Pre-Game, Post-Injury Nerves

This month it is two years since I injured my knee and had an operation to repair my meniscus ligament.

It’s odd because part of me processes it as if it was yesterday. I remember exactly how I felt, sometimes so strongly that I can cry, and I remember exactly what I was thinking at the time.

But there’s also a part of my that recognises it was two years ago, and that during the last two years so much has changed. Then it feels like a lifetime ago.

London Roller Girls

Photograph Courtesy of Zero G

Oxford Roller Derby Game

Photo courtesy of Peter Worth

Pre-game, post-injury nerves

Photo courtesy of Peter Worth

One of the instances, when my injury feels like it was just a blink of an eye ago, is right before a game of roller derby. I had hoped that transferring to a new league would solve the anxiety, due to the change of routine and surroundings. Unfortunately, this last weekend proved that this was not true – well not entirely anyways.

There are two things I think that contribute to my pre-game, post-injury anxiety. The first is this weird thought that I cannot trust my left knee. When I injured my knee, I was told that sports would be particularly hard to return to and I would likely need a second operation. I had to relearn how to walk, run and go upstairs. At 22 I found this particularly traumatic and had counselling to try and process the effects my injury was having on my independence.

Since then I’ve returned to completely normal activity. My left knee very very rarely feels any differently to my right knee, and when it does it’s because I’ve rolled over the scar tissue in my knee (which feels like a grain of sand in the joint). But in the back of my mind I have a niggle that it was once injured and it once let me down.

This is a result of the second contributor to my pre-game, post-injury anxiety, which is that I returned from a knee niggle to normality before I seriously injured my knee.

I originally injured my knee in the April against Bristol Roller Derby, missed a couple of games including SKOD (sob) and then returned to normality (still some pain, but relatively pain-free) for a couple of months, before finally injuring my knee properly against the Seaside Siren Roller Girls in November.

The injury in November was the result of rolling over track tape while transitioning.

This has left me with a doubt on my knee and a weird lack of trust in my own left leg.

The thing is that as soon as the first whistle goes for a game I forget about all this and focus on the game ahead. I also don’t think it has a great effect on my game. But in the lead up to a game… WOW I am nervous.

Knowing this, I am working hard to try and eradicate this element of my pre-game. I don’t want to feel like I can’t trust my left knee. I also don’t want my mind to play tricks on me before a roller derby game, making me question my strength.

Pre-game, post-injury nerves

I have previously read Mind Gym but I struggled to take exercises from it. A friend recommended The Mental Edge, so I’ve started reading that. I’m personally finding this book much better than the Mind Gym. But having only started a week before my weekend away with the Brawl Saints I really wasn’t practiced enough to implement what I’d been learning.

As a result, I went into the Newcastle game nervous and twinged my knee in the second to last jam of the game. Thankfully, it feels absolutely fine now, and I skated the next day against Middlesborough without any twinges.

For me, it just reaffirmed how important strengthening my mental game is, as I am 100% sure any future knee niggles will be purely the result of my own overthinking rather than any physical limitations.

So I’m going to focus on this during my off season. I’m going to strengthen my body but also apply a new focus to strengthening my mind, in an aim to get rid of my pre-game, post-injury nerves.

It begins with The Mental Edge and these self-confidence tips delivered straight to your inbox by Mark Tyrell, and after some other resources it results in a more mentally resilient Flo feeling more excited than nervous before a game!

If you have any tips on the mental side of roller derby please let me know! I’d be really interested to hear them. You can comment below or email me at

Look Mum No Hands: London’s Best Coffee

Stop number two on the list of London’s best coffee shops is Old Street’s Look Mum No Hands. An intriguing combination of bike shop and coffee shop.

Making my way through the conveniently placed coffee shops, after a day at work, also seems to the be the first filtering criteria in my search for good coffee.

It really is surprising the amount of coffee shops that shut during rush hour, or just after the evening passing trade. Thankfully, Look Mum No Hands is one of those rare coffee shops that remains open until late evening.

Not so surprisingly this coffee shop also happens to be on the same street as coffee shop number one, the Timberyard. It must be something about the area that warrants staying open later as beneficial.

Searching for this coffee shop presented its own challenges that I question may only happen to Chris and I.

Firstly we weren’t expecting for Look Mum No Hands to be as close to the Timberyard as it was. The decisions local coffee lovers must have to make on a daily basis might be too painful for me. But it is surprisingly really close and also really close to a false flag bike shop that appeared closed, yet heavily advertised.

Who can blame them I guess. Would you like to compete with a bike shop that also sells coffee, cakes, and food?

Regardless we were overcome with disappointment when we walked down old street and saw said coffee-less bike shop and saw that it was also closed. A moment of despair passed over me as I realised that the dates on Time Out’s coffee list were from 2013 and that perhaps we would encounter more coffee shops listed that were closed, or all Pret a Mangers, or simple other shops.

Thankfully it was my stupidity that brought on my moment of disappointment, and in fact Look Mum No Hands is very much still a coffee shop and very much still a bike shop.

After witnessing two of the most out of place surfer-looking-dudes walk past me in their flip flops (maybe I heard the impact of their flip flops on the rainy autumn floor before I saw them) I followed my instinct and followed them. It paid off and before long I was facepalming as a mere 5ft from the other bike shop was a giant sign proclaiming ‘Look Mum No Hands’.

Look Mum No Hands Coffee

Look Mum No Hands Bike Shop

London's Best Coffee

The shop was busy.

I was surprised by the size of the shop and slightly in awe of its beer gardenesque outdoor seating. Look Mum No Hands feels like a coffee shop that wants you to sit in and enjoy the atmosphere.

The seating is cramped inside, and the walkways between tables are relatively small. Small enough to make me feel like my 13” Cambridge Satchel was a giant bag with its own personality. But aside from the slightly uncomfortable feeling as you decide whether your butt or front should go closer to the person hanging over their copy of Caffeine, the closely-spaced seating clearly works of this coffee shop.

To my left as I entered the shop I noticed the bike section of Look Mum No Hands. A small corner workshop is the dedicated bike space, but the theme of cycling is laced throughout. To the right of the entrance and all along the windowed wall are benches and on these benches are an array of cycles and cycle-themed ornaments.

I feel this added charm to the shop, although I’m unsure you’d be able to navigate a bicycle to your table, especially as I struggled with my Cambridge Satchel.

After a moment of hesitation as I panicked there was no seating, and I’d have to take my coffee to go, or sit in the rain, two seats became available and Chris pounced.

Seating sorted at the bench it was time to shop coffee.

To remain consistent throughout this project I’ve decided to order the same coffee throughout. So I chose a latte and on this occasion so did Chris. I also ordered a mushroom and pepper open sandwich, but this was because I was getting hangry.

Open Sandwich

My sandwich was delicious. My review of it is simple – I would definitely recommend their food. Due to my indecisive opinion on avocado I asked for it without, when usually it comes as standard. However, the sandwich was a lovely mix of cold and hot ingredients covering a wide range of colours. Not a single mouthful was too overpowering, sour or below the high standard throughout the sandwich, and the bread was nicely crispy.

In fact, the level of this open sandwich made me wish I’d spent more of my money sampling their food as there was also some pretty delicious sounding scotch eggs at the counter too. I think I’ll use them as an excuse to visit again.

The coffee was also pretty good. Stronger than I usually enjoy my latte had a hint of bitterness mixed with the depth of breath tainting coffee. At this point in an evening, after a long day at work, the rain outside and the week still ahead, it felt right to drink such strong coffee.

The coffee was hot, not warm, which was pleasing. I love that baristas and coffee shops take into consideration how quickly you might like to drink a coffee or what is the right temperature to blend at, but considering the weather outside and actually the experience of drinking coffee, I prefer to drink my coffee on the hot side than the warm.

So would I return to Look Mum No Hands?

Yes! Yes, I definitely would, even if just for the food they offer. But actually I would for the coffee too. Out of both of my visits to Old Street I’ve been delighted with the coffee.

Would I return at gone seven at night for a coffee? Probably not. The coffee is strong, something I often judge by how long I can taste the coffee in my mouth for. Enjoying sleep as much as I do, drinking such strong coffee so late in the evening is not the best combination for me. But a coffee during the day, or a meeting place with friends, then yeah I’d recommend Look Mum No Hands.

Look Mum No Hands! Summary

Things that count in their favour

  • Good food
  • Good coffee
  • Free magazines
  • Plenty of seating
  • Nicely themed

Things that count against it

  • WiFi only available some of the time (clearly to prevent people from working in there)
  • Busy

If you’ve been to Look Mum No Hands let me know, or if you know of a coffee shop I should visit in London, please comment.

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London’s Best Coffee: Timberyard

Coffee Shop Numero Uno on my mission to try Time Out’s Best Coffee Shop in London took Chris and I to the Timberyard at Old Street.

The Time Out list actually references the Covent Garden branch rather than the one at Old Street, but as we decided to start this project late one working day, and chose our first coffee shop at random, the Timberyard at Old Street won out for its commuting convenience to my work and to our home.


Our Evening at the Timberyard


Chris was the first to arrive at the coffee shop, as I was delayed getting out of work, and when he did arrive the coffee shop was busy. I guess with a popular independent brand such as Timberyard that can only be expected just after 6pm on a work evening. But by the time I arrived it was quiet. So quiet in fact we got the seats at the front of the shop, where we could people watch as well as watch the night draw in.

It started to feel like autumn then, which for me always makes me feel more affectionate about a place. Something about keeping the cold away and the refreshment of a hot drink just warms my coggles and soothes my mood.

Due to my small city roots it was also nice to be in a coffee shop that wasn’t Starbucks so later in an evening. I’m still amazed by the common elements of London.

The interior of the Timberyard is light and spacious, and actually no photograph I took did it justice. The lighting made the interior feel warm and bright, without glare and brought out the wood effect throughout. Although there was nothing unique to my surroundings they were undoubtedly designed to be functional and comfortable.

Chris and I chose the loungiest sofa to sit on to enjoy our coffee, which after five minutes because the most unflattering and uncomfortable thing to sit on. The back of the sofa so far away that every time I leaned back the crotch of my shorts either rode up or bunched up. #FirstWorldProblems.

It would be easy to get sensory overload in Timberyard if you preferred a minimalist decor. The trinkets that surrounded our sofa, on wall to wall shelves, were many. And the abundance of books on the coffee counter made me feel like a child in a sweet shop, but for some I imagine it is too much to look at.

I was also ridiculously pleased to see them selling KeepCups!

I didn’t use the opportunity to explore the rest of the space. Although they advertised more seating further back and on their website they offer the opportunity to book space.

London's Best Coffee

Timberyard Coffee


Both Chris and I ordered lattes (pictured just above) and shared a chocolate brownie cake.

Choosing the cake was a particularly hard task, as much like the shelves, the sweet and savoury treats were abundant and laid out almost one on top of the other.

In the end, the chocolate brownie cake was the winner, and it was by far the richest thing I’ve tasted and one of the most delicious. Quite simply it tasted like the best brownie you’ve ever tasted, but in cake form. It would have been too rich for me, if I’d had the whole thing to myself. Luckily Chris helped me out.

The lattes were good. They were light and not bitter. The espresso and the milk were blended seamlessly and to my delight the milk was smooth and lacking froth – just as a latte should be! As an after work coffee it was the right amount of strength. As a morning coffee I might have wanted something a little more potent.

So would I return? Yes! In fact, I almost did when I got lost trying to find another coffee place on Time Out’s list. Would I recommend it? Yes! I think it’s a lovely place to spend an hour, or an afternoon, and actually I’d probably go out of my way to return there. Do I think it’s one of London’s best coffee shops? Well, I guess I need to sample a few more before I can say definitely. But there are a few things that count in its favor.

  • Foals were playing on the sound system
  • It would take me a long time to work through its food options
  • The coffee was light enough for Chris to enjoy it
  • There was lots of seating

Let me know if you visit or have been before!

You can also follow me on Instagram to follow me coffee adventures in photos.