East Brighton parkrun, plus pancakes and walks by the sea

Before Christmas we took advantage of the Premier Inn sale and booked a Friday night in Brighton for the end of January, so we had something to look forward to.

I knew I’d head to a parkrun on Saturday morning, and when I was down in the summer I heard people talking about a new one starting up near the marina/ Kemp Town (and I did hope for Kemp Town as I still need a K…). Anyway, East Brighton parkrun started in early December, so to complete all of the Brighton ones (depending on where you draw the line) I decided I’d head there. It was a 2 mile run in pretty much a straight line (parallel to the sea) through Kemp Town and to the park. Andy had mentioned that he thought the start was in the middle of the park, so I was quite relieved when I got there and could see the parkrun flag peeping over the bushes.

I arrived at about 8.45 and ended up chatting to one of the runners who had been tail walker the week before. A couple of tourists came over and we all started chatting about where we had been and which courses we liked- they’d been to Ellenbrook fields which is always nice to hear, but I’d not been to any of their local ones (Guildford area). They’d completed their alphabet last year and were doing Wilson Index chasing and needed an event number 8- I just love that there are challenges like this to keep you going (although I  didn’t need an E, or an East, or the number, I just wanted to tick off all the Brighton ones again). The guy doing the new runners briefing had a big map where he tried to explain the course- it looked totally confusing! But you know that with a parkrun you just follow the person in front and all will be fine. I also couldn’t believe that it would be 3.1 miles because you could see all of the park from where we were standing and it looked like the size of two football pitches, and it was only 3 laps.

Then at the main briefing they warned us that if the air ambulance had to land on the football pitch then the parkrun would have to be stopped- a bit of added peril right there.

I shall try to explain it as best I can. We started on the edge of the first park part (just a big grassy field) and ran along to where the park had large steps/ levels cut into the sides of the slope. On the first lap you took the top level, on the second lap the middle, and the final lap the lower one (you can see that on the bottom right of the map above). The rest of each lap ran along the top of the park (to the bottom left of the picture), before a u-turn, running on a slightly lower ledge, then you ran along the middle bit, another u-turn and then a lap of the football pitch, before running back to the start/finish area. It was grassy and muddy in places- we were pre-warned of some muddy slopes, and I wished I’d worn my trail shoes as they give better grip, so I took it fairly steadily. It was really fun though- wherever you were on the route you could see people running above you, below you, around the pitch and so on.  The nature of the route meant that there weren’t a huge number of marshals but you passed each one many times- the lady by the slope (showing you were to go for lap 1, 2 and 3) had gold pom-poms and she did not stop cheering or shaking them the  entire time- she probably used more energy than the runners! Some of the marshals you passed a couple of times on each lap and they were constantly calling out warning people of the slippery slopes and cheering. As I ran past the finish on my second lap, three people had finished but I only noticed one of them lapping me, and I think that was because of how the course was that people were just all over it at any one time.

On my final lap there was a guy just ahead of me with a 50 t-shirt adapted to show 50 different parkrun venues, and he kept shouting at me “go tourist” and other friendly things and I would call back. As I came into the finish, he had finished and gave me another shout out.

I got one of my highest finishing tokens for a while (44 out of 70 runners and first in my age category!).  When I’d had my token scanned, I looked for the people I’d been chatting to at the start, and the tourist who was cheering me on, but I couldn’t see them, and as Andy was meeting me for breakfast I didn’t hang about. I would happily go back to this one- it is maybe a little further than Hove Prom (which is deceptively far from the town centre even though it’s perfectly run-able) but it was a really fun route. There’s a lovely run report here about how they are encouraging their community to use the park and join in.

I met him at Cafe Coho where I enjoyed their delicious pancakes plus an Earl grey (of course), before a quick shower at the hotel. We then popped to Bird&Blend to get chai lattes before walking along the seafront to Hove. We timed it pretty perfectly as we got back to the town centre as it started to rain.  I was feeling hungry again by that point so we sat in Pret and shared one of their delicious falafal and avocado wraps. We did a spot of shopping (I added to my tea collection and Andy treated me to some Montezuma’s chocolate)- we took the shopping back to the car and then went to a cafe for tea and a slice of lemon and blueberry cake. By then the rain had stopped so we had a bit more of a wander, although we tried to walk along the coast in the other direction but the wind had really picked up so we headed back to the lanes.

We’d booked Bill’s for dinner (we had a voucher for 2-for-1) and then drove back home (in the pouring rain). Such a nice 24 hours in Brighton.

On Sunday I put my head out of the window and my it was freezing! All my long leggings were in the wash, so I put on leg warmers so keep my ankles warm. I was originally planning 12 miles, but after all the running and walking on Saturday I felt quite tired, and then when I first started running my knee was fine, but I stopped to get around someone walking their dog, and then it started feeling weird again. I walked for a bit and after half a mile or so I was fine to run, so I carried on. I hadn’t planned a route (sounds familiar) and when I got to the usual cut through to the lakes I saw a guy running up the hill towards Hatfield, a route I used to do a lot with the club, so though I’d head that way instead. The club run must have just finished as I was beeped and waved at by about 3 different cars (I recognised two of them!).  The wind was so strong and I was so glad of my jacket- I’d worn it for the first few miles, thinking I’d take it off, but I kept it on the whole time.

I managed 10.5 miles in the end and I’m happy with that. Brighton half marathon is still about a month away so I have time to add on the final few miles.

I’d used the last of the panettone to make the baked French toast (this time with cherries and the Pip&Nut hazelnut chocolate butter which is pretty delicious) so while I had a shower that baked away. Like last week, Andy had been decorating the kitchen so he had elevenses (although it was more like twelveses) while it was my breakfast.

Later we walked into town (I picked up my free Starbucks drink) and then after getting home I tried to do the big garden birdwatch- I think perhaps the wind was keeping the birds away because I saw hardly anything (although I did see two red kites).

Where is your favourite place to head for a weekend away? 

Snow reason not to run!

On Sunday I had a notification from Garmin connect- I don’t tend to check it much as I use Strava for runs, but I keep an eye on my steps (still on the 10,000+ per day goal streak from July). Anyway, during my long run the temperature  was below freezing so I earned a Frosty badge.

I had some work to get on with and it gets cold sitting still in my office, so I had a cup of  tea and found these chocolate pretzels in the cupboard (as with most things, I’d bought them and saved them for a special occasion whatever that means). It was so cold that the dipping sauce was solid, so I had to sit the pot on top of my tea to melt it a bit first!

On Monday after work I was meeting a friend in town for dinner. I had a few jobs to do first, including taking some old bras to a bra bank. I had sorted some out a while back when clearing out drawers, and then found them again after the Marie Kondo inspired tidying. I know that ages ago someone at work had collected some to be sent off to places where bras are too expensive for lots of people, and after a bit of googling I found this website where you can look for local bra banks. There was a local listing of a care home, but when I did a detour past it on a run the other week, the care home was closed (looking rather derelict), and the next closest one was the Wonderbra shop in the Galleria and  randomly someone posted about that on our running club page to say it was closed, so I emailed the charity and asked them if they knew of any that were open. There was an office in the town centre with a collection, although it was an office with a shared door (where you buzz the button for the right one) so I did feel a bit strange standing in the street holding a bag of bras. Luckily the lady who opened the door knew what I was talking about. Anyway, we met at Bill’s and I tried their new mushroom and beetroot burger, but I was a bit disappointed with it- it wasn’t very beetroot-like and was more like a veggie burger you’d get in a supermarket. The sweet potato fries were still as good as always and of course it was lovely catching up with my friend.

On Tuesday morning I had a bit of a car disaster- when I’d got back on Monday cars were already starting to ice up, so I put the cover on my car as usual (it’s a proper cover with bits for the wing mirrors and little catches to attach it to the hub caps). Anyway, it had rained overnight and then got cold, so the cover was stuck to my car. I thought with a bit of yanking it would come off easily, but it was really stuck and even though I ripped the cover in places it was still stuck. I tried spraying it with some anti-freeze in the hope that it would undo it, and after about 10 mins got Andy to help me, because I was managing to unstick it in places but then the car was so cold it was freezing again to new bits of the car. There was no way I could have driven because it was stuck to the windscreen too. After about 20 minutes Andy managed to get it all off but it left loads of weird blobs all over my car that looked like giant bits of chewing gum. I left so late and then the traffic is always so much worse so it was a bit stressful- I only just made it to work before the gates get shut.

After work I had a meeting and during the meeting it started snowing- not too hard at first but then it started settling on the grass, and then on the car park and pavements. The traffic was pretty bad by the time I left, but as I neared home there was less snow and more sleet, so I wrapped up nice and warm and headed out for a run (I thought it would be my only chance to run all week).

At first it was a bit sleety and I had to be careful because the pavements were a little slippery, but then after about a mile the snow started coming down pretty heavily (I had to keep stopping to brush it off my glasses because it was sticking to them and I couldn’t see).

I kept taking photos and took it very slowly, but towards the end once the pavements were thick with snow it was much easier again. When I got inside a huge blob of snow fell off my hat, and when I caught sight of it in the mirror it made me laugh so much because it was totally covered in snow still. It had kept me nice and warm though- that’s the first time I’ve run in a proper hat and I did like it (for when it’s that cold) although plaits when running are so annoying because they bang up and down on my shoulders the whole time. I’m not sure how else to do my hair under a hat though and there’s no way I can run with loose hair (I know some people do, but it would drive me mad).

Anyway, home in the warm and Andy had put the fire on so it was lovely and cosy.  The snow had properly settled on the roads but it must have warmed up overnight because although it was still on trees and fields, even the side roads were clear.

On Wednesday we had a message to say yoga was cancelled because there was a problem with the heating in the hall- doing yoga in there without heating would have been awful in the freezing cold weather, so when I got home I headed out on a bonus run, doing about 4.5 miles.

On Thursday we had booked tickets to see Mary Queen of Scots, so I packed some of these peach sweets as a cinema snack- they are so tasty. I did enjoy the film, but I think that after watching The Favourite and then Colette I am reaching saturation point over historical dramas. I did feel sorry for Mary at the end (no spoilers of course because it’s history)- a little like how I felt towards Anne Boleyn after watching The Tudors.

Did you have any snow this week? Do you still run if it’s snowy? I think icy weather is much worse- I’ve had runs before that turn so slippery that I’ve had to aim for verges or just walk so much of them because of super thin ice.

A parkrun, pancakes and afternoon tea- the perfect weekend right there!

On Saturday morning I drove over to my parents house and then my brother and I walked the short distance to Jersey Farm parkrun, as Tony hadn’t run it yet.

From their facebook page- Tony’s in his red 50 top and I’ve got on my black 100 top 

It was a fairly cold day and we even had some sleet at the start, so I regretted not bringing my gloves. Usually my hands warm up fairly soon, but even though I tucked them into my sleeves they were still cold the whole way around. Jersey Farm parkrun is two (and a little bit) laps of undulating grass and paths. It was enjoyable to run with Tony and we chatted as we ran around, not paying attention to the time at all.

I finished with token 145, in a time of 32:31. As soon as we had scanned our barcodes, we retrieved our tops and jackets from the tarpaulin and headed down the hill into Sandridge Village, as we had plans to have breakfast in the Heartwood Tearooms. It’s around a half mile walk, so by the time we got there we were ready for breakfast.

I’d not been to the tearooms before- I think they were linked to the parkrun at Heartwood Forest but the times I had run there I’d gone back to Mum’s for breakfast. Anyway, it was so cosy inside with a log burner, and they served delicious pancakes with fruit and maple syrup (Tony had pancakes with bacon). They had a really long tea menu, so I went for apple spice tea which was really tasty. When we finished the lady asked us if we’d done the parkrun (Tony had on his 50 top) and when we said yes she said “I’ve given you a 10% discount as parkrunners get a discount here” which was lovely, as we wouldn’t have known otherwise. They had a wonderful selection of cakes too (and the people on the table next to us had lovely looking toasted teacakes) so I am trying to work out when I can next organise a visit! As Ellenbrook Fields and Panshanger just have coffee vans it’s nice to have a local one where we can actually go to a (warm) cafe after for more of an authentic parkrun experience.

We then walked back home along Jersey Lane which is a path used by walkers and cyclists before I drove home.  Andy had been decorating the kitchen so I had time to admire his handiwork before getting ready to go out again.

After a shower I had to quickly get ready as I was heading into London in the afternoon. Annoyingly there was only one train per hour so I had to be careful to be there on time! I met some friends for afternoon tea in a hotel close to Covent Garden (The Delauney). The food was really good- the veggie savouries included a sort of pretzel roll with smashed avocado, lime, tomatoes and basil, some lovely little goats cheese and beetroot mini tarts and some smoked aubergine on rye bread (plus an egg on rye which I didn’t have). It was Austrian-themed, and so all the cakes were ones that I loved- a little Battenberg (mmmmm marzipan), an amazing pistachio cupcake and then a little berry cheesecake bite. For the scones course (level?) you could have scones and strawberry jam, poppyseed gugelhupfs (little light bread cake type things) with apricot jam, or a mixture, so we went for the mixture. The tea was proper loose leaf tea and we never had to ask for the water to be topped up, as wait staff would come by every now and then and if they needed topping up with water they just did it. It was lovely to catch up with my friends too, of course.

My train didn’t get in until 7.20, and Andy walked and met me so I wouldn’t be walking back in the dark.

On Sunday morning I headed out for a long run. I still don’t have set routes (we’ve lived here for nearly 3 years now so I’m not sure why)- I wanted to do at least 10, and ended up doing 11.5, taking it steady and stopping to take photos.

It was such a gorgeous day- really frosty with huge icy puddles. I love days like this- it was peaceful to be out, and every time I ran into a new field or along a new track I’d be greeted with another stunning view of frosty fields and blue skies. I was still fairly cold when I got home though, despite wearing 3 layers.

On Saturday on Andy’s request I’d popped into the amazing Swedish bakery in Covent Garden to pick up a couple of cinnamon rolls. He’d been doing more decorating while I was out running, so I had a shower and then made us some tea and he had it as elevenses and I had it as breakfast (plus some fruit and yoghurt for me). They are sooooo tasty- I cannot recommend them enough!

We walked into town a little later as I needed to get my glasses adjusted again (too tight- too loose- hopefully now just right?) and then I had a lot of work to get through.

Pancakes, parkrun, afternoon tea, cinnamon rolls= that’s a good weekend right there!

If your parkrun has a cafe do you tend to visit it often? Do you know of any good afternoon tea places (particularly in London- we are always after recommendations)? 

Bad maths on a long run and a long awaited return to yoga

Last Sunday I had a long run planned. I’d signed up to the Lululemon 40/80 (km) challenge on Strava, which annoyingly started on the 2nd January (so my NYDD plus run between didn’t count). Originally I thought I’d aim for the 40km, but after a few 4 or 5 mile runs after work (instead of the 3 that I had reverted to in December) and my warm up before Panshanger parkrun I was getting closer to the 80. The challenge finished on Tuesday but I didn’t want to leave myself with loads to do as I had two meetings after work so didn’t think I’d get home that early. Anyway, on Sunday I thought at first that I’d run for 10 miles, as I had 29 km left, which somehow I worked out as 10 miles on Sunday and 5 miles on Tuesday. While I was out running I realised my mistake (after working it out a few times I actually had to stop and google 29 km in miles…) and so added on a couple more miles so I totalled 12 miles which meant I would only need 5 on Tuesday.

It was a pretty grey day and after a shower I had a lovely bowl of porridge and a cup of tea to properly warm up.

I made some cranberry and chocolate fudge to take into work, and then later on we popped over to see Andy’s parents before an evening at home.

On Monday we had a quick walk in the evening and then on Tuesday I set out to do the last few miles for the challenge. I am quite pleased with how it’s gone, because a while ago I would regularly run 5 miles (or longer with the club) in the evening, but recently I’ve been doing lots of 3 miles and no further. Partly if I get home later I am conscious that if I head out on a longer run then we eat dinner even later, but also some of it has been perhaps taking the easy route, and I think to find myself feeling stronger on the longer runs, I need to make sure that my shorter runs aren’t super short. So it’s been good to get back into the swing of slightly longer midweek runs.

Also what has helped the runs has been the discovery of a new podcast- it’s a true crime one called Teacher’s Pet, investigating the disappearance and probably murder of a women in Australia in the 80’s. It is really well done and reminds me a bit of the first Serial season. I find some podcasts like this hard to follow (I listened to the whole of Murder in the Lucky Holiday Hotel and feel like I still have no idea who did what because it was so confusing), but this one is properly like a page turner of a book (what’s the podcast equivalent of that?).    I’m on Episode 11 as it’s pretty much all I’ve listened to on my commute and my runs this week (with one slot reserved for With Me Now).

So, Wednesday was time to get back to yoga. We had a while off as our teacher went to India for a month, and I was feeling so stiff and in need of a session. We had a lovely getting back into it session, where we did various poses to stretch out shoulders, hips, backs and so on. My arms were so tired by the end- downward dog is usually a bit of a relief but I was struggling a bit by the end. It will come back though.

On Thursday I had to squeeze in a quick run as we had tickets to see Colette at the cinema. The run was absolutely freezing – the kind of cold air where your cheek bones feel like they have frozen solid. Anyway, at least the cinema was warm! I quite enjoyed the film, although it was not how I expected it to be (there is writing that comes up at the end to tell you about her later life, and that was what I thought the film was going to be about). Slightly less disgusting than The Favourite last week!

On Friday the traffic coming home was a total nightmare, and I had to stop at Aldi to get a few bits, so when I finally made it home all I wanted to do was have a cup of tea and watch some TV. I’d seen an advert for a fly on the wall of Hotel Chocolat (on Channel 5) so I got that on catch up and enjoyed it- I do love a fly on the wall! We then watched The Breadwinner, which was really good but not the most cheerful film to watch on a Friday night.

Which podcasts do you never miss? How do you decide how far to run? 

Number of runs times llamas equals finish position (?) plus a weekend rucksack

On Saturday morning I was off to Panshanger parkrun. It was so dark when I got up and the sky was glowing in all sorts of beautiful colours.

In getting out my 100 top I was sad to see that the second zero was getting a few cracks on it. It was my 180th parkrun so it’s got to last quite a few more!

The parking at Panshanger is very busy now, so I tend to get there early, and I decided that I’d run out a bit for a nice warm up. I ran past the llama field and was very excited to see the llamas in there- the last time I saw them I think was on Christmas day last year (I think I made a fa la llama joke about it?) and I’ve run past the field plenty of times since then and not seen them.

(My terrible attempt at getting a selfie with a llama in the background- I just can’t work out how to turn the phone to actually get what I want to be there!).

After seeing them it was time to head back to the park as the parkrun would be starting soon. The car park (where people start- you can’t park there) was packed- I suppose lots of people are starting a healthkick in January so perhaps the events  have a bit of a boost in numbers? I was just going for a steady run so started fairly far back, meaning that I had to stop and start a bit as the course is fairly narrow at the start. I enjoyed the run- it’s such beautiful scenery there. I kept being overtaken by the same man pushing a running buggy, but I never noticed when I ran past him so it kept confusing me each time he overtook me!

I finished with token number 360 which greatly pleased me as 180 x2 = 360 so there must be some sort of fun with the numbers (someone on the With me Now page pointed out that it could be total number of runs x number of llamas = finish token) although when the results came through I was number 260. I had to double and triple check my photo, and it was 360, so there must have been a bit of a mix up with the tokens. Just under 400 runners (398), with Ellenbrook Fields (which is usually around half that size) getting a new attendance record of 346.

I did a little cool down before getting in the car (how long will this last?- probably until I can’t remember that my knee was sore…) and quickly heading home as my brother was coming over for breakfast. He was invited to parkrun but was playing football in the afternoon (and he doesn’t usually do both on one day). I’d prepped the baked French toast again, this time with a chocolate panettone (another Christmas gift), and cherries as well as blueberries.

I didn’t add any sugar to the egg mix this time as the panettone is already very sweet, and I think that worked better. Andy had put it in the oven so when I got home I had time to change, make tea and then a warm breakfast was ready.

In the afternoon we walked into town, mainly to get my free Starbucks drink plus some bits for dinner, and then did a bit more sorting out at home (tackling my office is less enjoyable than sorting clothes because you find all sorts of things like old phone cases that you don’t really know what to do with but don’t need, but probably can’t sell/give to a charity shop either). It’s done now though.

Onto the rucksack:

Recently I was sent the Kyte 36 bag from Osprey. I was originally looking for a bag to take on the plane with me when we go away for the weekend, and as there was a 36 and a 46 I thought it would be small…  Of course I just looked at the measurements  and thought “that seems about right” without looking at a tape measure or anything. So, it didn’t come to Berlin with me as I like a rucksack that is guaranteed to be hand luggage (so can fit under the seat in front). However, for a weekend away in this country it’s great. I love the colour first of all. As well as shoulder straps it has hip straps (it’s really meant for hiking)- this took me back to my DofE days when you had to do an expedition (basically walk many miles to a camp site carrying all the camping gear, camp one night and then go home)- the hip straps were an absolute saviour as the weight went into your legs and not your back. It’s also fitted specifically for women.

It’s hard to see but the hip strap also has two small pockets at the front/side so you could have things like your phone, wallet, keys, lip balm etc. handy without needing to take the pack off. This is one of my favourite features as often I end up wearing a small handbag under the rucksack to keep those things handy, whereas I don’t need to do that with this bag as it’s all to hand.

Inside it has a separate sleeping bag compartment (good for running kit and shoes also) and as it has side compression straps so that when it isn’t full you can pull the straps to make it more compact. All in all a good bag for a running weekend away as there is loads of space for running kit and shoes as well as the regular weekend things.

Have your local parkruns been busier than usual? Do you have any unusual animals in fields near you? What type of bag do you usually use for a weekend away?  I used to have a holdall but converted to a rucksack after we started getting the train down to Brighton a lot as lugging  a holdall around is so much harder than wearing a rucksack.

*I was sent the bag to review, but as always all opinions are my own.