Festive outings and a festive parkrun

On Monday after work the team I work with headed to The Waffle House for  Christmas get together.

We did a secret Santa and I was given a very cute penguin hottie (the ones you heat in the microwave)  and some penguin socks- very me!

I had their best savoury one- hummus and avocado- it has a lovely sweet chilli dressing (not too spicy) and lots of tomatoes and salad too. When I got home we had to take all the decorations off the tree because the lights had broken and so we had ordered new ones. I also had to finish unpacking from Bath (the lovely maple butter and assorted maple goodies).

On Tuesday I had  a delivery (of two books) to collect, so thought I would get them out on my run (from those Amazon lockers)- when I opened the locker the box was enormous! I had to run home carrying it rather awkwardly! My gorgeous Frozen cup cosy arrived (from Etsy- Pixie Dust Crochet- she makes all kinds of Disney themed things) too. And when I got home (after 4.5 miles) I had got over the 1000 mile running mark on Strava- my most miles as I still have a couple of weeks to go (and when I managed it before, I think I did the final mile on the final day of the year).

After school on Wednesday I went for a walk and did some baking. I also enjoyed some of this gorgeous peppermint bark given to me by a child in my class- it’s so good and a homemade gift is my favourite kind.

Not keen on the blue light netting look down our road!

I made some mincemeat bars which I think I’ll post the recipe for later on.

On Thursday I went on another run- it had poured with rain so I spent a lot of time crossing roads to avoid ankle deep puddles and hidden potholes.

On Friday I wore my penguin/snowman top. Some of us went out to Starbucks for lunch to celebrate the end of term, and then I had a massage booked in town. I loved the wooden Christmas tree up in the waiting area.

Andy’s parents came over in the evening and we had a lovely catch up.

On Saturday morning I was off to Jersey Farm parkrun with my Dad- they were having a festive theme but I would have been wearing Christmas leggings and my new top anyway!

It was so muddy there! It starts on the top of a hill but even there the grass was saturated. Some of the paths were just boggy mud and so in the end there was no point trying to run around them as my feet were soaked! I did get a few comments from the marshals about my top- I really love it!

We walked home and after a shower Mum made us pancakes, although I couldn’t hang about too long as I had afternoon tea booked with some friends.

I loved the cute snowman and little snowflake on the cakes. I think afternoon tea is such a good way to relax and catch up with friends as it doesn’t feel rushed like a meal can.

I fancied a walk after, so I wandered around town for a bit, admiring one of the Home Alone style houses (they have such pretty decorations) and getting a hot drink (and using my cup cosy).

I had a few bits of wrapping to finish up, so I lit some candles (I’ve got a rechargeable candle lighter which is fab- I don’t need matches or the fuel top up for those little hand held lighters, it just charges via a USB) to celebrate the winter solstice (although something I read said it was Sunday and not Saturday…).

Do you like afternoon tea? Have you been to many festive get togethers or events?

Reading parkrun, Bath Christmas markets and the Festive Five 2019

Yoga was on a Monday that week and if it’s on a different day it throws me out of routine. I had a bit of a cold after the first week of December, but I was feeling better with just a stuffy head at night so thought it would help (and it did). On the Tuesday my eye was very itchy, and I do get dry eyes a bit, but when I got home and looked one eye was bloodshot and a bit gunky. Conjunctivitis had been going around a bit at work, so I’d clearly caught it. I looked up pharmacy opening times, and the one in town was open later so we walked in-  it was OK but then poured with rain on the way home.

On Wednesday when I got home there was a card saying I’d missed a parcel and a charge was due- this could only mean one thing- my ugly Christmas singlet had arrived!

I listen to the Australian podcast parkrun adventurers, and they have made this so called ugly singlet (I think it’s so cute!). I headed out to collect it, doing 5 miles in the end.

It ended up being very late once I’d had a shower, so we had beans on toast for dinner (my favourite) and some stollen afterwards to get all Christmassy. I love stollen- it’s something we have always had as my grandma was Austrian, so we just always had those sort of Germanic  Christmas traditions, but I was watching and Aldi documentary the other day and they were saying that no-one had heard of it until a few years ago- this annoyed my mum a lot (and she was my dad’s mum…).

On Thursday I had to rush to get home as we were heading into London to see James Acaster. It was this strange venue in Hackney, a sort of wooden indoor amphitheatre where you just sat on the floor.  He was very funny but his tour did link a bit to politics so whereas I was hoping to take my mind off things for a few hours, that didn’t work, and of course as soon as it finished the entire audience were checking their phones for the exit polls and any hope for a good future came crashing down. I did not sleep well that night.

One week to go! 

On Friday we were off to Reading after work- we have found that staying that far away from Bath and getting the train in the next morning is better than driving all that way. The M25 had problems though so our journey took loads longer.

We were around 3 miles from Reading parkrun (In the end this one was chosen because the parking seemed easier) so I drove there in the morning. The course description says road shoes are fine, but I would say certainly not at this time of year! My trail shoes were in the car and that was very lucky- some of it was so boggy and even my ankles got wet! I was wearing my cow hat (from the parkrun tourist facebook group) and at the start a guy came over wearing the buff and started chatting to me. We ended up running the whole way together-he was from the Southampton area so I’d been to a few of the ones he had. He was also a keen tourist, hoping to reach 50 events in his first 100 runs (he was only a few away). It was just so lovely to chat all things parkrun, and this is what is magic about parkrun- turn up and end  up having a lovely conversation which would not have happened otherwise.

The route was good- out along the path by the river, two loops of some wetlands, then back along the path to the finish. But very boggy!

Once finished I headed back to the hotel where we had a cup of tea and an almond croissant (and a shower obvs) before going to the train station. Aldi almond croissants are delicious. Also I noticed on Strava that I was on 989 miles for the year- I’ve only run 1000 miles once in a year before, and that was with a concerted effort in December.

Our train took around an hour, and we listened to a podcast (so behind with Off Menu at the moment) and once in Bath we had lunch in Pret (I love their Christmas sandwich) before wandering around. The markets were so busy (as usual) so we visited all the markets and decided which ones to go back to later once it had quietened down a bit.

Someone from work was going on the same day and we actually bumped into each other which was a surprise as it was so busy! We stopped for tea and cake in the afternoon (this was a lovely mincemeat frangipane slice) before going back to the markets as they were quieter. It is so lovely there with the buildings all lit up, and carol singers (and rock choirs) dotted around the city. I bought a few gifts, some maple butter from the maple syrup stall (as it was the final week of the market, we got a deal with some maple granola too). It started raining once it was dark which was a shame, but we had booked dinner so didn’t have long to wait until then. Getting the train back worked well too, as the drive back from Reading was much easier and quicker- I think we were home at around 11.

On Sunday morning I was off to run the Festive Five, one of my favourite races. I love a 5 mile race, and this one is low key- turn up, get your envelope and leave your bag in the little gazebo, and then off we go. Everyone wears festive gear (I had my Christmas leggings and my not ugly Christmas singlet), some of the girls from my running club had tinsel skirts. We ran around together and it was so enjoyable thanking the marshals- one of them had a child with her who was singing Rudolph at the top of her lungs!

Then I headed to town (around half a mile from the start I think) as I had booked breakfast at Bill’s and Andy was meeting me there. We got the timing better this year- last year I left it too long and I got really cold waiting. I had packed a top and jumper to change into as I knew I would get cold otherwise.

Then it was another busy afternoon- I made some chocolate peppermint cookies for work, we went to see Andy’s parents, once home I did some work, made some mincemeat and wrote the Christmas cards.

I used this recipe and it is really good.

So there we go, another week of December with more festive activities.

Do you like stollen or mincemeat?  Does your running club do any festive runs? In St Albans someone decorates the postboxes with crochet festive scenes (for a charity) and so the club there does a run to visit lots of them.

And December is flying by!

After getting back from Norway feeling super refreshed, it was into a busy week -the end of term is never “winding down” as people outside Education think, it’s normal work plus assessments and Nativity rehearsals and extra events (all the while trying to keep the kids calm).

December week 1:

On the Monday I went out for a run and ended up having to walk a fair bit as the pavements were freezing over and really slippery in places- this has happened to me before so I will have to try and avoid the main road, but trying to find somewhere well-lit (even with my torch) is not easy.

I did see the town Christmas lights which included this huge bauble with polar bears inside so of course I attempted a mid-run selfie!

On Tuesday I had to pop into town to pick up a deliver-to-store item, and so I used the time to get a few more Christmas bits. Andy was out so I did some craft. When we were little we lived in Denmark for a bit and made these lovely Danish heart decorations, and after seeing lots in Norway I was inspired to have a go, so I looked online for a video (I’ve found a book before  but could not follow the instruction) and started making the templates and cutting out the paper.

I was really pleased with how they turned out- I am going to give them with my gifts with little chocolate coins inside.

Here is the old one I have from when we were little.

Andy had been out the day before too, and bought me back some Christmas tiffin from Pret- I love them.

Wednesday was yoga, and I was really pleased because it was a super small class so we spent a bit longer in some poses that we wanted to focus on. I can get into the first bit of the tripod headstand and can lift one leg up at a time, but can’t seem to do both. Josie (the teacher) steadied  me and I managed to get both legs up, although when she asked me to push my legs closer to the ceiling, I just could not work out how to move them- being upside down is so weird! I was very pleased though. I also had to demonstrate the crow pose (a balance) to the class as somehow that’s something I can do.

Thursday- 4 mile run

We had some beautiful sunrises that week, and one day I popped out at lunch for a quick walk in the woods to get some vitamin D (bottom left).

On Friday I popped out at lunch for some quiet time- everything gets so busy at this time of year and I felt the need to sit somewhere where I would not have to say anything. I listened to a podcast for about 20 minutes and felt so much more refreshed after. After work I popped into town (Gail’s had Christmas buns so I got us a couple) and then to the garden centre as I was looking for a wreath. I didn’t get one, but I did see this rabbit (not for sale).

On Saturday I cycled to Panshanger (head band under the helmet to try and keep my head warm- it did work better), and then I was tail walking.

I’d packed my Minnie Gingerbread hat to keep me warm on the walk (can’t wear it under my helmet). I was given a walkie-talkie so every now and then the RD would radio to check everything was OK. I was a bit anxious about having to work it (the lanyard you get has their phone number on, and once before I had to ring it when I couldn’t lock one of the gates) but it was super simple. Once I had cycled home I had some mince pie porridge (porridge with Meridian mince pie filling and some flaked almonds) and then had to head off quickly to school where I was helping in the grotto at the fayre (making reindeer food- bird friendly of course).

I was feeling very festive so in the evening I got on with decorating our Christmas cakes (I make them for our parents too).

I went for a robin theme this year and was pretty pleased with how they turned out. I think I’m going to add a ribbon of coloured icing around the bottom as they are a bit uneven. Made with love though.

On Sunday morning it was my running club’s annual run and brunch, so I got on some festive gear and headed out to meet a couple of the girls on their way to town.

I also decided to wear my new trainers- I got them back in July but have been wearing the old ones as they were fairly new then, but recently my knee has been a bit sore and I just wondered if old shoes could be the culprit. I do love them! My antlers kept blowing off in the wind though…

I wore a top to change into once we got to Bill’s (Happy Holidays 2008 from when we went to Disney!).

Pancakes were good as always, it was lovely to catch up with everyone as I don’t go on the club runs any more, and although I was full I ran home as I was a bit chilly.

In the afternoon we put up our tree, so I had a lovely time sorting through all the decorations.

Reindeer ones.

Disney ones.

New Disney ones- one for our anniversary, and one from the hotel we stayed in when we got married.

And a little cute elf for the top of the tree. We had some hot chocolate too- very festive.

So, December week 1 done! It just gets busier from here it seems!

Tøyen parkrun (Oslo)

After we booked our weekend in Oslo I had a little look for parkruns, knowing that the Nordic countries have a few (there’s 5 in Norway) so I was happy to see that there was one in Oslo, Tøyen parkrun.  As I previously mentioned, we were travelling hand luggage only, and the hotel had breakfast included, so logistically I couldn’t get back after running it in time for breakfast, and also couldn’t pack a load of winter running kit, so I decided I would walk it. It was a 9.30 start, so plenty of time to have breakfast first and make my way there.

Our hotel was on the same street as the train station, and it was only two stops, but I still managed to have a panic about getting on the wrong train and was messaging Andy from the platform (the line split later, so some of them were labelled as going via certain stations, with some of them mentioning the one I needed and some of them not)- I needn’t have worried as they all went there. Once at the station I loaded up google maps and followed directions for the Munch museum as that was in the same park. Maps estimated a 7 min walk (and this was 9.20 so I was a bit worried), but as I came out of the underpass I could see the high viz jackets, bright signs and people meeting- always a relief!

The meeting place was by the big rock/sculpture in the centre of the park- easy to spot from the road.

I was a bit nervous about turning up to walk- I didn’t even have trainers on as I only had my snow boots with me. I had checked the results pages on previous weeks and they had people doing it in 50 mins to 1 hr 15, so I knew the volunteers would be prepared to stand in the cold for that long. The paths were a little slippery in places, but some of them had been gritted, and as there was lots of grass you could usually walk on the grass and avoid the pavements when needed.

The course was a small lap from the middle and then 3 laps around the park. The RD did the run brief in English, and said there was a little hill. They had cancelled the previous week, and he explained that they considered it because of the ice, but that the Norwegians were used to it, so if you were not used to it you should be careful as they didn’t want any injuries. The hill turned out to be a very short steep slope leading from a grassy field back up to the main path (not easy when walking so I imagine super tough when running, especially as you had to do that part 4 times). Before it started I chatted to a couple of tourists- one of them was debuting his 250 shirt and had posted in the parkrun tourist facebook group beforehand- it turned out most of the people I chatted to were from near me- Milton Keynes, Cheshunt and the South-East.

Once we started, I was keeping an eye out for the tail walker (as Andy put it, “you will have to make friends with the person who walks at the back”) but there was someone else walking a little behind me. I wanted to keep warm so I walked quickly where I could. I had opted for trousers, thermal top, jumper and my Run Disney jacket (it’s warm but thin) plus hat and scarf- Andy was bringing my big coat later as is really bulky and I thought it would annoy me while walking. This turned out to be fine because I did get warm but didn’t ever need to take any layers off.

It was so beautiful, so as well as slowing on the icy parts, I took a few photos as I went around. The higher point of the course looked across the city, and in the early morning light it was just stunning. I think the sun appeared on my final lap! There was only one marshal out on the course, but plenty of signs and cones so you couldn’t really go wrong. I said thanks to him in the first lap, but I don’t think he realised I was actually taking part in the parkrun until he saw me the second time around as I wasn’t in running gear. In the middle I was being lapped by all the runners, but by the end I was out there on my own and couldn’t see the tail walker either (they only finished 4 minutes behind me). As I came to the finish and crossed the line, the finish token and timer people were chatting, and one of them said “oh, are you doing the parkrun?” and when I said I was, they said “oh cool”, and beeped the timer and gave me a token- I had my watch in case I needed to show (but of course that’s me being irrational!).

Andy messaged to say he as getting the train when I was going into the final lap, and as I passed the bottom part of the park he was crossing the road so came to the middle to meet me and of course I needed a picture with the frame.

My official time was 51:09 and for my 219th parkrun, 68th event and 5th country. I was really glad to have been able to do it, as it was such a pretty start to the day. As soon as I stopped I got a bit cold so we were glad of the museum close by  to have a look around and warm up (and use the toilets).

I think that is the snowiest parkrun I’ve been to- we have had some lovely frosty mornings, and I have been to Panshanger in the snow- they don’t tend to need to cancel because the paths are all off road so don’t get very icy compared to normal paths in parks.

Have you run a parkrun in the snow or ice? Does your parkrun often cancel in the winter?

Cinema trips, feeling more festive, and tea

Following on from the Brighton 10K, I was home on Monday not too late so did a lovely 4 mile run.

On Tuesday we had booked cinema tickets (for the first time in ages) to see the film about the Le Mans 24 hour race. I hadn’t got my free Starbucks drink yet, so popped in after work to pick one up. I’d been awake in the night for a couple of hours with a really bad headache and I think I hadn’t had enough to drink (and worked until nearly 10pm on my laptop), so I made a cup of tea to take with me to the cinema to make sure it didn’t happen again.

I really enjoyed the film, not knowing anything about it (it was based on a true story) but it was so loud and so exhausting to watch- I felt like I’d been driving for 24 hours by the time it finished!

I also took in a pack of peanut butter cups- these Pip & Nut ones are so good and mean I don’t need to bring back a load of Justin’s ones from when I go to the USA- hooray!

On Wednesday at yoga we had a focus on properly moving from the plank into being on the floor, keeping our elbows over our wrists (instead of tracking back)- oh my goodness me this was so hard and by the end my arms were like jelly! It felt like awful tricep dips! It’s so interesting how the body is so clever at adapting and finding the easiest way to do something, instead of the correct way.

On Thursday after work I had a 3 and a bit mile run, and then came home to some salt and vinegar peanuts- anyone else love these? I really love them but the KP ones burn my lips a bit- not so good! Andy put the fire on for a cosy evening of watching The Crown.

I really liked this autumn self care guide that popped up in my feed- after having several evenings working late in front of the TV, it was a good reminder to take care of myself too.

Although I didn’t have time for breakfast on Friday and we were heading to Starbucks for lunch, so I ended up having an almond croissant instead (brunch?)- they heated it up and it went a bit soft! (Still tasty though)

My tea club for November arrived and I loved the gorgeous packaging- such pretty drawings. Each month the postcard is designed by a different artist so it’s lovely to see the different styles.

On Friday evening I met Andy in town as we had to get a few bits from the shops, and we walked around to Caffe Nero to try a festive hot chocolate (I think a hazelnut one?) and a little look around John Lewis as I wanted to get some boots with my vouchers. As we will be making Christmas cakes with the children at work I tried out the recipe and it seemed to go down pretty well.

On Saturday I drove to my parents and then walked to Jersey Farm parkrun with Dad (my 6th run there- working on the p index).

It’s a fun course to do in the autumn/winter as it’s a bit muddy and a bit up and down, so it feels a little like cross country (compared to running on a tarmac path). One of the marshals shouted that she was spotting everyone’s leggings- I did see a few funky ones and even some festive ones. Dad ran ahead as he is working on breaking his pb, so I had an enjoyable run on my own, finishing in 30:24

We then walked back home where I had a shower and then Mum cooked us pancakes. They are planning a trip to Canada next year so we had a lovely long chat about the places they should visit and how long to spend in each place.

Once home we walked into town while it was still light (not much of that about at the moment)- I was feeling festive with my candy cane jumper and “Mince pies before guys” t-shirt which never fails to make me laugh (I took some pics in the changing room as some of my friends were at a Christmas market and the whatsapp group got a bit carried away with festive things!).

I also got the sparkly boots, and a really cosy jumper (pretty much the only one in the shop that didn’t contain wool, as I find that so scratchy).

I had some work to do so did that once home (it was dark by then anyway).

On Sunday morning I had a rather horrible experience- I was running along a track that leads past some houses and fields into the back of the park, when I heard barking, turned around and saw 4 dogs hurtling towards me, all growling and barking. I stopped (as I have been told that standing still is better than running) and screamed “oh my god!” at them and the guy walking them. He called something along the lines of “it’s OK, they are just chasing each other”- well it didn’t feel like that. He called them back, and once they were back at him I turned around and started running again, but the same thing happened.  I felt so panicked as a couple of them were really big dogs. He called them back and walked across to the field by the side of the road, but didn’t put any of them on leads. I watched them for ages, not wanting to run again in case they ran back across the field and chased me again. Once I couldn’t see them any more, I burst into tears which was very unexpected, and I couldn’t get my breathing to work. I walked for ages, and just could not calm down. I considered ringing Andy but it’s a private road (public footpath) so he wouldn’t be able to drive along there anyway. Once back in the park I had calmed down and could run again, but it made me really cross  that it had affected me that much. I think I’ll be avoiding that place from now on too.

In the afternoon we went to Andy’s parents house for a bit of a catch up, then once home I made the Christmas cakes, and in the evening we were off to see Frozen 2! (I didn’t wear my ears in the cinema in the end…)

I loved it! It was so beautiful- amazing autumnal colours in the woods, and the ice palaces just looked so bright. I liked a few of the songs but they didn’t all jump out at me (unlike Moana where I pretty much loved every song straight away) but I’ve been listening to it since then and there are some growers (including the song by Weezer- anyone else remember them? I used to love their Buddy Holly song and Island in the Sun). I was also glad to see it before any kids at work tell me any spoilers!