Finishing the summer holidays (and a bit more)

After getting back from Alwnick on Saturday night, I headed out on a long run on the Sunday, going over to Panshanger.

The cows were back in the big field but I managed to get through without panicking- phew. I am trying to go through the field instead of avoiding it as I know that the cows should be fine- they are a gentle species and used to the public walking through. I am still not keen when they are close to the path!

On the Monday we were having our pod point fitted (to charge our car at home- we could charge it with a wire dangled out of the window, but that was very slow, so we tended to take it to a local charging point). Anyway, I could get on with work until they had to turn the electricity off. It took a lot longer than we had thought, due to our electrics being set up in a weird way, but by 6.30pm it was done.

Wood running, autumn flowers in the garden including the Japanese anemones and an actual fig on our fig tree!

The rest of the week I tended to go on a run in the morning, head into work to set up my classroom, and then come home in the afternoon. Our garden is starting to be filled with autumn colour- it starts me looking forward to cosy evenings in, chai lattes, scented candles, fairy lights…

Our weekend in DLP started on the Thursday evening as that’s when we drove down to Kent, and then we were back on Sunday night.

I’ve been living in my Stitch hoodie!

We spent the Monday pottering around, having a nice walk , unpacking and getting sorted for the week ahead.

After seeing that Cruella was on regular Disney+, we decided to watch that. I quite enjoyed it, although I couldn’t remember a lot of 101 Dalmatians and so a few things I couldn’t quite match up.

On Tuesday I did a longer run – past the cows again. I was a bit annoyed as I didn’t check Strava until September, but I did 99 miles in August! I would definitely have added an extra mile to round it up!

How perfect is this t-shirt? Magic Moon Club did a Christmas in July secret Santa thing where you signed up to buy something for someone else, and then filled in a little tick list of your likes (colours/ characters/ parks). A perfect top to wear between now and the next visit! I opened my Christmas Lebkuchen hearts as I had saved them for Christmas in July.

Keeping the Disney theme going with a “monorail peach” candle from Dole Wicks Candle Co, my new Disney bowl and a classic Olaf mug.

Then it was back to work, and back to the early morning runs. It’s already so dark in the mornings which has surprised me. I need to find my torch and charge it. It’s fine after a few minutes as the sun comes up, but I need it for the beginning and it’s only going to get darker!

As a first week back treat I booked in for a massage- the lovely lady I see has recently gone independent and created an amazing treatment room next to her house (she used to rent out a room in a beauty place in town). It was perfect and such a nice end to the week.

Saturday was filled with family time- after our Luton parkrun trip, my mum made us vegan pancakes for breakfast (I really love how much my parents are embracing this for me) and then we visited my sister who was back from the hospital after having her second baby. It was so lovely to see her and my niece (who started school this week too- what a busy week for her) and spend some time catching up.

Once home, I watched the original 101 Dalmatians, and then in the evening we bought the Jungle Cruise as I was very keen to watch it – I love all the puns on the ride, and the film was fairly light hearted and good fun (could have done with more puns though).

I’ve been happy doing solo runs for a long time, but in the club group they posted about running to Ellenbrook Fields on Sunday (either meeting there for a lap, or meeting at the station and running there first), so I decided to run to the the station, (which is around 2.5 miles away), run with them to EF (another couple of miles), run around EF (a couple more) and then run home through the fields (4-5 miles ish). I loved it! The club runs just fly by, and it breaks up the long run into chunks which make it seem easier too. It was a bit sad running around EF and knowing that the parkrun is not there, because it is so perfect. But at least we can visit it any time.

It started off cool but got very warm once the sun came out- I should have worn my sunglasses. Of course my maths did not add up, and so by the time I got home I’d run a half marathon as opposed to the 11 ish miles I thought it would be. All good training although I felt quite shattered in the afternoon.

I’d bought tickets for the London Podcast festival- Two Mr P’s did a show on Friday night and you could watch it later, so I sat in the shade in the garden (in my new garden chair) and watched it. A very good way to spend an afternoon.

In this past week it’s been warm (for September) and so I was very glad of my morning runs while it was still feeling fresh. I was even treated to some beautiful sunrises early on, although one morning was super misty.

In the evenings we were still catching up on the Paralympics (being away for a few days meant we got behind) and then as we’ve finished the final series of Bosch (based on the books- a police drama)  we started on The White Lotus, a dark drama set in a hotel in Hawaii (lockdown meant no tourists so I think the filming basically took over the hotel). Weirdly the hotel that we stayed in for one night on Maui was right next door, and we walked along the coastline to it in the evening. It’s compelling and I want to find out what happens, but it’s also very tense and stressful to watch so I could not take more than one episode at a time!

Podcast festival, misty morning run, homemade sourdough bread, and watching The White Lotus and missing Hawaii. 

We had another podcast booked for Thursday evening- this one we watched live- The Judge John Hodgman podcast (it’s a comedy podcast where people bring their cases and discuss them before he gives his verdict).

And then it was Friday!

What have you been watching recently? I am excited about the new series of Bake Off and Taskmaster coming, and I think The Morning Show is coming back soon too.

Unpacking the ears I took with me. I was very restrained and didn’t buy another pair in the park, although I had said that if I saw the deep green ones then I would have bought those.

Luton Wardown parkrun

It was my turn to choose this week, and as Jersey Farm was not on due to another event taking place, I decided we should do some tourism and visit a different event. It wasn’t my NENDY (nearest event not done yet) as that is in London, but it is the easiest one to get to.

I picked up Dad and drove us there. We left plenty of time as I had read the car park was quite small, and we arrived just after 8.30 to a pretty empty car park. There was another car park through the other side of the park but that seemed to have access from a different road.

There were lots of decorated elephants around, so we had a nice wander around the park. We passed a sign for “corner corner” which on second reading was “conker corner”, and lots of volunteers setting up arrows. It seemed like a fairly small park, and it was hard to believe that it would fit in a parkrun in only 3 and a half laps, although it was filled with interesting parts- a lake, a play park, tennis courts and those outdoor exercise machines.

At around ten to 9 there were still only a few people stood around, but after the new runners briefing finished, we turned around to see a packed park. The run briefing was really clear due to the RD having a megaphone/ speaker system, and then we walked to the start. They had asked people to seed themselves, but the people with the signs were stood only a couple of metres apart- we were going to line up with the 30 minutes but we were not even half way back in the field so in the end we moved back. You’re only stood there for a few moments (and it really was- the RD said she had a whistle for the start and just as we had decided where to start, she blew it and everyone was off) but it feels better to have some space, not only now but anyway due to tripping etc.

In the run brief they emphasised “the hill” as you had to run up it 4 times- to help keep count (once in each lap and then once in the final “bit”). The hill was even marked out, but it wasn’t really a hill- more of a short slope. But it did make the lap counting easier.

We did excellent negative splits of 10:06, 9:28, 9:28 and 9:15. The marshals were amazing- cheering everyone on in each lap. It really felt like a wonderful community and so encouraging.

The weather was good- it was chilly when we first got there but as soon as we started running I took my long sleeved top off. The sun even came out as we were driving home.

So that was my 240th parkrun- the next milestone is ever closer. But next week it’s Dad’s 200th, so it’s his choice of where we go (Jersey Farm and St Albans are both cancelled).



Scotland (holiday Summer 2021)

And yes, it is a holiday and NOT a staycation- I was not staying at home, I was travelling around, on holiday, paying for accommodation etc etc. It was a holiday.

Our holiday was split into roughly 3 sections, plus travel there and back. On the way up we stopped in York for the night (see my Heslington parkrun post) and on the way back we stopped in Edinburgh for one night, and then stayed in Alnwick (for The Pastures parkrun).

Part 1: Edinburgh

Part 2: Loch Ness

Part 3: Glencoe

I’ll try to keep each part brief!

Part 1:

We had booked a few days in Edinburgh, originally because Travis were going to be doing an outdoor concert there, but that was then cancelled. But of course we are happy to go to Edinburgh any time. We got there in the afternoon, after driving up from York, and spent a lovely few hours wandering. Being in a city meant taking full advantage of delivery options for food (as we don’t really have anything that we like near us)- delicious vegan burger/ Wagamama and vegan pizzas were consumed over the few days.  I recently got the Happy Cow app, which is a bit like Trip Advisor for veggie and vegan places, so we found some excellent food (it lists chains or places with vegan options too, but we mainly used it for finding independent places)- mentions go to Orinoco Vegan, a fab place in York, Holy Cow in Edinburgh did some amazing cakes, as did the Black Rabbit.  The following day we had a lovely walk around Leith river- it was forecast to rain but we had beautiful blue skies. The day after we went to the Botanical Gardens and it poured once we were there- we got soaked! But this was probably the worst weather of the holiday. I ran towards Arthur’s Seat one of the mornings, and popped into a Pret on my way back to pick us up some breakfast- it’s almost like a traditional weekend away once again.

I loved the Rapunzel style waterfall of flowers on the side of this tower- I think it was actually a bar but to me it seemed very Disney.

Of course we had to get breakfast from the Hula Juice Bar one day as they do amazing acai bowls- check out all the toppings!

Part 2:

We then had a few days staying by Loch Ness.  We took our time driving there, stopping in a few places to stretch our legs as it was a fairly long drive. We had a little apartment on the shores of the loch, and it was also close by to a canal (with one of those stair cases of gates) so we would often walk along there, and I had an easy running route for several mornings.

Loch Ness scenes

Having an apartment meant that we could self cater, but we did actually brave lunch out in Fort William. We saw a café and while perusing the menu  realised it was 100% vegan- how exciting! Originally we were going to get food to take away, but looking inside we could see there were only a few tables,  they were well spaced apart, and everyone had masks on unless they were eating (sensible Scotland has kept the mask rules when they have been abandoned in England…), so we had a lovely lunch inside- a big deal for us as the only place we’ve been out to eat has been the afternoon tea we went to on my birthday, which was outside. Andy had a pasty and I had toast with “avoca-no”- a green hummus made with peas and beans (really tasty)- we shared them both, alongside a chai latte (me) and matcha latte  (Andy).

Lunch out and lattes

We were well-placed to visit lots of woods, waterfalls and of course the lake for walks and views. We had mostly overcast weather with some sunshine, but perfect weather for walking as you didn’t get too hot, and no worries about sunburn (and yes I know you can get burnt when it’s cloudy, and yes I had sun-cream on my face, but nothing compared to a hot sunny day).

Alongside Loch Ness and a vegan cinnamon roll for breakfast one day

One day we drove up to Inverness, stopping at various places on the way, and having a lovely walk through the centre of Inverness (there are some lovely bridges over the river near the centre), and then stopped in a few places on the way back. Andy actually saw a red squirrel on that day, as it ran out in front of the car in front of us, but I didn’t see it.

One day we visited the ruins of a castle on the edge of the loch, and when we arrived it pelted down with rain! We sheltered in one of the buildings and thankfully it cleared up fairly soon.

I was really hoping to do a parkrun in Scotland, as the middle Saturday was the date of it returning. We were moving from Loch Ness to Glencoe on that day, so the plan was to check out, drive to a parkrun, I’d run it and then we’d head to our new place. Sadly, the two that were realistically in driving distance (eg under an hour) didn’t start on that day. I looked into Aviemore as I would love to do that one, but it was nearly 2 hours from where we were (small twisty roads, no direct routes) so in the end I had to accept defeat, and do a (not)parkrun along the canal before we checked out.

It was still exciting to think that all over the land people were returning though- welcome back Scotland!

Part 3:

Vegan cake and the imitation Canada

On the way to our new place we stopped at the café in Fort William to get some cake for later- we were staying in another self-catering place, so of course we can make a pot of tea in the evening to go alongside the cake. Their lemon cake was amazing. We also stopped for a walk through some woods (I got a bit obsessed with trying to see a red squirrel, and we thought it looked like a good place to see one). It reminded me so much of Canada, with the tall pine trees and views of the mountains reflecting in the lake. When we got to our cottage, we looked in the guidebook and it turned out that the land had been created by a man for his wife, who was from Canada and was homesick. I must say that they replicated it perfectly.

Our cottage was close to a little village, so one day we drove down to the centre and then followed a walk to a waterfall, up along the edge of the hills and then back down following part of the West Highland Way (a path which links Glasgow to Fort William). There was a deer just walking through the village- again, a bit like the elk that just wander about in Canada. We also saw a couple of deer in the grass in front of the cottage on a couple of occasions.

Seaweed sculpture, curved train tracks on Glenfinnan Viaduct, coast.

One day we drove out to the coast, looking across the waters to Skye, and reminisced about our holiday last summer. I saw that piece of seaweed and from a distance thought it was a red squirrel! I really wanted to see one! On the way back we stopped at the viaduct, and happened to be there as the steam train went over. We walked along the path under it and then up into the hills surrounding it to get a better view, as you could see the curve much better from that angle.

Another day we drove to Oban and had a walk along the sea- the tide was coming in so fast in the afternoon and there were so many jellyfish. At times it looked as if the beach was covered in bubble wrap as it was covered in hundreds of tiny clear jellyfish, but among them were larger colourful ones.

And one day we headed to Fort William to walk to the fort- it was a gorgeous walk alongside the waters, through some woods and through fields.

My final request was to go back to the “Canadian woods” for a final walk around, and we also went to get a takeaway from the vegan café because their cakes were delicious. Sadly I didn’t spot a red squirrel, but of course that means that I’ll have to go back.

We had to check out fairly early, and so were in Edinburgh by lunch time. Picking up lunch (from Pret obviously) we walked back to the botanical gardens, as the weather was beautiful compared to our last visit.

Later in the afternoon we walked to the top of the park next to the city where you get amazing views of the city on one side and the coast on the other.

Acai bowl, scenes from my run

I decided to have a run in the morning, so met Andy by the Hula Juice Bar to get an acai bowl for breakfast. We walked the long way back to the hotel, via Black Rabbit, as they did amazing looking vegan bakes goods- we got a biscoff cruffin for later.

We were only driving as far as Alnwick, so we stopped at a couple of beaches on the way down. One thing we both really noticed was the lack of masks and social distancing once across the border. I used some public toilets and not one other person had a mask on in there. It was quite jarring to experience.

Northumberland beaches and delicious cruffin

The cruffin was delicious but oh so messy to eat! All that was left was for me to do the parkrun in Alnwick the next morning, and I’ll save that for another post as this one is long enough.

What type of holiday do you enjoy?

Heslington parkrun- around and around and around (and around, and around)

In case you hadn’t guessed, it was a 5 lap course. Yes, five laps.

So this was step 1 of our holiday to Scotland- we left on Friday lunchtime and drive up to York, to stay there for the night. In a previous trip to York I had completed York parkrun (Y? Yes, to get my Y for the alphabet) and I wasn’t overly keen on the route, so I was keen to do a new course. Heslington parkrun was just under 3 miles from our hotel, and an easier route. I remember getting a bit lost on my way to York parkrun as I had to get out of the walled part of the city.

I set off and only got stuck for directions once, where Google Maps wanted me to go straight one (with a slightly slower alternate route turning right), but there was no pavement, and I saw a runner heading off to the right, so I decided to go the way of the runner.  This took me through some of the roads near to the sports village complex, and soon I saw a car park steadily filling with people dressed in brightly coloured running gear- I’d made it!

Just before the main briefing there was a quick call for new parkrunners, and they explained the course- not much explanation needed as it was 5 laps of the cycle circuit- you just needed to keep count! A quick main briefing and then we were off.

I didn’t think I would enjoy the 5 laps that much, but in fact it reminded me of the East Brighton one, where pretty much the entire time you could see everyone who was participating. They didn’t need many marshals, but each time you went past the finish area you got lots of cheers from the marshals. Some people were thanking the volunteers- this is something that seems to vary a bit from course to course. I’m never running flat out so I can always thank them! The route was pretty flat, but at some point you were heading into the wind so it was harder to keep a steady pace. I had to be mindful that I had another  3 miles to run back after, and think I managed a fairly steady run in the end- 9:35, 9:24, 9:27 and 8:28 for the final bit, with 30:45 being my finish time.

I took a few photos when I had finished and then headed back to the hotel. Andy made me a cup of tea and had been out to Pret to get one of their delicious vegan berry croissants, so once I was showered we headed back to the car to drive up to Edinburgh.

Are you a fan of lapped routes? I think the most I had done before this one was 3 laps, and although they are OK, my preference would usually be a single loop, or out and back style route.

Do you tend to revisit parkruns if you are travelling, or do you always look for a new one to go to?  I do love going back to the Brighton ones whenever I am down there.

The Lavender farm, baking and EV fun

I was well and truly in the summer holiday mode by this point.  I did have to catch up on some work one day, but mainly I was properly recharging the batteries. I even had a couple of afternoon dozes (which is most unlike me) so I think the busy end of term/year had really worn me out.

I had ordered us some buns to have over the weekend from Random Buns of Kindness– a plant based bakery. You could order different amounts and types, so I ordered a mixed box with some almond ones (amazing), cardamom (just like a bun from a Scandinavian bakery), plus one chocolate orange and one cinnamon one. They were really delicious and a real treat (they lasted a few days after the day of arrival, and you could warm them up in the oven for a few minutes too).

I did a bit of baking too. In the previous week I had picked around 400g blackcurrants from the bush in our garden, and in the end made these vegan crumble bars. They are very tasty but very tart (I just used blackcurrants but a mixture would make it sweeter).

I checked the weather at the start of the week, and with Tuesday looking like the best day weather wise, I pre-booked a ticket to the lavender farm. I love going there- you can just wander around the fields or pay a few pounds more to pick some while you are there. Last year it was a bit different due to covid (there is usually a barn with a shop and café, but they were both closed), but this year they have come up with solutions- lots of trailers/ food truck type things in the main field, so you could get a drink/ buy lavender themed gifts without going inside. I did have a bit of a stress dream the night before about the car running out of battery (still getting used to it), but I had 118 miles left and when I got there after driving 18 miles, I still had 108 miles of battery left so I knew I would get home with plenty to spare. (I think the stress dream was linked to several news articles, as the climate spokesperson for the government had said that that a diesel car suited her better than an electric, saying the time it takes to stop and recharge on a long journey is too much- all then disputed because the range of most EV’s are over 200 miles, and if you are driving further than that then you should have a break for safety anyway. It made me so cross- in 9 years you won’t be able to buy a new petrol or diesel car so they really need to start encouraging and supporting people to switch over instead of complaining.). The journey tipped the car over 1000 miles too, but a weekend in Suffolk and the drive to Hastings would have made up a large portion of that. My annual mileage was usually fairly low (6-7000) but now we have one car instead of two it’s bound to go up a bit, as we would do the longer journeys in Andy’s car.

I realised when driving that I’d forgotten my water bottle. “Never mind”, I thought, “I’ll buy a lemonade from the café”. When I got there, I spent time picking the lavender first, and then made my way down to the shop and café. After queuing for a while, I was very sad when I found out they had run out of lavender lemonade- no drink for me! I was very thirsty by the time I got home.  (I could have queued up at a different place and got a hot drink, but I didn’t fancy something warm when the weather was so hot).

They did have two vegan cake options though (both chocolate, not sure on the difference), so I got a piece for us to share later on.

One day I decided to have a bit of a practise at a local parkrunday- Panshanger has changed the route, and now starts much closer to home. I’ve run to and from the start point, and attempted doing the new route, but I’ve tended to add bits on or not take the most direct route. Although I won’t be going there for a while, I thought I would run there, run the route (as best I could work out) and run home to see how long it would be.

It ended up being just over 2 miles to the start, so just over 7 miles. I think this is perfectly doable on a Saturday morning, as I would not need to leave very early, 2 miles would be a nice warm up, and then I could take my time on the 2 miles heading home after.  Also good to know that I can get to parkrun if Andy has the car.

The weather was so much nicer than forecast, so I decided to have breakfast in the garden. This is something I did a lot a few years ago, but got out of the habit and also just seemed to miss the best weather days (eg it can’t be too hot).

After some cleaning and admin bits, I decided to sit in the garden and read. I’m reading a book that is not that great to read before going to sleep (I’ll Be Gone in the Dark- we’d watched the documentary series based on it- the author Michelle McNamara looks into the case of the Golden State Killer from California in the 1970s and 1980s), so reading this in the sunshine felt like a better option.

One day I met up with a friend in Panshanger park- she drove over and met me in the car park, and we spent ages walking all the way through the park, up to the big old oak tree (450-500 years old!), down to the lakes and along the river, through the nature trail…. she’d not been before but loved it and am sure will head back. Then it was time to charge up the EV and get ready for a little holiday up to Scotland.

What sort of books do you like to read? I do like detective books but nothing too graphic as I read before I go to sleep! I also love travel books, eg Michael Palin or more recent “adventure” books such as Anna McNuff travelling tales.

Could you be tempted by an electric car?