A three day weekend to start half term

Saturday morning started the same way for me as it has for the past eleventy weeks- a run, quick shower and then the parkrun quiz.

My run was very enjoyable, listening to With Me Now, and heading down some different streets to my recent runs. It was pretty breezy, and I think that was keeping people home because I didn’t see very many people out so not much crossing the road required. One road had blue ribbons on all of the trees- for the NHS maybe?

The quiz was a personal worst for me- 8/15 (too many maths questions!), but I do like doing it because it reminds me that it’s Saturday and keeps me a bit connected to the parkrun world.

Then we had Swedish cardamom buns for breakfast- I have had this recipe earmarked for ages and only just got around to making them. Grinding the cardamom seeds (and getting them out of the pods) took a while, but honestly the are better than cinnamon buns. So so good. Although I could  not quite follow the twisting instructions, so I made them into normal swirl shapes.

After being fairly sunny first thing, it got quite overcast and so I did some bits around the house, baked some lemon and lime bars and did a bit of work. Later on we popped over to (socially distance) drop some things off at Andy’s and my parents houses- Andy came with me so he could say hi, as usually I’ve been dropping things off on my way to or from work (as I work in St Albans which is where they all live)- it was his first time out of WGC in over 2 months!

Also, how tiny is this marmite jar? We had ordered the big jar (500g maybe?) but it was out of stock so we got this as a substitute instead- it won’t even last a week!

For dinner we tried a recipe from the recipe book I got for my birthday (Happy Vegan)- coconut cream spinach pasta. It was really tasty and very easy- basically cook up some pasta and then blitz all the ingredients for the sauce in the food processor- it was optional to top with chilli flakes, and as I am not a spicy person I opted for pine nuts instead. It was really tasty and we will definitely have it again.

We watched some Killing Eve as we tend to save series up and then watch them over a week or so, instead of having lots on the go.

On Sunday I headed out for a shorter long run (7.5 miles) as I had run 13 on Thursday. Home to another cardamom bun and then a day of relaxing in the garden (well, until the government “kindly” published the early years guidance for wider opening of schools, on a Sunday of a Bank holiday weekend, at the start of half term…..).

When we sat outside having a cup of tea I noticed that my yellow jumper was totally covered in bugs, but of course none of them show up on the picture!

A while ago I earned a 25% off Lulu voucher for a Strava challenge, and it ran out on Sunday and I’d been umming and ahhing about whether to get anything. In the end I chose some shorts (be brave) but the code didn’t work. I tried a few things, and in the end was helped by messaging them on facebook.

On Monday morning we headed out on a long walk- we have had a library book for ages (months of course) and although they are closed and have extended the loan, we had heard that if you posted it through the door, they were being dealt with by staff, so we went the very long way around to town. Some parts that we walked through were much older so I was keeping my eye out for old post boxes, but mainly saw GR ones.

Once home I sat outside in the shade and worked by way through some old magazines- reading a February running magazine in May is quite funny because half of it isn’t relevant (although I do tend to skim past the kit things anyway- I know what I like!).

In the afternoon I made some peanut butter cookies (we had one for dessert with some salted caramel oat ice cream), did a bit of work and a bit of sorting in my office- I’ve moved things around to accommodate my new plants.

We watched the Prince-Andrew style press conference (no idea why, it made me so cross) and then did a bit of weeding and tidying in the garden before pesto pasta dinner. We watched Supersize Me 2, which was  interesting, but there were parts I actually couldn’t watch.  So here are some flowers to think about instead.

Do you like marmite? Do you watch series all in one go, or have lots on the go during a week? Have you seen Supersize Me 2? And if so, would you have reacted in the same way as the people did at the end? 

Happy birthday Ellenbrook Fields parkrun! Finding new paths and garden updates

Monday started with some yoga, and then a walk, before lunch of focaccia (made with the sourdough), and finished with a homemade Pret cookie in front of the TV (finished Bosch so onto Cardinal).

On Tuesday I had a run (6.6 miles- I did wonder why I didn’t round it up to 7 as usually if I go over half a mile I’ll go to the next one) first thing and a bigger breakfast as I had meetings from 12 in work. I have been looking for the next section of a public footpath, and finally found it, so I headed up there and was rewarded with lovely countryside views. I shall be going a bit further in half term I think.

I had a mini pannetone left over from Christmas, so I made that into baked French toast with some cherries and peanut butter. Mmmm so good.

After a bit of a busy (and hot) time at work (moving out all the “unnecessary” furniture, so I decided to do a bit of Disney drawing once home. This time I chose Pascal (from Tangled). I also finally got onto another item on my list- sorting out my recipes. I had a few notebooks with recipes stuck in them, recipe cards from supermarkets tucked on the shelves in between the books and so on. I had bought a big ring binder and a-z files, so went through all the recipe, got rid of any I don’t like, and put the rest into the file. I feel so much better and more organised  now.

As it was mental health awareness week I listened to Phone a Friend, which I really enjoy (It’s George Ezra and his friend Ollie, and they talk about mental health issues and other things)- I find it very comforting and not too heavy going.

Allison had mentioned this fun website where you can Disney-fy yourself, so I created myself on there.

I went for a Frozen themed one to match our last Disney trip.

Wednesday I had a run (5 miles)- it was very hot, soooo much hotter than Tuesday!

In my new Happy Vegan book there was a recipe for an ultimate sandwich, so I made a version of it for lunch (because I didn’t have all the  ingredients)- toasted sourdough, hummus, miso, carrot, beetroot- it was so tasty.

The main colour in our garden right now is this pinky red, but the peonies are on their way out. The final one always makes me think of Beauty and The Beast with the petals falling on the floor one by one.

Yoga on Wednesday was good too, although very warm and there wasn’t much airflow in my office even with the window open, plus I felt a bit self conscious as our neighbours can probably see in.

Thursday was exactly 4 years since Ellenbrook Fields parkrun started, and I’d had in the back of my mind an idea to run there and back. It’s over 5 miles away, so it is a fair long way, but gentle rain was forecast so I decided to get up early and head over there.

I was looking at the postboxes on the way, and when I stopped to look at one on a post (middle right pic) I noticed one in the wall behind it- I was so excited when I found it was a VR one (bottom left)!!

EF parkrun starts with a little loop and then you do a big lap of the fields, through open fields, woodland, a field of cows (eeek) and finally along the runway, so I decided to do the big loop and miss out the little loop because I had to run home too. Although once I got close to home I was on about 12.5 miles, so I did a run around the block to make it up to 13.1 miles- may as well have a half marathon for May.

EF had asked for photos on their facebook page, so I spent a bit of time looking through, and found one with my dad, brother and mum- I think from my 100th as my mum came along to that and had made piles of cakes. I did get really tearful looking at it, because I find it hard to work out when we will be able to get together like that- not even at parkrun but just seeing my parents and family in general. At least we are all still keeping in touch and have good times to look back on.

I was glad to have been out because I then had a big pile of work to get on with, so I actually appreciated sitting down. My office got very warm though (it gets the sun in the afternoon) so I ended up taking my laptop downstairs and doing some work in front of the TV as it was cooler in there (the battery only lasts a couple of hours though and when I’m accessing the remote stuff the battery icon doesn’t show up so it’s a bit risky!).

For my birthday I’d been given some vouchers for Patch (they sell lovely house plants)- Andy decided to order a couple too, and they arrived so we had a very big collection of boxes!

I’m pleased with how they look, although we did it across two orders so they haven’t all come yet. The red poppy in our garden started to flower and it’s enormous!.

On Friday I had to wait in for a delivery (Andy had solid meetings from 7.30) so I felt a bit spaced by the time we went out for a walk (plus my mind was boggling from all the logistics of the potential wider opening at work…). Heading into the garden always helps, and lots of the geraniums have started flowering.

In the evening we decided to rent a film- as we have Vitality we used to get a cinema ticket each fortnight, and they replaced that with a rental, only because we have Netflix and Disney + and Amazon Prime there has always been so much to watch. We’d heard good things about The Assistant, so we watched that. It was good, but quite draining too, so needed Gogglebox after for a little bit of light-heartedness.

Do you round up your runs to the next mile/ km? Have you seen any good films lately? I’m enjoying the new Kermode and Mayo TV show where they talk about film and TV and we have added a few more things to our list after watching that.

A weekend in the garden and having fun with postbox bingo!

So I mentioned a while ago that I had noticed an old postbox on one of my runs (an Edward 7th no less) after it had been mentioned on the With Me Now pod. I have tended to stick to the same routes on my runs- a sort of out and back through some fairly empty residential streets, or the longer run through the woods to Panshanger. Because of all the news about parks reopening, I figured Panshanger would be busy so I decided I would plan a different route.

My parkrun top had arrived in the week and I could finally take it out of quarantine, so of course I had to wear it on Saturday morning.

I could not decide on the wording for ages, but in the end went for “it’s still parkrunday”- because even without parkrun being on, that is what Saturday is.

I saw quite a few postboxes- loads of GR (5th) and some GR 6th- they seemed in better condition than the ER ones for some reason!

At one point I was running along a pavement and a fox was running towards me. I was about to go in the road to avoid it but luckily it ran into a driveway.

After doing the quiz (9/15 this week) I made us some pancakes for breakfast and then we got on with more garden jobs.

Project Pond continues! We were weighing the liner down with bricks, but these rocks have been dotted around our garden, some buried under soil or plants, so we’ve been gradually digging them up and moving them. We put them around the pond and then used the pebbles at one end to make a little ramp for any wildlife (I could pretend I was on Brighton beach when I was sorting  the pebbles into size order). Also more digging up of the horrible bit at the back.

And of course some relaxing in the afternoon. One rose has started flowering and it really is such a bright colour that in the evening it looks like it is glowing.

Top right – the fountains are blue to thank the NHS

On Sunday morning I did a route I’ve not been on for ages, to avoid the park and to take in more post boxes. I think I need to head out to some of the old villages near me to get the really old ones.  I ran through the town centre which felt surreal because I’ve not been there for so long (over 2 months). Most of the shops are shut of course, but I was surprised by how many people were out and about.

I had a rather delayed breakfast because when I got in the shower, the hot water wasn’t working. It turned out that something in the attic needed resetting which Andy did- phew. As it was warmer we did the pebbles in the pond (too cold on Saturday to be sticking your hand in the water). I also made my best sourdough loaf yet.

Although I need to work on the slicing because it still really exploded in the oven.

Have you bought an apricot parkrun top and if so what did you have written on it? 

A week of no sleep

I’ve been walking around my garden and listening to podcasts to try and distract my mind.

After the vague but worrying announcement last Sunday night, I just could not sleep. Partly seeing people out over the weekend had just made me worry more, our neighbours had people over all weekend and we saw so many big groups of people having street parties whilst out on our walk, but mainly the vague promise of schools reopening (when we are in fact still open for key worker and vulnerable children…), particularly with the youngest children, just made my mind and heart race.

Of course it doesn’t help having lots of friends who are teachers or who work in schools as things like this get sent around a lot.

A few years ago a child coughed in my face and my mouth was open.. (it was not his fault- I was sat down and he came to ask me something and coughed as he spoke) but I had a cough after that for a good few months, and that wasn’t a potentially deadly virus.

Added to that the government yet again announcing something but not having the plan in place (schools had detailed guidance on Thursday night, basically a working week after they announced it…) and I have been really anxious all week.

We’ve been watching more comedy to take our minds off things. Last week we watched the new Parks and Rec, which I just loved so much (we’ve been re-watching the old series as well), and this week started to re-watch Flight of the Conchords (which then makes me want to watch Muppets Most Wanted, although I pretty much always want to watch that). It’s some nice escapism for half an hour.

On Tuesday morning I did my regular 10k, and totally surprised myself by managing it in just a shade over an hour- recently my runs have been more gentle in pace so I was surprised- this included photo stops and stopping to cross the roads as there was loads of traffic about. To try and cheer myself up I used my fancy candle while working at home, and did get excited when I saw that Hamilton is going to be streaming on Disney+! We’re going to have a watch party!

I had a go at drawing Minnie Mouse- this lady on the Disney Parks You Tube channel is my favourite as she gives clear instructions and plenty of time.

On Wednesday it was back to business as usual with my runs- a much more gentle 5 ish miles, and our lovely yoga class in the evening.

My Mum had got me some fresh yeast (delivered by my dad on a bike ride and left on our doorstep) so I had a go at making not cross buns with it- it seemed to work pretty well.

I took a break from Disney to draw Totoro instead- Andy had sent me a tutorial for a stylised version, and then I found a more typical version and had a go. Doing something like this when I finish working does usually help my mind to switch off, but with the documents and guidance (or lack of) constantly coming out, nothing seemed to be helping.

Thursday I had another run- 6 miles. I am really enjoying these slightly longer runs, as often I would do 3 or 4 miles midweek. We actually braved a walk after we finished work but it was so busy, so decided we should maybe wait until after dinner for the pavements to be a bit quieter.

I also popped out into the garden after work and did a bit of pottering, laying some stones around the edge of the pond to cover up the liner. Then, the highlight of the week- watching the choose your own adventure Kimmy on Netflix! I love that show so much (but I think you would have to watch the series before doing this)- it was so much fun, and we are definitely going to do it again and see what other funny bits we missed. We had a hot chocolate as it was rather chilly.

On Friday I had to go in to work to cover for someone else, and although I felt worse about it than I have in a while, actually being in work I felt OK. Speaking to other people in my team about the challenges, and about their concerns made me realise I am not alone in worrying, and that we will do everything we can to reduce the risks for staff and children.

Once home I made some of the Pret cookies. These are my favourite cookies and I would always be tempted to buy one if I was in a Pret, and the recipe is really so good. It takes a bit of time as there are a few  more ingredients, but nothing unusual and they really are delicious.

We had a walk after dinner and it was much better, seeing far fewer people so we will need to remember that from now on.

How do you switch your mind off? What comedy shows do you enjoy?

Not the Disneyland Paris run weekend that was planned

But still a fun weekend with some Disney in there!

I was feeling very grumpy on Friday morning- yes it was a 3 day weekend, but we should have been in Disneyland Paris, walking down Main Street with an excited four year old, and looking forward to heading to the expo later to collect race numbers and t-shirts and be tempted with all sorts of Run Disney merch.

A flashback to December and posing in front of the castle…

I’d bought some almond croissants on my last trip to Aldi (16th March- the last time I went in a shop… the only reason I know this is because it was the Monday before the schools shut, and I’d popped in on my way home and had so many frantic messages from Andy saying about all the social distancing that was being talked about- I looked it up the other day because I was curious about when it was) and put them in the freezer (I don’t think you are meant to, but they are fine) so to begin our long weekend we had croissants for breakfast and pretended to be in France.

It was a lovely sunny day so we were then out in the garden for ages- I was doing easy jobs like potting on mint, putting courgette plants into grow bags, while Andy was carrying on digging the pond, and then digging up the horrible flower bed which is basically lumps of concrete covered in soil and matting.

I also made the most successful sourdough yet. I’ve been having trouble with it sticking in the basket, but since using some rice flour, and “seasoning” the basket in the oven, it’s working much better.

We went on a walk and I was very annoyed to see so many groups of people out- so many roads were having tea parties for VE day and they were not keeping apart from each other at all.  I did however see a new postbox (as I have not been running on the same streets that we tend to walk on)- I’m starting to tick them all off. Also my tea club (which arrived the other day) came out of quarantine- always exciting! I really should write down when things arrive so I know for sure when I can open them. Anyway, it’s peach themed which I love.

After all our gardening, we had tea and biscuits in the garden and listened to a podcast- very relaxing.

As we were meant to be going to DLP with Andy’s family, we’d decided to do a Disney quiz on the Friday night. Each pair (4 in total) did a round- in the end we did a higher/lower, longer/shorter round, where they were given two films and had to say which was longer in length, or which took the most money. Of course I got ready for the quiz by bringing out some mascots, wearing a Disney top (my Let it Go one) and wearing my ears. I was going to swap to my other pair of ears during the zoom break (you know, where your 45 mins is up so you have to re-start) but Andy put the other pair on so everyone noticed right away!

We finished the evening watching Illuminations (the Epcot firework show that is sadly no more).

I’ve enjoyed my Saturday morning routine so kept it the same- a run before the quiz (12/15- my second highest score). I saw this lovely flag while running, with lots of different flags decorating it. A nice reminder that these celebrations will be happening all over the world. We put down the underlay, liner and then filled the pond with water. All very productive.

I also did some jobs and pottering inside- putting our Tiki Room picture in a frame, drawing Stitch and making myself a Run Disney medal. I know the weekend was princess themed, but I wanted to draw Olaf, and he is friends with 2 princesses and I was meant to run 2 princess races, so it made sense to me. I did 8k on Saturday and estimated that I would do 13 on the Sunday, although I ended up doing a little more. We also had a gingerbread biscuit which we bought at the Christmas markets in DLP, so it was Disney themed all round!

On Sunday I headed off for my normal longer run, making it a bit Disney themed with my Run Disneyland Paris half marathon top, and also the bright headband. One bit of my route takes me along some woods and across the edge of some fields, and it really reminds me of the countryside we ran during the Paris half- I could almost imagine I was there.

At the finish line (or in my garden, however you want to look at it) Minnie was there to meet me, and I didn’t even get told off for a photo.

I had to do the medal in front of the castle pose (Andy had bought the lego castle ages ago and apparently it was going to be for us to build the first year we could not go to Florida for our wedding anniversary, but because we missed our Disney weekend he got it out to cheer me up- it’s going to be a fun project for us).

Then once showered I put on my “I did it” top, also from DLP, and posed with my medal. As you do. I think Andy was worried I was having a bit of a breakdown. No, just Disney fun.

What are you missing right now? Have you successfully recreated anything at home that you are missing? The Pret almond butter cookies have been a hit with me as I love them and always buy one if I go in a Pret (we don’t have one here otherwise it would be a very regular occurrence!).