What a windswept week! And parkrun memories…

I didn’t have a run on the Monday as I wanted to get in to work earlier than usual just to set my mind at ease.

My treat for making it through the day was a hot cross bun and tea when I got home- very much needed as I had forgotten to bring my lunch with me!

I went on an early run on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (around 3 miles each time)- by Thursday it was sooooo windy and was pretty hard work. Rain was forecast on Wednesday but luckily I was home before it really started (no time to wash my hair so didn’t really want to get my hair wet on a run).

The best pod for my run, and the best tea to help me through some tricky work- got to make it in a travel cup though as not sure about using the cups from work at the moment.

It’s so light in the mornings now though- I love it! No need for a torch even for the first few minutes. It’s still lovely and empty- just me and my podcast and nature.

On Wednesday evening I had yoga as normal- I must have been more shattered than I thought, because in the yoga nidra I properly fell asleep (I usually drift in and out a bit) and woke up later with the “this zoom meeting has ended” message on the screen! Whoops!

New vegan box for March- those peanut m’n’m’s are so good, tree trunks going and a windswept look after teaching PE outside!

On Friday the rotten tree trunks in our garden were being removed (Andy sent me a picture)- it’s made a huge difference to the garden. We’re going to put in some nice trees like silver birch (my fave).

I drove to Mum and Dad’s after work, and we had a lovely (not)parkrun together, over fields and again very windswept but really good fun.

On Friday night we rented a doc called Sour Grapes- all about fraud in the wine industry (made me think of the most recent Sneaky Pete series).  It was interesting enough, but also madness the money people were spending on wines to just sit in cellars.

On Saturday we had the final Christmas panettone, baked in the oven (baked French toast) and then had a lovely spring walk. Hair in plaits is the only way when it’s still so windy! I spent my life detangling my hair at the moment. It’s coming up to 15 months since it was cut, and the thickness is just a bit crazy. We got a click and collect drink for the way home, and later I finished our Christmas cake.

Sunday was time of course for another long run- I went along an old railway line for a bit of it, and then headed back to Panshanger park and then home through the fields. I feel so lucky to be able to run so far with only such a short section on roads (the first and last half mile). Beautiful weather, but I’d had a bit of a stiff shoulder and back, and a few times had to walk to stretch out a bit. Enjoyable though.

Me, Brian, Dad and my brother at Linford Wood parkrun back in 2017

I had memories pop up of my visit to Irchester Country parkrun with Dad, this time last year. I did my i, completed by UK parkrun alphabet, met the lovely Mary who was RD, and I think we were all aware that it would be the last parkrun for a while, I don’t think anyone imagined it would be this long. The 5th June is there, in the distance, and hopefully we make it. I also had a lovely email from Brian (my dad’s cousin) who got into parkrun when we met him at Linford Wood parkrun back in 2017 (for some reason, we thought he went to it already, but it turned out he only went there to meet us there). Anyway, since then he’s turned into a huge parkrun fan, doing lots of runs and volunteering. He’s been on 97 since the pause, and so was messaging us about celebrating his 100th! Hopefully we will get to do that this year.

On that note, parkrun have issued changes to the milestone t-shirts (from September). Basically we will have to pay for them now (overseas people had to pay for postage anyway), and they are introducing some more volunteer ones (and  run 25 I think). I was relieved to see that the colours are staying- I’m only 15 away from 250, and green is my favourite colour, so I am really looking forward to that. Also, you can re-order a top if it wears out/ shrinks etc. I might re-order my 100 top, as I ended up getting the wrong size (in that I chose it- I really liked the Tribesport fit, and the old Apricot ones, and then by the time I could claim my 100th- after doing my 150th run- they had switched supplier, and although I followed the measurements, it ended up being too big really).

What I would like is a sort of “pay it forward” aspect- eg I would be happy to donate for one other person to get their top if they could not afford it. I read a few people suggest this in the comments, and they were generally met with “well just donate to parkrun forever then”. Well, I do that, but it doesn’t mean that someone can get a free t-shirt if they can’t afford the cost. Edit- Danny Norman from With Me Now pod did an excellent live interview with Nick Pearson on their facebook page (you can still watch it after) which answered those queries and more and is well worth a watch.

Are you happy with the new changes to the t-shirts? What do you remember from parkrun this time last year? 

Misty runs, meal kits and the end of half-working from home

After the not Brighton half marathon weekend, it was the beginning of March. After January dragged so much, February seemed to fly by. Yes it’s only 28 days, but I think the lighter evenings and nicer weather all helped.

Scenes from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday runs- a misty start to March.

I had to go into work on a few days as well as juggling all the home learning that was still going on, so my runs have started getting shorter to factor in the commute time and prep time. I did 4 miles on Monday, 3 on Tuesday, 5 on Wednesday, a 5k after work on Thursday with Dad, and then 5 miles on Friday. After the beautiful sunrises of the previous weeks, most of the runs were super foggy and misty.

The current garden project is covering up the horrible orange fence with green paint- I managed it on a couple of evenings after work as it’s getting lighter so much later now. And a hot cross bun with maple butter.

On Thursday I’d been in work for the morning and Andy suggested getting a Pret lunch (as we don’t have one where we live)- he ordered it to be delivered to work, and as I was coming home for the afternoon it worked out perfectly. I had the hummus and veggie wrap which is so good. Andy also got us a cookie each (their dark chocolate almond butter cookies are the best).  On Thursday Dad drove over and we went for a (not)parkrun together. It was so enjoyable- we ran through the fields and just chatted.  Once home and showered it was time for the Pret cookie. Oh it was as good as I remembered!

B&B tea club arrived with an add on of peach cobbler matcha- you can now add in other items to the delivery which I love.

On Friday, after a week of mist and fog, I was finally treated to a gorgeous sunrise. I just love these fields- at that time in the morning there is no-one around. Sometimes when I head back I see someone walking a dog, but it’s usually just me, the sky, the birds, and the occasional fox or rabbit. So peaceful and such a wonderful start to the day.

On Friday evening we watched Moxie (anything involving Amy Poehler will be good)- about some USA high school girls standing up for women’s rights. It was very fitting that close to International Women’s Day.

I finished the fence at the weekend (although we are having fencing panels along the back, so once they are in there will be more painting to do).

Saturday was a day off running- started with painting the radiator, pancakes, a walk into town and then helping Andy with the wardrobe (the on-going spare room project was taking longer than we anticipated).

We had got a Hello Fresh box to try, and so our Saturday meal was vegan cottage pie, but after doing garden jobs and wardrobe building, it was not the best timing to try a new recipe. It was tasty, the roasted broccoli and flaked almonds was a good side, but our kitchen was such a mess after as we used so many pans and chopping boards and bowls!

On Sunday I wore my purple parkrun top, as someone had suggested wearing purple for IWD (I think the With Me Now group again).

I had an enjoyable run to Panshanger and back (just over 8 miles)- seeing the spring flowers popping up everywhere. At one point I saw about 4 buzzards circling overhead, and could hear woodpeckers drumming away again.

Although I did have not a nice experience- I got a bit cross and was annoyed at myself for my reaction. Coming out of the park is a fenced in sloped path, that is probably 1m wide. I was at the top, where it meets the road, as a group of 5 male cyclists turned into the park. I stopped and moved to the side (ignoring the fact that it’s meet one person for exercise, not 4 others…) and one of them went to the left of me while the others went to the right. I tried to move out of their way (maybe some people think this is a bit extreme, but I take the 2m seriously), but they kept moving and meant they were even closer. I’m not sure why they didn’t all go to one side. Anyway, as I tried to move out of their way again (I was stopping for them, not the other way around) one of them shouted at me “what’s up? We don’t bite, you can come closer”. I was just a bit taken aback, and said something like “I know you don’t, but I’m trying to give you some space”.  Then the next bit of my run was spoilt while I thought about it over and over and wished I’d said something about them being inconsiderate. Grrrr.

My faith was restored not long after- I was trying to get a photo of the back of my top for the photo collage, and in the end sat down, put my phone on the slope behind me and then set the timer. As I was doing this, a guy ran past, and asked me if I was OK. I suppose he’d seen me running and suddenly stop and sit down, but even so it was very kind of him to check.

Our Hello Fresh meals and delicious croissants

Once home it was time for croissants for breakfast (the La Boulangere vegan ones are so good) and yet more wardrobe building, sorting of clothes, and trying to get the things out of our offices and back into the spare room. Plus a bit of prep for all of the children being back in school (and that’s another mini rant- please do not refer to schools reopening, because they were never closed… and here’s a poor headteacher appealing to parents to not use the key worker spaces unless they have no other choice…).

We had another Hello Fresh meal- this time moussaka. The recipe was actually a veggie one, but we thought we could easily veganise it by swapping the cheese for vegan cheese, and getting the Oatly crème fraiche replacement, only we forgot to order one. On Saturday we had walked past Waitrose and thought we could “pop in”- not something we relish, as neither of us had been to a shop since perhaps December or maybe even October. Anyway, the queue was around the carpark so we decided to leave it, as I knew I could make it from silken tofu which we had at home. Again, the meal was tasty, but it took ages. I think new recipes always take longer, but after being so busy with jobs around the house, neither of us were really in the mood for yet more pans and bowls.

Monday night was our final one- veggie chilli with sweet potato wedges and avocado and tomato salsa. It was tasty and probably the easiest one so far, but I am not sure we will hurry to order more- the kits seem quite wasteful (yes, the veggies come in a brown paper bag, but you also get loads of little plastic pots with spices and stock powder etc), and they seem quite expensive. We treated ourselves to some Cook meals in the freezer, and a vegan shepherds pie is £8, whereas the Hello Fresh kit was £9, and we had to make it!

Do you ever use meal kits? Do you like cooking? I enjoy it when there is no pressure, which is partly why I prefer baking. How has March started for you?

Not the Brighton half marathon weekend

I had so many memories popping up this week (facebook and google photos) of past Brighton marathon weekends- crazy windy weather one year, so warm another year- medal pictures, the pre half parkrun tourism on the Saturday, breakfast out after parkrun, wanders by the sea, lunch out after the half marathon….

I had switched my long run to Saturday, and was going to run 8-10 miles, but once I was out I felt good, and I started pondering the fact that I’ve run a half marathon in February for many years in a row. (I did do Cambridge instead one year, which was in March I think, but I think I still ran the distance in training in Feb). So of course I ended up running 13.1 miles on Saturday.

It was super frosty first thing, and I was glad of my long sleeves. I had lots of stops for photos and that sort of thing, so it was not race pace, but very enjoyable. I did have a slight panic, as just as I was getting into Panshanger park itself, I realised it was 9am, and parkrun have asked people to stay away from the routes at parkrun time (plus I was wearing my apricot top- I don’t wear it on long runs usually). It was very full of dog walkers, but I didn’t see many runners about and the paths were fine in the end so I needn’t have worried.

Breakfast once home was baked crumpets (sort of like baked French toast? Soaked in a mixture of oat milk and chickpea flour plus berries, and baked in the oven).

After a shower, it was time to help Andy build the new wardrobe, plus do bits of cleaning etc (not quite as exciting as a weekend in Brighton!).

I did make myself a chai latte, as in Brighton I would always pop to Bird&Blend to get a drink, and then we made our own version of the Leon Love burgers for dinner.

We watched the Beastie Boys Story, which was a recording of a live show with two of the band members talking through highlights of their career. I always enjoy a music documentary and this was different (as it was a recording of a show, not a traditional doc) and very interesting.

Tasty food over the weekend- baked crumpets, chai latte and vegan burger

As I had been for a run on the Saturday, I had Sunday as a rest day, so I could “spend” my once a day exercise token on a long walk with Andy. We had pancakes (not the same as Café Coho ones, but a good substitute, and come to think of it their pancakes probably aren’t vegan so I’ll need to find a new breakfast option for when we can go there), then headed out on a 5 mile walk. We did a click and collect at Caffe Nero to get a drink for the walk home.

Once home it was time to do more fun jobs like build more of the wardrobe, potter about in the garden and do some baking- I made Nanaimo bars which were very tasty- enjoyed one in front of a live podcast recording.

So, it may not have been the Brighton half marathon weekend, but I still managed to tick off some of the things- half marathon, pancakes, chai latte, a long walk. It will have to do for the moment.

What would a typical weekend away look like for you?

50 weeks without a parkrun, but a small ray of hope

It was all change at the start of the week as I had to go into school to cover, so it turned into a bit of a juggling act with online learning, cover plus parent consultation calls/online meetings (it all comes at once!), so on Monday I had a short 3 mile run before getting my things ready and heading into work. I do enjoy the headspace and fresh air before I begin my day, but I am not sure how realistic it will be once all the traffic is back to being back to normal- I am not sure I can get up at 5am to fit it in before work…

On Tuesday the sunrise was just amazing. I ran through the fields as it was light enough to see without the streetlights, and it was such a treat to be there and see the colours changing almost every minute. I ran for 5 miles and I really wanted to be out there longer.

I think Baby Yoda would like matcha 

With Me Now pod had a post about the Leap Day parkrun from 2020, so I enjoyed reading through everyone’s memories. I’d been the tail walker at Jersey Farm, and it was so flooded that I basically waded most of the way around. I wore my Kermit hat for the frog/leap day theme. There was a DofE volunteer tail walking too, and he had just worn thin trainers- he was not amused by wading through the rivers! It has been so long since I’ve had a random conversation with someone like that- parkrun is so good for forcing me out of my comfort zone and making me chat to people I don’t know.

After work I had to get on and make a cake- my niece was turning 5 and they are having home renovations at the moment which meant that their kitchen was out of action, so they’d asked if I could make a cake as opposed to them buying one. Of course I was more than happy. I’d trialled the recipe the previous weekend, (the Bosh chocolate cake) and it worked out well, so I got on and made that, plus the icing.

She wanted a Wonka bar themed cake, and her mum had suggested buying the chocolate bars and sticking them on top, but in the end I made the bar from icing (over the weekend) as I thought it would be a bit strange to stick the wrapper on the cake (the icing was quite fudgy). I was quite pleased with how it looked.

I did a 4 mile run on Wednesday, and then when I got home from work we had to drive back over to deliver the cake- all very clandestine as it was going to be a surprise, so they left their back gate unlocked and we left it on their table outside (in a container!).  Then I had to get back for yoga. As we are still decorating our spare room, I had to move all my yoga things into the living room, as my office (where I’d usually do yoga) is very full of things from the wardrobe. It did mean that for the yoga nidra at the end I could lay on the sofa, and definitely fell asleep at least twice!

Thursday was another 5 miles. Later on that day, someone (Gail from Monday Running) posted in the With Me Now group that it was 50 weekends since parkrun paused, and she was urging everyone to wear their 50 tops over the weekend to come together as a community. I loved this idea, so on my Friday morning run I wore my 50 top and headed out to the fields again. It was freezing- so frosty, but again so beautiful.

I attempted a few photos with the self timer, but propping it up on a bench meant it was not easy to get the angle to see the number 50. Ah well. I posted the photo, and on Sunday Gail posted a beautiful collage of all these smiling runners in their red tops. parkrun may be paused, but the community is very much alive.

We had exciting parkrun news in that they may be able to restart in June. Maybe. I am trying not to get too excited, because they were meant to come back in October, but then we all know what happened. Considering in some areas infections are already going up, and schools have not even fully opened, I am erring on the side of caution because I don’t want to get my hopes up too high.

Frosty friday views

Are you feeling optimistic about the future at the moment?

Getting into subscription services

And I don’t mean Disney+ !

I didn’t really notice until I was chatting to someone and mentioned about a few of the subscriptions, and I realised that I regularly use quite a few.

Fun ones:

Bird & Blend tea club. This comes each month ( but you can pause or cancel very easily)- you get 3 varieties of loose leaf tea (your first order has a tea measuring spoon and tea sacks too)- either caffeine free or a variety. They are usually seasonal- eg in January they had a sort of “relax and self-care” theme for the teas, February there were pancake teas, next month will be Easter themed teas. They also are accompanied by a postcard with art- the Feb one from Sugar and Sloth was totally adorable and now I can’t stop scanning their Etsy page!

Vegan Kind Lifestyle Box. I signed up to receive a box a month for 3 months, but I think I’ll extend it as I really like the variety. Each box has a selection of sweet and savoury foods/ snacks, plus other items (eg vegan floss), and a recipe card. Some of the products include discount codes, and there are some things I would seek out again, and others I am glad I have tried even if I would not have them again.

Hotel Chocolat. I used to get a box every 3 months, but they have changed the way their subscriptions work, and so I have kept on putting it back. They also mentioned a vegan option late last year, but so far that hasn’t materialised so I am keeping it on hold until they get some better options.

One of the Vegan lifestyle boxes


Wild. I have switched to this natural deodorant/ anti-perspirant and I am really happy with how it works. It’s aim is to cut down on plastic too, so you get one case with your first purchase, and then they sent out refills (which are easy to delay if you don’t need them). The refills are in card which you slot into the case, so zero plastic and waste.

FFS. I subscribed to these after becoming more and more frustrated with the amount of plastic and waste in traditional razors. Your first pack has the razor handle, and then they send out packs of razors (again as often as you like, or delay the re-send very easily)- you send the razors back to them when you are done and they recycle them.  They also do a solid anti-perspirant which I do like, but comes in a tin and I don’t really like applying it in that way. You can get £5 off your first order here (and I would earn some loyalty points).

Bamboo toothbrush head. I have an electric toothbrush but again the plastic is just so bad. I’ve done a subscribe and save on Amazon, so they send out a pack of 2 heads, made from coconut fibres and other recyclable things (LiveCoco), twice a year. You can send the heads to the company for them to be recycled.

Boring house things:

Smol. This time last year I joined a few vegan facebook groups (helpful for recipes, supermarket finds and so on) and learnt that “normal” washing tabs and fabric softener are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans as they often contain animal fats. Coupled with the plastic in the tabs meant I started looking for an alternative. In the end I went with Smol and I am really happy that I did. They they do dishwasher tabs, bio, non bio, fabric softener and surface cleaners. The surface cleaners are brilliant because you add a little tablet to their bottle and top up with water from your tap- helping reduce emissions as the water isn’t being transported everywhere too. Our recycling bin used to get so full so quickly of plastic bottles from shower sprays and things like that. They are very easy to re-order if you need them sooner, or to change the amount and so on. Plus they take up a lot less space in the cupboard which is always a good thing. You can get a free trial here (and I would get a small discount on a future order)

Who Gives a Cr*p.  Did you know that more people in the world have mobile phones than toilets? I learnt that from the wrapping on the toilet paper. The company not only make vegan toilet paper (again, something I learned recently is that the glue might contain gelatine and so on) without dyes, but it’s recycled, no plastic is used in the packaging, and they donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. Be warned that it comes in a very big box with the company name written all over it! But, no worries about running out while everyone in the country is panic-buying!

I think I am signed up to more than I realised! Do you sign up to anything like this? Someone at work mentioned a flower subscription which seemed like a lovely treat.