The week where I remembered just how much I dislike steaming wallpaper!

Seriously, I don’t understand the appeal of wallpaper- it must be a pain to put up with mixing the paste and measuring the paper and making sure it goes up straight, not to mention lining up any patterns. I think we were lucky as our last place was a fairly new build, so when we decorated we just had to paint over the old paint.

(Ignore the big hole- we’re having a fire put in next week). Luckily my parents have a steamer so I had hours of fun this week – the wallpaper is so thick that it has to come off in two layers, and the top layer is woven which makes it a right pain. We are most certainly not going to be putting up wallpaper- the walls seem nice and smooth so paint it is- then at least if we want to decorate again we won’t have all this faff first.

So, what else has been going on this week?

I’ve had lots of nice runs- 5 miles on Monday before a lot of sorting of unpacking/washing and a walk to the shops, and 8.5 miles on Tuesday before visiting my oldest friend (not my oldest friend, but my oldest friend- we went to Nursery together) and her gang of children (5 of her own plus 3 she was looking after..)- it was so lovely to catch up.

It poured on Wednesday- I think we had a months worth of rain in one day. I needed to post a letter, so I decided to get some fresh air and walked for about 1.5 miles.  I had to shelter under a tree for a bit.

I’d recently had my boots re-soled, and it turns out that they are not water tight against this sort of downpour- I had to change my socks and jeans when I got home. What are you playing at August?

One of my friends was visiting later in the morning and she brought along these amazing galaxy caramel cupcakes (she is a brilliant baker and has a lot more patience surrounding piping than I do!).

Then, as it was still pouring, I decided an afternoon of baking was required.

I have wanted to make this for ages- Earl Grey tea cake- it has ground up tea leaves in it as opposed to “normal” tea bread which is dried fruit soaked in tea- this had no fruit in it which surprised me- it did have lemon zest in the icing though.

It didn’t have much tea in it, but it’s really speckled inside. I also made two tea bread cakes (the proper ones where you soak dried fruit in tea) for my parents and for Andy’s brother and wife (they’ve just had another baby).

On Thursday after another 5 mile morning run (I have nearly perfected my route now) I went to see my parents for lunch (and to pick up the wallpaper steamer), and had a wander around Heartwood Forest, to scope it out as we were planning on parkrunning there on Saturday. I also managed a big weeding session where I filled our green bin with brambles and assorted twigs. As Andy finished work fairly promptly we headed over to St Albans for dinner at The Waffle House (a waffle topped with hummus, avocado, tomatoes and sweet chilli sauce) and then a walk around the lakes.

Then on Friday it was all the wallpaper stripping.

Some fresh tomatoes with my lunch (grown by my parents- and you can never leave their house empty handed) before more pre-decorating.

I’ve done just about 3 walls, and the final wall is mainly porch doors so it won’t take long (hopefully)- I’ve saved the rest for Sunday now.

I also had a little post pre-decorating treat of some of these wafers- I love them and bought a few packs from Vienna- basically they are a bit like wafers with nutella inside each layer.

Do you have wallpaper or paint at home? Do your parents like to insist that you take something home with you? Usually I get given eggs, but their hens were eaten by a fox and they got some chicks on Friday but they are not quite old enough to lay eggs just yet. Do you like tea bread or tea cake?


Germany recap

So, after a few days in Austria, we got a bus from Salzberg to Berchtesgaden, a national park in Germany.

We arrived too early to check in, so we left our bags in the hotel and then got a bus up to the mountains. Andy wanted to visit the Eagle’s Nest, so we headed there. I didn’t know much about it, but it was interesting. At the main stop there was a small museum (although it only took cash and we didn’t have enough with us for the audio guides, and all of the exhibits were in German so I didn’t understand much of it), and the bottom floor of the museum was the bunker. You could walk around the bunker and see the different rooms, as well as graffiti from the troops who found it.

No cars were allowed to the next part, so you had to buy a bus ticket (or it was something like a 3 hour hike)- at most parts the road was only wide enough for one vehicle so the buses leaving the top and bottom left at the same time and met in the middle for the passing places. At the top, you then queued to go up in a lift to the very top. The views were beautiful, but it was a strange place to visit. I think they said Hitler only went there maybe 9 times, and the actual home is now a restaurant (which seems weird to me too).  I did find it uncomfortable seeing people take selfies and things up there- I mean, they don’t want it to be some right-wing extremist pilgrimage place, but it seems a bit too far the other way.

Anyway, on the bus on the way back down to the main part, the most torrential downpour started, and of course our rain coats were back in the hotel. We were drenched within seconds of getting off the bus, but luckily there was a bit of shelter, so we waited for it to ease off before running to the next bus stop, to get back down to the town.

This was our hotel, by the water- no sign of the downpour by then! We had a lovely wander into the town, admiring all of the buildings with their window boxes full of flowers.

The next day we got the bus out to the national park- there is a huge lake there and you could get a boat ride (45 mins ish) to the end of the lake, where there were lots of hikes. At one point they stopped the boat and someone played a horn (or trumpet, or something) because there was a famous echo point.

We did a 3 mile walk along to another lake (I put my Garmin on for the way back to see how far it was)- at some points it followed the edge of the lake, and at others it followed large stone steps up and down the side of the cliff edges. The scenery was beautiful, but it was so hot. We took a break at the end before walking back to catch the boat again.

Loads of people were swimming in the lake- I bet it was freezing but so refreshing after walking in the heat.

To get to Munich (where we flew home from) we had to get the bus back to Salzberg and then a train to Munich.

I didn’t know what to expect with Munich but it was jam packed with tourists. After a shorter wander on the afternoon we arrived, we spent most of the next day in the main park, the English Garden. It was a bit like Central Park- huge. A river ran through the centre and at one point there was a bit of a whirlpool and people were taking it in turns to surf in the river. Loads of people were swimming and sunbathing, we saw people playing cricket, playing football in those big inflatable zorb things, people horseriding and cycling…. it was clearly the place to be on a hot weekend day.

We could have got the underground or a tram back to nearer our hotel, but we ended up walking- it didn’t quite beat our Salzberg days but it was close.

The day we flew home it was due to rain, so originally we were going to head to a museum, but when we got to the train station to buy the ticket (you could get a day ticket that included travel to the airport as well as the trains and trams in the city centre), it turned out the machine wouldn’t take cards, so we walked to the main station (probably a 30 min walk) and looked there for a bit. Andy found out by then that he could get an app and buy the tickets that way, but by the time we had worked it out, there wasn’t enough time to get out to the museum and back again to get the bags from our hotel, so we ended up just having another walk around the centre. It was a bit quieter, but not much. Pretty much all of the shops and cafes were closed, which was a bit strange. I do wonder what the American tourists think when they come to a fairly big city and then find out that not much is open. Anyway, despite the rain (and it didn’t come to much luckily) there was still plenty to see- lots of huge buildings (some looked like they belonged in Paris, whereas others were the more typical Germanic style), statues and fountains to keep us busy.

It was a lovely 10 days- lots of scenery and interesting places, but of course we have also added other places to the list now (we think we’ll head back to Austria with a car so we can visit more of the smaller places).

Have you ever visited somewhere with a bad past? I remember going to Pearl Harbor (which also had people taking selfies all around)- it was a really sad place as the bodies hadn’t even been recovered. I know some people visited concentration camps as school trips but I don’t think I could actually visit somewhere that awful.


Austria recap

Last Friday we flew out from Heathrow early in the morning, to Vienna. We had been there a few years ago, for the Christmas markets, and decided that we wanted to go back in warmer weather to enjoy all the parks, so it seemed a great place to start out trip. It was totally baking though- they were having a heatwave so heading to a city didn’t seem quite so appealing! Luckily the places we visited had lots of parks to wander around, and plenty of places selling cold drinks!

Here are a few highlights:

The (free) gardens of the Schonbrunn Palace- a perfect place for an evening picnic with views of the gardens, palace and then Vienna.

Admiring the plants (hollyhocks are my favourite) in another palace in Vienna.

I didn’t take a photo (I really wish I did) of my delicious salad bowl from Freshii as it was totally made to be on Instagram- I had a bowl of salad with almonds, beetroot, goats cheese, mango, some other stuff- (you could add tofu but it was filling enough as it was)- instead of having it all mixed in, each section of the bowl had a different ingredient so the colours stood out. But I was hungry.

After a couple of days in Vienna we got the train to Salzberg- I’d never been before but have always thought it looked good.

A walk by the river into the old town was very scenic.

Views of one of the many castles in Salzberg from a slightly cooler walk in the woods.

Mozart cake (the town is either obsessed with Sound of Music stuff, or Mozart stuff- any cake with hazelnuts and pistachio marzipan is a winner in my book, and we actually had a piece each instead of sharing, plus it was topped with a piece of Mozart ball, which is basically chocolate made with praline and marzipan).

Views of the Austrian and German countryside from the top of Untesberg cable car (we got a pass for the day that included buses, the cable car, another palace which was something else to do with the Sound of Music, museums etc.).

Delicious soft gingerbread from the Pirker gingerbread shop (as it comes from Mariazell it is only right that I would love it so much)- so many to choose from and in the end we went for one with a filling of marzipan and nuts. It was amazing. Off to see if they deliver to the UK….

We managed to beat the 11,000 steps per day pretty easily- on the day of our train journey it was “just” 14,000, but one day in Salzberg was over 25,000 so we were on our feet for most of the day.

After that we headed to Germany, but I’ll save that for another day.

Have you been to Austria? As my Grandma was Austrian, we used to go and visit family a lot when I was little, but my trip to Vienna was the first visit as an adult.  Do you like to walk a lot when you are sightseeing? I much prefer it to a sightseeing bus as it means I can take my time (or not) and pop into places that take my fancy.


The Life Changing Benefits of Cross Training*

Hello- I am back from Austria and Germany, and will post about that in a bit. In the meantime I have a guest post about cross training:

Cross training is one of the best ways we can keep fit. The benefits of cross training, from survival fitness to premium endurance fitness are too amazing to ignore, so today we are sharing all the fantastic ways that cross training can change the way you approach exercise and can benefit your life in general.

What is Cross-Training?

Cross-training is a training regime that combines several different forms of exercise, usually a combination of variations of swimming, running and cycling. Most athletes focus their attention on improving and perfecting just one sport, and that is of course understandable. However cross-training actually helps athletes to improve their overall performance and fitness, leading to greater levels of sporting success.

Prevent Injuries from Overuse

It is normal for anyone starting a new sport to want to go all in and completely dedicate themselves to that one new and exciting sport. However putting all your energy and time into one specific sport can result in all sorts of injuries that can have you out of practice and recovering for weeks on end.

Quite often your muscular fitness can’t quite match up to your aerobic fitness and that is where some of the problems lie. Cross training can help prevent that from happening. It will help to ease you into new activities and exercises. You can begin running to build up your leg muscles, then you can cross that training with swimming to slowly but surely improve your aerobic health and you can them mix that with cycling for a low-impact endurance sport.

Challenges & Experiences

Getting involved in cross-training will open up a whole new world of exciting new fitness challenges that will have you boldly travelling around experiencing new levels of fitness as a way to see the countryside, different cities and new countries. Everything from London to Paris bike ride, from triathlons across Europe, marathons in foreign cities, to swimming the English channel. Getting involved in different types of sports will naturally have you itching to show off your new skills, and challenge yourself to keep building on them, by getting involved in a wide range of different challenges in your local area and abroad.

Maintaining General Fitness

If you only ever practice one sport your body will never have a natural and healthy balance. Look at bodybuilders for example, they don’t do cardio workouts and the result is that they are enormous. This makes them lack flexibility, endurance and overall mobility and speed. Same with runners, they are associated with really lean bodies that don’t have the upper body strength that other athletes will have. In order to have a more well balanced overall health and fitness you will need to find a balance between endurance and strength and cross-training gives you just that.

So as you can see, getting involved in cross-training is a no-brainer for anyone who wants to take their fitness to the next level, whilst being kind to their bodies and building stamina, fitness, endurance and strength.

Do you cross train? How do you keep a balance in your fitness? I used to cycle a bit, but I have lost confidence riding on the roads and so haven’t for a few years now. I get very antsy if I am not active each day, so I tend to have a walk if I am not running, as I can’t really run for more than 4 days a week. I used to love body pump classes as some strength, but I have swapped that for yoga, which I think suits my needs better as it works on strength but also flexibility.

Bingo for parkrun! And a few random purchases

I follow a lot of the local parkruns on facebook as it’s a good way to see if there are events cancelled, anniveraries or new events coming.

Wimpole recently posted a parkrun bingo card which I found very amusing:

They have produced it to encourage people to volunteer, as they have said if you tick 12 or more boxes you can exchange it for free cake in September. However, a lot of them are to do with running (thank all the marshals/ smile the whole way around/ beat your highest finish/ run the whole route with a friend).

I always get the Bluebird Tea emails as I love their teas, so I was very excited when they advertised sticky chai. It’s black tea, spices and agave (to preserve it I think). Now, from the directions it makes it sound like it would be all ground down, and it tells you to add it to hot milk for a ready made chai latte.

The trouble is, it’s actual tea leaves and big bits of spices- I wasn’t expecting that! It smells amazing but when I added it to the milk I realised too late that I needed to strain it really. Ah well, next time I’ll know.

Now, I love Pip and Nut nut butters as their smooth stuff is proper drippy pb, and they do some interesting combinations too. I was excited when I saw they were starting to do almond milk- I tend to go for the Rude Health almond milk, and sometimes Alpro stuff. It was on offer on Ocado so I got one plain, and one with honey and vanilla. Sadly, the honey and vanilla one curdled in hot drinks and even when I used it on muesli it separated in a weird way. It was only something like 2% honey so you couldn’t taste it (and I don’t like things too sweet so I am not sure why I went for it anyway).  The plain stuff has not curdled usually, so long as I pour it slowly into my tea. I might try it again later on, but for now I think I will stick to the two brands I usually use.

What would you put on a parkrun bingo card? What was the last thing that disappointed you?