Deer spotting but not in a race this time (and a Strava mile)

After going to Maidstone parkrun we first headed to Nymans, a National Trust garden (it kept making me think of Newman from Seinfeld). There were parts of a ruined building there, but it was basically huge gardens which we walked around for ages, getting inspiration (and buying a plant) for our garden.

Rain was forecast but luckily there were only a couple of short showers and nothing to make us head inside.

We then went to Sheffield Park (confusingly in East Sussex) and had another walk around the gardens there. There were loads of ducklings swimming about on the pond.

They also had some huge Californian Redwood trees (including this one that had been chopped down)- not quite like Yosemite but some were 30m high.

Of course we had to visit the tearoom for a bit of lunch, before we drove to Tunbridge Wells. We had booked Bill’s for dinner and had an hour or so before so had a little wander around the shops. I was very excited to see they had a Bluebird Tea shop there!! Of course I bought an iced chai latte (they make it with almond milk and their own chai concentrate plus a little honey and it is so delicious) .

I also bought a few fruity blends as we have been making iced tea at home and running our stock a little low.

I went for Pink Grapefruit (which they had a sample of in the shop- so zingy), Retro Ted (coconut, pineapple, lemongrass and rose), Lemonade and Cherry Bakewell (white tea, almond and berries). Now the problem is- which one to make first?

On Sunday we headed over to Knole park for our final NT place of the weekend.

It reminded me of a cross between Ashridge and Hatfield House with huge gardens filled with people walking and picnicking, as well as a house, cafe and shop. We had a quick walk around the house (I am not so keen on the insides but it is in our pass so may as well look) before having a lovely long walk around the grounds.

Even though the car park was busy we didn’t pass many people as the grounds were so huge- we even walked past a golf course at one point!

While we were walking the sun even came out for a bit.

After a visit to the tearoom of course (we shared some lovely fruit cake) it was time to head back- these deer were right by the car park.

Three more NT place visited- we are going to get value for money from our membership!

We got home at around 4.30, so I decided to give the Strava mile a bash- they are challenging people to run their fastest mile in June. I could not work out a one mile route without any road crossings, but I worked out that if I ran out the back way from home there is a little path through some woods that then runs through a park. You then run out onto the pavement but it only crosses one road, which is a cul-de-sac, so there is less chance of having to stop. I would have to turn around at the end, but I would just run until I heard my watch beep.

I ran gently to the start and didn’t start my Garmin as I didn’t want to have to stop it and save it separately. I tried to look on my phone at Strava to see my recent fastest mile but I could not work out how to find out (my fastest mile is apparently 5.44 which is when my watch got confused as to where I was…). I decided that anything under 8.30 would be good as that is the fastest mile I have run in a parkrun.

It was hot and I felt a bit hungry as we hadn’t had lunch, and I felt like I kept looking at my Garmin while I was running- I hardly ever do this. It always seemed to say around 8.22 which was good. I had to turn around at about 0.75 miles which was annoying as you lose momentum (I tried to take it as wide as I could)- there was an option to turn right at the end of the road but then there are more road crossings and I didn’t know where the mile would end. The final .2 seemed to take ages- I ended up counting to 100, and then decided to run on a bit after my watch beeped as sometimes Strava takes a bit of mileage off my Garmin (e.g. a 5 mile run will end up being 4.9 miles on Strava)- I didn’t want that to happen! Once I felt like I was safe I just stopped and gasped for breath, before very slowly heading home. When I uploaded my time I had run 8.17 which I was pretty pleased with. I don’t think that Sunday afternoon is my best time, but it was the only time I could have managed it before the end of June, and it was fun to have a go.  At least now I have a baseline and something to aim from.

Also, look at this:

I loved doing yoga outside last Wednesday, but I did get bitten on my foot and my leg- the one on my foot was right where my sandal strap was, and it was super itchy inside my running socks (that’s the hotel carpet!)- I ended up heading to Boots in Tunbridge Wells to get some after-bite stuff. It’s only really gone now and that’s a week later! (Although I should not complain too much as some people get a much worse reaction than that)

Did you try and attempt a Strava mile? Do you have some nice parks close by? Do you like a picnic? 


Maidstone parkrun- the first tourist outing of my cow cowl

First up (and this is totally not a complaint) I still can’t claim my 100 parkrun t-shirt (which I earned in March) because they have had issues with stock. I am really not complaining- I would love parkruns if they had no t-shirts, and no-one can complain about getting something for free. But I do look forward to celebrating these milestones. So when I did my 20th different UK course I was very quick to order my cow cowl (an unofficial piece of merchandise to show that you are on your way to 100 different venues)- you can order it once you are on the UK most events table (20+ UK events). I wore it to St Albans (which is really a home run) and then forgot it when I was marshaling last weekend, so as we were off to Kent this weekend it was the first thing to pack!

The start was right around the corner from where we stayed (the Village hotel)- it’s even on the directions! I did check my phone because the road didn’t look like a “real” road- but as you follow signs for the Museum of Kent Life I should have trusted myself really.

The start area was by the museum, which had a few animals (donkeys, ducks, little horses) as well as lovely flowers and a pond.

I kept my eyes peeled but didn’t see any tourists.

The new runners briefing was great- they explained that if you run here regularly they have a little index card box, so you can leave a copy of your barcode inside- it’s by the finish which means even if you forget your barcode, they will have one there. (I’ve passed that idea to Ellenbrook Fields too).

Taken at the end- what a great idea!

The start was slightly downhill to the towpath, then you ran along the towpath for just over a mile, crossed a bridge, ran a little loop of a playground and then headed back over the bridge and along the path. To finish you ran beyond the start, up “a little hill”- (it was little but tough after a flat finish).

They said that the first 5 rows were for sub 20 minutes, and the back was for walking at around an hour, but with nearly 400 people there it isn’t easy to get into finish time order. I wasn’t too fussed about my time- I had entertained going for my fastest mile (the Strava challenge for June) but when I saw how narrow the paths were I left that to another day. It was very stop start because at times it was only wide enough for 2 people at most.

It was very pretty by the river (canal?)- I really enjoyed the scenery. It was a lovely shady route too- the weather on Saturday was overcast but warm, but it would be a good option for a sunny day as it was mostly shaded. We had been asked to keep left, and although I could overtake people one at a time, I kept getting stuck for a while. Soon the fastest runners were heading back in the other direction which meant overtaking was not really doable. The bridge was very weird- it was so wobbly to run over- sometimes it would bounce up and you would hit it sooner, and other times if it was bouncing down it felt like you were falling slightly. I wasn’t a fan. We were told we could spread out once we had passed the tail runner- for me this was at around 1.8 miles. I did manage a royal flush negative split of 10.05, 9.20 and 8.59 because of the ease of running at my pace once it had thinned out.

The marshals were really great- very encouraging and a few of them were in groups so you had an even bigger cheer. They also had a few (3?) photographers out on the course.

This was me coming up to the final hill, having just run past the start. I was wanting to stop right about then! (From their Flicker page)

As you approached the finish the path bends, and on the bend were loads of people (runners who had finished, and marshals) cheering you on. They all know it’s a tough finish.

Then as you round the bend you can see even more people (above- from their Flicker page again)- really great to see.

After I finished and had my chip scanned, I walked back down the hill- I did cheer people past but also got distracted by a little pony in the field.

My time was 29.31, position 208/384 – I was happy to be under 30 minutes.

I also had to have a selfie with the Li’l Sebastian (anyone else a Parks and Rec fan?). I then walked down to the water to take a few photos. Some runners were still going and on my way back the marshals gave me a big cheer (as I was walking)- I thanked them but felt I had to explain that I had already finished and was just taking photos- otherwise they would have got confused over me heading away from the finish and back to the hotel!

I headed back to the hotel for a shower and breakfast (the hotel has a Starbucks in the foyer- iced tea = a lovely post-run drink) before we headed out for the day (but more on that another day).

Do you like out and back runs? I sometimes quite like it in a race as I can look out for people I know further up the field, but sometimes it makes the turnaround point feel further away.

A week of heat


31 in my car. And yes I know that is not an official temperature measurement but it gives a general indication of how hot it has been

It was obviously hot on Saturday (when I marshaled at parkrun) and on Sunday (when, after a very hot run we ended up wandering a lavender field in the middle of the day in no shade..) but I didn’t realise it was going to be hot all week.  On Monday I had a massage booked- I did consider cancelling it but thankfully the room had a fan going so it wasn’t too bad. I met Andy in town afterwards


32 degrees. Our club run was originally going to be our 8 mile hilly route, but thankfully that was changed to 5 miles in the shade, and fairly flat. It was actually OK in the shade, but of course a very sweaty run. I really enjoyed it despite being totally baking.

I had braved shorts (I don’t tend to find shorts that comfy as they ride up- these ones are better as they are fitted but I don’t wear them very often)- everyone was finding my tan lines rather funny- I think my capris are all the same length which is why the line is fairly pronounced.


33 degrees- getting ridiculous!

I caved and got an iced tea on my way home!

As it was the summer solstice our yoga teacher had mentioned about doing something special. When I got there she had set the mats up outside (we are normally inside a little community centre room looking out onto trees and fairy lights)- she had set out candles and some joss sticks to try and keep the mozzies away. Apparently some people were doing 108 sun salutations as 108 is a special number (and one is one on the left side and one on the right) but we weren’t going to do that many. We had some lovely poses to open our shoulders, and then we had a go, doing a set of 9 (9 on each side), having a rest and then doing another 9. Even though it is fairly gentle I worked up quite a sweat. At times we came off the mats and held the poses on the grass which added another dimension to them.

At the end laying on the mat looking up at the trees swaying in the breeze, and the swallows flitting about in the sky was the most relaxing cool down, and a perfect way to celebrate the solstice.


Thankfully it was cooler.

I went out on a 4 mile run after work, trying out some new socks. I was sent some Storm Bloc trainer sport socks. Although black and purple is not the most summery of choices, I am very glad because my white socks just get stained with mud and never seem to go back to being white. I don’t think these have left or right socks (couldn’t see marks on them anyway) but they were comfy enough, and because they are more of an anklet design they look better with capris than my usual socks.


Again, a bit cooler. After work I went to see my mum, and my sister and niece turned out to be there too, so we had a lovely catch up. I couldn’t stay too long as we were heading to Kent on Friday night, but it was a great start to the weekend. I do like the sunny weather but I would rather it was not so hot that sleeping isn’t such a struggle.

How did you manage in the heat? Did you do anything to mark the solstice? 

*I was sent the socks in exchange for a mention on my blog. All opinions are my own.

Music concerts in the summer time and a trip to a lavender farm

Last Sunday we drove up to Peterborough with Andy’s family. After a dinner at Bill’s we were off to see Elton John.

It was the perfect evening- the sun was shining and it reminded me of the perfect festival slot as the sun is going down.

He played for a couple of hours solidly- very impressive. I’m not the biggest fan but there are some I love (Rocket Man being my fave). I was hoping of course for one of The Lion King songs, but alas, that was not to be.

This Saturday we headed to Wembley for The Stone Roses. Last year we went up to Manchester to see them as they hadn’t toured for years (I’d seen The Seahorses at T in the Park many years ago, but never all of them) and then this year they come to London!

It was a total scorcher! We got there about an hour before they were due to come on stage so we went to get an iced tea from Starbucks before heading in.

Warning- a little moan coming along. Security was of course very high (even at the Elton John concert last week every person was scanned with a metal detector, all bags were searched and no food or drink apart from small bottles of water was allowed in).  I had to be tapped down before I could go in, searched with a metal detector and had my bag searched, and then tagged to show it had been searched.

So how come all these flares managed to get in? There was a huge problem with flares at the one last summer, and in fact Ian Brown had a go at the people saying it stopped other people seeing the stage, and stopped him from seeing the crowd. All through the concert people kept letting them off. If you can smuggle a flare in, surely a knife can also be brought in? The smoke totally blocked the view of the stage- selfish idiots.

Thankfully for some of the concert the view was clear- I know I can just listen to the music (or watch the big screens, but to be fair they were often blocked too) but I like to see them on stage and not on a screen- it feels more “live” to me that way. It was brilliant anyway- they don’t have a big back catalogue so they pretty much played every song you could have wanted.  She Bangs the Drums always used to be on my running music playlist and of course everyone in the stadium was singing along at the tops of their lungs- fantastic.

We also found out the answer to a question from last year. When we arrived in Manchester it seemed everyone was wearing bucket hats. We wondered if it was a Stone Roses thing or a Manchester thing. Well, at Wembley, despite there being a few people selling them outside, it seemed hardly anyone was wearing them.

On Sunday morning I headed out for a run along the old railway line. The first mile is fairly exposed, but it was shady after that thankfully. I decided to do 6 miles, and just before my turn around point a fox was wandering about on the path ahead. (Fear not, I told him I was off to tea with a gruffalo).

I was melting by the end- bleurgh!

After a shower and breakfast (including some freshly picked strawberries) we drove up to Hitchin Lavender farm.

For £5 you were given a paper bag and some scissors and could pick your own.

I was trying to put all of mine in the same way, whereas Andy was just piling his in any which way.

It was really pretty- it’s early in the season so I can imagine that in mid-July it will be amazing.

It was so hot though (it was 30)- after a good hour outside we headed in to the cafe for cold drinks and home-baked goods (we shared a piece of lavender shortbread and a piece of courgette and avocado cake).

I put some in jars when I got home. (Andy’s parents made this for us at Christmas- the jars are for tea lights but I thought it would look good with the lavender too).

I’m gonna need more jars….

Have you ever been to a lavender farm or a pick your own farm? We always used to go to pick your own fruit farms when we were younger but there don’t seem to be that many around any more. Do you like live music?

Braving the cow fields and other weekend stories

The summer has well and truly arrived! (I have been very glad of the air-con in my car this week!)

On Tuesday I was planning on going to our club run- I have to drive there and as it starts at 6.30 I usually leave at around 6.15. I have a meeting on Tuesdays but this week it finished earlier so it wasn’t too much of a rush- I got home, finished some work, started making some iced tea and then got a message from Andy- he was going to be back late and we had shopping coming between 6.30 and 7.30 so I couldn’t go out.

In the end he got home around 6.45, so I headed out for a run on my own- I decided to head along the old railway line, and the little hill was in shade so I did some repeats up and down it. There were rabbits in the grass by the side so I got my breath back a few times and tried to take some photos as they didn’t seem bothered by me being there.

On Wednesday yoga was fantastic as always. The room we use is part of a small community centre with a garden that joins to all the houses. There are fairy lights in the trees, and so we have our mats facing the garden. It’s so peaceful. I struggled with my vest though- I wore a running one and tucked it in but it was not really long enough so kept coming out of my waistband. We did loads of twists which just feel so good- I think after sitting in my car for an hour each day anything like that is so beneficial.

On Thursday after work I wanted to pop into town- I keep seeing these cool giraffe trousers in Fat Face, but then I wondered if they look too much like pyjamas. But then it is so hot at work and pretty much everyone else wears that sort of style, so I went to get them. The centre has a main road with a wide grass section in the middle, and it was full of lavender plants and some other purple ones too- so pretty. Fat Face didn’t have them in (but they did have a giraffe vest, dress and shorts) so I looked in John Lewis and found them.

I did buy them but I am not sure I will keep them as I don’t know  what tops will go- I don’t know about these things!

I was sent a big bottle from The Big Bottle Company last week. It is huge! It’s 2.2 litres and is BPA free, it’s dishwasher safe and can be put in the freezer (for a short amount of time to keep the water cold, and of course if you have enough freezer space- we don’t). The idea is you can monitor your water intake during the day. I love the aqua colour, but I have used it to store water in the fridge, as if I took it to work it would become tepid very quickly- our classrooms are hot. Having some really cold water in this heat is great though, and means I save water as I don’t need to run the tap for ages for cold water to come through.

I had a short run on Friday after work, and I am trying to not run on consecutive days at the moment as my heel is still not healed, so I emailed and said I would marshal at parkrun this Saturday. (Also, a weekend story from last weekend- after taking my car to the garage, I was waiting for my dad in the car park at St Albans- it gets very busy and time was ticking on and spaces were filling up- I found a space in the top corner of the car park and stood by it, hoping that Dad would turn up and see me. A lady drove past and asked me if I was saving the space- when I first got there, there were other spaces but by this time there were none. I told her I was waiting for my dad but he hadn’t come, and at first she offered to drive away. I told her to park there as I said I have no right to “bagsy” the space, so she said “If he turns up, tell him to block me in- I’m in no hurry to leave after the run”- in fact Dad had parked elsewhere as he left too late and thought the car park would be full, but I loved her attitude. Aren’t parkrunners lovely?).

Anyway, back to this weekend:

I always prefer to marshal when it is this hot, and luckily I was put at a shady point of the course.

I’d walked there with another marshal who was just around the corner, and she suggested we take a short cut through the cow field. On the way there, it was OK as the cows were far from the path in the shade.

I enjoyed cheering the other runners on, but they all looked so hot (I got fairly hot in the high viz) so I knew I had made the right decision. One runner asked for some water to be sprayed on them- next time I’ll bring a bottle as we do have a mist attachment on a bottle.

However, when we finished and walked back, the cows were everywhere.

That was the path we had to walk along! They were so close, and they have huge horns (they are longhorn cattle). I had no idea there were so many of them.

I was not a fan of this! I am not too keen on cows- they make me nervous and I know these ones are used to people walking about, but there were a few little calves (one was born on Ellenbrook parkrun’s first birthday last month!) so the mothers would be more protective at this time of year.

When I got back the final few runners were just finishing, and we were all asked to have a team photo for Mark, who has been on a capital adventure, touring the London parkruns for charity. I had forgotten to wear my cow cowl this week- whoops! His blog is here if you are interested.

How have you been coping in the hot weather? What on earth should I wear with the giraffe trousers?