Tea and granola

I was kindly sent a few products to try recently- you guessed it, tea and granola. They were sent to me in exchange for a review.

Of course I jumped at the chance to try some “teapees” from Higher Living- they sent me some Earl Grey and their Power blend.

The Earl Grey was gorgeous.

The steam made the picture go all fuzzy!

The tea contains organic black tea, bergamot oil and rose petals for a delicate flavour.

The Earl Grey is wonderful. I love Earl Grey anyway, but some of them don’t have a very strong bergamot flavour, but as soon as I opened the packet I could smell it. It reminded me of when you have Earl Grey chocolate- that lovely citrus smell. They have also added rose petals for some prettiness. I don’t let it brew for long as I don’t like that stewed taste, but the temple meant that it brewed in super quick time.


The Power blend contains Yerba Mate (I don’t know what that is- I googled it and apparently it is a member of the holly family that is high in caffeine), organic spearmint, cocoa shells and ginkgo. It was also rather delicious- it had a lovely minty flavour with a sort of peppery aftertaste (basically less sweet than normal mint tea) and I really enjoyed it. Because of the caffeine content I would keep this for the mornings generally. I love the tea temples/ teapees too- they really do mimic the flavour of loose leaf tea.

I was also sent some On The Go granola pouches from Lizi’s granola.


These are little individual pouches of granola (I was sent Original, Treacle Pecan and Belgian Chocolate flavours), with added powdered milk (lactose free), so the idea is that you can open the pouch, add water and then eat. The packets even some with a little spoon.

IMG_5700I don’t eat my breakfast on the go, but if you did I am sure they are a better option than buying something from a fast food place or whatever. I had mine in bowls and they looked rather small! But then granola usually does! I generally have granola with some fruit, and had this with a chopped apple. Like the other Lizi’s granola products, these were delicious. Although I am not vegan, I am not a huge fan of dairy products, and like to opt for mostly organic, so a dairy free option would be a good addition in my opinion.

When browsing on their website I came across some little single serving sachets (the Pink Apple and Cinnamon one is here) so that is an option if you don’t want the milk powder.

Where do you eat your breakfast? I always have mine at home-usually in the week I am really hungry when I wake up so I could not imagine waiting until I got to work (and then it is not as if I sit at a desk or anything).

Keeping Fit for Free

Hi peeps,

Recently I was sent an email about a blogger competition (UK bloggers only). Legal and General have conducted some research and found out that when budgets at home get tight, the gym membership is one of the first things to cancel. They want to encourage people to get fit without the gym, and want bloggers to post about it. You can see the details here in case you fancy entering.

Years ago I was a member of the gym, but I found that I preferred the classes to the actual gym, and now as I can only get to one a week it is cheaper for me to pay as I go. But I need to focus on the free things. So here are the things I do to keep active:


Walking is brilliant. It gets you out in the fresh air. It takes you away from the sofa. It can be a lovely gentle activity (when I was recovering from my op I had to walk each day, but just gently), but it can be more of an aerobic workout if you walk fast, or up hills, or do some hiking. You can look at nice scenery while you walk. Or you can multi-task- walk to the shops, or to work (if you are lucky to live close enough). No matter what the weather is like you can walk. If it is raining, put on some boots and put up your hood. If it is cold, wear gloves. Often we used to go on a walk after dinner, just around the fields and housing estate where we live, but recently we have got out of the habit.


This is pretty much free, so long as you have a garden and the equipment you need (shears/ trowel etc). When we first moved our little garden was not cared for at all- it was basically an old patio and a little lawn. Through the years we have gradually added more plants (and some of these are cuttings from other people so they have been free), and so this has been a constant source of free activity for us both. Digging up weeds, cutting back plants and carrying all the garden waste around to the green bin all add up. Plus again you are out in the fresh air. We have an allotment, which although isn’t free, is inexpensive (I think our plot is £30 a year, which isn’t much). The weeding alone is a massive strength workout! Often the papers have offers for free seeds, and you can plant seedlings in old egg boxes or cartons, so you can keep costs fairly low. Plus you end up with pretty flowers or tasty home grown produce.


So, of course as with anything, you could spend loads on all the gear, and race entries etc. But if you already have trainers and a sports bra, you are good to go (and I feel that with the theme of “cancelling gym membership”, you would have those things). You can go for a run as soon as you get home from work. You don’t have to wait for the treadmill hogger to get off. You don’t have to book on to the class.You can run on your own, but if you want to run with company then there are free options out there too.

Option 1: Go along to your local Sweatshop running group. They offer free weekly runs, usually with a guide from the shop. It is totally free, and as a bonus you get a technical t-shirt after only a few runs. Amazing! And free.

Option 2: Sign up to your local parkrun. They offer free weekly 5k runs (not races)- they are timed so if you like stats or beating your pb they may appeal. You have to do 50 runs to earn your free t-shirt- this is going to take me years but I will get there!

Both of these options are fantastic for all stages of runner- at parkruns people can walk around in 50 minutes or sprint around in 15, children can join in (they even have some specific,shorter junior events) and every single runner will be encouraged by all the volunteers. At Sweatshop the staff tend to be keen runners, so they will be on hand for advice about stretches, routes, kit and so on. My local one does a beginners group (sort of a couch to 5K) as well as our more varied group. And if you love it then of course you can sign up to both.


When I was marathon training I took yoga rather more seriously, and I used to use the free yoga for runners podcast from yoga download. I really need to start doing it again, but as you can tell I am not as motivated by this as by running. But anyway, the point is the internet is pretty big, and you can find pretty much anything you want on there. You tube is full of workout videos. But for me it is not as good as the others as it is not outside in the fresh air. Unless you have a tablet or something and can take it out into the garden. (But then if I did that I know I would get distracted and notice weeds and end up gardening with the website playing in the background….)

As you can see there are plenty of ways to keep active without even setting foot in a gym, and I personally feel that getting some fresh air has such huge benefits- it is so important to get some fresh air (and daylight if you can) every day.

How do you keep active? Are you a fan of the gym or do you prefer other ways of exercising?

Stuff and bits

Things I have taken photos of.


An okobay coconut ice lolly with blackberries, peach and a sprinkling of granola. Post body pump cool down.


Sourdough toast with lemon curd, and pb/jam, plus salted almonds. A post long run lunch.


Purple and orange sweet potato crisps from M&S. Another post long run snack- we shared them one Saturday. Love something salty after a run in the sun. I had never seen purple sweet potatoes before. Tasty, but not as good as sweet potato popchips (WHEN ARE THEY COMING HERE????)


Buckwheat pancakes with peanut butter and doughnut peaches. Probably a post long run breakfast- I can’t remember!


A gorgeous package from Urban Fruit (exciting giveaway coming soon)…


My package Included this cool t-shirt. It is more of an orange colour (the first photo looks more like it) and I love it.


Blue nail varnish (Essie Mesmerize) that matches my new purse (not on purpose I must add!). I love my navy nail polish (another Essie one) but it is a bit too dark for the summer. I love this shade- like the sea on a beautiful summer day. I have not even moved all my bits over to my new wallet yet- I shall save that job for the weekend.

After my half on Sunday I went for a sports massage on Monday which helped loads. On Tuesday I did a “naked”(no technology) run due to my Garmin not being charged, so I think I did about 3 miles but I am not sure. I don’t often look at it when I run anyway, but at least I was not even tempted to. It was so windy though! My legs felt better than I thought they would.

Anyone else end up with a pile of random photos? Sometimes I wonder why I even took the photo…

Ashridge Trail Half- all the superlatives

The prettiest, most hilly, slowest and probably hottest race I have ever done.

The day started with mouldy toast. Only half a slice before I noticed! In my defense the bread was in the freezer, and I didn’t put the light on in the kitchen, and it was seedy bread. But still yuck!

The car park was about a mile walk from the race start, so we got there with enough time for me to collect my number. I met up with a couple of Sweatshop peeps (I had inadvertently persuaded them to sign up when I mentioned it, as they are fans of off-road smaller races too). I do like the smaller low key races- no big bag drop buses or staggered starts, no silly warm up, just someone with a megaphone telling you to watch out for roots, and an inflatable arch to run through.

It was beautiful. So pretty. The prettiest race. The woods were filled with foxgloves, and the shade was lovely on such a warm day, although you had to look so closely as there were so many exposed roots- several people tripped over.

After 2 miles we had to stop and join a queue to climb over a stile- it was that sort of race.

After a few miles in the woods (maybe 4 or 5) we were out into open fields with high grass- again underfoot was tough as you had to lift your feet up so high, plus the sun was beating down. I was glad of my suncream but wishing I had my visor.

As I had decided to just enjoy it and not go for time, I went for a bit of an ultra style plan- walk the steepest hills, and there were plenty. The route was well marked with plenty of marshals, but at one point a group of us were unsure where to go, and luckily one of them whipped out her map (our printer ran out of ink so I couldn’t print one even though we were all instructed to)- I ended up chatting to her for a bit as we walked up a hill- she had signed up to an ultra and had already run 10 miles that morning!

The steep hills were so steep, and as you can see many were un-shaded. This gave beautiful panoramic views of the countryside, so I tried to focus on that and not the miles left to run.

This hill was at about mile 6- but it was deceptive as it curved so you thought you had got to the top, only to curve around the hill and realise you had a little down dip, before carrying on up.

Then you had a really steep downhill that was hard to run, and another really steep up bit to finish mile 8. My toughest half ever for sure.

From the top of one of the hills.

After running downhill through more fields, the route went back into woods for some glorious shade. But then, the worst part. I often struggle around mile 9-10 as I am far enough in to be tired, but not quite close enough to the finish for a final push. Well, then there were stairs. Steps in the woods. Going up. Massive wooden planks with sunken earth steps. A trip hazard if you were running. I was making use of the hand rail and almost hauling my shaky legs upwards. Looking at my Garmin the steps went up for just shy of 200ft. That is a lot of steps.

I had made sure I stopped at the water stations to have a proper drink and not just throw water down my front and perhaps manage accidentally to choke down a few sips (that is what usually happens when I try and drink from cups when I run)- at one of them I had 2 cups of water as I was so thirsty. On a side note the marshals were all fantastic- there were plenty of them, and they were all cheering on every runner. There were also some funny signs, for example half way up some of the tough hills/ stairs there were signs saying “Keep going, you’re nearly at the top”!

Thankfully the last few miles were mainly through woods (at one point I did have to jump over a fallen tree trunk that was blocking the path!), although the 400m to go sign was right at the bottom of a hill. Urgh, hills up to the finish line are just so tough.

Anyway, I got to the end. And wasn’t the last!

Two of the Sweatshop group were there waiting for me, as well as Andy (who had spent the morning sitting in the sun listening to podcasts, although he did say he started to worry about me and had even been to the ambulance station to check I had not been brought in!). I had a banana (hooray, I love a post -race banana but hardly any races seem to do them any more) and some water.

Official time is 2:42.17 (although my gun time is the palindrome of 2:42.42!). My slowest by 10 minutes! To think I ran Bath earlier in the year in 2:06 something! But they were worlds apart, and of course it is my first trail half, so really it’s in a different category. (To give you an idea of how other people fared, the first person finished in 1:29, whereas at Bath they finished in 1:03, and the final person finished in 3:32).

We slowly walked back to the car park, where I had some nuun in my second bottle of water, and changed into my t-shirt. I did bring a whole change of clothes as originally we were going to go out for lunch, but I was exhausted and just wanted to get home for a shower.

That wiped me out!

I had work to do this afternoon but ended up falling asleep on the sofa in front of the athletics- whoops. I may get up the energy to do it later on…

Colouring coconut

So, this week was another cake club meeting. After last time I decided that a practise was most definitely in order! The theme was Rio carnival, which meant you could be inspired by any country in the world cup, but as soon as I read it I fancied a lime and coconut cake.

I found this recipe on the Ocado website, which I tried last weekend. I baked it in two tins instead of one (I am not that good as slicing cakes in half) and it seemed to bake fine.


But I wasn’t that much of a fan. It has cream cheese icing, which I didn’t think went that well with the cake. Plus the icing had waaaaaay too much icing sugar in it. After spending a lot of time on google it seems that icing sugar makes the icing runnier, when you would think it would thicken it. Anyway the icing was too runny.


I did have fun colouring coconut though. I had read that all you needed to do was put some dessicated coconut into a sandwich bag with some colouring (I used a little gel paste) and then shake and squeeze it. I was planning on trying to recreate the Brazilian flag, but in the end opted for the main colours.


Of course I sampled it (before taking the rest to work) but I decided I needed to adapt it a bit.

Round two was on Thursday evening (no pump= more time). After a walk up to the shops I got on with the baking, and decided that as I wasn’t going to do the cream cheese icing I would bake it in one big tin instead.

But I cooked it for too long! Even though the recipe said 1-1 1/4 hours and I only baked it for the hour, it was too long. The thing is with a cake, is that you can only really see how it is once you slice it, and I had to take it to the meeting whole. I cut a slice and it looked OK, but by then I had already cut it- I didn’t think I could stick it back together again.

So, Friday night was my final chance!


Friday nights’ cake on the left (with some spilled icing sugar) and Thursdays’ on the right!

I changed the recipe a bit. I used 50g ground almonds instead of 50g flour, I used 4 medium eggs (the recipe says large) so added the juice of 2 limes and 1 lemon to make up for the liquid, and also added in lemon zest.

I only baked it for 50 mins and that seemed much better.

Then I made a soaking syrup (from a recipe book)- caster sugar mixed with lemon and lime juice, and I added in the zest too. As soon as the cake was out of the oven I pierced it all over, and then poured over some of the syrup. You were meant to do this 3 times, but I didn’t use all of the liquid in the end.

Then, my favourite part.


I had seen lots of recipes for icing/ frosting using coconut cream, so I used that. All the recipes talked about using a can of coconut milk, putting it in the fridge and letting it separate and harden, and then only using the solid cream part. I had a little tin of coconut cream, so I put that in the fridge for a day before using it. It still contained some liquid though, so the icing ended up being just  glaze. (Also I put it on the cake while it was still a little warm- I would wait until it was properly cool next time). I whisked it for a bit, added a couple of tbs of icing sugar, and whisked again.


It tasted divine. Seriously, totally delicious, not too coconutty but really creamy without that weird richness that butter icing has (I am not a huge fan of butter icing as I find it really sickly). I will be making this again for sure. Perhaps next time with a tin of coconut milk as they are bigger.


I topped it with a mixture of the coloured coconut, and lime zest.

The cake club meeting was great again.

We chatted about our cakes, finding recipes, what we were happy with etc, as well as general chat about holidays, work and so on.

The trick is to have a very thin slither of cake, and then of course you can sample most of the cakes (there were only 6 of us, but there were 2 I didn’t manage to try).

At least you can take some home to sample the other ones later. We gave some to the staff, and then shared out the rest.


My leftovers! A gorgeous pistachio and rosewater cake, a dried fruit-studded jewel cake with an orange icing, brazil nut and coffee cake, and a special Brazilian cake that I cannot spell or pronounce (baked in a bundt tin) topped with chocolate icing and nuts.

This cake club was perfect timing, as I have the Ashridge half marathon tomorrow (thanks for those who have sponsored me too- it is for a local hospice so if you feel you can spare a pound or two then please visit my page). Although this has made me think loads about how my attitude towards food has changed- I have mentioned this to a few people, and they have all agreed it is great timing. But my thoughts are “I shall be full of fuel to get me around the run” whereas the people I spoke to thought about it in terms of “burning off” the cake eaten. I think it is a shame that so many people have that attitude. It is not as if I ate until I felt sick- this morning I helped out at parkrun, and as I usually go to parkrun before breakfast (and I didn’t feel hungry when I woke up) I just waited until cake club (10am) to eat something- and we only cut thin slices so probably I had the equivalent of a big slice, but nothing crazy. Of course cake is not something to eat every day, but I don’t like the association with feeling guilty after eating food, or needing to “burn it off”.

As for tomorrow, I am not going for a pb. Someone else at parkrun was doing it tomorrow too, and she had been advised to wear trail shoes as apparently some of it is still really muddy after the wet winter, and I know my long runs have not been at my fastest speed. So my aim for tomorrow is to enjoy the run.  I don’t even know if I get a medal! But of course, I shall be back with my usual rambling race recount- get the kettle on ready!