Attempting some Strava art and a different end to term

The week started off in the same way- opening my tea advent calendar (Butter Brew made an appearance which is a lovely black tea with caramel, as did Eggnog which is a vegan rooibos with nutmeg), doing some crafty bits and wrapping gifts.

I was going to meet Carrie for a run after work on Tuesday but she could not make it, so I parked in town and attempted a snowman that I had seen someone else in the running club post (they had posted a screenshot from Strava so I couldn’t zoom in). I could not quite work out the entire route but I think it looks pretty good. I’d worn my Christmas leggings of course.

There wasn’t any yoga on Wednesday, but after a very busy day I was thankful for a short walk before getting on with work and then some TV. I did ponder having a run, but decided to wait until Thursday.

Thursday started off well (tea in a cute robin cup from one of the children in my class) and I was in a festive jumper (and also I took in my Christmas Minnie Mouse ears as we’d been doing reindeer runs at school each day in place of the normal daily miles). But then at lunch time I had the dreaded alert on my phone.

Because of who the cases were linked to, this meant that we had to send home our entire bubble, and I had to go home as soon as the last child had left. We had already planned a rehearsal for trialling Google Meet with our classes, so I had to do that and then prep a day of online teaching ready for Friday. Not really the end of term we were hoping for. Although the app is wrong as it has changed to 10 days, so the official letter I got tells me that my isolation ends on Christmas Day at midnight (eg I can go out on Boxing Day). I really wished that I’d gone on a run on Wednesday before I’d known, as I cannot leave here (even if I went out at 6am and didn’t see anyone)- I did a trial walk around the garden and made a sort of figure of eight but it isn’t the same and Strava/ Garmin cannot cope with measuring it. I had signed up to run 100km before Christmas and I am not 100% sure I can manage that now- 4 miles really feels like the limit for each day.

Making the most of WFH with crumpets for lunch as I do not trust the communal toaster at work!

Andy had already ordered the festive vegan Crosstown Doughnuts as a celebration for making it to the end of term, so they arrived on Friday- even more needed!  After finishing work I went for a run around the garden- I wanted to run 4 miles but with the tracking being so off, my watch didn’t get to 4 miles until I’d been out for around 70 minutes- it was very dark by then. Listening to WMN for a bit of festivity- and yes I agree with Nicola that Baby It’s Cold Outside has a very inappropriate message!

One of the running club challenges was to take 4 photos on a run, so I could tick that one off still. Not the most exciting photos!

Saturday was International Ugly Christmas Singlet day (from the parkrun adventurers pod)- I had my koala top from last year so of course was going to wear it for my run. Ideally it should be at a parkrun (and I did wear it a year ago at a very muddy Jersey Farm) but this is what is allowed. I wore my Run up 2 Christmas elf socks too, to get into the festive spirit. Andy ended up shutting the blinds because he said watching me made him think of animals pacing a tiny zoo enclosure.

Garmin cannot cope with the run!

At least I had lots of Christmas jobs to get done, such as decorating Christmas cakes and wrapping more presents.

Next up on the Christmas movie list was Elf- it seemed fitting after wearing my elf socks on my run, and preferable to watching the announcement about how we are going back into lockdown for the next few months.

I do feel disappointed by this, as we were not going to meet up inside with anyone over Christmas, as we didn’t think it was sensible (but I do understand that we are lucky that both sets of parents live close by, so we have seen them for walks etc fairly regularly- much easier than if we lived in different parts of the country)- however we were going to meet up on some walks outside as all the evidence shows that outdoors the risk is relatively low, and now we can’t even do that. I feel cross when I think about it for too long because I have been so cautious- online shopping, only going into a café during the more relaxed lockdowns for a takeaway drink, not going to restaurants or pubs, I’ve still not braved the hairdressers (3rd Jan 2020 was when I last went…) and even with all that I have first lost a week of my holiday (I know it’s not technically lost, but I need to be outside for my mental health and not having that for a week makes it feel like I am very stuck and wasting time) and can’t see much for optimism in the near future.  I also really want parkrun back, and with these latest restrictions it feels further away yet again. On the podcast Tom Williams was talking about it, and he said that in the summer they could have legally gone ahead, but linked to public perception etc they didn’t push for it. Which makes sense when football and all sorts was going on then. But if they had started and then had to stop, I wonder if it would be nearer again, whereas because all the events have stopped for so long, the restart is going to take ages. Whinge over.

Gingerbread chai tea- hooray! It’s one of the best!

On Sunday I did a slightly longer run (around 90 mins, although Strava still said 4 miles)- another running club challenge was to run with a buddy and have a post run treat, so I got my little Stitch and had him in my pocket as I ran. One doughnut each was left so that was breakfast and the post run treat sorted. Delicious.

Late afternoon and another Christmas movie was calling, this time The Christmas Chronicles. Which I did quite enjoy, but am not 100% sure who the target audience is (a child in my class who was scared of The Gruffalo was watching it, and I do think it’s scarier than that). Anyway, quite fun. I rounded off the weekend with watching a podcast (it’s a comedy teaching one)- it was live on Friday night but I could not really face it then- if you’d got a ticket you could watch it later, and as Andy had a football podcast at the same time it seemed like a good option.

How are you coping with the new tiers? What would you do if you were stuck inside for 10 days?  To end on a positive note, I have had so many messages from people asking if I need anything, which is just so sweet (although Andy is allowed to leave the house so he can go to the shop if we needed anything). Anyway,  it’s good to remember that people are just so kind.

Getting the decorations up and making a wreath

(This is back on Monday 7th December before all the craziness happened).

After visiting the Christmas tree farm on the Sunday, I didn’t have much energy to actually decorate it, so we did it in bits during the week.  We got our fake tree down and put it in the dining room (we couldn’t decide for a while) so now we have two trees- I am making the most of this once in a lifetime situation!

Andy’s dad made us this amazing wooden tree, so I put our little Disney baubles on it.

On Wednesday it was the final yoga of the term (none in the final week) and I felt Ok, although any of the inversions just felt bad so I missed those. It’s so weird to think that since March the classes have been going online. I am still yet to do a proper headstand (I can get one leg up at a time, but not both)- maybe 2021 will be a year for me to get the hang of that.

On Thursday I met my dad for a run- a little out and back in the rain. It was enjoyable to catch up and as it turned out, our last run together for a while so I am glad we managed it.

I am loving the Proviz jacket although it is very noisy!

Friday treat of a gingerbread biscuit while I tackled some work, more festive tea in my advent calendar and a crime drama on the TV.

Of course, now that it’s December, the festive leggings are out. Another club challenge was to do some reps (I think 200m or more in length, maybe 6 reps?) so I did that on Saturday morning as part of my (not)parkrun. All good.

Since finishing The Crown and whizzing through The Queen’s Gambit we started an Icelandic drama called The Valhalla Murders which has been really good (way better than Young Wallander), and then onto Fargo.

I’d ordered a wreath kit from a lady on Etsy who usually does classes, and there was a fair bit of hassle with the delivery company losing the parcel (not the seller’s fault at all- she was super helpful), but the replacement arrived in time for the weekend, so I spent a good hour and a bit making the wreath. Things like this are so therapeutic and I would definitely do something like this again. The lady had made a video as well as printing out instructions, so I could watch and pause her instructions whenever needed. It of course doesn’t replace a live class, but in this situation that we are in it was perfect. The box was full of moss and fir and pine cones and dried orange slices and wooden stars- it just looked so festive.

I also wrapped the presents for people at work, made decorations for some relatives and got them ready to post, sorted a donation to The Woodland Trust (instead of sending Christmas cards),  topped up the bird food, did the cleaning and finished some work. Phew. A very productive day.

On Sunday I took the run fairly gently as I still felt like I had a bit of a cold left, so 8 miles in the rain felt like plenty. I did some more crafting- I love making these Danish hearts- and also made some cookies.

These are the Pret vegan chocolate almond butter cookie recipe, and then on the top I melted a little dark choc mixed with some peppermint extract, and then sprinkled on some crushed candy canes. I just wish we were allowed to give out home-made food as gifts (I understand why not but it’s a shame all the same).

On Sunday afternoon my Christmas movie was Godmothered (on Disney+)- a bit of an Enchanted and Elf vibe, and as a lot of it is set in Boston over Christmas it let us look back on a few yeas ago when we went to NYC and Boston over Christmas.

What Christmas movies have you been watching?  Do you like crafts? I just got a glue gun and I can see a lot of use for that in the future!

I hope you are doing OK whichever tier you are in and whatever plans you had…

A festive run and tea advent!

So, last week it was the start of December. Usually we can say things like “wow, how is it December already?” but this year it feels like we have been in December-Eve for ages.

On Sunday I watched another festive film, this time Noelle, from Disney+. This was more of a fun Christmas film than Last Christmas (which was a bit more like A Christmas Carol)- loads of lines from Christmas songs, lots of cute decorations and full of festive cheer. I did wish that Anna Kendrick would sing a bit more though.

Advent calendar excitement, Run up 2 Christmas socks and a hot cross bun with some tea after a super busy day at work

As well as advent calendars, December marked the start of our running club challenge (they’ve created 12 days of Christmas, with 12 challenges to be completed, in any order during December), and I am also doing the Run Up 2 Christmas for MIND- I am aiming for 100km before Christmas day.

On Tuesday after work I met Carrie for a run. We had said we would run to see the Christmas lights in WGC (I was even wearing my Christmas top which I realised that after putting on my high viz vest and light over the top, no-one could actually see…), and after doing a little detour around the town to see some of the lights, we thought we would be able to tick off the 10k on the club challenge- we actually ran over 7 miles which we both agreed was something that neither of us would have done if we were running on our own. I was absolutely freezing though- after work I’d had a meeting and to make it socially distanced we had to sit in the hall, with all the  doors open, so it was about 4 degrees. I think only after running around 4 miles did I start to feel warm, and I was so  glad when I got home to find that Andy had put the wood burner on.

On Monday we finished The Crown, so Tuesday was the time to begin The Queen’s Gambit (a week on we have finished it!).

On Thursday I drove to my parents and had a run with Dad- he had planned the route and it ended up being very muddy as we ran across fields and along bridleways. It was good fun, and although it had rained all day, it actually stopped when we started running, and with the moon out was quite a clear evening. I wore my new Pro Viz jacket which I had got in the sales. I mainly got it as a waterproof as despite washing my running jacket with the special wash stuff, it isn’t any good in heavy rain. Weirdly, despite being the same price and pretty much the same design, the cycling jacket is waterproof and the running one isn’t, so I got the cycling jacket. I am so impressed with the reflectivity, as was my dad.

See below for how muddy my shoes were after! Another club challenge ticked off (a (not)parkrun).

On Friday night I slept so badly, and on Saturday decided to do another challenge, 3 hill repeats somewhere in your run. I ended up doing 5 miles, but just never warmed up and my pace was super slow the whole time. After a hot shower and breakfast, I still wasn’t feeling great but just thought  it was because I hadn’t slept well. I managed some cleaning and a walk to get some fresh air, but I had some work to do and ended up sitting in bed attempting to do it, and just went to sleep all afternoon instead. Andy woke me up and I had some dinner, and then went back to bed again.

No run on Sunday morning- instead a morning spent watching TV. By the afternoon I felt a bit better, and Andy had found a local Christmas tree farm, so we went there to choose a tree- it’s a hard decision!

Although by the time we had got it home and put it up, I had no energy to get the decorations down or start putting them up, so we left that for another day.

Are your decorations up? Real tree or fake? We have a fake one which we put up each year, but as we’re not going away as a special treat we got a real one this year.

I can still run faster, and more cosy evenings in

We had a few chilly evenings and mornings the week before last- for the end of November it has started to feel like we are getting closer to winter. A few days we’ve had gorgeous sunrises, but other days it has barely got light all day. We’ve had the wood burner on for a few evenings, and that is just perfect after having a cold run- it even helps my hair to dry.

On Tuesday I was going to meet Carrie again, but she couldn’t make it. I already needed to go to Hatfield to get some petrol, so I decided to park there and then run to the business park. I really miss that aspect of living there- around here the pavements are so lumpy from tree roots pushing up the tarmac, and the big trees make huge shadows so I do need my torch even on well-lit roads. In the business park, the pavements are wide and flat and well lit, and it’s fairly empty at the moment as everyone is working from home (sometimes after work it would be grid locked as all the offices emptied).

Anyway, it was cold and I didn’t have a jacket, only a t-shirt, so with the call of the wood burner at home I ended up going pretty fast. How annoying is that 3rd mile though? I think I had to stop at some traffic lights briefly on my way back. Otherwise such consistent pacing once I got going!

It still doesn’t even beat my (not)parkrun pb, let alone my actual one, but it felt good and that’s what matters.

On Thursday I had a meeting online which I rushed home for (technology at home may be more reliable than in my classroom…) and Dad had offered to drive over here to run together, so after finishing up he arrived and we headed on a route together. I’d planned a 5k although when we got back to my road we were just under and had to do a little loop on the street to make it up. Again it was so cold and misty and damp- I knew I’d warm up, and the trouble with winter running is that if I get warm and want to take my jacket off, it’s more of a faff having to take off my torch and high viz vest first, and then put them back on again. I decided to grin and bear it, although I’d forgotten my gloves which was a rookie error.

I couldn’t hang around too much after because we had booked an Aldi click and collect- who even knew that existed? In between lockdowns we had been going late at night maybe once a month to stock up on various bits, but I didn’t fancy it in actual lockdown. It worked pretty well although I don’t think we could edit the basket once we had put it through online. You parked in a bay, texted a number to say which bay you were in, and they wheeled it out on those flatbed trolley things. No missing items either, although when we got home we found out they had given us the wrong marzipan bars.

The babka for weekend breakfasts made an appearance again. This time I filled it with dark chocolate spread, some orange peel and marzipan (I had some which had dried up as I’d only used a bit, so it was no good for cake covering). A pretty good combination.

Yay to With Me Now pod keeping the parkrun love going all this time. Also look at those cute Christmas decorations/ eye pillow ready for yoga.

After my (not)parkrun plus a few miles (warm up/cool down) I had a yoga class and gong bath booked. I had a shower and some toast and then got into my yoga clothes, got my blanket and eye pillow ready and loaded up my laptop. We had an hour of yoga first, focusing on breathing and gentle movement, and then I got into bed under my blanket for the gong bath. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at one point!

Later on we walked into town- I decided to have my Frozen cosy to fit with the weather, plus a reindeer hat and my Mickey gingerbread mask because I’m on the Christmas countdown now.

On the Saturday evening I watched The Bake Down do a live podcast- they also did a scone class but I didn’t do that, although I watched some of it to see how their online classes would work. I am quite tempted by the pretzel one in January.

On Sunday it was such a grey and misty day- As I ran over the bridge I could hardly see the top of the factory (it is a white building)- I am not sure if got light all day! We did have a walk in the afternoon but mainly time was spent indoors getting on with jobs and ordering Christmas presents.

Do you like winter?  I am not  fan of the dark days, but I do love a frosty and cold day.

A more successful bake and a walk in Panshanger with a hidden Mickey!!

The evenings have been occupied with scented candles and The Crown. Trying to not burn through it too quickly (the candles and The Crown, because the candles are from the USA so I won’t be getting more any time soon)!

I am also missing that Friday feeling (see Fry above). There was a glimmer on the horizon as Junior parkrun might come back in the spring, so here’s hoping that real parkrun will come soon after- with all these vaccines being developed we must have hope.

We also got some satsumas in our shopping- it’s always a bit of a gamble getting them delivered because I am a bit fussy and in normal times would pick them up in a real shop instead, but these one were good.

Last weekend I had another go at the vegan babka recipe for weekend breakfast- it’s a good one because I can make the dough on Friday night, leave it to rise in the fridge overnight, and then in the morning shape it and spread on the filling, and then Andy puts the oven on while I’m out (not)parkrunning, and then it’s baked and cooling while I have a shower. It’s good heated the next day too. I think this time I got the twists more accurate, although it’s a sticky dough so transferring it from the board to the tin is always very tricky.

Recently Saturday has been a day of jobs, but I have been pretty efficient at getting all the cleaning and sorting done in the morning after my run, so we’ve often walked into town (usually when the weather has been OK) to get our Caffe Nero drinks, and of course maybe one of their delicious mince pies. I wore my Dole Whip mask for the first time after having bought it in the summer ahead of our DLP trips. (We’ve just had to cancel another one, as we had booked a couple of days at the start of the Christmas holiday, as they were meant to reopen, but now France has carried on with their lockdown so it won’t open until Feb 2021- impressive that we had annual passes for 2020 and did not use them for one day!). Anyway, it was very comfy and didn’t steam up my glasses. I think half my masks do, and half don’t, and I’m not too sure if it’s the fabric or the fit.

I fancied something easy going so on Saturday we watched Last Christmas. I am not one for holiday cheesy movies (eg I would not watch The Holiday or anything)- but this was less of a rom-com and more of a modern day Christmas Carol (ish). I mean, you can’t expect much from a film based on a song, but it was festive enough.

On Sunday the weather was meant to be terrible, but it was amazing! A cold wind, but such beautiful skies and leaves. My battery nearly ran out though (I thought I had checked the night before, but I think I’d actually checked on Friday)- thankfully it lasted until I got home- because if it’s not on Strava … (and I want to have 100 miles in each month this year as I’ve surpassed my original target of 1,000 miles per year a while back).

After breakfast we went for a walk in Panshanger, although it seemed like all of Hertford and WGC had had the same idea- the car park was rammed! Luckily it’s a huge park and the fields tend to be busy with dog walkers, so we walked the parkrun route which was fairly quiet. I did see lovely Donna from my running club- she was waiting for her partner to finish his run so we had a brief chat (and I was wondering if that was allowed?).

At one point I saw this puddle and went “oooh look”- Andy thought I had seen something exciting, and was very disappointed when it was just a puddle shaped like Mickey Mouse. I did point out that even if I had seen a woodpecker he wouldn’t find it exciting, not sure what he was expecting!

I baked another Christmas cake and then had tea and a mince pie while it baked. Andy was watching a podcast, so I decided on a chai latte and a Disney movie- this time The Princess and The Frog. It’s got such good music, but the sad bit is still so sad (not quite Pixar level).

Are you watching Christmas movies yet? And if so, which ones?