Sunny Spain

Hey peeps,

I hope everyone has been enjoying the festive period and relaxing/ doing whatever you enjoy.

After our long journey to and from Granada on Christmas Eve, we decided to stay nearer to the apartment on Christmas day. After a leisurely morning, we packed a lunch and drove off to the coast. We were so lucky.

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The weather was just gorgeous.

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No coat needed!

We walked up and down the beach, sat in the sun and had our picnic lunch, and then walked some more.

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I packed this gingerbread in our suitcase (from the Vienna markets) so we had that to make our picnic festive!

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I even made a Christmas tree and snowman (sand-man?).

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But the snowman kept being washed away by the tide- should have chosen a more sensible place on the beach perhaps!

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I expected it to be fairly quiet, but it was really busy with people walking along, eating or drinking in the bars by the beach, and a few brave (stupid?) sunbathers. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised as the climate was good, but I think as where we are staying is so isolated, it feels like there isn’t anyone else in the country. I can’t imagine coming here in the summer though- not being a beach-to-bar person anyway it would not be my kind of thing, but also it would be so hot. And as you can see, the sand isn’t exactly perfect for making castles. But for winter sun this has been perfect.

Good news on the cough front- it seems to be nearly gone, apart from a few coughing fits when I first wake up. But all the shortness of breath that I was experiencing has gone, and I feel like I have my normal amount of energy, no headaches, my rubs and back don’t ache any more, and my cold is pretty much gone too, so I am certainly passed the worst, and am hoping for a New Years Day parkrun to kick off Jantastic 2015 in style- hooray!

Has anyone picked up anything good in the sales? We have wi-fi here, so I have browsed a few shops and ordered myself a pair of very warm and cosy looking slippers, and (how exciting) a new washing basket. Yep, I know how to live!

Feliz Navidad

Hey peeps, I hope you have all been enjoying the last few days.

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The two of us have been relaxing in our little Spanish apartment. The road up to this is a very steep track, and the roads beyond are thin and twisty mountain roads, so I don’t think I would have been brave enough to go running here anyway. But we have been doing a lot of walking.

On Christmas Eve we drove to Grenada to see the Alhambra. We had booked tickets in advance, but then had a bit of a mix up with our times (my Garmin thing is still on UK time as I am not sure how to change it) so initially we thought we had loads of time, but in fact we were nearly an hour late. Whoops. Luckily we were still allowed in.

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The weather was fantastic, although pretty cold ( it is right up near the mountains).

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I didn’t know what to expect- I had seen photos but it was just spectacular. These intricate carvings were everywhere, plus beautiful coloured tiles.

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We must have walked around for at least 3 hours.

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There were some lovely gardens too- we could smell the oranges as we walked towards the trees (like being on Disney’s Soarin’, except it was real and not fake orange scent….).

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It was well worth a visit, and we were pretty shattered when we got back later in the evening (it was nearly a two hour drive each way). We took a lot of DVD’s with us, so watched The Snowman (my favourite Christmas Eve film) and then It’s a Wonderful Life, although I fell asleep during part of it!

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The other day we found some oven bake churros, so the night before we heated some up and had them with nutella- when in Rome right? They were enjoyed in front of Home Alone- another Christmas classic right there.

25 before Christmas

So a while ago I mentioned that I wanted to do 25 parkruns before Christmas. When I told Andy, he thought I meant run a sub 25 minute parkrun (although he did think that was possible)- but no, I meant run a total of 25.

But, for the last few weeks I have done no running at all. I had a cough, it cleared up, I did the Hatfield 5 mile race, and a run on the Tuesday and Wednesday of that week, and then the cough was back with a vengeance. One Thursday I could barely speak (made for amusing times at work asking the children with the loudest voices to say things like “tidy up time” ), and from there it got worse. I even went to the doctors last week but depressingly was told that I could have it for 6 or 7 weeks and not to worry, just do the steam inhalations to help get things out.

Anyway, by the end of last week I was feeling loads better- I actually had energy again, and after seeing my dad on Friday night we agreed to go to parkrun in the morning.

I felt fine, and I wrapped up warm as I knew I would be doing a gentle jog at the back, no chance of warming up. But as soon as we started running, I didn’t feel so good. Every step was hurting the back of my ribs- I think they are a bit bruised from all the coughing, and because of that I was then not being able to take really deep breaths. The parkrun course is beautiful, and again it was lovely weather- sunny for the most part but cool. I felt like I was right at the back, but I kept telling myself that it didn’t matter where I finished- the lovely volunteers would wait. I was trying to take longer strides to minimise the pain (it only happened when my foot hit the ground) but that didn’t really work. I did feel a bit fed up when I got to the 4k point at the same time as when I usually finish, but quickly talked myself out of that negative thinking.

When I got to the finish line my dad was waiting for me- I think a bit worried as I was so much slower than usual. But once I stopped I felt OK, and we had a good chat on the walk back to the car and the drive home. I still can’t decide if it was a good thing or not, but it did help me decide about what to pack. (Andy and I are off to Spain for Christmas, and I was considering taking running things just in case, but after that I decided that enforced rest would only be a good thing).

Anyway, I do love getting the text results through, and when I got mine this week I felt pretty pleased. My time was 35.35 (I do like repeating numbers) and I was 125th out of 133 runners. When I first started running, I did a 5K race for life, and my finish time then was 35 mins- it was the first time I had run without a walk break, and the furthest I had ever run, and I was so proud of myself for doing something that I didn’t think I could do.

I think what I realised this weekend is that finally my mindset has changed. Even though I have now been running for years, I still felt like someone just starting out, and a bit of an imposter at races. But this weekend I felt like, even though I had not run for a few weeks, in fact I am a runner, I have just been out with a bad cough, and once I am back to full health I will be running regularly again.

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And here, for fun, are candy cane cupcakes that I made last week. They are chocolate cupcakes (the Hummingbird recipe) and then butter icing with some peppermint extract and pink colouring. I saw on TV how to do swirls, and thought I would give it a go. Inside the piping bag you paint strips of colouring (which got very messy indeed) and then put the pink icing into the bag. Then, as you pipe, the swirls appear.

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I am not the best at piping, but I thought they looked quite pretty. I added some crushed candy canes to the topping, and then sprinkled with edible glitter (or non-toxic glitter as I think it is officially called).

Wow, look at that, a post about running and cupcakes! Who would have thought it?

Avoiding the shops and visiting the spa

Hey peeps, long time no blogging here. Pretty much I have still been coughing all over the place, and then last week got a cold on top of the cough, so I have been in a bit of a grump over that still (still no running either).

Sadly last Friday we had to go to my Nan’s funeral, as she passed away last month. But we had already booked a night in Bath (for the Christmas markets etc) so decided to till go there after, for something to look forward to.

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We didn’t head into Bath until nearly lunch time, and had a quick look around the shops. The weather was beautiful (so clear and bright) so we bought sandwiches and hot drinks and sat outside with this view.

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We walked down to the river too.

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Such a lovely place to visit.

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It was the final weekend of the Christmas markets and it was heaving, so after a bit more of a walk around we went to the spa. We had only been there once before (after the Bath half in March) and although that was amazing, being able to walk properly was even better!

2014-12-13 14.18.42This time we hired robes too- last time we only hired a towel and because you wrap the towel around you when walking around, it was very wet by the time I actually needed to try. The robe was the way to go. We didn’t go in the rooftop pool, but we went in a few steam rooms which helped my chest and cold no end- I could actually breathe!

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We went in at about 2, and you have a 2 hour time slot plus time for changing and hair drying, and by the time we left it was dark (the reindeer was in the window- so pretty) and it was queued out of the door. I think we went at the right time.

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We were both pretty thirsty, so headed to a cafe for tea and cake (mine was an orange polenta cake- delicious), before doing some shopping. Then we had dinner (lovely Bill’s, oh how I love Bill’s) and then finally time for the markets- they are way too busy in the day, and open until 9pm so it is much better to go back when it is a bit quieter.

2014-12-13 17.41.31Yup, not sure how to turn the flash off!

I had a proper hot chocolate, and we bought ourselves some tree decorations, before driving back home.

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We saw strings of these dried oranges and cinnamon sticks in Vienna, but we weren’t sure how easy they would be to get back on the plane. They make our whole living room smell like Christmas.

I think that this is our third year in a row of visiting the Bath Christmas markets, and I think we have perfected our weekend now- we will be back!



Not quite s’mores!

So, I mentioned the other week that I bought some vegetarian marshmallows, and that I should try making s’mores with them. More on that in a minute! A few weeks ago I had a cough, but it had pretty much gone when I did the 5 mile race the other weekend.

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After that, I headed into London to meet Andy, and we had a wander, saw the lights, had some dinner and then watched Aziz Ansari (a comedian).

Anyway, that week I ran with my new club, and also on Wednesday with Sweatshop, and felt OK. But on the Thursday morning I woke up, was coughing loads, and my voice has pretty much gone too. So, I didn’t go to pump, and have been trying to rest ever since. I was a bit grumpy at the weekend- I was looking forward to parkrun- it as going to be my 25th so I would be half way to 50 (and that was my target for the end of this year).

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I did have a festive afternoon tea with some friends, which was great for a catch up, but when I got home I felt so awful I just had to lie down. 2014-12-06 15.59.27

I also was going to do a long run on Sunday, but no, I could not really walk very far without an awful coughing fit.

So, onto the s’mores. I got home today completely exhausted, and decided to attempt them. I had no biscuits or chocolate (or open fire…), so I put some nutella on some raisin ryvita, broke a marshmallow in half and put it on the top, and then microwaved for 20 seconds. Well, the marshmallow sort of exploded- I thought it would just melt!

2014-12-09 17.12.22So, lesson learnt!

Right, I am off to feel sorry for myself with all this coughing, and taunt myself by reading about all the running that others are doing that I can’t!

Although, silver linings- we may decorate our Christmas tree this evening- look on the bright side eh?

Any microwave disasters?