Braving the shops

So yesterday afternoon I had to wait in as I was expecting a delivery (in the morning, but of course it didn’t come until gone 3pm).

I got a few bits for work and then could not resist these baking books (the babycakes book topped it up for free delivery, so it was basically free, right?). After that I had to go to the allotment to plant out some rhubarb crowns that came this week (not allowed to go there after dusk so I didn’t have long) and then I popped out to the shops. I even braved TK Max after hearing good things about it. I am not much of a shopper anyway (in that I don’t have the patience for more than an hour of shopping) but I just really want to tidy it up. I hate the way it is organised- all the coats on one rack were all different colours and sizes- like the Next sale I just cannot be bothered to sift through it all. I found the food section and was impressed with some of the lovely things on offer- I got some Christmas coffee to go in hampers, and some tea for us (vanilla chai, and peach and passionfruit which is gorgeous).

I also popped to Boots and as things were 3 for 2 I got some nail varnish, a sort of pearly top coat, and some conditioner.

Then I made some gingerbread- I used a recipe from the British Bake off book, although I simplified the recipe. Basically you had to heat treacle, butter and syrup in a pan. In a bowl you had flour, sugar, spices and bicarb- you added milk and an egg, and then whisked in the cooled treacle mixture- it all frothed and bubbled up- I imagine how honeycomb is supposed to- before baking it in the oven.

Today I added some lemon icing (just zest and juice of one lemon mixed with icing sugar)- the sunlight was so bright but the picture has not come out that well.

Anyway we had it with our Sunday tea and it went down very well indeed- really moist and sticky like a good gingerbread should be.

This morning I woke up early, and the weather was gorgeous so I went out for a run. I decided on 10K- so I did an out and back route so I could get it just right. I was keeping a close eye on my watch- I knew I had to be under 10 minute miles, although I need to actually work out my pace properly for next week. Mostly I was doing 9.25 ish, at one point it crept over to 10.02 but that prompted me to speed up, and I even kept up a good pace going back up the hill on the way home.

Photo: So I managed sub hour 10k on my own, now bring on Brighton next weekend :)

I was very pleased to see that even with crossing roads I had managed sub 60 minute! I might manage my target next weekend! More on that another day I think. Plus, good news, I wore my new trainers- I laced them up much tighter, and put a plaster over the cut, but they were much better so hopefully I will keep them.

Even though I wore a long sleeved top, a jacket, tights and gloves I was pretty cold, so after a shower I went back to bed to warm up. I am reading the new John Grisham book at the moment so read a few more chapters.

Later in the morning we realised that we had run out of a few things (annoying seeing as I only went to the shops yesterday) so we parked a bit away from the town and then walked in. We got to Starbucks at just after 2pm, so decided to take advantage of the festive drinks offer. I had a gingerbread steamer (so no coffee, just steamed milk and gingerbread syrup)- very delicious.

Plus my new nail varnish nearly matches the cups! It was so nice to sit outside- even though it was pretty chilly we were wrapped up warm from our walk anyway.

Are you a good shopper? I find that if I go somewhere new, whether this country or another, I can shop for a bit longer, but if I go to my local shops I can only stand about an hour before I get fed up and want to go home. Although saying that often if we are away somewhere we spend most of our time in coffee shops/ tearooms!

Parkrun plastic!

A while ago I ordered myself a “proper” Parkrun barcode- you can just print a paper one off the website, but they do get a bit wrinkled in your pocket while you run. I decided they would be good presents for my Dad and brother too, so I got my Mum to sneakily email me their numbers, and they all came in the post a few weeks ago. I got them from the official place, here, if anyone else is interested.

Please excuse the awful chipped nail varnish that needs to come off asap!

The last time I went I couldn’t use it as my brother came with me, but today I was all on my own so I took it along to give it a try (with my paper one as backup!). The weather predicted rain, but luckily it held off until much later (around 11 am I think). The start was jam packed- I tried to stay on the path as the grass was quite long and very muddy- it looked very slippery. It started as the bells went off at the local church, and I spent the first section going pretty slowly. I overtook a few people in the end, but had decided to use the first bit to warm up as it was freezing! I kept my long sleeved top on the whole time, and wished I had worn tights instead of capris. It was such a good morning for a run, although the air was so cold so it was tougher breathing. I thought that for some miracle I would get around the first loop of the lake without being lapped, but alas a speedy person came past me right at the turn! Another speedy runner nearly pushed me over as he shoved past- how rude.

I had glanced at my Garmin a couple of times- I knew my first mile was slower due to the crowding, but the second mile was much quicker, so again I flipped my watch around so I could not look at it for the final bit. This seems to help a lot. There is a tiny hill (slope? It is steep but only for a few steps) before you run back along the path again, and this often seems to sap all the energy from my legs, but today I was feeling OK in my legs- it was my breathing that could not keep up (I think the cold air made my throat dry, and then I had a few bits of saliva in my throat which I could feel moving when I was breathing if that makes sense- felt like I might choke). The finish chute is on the grass, and annoyingly someone overtook me on the mud (I felt very unstable) and then stopped right before he got to the chute- at least the volunteer asked him to keep moving but I nearly smacked right into him! (And I just checked on the results and it was not even his first one!)

The queue for chip scanning was huge (but no wonder- I was number 171- the same as 2 weeks ago)- I was very glad of my top then as I was getting very cold indeed. One problem with turning my watch around is that I forget to stop it when I finish- I noticed it was still going on 28 something, so I knew I had gone quite fast, but no idea of my time. It meant that the text message was a lovely surprise- 27.16 so not bad- only 26 seconds off my pb- and my third fastest time. I am sure I run better in the cold.

What was weird was that in my final lap I wasn’t by many people, so it felt like I was near the back. But as I was in the queue loads more people came in, and a total of 274 people completed it, so there were just over 100 people who came in after me- it didn’t feel like that!

My race number for the Brighton 10K arrived this week too- exciting stuff!

Once I got home I had a lovely hot shower and some porridge before getting on with the housework- I think I cleaned the house in record time!

Then I made some tea in my infuser- love it! Along with a little chocolate- I was going to use this in baking but wanted to see what it tasted like on its own first.

Also marathon talk released their 200th episode this week. You guys all know how much I love it, and I could ramble on, but this post sums it up really well. So have a read.

Have a lovely weekend 🙂

Christmas teapot!

Hey peeps, I hope you are all well.

We had a lovely weekend in Kent, visiting plenty of National Trust places. On Friday afternoon we went to Chartwell where Winston Churchill lived- for an interesting look around and some cake for lunch then on to Ightham Mote for a look around before heading to our B&B. On Saturday morning the weather looks good so we went to The White Cliffs of Dover for a lovely walk- we didn’t quite make it all the way to the lighthouse (2 miles away) as it looked like it would rain, but we ended up staying dry. We shared some cake in the tea room, and then headed to Canterbury for the afternoon as the weather had predicted rain. We did stop for a drink in Starbucks in the afternoon and it poured with rain- good timing indeed, but it stayed dry for us. Our hotel for that evening was on a leisure park, so we went to Nando’s I was very impressed with their options (they do veggie burgers/ wraps etc)- we shared hummus and pitta bread to start, and then I had a lovely salad with green beans, avocado and seeds sprinkled all over. On Sunday morning we went to Bodiam castle (in the picture)- we had some delicious carrot cake in the tearoom. Then we went to Sissinghurst castle for a walk around the gardens before heading home. Kent is a great place to go as there were loads of other places we could have visited- we got value for our membership for sure!

It was lovely, and we were so lucky with the weather as on Thursday it had looked as if it would be a washout.

Also I bought myself a Christmas teapot! Andy actually pointed it out to me in a shop window- that was a mistake! I did look at it and think about it while we walked around the shops, but decided to treat myself.

Last week (at long last) I got myself some new trainers. I tried on a few pairs, but the updated version of the shoes I had already were very comfy, so I went for them.

I went for a run on Friday (we we left at lunch time) but I didn’t wear them as I was going on the fields and didn’t want them to get all muddy. On Monday after work I went for a 3.5 mile run, but annoyingly after around 2.5 miles they started to rub on my little toe of my left foot. It seems to be where they bend. This evening we went for a walk and I wore them and tried to lace them differently, but one shoe was still rubbing. Annoying- I shall have a look on google- I can swap them for another pair in the next month, but I don’t really want to do that!

Hope you are enjoying the 5th of November! We didn’t go to a fireworks display this year, but on our walk there were plenty going off- I love seeing them from a distance.

Cute clothes!

So if you follow my facebook page you might have seen my post the other day on the cute clothes I bought from Sainsbury’s:

They were selling all their clothes at 25% off, so on Wednesday I went to Sweatshop, came home, showered, had dinner and then popped out later on. Bonus- the shop was quiet. Negative point- the fitting rooms were closed.

I was looking at the jumpers- they had so many cool ones, but this penguin one grabbed me. It is super snuggly and soft fabric too. The owl gloves are fingerless gloves with a mitten pop over bit (no idea what that is called)- the owl is on that bit so they are going to cheer me up each time I see them. And the penguin PJ’s are just cool really.

The Sweatshop run was good. We were a bit thin on the ground- I think there were 8 of us? People are less keen to go out in the dark I think. I actually think it is better running with them in the winter as it feels safer running in a group, but that is just me perhaps. The route was 3.2 miles and I ran most of it with my brother (who missed our start time and had to sprint to catch up with us!), and then sped up at the end. Even though the front runners are super speedy, it is great because when we all get back to the shop they are waiting, and we have a chat about how we got on- I do enjoy the community aspect of it. I have a 10K in Brighton in a couple of weeks time, so I want to focus on shorter but faster distances as I would really love to get that sub hour 10K.

Bought any bargains recently?

Lemon, orange and passionfruit fairy cakes (recipe)

Hey peeps! I hope you are all good. We are off to Kent for the weekend (making the most of the last weekend of National Trust gardens being open) so I have a few random posts for you while I am gone.

The other day I fancied doing some baking for work, and this coincided with having lemon curd left over from macaroons, and receiving a little parcel of oil from Wharfe Valley Farm, including some lemon infused rapeseed oil which I thought would be perfect for baking with.

I also had some passionfruit curd which needed using up as it has been open a while now.

I found a recipe for lemon and poppyseed muffins which needed oil,  in Muffins and Small Cakes, which apparently made 6 large muffins. I adapted it a bit, using more ground almonds and less flour, adding in orange juice, and putting curd in the centre before baking. It made 24 fairy cakes.


180g ground almonds

130g plain flour

250g caster sugar

1 tbs baking powder

2 medium eggs

60g melted butter

60ml rapeseed oil (I used Wharfe Valley lemon infused oil)

100ml milk

Juice of one orange

Juice and zest of one lemon

Lemon / passionfruit curd (about half a jar)

1 tsp Lemon extract


Preheat the oven to 180C, and line cupcake tray with paper cases.

Put the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and mix together.

Melt the butter, and then in a seperate bowl mix together the butter, oil, milk, eggs, orange juice, lemon juice, zest and extract.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir gently to incorporate.

Put a large spoonful of mixture into each cake case (use about 2/3 of your cake mixture). Then put a tsp of lemon/ passionfruit curd in the centre of each cake, before topping with the remaining mixture.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden.

Leave to cool.

Optional- top with lemon drizzle icing.

The cases with a spoonful of mixture in each one.

I made 12 with passionfruit curd, and 12 with lemon curd.

I baked them in my top oven, as I was making Christmas cakes at the same time, so my normal oven was full. They came out pretty flat- looking more like fairy cakes than mini muffins- ideal for topping with a swirl of butter icing, if you are that way inclined. You could make them in muffin tins and I am sure you would end up with 12 big muffins.

Obviously in this recipe I added lemon juice and zest too, but the lemon oil does smell really lovely, so I am sure this added to the recipe.

On the Wharfe valley website they have a recipe for lemon hummus. I keep meaning to make my own so perhaps I should give this one a go using the oil.

I used the normal rapeseed oil in some pumpkin spiced gingerbread cakes. I made these gluten free, and even though I did add a little more liquid (the Dove’s Farm g-f flour suggests using more liquid) I think I need to add a bit more next time as they were not as moist as usual.

We have also used it in “normal” cooking too, as it is safe for frying with.

They have some lovely looking oils on their website too- perfect if you were making up a hamper for somebody.

Are you a fan of infused / flavoured oils? I have some lovely basil infused olive oil which is amazing for avocado pasta, and that lemon oil really is lovely too. My parents like chilli oil but it is normally too spicy for me!

*I was sent the oil in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.