Advice

Best outdoor hobby for urban dwellers: backpacking

Backpacking is the perfect outdoor hobby for those who live in the city. It whisks you into the middle of nowhere for days at a time, where you can completely get away from city lights and noise. You can even escape from other people, just carry a tent.

A reasonable degree of fitness is all that is required and the ability to read a map (or just carry a GPS, if you can’t!). This makes it easy for city living as you don’t need access to certain types of terrain or big open spaces like you do for mountain biking, for instance.

Here are some pictures from some of my favourite trips in New Zealand.

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Another great things is that all the gear you need for backpacking fits into a single backpack. Very easy to store in small urban spaces. Both of my backpacks (one for weekend trips and the other for multi-day treks) live under the bed and all my other related gear like stove, pots, headlamp, waterproof pants and other clothing I wouldn’t wear are stored inside the packs. My sleeping bag lives separately so it can breathe though, but that also fits under the bed.

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Advice

Bike storage in an apartment

One of the most difficult aspects of living in the city, is how to store your non-city outdoorsy gear. Or even your urban gear, such as your commuter bike.

Here are some suggestions to help fit bicycles, in particular, into your small living space.


Brighton Bicycle Company make this ultra sleek bike rack — available on Etsy for £25.

Oak bike rack with shelf (great for your helmet, lights, etc) available from Copenhagen Road on Etsy for £107.

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Advice

Summer bbq: how to have your own

I live in a building without any common outdoor space, not even a patio. This makes having a bbq somewhat tricky. Recently, I have discovered disposable and portable bbqs. Essentially a tin tray filled with charcoal that sits on a wire rack. If you wander through Victoria Park on a warm evening, it is filled with people using these.

However, the disposable bbqs are not ideal. Yes, they’re cheap and conveniently sold everywhere. But, they’re slow to heat-up and take a long time to actually cook something through. It also just feels wasteful and slightly dangerous, as they sit very close to the grass. Given that I plan on doing a lot of barbecuing during the long and warm summer evenings, I am thinking of investing in a high quality portable barbecue.

I have my eye on this Lodge cast iron Hibachi grill. Although it maybe quite heavy to carry on my bike.

Other portable barbecues I’m considering:

Smokey Joe by Weber.

Bodum Fyrkat with charcoal or gas.

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Advice

Finding time to cook

Finding time to cook in the city is tough. There is always so much going on. But it is really worthwhile and rewarding to make the time.

Recently, I enjoyed salmon gnocchi with taleggio.

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And tonight, spiced chicken with couscous and salad.

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Advice, London

For the love of cars in the city

Often getting to that perfect trail, moving into a new flat, buying new furniture and even just to get away at the spur of the moment requires a car. Many of us don’t want to own a vehicle in a city as it is not very practical, nor good for the environment, and we don’t have to as there is usually good public transport.

But for all those moments when a car is essential, there are car sharing schemes! Car shares are amazing. I belong to Zip Car and there are many parked with a five-minute radius of my house. My mobile phone unlocks them and it is only about £5/hour to rent a cute VW Golf. There are also vans for moving, which was helpful to pick-up my new kitchen island. Greatest thing: petrol and insurance are included. Too easy. I may never own a car again.

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Advice

Choosing the perfect bike, if you can only have one

Bikes are the perfect way to commute in the city. They restore your independence and get you outside. If you are into many different bicycle activities — touring, commuting, and mountain biking — it can be difficult to fit a bike for each into your city space. Therefore, choosing the right bike is key to continuing to be able to do all your fun bike-related activities.

I have an old steel touring bike from the 1960s that has been converted to a single speed. It is comfortable and great for commuting, but it isn’t practical for multi-purposes and it is my only bike. Longer rides, particularly any with hills, aren’t really doable on it. It is currently being repaired after a delivery-van driver ran straight into it (I’m fine!), and I am thinking of potentially selling it after it is fixed to finance the one bike I really want. A Surly Troll. The Troll is a rigid steel touring mountain bike, which can also handle fat road tyres. Perfect for nearly all conditions, except uber rocky downhill stuff — but that isn’t for me anyways. And it comes in bright orange, my favourite colour. Ah, it’s meant to be.

Whileoutriding.com

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Advice, London

Urban cooking

If you grew up in the country, you are used to cooking. You may have never used cookbooks and relied on your family’s passed-down recipes. When you move to the city, it is tempting to eat out all the time. But what makes me feel really at home is cooking. And, if you are used to trying to cook from a cookbook, you are in for a treat in the city — you will be able to find even the most obscure ingredients. There are local Italian shops, Chinese grocery stores, French cheese stores, farmers’ markets of all variety, plus your regular supermarkets.

My favourite cookbook at the moment is Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. Plenty is perfect for summer with light fragrant recipes using interesting ingredients. Easy to follow and not too time consuming to cook, even after work. And, I never have to try and find a substitute for saffron or udon noodles.

I made the Warm Glass Noodles and Edamame Beans recipe the other night and it was delicious:

Black pepper tofu is also one of my favourites:

Source: images by The Guardian.

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