A busy weekend in Brighton- parkrun, comedy and a band

We got the train down to Brighton on the Friday afternoon, so after dropping our bags off at the hotel we had time for a quick wander (pop to Bird & Blend for a latte obvs) and picked up some sandwiches from Pret for dinner- the falafel special at the moment is so good with crunchy veggies and loads of pickles.

Very pleased to get some Love Potion and Red Velvet as they had sold out online.

We had seen that Stewart Lee (comedian) was at the Dome, so we had booked tickets and wanted to get there with plenty of time. I like going to see comedians but I do not want to sit anywhere near the front, and I do not want to be late!

The show was split into two parts, with no support act, instead he did one show (Tornado), there was an intermission and then a second show (Snowflake). It was very funny, very off beat.

On Saturday morning I headed down to Hove Prom parkrun (after checking it was on- the previous week they had posted photos of the pebbles from the beach covering the entire prom). I perhaps should have chosen Preston Park  instead, but the prom was marginally closer to where we were staying, plus I could not decide what to wear for the half on Sunday, so I thought it would be a good test. Well, a test.

I got chatting to another tourist (well she was a local, but had the cow buff on)- she was going to be at one of the water stations in the half-  not an enviable job. The course on Hove Prom is two out and back laps, but you start in the middle, so we had half the length into the wind which was just so hard to run in, then the whole length with the wind behind (marvellous, but also sort of annoying as my ponytail kept swinging around and smacking my in the face!), then a whole length into the wind, which is when I questioned the sanity of running a half marathon, a lovely whole length with the wind behind, and then the final half into the wind. Ooof it was tough. For ages I could see the 30 minute pacer way ahead of me, and finally caught him up and went past him before the final turnaround point.

The pacer did a fantastic job, as it cannot have been easy to keep to your planned pace- my official time was 29:59 and he was just behind me.

I ran back (thankfully with the wind behind me) and met Andy in Cafe Coho, for tea and pancakes, before getting showered and changed.

That bendy sign said “no swimming”, just in case anyone was tempted!

We walked along the seafront for a bit, but the sea spray was in the air and it wasn’t the most enjoyable walk, so we cut it short and wandered around the lanes for a bit instead.

Of course we stopped for tea and cake, and then later on a B&B visit- this time for a red velvet latte which is one of their specials, and is pink!

We got a takeaway pizza from Fatto A Mano (their vegan one with veggies and pesto is sooooo tasty) and then headed back out to the Dome, this time to see the Hot 8 Brass Band. Andy likes them (I had only listened to a couple of tracks on Spotify)- they basically cover pop songs, (eg Get Up/ Love will tear us apart)- they were fantastic live. I love seeing instruments being played- orchestras, bands, anything, so seeing them was great but they were so lively and engaging with the crowd. Mardi Gras but a few days early!

Then it was time to head back, get my kit out and look at the weather forecast! I shall save the half marathon recap for another post…

Do you like seeing comedians or bands? Best pre-run dinner?

Half term highlights

It’s been a fairly low key week which was just what I needed. After our trip to Southampton, I was up on Sunday morning for my final long run before the Brighton half.

It was windy so I borrowed a tip from Hungry Runner Girl, and put a headband over my visor- this worked a treat and meant the visor didn’t blow off, and my ears stayed warm! I saw a bit of damage around from the storm, but not as bad as Ciara from last week.

I ran 10 miles, and although it rained at the start for a bit, for the most part it was dry. Once I was home it hammered down though- good timing! I did some stretching and foam rolling in the living room, and was very excited to see some goldfinches visit the bird feeder- I’ve not seen them since last year so this made me very happy. Also how beautiful is this red velvet tea? It’s black tea with a hint of red velvet cake taste, and because it contains beetroot, when you add milk it turns pink! So pretty!

Then we headed to the cinema to see Parasite (cup of tea and cookie as cinema snack- wearing a big hat is a good idea because you can put the cup in the hat as you go in). I really enjoyed it, but the last part was so tense, I was so on edge and just had no idea what was going to happen next.

Once home, what better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than by baking? I made these bourbon-cream style hearts (from Nancy Birtwhistle)- they are very tasty too.

On Monday I had a doctor’s appointment first thing which I never look forward to, so after that was done I had some breakfast (needed something to look forward to) and wandered around the park.

It was such a beautiful day.

I had been given some vouchers for a local spa, and so had booked a massage there. It was very luxurious and zen.

You could go for a spa day, so loads of people were wandering around or sitting in the lounge with dressing gowns on (which I know is meant to seem relaxing, but that to me is not my idea of fun), and when it was time for my treatment I was taken upstairs to a room with a sofa, bed, sink, fancy mood lighting etc. I was given the choice of playlists (ocean sounds/ nature/ piano etc) and the therapist talked about my booking. Now when I phoned up, I had asked for neck, back, shoulder massage, and the person on the phone had named something that included these things. When I sat down, the therapist started talking to me about the facial part of the treatment- I wasn’t expecting that. She did offer to swap it for a full body massage, but I thought it would be hassle to go back downstairs and sort it out (they all have different prices, and my voucher didn’t cover the whole cost so I had to top it up)- anyway, I should have done that really. The actual massage was lovely, and then I had a scalp massage (which is why my hair looks a bit wet, because she added some oil too) but I have to say the facial was not for me.  Even though the products were meant to be OK for sensitive skin, some of them stung a bit, and my skin just felt all hot afterwards. But the rest of me was all relaxed. I just don’t like making decisions in the moment like that.

I did see a red kite flying so low across the road (when I was walking) that I could take a fairly clear photo with my phone- you can even see the forked tail!

Tuesday morning I had a lovely 7 mile run (so much colder than I expected- I wore a long sleeved top and expected to need to roll the sleeves up as I warmed up, but no, the wind was biting), and then decided to make some French toast with a Christmas panettone.

I finally got around to make some of the eco cleaner that I had seen on Nancy Birtwhistle’s Instagram (water, vinegar, surgical spirit and lemon oil) and got on with using it to clean the windows, bathroom etc. In the afternoon my sister in law came over with my niece and nephew- we went to the park for a bit and then came home just as it rained to have tea.

While in town I had visited The Pudding Stop, getting a vegan crumble cake for us to share, so we had that in front of the fire in the evening.

Wednesday I had a 6 mile run in another Disney top (long sleeved still going strong)- saw lots of flooding still. Also how good does that Pudding Stop special sound??? I didn’t see that on Monday! I spent a few hours at my mum’s, and then once home decided it was time for a hot cross bun, and some hot cross bun tea (which is sooooo good- a blend of black and rooibos tea with spices and fruity and smoky flavours).

I watched What The Health, which is the follow up from Cowspiracy (which I am not sure if I have seen)- it popped up as something I might like following on from Game Changers I imagine. It was interesting, but of course really linked to how things work in the USA- for example with the Diabetes Association sponsored by so many companies that make unhealthy foods, plus pharmaceutical companies who really have a vested interest in people being put on medication because it’s all profits for them. It was thought provoking and really terrifying because with the way things are going politically, this may be where our health care is headed too.

Thursday I was still in a Run Disney mood (and it was still cold enough to wear a long sleeved top)- 4 miles. When I got home I used a Lush hot oil hair treatment- I’d bought one in Southampton at the weekend. It looks like a lump of crayon on a stick, but you put it in hot water (I used half, as that was what the person in the shop recommended) and stir it around until it melts, leave it to cool for a bit before putting it onto dry hair. I had tea and porridge while I waited for it to work (20 mins) and then rinsed it off in the shower. It has left my hair really soft, and I would definitely use again.

I had a bit of work to do, so got on with that, had a brief break where I walked into town, got soaked, and then carried on with work. Andy was at home and we managed to get a few jobs done too, including putting up our newest pictures (the two in the bottom row in the picture above). We bought them on holiday in August and have had the frames for ages but only remember that we need to put them up when it’s too late to be hammering nails into walls in case it annoys the neighbours.

Then we headed to the cinema again, this time to see Just Mercy. It was a fantastic film- based on a true story and reminded me a lot of a John Grisham book. The subject (inmates on Death Row) was tough of course, and it just boggles my mind that in this day so called civilised societies still think the death penalty is acceptable.

On Friday morning I made some banana bread- what else are brown bananas for? I had a walk and did some work at home, and then packed as we were heading down to Brighton for the weekend for a jam-packed weekend.

Do you like running in long sleeved tops? I have a few (mainly from Disney) but the time for wearing them seems very short, because when it’s cold I’ll wear a t-shirt and jacket, and when it’s mild I’ll wear a t-shirt as I know I’ll warm up quickly.  Have you seen any good films lately?

Plan A/B/C for parkrun! (A visit to lovely Netley Abbey)

For the first weekend of half term, Andy suggested heading down to Southampton. He would get a ticket for the football, I could go to a parkrun, and we could visit his grandma. Sounded good to me. What with parents evening the week before, I hadn’t been out much (3 miles in the tail end of storm Ciara on Monday, and 4 miles on Tuesday) and hadn’t even had yoga as I didn’t get home in time, so I was really looking forward to parkrun on Saturday.  We were staying in the centre of Southampton, so my plan was to run to Southampton common- I’d done that before, so I knew it was doable, and would save faffing with the car and so on. However with another storm on the way (and I am sorry, but Dennis is the Dennis from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to me) I drove, so that if for any reason Southampton was cancelled, I could look at other options.

That turned out to be the right call. On Friday night the cancellations were coming thick and fast, and my list of potential ones was getting shorter and shorter (cancelled: Eastleigh- which would have been by Plan B, Mountbatten School, QE2, Brockenhurst, Havant, Moors Valley, Chichester, Winchester, Lymington Woodside…) and Southampton cancelled too. With the kick off being an early one at 12.30, I didn’t want to head too far away as we needed to check out and get breakfast beforehand. Netley Abbey was my Plan C, and then I think the tourist tool listed as the closest ones after that Whitely, Lee on the Solent and then Fareham. I wasn’t sure if I had time to get to the further ones, so charged up my headphones and decided that if all the closer ones were called off, I’d jut have a run by myself instead. But at 8am Netley Abbey posted that they were on!

I’d got into my running gear and so I could leave straight away. I knew I had to drive over a toll bridge to get there, and had made sure I had enough change to go both ways. However, when I got to the toll booth, I put the money in and nothing happened- a thing was spinning around, but the barrier was down and the charge was still displaying as if I hadn’t paid. I could see my 20p coin in the wheel, but there were no coins in the rejected coins slot, so I put some more money in and again nothing happened. I pressed the help button, but nothing happened there either. I only had enough money with my for one more try, so I reversed out (luckily it was very quiet) and went to the next booth, and thankfully that worked. I was feeling rather stressed out- it is cash only so I am not sure what would have happened if the payment hadn’t worked then.

Driving into the park I saw a fair bit of flooding, but the actual park was fine. I’d been there before with Andy for a lovely walk by the sea (back in 2018), so I knew a little of where to park.

It was very windy at this point, but thankfully no rain. I was only there about 15 mins before the start, and fancied doing a bit of a jog to warm up but didn’t want to miss the first timers briefing ( I think it has lots of different routes) so I just stood around instead. I expected it to be busy at Southampton has around 1000 runners so I thought some of them would head over.

The first timers briefing was nice and brief (3 laps- the important bit!) and it was hard to heard the RD because the mic was broken, so they had to shout- not easy in all that wind! They did mention that one of the golden batons was being passed on, but I couldn’t see it, or hear where it had come from. Anyway, soon we were off and running along, avoiding the puddles.

I noticed once back at the hotel that I had splashes of mud on my face, and looking at the picture I could see one on my nose and chin!

You can see from my Strava screenshot that GPS does not like wind or trees, and I am keeping this as proof that if anyone moans that a course is inaccurate because their GPS was short or long, remember that the only accurate way to measure a route is physically measure it with a wheel. This parkrun was 3 identical laps, and I am very sure I did not veer off at any point! The first bit of each lap felt busy because it was fairly narrow paths with runners further ahead going back on the same path (keep left) and then in the next lap the faster runners were lapping in the same direction, with other runners passing in the opposite direction. The bit by the water seemed wider (and was just one way) but it was so windy, my legs were being blown into each other! I wasn’t fussed about time, but somehow managed mile 2 and 3 with the exact same pace (9:19), finishing with token 203 for a time of 29:30.

I ran back down to the water to take a few photos, and then headed to the cafe where I needed to buy something to get change for the toll bridge (as I’d used up my change on the way).

After buying some tiffin and running back to the car, it turned out that the pay machines were by the cafe. As I was running back to the car the first time a group of runners commented that I had some cake in a box, and as I ran past them the second time (after paying) they asked me what I was doing- I think they thought I had gone back to buy more cake! So I had to explain that I needed to pay and didn’t realise the machines were by the cafe. Although to be fair, there were lots of lovely looking cakes so I could have easily bought more!

On driving back to the hotel I had another fail- I just typed in the shopping centre into Google Maps, because that is where we had parked, but it actually took me into the high street and to the pedestrian entrance, and with no-where to pull over I had to just drive in the general direction and try to work it out. I was doing so well for time, but it ended up being a bit rushed – we walked to Bill’s but they had a long wait, so we went back to the hotel, I had a shower and we checked out, and then went back to Bill’s. Thankfully they had a table, so we had a nice brunch before Andy was off to the football. Their pancakes were huge- normally they are more like scotch pancake sized, but these ones were like side plates! I couldn’t eat all of mine. I went for a juice (carrot, apple and ginger) which was so refreshing and delicious.

While Andy was at the football I wandered around the shops for a bit- I got a few birthday cards and gifts, and I had a John Lewis voucher so bought this cute puffin jumper (makes a change from penguin jumpers). Then I sat in Pret with a cup of tea and listened to some podcasts- much nicer than walking around busy shops!

Once the football was finished we went to see Andy’s grandma before the drive home (which was horrendous- so much rain and wind and wet roads- urgh)- I needed that tea and tiffin when we got home (I shared the tiffin).

Anyway, what a lovely start to half term, with another parkrun visited and brunch out.

Did your local parkrun cancel due to the storms? 

Adjusting for the storm

So if you are in the UK, then no doubt you would be aware of Storm Ciara this past weekend. Seeing the forecast for Sunday, and knowing I wanted to run at least 12 miles made me re-jig things. I don’t mind running in rain or wind, but it would have made it pretty hard work, plus there are so many trees around and big branches have fallen down before, so I think if I can swap things around, what is the point of taking a risk. In fact on Sunday the road next to ours was closed for a while because a tree blew down across the entire road- luckily no-one was hit by it as it fell. There was some pretty bad flooding too- no point risking it in my opinion.

On Friday night we finished the last of the Christmas cake. I feel quite pleased that we managed to make it last until February. It was going to be good pre-run fuel.

Friday night Christmas cake/ Saturday chai latte/ moon on Friday evening

Then on Saturday morning I was out of the door by 7am, ready to run over to St Albans, to run at Jersey Farm parkrun with my dad. I’d messaged him as we usually walk there together, saying if I was late he could just start walking and I’d catch him up.

On the way I stopped to watch the parakeets- I always see them on my commute, but I didn’t realise quite how many there were. The run went well, although it was so dark to begin with. Anyway, I made it to Mum and Dad’s house with time to spare, so we jogged around together, getting to parkrun with about 5 minutes to spare. I was feeling OK, and just left my watch running in the end rather than fiddle about with saving runs and starting new ones.

The parkrun was fairly muddy in places but nothing that you couldn’t avoid (I’d worn road shoes as my trail ones are quite heavy when wearing them on the pavements).

Outside Mum and Dad’s front door around 9 miles, parakeets, and the JF sign

Although when parkrun finished I couldn’t see Dad anywhere (I knew he was ahead, but wasn’t by the tarpaulin where you leave jackets, or at the finish) so I stopped my watch while I looked for him, and it was just under 13 miles at this point. I should have left it going for the run home! Anyway, I found Dad (chatting to someone he knows from school a little way along the route) and we headed back home fairly promptly so I wouldn’t get too stiff.

It looks like quite a long way when you see it on a map like that all stretched out!

The run home is  always further as we detour to the shops for Dad to get the paper, and as I was pretty thirsty by that point I decided to get some coconut water, and we also found more polystyrene along the lane so did a good deed of litter picking as well- the run back to theirs was 1.2 miles (with a little walking too), so the total for the morning was just over 14 miles. Long run done. Andy was then driving over to bring me a change of clothes, and to have breakfast, although we had our wires slightly crossed so he turned up much later, and I was not going to sit down and eat until I had changed. Everyone kept telling me to have a pancake, and I kept thinking that as soon as I sat down, he would turn up. In the end the hunger was too much so I had one in my rather sweaty kit.

Once home and showered we walked into town to get our drinks, and then spent the rest of the day pottering around and not doing much.

On Sunday I had some work to do, and what better day than a day when it’s pouring with rain and howling with wind? I persuaded Andy to walk around to Morrison’s with me as I wanted to buy a few baking ingredients, and when we left it was OK and the wind and rain had eased off, but part way around we ended up sheltering in a bus stop because it was just sideways rain- it reminded me of when we were in Vic in Iceland on this beach, and the rain was properly horizontal and freezing.

You can see how soaked my trousers were!

After that I spent a lot of time baking. I made some fudge for work, as end of half term presents. I made biscoff blondies (a Jane’s Patisserie recipe) and then the monster workout cookies from Cook Eat Run, as Andy requested cookies.

Biscoff blondies 

Cookies being made- I used the delicious Doisy&Dam dots

And of course we had to sample them, so we had a little piece of blondie plus a cookie. For testing purposes of course.

After getting soaked Andy had requested a hot chocolate, so of course I wasn’t going to say no. This one was gingerbread, and one of the best ones I think- I prefer the darker ones to the milk.

Do you like hot chocolate? Did you go out in the storm? Do you like including parkrun in a longer run?

Some mid week baking! Plus tea

On Monday I had a lecture after work, handily at the Uni, right by the business park where I love to run. So before leaving, I changed into my running kit, thinking I’d go for a run after. Getting there was far quicker than I thought, so I ended up making the most of the daylight and doing a 3 mile run there. I changed my top back in the car so I wasn’t a sweaty mess, and thankfully there were lots of seats and plenty of spaces between them!

I have been loving Red Velvet tea after buying more from Bird&Blend last weekend- it’s black tea with cocoa, beetroot and pomegranate flowers, and turns pink when you add milk.

On Tuesday there was a beautiful sunrise and a beautiful sunset. When I got home I was on about 8,000 steps, so not wanting to lose my streak I headed out on a walk to get the total up for the day.

I had a sore shoulder and I thought the walk would help, but I ended up taking some paracetamol before bed because it just got worse and worse.

On Wednesday at lunch time I went out on a walk and it was such a lovely day- I saw a lot of spring flowers, which is lovely, but also not great with all the climate problems we have going on. As I was home in plenty of time, I decided to do some baking. I’d recently ordered Cook, Eat, Run, and so made the ginger molasses energy bars.

They are sooooo good. They smelled delicious, but I had to wait until after yoga to try one (can’t eat too close to yoga what with all the going upside down). A recipe I will be making lots of times I am sure.

Yoga was great, but I was really struggling with some of the things that I am usually OK with. My shoulder was actually OK, and I knew that the stretching out and gentle movement would help, but with the headstand I could only get my right leg up, not my left (I can usually do alternate legs). Sometimes it just isn’t your day.

Thursday I parked at Tesco and did the standard 4 miles to the business park and back, before popping into Tesco. I was visiting a friend for lunch on the Friday and wondered if they had any nice sandwiches left, but nothing took my fancy. It was so cold again though- the last few Thursdays have been really cold, and by the time I got home I was really chilly, so we had the fire on.

On Friday I had the most exciting message from Andy: Tea club has arrived! My favourite kind of message!

The wedding cake tea is lovely (rooibos with a sort of caramel tone), as is the “Lemugur” pancakes (lemon and sugar)- another rooibos.  Plus, how gorgeous is the postcard? The tea club always comes with a postcard, and they showcase local artists which is such a great idea.

Do you keep track of your steps? I was listening to Reasons to be Cheerful today, (Walk this way episode) and the average number of steps was something like 4,000, which surprised me a lot.  But then I do get very antsy if I have not walked around or had fresh air, and honestly a pyjama day sounds like a nightmare to me!