Summer term starting with snow!

Yup, snow was falling the whole of my drive into work on Monday morning! Not what you expect at the start of the “summer” term. (Also, why is there no winter term? We have autumn from September to December, spring from January to Easter, and then summer…)

Still loving the hot cross buns!

Back to work meant back to early runs, and some pretty sunrises. I’ve got a loop that I quite like at the moment. It’s 4 miles and mainly across fields and a little bit through some woods- nice and quiet and a good way to set myself up mentally for the busy day ahead. I did the same route on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then a slightly shorter out and back on Thursday as I was slow to get going and a bit achy after yoga on Wednesday evening.

We were baking hot cross buns with the kids at work so I really fancied one when I got home most days!

Once I get back from my early morning run, I’ve got a routine sorted to get ready for work too- a cold drink (water or coconut water), then I make a matcha, cook my porridge and make a tea to take into work, plus a herbal tea to have with my porridge. I then have a shower, and the porridge and tea have cooled enough for me to have them once I’m out.

The yoga class I do isn’t run in the holidays, so this week was the first one back after a 2 week break. It was going to be a gentle awakening, but ended up being pretty strength based at times. During our headstand practise I had one leg up and then briefly managed to push the other leg up before coming out of it. I am not sure if it’s a strength or confidence issue (or both) but I was quite pleased to have managed that, as the only time I’ve got close before has been in an actual class with someone holding my hips to keep me steady.

Work and social media has been full of people flocking to pubs and hairdressers this week. I’m not a pub fan, but I do really need my haircut. I just feel way too nervous about it at the moment. I have one hairdresser that I love (every other hairdresser has given me layers, even though it makes my hair even thicker and I always said I didn’t want layers…)- she totally understands my hair and is fantastic. However, the salon is upstairs in a shopping centre. It has no windows (only windows to the shopping centre), no fresh air, and also there’s now a nail bar in there so it smells chemically anyway. Just the thought of being sat there for over an hour, with the hairdryers blowing the air all around, just doesn’t seem great to me. I think once I have even one dose of the vaccine I might feel a little better about it, but right now I am still being cautious. Hearing our PM tell us that the unlocking is going to cost many lives shows that it just isn’t worth taking the risk at the moment. I could always cut it myself?

As a first week back treat, we ordered some Crosstown doughnuts. We were originally going to get them for Andy’s birthday,  but as I made him a cake it seemed silly to order them then. They did not disappoint- the chai filled one was a particular highlight. As the box contained 6 different ones we split each one, (half with tea in the afternoon, and then half after dinner) over the weekend.

On Saturday I headed out for a run before we had pancakes for breakfast. I had some work to get on with, and then in the afternoon we walked around Panshanger park. The bluebells are popping out more and more.

Peanut butter and blackcurrant jam doughnut was our Saturday afternoon choice

On Sunday it was my mum’s birthday, so after breakfast we met my family for a treasure hunt. We’d completed it several years ago, but it was quite fun hunting for clues. We did get a bit stuck because some of the signs were hidden behind scaffolding, and some of them (we think) had been changed (eg there were clues referring to zones which we think were parking zone signs and they have been updated). Thankfully the weather was sunny as it would not have been so much fun doing it in the rain. They went to meet my sister for a pub lunch after (the rule of 6 meant that we could not go along, although I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of eating out for lunch anyway)- later in the year we’re going to do something together too as she really wanted to go for afternoon tea somewhere.

Once home I headed off on a run. I could have got up early and run first thing, but I didn’t want to feel rushed. As it happened, it was lucky that I didn’t go first thing, as I looked at a route that starts 2 miles from home. It’s a 4.5 mile loop, so I thought I’d run there, do the loop and run home, to make it 6.5 miles. But when I was half way around I realised that of course I needed to add the other 2 miles on for the run home too. Whoops! I would have been very late! More bluebell sightings too.

TV wise we’ve still been on a doc role. We watched the Framing Britney Spears documentary, which was really sad.  Just the way that photographers feel it is their right to be able to take photos of famous people wherever they are was really uncomfortable to watch. I saw a very sarcastic tweet about Harry and Megan, saying along the lines of “after moving to the USA to avoid publicity, they have now booked onto x number of shows”, but that seems to totally miss the point that if you book onto a TV show, you are choosing to be there. Having a camera shoved in your face at  all hours is just not the same at all, and some of the footage in that doc was just really frightening.

We’re also working our way through This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist, about loads of art stolen from a museum in Boston. It’s pretty interesting but again just gets crazier as the series goes on.

To escape that briefly we watched the film Thunder Force, which was OK, but I think if you like comic book films or superheroes you might like it more.

Did you have snow or hail last week? Are you fussy about your hairdressers?

More Easter holidays, a holiday half marathon and losing things

I do like a routine, but equally in the holidays it’s nice to change things up a bit. I’d usually run for longer on a Sunday morning, but as I’d arranged to meet my dad on the Monday, it meant that the week was a bit off kilter as then Tuesday was a rest day.

Monday- holiday half marathon

Tuesday- rest (long walk)

Wednesday- 4 miles plus a walk

Thursday- 3 miles

Friday- rest day- long walk

Saturday- warm up run on my own then (not)parkrun with my dad and brother

Sunday-8.5 miles to Panshanger and home

I had fancied doing a longer run, and so mentioned before to my dad about meeting me in Ellenbrook on Monday for a run- he would cycle or drive over, and I would run there and back.

The weather had said sleet, but when I left, although it was cold, there were patches of blue sky and the wind didn’t seem too cold.  I’d worn an extra jacket tied around my waist in case I was cold for the run home. My brother also met us there, so the three of us did the classic Ellenbrook Fields parkrun course. Half way around, we thought blossom was blowing from the trees, and then realised that it was snow! It was coming down fairly steadily, so we didn’t chat at all when we finished, I just put my jacket on (I was so glad I’d taken it with me) and headed home. I was running into the wind on the way home so it was much colder. I was so glad of a hot shower and then hot tea and croissants warmed in the oven.  It’s a little over 4 miles there (nearly 5, depending on the route that I take) so that plus a parkrun meant I needed to do a little loop of a road near me to make it up to a half marathon. I quite like doing a slightly longer distance every now and then. We’d originally arranged to pop over in the afternoon to see my parents in their garden, but with the weather being so cold, I said we would just deliver them their cake and then head off (we arranged to meet for a walk later in the week instead), but actually the sun came out and it wasn’t too bad, so we probably stood in their garden for about an hour in the end.

Hot cross bun with marmalade and tea is a standard afternoon snack in the holidays/ new Baby Yoda cup cosy is the best!/ Sunglasses and penguin jumper because it was sunny and cold/ our garden about 20 minutes before it snowed!

Waffle, another hot cross bun and walk/run scenes

On Wednesday one of my work friends suggested meeting for a waffle- The Waffle House were doing drive through, so we collected our orders and then went to sit in the park. I had wrapped up warm (thermal top, jumper, thick coat, hat, fingerless gloves so I could wear gloves while eating) but it was still so cold! I’d been for a run first and it was very frosty, but with blue skies so I thought it would warm up. However, the clouds just rolled over when we were outside so I was frozen to the bone when I got home. A lovely catch up, but not the most relaxing! They do vegan waffles so I’d had a delicious hot Dutch apple waffle (apple cooked in spices and with sultanas). Very warming but not quite enough to combat the  elements!

Once home I baked a birthday cake for Andy (which helped to warm me up a bit) and did a bit of work, and then we drove to a quiet spot nearby for a walk with my parents. I’d never been there before, and it was a lovely quiet wildlife area with lots of options for different walks (managed by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust) so I am sure we’ll go there again.

Chocolate peanut butter cake from the Virtual Vegan cookbook

We’ve been watching a few series (Your Honour and The Flight Attendant) but I am finding them so full of tension that we’ve been having a bit of a break from them. We’d saved up Unforgotten and watched that over a few evenings (Andy’s mum had warned us to have enough time to watch the last 2 episodes in one go which I was thankful of), and then we started a documentary called Collective where a reporter investigates why the majority of victims of a nightclub fire died because of health-care fraud. it is totally shocking but worth watching. Not really an escape from the tension though!

I had a nice reminder from Sugar and Sloth that self-care is essential. I was worrying about not making the most of my time off- in Feb half term we decorated the spare room, and so it was good to achieve that, but although we’ve done lots of little jobs in the garden, there’s nothing big to write home about. I sometimes get stuck into a bit of a cycle feeling that I have to be super productive at the weekends because when I am at work it’s all so busy I don’t have time to do things. So it came at the right time as I was starting to worry again about not doing anything useful in the holidays. I then sat and watched the birds in the garden for ages, and caught up on some TV that I’d taped but not got around to watching. I did also divide some house plants that were bursting out of their pots- from 2 plants I managed to create 6, so I need to get some more pots because I didn’t have enough! Hopefully they will all live- I’ve only ever done this with spider plants before but they are super hardy so it has always gone well.

Before bed I sorted out Andy’s birthday presents, only I could not find the card I’d ordered. It had only come on Wednesday, and I remembered opening it downstairs, bringing the card upstairs and then putting it in a drawer with his presents. Only it wasn’t there. Since then I’d done some tidying, so I was worried I’d put it with the cardboard recycling instead. I searched everywhere, all through the cardboard boxes and even in the recycling bin outside, but it was nowhere to be found!

Yummy lunch/ potting on house plants/ walking in the park

The next morning I had another search and in the end had to confess to him that I’d ordered it but could not find it. Thankfully he didn’t mind. As a birthday treat he decided to have Wagamama’s for lunch- they don’t deliver to us but you could do click and collect from the next town over. The katsu is tasty but so filling! After lunch I had another quick look in my office for his card, and randomly checked a bag-for-life on a shelf. Yes, the card was in there so it turns out I didn’t actually put it in the drawer, I just thought about it, and then remembered thinking about it instead of actually doing it. (This happens to me a lot- first as a child when I had medicine to take to school, and vividly remembered putting it in my bag, only it wasn’t there, and when I got home it was on the side- I’d thought about it so clearly and then had remembered the thought as if it had actually happened…). At least he could have it still on his birthday!

We’d arranged to meet his parents at Panshanger for a walk in the afternoon, and ended up walking for about 2 and a half hours around the lake, up to the old oak tree and then through the new path. I definitely needed that walk after such a big lunch! We hardly saw anyone else there- it’s such a big park and with so many paths and options.

Everyone was getting news alerts as it was the day that Prince Phillip died. I am not a royal fan (I do like The Crown though) but it is sad when someone dies, especially when they have been married for so long. However, did BBC1, BBC2 and BBC news channel all need to show the same thing? Did they need to cancel everything else that was on? It seemed a bit OTT. I was also so angry with Mr Johnson- lots of journalists before have commented on how he purposefully ruffles his hair before going on TV to keep up his “loveable” (not by me) character, but to go on TV and announce the death like that was just embarrassing and so disrespectful.  I also got so annoyed with how hypocritical the BBC were- on the one hand they were telling people not to leave flowers outside Windsor and to donate to charity instead, and then they were reading out the cards left by people- pick a side please!!!

In the evening we finished another documentary (Storyville- Out of Thin Air- Murder in Iceland) about a huge miscarriage of justice from 40 years ago. It was a bit like The Central Park 5 with the suspects being coerced or confused into confessing/ giving information. At least we had Gogglebox afterwards to lighten the mood a bit.

Chocolate croissants that look like sausage rolls but are definitely chocolate

On Saturday I did a warm up run at home (I was awake early) and then headed to my parents as I was meeting my dad and brother for a (not)parkrun. We ran the “classic” (to Jersey Farm, a loop and then home) 5k route, and then sat under blankets in their garden. I’d made myself tea in my insulated mug, and they made coffee to try and warm up a bit! We didn’t last that long though!

I tried a different chocolate croissant when I got home (very tasty but I prefer the other ones I think) and then did some jobs in the garden before it got too cold.

My vegan box for April came with so many tasty treats including NOMO chocolate and Candy Kittens.

On Sunday I headed over to Panshanger for 8.5 miles. It was such beautiful weather- cold but so sunny. There were huge fluffy clouds being blown across the sky as I was out.

My new book- looking forward to reading it, and a latte for the podcast

It was time for more garden jobs, a bit of work and then trying to relax ahead of the back to work vibe that Sunday night can bring. We’d bought a ticket to the live Off Menu (which ended up being even more hilarious than we expected) so had made sure everything was ready- bags packed, clothes out, so that once it was finished it was straight to bed. While we watched it I made myself a fancy tea latte, topping it with some marshmallows (that’s what the recipe says), so it was a good way to spend the last evening of the holidays.

Do you like watching podcasts? I’m not sure if there are more around in lockdown as the comedians aren’t doing live gigs, but we seem to have watched loads. Although we did have tickets for some before lockdown, and have been to see other ones before this. It just seems there are more now.

Easter holidays week 1

After our washing machine broke the other week, we found one for delivery at the start of the holidays.

Bunny socks for the Easter holidays!

I had to wait in for it, as Andy had meetings all day so could not be letting them in. Thankfully it was warm, as the delivery instructions asked for doors and windows to be open. I sat in the dining room and got on with some work while I waited. The instillation was OK (we’ve got rid of the old one which was built in, and cut out the cabinets so that it could host a freestanding one, but we knew it would be a tight fit), and then Dad came over for a run together. I’d worked out a route that was around 3.5 miles, so a little over a (not)parkrun. It was so warm- I was glad of my hat- and it reminded me that I’m not a big fan of afternoon runs as the weather heats up.

Once out of the shower, of course it was time for tea and a hot cross bun.

In the evening, we watched Grace, which was a detective series on ITV, based on the Peter James books. They are all set in Brighton, and the series had been filmed there (I say series, I think it was a 2 hour thing?)- it was so nice to see them walking by the Hove beach huts, and at one point they even came out of the Flower Pot Bakery (which is home to the most amazing vegan chocolate almond croissant). It did make me really wish I could head there sometime soon.

On Tuesday I had arranged to meet a friend at the lakes- we have tried about 3 times to meet up, but keep having to cancel due to lockdowns/ tiers/ self isolating. Well, we actually made it this time!

I walked the long way through the woods, and at one point a couple of cyclists were heading towards me as I was coming to a gate. One of them waved, and I went to hold the gate, before they said “Maria”, and I then realised it was my dad! He was out cycling with a friend, and just happened to me along the same path.

I met my friend and we walked around the lakes, and then I thought I would head home via Caffe Nero, as by this point I’d been walking for hours and hadn’t taken any water with me. I got an iced drink, and when I got home and checked my watch I had walked just under 10 miles. I still can’t quite work out how it was that far (it was around 4 miles on the long way to the lakes, and we did walk around them but they aren’t big).

Once home I did some more work, while I rested my legs!

Wednesday felt like a Friday to me, as it was Andy’s last day before he’d taken time off over Easter. I headed out on a rather warm run first thing, did a bit of work, and then made some hot cross buns.

I saw a deer on my run- bagel, pb and banana for breakfast, and hot cross buns- although no cross- seems a waste of flour and once I got told off by someone for having one on the wrong day. However, after some googling it turns out that they originate with the pagan festival of spring, celebrating the goddess of dawn and spring- Eostre, with the 4 sections either being the 4 phases of the moon, or the 4 seasons. Anyway, I think that is a nicer image to think about rather than a crucifixion when you are eating something…

I wanted to try a new recipe as we are going to make them in school after the holidays, so of course it’s vital to research that the recipe will work! Thankfully it did (from Domestic Gothess)- sometimes the dried fruit burns so easily but these ones were all good.

On Thursday I did a 5 mile run, then made simnel cakes for Andy’s parents and for his brother. In the afternoon we walked to the park and met his parents and our niece and nephew, before meeting them back at ours (we had to walk fast while they walked back slowly to the car) for a little Easter egg hunt in our back garden.

On Friday I decided to try a new path that I’ve seen in the woods but wasn’t quite sure where it ended up. Last year I did quite a lot of exploring local paths during lockdown, and although I have a terrible sense of direction and often get lost, I quite enjoyed doing little out and back routes along new paths, then after a while working out new routes when I realised where they joined up. I had looked on Strava and could see a path that should meet up with a route that I do, so I headed there and have managed to add it into a 4 ish mile route. The new path was quite boggy and muddy, but I think after a few weeks of drier weather it will be OK.

Our beautiful acer tree, simnel cakes, gardening and matcha

I then spent most of the day in the garden- touching up the green paint on the fences, sorting out the weeds and generally tidying up a bit.  I did enjoy it as when you are up close to the flower beds there are loads of buds and new growth. It was freezing cold though!

Galette for breakfast, leftovers on Sunday with some blueberries

 On Saturday we tried a new breakfast- a banana and chocolate galette (basically folded pastry). The recipe used an entire pack of buttons and an entire pack of vegan smarties (Doisy and Dam ones) so we were a bit more restrained! It had bananas, chocolate buttons, peanut butter and pecans, and was baked for about 25 mins. It was really tasty, and it also meant Sunday’s breakfast was also sorted.

Baby Yoda cup cosy arrived- I was ordering a couple of coasters and could not resist adding it to my order

Then we were off on our now traditional Saturday walk (although I think we are allowed out more than once a day now? As it isn’t Stay Home, only Stay Local now…?). This time we walked almost the reverse of our route last week, over the bridge, into the park, and then this time exploring a new path which has only recently been opened to the public. We even saw our first bluebells!

I did a bit more weeding as I hadn’t quite finished on Friday, but my legs were shaking from all of the crouching down (pretty much 3 hours of doing squats!) so I didn’t last very long! I ended up back inside, baking more simnel cakes (this time, one for my parents and one for us- it was a recipe for one large one, but I just baked it in two smaller pans instead).

On Sunday I ran to Panshanger for a shorter than usual Sunday run, as I had planned a longer run the following day. It was so sunny and beautiful!

I had a podcast to watch (the teaching one- Two Mr P’s) so I settled down to watch that after brunch. It was so warm, so later on I made some tea and actually sat outside with my cup of tea! Shock!  I could not resist a few jobs in the garden (a smidge more weeding, and planting some squash and pumpkin seeds) but I mainly sat outside, watching the birds and even spotting the random fish that appeared in our pond. (Still no idea how it got there- we only created the pond last year and didn’t buy any fish).

Tulips and the magnolia tree for spring vibes in our garden, simnel cake for Sunday night TV viewing

Even though it didn’t feel like a Sunday (the days had felt like a perpetual Saturday afternoon since Thursday), I had to remember it was, as I still have to do the LF covid tests -even in the holidays. I am still not a fan. I suppose they will catch some asymptomatic people, but depending on which studies you read, they have quite a high false negative rate, and I think some people have a false sense of security from being tested twice a week. It shows that they are not that accurate, as if you test positive through one of those, you have to book a “proper” test anyway.

We watched the next Line of Duty, but I am still not very enthralled by it. A slice of simnel cake helped of course.

Do you think we are allowed out more than once a day now? I quite like a walk in the afternoon if I had a run in the morning. Do you like simnel cake or hot cross buns?

How long since a haircut?

I took this first photo in March last year- at that point I had gone since January without a haircut, and would have usually had one in the Easter holidays.

29th March 2020

I thought a “before” photo would be quite fun, and I could see how long it would grow before lockdown was over. I didn’t think I’d be doing the same thing a year later!

July 2020

December 2020

March 2021

In some ways, I still think it is January- the lockdown seemed to make each week merge into one. I realised that I’d not taken a photo for a while. I’d just happened to decide to do it when wearing my Stockholm t-shirt, but I quite like it because I can see how much it has grown compared to the writing.

I know that hairdressers opened up last summer, but I was quite cautious and didn’t really fancy it (the one I go to has no external windows, and has a nail bar inside so always smells really chemically, and just the thought of sitting there in a mask for over an hour just didn’t appeal). I think I am going to have to brave it at some point, but I can put it in a plait for work/ running and so it doesn’t bother me too much (we shall see how that changes once it gets warmer). I have been washing it not too many times a week, and using deep conditioning treatments when I remember. I also have this gorgeous leave in spray from Lush, called Supermilk (made with oat milk and lovely things), so I use that to protect it from the hairdryer, but I think the ends are looking quite dry now so I keep being tempted by trimming it myself…

Onto holiday bits- the first day of the Easter holidays was of course, pancakes for breakfast and a long walk, this time to Panshanger. There’s a bridge over the dual carriageway which goes into one end of the park, and I had tried a few times to find it and never managed. We found it this time (I think they’ve improved the signs) so that was exciting- it means I have more possibilities for running routes too.

I also made some peanut butter stuffed dates (my favourite snack), did some garden jobs and make a carrot cake.

We have been watching Your Honor in the evenings, but I was finding it so stressful, that we gave a new series a go- The Flight Attendant. Well, this one is no less stressful! I need to find out what happens, but I can’t work out when I actually want to watch them because it leaves me feeling so frazzled!

On Sunday I made a chocolate almond croissant- basically one of those delicious La Boulangere Vegan Croissants, cut in half and filled with a little marzipan, chocolate buttons and flaked almonds. Perfect after a long run.

I did a bit more pottering in the garden (mainly cutting leaves and twigs from the logs- I am saving the twigs for a nature pile near our pond, and will chop up the logs at some point for a log pile), and then I relaxed with an afternoon movie- I’d not watched Moana for ages, and with the promise of warmer weather over the next couple of days, it seemed to match perfectly.

Then we watched Seaspiracy, which was all about how bad fishing is for the planet basically. It had some horrible scenes of dolphins and whales being caught/ trapped/ killed (reminded me of Blackfish a bit), and some shocking information about where most of the plastic waste in the sea comes from (not straws….). It was interesting, but also just so sad to show what humans are doing to the planet. I also felt fairly helpless, as I’ve never eaten fish, so it’s not as if I could stop that to help.

When did you last have a haircut? Or do you cut it yourself?

Do you like documentaries? 

Tea lattes, more signs of spring and sunrises

On Monday after work we went on a walk and had such a beautiful sunset. The clouds were so pink, and the colours changed all the time. I had seen lots of chocolate tea lattes being made on Instagram, so I had a go at making my own. After brewing the tea and adding milk, I used a hot chocolate stir stick, and then topped with marshmallows. It tasted so chocolately, more like a hot chocolate than a tea latte. Very tasty though.

Then, disaster struck when our washing machine broke! It blew the fuse, (thankfully on a cleaning cycle and not full of washing)- we managed to push the fuse down for long enough to make it drain the water out, but that was it. At the moment we have so much washing- if I go on a run and then to work I’m wearing 3 sets of clothes (as I change out of work clothes as soon as I get home) so the basket fills up so quickly! I had to wash some of my running bras in the sink as I only had a few left that were clean!

Delicious peanut butter slice from @sophie.bullimore (look her up on Instagram as she creates delicious and simple vegan bakes)

Runs again were pretty standard- 4 miles on Tues, Wed and Thurs morning. I didn’t meet Dad for a run as he was going cycling, and as it was the holidays coming up we would have plenty of time to run together then. On Tuesday morning the sunrise was really amazing- the sun had risen as I was heading down the road, and once I was in the park it was up, but there was a long strip of thick cloud, so I could see the bottom of the sun below the cloud, and then nothing. It looked as if it had been chopped in half horizontally.

Our tulips are nearly out! 

On Wednesday it was fairly overcast again. The big blossom tree by our front garden is looking really pink now, and the tulips in pots in our garden are about to open. I love seeing all of these signs of spring. Just hearing all the birds in the morning is a sign that lighter and warmer days are to come too.

It was our final yoga session of the term- I managed to just about stay awake in the final nidra part. A hot cross bun and Bake Off was also enjoyed.

On Thursday again it was a beautiful sunrise. I have to remember not to take too many photos, otherwise I won’t be home with enough time to get ready for work, but it’s just so tempting.

Hot cross bun + marmalade is probably my favourite combination

On the last day of term we had a walk as the sun was going down, and again saw some amazing clouds.  Some of my Sugar and Sloth goodies arrived- I just love all the positive messages.

What signs of spring have you noticed? The woods near here are full of green shoots which will soon be bluebells, but the trees are still fairly bare.