Running, baking, gardening and the rest of half term

After my as-now standard 10k run on Tuesday morning, I had breakfast in the garden and then decided to have a go at making bagels.

We had ordered my favourite cream cheese with our shopping (Nush stuff, made from almonds and is gorgeous) and there is no better combination that a bagel and cream cheese.

I was not looking forward to the boiling part (you poach them for a few minutes once they have risen, and before you bake them) as I had visions of the dough disintegrating into the water, but in fact it was fine.

They were super tasty, and not as hard as I had imagined so I would definitely give them another go. I used this recipe (and halved it because I didn’t think they would keep for that long after) and it was one of the simplest ones I’ve come across.

I had lots of work to do, but then as now we are allowed to leave the house for exercise more than once, we had a nice walk in the evening together once it was a bit quieter. That is pretty much our only change (I’m still not comfortable with the idea of going to a shop or takeaway or anything like that).

Wednesday was another day with a run first thing, breakfast in the garden and then doing more work. I was trying to get all my work finished by Wednesday so I could have the Thursday and Friday off, but famous last words and all that… Anyway, yoga wasn’t on so I made us some bread to have with soup for dinner.

Thursday was a happy day. As I’d run to Ellenbrook fields last week and found the route OK, I messaged my dad and asked him if he wanted to meet me there, so we did. He cycled there and we met there just after 9am. We ran a loop of the fields together, chatting the whole way around. We spotted so many birds (woodpeckers, chaffinches, even a skylark hovering above the grassy field), and chatting as we ran was just so enjoyable and not the same as a phone call. Our final km along the runway (the finish of EF parkrun) was pretty fast, and then we stood around in the shade for ages after, chatting some more. I always just leave my watch running, and according to Strava my moving time was 2:17 but the elapsed time was 3:16 so I think we must have chatted for an hour after before I had to run home. 13.1 miles in total for the second half marathon of the month.

After brunch and a shower I had to squeeze in a bit of extra work (I shouldn’t have said anything about having some work-free days) before getting ready for afternoon tea. Some of my team at work had decided to do one over Zoom, so I baked some scones and prepped my snacks. I opened the peach and lavender jam from the Hitchin Lavender farm (I bought the jam last summer)- I love peach jam, so summery. Topped with a little Oatly creme fraiche so it tasted even more summery. (I also had some veggies, oatcakes and hummus- someone (even though they know I’m veggie) asked if a carrot was a fish finger!). It was so much fun to catch up with everyone and although we did talk a bit about the wider opening of schools next week, we also just chatted about everything else. Everyone is getting into gardening so it was nice to compare notes.

I did not want to watch the 5pm briefing (I’m finding it increasingly stressful to watch because I feel like everything is way out of my control and just not sensible at the moment) so I watched Springwatch while Andy watched the briefing.  I also found my first courgette flower on one of my plants- how exciting! We had a walk before dinner (beans + marmite + violife cheese on sourdough). Mmm.

We started watching The Last Dance after hearing so many good things about it, so that’s been good evening TV.

On Friday I did some yoga (I am so slowly working by way through the 30 days with Adrienne- I think this was Day 11!), and then had a walk to stretch my legs. I thought they would feel worse after the 13 miles, but I think as I had a long break in the long run they were actually OK. My ambition to not do any work failed yet again as I had more bits to deal with, but I also spent time doing some things on my list at home (including rolling all of our Ocado carrier bags, as they used to take them back but don’t at the moment, so we just bunch them up and shove them in the cupboard under the stairs- after 10 weeks it is getting hard to find space!), sorting out my new house plants and organising my desk a bit better.

Colour coded of course.

We used our Vitality code to hire a film for Friday night- The Day Shall Come- (about the FBI using undercover agents to try to entrap people into terrorist activities) which was very good but also just bit depressing.

Saturday was the standard 5 miles before the parkrun quiz (and you can see one of my new plants)- 9/15 this week, so better than last week but no pb!  Once that was finished I made us pancakes for breakfast, with berries and maple butter.

Then I made the Pret Love Bar (they have been publishing some of their recipes on Insta) – it is basically a flapjack topped with caramel, chocolate drops, nuts and seeds. I didn’t have any pumpkin seeds so I used some coconut instead.

We had to prep some quiz questions for later on (Andy borrowed a very funny idea from Joe Lycett) where you blur out a picture of a castle and have to guess which one it is (we included Cinderella’s castle). Andy’s car had not been working (the battery had gone flat) so after getting a charger he wanted to test it out, so we popped over to see his brother as he had  cleared out  their garage and found some bits they’d borrowed from us ages ago- it meant I could give them some of the flapjack too as it made rather a lot!

We managed a quick walk before dinner and were just ready in time for the quiz, which was good fun as always. Then we watched the space rocket launch and went outside to see if we could spot it (but we couldn’t- we did see the ISS though).

On Sunday I headed back to the new paths that I’ve been finding, and looked for more of the WCG 20/20 route.

I took my time, stopped and looked at lambs, birds, and of course the signs! 6.5 miles and that was plenty as it was so warm.

I’d made cinnamon rolls the night before and so they just needed baking and topping (using the rest of the cream cheese and a little maple syrup) for breakfast before heading out to the garden. While Andy did the tough jobs like moving the concrete slabs that he’s been digging out, I did jobs like planting out sunflowers, putting pumpkin plants into bigger pots, a bit of weeding, splitting my spider plants and potting on a little house plant.

I had persuaded Andy to do No Mow May (to encourage flowers for the bees) and you could do a flower count- there are a lot more daisies in a metre than you would think!

 Then it was time to pack my work bag yet again and wonder where the last week had gone.

Have you ever made bagels? Is there something on your list that you would like to try but have not got around to yet? Have you made any changes since the lock down guidelines changed? (I know they have since been even further relaxed in England but I am still sticking to essential travel and exercise)

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? 

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!).