Iceland? More like Snowland! (Part 1)

Be warned, it’s a long one!

Last Friday after work we flew up to Glasgow, stayed there overnight, had breakfast (Bill’s, gotta love Bill’s) and a wander around the town, before our flight to Iceland (it was cheaper to do this including the hotel, than to fly direct).

Because we weren’t staying in the same place, we had hired a car, and then drove to our apartment. The lady at check in told us the first snow had fallen on the mountains that night, and to our surprise the following morning, it was snowing fairly heavily where we were!

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We only had a little car (a VW Up, 2 wheel drive…) although all the rentals came with winter tyres and also they let some of the air out (which makes it sound like all the cars have punctures), but as a few cars drove on the roads tracks appeared, so we headed out to þingvellir national park for some snowy scenery.

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On the drive there were plenty of scenic pull over stops (just look for the big info boards) so we stopped at a few.

There was a little visitors centre which we stopped at first (on the left if driving from Reykjavik)- this had free toilets (the bigger one, which we went to at the end, you had to pay 200 ISK for, which is about £1 I think)- and served warm drinks. We had a little look at the map, and then headed out to see the waterfall.

There were a few parking areas, each marked (I think we parked at P4) and then a mixture of paths and boardwalks led to the main sites.

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It then started to snow quite heavily.

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All the rocks were covered in snow, and the boards became quite slippery to walk on.

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As it eased off, we walked around a bit more before heading back to the car.

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It’s not every day that you get to see continental plates!

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From the bigger visitor’s centre you could look down on the park, and see the church, and the paths we had walked on. Also, in the distance you could see plumes of steam rising from geothermal vents which looked very spooky.

The next morning we were heading south, so we checked out of our apartment and then drove to the other main Golden Circle highlights on the way there. We were so lucky to have the most gorgeous sunny day.

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Still plenty of snow about, but most of the roads were cleared. Again there were a few scenic car parks so we stopped in a couple.

Our first stop was Geysir (around 100km from where we started), which is where all other geysers get their name from, although it doesn’t erupt regularly any more, there is another one, Strokkur, which goes every 5-10 minutes. It was so cold here, and the road was still snow-covered, and the car park was really icy. None of the paths had been gritted either, so it was a bit treacherous in places.

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It was strange to see all covered in ice, with pools bubbling and steaming away. It did remind me of Yellowstone, only on a much smaller scale- Yellowstone in winter must be amazing but I think Iceland is more accessible!

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We got to see an eruption, and then it was so cold we headed back (carefully- don’t slip!) to the cafe for a hot chocolate.

Then we drove the short distance (on more icy and snowy roads) to Gullfoss, an amazing waterfall. Again, here there was lots of ice and snow on the ground, but some of the boardwalks had been gritted. In the summer you can walk down to near the waterfall, but that was closed. There was still plenty of it that we could walk around, for plenty of amazing and different views.

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Here you can see the path that was closed leading to the far edge of the waterfall.

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There were some steps to walk down to get a different view, although it was so cold there as the spray was freezing (literally- it was sticking to all the grass, paths and railings as it came off the waterfall and then freezing). It was just stunning.

From there was had another 200km to drive to our next destination (Vik, on the south coast). We stopped off at one waterfall on the way, which I thought was called Skogafoss but I think is actually a different one.

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The sun was getting low in the sky which meant we had this most amazing golden light.

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We walked along a bit to see some other waterfalls (you could walk behind the main one, but people were getting soaked, and it was so slippery people were sliding down on their bottoms)- the little bridge was slick with ice so you had to hold the rail very firmly.

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Then we finished the drive (another hour at least ahead of us)- the scenery was beautiful, and the snow ranged from barely there, to several feet deep.

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We actually thought we had got lost for a bit, (even though we were on the main ring road) as it was so empty, but thankfully we arrived in the tiny town just after dark, dragging the case through the snow to get to our hotel. After being fairly frugal so far (we had breakfast in our apartment, lunch was a banana and a roll made up in the kitchenette, and dinner had been soup) we ate in the hotel restaurant as we could not face going out into the cold again! I was pleasantly surprised- they seem to cater for vegetarians and vegans much better than I had expected (I thought it would all be seafood)- but on the menu they had a vegetarian pasta, and then a vegan meal which I ended up having, which was thyme polenta (spell-check wants to change that to tadpole, but no, it was certainly not that!), poached pear and local mushrooms.

I shall save the other few days for another post as this one is already rather long!

Earth miles goodies, a trip to London and a chilly run

Hey peeps, I hope you are all well.

The weekend before last we went into London for a belated birthday visit to The Shard (for Andy). We had a lovely walk around Hyde park (and got to see all the sign-age being put up for the Royal Parks half), before heading to The Shard.

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Even though it was cloudy, we had good views- Tower Bridge looked fab all lit up, and we could see the Olympic Park.

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We then went to dinner in an Italian restaurant- the salads came in bowls made of pizza dough! (There is some salad under all that cheese, tomato and avocado)- it looked amazing but really you could only eat the edge because the bottom was all soggy from the dressing.

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The next morning I woke up early so went out for a run- it was just beautiful weather, so I stopped to take a few photos. I did just over 8 miles- I wanted to do about that distance as I hadn’t signed up for the Brighton 10 miles at that point as I wanted to check I would be OK with the distance.

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Amazing. It was cold though- I think I had on a t-shirt and capris but I wished for gloves for the first couple of miles. I got home, had a drink and a shower, but I could not warm up so ended up getting back into bed to try and warm up. Since then (apart from the race) I have been choosing running tights.

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Once I had warmed up I made pancakes with blueberries, and nutella. Mmmm.

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Onto the Earth Miles. I have read about the app on a few blogs, but because the website is just a link to get the app, I didn’t really do anything about it for ages. But basically if you do exercise (and I think it links to either Garmin or Strava- it must be one of those as that is what I have) you earn miles, which you can redeem against rewards. It’s not as good as Bounts, where you earn free vouchers, but you can use your points to buy discounts and offers. I used some (not many compared to how many I have earned) to get a 15% discount from the Pulsin’ store, and this week my order arrived. I got mini mint ones, normal vanilla ones and normal maca ones (good for stress I think!).

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I also used some other miles to buy a Tribe box for £1 (instead of £6 I think)- it came with three lots of seeds/ trail mix things, and two nakd-style bars. They do have some weird offers on there (cro-bars, which have crickets or some other insects in them- not for me!) but there is no cost to the app so you don’t have anything to lose by signing up I don’t think. And they seem to be generally health oriented products like coconut water and whatnot.

Also, how cool is this medal????

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It glows in the dark!!!!! Glows! Amazing! It was a virtual run (of course)- the October 5K so I did that at parkrun for my 50th.

Right, I have two more days of work (including one more parents evening) and then I am off to Iceland! The country, not the shop! This is so exciting!!! Although we checked the weather and it is going to be freezing. Or maybe 1 degree. Better dig out the thermals!

Bright10 recap- Brighton running is good for me yet again

Ages ago I was emailed information about the Bright10, a new 10 mile race, in Brighton (get it?- I think maybe they thought of the name before even creating the event). I could not decide- I wanted to do it, but we have had a few busy weekends, and are away next weekend, and on and on, but last Sunday night we managed to find a not-too-expensive hotel, so went for it. We travelled down on Friday- I went straight to the station from work, as Andy had booked tickets for something at the comedy festival (Guardian football podcast live)- which was pretty good.

Saturday morning we went to Cafe Coho for breakfast (nutella and banana pancakes have been a good pre-race breakfast, well, the day before, for a few Brighton trips), before Andy had to get the train across to Southampton for the football. I had a mooch around Brighton for the day.

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After going to some shops and picking up some bits (well, birthday presents) I walked along the seafront towards Hove, where the race start was- I wanted to time how long it would take for me to walk back so I knew when to leave in the morning.

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The start was coming along nicely! I sat by the sea for a bit before walking back.

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I don’t think much of the new skytower thing at the moment- it looms over the seafront and looks more like a power station chimney.

Anyway, a nice lunch in Pret (it was such a good sandwich- avocado, red tapenade whatever that is, red pepper and baby kale) and then some more shopping, before I went to the wonderful Bluebird Tea co, and treated myself to a tea latte (nuts about you, which also had almond and coconut bits on top) and of course a bit of tea to take home. I got back to the hotel at about half 4 and was in need of a sit down!

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Andy’s train wasn’t due back until about half 7, so I watched a bit of TV on my tablet, walked to the station to get a cup of tea, and then settled down to my pre-race ritual of painting my nails (a nice bright pink for the Bright-10), and a couple of Montezuma’s pb truffles. Mmmm.

We had booked dinner at Bill’s, and after that had a walk around Brighton before heading back. Then I started sneezing! Uh-oh. Towards the end of the week my voice had been sounding bad- it wasn’t sore but it sounded like it was. I thought it was just tiredness, but then my nose started streaming too. No! This is not what I want right before a race.

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In town I had bought a slice of carrot cake, so we shared that while watching Gogglebox (hooray for repeats!). In the end I slept OK but on the walk down to the start we bought some more packs of tissues.


I had only packed capris and a vest (I had looked at the weather when I packed) but I was glad of my top on the walk down as it was fairly chilly. We got there at about 8.45, so plenty of time to find my pen and not get too cold. Andy took my jumper for me so I didn’t have to use the bag drop or anything.

Anyway, we started very quickly. The route was a bit strange- it looped around back on itself, and after 2 miles you ran through the start/finish bit which was weird. But the good thing about a 10 mile race is that you are in single figures of miles to go, right away. The race was sponsored by some milk company, so every mile marker had a cow-related phrase (Are those moo shoes/ looking udderly fabulous/ time to milk the crowds and so on). It was well supported, as are all Brighton races it seemed. My favourite sign said “run like Phillip Schofield is at the finish line”. Because of the looping nature, I saw that sign a few times, as people could cross the lawns and see people on mile 1 and then mile 2, and then at the end with mile 9 and 10. Some people had taken the Bright paet very seriously- one guy was wearing high-viz jacket style yellow shorts, t-shirt, socks and cap.  I love looking at what people wear- some were wearing winter jackets and must have been boiling. Although the worst must have been the person in the minion suit.

I didn’t really have a race plan. I had looked at my previous 10 mile times: 1.49.31/ 1.40.58/ 1.36.12/ 1.37.41/ 1.37.47- all of those apart from the first one (the GSR) were on undulating courses, so I fancied my chances of a pb. I went for 1.35, which was easy because that meant I had to aim for 9.30 min miles- that was at least a number I could remember. After a mile I glanced at my watch and saw 9.32, and later 9.27, so I was doing OK. After going along the flat seafront, and into the town a tiny bit, it then went uphill (the same as the half and full marathon)- I never find them too bad, but this time it was later into the race- from mile 4 to 6 was pretty much uphill, on not such fresh legs. I distracted myself by trying to spot someone else I knew who was running it- he is faster so I knew he would be ahead and on the other side of the road coming back down, but I didn’t spot him. My pace had dropped to something like 9.45 at this point, so on the downhill I tried to speed up to make up time. I had put some tissues in my wrist sweatband, which turned out not to be such a good idea as the tissues got damp from my sweat- duh! Luckily my nose wasn’t too bad, but I did feel more tired, and my chest hurt a bit more than usual in the final few miles. At around mile 8 I think Tess from Fitbits overtook me, but she was too far ahead by the time I noticed to say anything. A guy playing a guitar was singing “You’re all running fast, but you’re not running fast enough. You’re all behind the other guys” which amused me a lot.

Just before mile 9 I saw Andy (he’d been to have some breakfast), but then I felt quit tired. We ran past the finish on the other side of the lawn, before looping around and coming back along the seafront to the finish. I could see the finish, and my watch said 1.30, but I had no idea how long was left. I thought I could get a pb though. Andy took the most awful photo of me, which I did tell him to delete, but actually it shows my pain! This was my final spurt right at the end. Perhaps Runners World should have more of these photos on their front cover…. no?


I felt so tired when I stopped, but hooray, I also realised I had managed a pb! Woo! 1.33.51 is my official time! Not bad 🙂


We got a huge medal, two little bottles of water, and a Clif builders bar, but I didn’t have that as I had already had a normal Clif bar for breakfast. Andy had bought me a cinnamon roll, so I had that on the walk back to the hotel.

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Love the medal! After a shower and a hair-dry,it was time to check out, so we walked back into the town for some lunch.

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This was a huge salad (Wai Kika Moo Kau)- falafels, hummus, sundried tomatoes, and then a vegan peanut butter and banana smoothie. Mmm so good.

After a few more shops, we went to Bluebird for a drink, and then headed to the train station. There are no direct trains on Sunday, so we had to get the underground for a bit, but the first section was an hour, and so I had a little snooze while listening to the radio 5 film podcast.

I think that every time I have run in Brighton I have run a new pb – the pressure is on for the 10K in November, and the half in February!

Where do you love to run the most? 

Wings over Kauai

Hey peeps! So I mentioned in my last recap that we took a flight over Kauai. It was a teeny plane- only 4 seats and the front two seats folded forward so I could get in the back! I was pretty nervous the whole day leading up to it, but it was only for an hour so I basically had to get on with it.

It was amazing. The pilot was fantastic, and we had those proper sound reducing headphones and microphones so we could all speak to each other. The pilot also had a tablet with music on it, so when we went over parts of the island where Indiana Jones was filmed, that music played (and repeat for Jurassic park, The Descendants, some old TV shows…

He gave us a commentary of the island, some history, interesting facts (on Kauai buildings are not allowed to be taller than the tallest coconut tree, as one hotel was built and was too high and the locals didn’t like it. Also they have a few roads with single lane bridges, and the locals don’t want these replaced as they don’t want large construction or chains or resorts), and answered questions too. Kauai is known as the garden island, and you could see why from the air. In the centre is a huge mountain, and it is pretty much constantly in cloud. Because of the way the valley is positioned, it funnels moist air up from the Pacific constantly. We were very lucky because the clouds cleared briefly, so we got to see right at the top. It was strange flying over such uninhabited landscape- every now and the you could see tents in tiny clusters- lots of scientists there looking at plants and things. But the ground at the top is more like a bog, he said it would be a foot or two of water under all the undergrowth.

We saw beautiful coastlines- most of it was privately owned so only viewable by sea, air, or extreme hiking (where you need a permit and are gone for days). About half an hour in to the flight, we had a bit of turbulence, as we flew through clouds, and then I did get a bit nervous (oh so sweaty hands) and wanted to get off, but thankfully it didn’t last long and the scenery took my mind off of the worry. It was so much smoother than a helicopter so I am glad we chose the plane option.

Earlier in the day we had driven to these waterfalls, but from the ground you only see 2 of them.

From the ground

They were from some old TV show title sequence, but of course pretty impressive anyway.

We saw plenty of rainbows and this one managed to come out on my phone! You are meant to be able to see a rainbow every day in Hawaii, and I think on Kauai we managed it as it was always sunny and cloudy.

And then the music of Puff the Magic Dragon began to play…

And there he is! For some reason I always thought he was meant to live in Wales, but no, this is Hanalei bay, which is mentioned in the song. The lava has poured out into the sea and is shaped like a dragon.

I was very relieved when we got to the ground again, but it wasn’t as bad as a helicopter flight, and I am so glad we did it, because so much of the island was not accessible at all.  It was a great end to our visit there. Kauai was just amazing. So chilled out, just like the Hawaii of the movies (The Descendants was based heavily on land that is there in Kauai, and we saw where some of it was filmed from the air), and pretty much the opposite of Oahu and Honolulu (which are great, but super busy, with massive highways and shops and restaurant chains and night-life).


Gosh these recaps are taking me a long time to get around to doing!

After doing the 5K in Honolulu, we had a flight to catch that lunch time. The islands are close together, so the flight was short (about half an hour) but there are no ferries or anything. Tip- if you sign up to Hawaiian airlines loyalty scheme you get money off checked bags.

We had a condo, which had a teeny kitchen area (we mainly used the fridge), and a balcony with beautiful views of the sea.

On the first morning we walked out a short distance to a local bakery for some breakfast, but later on in the day we discovered an amazing coffee house in a town up the coast, so tended to go there.

Not breakfast- we shared this amazing coconut, macadamia nut and chocolate slice.

Our condo was between two towns- I did look for a running route but there wasn’t much- we walked by the sea a bit but the path went into private apartment complexes, and the roads as soon as you got out of the small residential area were fast roads with no pavements. The town up from us had a lovely 8 mile path right by the sea, for biking and walking.

We spent a few days and evenings walking along there. The weather was again so interesting- the clouds clung to the centre of the island, but on the coast the sun was usually out.

One day we drove to the Waimea canyon, the “grand canyon of the pacific”. It is just stunning. Red rocks, bright green plants, waterfalls everywhere, just amazing. At some points there are viewing platforms, and I was at one when a family asked me to take their photo. I took a few, and tried to aim the camera so that the metal railing wasn’t in the photo, but when they looked, they said to me “a bit too much sky, can you try again?”- a bit cheeky, but also, why would you prefer metal railing over beautiful sky?? Some people!

There were some hikes, but they were pretty extreme (and not really allowed due to soft surfaces)- some people had hiked down to the coast and back and were pretty filthy!

Then we went to the coast- this was where the expensive resorts were and basically always sunny. There was a thunder hole- always exciting! (There are tubes of lava rock and so as the waves crash in some of the water gets forced into the holes and out of the top like little fountains).

We had dinner with a sea view as the sun was going down – so relaxing.

We drove up the coast to a nature reserve (the lighthouse features in my favourite Disney film- Lilo and Stitch- the artists were inspired by the beautiful green landscape of Kauai and so that was where Lilo was meant to live).

More beautiful coastal views.

We drove a bit north, and saw big rice paddy fields. Then we went south through a bit tree tunnel at an old plantation town.

On our final day we went to the largest coffee plantation in the USA (free samples, Andy was pretty happy).

Then we went in a tiny plane. A really tiny plane. Now, I have been in a helicopter (we did a flight over New York) and I wasn’t keen. And I hate the tiny propeller planes-we flew from Vegas to the Grand Canyon and I really hated it.  But so much of Kauai is privately owned, so you can’t see a lot of it from the roads and paths. So I agreed that a little plane would be better than a helicopter.

I was so nervous though! We got some amazing photos, so I am going to save them for another post.