Even though being the sovereign of The UNITED KINGDOM, Her Majesty the Queen is not allowed to enter the City of London with seeking the permission of its Lord Mayor.

Thanks Paul!

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Listen to a Londoner: Claire Watson

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you want to be interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk. Always looking for new volunteers.

Claire Watson, 26

Claire works in social media strategy and lives in Islington. She wishes that running everywhere, and subsequently being able to go to the pub in your lycra, was socially acceptable. She’s currently working on the Boutique Run and training for the Guernsey marathon in August. She’s set up a JustGiving page if you’d like to support her efforts.

LLO: Give us the basics first: How long have you lived in London, where are you from originally and how did you end up here?
CW:
I’ve been in London for 3.5 years. I lived in Clapham Junction for few years, and now been up in Islington for the past 9 months. I grew up in leafy north Hertfordshire so would often come into central London on the train at weekends and have always wanted to experience living and working here.

LLO: As a runner preparing for a marathon, where’s your favourite place in the city to train?
CW:
I’m really lucky to live within a 15 minute run of Primrose Hill – it’s a great place to train… Not only is powering up the hill some of the best conditioning training you can do, it’s such a beautiful view when you reach the top.

LLO: Tell us a bit about the Boutique Run coming up in Battersea Park this July. What brought about the idea and what can we expect?
CW:
All the stats show that women would exercise more if the facilities were of a better quality, if they could do it with friends and if the competition was friendly – not fierce. So Boutique Run is a new event concept which leaps these hurdles with style. Women can take part in a 5 or 10k run followed by a post race experience unlike any other. We’re talking free champagne, hot showers, massage, a fabulous after party and a special ‘Bouti’ bag full of goodies!

LLO: Favourite shop in London for sports gear?
CW:
Sweaty Betty is fantastic – they do really great clothes that are really flattering and feminine. They normally have really good sales and if you sign up to the catalogue list you get another 10% off your sale items (as well as a nice catalogue in the post every few months)

LLO: Best place for pampering and massage after a long run
CW:
I don’t tend to get massages in London, as they are so expensive! My boyfriend kindly got me (and him) a day’s introduction to massage course as a Christmas present this year, so we’re now pretty competent at getting each other’s knots out! It was a really nice activity to do together on a rainy Saturday in London and now we’re saving money not having to go out to get them. Although I’m yet to find a massage deal that I would like, I’d recommend signing up to Wahanda.com, as they have some great health and beauty offers across several really nice London spas and beauticians.  

LLO: And of course, the reward – favourite place to enjoy a night out in the capital?
CW:
There are so many great places to go out that offer something completely different for whatever your mood. Is it really sappy if I say it’s more about the people than the place we go, as there are so many fun places? I have the best nights out with my girlfriends from school. We live all across London so tend to congregate in Covent Garden as a centre point. Cocktails at Sophie’s Steakhouse are great and you can’t go wrong with 1/2 price happy hours at Jewel.

LLO: Any advice for busy Londoners looking to stay fit but might not quite have the energy for all these marathons?
CW:
Everyday activities. Instead of standing to the right on escalators on the tube, walk up them (really squeeze your buns as you do it to give them even more of a work out). There are loads of great parks in London, so just get out there and walk or jog around them.

I also took up softball a couple of years ago through work – there are loads of leagues taking off in London, predominantly based around companies. It’s more about socialising in the evening sun than anything else… And a great way to meet people. http://www.baseballsoftballuk.com/

LLO:  What’s the coolest thing about living in your postcode?
CW:
Freightliners Farm – hearing cows mooing when we have the windows open, or being woken up by the cockerels.

LLO: Tell us about something, somewhere or someone that you’ve discovered in London and think the rest of us should know about.
CW:
The Thai Green curry man who sets up his stall every lunch time in Goodge Place – thoroughly delicious. Also, if you have a friend who works for PWC, ask them to take you to the Turret meeting rooms in the Embankment office – one of the best views of London I’ve been lucky enough to see.

LLO: Is there somewhere in London you’ve love to explore on a long run but haven’t had a chance yet?
CW:
The Thames path out in Richmond – I did a quick run down there a few weeks ago and will definitly be carrying out some of the hard 20 milers out past Richmond, towards Ham and Kingston- it’s really beautiful and you feel 1,000 miles away from a busy city.

Thanks Claire!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.