Back to the routine

On Sunday we took our Christmas tree down and then it was time to get back to work and a routine.

Last week went like this:

Monday- 4 mile run after work  in wind and rain. I did a yoga cool down video after (tick).

Tuesday- I had to pop to St Albans town on my way home to get half a prescription (when I went before they only had half)- when I got home Andy had been using the Instant Pot to make a chilli.

Whilst in town I had popped into Pret and as they had a really nice sounding special (carrot falafels with gherkins and beetroot) I decided to get a nice lunch to help with the first week back.

Sweets for the cinema/ my new candle/ back to work lunch and not pretty dinner

On Wednesday I didn’t have yoga, so went out on a run- 4 miles including some lamp post intervals. It wasn’t easy finding somewhere to run fast though-  the roads around here are all bumpy and cracked from the tree  roots, and often it’s hard to see because the trees make huge shadows (even with the chest torch).

On Thursday we were off to the cinema to see JoJo Rabbit (which I really enjoyed- the tone was similar to Death of Stalin, with some emotion thrown in too) so it was a quick dinner of a wrap filled with vegan cheese, apple and chutney, heated in a pan so it all melted together- not pretty but very tasty.

On Friday when I left work the moon was so pink and just above the horizon. As I drove home it seemed to get even bigger and more orange- very impressive. We had a walk when I got home, and then I spent the evening watching TV, catching up on my magazine reading and eating Christmas cake.

Saturday’s parkrun was Jersey Farm so I drove to my parents and then walked there with Dad. The mud  is slowly drying and most places it’s fairly good going. It drizzled a bit on the first lap, but dried up by the end. Dad ran ahead and was there to cheer me through the finish. We did a good deed of picking up some litter on our  way home (we’d seen this pile of polystyrene last week, and this week Dad had a bag with him so we collected it all).

I took some clothes to change into- top and jumper, and socks (new for Christmas) and then we had pancakes. Once home and showered we had a few bits to get in town (including my free Starbucks) so we walked in before it got dark. I had some work to do, so no excuse needed to light my new candle- it’s peppermint cream and smells amazing.

We’ve been watching Wisting (about a Norwegian detective) and it looks so cold so we had a hot chocolate to warm up- Hotel Chocolat did a gingerbread one which is really good- spiced and not too sweet.

Sunday morning was time for a long run- I realised that Brighton half is a couple of weeks closer than I thought (end of Feb).  Thumb holes and stretchy pockets for the win in any running clothes. It was sunny when I left, then about a mile in it poured with rain so hard that I sheltered under a tree for a bit. Then it cleared and was cold but sunny.

Once home I did some yoga including legs up the wall, showered and had breakfast and then had to get ready to head out again quickly.

I was off for afternoon tea for a baby shower.

There was mountains of food (we took so much home to take to work the next day) and we played a few games. We were there for so long it was dark by the time I got home!

What is your favourite part of afternoon tea? Usually I  like scones the best, but this one had really good cakes- so fluffy and with really light icing. I had a lemon one which also had lemon curd inside.

Just before going back to reality- mainly Disney movies

The Christmas holidays always seem to go by in a flash! Since getting back from France, I’ve been doing an excellent job of pottering about and relaxing.

Monday- 6 mile run then home to mince pie porridge ( basically porridge with some of that home-made mincemeat stirred in), a walk and then lots of time unpacking and sorting things out. I watched Frozen in the afternoon- I love an afternoon film in the holidays.

Tuesday- 7 miles (because I had signed up to a Running Heroes challenge to run 7 miles that day).  I had to pop to St Albans to collect a few things, including a Sweaty Betty yoga top that has an elasticated band on the waist so it won’t ride up or down in any inversions. I parked a fair way out and walked in, in the drizzle, and then when I got home Andy’s parents had popped over.  I sorted out some of our Christmas presents (we had opened them once home on Sunday).

My Christmas presents were mainly penguin themed including these cosy PJ’s, this cute bag and this lovely picture. Marzipan and peanut butter chocolates = delicious but not penguin related. 

Wednesday- NYDD- Ran to Panshanger, ran parkrun, got a lift to Ellenbrook, ran there, then home for breakfast, and later in the day our niece and nephew came over.

Followed by more Disney movie action- this time Aladdin.

Thursday- my legs were a bit stiff so I went on a long walk to warm up and loosen them, and did a yoga video when I got home.  I made some peppermint bark, washed my trail shoes and did a few other bits, and then we popped out to look at some under stair storage (living the dream) before going to see Jumanji 2 at the cinema- it was quite similar to the first one and good fun.

Friday- my legs were still stiff, so I did a longer yoga video in the morning.

The postie delivered some sale shopping from Bird & Blend (I was most excited about the Snowball teabags which is black tea with chocolate and coconut, Mulled Cider tea which is gently spiced apple).

I had a haircut booked, so walked the long way into town and then pottered around a bit before walking home.

Of course it was then time for another Disney movie, this time The Little Mermaid. Andy put the fire on later on for a lovely cosy evening.

Saturday was of course parkrun day (in my freshly cleaned trail shoes). I drove to my parents and then we walked to Jersey Farm parkrun. The mud had dried out a lot and the course was pretty good. I took a few photos on the way around and was very surprised when the text came through saying I’d got a course pb! It was then back to my parents for pancakes- my sister and niece were there too so a lovely start to the weekend.

In the afternoon I walked around to the shops and then, you guessed it, time for a Disney movie! This time, Jungle Book, such a classic. Although I really liked the newer version as it was different (more closely based on the book apparently), whereas the other remakes such as Lion King are almost shot for shot remakes and although that’s fine, they don’t add anything new.

I was also swayed in Hotel Chocolat to buy some of their nutmilk chocolate- it is made with hazelnut milk and tastes gorgeous– like the inside of a praline- anyone doing veganuary check them out!

Sunday morning was a long run of 10 miles- the first time I’d run that in one go for a while (I did 10 on New Years Day but spread out over 3 runs). I had put out my mat so that when I got home I did a yoga cool down video which really helped with making sure I didn’t have stiff legs.

I did a lot of home-admin, and took down the Christmas tree. After a walk in the fading daylight it was time for the final Disney movie of the holidays- Tangled.

And then we are back to reality! I hope you had a good time over Christmas and the new year.

If you run, what sort of stretching do you do when you get home? 

A look back at 2019

I quite like writing posts like this as my blog is my diary, and it’s lovely to reflect on what has happened over the previous year.


For the past few years I have tried to do less races, but keep in the ones I really enjoy.  Looking at my Race Calendar page on my blog I have managed to keep to that quite well I think. 2019 started with training for the Brighton half marathon – after doing Cambridge in 2018 I had decided to go back to Brighton because I just really love it. I had a bit of an odd knee niggle which kept hampering my long runs, but thankfully it was fine on the day of the race and I finished in 2:03:38. I then signed up for the Lee Valley half, having enjoyed it a few years ago and having run the 10k the previous year. I tried to keep up with the 2 hour pacer but faded in the second lap, finishing in 2:02:00. For the May bank holiday weekend we went to Bristol and I ran the 10K, which I really enjoyed. I also did the Ware 10 miles (one of my favourite races) in July, and then trained over the summer for the Great North Run, raising money for MND in memory of a member of my family. I ran a 5k at Disney in Florida, and then back to Brighton for the 10K. I have also continued to enjoy the yoga classes- I think that they do help with running as I have had far less problems with my back and hips, but actually the biggest thing I take from it is the mental strength and calmness.


My love of the Running Challenges extension continued- I went to 16 new events, including East Brighton to complete the set of Brighton parkruns, Gedling and Colwich for the 2019 NYDD (achieving the Stayin’ Alive challenge with the final G),  and Queen Elizabeth to get my Q for the alphabet. I met Danny Norman (from the With Me Now podcast) at Kingdom parkrun, getting my K.  In June we went to Milton Keynes parkrun to meet Brian, my dad’s cousin, as it was my 200th parkrun (he got into parkrun when we met him at Linford Wood a few years ago, and now he is nearly at his 100th one!). I got token 200 on my 200th event! When Dad was working at Wimbledon I picked up my brother and we met him a Fulham Palace parkrun- this had been on our list for ages because it was where Dad grew up.  I also ticked off my final bingo number so achieved that badge at long last. In the summer I went to two Canadian parkruns, Central Burnaby in Vancouver, and Clover Point in Victoria- this also meant I earned my Pirates badge (7 C’s and an R).  Finally in November I walked around Toyen parkrun in Oslo.  For me parkrun isn’t about time, but a PB is always nice, and this year I earned a few course pb’s at Hove Prom and Jersey Farm, and beat my all-time pb twice, getting it down to 26:18 and then 26:16 at Ellenbrook Fields.  Just like previous years, the running with my dad and brother are always top of the list and the reason why it’s so enjoyable. I have reached 225 parkruns now, (a few days into January) so the lovely green shirt is in my sights for 2020. I still need an I and a Z for the alphabet, and I can’t see those happening any time soon, but we shall see.

Fun Times

We managed to see a few bands, going to see Manic Street Preachers in London, and then again at the Splendour festival in the summer, as well as seeing Ash there.  I was given tickets to see the Reasons to be Cheerful podcast live, which was really interesting. Not sure this counts as fun times, but we have been to London for a few of the protests too (we made it fun by going to the Swedish Bakery after…).  I went with my parents to see Mark Watson (a comedian- he’s been on Taskmaster) and with Andy’s family to see the Baseball in the Olympic Park. As a belated Christmas present, Andy’s brothers and wives (6 of us) went to see Hamilton and then went out for dinner after, and I think we have agreed to do something like that each year instead of getting gifts which will be a lovely tradition. We are both big fans of Adam Buxton (having grown up on the Adam and Joe show, and loving his podcast) and saw him at the London Podcast festival in September. We saw James Acaster live in December and he was very funny too.  With our Vitality we get one cinema ticket per fortnight (so long as you do a minimum number of steps but it’s very achievable) and we’ve seen some great ones including Rocket Man, Book Smart, Toy Story 4, Knives Out, Frozen 2, Eighth Grade, Le Mans 66, Lego Movie 2, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (although I didn’t know the real story the fake history thing was based on until after seeing it!) and some more questionable ones (new Lion King and new Aladdin- if you are not going to change the story like the new Jungle Book did, what is the point?) like Hustlers (if they were men drugging women to rob them, would it have been seen as such a good film? I found it very strange).

Travelling Tales

Of course we have had plenty of weekends to Brighton, a weekend in Bristol for the bank holiday and Durham for the GNR. At Easter we had a lovely trip to Wales, with beautiful sunshine and really warm weather. In late May we went to Bruges and this was the first time I had driven my car abroad.  In the summer we had a massive trip- first to Vancouver, then a week on a road trip travelling around Oregon, to Crater Lake National Park and then up the coast, a week in Maui and then a few days on Vancouver Island. It was the perfect mixture of sightseeing and visiting new places but also relaxing. Then in October we went back to Florida for a week of fun in the sun, and the race of course. The end of the year was busy with visits to Brighton, Oslo and Bath, and then our trip to France over Christmas.  2020 will bring less travel and definitely less flights!

How was your 2019? Obviously on the national agenda things have been pretty awful, but I think it’s important to focus on what is going well, and also focus on things within my control because otherwise things can spiral downwards pretty quickly.

Which films have you enjoyed?  Are you addicted to the parkrun challenges? Check out the new map- I just don’t even know where to begin with it…

What are you looking forward to in 2020? I am looking forward to the Olympics, earning my 250 shirt and visiting more parkruns, going to Brighton for more weekends and a family trip to Disneyland Paris in the spring.

NYDD 2020!

For the last couple of years I have taken part in the New Year Day Double parkrun- the only day when you are allowed to run two parkruns. Two years ago I did the local double of Panshanger and Ellenbrook Fields, and last year we were in Nottingham so I did Gedling and Colwick (running between them which was further than I thought).

This year as I was home, it was back to the local double, and my dad and brother were going to do them both too. They were going to come back to mine for breakfast after, so we tried to work out the logistics of using only one car (parking at Panshanger gets busy quickly). In the end I decided I would run to Panshanger (4 miles) and meet them there- we’d then run together, drive (in Dad’s car) to Ellenbrook, run that, then pick up my mum and come back here. It all worked out!

Taking a photo whilst running before I realised that I was a bit tight for time!

I left slightly later than planned so had a bit of a panic jog near the end (after stopping to take photos of the llama).

The car park (where Panshanger starts) was rammed with people! I’d never seen it that busy before. Luckily as I’d been running down, I’d seen my dad across the road so I knew what colour top to look out for.

Panshanger was so busy and as we started a bit further back than usual it was a bit stop-start, but we were in no hurry. We ran around together, chatting, and it was very enjoyable. I also met loads of people from my running club who I’d not seen for a while as they tend to go to EF whereas I have been at Panshanger or Jersey Farm recently. At the end there was a queue before the finish line as the funnel was so backed up- the poor funnel managers were walking back and forth asking everyone to move up and keep touching the person in front. When I was given token 475 (32:55) I wondered if they would break their attendance record (500 and something)- looking at the results they smashed it with 681 people!

We walked back to the car and headed off- Dad has an electric car and the heated seats are amazing- they are warm straight away. I was feeling pretty chilly- I think I’d gotten all sweaty from my first run and then because the air was cold and damp I cooled down so quickly. Anyway, once parked at the uni, we nipped into one of the buildings to use the toilets, and then walked to the start.

The photographer took our photo on our way to the start, looking freezing!

Again, EF was super busy and they couldn’t start on time because people were still pouring down the runway. We split up for this run, with Dad heading off more quickly- again I saw runners from my club, and I caught my brother up towards the end.

There were 455 runners there- another record attendance!  I finished in 29:14 which I was pretty pleased with seeing as that was around 10 miles run in total. As we walked back to the car Dad got some chocolate biscuits and water out of his bag – this was very much appreciated! We picked up my mum and then got home to baked French toast and lots of tea (for me) and coffee (for everyone else).  By the time we got home it was around 11.45 am so it was more like lunch!

After my parents left I had a shower and then got ready as our niece and nephew were coming over for us to give them their presents. We got our niece a cooking apron with her name on it, so I had baked some gingerbread people so she could decorate them (you want to use your present straight away!).

After they left I had a bit of an energy crash- I was feeling OK up until that point but I think I had got really cold in the morning too. As it was too late for lunch by that point, I had a mince pie (Caffe Nero had been doing 2 for 1 and their vegan mince pies are so tasty- lots of filling and not much pastry) so I had one and watched Aladdin.

After all that fresh air in the morning I felt like I needed to lounge about in the afternoon! Anyway, a successful start to the year. I sent my dad a link to the clever new year double map thing (it shows you how many people went from each parkrun, here) so we might plan something different for 2021. 147 people did the same double as us- I thought it might be more. 101 went from Panshanger (undulating) to Westmill (hilly and two laps!)- which was a very brave start to the year!

Did you do a NYDD? 

A winter week in France

On the first Sunday of the holidays I headed out on a run- seeing lots of flooded pavements. I wore my festive leggings for probably the final time of the year. I was also amused by the sign showing where “Ground control deliveries” were going- is Major Tom visiting WGC?

After some pottering and packing we were off to the airport to fly to Nice. Dad had given us a lift and wanted to be home early, so we had plenty of time in the airport. As there was a Leon, we opted for an early dinner, which turned out to be lucky as someone on our plane had an epileptic fit and they had to land somewhere else so she could be seen to be paramedics. It was pretty late by the time we arrived in Nice (as they had to refuel and do some paperwork) so we were glad to have already eaten.

We had a few days in Nice- our hotel was close to the water so each day we had lovely long walks along the coast in one direction and then the other.

There was a Christmas market so we went to that a couple of times, although it was much smaller than when we had been in the past.

It was warm in the day but chilly at night and so we managed to work our way through a fair number of Christmas classics- Home Alone, the original Gavin and Stacy Christmas special, It’s a Wonderful Life, Muppets Christmas Carol, The Snowman….

There was a Chinese Lantern festival so one day we caught the tram out to the park to have a look- they were really impressive.

We wandered around the old town, walked up the steps to the gardens that overlook the sea, and walked around the flower market. It’s definitely a place to mooch around.

I’d packed my running kit so one two mornings had a sunrise run along the coast.

Our hotel had a nice breakfast with plenty of croissants and fruit, and as it was Christmas some little nutcrackers on each table too.

On Boxing Day we flew to Paris as we had a few days booked at Disney. This was trickier as the trains were on strike- we had to get a coach from the airport, which was fine, but our hotel was one train stop from Disney.

In the end we walked it most days (25 mins ish) although one day it poured with rain and we tried several times to call an Uber and they would each get within about 5 mins of us before cancelling! A little frustrating.

The Downtown Disney / Disney Springs/ can’t remember what it is called area had some little Christmas market style food stalls, and the Studios park had a mini Christmas food market too. One of the stalls did fresh crepes, and one day I had one with goats cheese, rocket, honey and walnuts which was just so delicious.

One stall did vegan foods (there were veggie and vegan options elsewhere too) but my favourite thing from it was a hot apple juice with cinnamon- it was so warming. I’d bought a few cup cosies as gifts this year and had also got a couple for me- this is my festive reindeer/Mickey one!

(Andy had mulled wine)

We had an extra day in Disney, as originally we were going to head into Paris on the Saturday to see a Van Gogh exhibition, but with the trains hardly running it didn’t seem worth getting stuck. It was busy, but we had managed to do pretty much all the rides that we wanted to do, seen the parade a couple of times (Disney do produce earworms), seen the projection/firework show (they have silent fireworks which seem like such a good idea) and seen a few festive shows including Mickey’s Swing Band, with a live band, singers and dancers (and Mickey rocking an awesome drum solo!).  There was a new Frozen show which ended up being very good- Olaf was on a screen moving about and talking, with Anna and Elsa appearing on the stage and singing. Plus the decorations are just so pretty.

I had seen on Instagram that there was a big gingerbread house in the main hotel (the one by the park gates) so we went there- it was very impressive and smelled wonderful, but they didn’t have any for sale (unlike in Florida where they sell the pebbles/ biscuits). Luckily one of the stalls outside sold gingerbread so we bought a Rudolf.

It was very very cold! I had packed long sleeved thermal tops, t-shirts and a jumper for each day, but ended up wearing a sweatshirt over my jumper. If there was a queue for the ride you were often inside which was a bonus because you could warm up a bit! We had a fair bit of rain on the first night (luckily it had only started as we were making our way to the exit) and the Friday and Saturday were fairly grey, but on Sunday we had beautiful blue skies and frosty grass- it made everything even prettier.

The only thing that irked me was that the parks are supposedly non-smoking, with signs up and notices on the maps, but this is ignored by a lot of people so wherever you walked you would have plumes of smoke being blown into your face. Anyway, apart from that it was a great couple of days.

We got the Eurostar home, which is so much easier than flights (we just couldn’t do the logistics easily for a train on the way out). We bought a new decoration for our tree which I put on as soon as we had unpacked.

Have you been to Nice or Disneyland Paris? Where is good for a wander?