Running, gardening, baking and podcasts

So last week I was back at work (working from home). As I mentioned before, I like a routine, so I organised my week and day with little tasks to do each day, making sure I got some fresh air, a run or a walk, and a bit of yoga on a few days. Monday didn’t quite go as planned as I had a fair bit to do and fell into the trap of thinking “I’ll just do this and then I’ll stop”/ “I’ll just do one more thing before I make a cup of tea”- I ended up having lunch at around 2.30 and having the most awful headache. Lesson learned!

To help clear my headache I did some yoga (I’m slowly working my way through the 30 days of yoga with Adrienne on You Tube- doing a couple a week, usually on Monday and Fridays) and then walked around the garden. Lots more flowers are starting to bloom.

I found that the streets are quieter in the mornings so I kept to my running first thing- 10k on Tuesday for my Brooks Run Happy at Home medal (love the oven glove- I support baking!), 5 miles on Wednesday morning, and then 6 miles on Thursday.

Wednesday run view

And back after my run on Thursday- it was a hot one! I also saw someone out running in a bobble hat- I’m a fan of hats but it is not cold enough right now! That’s a bluebell I found growing by our front door- we have some in the back garden but I didn’t remember any out the front before.

On Wednesday I also had yoga, and it was fitting being Earth Day. I’ve been making my office as zen as possible for the class by lighting a candle and some fairy lights, and playing some music from the Calm app. It was light when I started so it did feel strange. It was a good class thought with a focus on hips which I always need.

I realised that working from home has the advantage that I can make lunch- wraps like this are my favourite- some cheese, some chutney, some fruit and just heat it a bit until it all melts. So tasty.

To go with the Brooks medal (or just because I like baking), I made some scones (this recipe)- I have never normally managed making them particularly well, but this recipe seems nice and simple and they turned out pretty well.

I was sorting out my work bag (as I am in school next week) and found this pack of Pret chocolate almond bites- I nearly had them but then decided I would save them for more of an emergency. I do miss their treats. (Although have you seen that on their Instagram page they have published some recipes- their chocolate almond butter cookies are my absolute fave and so I made sure to add the ingredients to my shopping!).

To officially finish the working day I’ve been either doing some jobs inside (when will the decorating end???) , or heading out into the garden, either for some jobs or just to walk around and listen to a podcast. Then we have had a pot of tea and watched Chateau, sometimes accompanied by a hot cross bun.

I even had to get my hat out the other day because it was so warm out there.

 Do you usually work from home? How are you adjusting to it if it’s new to you? Would you choose elevenses or afternoon tea? 

A new weekend routine and a non-parkrun sandwich

For the past few weeks I’ve been getting up early on a Saturday to do a run, so I can be out of the shower in time for the parkrun quiz, and last Saturday was no exception. It was officially the last weekend of the holidays, but of course (apart from Andy being off work) it felt pretty much the same as every other day.

The quiz at least helps to make it feel like the weekend, and gets me in a parkrun mood. It was raining when I went out so I didn’t see many people. I did see one guy walking his dog- he was coming out of his front door so I had to do a last minute swerve and said good morning, to which he replied “have a fantastic run” which I loved! I did well in the quiz too- 13/15 which I think will be very hard to beat as each week I know a few (and this one had a round on parkrun lingo, which was pretty much taken from TPS and WMN podcasts, so I knew those) but there are always some you have to guess.

I’d been experimenting with the sourdough starter and found a cinnamon roll recipe, so I’d made them the night before and we baked them for breakfast- they were pretty good. It was a day for jobs- a bit more decorating, a bit of gardening and a bit of cleaning, and then a treat for lunch as we had ordered the most gorgeous cream cheese (Nush- made from almonds) so we had bagels for lunch. So good.

It was my mum’s birthday so we had a nice long chat on the video Whatsapp- seeing them instead of just hearing them on the phone was a nice change and felt more like a catch up than being passed from one to the other on the phone.

I had ordered this pass holder for my DLP annual pass (we got them for each other for our Christmas presents this year)- I won’t be actually using it any time soon (although they have been good and said that for each month of closure, another month will get added to your pass, so I guess 2021 can be the year of Disneyland Paris for us instead.

We’ve tended to watch a film on Saturday night, so last week we watched Misbehaviour which was really good (and then took several steps backwards by seeing what all the fuss was about with the new Netflix show (Too Hot to Handle, which is awful and only saved by Desiree Burch and her hilarious narrating).

And now I know the way to Panshanger, that is my new Sunday morning run.

Last week I did a non-parkrun sandwich. The way I run there now, I end up at just after the 3km point on the route, so I decided to run all of the route (I did the diversion through the fields at the  end which we do when the bridge needs repairing, because it’s a narrow path for that bit otherwise, and minus the final zig zag through the field, just going straight through the car park and to the start again), doing the final half first, and then the first bit to join up with my exit to the park.

It was another glorious day, and I saw a few runners, cyclists and walkers, but there was only one part where it was slightly narrow and I was coming up behind a walker, so I just walked a way behind them until it opened out again. It’s so much nicer to run on the soft ground too, rather than constantly running on the tarmac.

As I neared home I thought I would be close to 9 miles, but I was nearly at 9.5 so I ran around the block to make it up to 10.

When I got home Andy was in the garden so I went out to chat to him for a few minutes and ended up standing in some fox poo- we could not even work out where it was in our garden- I’d only worn those shoes a few times. Grrr those foxes are pesky. Cue yet more trainer-washing for me to do!

The rest of the day was spent doing jobs in the garden, sitting in the garden listening to a podcast and having some tea, and catching up on a bit of TV later. I’d made some sourdough the day before so we had it for dinner with some soup- it was delicious.

Whilst I won’t be going to a parkrun for a while, at least I can keep a bit of the routine, and also visit one- I think a run to Ellenbrook is not possible because the pavements are just a bit too busy going in that direction.

Have you managed to keep your weekdays and weekends apart? After that I was back to work so at least I had that to differentiate between the days.

A strange second week of Easter holidays and Brighton marathon memories

After the long Bank Holiday weekend, Andy was back to work (at home) and I was into my second week of holidays, and how strange it was.

I did some yoga on Monday and Friday, had a zoom yoga class on Wednesday and then went on runs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

On Tuesday I was going to do a 10k for the Brooks run happy at home medal, as last week I did 6 miles and then found out about the medals (they are virtual ones, but still I was close!). Anyway with my watch every now and then I miss starting it- sometimes it seems I need to press the button twice, and sometimes three times. I was about 4 miles into my run when I first glanced at my watch, only to see it hadn’t tracked any of it! So annoying! At least you can manually add to Strava!

That meant on Wednesday I decided to do another 10k, so I could actually get the medal! It was an email from parkrun I think (if you are interested) and the theme of the medal is different each week, but I think they start at 1 mile- you just upload a screenshot of your run as proof and they email it through.

On Thursday I did a slightly shorter run to the golf course and back.

I really like the routine of going out first thing, and it’s still been fairly quiet which is good.

I’ve still been baking, but I was close to disaster with a pizza the other day.

It was my first time using the sourdough starter in the base, and that seemed to go well, although it is much stickier and harder to roll out. Anyway, I’d put the toppings on and put it in the oven, and then as I looked I realised that the tray wasn’t flat, and the pizza had begun to slide off the back of the tray! I grabbed some BBQ tongs and managed to pull it back. I think when I cleaned the oven the other day, I put the trays back in upside down, so the lip that would usually stop the tray was on the bottom. Oops.

I’ve been getting lots of jobs done around the house and in the garden- yet more decorating (it feels never ending! But the walls in our hall were so uneven when we took the wallpaper down, so we have been sanding, washing and then painting them with white as a base coat to even them up. So one day I did the second coat upstairs, another day downstairs. I also managed to finally get all of the wallpaper out from behind the radiator which is the most satisfying thing.). Lots of planting- I found my tin of seeds so just went through them and planted lots-flowers like sunflowers and poppy seeds, and then courgettes, sweetcorn and pumpkin.

I washed my trail shoes- I think the last time I wore them was the time I was tail walker at Jersey Farm and basically waded through a small river the entire time! I never know why they are such pretty colours though, because they are only going to be covered in mud again the next time they are worn.

As well as gardening, I’ve been making sure I actually spend time enjoying the garden, so if I have a cup of tea then I’ve sat outside and listened to the birds. There are so many coming into our garden right now, and it’s just so calming.

Lovely lilac, my Tropic parcel finally out of quarantine, making cold brewed tea and sitting in the garden

I’ve been experimenting with cold brewing tea, and as I won’t be getting an iced chai from Starbucks any time soon, I have been making a few using milk- basically put a tsp tea in some milk and leave it in the fridge for a few hours, before straining and enjoying. I have loved B&B Carrot cake tea cold brewed in almond milk (it’s rooibos tea with hazelnuts and carrots and is divine) and then B&B pistachio and mint (black tea) also in almond milk which tasted a lot like melted mint choc chip ice cream.

Disney+ is also helping to keep me feeling cheerful.

Finally it came up in my photo memories this week that 5 years ago I was down in Brighton (I love going to Brighton) running the marathon.

I had run one marathon before (Stockholm) but I wasn’t feeling great and it turned out I needed an operation, so I had always felt I had a bit of unfinished business with doing a marathon as I felt I was capable of running under 5 hours but hadn’t managed it in Stockholm. Anyway, it was a very warm day but I really loved the race (apart from the tough bit between 20-23 miles, as you started an out and back bit, so could see people on the other side who only had 3 miles to go, whereas you still had 6). We had gone down for the weekend, and my parents came down for the day, meeting up with Andy while he was watching. The picture of me waving below is when I saw them in the crowd- honestly it makes me emotional when I think about it now because I was so happy. This was around 25 miles I think, so the finish line was nearly in sight, and I knew that even if I walked I could make the sub 5 hour target, and I saw Andy with my parents and they all looked so happy to see me, and it just gave me such a boost.

When I finished we met on the beach and then walked back to the flat we were staying in so I could have a quick shower and change before going out for dinner. It was then I realised I had not put suncream on my legs (I had on my face and arms and shoulders- no idea why I left them out)- the shower really stung! We wandered into Brighton after and went to Bill’s for a late lunch/early dinner, and then my parents headed home and we went back to the flat. My Dad in particular had absolutely loved cheering on all the runners, and the race atmosphere, and was quite carried away with it all (in a good way). I loved it so much, although I’ve not been tempted to run the Brighton marathon again because I have such happy memories so I would not want to try again in case it doesn’t live up to it.

So while things like this can’t happen at the moment, I am thankful that I have these lovely memories that I can look back on.


A run to the bluebell woods, and some sourdough baking

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to run outside, and although I live in a fairly residential area it’s not been too bad since the first week. Partly I was still at work so I was running in the late afternoon and everyone seemed to be out then, but also, a bit like a January gym boom, it seemed like more people were out and now the novelty has worn off.

However the 2m distancing has meant a few of my regular routes are off limits. I often run down an old railway line- it’s now a foot and bike path- but each time I’ve run to the start of it, I’ve seen loads of people heading there; dog walkers, families with kids on scooters and so on. It’s quite narrow in places and so I’ve just avoided it. Sadly this is the way I would run to Panshanger park- it’s only 4 miles away so it makes a decent long run usually. I knew that there was a new way into the back of the park. Part of the park is still a quarry and the people who own it have been gradually opening up more and more of the park. I’ve seen on Strava a few people who live near me heading that way, but looking at maps I just could not work out how to get there. I have a few green spaces near me (and one run I did several laps of playing fields to run away from traffic and pavements) but it isn’t the same. I am missing parkrun, but I am also missing running in greener spaces, and Panshanger park  is really very beautiful.

Thankfully a member of my running club came to my rescue by describing the route (she in fact offered to run ahead and chalk directions for me)- and so on Sunday morning I headed out to find the way.

I had to run to the local playing fields, and they are surrounded by woods on one side, and I was so happy to see some bluebells growing there. I got slightly disoriented in the woods, and I think in the end I went off course because I had to run along a road for a bit (a country road where I only saw one car, so it’s fine) and I think there are footpaths the whole way, but anyway when I found the entrance to the park I was so pleased! Caroline (the lady who had given me directions) had even sent a photo of her daughter at the entrance, so I had to take a photo to send back to show I had arrived!

This is definitely one of my happy places. Like lots of people I am sure, I have been going OK and then all of a sudden get completely overwhelmed by what is happening, and panic about what would happen if my mum were to become ill. Almost as soon as I set foot in the park, I felt calmer and like I could breathe again.  Some sort of reminder that nature carries on, and although we all feel like we are in a bit of limbo at the moment, the world is still turning and the time still passes.

It’s hard to describe but it was probably about the space too. I enjoy my runs around our local streets, but I am always on the lookout for pedestrians and cyclists, whereas in the park I could see all around me and it was so easy to give anyone I saw (a few dog walkers) a wide berth.

Of course I have happy memories here too- of running parkrun with my dad and brother, of running the Panshanger 5 mile race in the middle of summer, of going for a walk with Andy to see the old oak tree, so that helps too.

I saw this lovely rainbow made of pebbles, and some fairy doors, as well as a rather grumpy looking bunny.

This run was not about time at all, it was 100% for the enjoyment of the scenery and being immersed in nature. I stopped so many times for photos, because just when I thought I’d seen the most beautiful carpet of bluebells, I’d go around a corner and see another stunning view.

I was going to do an out and back, but as I passed part of the parkrun course I decided to do a bit of the loop, up the pebble track and around the fields at the back, down through the fields to the cottages and lakes, before heading home. I even saw a deer at one point. I loved it and felt so much happier on my return home. 9.2 miles in the end, so a good long run- and it was certainly a slow one with all the photo stops!

I had promised Andy pancakes for breakfast, so I had a quick snack of dates and nut butter (Mindful Bites do the most amazing flavour combinations, plus their chocolate spread tastes as good as nutella but without the palm oil or milk powder) with coconut water before having a shower, and then make us pancakes.

Pancakes/ High School Musical/ Avocado pasta/ Dough being mixed

I then did a bit of sourdough experimenting- I started a sourdough starter in the previous week (literally just water and flour) and it was bubbling all over the place so thought I’d give it a go. I  mis-read the recipe though, and didn’t notice how long the second prove was meant to take, which meant we couldn’t bake/eat it until Monday. It seemed to make a huge loaf, so I divided it in half, added some spices and dried fruit to one part to make it into hot cross buns, and left the other half plain to be bread.

As a big fan of High School Musical, I had started watching the series on Disney + (which is something like HSM, HSM the series) but it just made me want to watch the actual film. Good Sunday afternoon viewing!

One piece with marmite one with chocolate spread!

On Monday we did more jobs- clearing the old shed (it’s been dismantled for a while), clearing away old lumps of concrete and various bits of junk that were in the shed, so after all that, having some freshly baked bread for lunch was such a treat. The hot cross buns were OK, but totally stuck to the tray so it was a bit of a nightmare to scrape them off. I will keep trying with the sourdough as the starter is going pretty well at the moment.

Are there some places that you would usually visit that are off limits at the moment? Do you like sourdough? 

A week of rainbow running (or walking)

Last week someone on a running page shared an idea of doing rainbow running (wearing a different coloured top each day). I loved the idea, but I’m not running every day, so I just thought I would go with the colour scheme whether running or not.

On Sunday I’d been on a run (8 miles?) before we did some decorating together. Luckily I’d not worn any of the tops needed for in the week!

We’d had roasted sweet potatoes for dinner so I used the leftovers to make these sweet potato brownies from the Cook Eat Run book- they were sooooo tasty.

So here go the colours:

Monday- red

No running for me- I did some yoga first thing, planted some seeds outside and did a lot more painting.

Tuesday- orange

6 miles in my Ellenbrook Fields parkrun vest. When I got home I saw a link to a virtual run challenge from Brooks- if I had known I could have rounded it up to a 10k and got the next badge. Ah well- there’s always next week (and I got the 5k badge which is just as pretty). Then more decorating, and more walking around the garden.

Wednesday- yellow

4 miles in my Wings for Life race t-shirt. I thought I’d attract a lot of flies but I was OK! Strava hosted an NHS active challenge- you had to donate some money to NHS charities (there was a link in the Strava app) and then do 10 mins of activity per day for 12 days, so I completed that challenge. As it was Andy’s birthday on the Thursday, I decorated his birthday cake- I was going for BB8 inspired, but to me it looked more like tomatoes. (And keeping with the yellow theme, wearing my yellow jumper).

I also did a yoga class via Zoom (although I started late as I had to take some shopping over to my parents).

Thursday- green

5 miles in a t-shirt from my favourite race (races?)- the Ware 10 (miles or k).

I made some hot cross buns (not much yeast left now, so I’ve also started a sourdough starter), and as it was Andy’s birthday we had a big meet up on zoom with his family.

Friday- blue

In my blue Dory top. Friday was a Day Of Jobs.

Up in the garden before it got too hot, getting logs and chairs out of the shed, potting on various plants and trees, weeding, while Andy dug out a new flower bed (rather him than me). Then inside when it got hotter, to wash the walls by the stairs and above the banister, then to paint the walls by the stairs and banister, and then back outside in the garden later in the evening to put plants in the new bed that Andy dug. Day Of Jobs. No running or even a walk (we didn’t unlock our front door all day!) but plenty of steps! We did have “hot cross bun and pot of tea” on our list and we did manage that at around 5pm!

Saturday- purple

5 miles in my parkrun purple volunteer top. I saw these drain covers that made me think of a face so I used my trainers to make a smiley. Home in time for a shower and then the parkrun quiz- 12/15 this week so a pb that I think will take some beating!

Sunday- pink (yes, I know the rainbow usually goes indigo -violet, but in the song it goes purple-pink, so that’s what I’m sticking to!). I’ll save the actual run for another post, but I had 9 very enjoyable miles.

So there we go. A week of rainbow running. It was quite fun to have a bit of a focus, and also made me know which day of the week it was!

Do you ever join in with virtual challenges or runs? My club did a virtual run on Saturday morning as it should have been the 100th parkrun for a couple of members, so we all posted our (individual) runs on our group page for a virtual celebration.