Plan A/B/C for parkrun! (A visit to lovely Netley Abbey)

For the first weekend of half term, Andy suggested heading down to Southampton. He would get a ticket for the football, I could go to a parkrun, and we could visit his grandma. Sounded good to me. What with parents evening the week before, I hadn’t been out much (3 miles in the tail end of storm Ciara on Monday, and 4 miles on Tuesday) and hadn’t even had yoga as I didn’t get home in time, so I was really looking forward to parkrun on Saturday.  We were staying in the centre of Southampton, so my plan was to run to Southampton common- I’d done that before, so I knew it was doable, and would save faffing with the car and so on. However with another storm on the way (and I am sorry, but Dennis is the Dennis from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to me) I drove, so that if for any reason Southampton was cancelled, I could look at other options.

That turned out to be the right call. On Friday night the cancellations were coming thick and fast, and my list of potential ones was getting shorter and shorter (cancelled: Eastleigh- which would have been by Plan B, Mountbatten School, QE2, Brockenhurst, Havant, Moors Valley, Chichester, Winchester, Lymington Woodside…) and Southampton cancelled too. With the kick off being an early one at 12.30, I didn’t want to head too far away as we needed to check out and get breakfast beforehand. Netley Abbey was my Plan C, and then I think the tourist tool listed as the closest ones after that Whitely, Lee on the Solent and then Fareham. I wasn’t sure if I had time to get to the further ones, so charged up my headphones and decided that if all the closer ones were called off, I’d jut have a run by myself instead. But at 8am Netley Abbey posted that they were on!

I’d got into my running gear and so I could leave straight away. I knew I had to drive over a toll bridge to get there, and had made sure I had enough change to go both ways. However, when I got to the toll booth, I put the money in and nothing happened- a thing was spinning around, but the barrier was down and the charge was still displaying as if I hadn’t paid. I could see my 20p coin in the wheel, but there were no coins in the rejected coins slot, so I put some more money in and again nothing happened. I pressed the help button, but nothing happened there either. I only had enough money with my for one more try, so I reversed out (luckily it was very quiet) and went to the next booth, and thankfully that worked. I was feeling rather stressed out- it is cash only so I am not sure what would have happened if the payment hadn’t worked then.

Driving into the park I saw a fair bit of flooding, but the actual park was fine. I’d been there before with Andy for a lovely walk by the sea (back in 2018), so I knew a little of where to park.

It was very windy at this point, but thankfully no rain. I was only there about 15 mins before the start, and fancied doing a bit of a jog to warm up but didn’t want to miss the first timers briefing ( I think it has lots of different routes) so I just stood around instead. I expected it to be busy at Southampton has around 1000 runners so I thought some of them would head over.

The first timers briefing was nice and brief (3 laps- the important bit!) and it was hard to heard the RD because the mic was broken, so they had to shout- not easy in all that wind! They did mention that one of the golden batons was being passed on, but I couldn’t see it, or hear where it had come from. Anyway, soon we were off and running along, avoiding the puddles.

I noticed once back at the hotel that I had splashes of mud on my face, and looking at the picture I could see one on my nose and chin!

You can see from my Strava screenshot that GPS does not like wind or trees, and I am keeping this as proof that if anyone moans that a course is inaccurate because their GPS was short or long, remember that the only accurate way to measure a route is physically measure it with a wheel. This parkrun was 3 identical laps, and I am very sure I did not veer off at any point! The first bit of each lap felt busy because it was fairly narrow paths with runners further ahead going back on the same path (keep left) and then in the next lap the faster runners were lapping in the same direction, with other runners passing in the opposite direction. The bit by the water seemed wider (and was just one way) but it was so windy, my legs were being blown into each other! I wasn’t fussed about time, but somehow managed mile 2 and 3 with the exact same pace (9:19), finishing with token 203 for a time of 29:30.

I ran back down to the water to take a few photos, and then headed to the cafe where I needed to buy something to get change for the toll bridge (as I’d used up my change on the way).

After buying some tiffin and running back to the car, it turned out that the pay machines were by the cafe. As I was running back to the car the first time a group of runners commented that I had some cake in a box, and as I ran past them the second time (after paying) they asked me what I was doing- I think they thought I had gone back to buy more cake! So I had to explain that I needed to pay and didn’t realise the machines were by the cafe. Although to be fair, there were lots of lovely looking cakes so I could have easily bought more!

On driving back to the hotel I had another fail- I just typed in the shopping centre into Google Maps, because that is where we had parked, but it actually took me into the high street and to the pedestrian entrance, and with no-where to pull over I had to just drive in the general direction and try to work it out. I was doing so well for time, but it ended up being a bit rushed – we walked to Bill’s but they had a long wait, so we went back to the hotel, I had a shower and we checked out, and then went back to Bill’s. Thankfully they had a table, so we had a nice brunch before Andy was off to the football. Their pancakes were huge- normally they are more like scotch pancake sized, but these ones were like side plates! I couldn’t eat all of mine. I went for a juice (carrot, apple and ginger) which was so refreshing and delicious.

While Andy was at the football I wandered around the shops for a bit- I got a few birthday cards and gifts, and I had a John Lewis voucher so bought this cute puffin jumper (makes a change from penguin jumpers). Then I sat in Pret with a cup of tea and listened to some podcasts- much nicer than walking around busy shops!

Once the football was finished we went to see Andy’s grandma before the drive home (which was horrendous- so much rain and wind and wet roads- urgh)- I needed that tea and tiffin when we got home (I shared the tiffin).

Anyway, what a lovely start to half term, with another parkrun visited and brunch out.

Did your local parkrun cancel due to the storms? 

Adjusting for the storm

So if you are in the UK, then no doubt you would be aware of Storm Ciara this past weekend. Seeing the forecast for Sunday, and knowing I wanted to run at least 12 miles made me re-jig things. I don’t mind running in rain or wind, but it would have made it pretty hard work, plus there are so many trees around and big branches have fallen down before, so I think if I can swap things around, what is the point of taking a risk. In fact on Sunday the road next to ours was closed for a while because a tree blew down across the entire road- luckily no-one was hit by it as it fell. There was some pretty bad flooding too- no point risking it in my opinion.

On Friday night we finished the last of the Christmas cake. I feel quite pleased that we managed to make it last until February. It was going to be good pre-run fuel.

Friday night Christmas cake/ Saturday chai latte/ moon on Friday evening

Then on Saturday morning I was out of the door by 7am, ready to run over to St Albans, to run at Jersey Farm parkrun with my dad. I’d messaged him as we usually walk there together, saying if I was late he could just start walking and I’d catch him up.

On the way I stopped to watch the parakeets- I always see them on my commute, but I didn’t realise quite how many there were. The run went well, although it was so dark to begin with. Anyway, I made it to Mum and Dad’s house with time to spare, so we jogged around together, getting to parkrun with about 5 minutes to spare. I was feeling OK, and just left my watch running in the end rather than fiddle about with saving runs and starting new ones.

The parkrun was fairly muddy in places but nothing that you couldn’t avoid (I’d worn road shoes as my trail ones are quite heavy when wearing them on the pavements).

Outside Mum and Dad’s front door around 9 miles, parakeets, and the JF sign

Although when parkrun finished I couldn’t see Dad anywhere (I knew he was ahead, but wasn’t by the tarpaulin where you leave jackets, or at the finish) so I stopped my watch while I looked for him, and it was just under 13 miles at this point. I should have left it going for the run home! Anyway, I found Dad (chatting to someone he knows from school a little way along the route) and we headed back home fairly promptly so I wouldn’t get too stiff.

It looks like quite a long way when you see it on a map like that all stretched out!

The run home is  always further as we detour to the shops for Dad to get the paper, and as I was pretty thirsty by that point I decided to get some coconut water, and we also found more polystyrene along the lane so did a good deed of litter picking as well- the run back to theirs was 1.2 miles (with a little walking too), so the total for the morning was just over 14 miles. Long run done. Andy was then driving over to bring me a change of clothes, and to have breakfast, although we had our wires slightly crossed so he turned up much later, and I was not going to sit down and eat until I had changed. Everyone kept telling me to have a pancake, and I kept thinking that as soon as I sat down, he would turn up. In the end the hunger was too much so I had one in my rather sweaty kit.

Once home and showered we walked into town to get our drinks, and then spent the rest of the day pottering around and not doing much.

On Sunday I had some work to do, and what better day than a day when it’s pouring with rain and howling with wind? I persuaded Andy to walk around to Morrison’s with me as I wanted to buy a few baking ingredients, and when we left it was OK and the wind and rain had eased off, but part way around we ended up sheltering in a bus stop because it was just sideways rain- it reminded me of when we were in Vic in Iceland on this beach, and the rain was properly horizontal and freezing.

You can see how soaked my trousers were!

After that I spent a lot of time baking. I made some fudge for work, as end of half term presents. I made biscoff blondies (a Jane’s Patisserie recipe) and then the monster workout cookies from Cook Eat Run, as Andy requested cookies.

Biscoff blondies 

Cookies being made- I used the delicious Doisy&Dam dots

And of course we had to sample them, so we had a little piece of blondie plus a cookie. For testing purposes of course.

After getting soaked Andy had requested a hot chocolate, so of course I wasn’t going to say no. This one was gingerbread, and one of the best ones I think- I prefer the darker ones to the milk.

Do you like hot chocolate? Did you go out in the storm? Do you like including parkrun in a longer run?

Some mid week baking! Plus tea

On Monday I had a lecture after work, handily at the Uni, right by the business park where I love to run. So before leaving, I changed into my running kit, thinking I’d go for a run after. Getting there was far quicker than I thought, so I ended up making the most of the daylight and doing a 3 mile run there. I changed my top back in the car so I wasn’t a sweaty mess, and thankfully there were lots of seats and plenty of spaces between them!

I have been loving Red Velvet tea after buying more from Bird&Blend last weekend- it’s black tea with cocoa, beetroot and pomegranate flowers, and turns pink when you add milk.

On Tuesday there was a beautiful sunrise and a beautiful sunset. When I got home I was on about 8,000 steps, so not wanting to lose my streak I headed out on a walk to get the total up for the day.

I had a sore shoulder and I thought the walk would help, but I ended up taking some paracetamol before bed because it just got worse and worse.

On Wednesday at lunch time I went out on a walk and it was such a lovely day- I saw a lot of spring flowers, which is lovely, but also not great with all the climate problems we have going on. As I was home in plenty of time, I decided to do some baking. I’d recently ordered Cook, Eat, Run, and so made the ginger molasses energy bars.

They are sooooo good. They smelled delicious, but I had to wait until after yoga to try one (can’t eat too close to yoga what with all the going upside down). A recipe I will be making lots of times I am sure.

Yoga was great, but I was really struggling with some of the things that I am usually OK with. My shoulder was actually OK, and I knew that the stretching out and gentle movement would help, but with the headstand I could only get my right leg up, not my left (I can usually do alternate legs). Sometimes it just isn’t your day.

Thursday I parked at Tesco and did the standard 4 miles to the business park and back, before popping into Tesco. I was visiting a friend for lunch on the Friday and wondered if they had any nice sandwiches left, but nothing took my fancy. It was so cold again though- the last few Thursdays have been really cold, and by the time I got home I was really chilly, so we had the fire on.

On Friday I had the most exciting message from Andy: Tea club has arrived! My favourite kind of message!

The wedding cake tea is lovely (rooibos with a sort of caramel tone), as is the “Lemugur” pancakes (lemon and sugar)- another rooibos.  Plus, how gorgeous is the postcard? The tea club always comes with a postcard, and they showcase local artists which is such a great idea.

Do you keep track of your steps? I was listening to Reasons to be Cheerful today, (Walk this way episode) and the average number of steps was something like 4,000, which surprised me a lot.  But then I do get very antsy if I have not walked around or had fresh air, and honestly a pyjama day sounds like a nightmare to me!

Southwark parkrun and a day in London town

I used the excellent tourist tool to work out which parkrun to get to on Saturday morning. Southwark was not far- a half a mile to the tube, a few stops on the Jubilee line and then a short walk at the other end. When I was running to the tube station, I saw a girl out running and looking at her phone, and she asked me if I was heading to parkrun. She was actually going to Burgess, and I hadn’t looked at that one so I wished her luck (I am no help with maps as you will see later on…)

I found the park fairly easily and had a bit of a jog around as it was really cold that morning, and I didn’t have a buff or gloves or anything. The park had lots of bird boxes and lots of spring flowers peeping through. It seemed very small- it always amazes me how the lapped courses can be squashed into these tiny parks.

The first timer briefing was useful- the course was 3 laps but on the first lap you went to the right of a tree, and the other two laps you went around the left- you can see it on the Strava map. It’s completely flat and on nice wide paths. Just before the main briefing I noticed someone in a Dolly neck-tube (the cat from With Me Now pod) so I started chatting to the guy about touring. The main briefing was really good as the RD got all the volunteers to stand on a mound in a big line, side by side, and this seemed to keep most people quiet and listening. Then we walked around to the start and were off. There were lots of people (479) so the first few metres were a bit congested but it cleared very quickly. The laps seemed to go by very quickly too- I am not usually a big fan of laps. During the second lap the tourist (Matt) caught up with me so we chatted for the rest of the time- he had plans with his wife to go to Canada and Norway among other countries, so we talked about parkruns we had been to, and ones on our list (and how my non-parkrunning hubby needs a bit more persuading to go to places where there happen to be parkruns!). He was an RD at a fairly local parkrun too, so managed his time between there and touristing.

There was an out and back part of the course which is always good as you can then see lots more people ahead or behind. Considering it was a small course there were lots of marshals out too.

I was quite pleased when I saw my splits and I had managed a royal flush negative split- 9:31, 9:22, 9:18, 9:06 (29:10).  That was my 70th different parkrun- it sounds a lot but then there are people who have been to hundreds!

At the end I asked someone to take my photo in the selfie frame, and then headed back to the tube.

That was fine, but when I came out of the station, I must have come out of a different entrance because I was very confused, maps wouldn’t load on my phone, so it was a while before I went the right way…

I also don’t think Strava knew exactly where I was?

Andy had been to Gail’s to get us each a chocolate almond croissant, and after a shower we headed off for a wander around London. We went to Borough Market, then across to Spitalfields, where we bought a doughnut from Crosstown Doughnuts to share late. We then walked along the river, over one of the bridges and to the Tate Modern. We had a late lunch in Leon, then wandered back to Borough market where I could not resist a pink latte from Bird & Blend (made with their red velvet tea).

Once home we made a pot of tea and shared the doughnut- peanut butter with blackcurrant jam. I am not normally a big doughnut fan but this was really tasty.

On Sunday I headed out for a long run. I wasn’t sure how I would feel after the Saturday, as I had totalled something like 33,000 steps, but in fact I felt OK. I did loops near home, as somehow that feels easier than doing one big loop, and also meant if I wanted to cut it short then I could. Once home I did some yoga stretches (including legs up the wall), showered and then had porridge and pink tea (red velvet).

I had some work to do, so I got on with that and then later we headed out to the cinema, to see David Copperfield. Now, I did not know anything about the film- I’d seen a trailer and that was it, and I did wonder for a lot of the film who would teach him magic. (In my defence the beginning of the film is sort of the end, with him on stage about to perform, so I thought it would be a magic show). Anyway, I really enjoyed the quirky style and loved how the characters loved each other.

Do you ever totally get the wrong end of the stick with films? I remember watching La La Land and wondering when the time jump would happen, as I thought  it was set in the 20’s but the beginning was that big traffic jam. Not sure where I got that idea from (possibly just the style of writing on the poster?).  Are you a doughnut fan? I am not usually, but in Portland in the summer we went to Voodoo doughnuts and they were good too.

Finally the end of January!

I know January is a long month, but it doesn’t usually feel that long. I cannot work out why it felt so long this year! We didn’t go back to work until the 6th, which seems very late, but still that meant 4 solid weeks until the end.

Monday I stayed late at work and needed to get some bits from Aldi so on the way home I stopped off, meaning that once home I didn’t fancy heading out for a late run.

This hazelnut and chocolate spread from Aldi is amazing- I don’t get Nutella because of their questionable ethics, and most of the replacements just aren’t as good. This stuff is amazing, and apparently once opened you have to eat within 3 months- that won’t be a problem!

Tuesday I was home earlier and it was still not quite dark- progress! I went on a 4 mile run but I was surprised by how cold it was. Even once home and after having a shower and dinner I was still cold so Andy put the fire one, I heated my penguin in the microwave and we had a hot chocolate.

Wednesday was yoga, and we did a lot of strength work- so many variations of downward dog, side planks, press ups and all sorts of warrior poses. Towards the end we did a headstand practise and after helping someone else hold her pose, I was helped, but I just lose confidence as soon as both legs are up. I feel like I am going to wobble, and come down before I actually do wobble. I will keep working on it though!

Thursday I needed to get some cookery ingredients for work, so I changed into my running it at work, parked at Tesco, ran back to the business park, and then headed into Tesco once my run was finished. I was pretty hungry as I went around the shop (it’s a big shop too, and the things I needed were just not easy to find- this is why online shopping is better!) but I was very impressed with my impulse buying- barista oat milk (for the best hot chocolates) and baked beans!

On Friday I rushed to get home as we were heading into London for the night, as Andy had a work thing. He was going out for dinner, and I was going to have a hotel room picnic, so we popped into a Pret by our hotel for me to get some food. I asked the assistant for one of their amazing chocolate almond butter cookies, and I thought she said to me “I will give you half” but she actually said “it’s on the house”. Then (once Andy had clarified) she said “we are closing in 5 minutes, I’ll give you two. Do you want anything else?” I said that it was only me eating, and she said “for breakfast tomorrow”. She was very persuasive, and we ended up with  2 ginger cookies and 2 of the chocolate almond butter ones.   I took them back to the hotel and had a nice hotel picnic alongside some tea (I always take the Bird & Blend samples if we go anywhere). The least said about Friday evening the better, as I was trying to avoid all the depressing political things going on, watching a travel show about Scotland, and then reading my magazine before having an early night.

Do you prefer actual shopping or online shopping?  Anything positive from January?