A cinema trip, nearly a handstand and a few parcels

Last week was a fairly normal week- walking on Monday, a club run on Tuesday (the route was great and according to my watch was 4.94 miles so I ended up running laps of a statue to make it up to 5- if I was further I wouldn’t bother but I was so close!).

Yoga on Wednesday was great, and I was so pleased as I was the closest I have ever been to a handstand. We were shown a new way to get up (we usually do them against a wall but you have to have your hands on the floor and jump your legs up, and I can never jump them high enough)- this time we stood with our backs to the wall, put our hands down on the floor and then walked our feet up. If my hands hadn’t been so slippery (I was nervous too) I think I would have managed to hold it!

These coconut goodies arrived in the post this week- of course the first flavour I had to try was the salted chocolate (basically coconut chips with a little coconut nectar, cocoa and sea salt);

They made my fingers all brown from the cocoa powder. Really tasty though.

I’m looking forward to trying the other flavours, although they don’t do a salt and vinegar one which would be the king of flavours in my opinion!

On Thursday we had booked tickets to see Borg Vs McEnroe, and happily I was home a bit earlier so I managed a quick run before a shower, dinner and then heading off to the cinema. The film was really enjoyable- I didn’t know the actual outcome which probably made it more dramatic, but the rivalry and their backgrounds were shown really well- it was a bit like the F1 films= you don’t need to be a fan of the sport to enjoy the film. We also had a load of good adverts- The Battle of the Sexes (another tennis one- again I don’t know the outcome so am going to avoid finding out until I see it) looks fab, the Armando Iannucci film about Stalin looked funny, and the Jo Nesbo Snowman film looked gripping (I have read some of the books but not that one I don’t think- good old Scandi crime fiction). It made me look forward to a few more trips. We’ve recently signed up for the Vitality health insurance (only a basic package, but there are things like an online GP which would be so useful) so if we earn enough points each week we will get a free cinema ticket and free Starbucks, and this was our first free trip.

I had caved into ordering some Bluebird tea- I was going to wait until we go to Brighton in a couple of weeks, but they posted that a lot of their pumpkin spice teabags had already sold, and I needed some more gingerbread chai teabags (an evening treat as they are rooibos) so I ordered myself a little top up- the marketing clearly worked on me!

They included a couple of recipe cards for banana bread chai loaf and a gingerbread chai latte- I am sure I will be making them soon!

I also ordered myself another one of these hairbrushes- they are totally brilliant for de-tangling hair when it is wet or dry. One of the things I struggle with used to be de-tangling my hair after a run in the rain as my hair would get so tangled (and I can’t plait it for running as it is too heavy and bangs around on my shoulders- I’ve tried it once and learnt never again!). Anyway, I think my hairdresser mentioned it to me once and so I got one and it’s been a revelation! You can use it on wet or dry hair and it’s so gentle- so I got myself one to keep in my bag (as the other one lives in the shower).

What are you looking forward to seeing in the cinema? Could you do handstands and cartwheels when you were a child? (I never could!) Which is your favourite crisp/ crispy snack flavour?

* I was sent the coconut snacks for free, but all opinions are my own.

A Waffle House trip! And other weekend tales

Last Saturday, after Thetford parkrun, we headed off to a couple of National Trust places in Norfolk.

First up was Oxburgh Hall, where we had a look inside the building, went up the spiral staircase to the roof, wandered around the gardens and enjoyed a hot chocolate in the cafe. Then we headed to Blickling which had an RAF museum (as it was an air base in WW2), and lovely large grounds to walk around. We knew we would be heading to The Waffle House early in the evening, so we shared a sandwich in one of the tea rooms for lunch.

By late afternoon we were ready to head to Norwich (where Bush were playing later)- we had a little wander around the shops but I had a headache and didn’t feel great (probably not had enough to drink in the day) so we mainly sat outside in the fresh air with a cold drink, before heading to dinner.

As you may well know, I do love to go to The Waffle House in St Albans. The original is in Norwich, and personally I think it’s better, as it has a bigger range on the menu, plus you can have small or large sizes. I love both the savoury and sweet waffles, but having two is a bit much so I have to choose each time (tough choices). I’d explained to Andy that we would be sharing a sweet, and so in the end we both went for the small for our mains (still a perfectly good portion size).

I went for my favourite- the hummus and avocado- the one in Norwich was slightly different as it had sundried (not cherry) tomatoes and was sprinkled with poppy seeds. It was so good. Andy had a bolognese one which wasn’t on the St Albans menu- good to try something new.

We decided to have a dessert that we couldn’t get in the St Albans one, so we opted for a waffle with mixed nuts baked into the waffle and sprinkled over the top, with chocolate sauce and then added a scoop of ice cream (meant to be pistachio but they had run out so we had vanilla). It was so good.

Then we were off to see Bush- we had a slight fail here as we thought they would be on stage at 9 (this is the normal time for London gigs)- we turned up just after 8 thinking it was the support band playing, only to realise Bush were already on! Whoops! It was a great gig though, in a very small venue so we were really close to the front without being squashed by anyone. The bonus was that it ended earlier, and as we had a two hour drive to get home this was no bad thing.

On Sunday we went to Crews Hill to get some bargain plants for our garden (including a little crab apple tree for £3!). We were meeting Andy’s parents there and I’d woken up too late for a run before, so when we got home I headed out, but it was hot and I was hungry as I hadn’t had lunch, so I didn’t manage to go as far as I had originally planned. Andy spent the time putting most of the plants in the garden (I think I planted one when I got back).

Bottom right is where the huge patch of weeds was- the one I started tackling a few weeks ago- so nice to have some plants in there now instead of five foot tall thistles!

Are you often late for things? I hate being late but I also often underestimate the amount of time it takes me to do things (e.g. dry my hair) so I often end up rushing and feeling stressed. Do you often have a dessert if you go out for a meal? Although I have a sweet tooth, I find that often desserts are the most disappointing as they are from the freezer, and Andy would usually rather share a starter (plus if I order something like a brownie I will then feel like I could have made a nicer one myself and for less money). The main exception is The Pudding Stop in St Albans which makes the most amazing puddings (the clue is in the name)- you can go somewhere else for a meal and then head over for the pudding= perfect.

Thetford parkrun with the Honey Monster (I think)

On Saturday we had tickets to see Bush play in Norwich, so we had booked a hotel in Thetford for the Friday night, with the aim of going to some National Trust places on Saturday before heading up to Norwich for the evening. Handily the Premier Inn in Thetford is just under a mile from the start of Thetford parkrun, so my decision was made!

After a slight google maps based hiccup (telling me to turn left into London road when the street sign said Norwich road) I arrived at the meeting point (in the drizzle). At first only a few people were milling about but I think they were all waiting for the last possible moment to get out of their cars and brave the rain!

Clockwise from top left- the jelly baby corner, one of the bridges, the car park meeting place, and the sign for the town.

There was a new runner briefing and they even had a big A2 laminated map of the course- it looks pretty complicated but in reality it was well-marshaled and I didn’t go wrong once!

We did a slightly altered route due to travellers camping on part of the normal route. We walked a little way to the start from the meeting point, and then it was a bit like the shape of clover (3 leaves meeting in the middle) as there were 3 sections of the course, and you ran each section twice before moving on to the next section, with a little bit added on to take you to the finish area. I was pondering this as I ran- I was lapped during my first lap of the second section, but other than that I didn’t see any front runners. I think I went past the tail walker on my second lap of the second part, but it was never too congested.

As it was a town centre park, I didn’t know what to expect, but it was really pretty. The route went through parks filled with trees, and alongside a river. At one point someone warned me of a hill at the end, but in reality it was a slope leading up to a bridge- it had a marshal dressed as the Honey Monster (I think – he had a big yellow fluffy head..) cheering everyone up the hill. On my second lap of the loop I tried to take a photo while I was running but I took it too early so when I looked at them later you couldn’t really see him.

At a couple of points the course narrowed (middle bottom photo) as you had to pass through metal gate things, but everyone was very courteous and friendly and as it wasn’t a really busy one it wasn’t an issue. I briefly stopped once as I was not sure whether I needed to repeat a section, but the marshals were great at saying “if you’ve only run over the bridge once, repeat this loop” to all of the runners so I realised as I slowed that I needed to go around again.

It was a super flat course, and it turned out that I managed my fastest parkrun time since May (28.22) with a nice negative split too- always nice to manage a final mile beginning with an 8.  The marshals were brilliant- I feel like I say this about all of the parkruns (doing a Brucie- “you’re my favourites”) but they were honestly just fantastic. There seemed to be lots of them too- I think maybe the nature of the course meant that you passed the same people a few times, and also the timekeepers and RD could be in the middle seeing the runners, so you passed a bit more of a crowd at times. The honey monster marshal was brilliant, they have a jelly baby corner (I’d seen a plea on their facebook page for a top up as it was running low) and this week it was manned by a lady and her daughter, and then at one point there were maybe three marshals all in a row singing “if you’re happy and you know it give us a wave” and various versions of the song. I passed them twice and they didn’t let up once- very enthusiastic!

When I finished, I then realised that the barcode scanning was taking place back at the little car park where everyone had first met. I think it was because of the rain (possibly they didn’t want to move all of the kit)- this did seem like risky business and I was very paranoid on the little walk back that I would lose my token!

After being scanned (and being told very helpfully by the person my token number in case I hadn’t read it) I had a little wander around the priory to admire the stone ruins, before heading back to the hotel.

It turned out that a lot of the route was near the road that I ran along, so I could take a few photos (for example, of the jelly baby marshals) while I was heading back.

I am so glad that I visited!

Have you ever lost a finish token? I live in fear of dropping it or throwing it in a bin with a tissue by mistake or something!




A cinema trip on a week night! And some autumn food purchases

So this week there was no yoga as the hall was already booked. I had mentioned to Andy that we could go to the cinema as we have not been in a while, but there was nothing worth seeing on Wednesday. As I was still getting over my cold, and Logan Lucky was showing on Tuesday, I decided to skip the  Tuesday club run, and run on Wednesday (normal yoga day) instead, meaning we could have a night out in the week.

The cinema we went to has a Starbucks in the foyer (although they don’t take the reward card which was annoying as I have a free drink to use up)- we shared a hot chocolate as it was pretty chilly. The film was good fun too. Although we got home a bit late it was nice to relax in the cinema and not have the option of any work (as I have been doing a fair bit in front of the TV in the evenings recently).

Onto the autumn food:

Teapigs had a free delivery offer so I had stocked up on the chocolate flake tea- it’s my favourite to have at the weekend for breakfast, and even though you can get other Teapigs flavours (types?) in Waitrose or on Ocado, they don’t stock the chocolate flake ones any more.  (I know technically it is a drink but that would have been a much longer blog post title).

I was wandering around the shops the other weekend and saw first up this ready made bircher muesli (basically, the Swiss invented overnight oats years ago and now it’s trendy because of instagram or something)- I tend to have a sort of version of it in the summer where I soak chia seeds and nuts, muesli (usually the Dorset “normal” one) and some fruit overnight with almond milk, and then add a little peanut butter on top in the mornings. When I saw the Moma stuff on offer I thought it would be lovely (and it is)- with freeze dried raspberries and big slices of coconut. I also saw this limited edition (they saw me coming) “gently spiced apple and carrot muesli” I knew I had to give it a try (it has cinnamon and nutmeg- mmmmm), although I am being sensible and only having one on the go at once.

I also made a ginger cake- it was meant to be with treacle but I only had molasses- more iron in it now anyway (as it was blackstrap). So tasty.

I went for a short run on Wednesday (and remembered half way through I needed to get some salad for dinner, so ran around to the shop), and then on Thursday it was raining so I did a fairly short route. I felt OK though- I think the fresh air is now helping to clear the airways. We are off to Norfolk on Saturday so hopefully I’ll be doing some more parkrun tourism! Have a lovely weekend all!

What have you seen in the cinema recently? Are you getting ready for more autumnal flavours now?

A week that flew by, baking, orange drinks and Clif bars

I’m already well into this week but thinking back to last week – on Tuesday I had a run with the club- I hadn’t been for ages due to the summer holidays and various other reasons, so it was great to run together. We made the most of the fading light (we meet at 6.30 pm so it is getting dark by the time we finish now) and headed to the lakes for a final run of the year before it’s out of bounds. Yoga on Wednesday was fab- it’s always different (and I have no idea what type of yoga it is) with a focus – last week we looked at using binds to hold poses for a big longer and in a deeper way. As always, much needed. On Thursday I felt a bit under the weather- nothing specific but really shattered. I had planned a run, but I got home much later and decided that I would walk around to the shops and pick up a few bits, and then after a shower and dinner, bake some banana bread.

This was followed by some TV watching. After finishing Narco’s we have started to watch a true crime series on BBC called Storyville- Death on the Staircase. It is following the trial of a man being accused of murdering his partner- he says he found her at the bottom of the stairs. (Also, I feel like I heard a Criminal episode about this and basically it was an owl attack, so no spoilers because I don’t know if it is the same, but I am calling it!).

On Friday after work I was meeting a friend at The Waffle House- we are both teachers and always plan in trips at the start of the term as we know we will need the sugar boost!

I’d already had too many cups of tea that day so I opted for a hot chocolate and the banoffee waffle- so delicious.

After getting back from parkrun on Saturday I felt a cold coming on- we did get some more fresh air but I felt wiped out so after going to look at the log storage at the fire shop I basically lounged on the sofa (this is not like me). I’ve been using a combination of oils to help de-congest (peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender) in my diffuser and on a tissue in my pocket.

On Sunday I decided a run would not be a good idea- I probably would have been fine but my next race is a 10 miler in October so I have a while, and I didn’t want to go back to work feeling more tired. We walked the very long way into town (4 miles), bought a curtain pole and visited Andy’s parents.

On Monday after work I stopped off in town- I had been sent a buy one get one free voucher so I got Andy a pumpkin spice frappaccino, and myself a hot one (no coffee- so basically steamed almond milk plus the spice syrup). I’ve had it before and it’s similar to a chai latte but a bit sweeter. Well, I think they may have changed the recipe- when I got home and took off the lid to drink it, this is what greeted me:

It literally (yes) looks like tomato soup. Hmm. It was OK but not as nice as a chai latte- we both agreed that we were glad we had tried them, but we are also glad I didn’t pay full price for them! Again I went on a walk after dinner to get some fresh air.

Onto the Clif bars:

I’ve been a fan of them for ages- in the UK they used to only do three flavours (peanut butter, oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip) in smaller bars- I’d get them in the health food shop in town or order them from Wiggle. I’d always stock up if we went to the US and as you can get them more easily now I often have one before a race if we are away for the weekend and I can’t make toast.

I was contacted to see if I would be able to come along to a breakfast meeting hosted by Clif, with a “build a bar” event. I could not make it, so emailed them back, and they offered to send some bars out to me instead.

Andy did comment that the parcel looked like my shopping bag when I have been let loose in a Wholefoods!

I was sent a selection of their bars in various flavours including coconut chocolate chip, and cool mint chocolate, and some of the protein Builder’s Bars.

I was also sent some energy gels and chews- this took me back as for my first marathon I loved the clif shot bloks (the berry flavour), and I recently had a couple when I was running the London 10 mile race in Richmond as they had them as the aid stations.

The “normal” bars are my kind of thing- I like to put a cereal bar in my bag for “just in case”, or for an afternoon snack if I am going on a run after work (and then after a few weeks I will go through my lunch bag and find many many bars)- they will still be fine after getting squashed and sitting in the warm cupboard at work. The nutty ones are my favourite (and I still wish they would do the pb chocolate chip over here as that is the king of all flavours)- I find the fruity ones a little too sweet somehow. The Builder’s Bars are massive (68g) so I tended to have half at a time. They have a lot of protein (20g per bar) and they are filling. I always get a slight panic when I read the ingredients though- I know they are suitable for vegetarians but I always misread “beet syrup” as “beef syrup”and have to re-read it a few times! They will keep me going for a while anyway.

I am saving the chews as I do have a half marathon in November so I can take these with me on my longer runs, and I’ve not had a gel since I tried a few for the Stockholm marathon and didn’t really get on with them, so I can’t decide whether to try them or give them to someone who will definitely like them!

How do you know when to run and when to rest?  Are you a gel fan? What would be your ultimate flavour combo for a cereal bar?

*I was sent the Clif bars but all opinions are my own.