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? 

A parkrun back “home” and the garden birdwatch

Last week on Saturday it was my choice of parkrun (as no-one needed to head off quickly anywhere) so I chose Ellenbrook, as we hadn’t been there since the NYDD.

It is my “home” run really (I think I have officially changed it from Panshanger on the website), and it was just great to see so many people from my running club, people I know from the old Sweatshop running group, a couple of people from yoga…. such a community feel. Sometimes I just want to run around, and other times I feel like being more social and so this is perfect. Dad was there too but ran off ahead. I chatted to a couple of people on the way around for parts of it, and partly ran on my own. My legs felt heavy so I was surprised to see 27 something time- not too shabby! Someone was celebrating their 99th run (they are away next week for their 100th) and had bought flakes for the first 99 finishers- I was too slow for that! Once I had finished running, I headed to my parents where mum made us pancakes (of course), this time with the addition of a topping of hot apples and raisins and spices- so good.

The rest of the day was spent helping Andy do some wallpaper stripping in the hall, doing lots of work and having a walk later in the day.

Sunday I was off for a long run- this week I did 12 miles and tried to keep the pace a bit higher than last week. I did lots of loops near home as my dad was coming around to help with the anti-decorating, so I didn’t want to be too far away. The run seemed to go well, one mile less but 20 minutes quicker than last week.

Dad came over to help with the wallpaper stripping in our hall, and then once that was finished with, I settled down to do the big garden birdwatch. I really love seeing the birds in our garden- it is very calming to sit and watch them flit about. I’ve added a couple of feeders (and cleaned the old ones) so I was hoping to see a few. The idea is that you watch for an hour, so I made a pot of tea and heated up a croissant (Dad had arrived with croissants from my mum too, and on the birdwatch website they even have recipes for biscuits to make to eat while you watch, so it’s definitely a thing!), and settled down. It was so peaceful to sit there just looking in the garden- I did see a few birds (but not all of the birds that I have seen) but just really enjoyed that peaceful time.

I had to get to the shops before they closed to get some bits for work, and then we headed to Andy’s parents for the afternoon/evening.

Do you have a home parkrun or more than one? If I’m touring I have to check which top I am wearing because I have a Panshanger t-shirt and an Ellenbrook vest!  I’ve been to probably double the number at Panshanger, and it’s closer to where I live, but with my running club being involved in Ellenbrook it does feel more like a home run. Do you like seeing birds in your garden? 

Amazing skies and watching documentaries

Following on from my 13.1 miles last Sunday, I had a nice gentle 4 mile run after work on Monday to help stretch out my legs. I felt fine until about a mile from home when I suddenly felt really tired. It was nearly light  when I got home and was just so good to think that spring is around the corner now. We were treated to the most amazing sky in the morning!

Run in the twilight, amazing sky, fire +stollen, sleep essentials of eye mask, kindle, lavender spray and balm

In the evenings we have been watching a few documentaries (mainly because we caught up with Wisting to had to wait to the weekend for the next one)- the first one was Game Changers which it seems like everyone has watched (if you haven’t, it’s basically about the performance benefits of a plant based diet). I would take it with a pinch of salt because I am sure they have picked the studies that help illustrate that veganism is better than meat, but it was interesting showing where the stereotypes (eg real men eat meat) come from. Those lobbyists in the US have a lot of power and influence.  Another evening we watched Kilian Jornet, Path to Everest. He is often talked about on Marathon Talk, but I hadn’t seen him in anything and didn’t know much about him. This was totally amazing- a bit like The Dawn Wall or Free Solo because what he does seems to defy what is possible.

On Wednesday I went to yoga- I always love going but always feel a little apprehensive as we might be doing handstands or headstands, both of which make me nervous. I’d downloaded the Action for Happiness app (I knew there was a website but didn’t know about the app until Emma posted about it) and just before I left the pop up said something about doing something that scares you. On the drive to yoga I decided that whatever we were doing, I would give it a good try (because you never have to do any of the poses of course).  Anyway, we did do a headstand and with help first from the teacher and then from one of the other people in the class, I briefly managed both legs up (I can get one leg up at a time). I always find it weird being upside down and trying to work out which way to push the legs and things, but the more I do it the more I will get used to it.

Yay fave podcast time! Gingerbread man at lunch to get me through a busy day, and mango in my Olaf bowl after yoga

On Thursday I changed into my running kit at work and stopped at the business park again for a 4 mile run. I did a few lamp post intervals and stretched at the car before driving home. I am not sure why it didn’t occur to me sooner, but stopping on my way home to run on even and well-lit pavements is just so much nicer, and means once I am home I don’t need to go out again!

On Friday a few of us popped out for lunch, and then almost as soon as I got home we were heading out again, going to dinner at Bill’s and then to the Odyssey (which is a lovely renovated cinema in St Albans with one screen, fancy seats with tables) to see Little Women. In Bill’s I had the burger special which was a vegan tempura vegetable burger, with some added avocado which I was very glad of because it was super spicy!

Before the film we just had time to walk around to The Pudding Stop to get something for later (butterscotch blondie to share) and then I enjoyed a proper cup of tea (well, in a glass but the person at the bar said it was bigger than a cup so may as well) while we watched the film. I loved the film. I had read the book when I was younger but couldn’t remember much (just that I really liked Jo) but I just thought it was so well done and so enjoyable. Although the man next to me kept falling asleep, and then when it finished started talking about how good it was…

Do you like watching documentaries? 

Runs in the wind, rain and frost

Well, the weather this week has been “interesting” for running in!

Monday was so windy, and I did wonder if a run was a good idea, but it seemed OK- Andy told me to stay away from any big trees (hard when you live in a garden city) and I did see one big branch that had fallen down.

I tried to record a video while I was running but it didn’t sound very windy even though it seemed like it was howling in my ears and I kept having to turn up the volume on my podcast. Anyway, once home I felt a lot better!  4 recovery miles in the bag (and with that wind no chance of running any faster!).

On Tuesday I stopped in town on my way home as I wanted to get a few bits. Also it was raining hard so to get up my steps I walked around the shopping centre for a bit. I ended up buying a few more salt and vinegar snacks to add to my collection ( I love the KP nuts but they are so strong I always burn my mouth on them so I am trying to find a good enough replacement…). I also saw these non dairy mozzarella sticks and ended up getting those too. I should not shop when hungry!

Wednesday and it was back to yoga! Oh how I have missed this! I was feeling super stiff, but we were eased in with some work on backs and twists, we used balls to roll on our feet and tennis balls to roll under our shoulders, and as usual I left the class feeling miles better. Home to cosy penguin socks and my peppermint cream candle.

Baked sweet potato and beans, plus a hot chocolate after my Thursday night run, and a candle and cosy socks after yoga

On Thursday we had a training session after work, close to where we used to live, so I decided to change into my running kit after school, before driving to the course, and have a run around the business park after.

When the course finished it was raining really hard, and I sat in my car for a bit pondering whether I should just go home, but of course once I started running I felt so much better, especially with my fave parkrun podcast for company.

I have missed running on those pavements so much! They are wide and flat, with no potholes, they are well-lit, and have nice big cycle lanes too. I warmed up and then did some lamp post intervals, and then headed back to the  car. I was just under 4 miles and would usually round it up, but I knew I was running late so left it at that. Andy had put sweet potatoes in the oven, but when I got home it was a bit of a rush (the course finished later than I had thought  it would, so the time estimates were out)- I had the quickest ever shower!

On Friday I had a massage which was so badly needed- so much crunching! I popped to Pret to get  a drink and could not resist one of their filled cookies.

On Saturday we went to Jersey Farm parkrun- my dad and brother were off to the football so had to leave by 11am, so we headed there as it was the closest to them.

It was a beautiful frosty morning and we walked a lot of the way on the road because the pavements were still icy and slippery. The actual park was super muddy- back to how it was a month ago when you just have to accept that your feet will get wet and just go for it with the puddles.

They had two volunteers taking photos so there ended up being a few of us (not together). Once finished we jogged back home and all showered super speedily before Mum made us some pancakes. Delicious as always.

Then after stopping to get some bird food and random things for work, I helped Andy with more wallpaper stripping. We are still doing this in our hallway- it takes so long and now some of the wallpaper has been painted (why?????) it takes even more goes to get rid of.

A quick bagel for lunch before more steam stripping, and then once dark we headed into town for a look at the festival of lights, celebrating the centenary of the town.

There were various light installations around the town, with live music going on, and they had added more fountains to the main fountain. It was quite pretty and the town centre was heaving so it seems like it worked pretty well.

On Sunday morning I headed out for a long run- it was so frosty and lots of the pavements were slippery so it was good I was planning a slow one! I was aiming to do around 11.5 -12 miles, but when I got home I was nearly at 13, so I headed around the block to make it a half marathon. It was such beautiful running weather (but absolutely freezing) that I decided to make the most of it- it could be back to the wind and rain by next weekend.

I even did some yoga when I got home. I was pretty thirsty and added a bit of lime to my usual coconut water with a pinch of salt- very refreshing.

As I’d been to town on Friday I had popped into Gail’s and bought us chocolate  almond croissants- so tasty.

The rest of the day was spent doing work, popping out to see Andy’s parents, having a little walk to stretch the legs (feeling OK) and watching some TV.

Which kind of weather do you prefer to run in?  Do you have favourite run routes or places that you really enjoy running in?

Back to the routine

On Sunday we took our Christmas tree down and then it was time to get back to work and a routine.

Last week went like this:

Monday- 4 mile run after work  in wind and rain. I did a yoga cool down video after (tick).

Tuesday- I had to pop to St Albans town on my way home to get half a prescription (when I went before they only had half)- when I got home Andy had been using the Instant Pot to make a chilli.

Whilst in town I had popped into Pret and as they had a really nice sounding special (carrot falafels with gherkins and beetroot) I decided to get a nice lunch to help with the first week back.

Sweets for the cinema/ my new candle/ back to work lunch and not pretty dinner

On Wednesday I didn’t have yoga, so went out on a run- 4 miles including some lamp post intervals. It wasn’t easy finding somewhere to run fast though-  the roads around here are all bumpy and cracked from the tree  roots, and often it’s hard to see because the trees make huge shadows (even with the chest torch).

On Thursday we were off to the cinema to see JoJo Rabbit (which I really enjoyed- the tone was similar to Death of Stalin, with some emotion thrown in too) so it was a quick dinner of a wrap filled with vegan cheese, apple and chutney, heated in a pan so it all melted together- not pretty but very tasty.

On Friday when I left work the moon was so pink and just above the horizon. As I drove home it seemed to get even bigger and more orange- very impressive. We had a walk when I got home, and then I spent the evening watching TV, catching up on my magazine reading and eating Christmas cake.

Saturday’s parkrun was Jersey Farm so I drove to my parents and then walked there with Dad. The mud  is slowly drying and most places it’s fairly good going. It drizzled a bit on the first lap, but dried up by the end. Dad ran ahead and was there to cheer me through the finish. We did a good deed of picking up some litter on our  way home (we’d seen this pile of polystyrene last week, and this week Dad had a bag with him so we collected it all).

I took some clothes to change into- top and jumper, and socks (new for Christmas) and then we had pancakes. Once home and showered we had a few bits to get in town (including my free Starbucks) so we walked in before it got dark. I had some work to do, so no excuse needed to light my new candle- it’s peppermint cream and smells amazing.

We’ve been watching Wisting (about a Norwegian detective) and it looks so cold so we had a hot chocolate to warm up- Hotel Chocolat did a gingerbread one which is really good- spiced and not too sweet.

Sunday morning was time for a long run- I realised that Brighton half is a couple of weeks closer than I thought (end of Feb).  Thumb holes and stretchy pockets for the win in any running clothes. It was sunny when I left, then about a mile in it poured with rain so hard that I sheltered under a tree for a bit. Then it cleared and was cold but sunny.

Once home I did some yoga including legs up the wall, showered and had breakfast and then had to get ready to head out again quickly.

I was off for afternoon tea for a baby shower.

There was mountains of food (we took so much home to take to work the next day) and we played a few games. We were there for so long it was dark by the time I got home!

What is your favourite part of afternoon tea? Usually I  like scones the best, but this one had really good cakes- so fluffy and with really light icing. I had a lemon one which also had lemon curd inside.