A winter week in France

On the first Sunday of the holidays I headed out on a run- seeing lots of flooded pavements. I wore my festive leggings for probably the final time of the year. I was also amused by the sign showing where “Ground control deliveries” were going- is Major Tom visiting WGC?

After some pottering and packing we were off to the airport to fly to Nice. Dad had given us a lift and wanted to be home early, so we had plenty of time in the airport. As there was a Leon, we opted for an early dinner, which turned out to be lucky as someone on our plane had an epileptic fit and they had to land somewhere else so she could be seen to be paramedics. It was pretty late by the time we arrived in Nice (as they had to refuel and do some paperwork) so we were glad to have already eaten.

We had a few days in Nice- our hotel was close to the water so each day we had lovely long walks along the coast in one direction and then the other.

There was a Christmas market so we went to that a couple of times, although it was much smaller than when we had been in the past.

It was warm in the day but chilly at night and so we managed to work our way through a fair number of Christmas classics- Home Alone, the original Gavin and Stacy Christmas special, It’s a Wonderful Life, Muppets Christmas Carol, The Snowman….

There was a Chinese Lantern festival so one day we caught the tram out to the park to have a look- they were really impressive.

We wandered around the old town, walked up the steps to the gardens that overlook the sea, and walked around the flower market. It’s definitely a place to mooch around.

I’d packed my running kit so one two mornings had a sunrise run along the coast.

Our hotel had a nice breakfast with plenty of croissants and fruit, and as it was Christmas some little nutcrackers on each table too.

On Boxing Day we flew to Paris as we had a few days booked at Disney. This was trickier as the trains were on strike- we had to get a coach from the airport, which was fine, but our hotel was one train stop from Disney.

In the end we walked it most days (25 mins ish) although one day it poured with rain and we tried several times to call an Uber and they would each get within about 5 mins of us before cancelling! A little frustrating.

The Downtown Disney / Disney Springs/ can’t remember what it is called area had some little Christmas market style food stalls, and the Studios park had a mini Christmas food market too. One of the stalls did fresh crepes, and one day I had one with goats cheese, rocket, honey and walnuts which was just so delicious.

One stall did vegan foods (there were veggie and vegan options elsewhere too) but my favourite thing from it was a hot apple juice with cinnamon- it was so warming. I’d bought a few cup cosies as gifts this year and had also got a couple for me- this is my festive reindeer/Mickey one!

(Andy had mulled wine)

We had an extra day in Disney, as originally we were going to head into Paris on the Saturday to see a Van Gogh exhibition, but with the trains hardly running it didn’t seem worth getting stuck. It was busy, but we had managed to do pretty much all the rides that we wanted to do, seen the parade a couple of times (Disney do produce earworms), seen the projection/firework show (they have silent fireworks which seem like such a good idea) and seen a few festive shows including Mickey’s Swing Band, with a live band, singers and dancers (and Mickey rocking an awesome drum solo!).  There was a new Frozen show which ended up being very good- Olaf was on a screen moving about and talking, with Anna and Elsa appearing on the stage and singing. Plus the decorations are just so pretty.

I had seen on Instagram that there was a big gingerbread house in the main hotel (the one by the park gates) so we went there- it was very impressive and smelled wonderful, but they didn’t have any for sale (unlike in Florida where they sell the pebbles/ biscuits). Luckily one of the stalls outside sold gingerbread so we bought a Rudolf.

It was very very cold! I had packed long sleeved thermal tops, t-shirts and a jumper for each day, but ended up wearing a sweatshirt over my jumper. If there was a queue for the ride you were often inside which was a bonus because you could warm up a bit! We had a fair bit of rain on the first night (luckily it had only started as we were making our way to the exit) and the Friday and Saturday were fairly grey, but on Sunday we had beautiful blue skies and frosty grass- it made everything even prettier.

The only thing that irked me was that the parks are supposedly non-smoking, with signs up and notices on the maps, but this is ignored by a lot of people so wherever you walked you would have plumes of smoke being blown into your face. Anyway, apart from that it was a great couple of days.

We got the Eurostar home, which is so much easier than flights (we just couldn’t do the logistics easily for a train on the way out). We bought a new decoration for our tree which I put on as soon as we had unpacked.

Have you been to Nice or Disneyland Paris? Where is good for a wander?

Festive outings and a festive parkrun

On Monday after work the team I work with headed to The Waffle House for  Christmas get together.

We did a secret Santa and I was given a very cute penguin hottie (the ones you heat in the microwave)  and some penguin socks- very me!

I had their best savoury one- hummus and avocado- it has a lovely sweet chilli dressing (not too spicy) and lots of tomatoes and salad too. When I got home we had to take all the decorations off the tree because the lights had broken and so we had ordered new ones. I also had to finish unpacking from Bath (the lovely maple butter and assorted maple goodies).

On Tuesday I had  a delivery (of two books) to collect, so thought I would get them out on my run (from those Amazon lockers)- when I opened the locker the box was enormous! I had to run home carrying it rather awkwardly! My gorgeous Frozen cup cosy arrived (from Etsy- Pixie Dust Crochet- she makes all kinds of Disney themed things) too. And when I got home (after 4.5 miles) I had got over the 1000 mile running mark on Strava- my most miles as I still have a couple of weeks to go (and when I managed it before, I think I did the final mile on the final day of the year).

After school on Wednesday I went for a walk and did some baking. I also enjoyed some of this gorgeous peppermint bark given to me by a child in my class- it’s so good and a homemade gift is my favourite kind.

Not keen on the blue light netting look down our road!

I made some mincemeat bars which I think I’ll post the recipe for later on.

On Thursday I went on another run- it had poured with rain so I spent a lot of time crossing roads to avoid ankle deep puddles and hidden potholes.

On Friday I wore my penguin/snowman top. Some of us went out to Starbucks for lunch to celebrate the end of term, and then I had a massage booked in town. I loved the wooden Christmas tree up in the waiting area.

Andy’s parents came over in the evening and we had a lovely catch up.

On Saturday morning I was off to Jersey Farm parkrun with my Dad- they were having a festive theme but I would have been wearing Christmas leggings and my new top anyway!

It was so muddy there! It starts on the top of a hill but even there the grass was saturated. Some of the paths were just boggy mud and so in the end there was no point trying to run around them as my feet were soaked! I did get a few comments from the marshals about my top- I really love it!

We walked home and after a shower Mum made us pancakes, although I couldn’t hang about too long as I had afternoon tea booked with some friends.

I loved the cute snowman and little snowflake on the cakes. I think afternoon tea is such a good way to relax and catch up with friends as it doesn’t feel rushed like a meal can.

I fancied a walk after, so I wandered around town for a bit, admiring one of the Home Alone style houses (they have such pretty decorations) and getting a hot drink (and using my cup cosy).

I had a few bits of wrapping to finish up, so I lit some candles (I’ve got a rechargeable candle lighter which is fab- I don’t need matches or the fuel top up for those little hand held lighters, it just charges via a USB) to celebrate the winter solstice (although something I read said it was Sunday and not Saturday…).

Do you like afternoon tea? Have you been to many festive get togethers or events?

Reading parkrun, Bath Christmas markets and the Festive Five 2019

Yoga was on a Monday that week and if it’s on a different day it throws me out of routine. I had a bit of a cold after the first week of December, but I was feeling better with just a stuffy head at night so thought it would help (and it did). On the Tuesday my eye was very itchy, and I do get dry eyes a bit, but when I got home and looked one eye was bloodshot and a bit gunky. Conjunctivitis had been going around a bit at work, so I’d clearly caught it. I looked up pharmacy opening times, and the one in town was open later so we walked in-  it was OK but then poured with rain on the way home.

On Wednesday when I got home there was a card saying I’d missed a parcel and a charge was due- this could only mean one thing- my ugly Christmas singlet had arrived!

I listen to the Australian podcast parkrun adventurers, and they have made this so called ugly singlet (I think it’s so cute!). I headed out to collect it, doing 5 miles in the end.

It ended up being very late once I’d had a shower, so we had beans on toast for dinner (my favourite) and some stollen afterwards to get all Christmassy. I love stollen- it’s something we have always had as my grandma was Austrian, so we just always had those sort of Germanic  Christmas traditions, but I was watching and Aldi documentary the other day and they were saying that no-one had heard of it until a few years ago- this annoyed my mum a lot (and she was my dad’s mum…).

On Thursday I had to rush to get home as we were heading into London to see James Acaster. It was this strange venue in Hackney, a sort of wooden indoor amphitheatre where you just sat on the floor.  He was very funny but his tour did link a bit to politics so whereas I was hoping to take my mind off things for a few hours, that didn’t work, and of course as soon as it finished the entire audience were checking their phones for the exit polls and any hope for a good future came crashing down. I did not sleep well that night.

One week to go! 

On Friday we were off to Reading after work- we have found that staying that far away from Bath and getting the train in the next morning is better than driving all that way. The M25 had problems though so our journey took loads longer.

We were around 3 miles from Reading parkrun (In the end this one was chosen because the parking seemed easier) so I drove there in the morning. The course description says road shoes are fine, but I would say certainly not at this time of year! My trail shoes were in the car and that was very lucky- some of it was so boggy and even my ankles got wet! I was wearing my cow hat (from the parkrun tourist facebook group) and at the start a guy came over wearing the buff and started chatting to me. We ended up running the whole way together-he was from the Southampton area so I’d been to a few of the ones he had. He was also a keen tourist, hoping to reach 50 events in his first 100 runs (he was only a few away). It was just so lovely to chat all things parkrun, and this is what is magic about parkrun- turn up and end  up having a lovely conversation which would not have happened otherwise.

The route was good- out along the path by the river, two loops of some wetlands, then back along the path to the finish. But very boggy!

Once finished I headed back to the hotel where we had a cup of tea and an almond croissant (and a shower obvs) before going to the train station. Aldi almond croissants are delicious. Also I noticed on Strava that I was on 989 miles for the year- I’ve only run 1000 miles once in a year before, and that was with a concerted effort in December.

Our train took around an hour, and we listened to a podcast (so behind with Off Menu at the moment) and once in Bath we had lunch in Pret (I love their Christmas sandwich) before wandering around. The markets were so busy (as usual) so we visited all the markets and decided which ones to go back to later once it had quietened down a bit.

Someone from work was going on the same day and we actually bumped into each other which was a surprise as it was so busy! We stopped for tea and cake in the afternoon (this was a lovely mincemeat frangipane slice) before going back to the markets as they were quieter. It is so lovely there with the buildings all lit up, and carol singers (and rock choirs) dotted around the city. I bought a few gifts, some maple butter from the maple syrup stall (as it was the final week of the market, we got a deal with some maple granola too). It started raining once it was dark which was a shame, but we had booked dinner so didn’t have long to wait until then. Getting the train back worked well too, as the drive back from Reading was much easier and quicker- I think we were home at around 11.

On Sunday morning I was off to run the Festive Five, one of my favourite races. I love a 5 mile race, and this one is low key- turn up, get your envelope and leave your bag in the little gazebo, and then off we go. Everyone wears festive gear (I had my Christmas leggings and my not ugly Christmas singlet), some of the girls from my running club had tinsel skirts. We ran around together and it was so enjoyable thanking the marshals- one of them had a child with her who was singing Rudolph at the top of her lungs!

Then I headed to town (around half a mile from the start I think) as I had booked breakfast at Bill’s and Andy was meeting me there. We got the timing better this year- last year I left it too long and I got really cold waiting. I had packed a top and jumper to change into as I knew I would get cold otherwise.

Then it was another busy afternoon- I made some chocolate peppermint cookies for work, we went to see Andy’s parents, once home I did some work, made some mincemeat and wrote the Christmas cards.

I used this recipe and it is really good.

So there we go, another week of December with more festive activities.

Do you like stollen or mincemeat?  Does your running club do any festive runs? In St Albans someone decorates the postboxes with crochet festive scenes (for a charity) and so the club there does a run to visit lots of them.

And December is flying by!

After getting back from Norway feeling super refreshed, it was into a busy week -the end of term is never “winding down” as people outside Education think, it’s normal work plus assessments and Nativity rehearsals and extra events (all the while trying to keep the kids calm).

December week 1:

On the Monday I went out for a run and ended up having to walk a fair bit as the pavements were freezing over and really slippery in places- this has happened to me before so I will have to try and avoid the main road, but trying to find somewhere well-lit (even with my torch) is not easy.

I did see the town Christmas lights which included this huge bauble with polar bears inside so of course I attempted a mid-run selfie!

On Tuesday I had to pop into town to pick up a deliver-to-store item, and so I used the time to get a few more Christmas bits. Andy was out so I did some craft. When we were little we lived in Denmark for a bit and made these lovely Danish heart decorations, and after seeing lots in Norway I was inspired to have a go, so I looked online for a video (I’ve found a book before  but could not follow the instruction) and started making the templates and cutting out the paper.

I was really pleased with how they turned out- I am going to give them with my gifts with little chocolate coins inside.

Here is the old one I have from when we were little.

Andy had been out the day before too, and bought me back some Christmas tiffin from Pret- I love them.

Wednesday was yoga, and I was really pleased because it was a super small class so we spent a bit longer in some poses that we wanted to focus on. I can get into the first bit of the tripod headstand and can lift one leg up at a time, but can’t seem to do both. Josie (the teacher) steadied  me and I managed to get both legs up, although when she asked me to push my legs closer to the ceiling, I just could not work out how to move them- being upside down is so weird! I was very pleased though. I also had to demonstrate the crow pose (a balance) to the class as somehow that’s something I can do.

Thursday- 4 mile run

We had some beautiful sunrises that week, and one day I popped out at lunch for a quick walk in the woods to get some vitamin D (bottom left).

On Friday I popped out at lunch for some quiet time- everything gets so busy at this time of year and I felt the need to sit somewhere where I would not have to say anything. I listened to a podcast for about 20 minutes and felt so much more refreshed after. After work I popped into town (Gail’s had Christmas buns so I got us a couple) and then to the garden centre as I was looking for a wreath. I didn’t get one, but I did see this rabbit (not for sale).

On Saturday I cycled to Panshanger (head band under the helmet to try and keep my head warm- it did work better), and then I was tail walking.

I’d packed my Minnie Gingerbread hat to keep me warm on the walk (can’t wear it under my helmet). I was given a walkie-talkie so every now and then the RD would radio to check everything was OK. I was a bit anxious about having to work it (the lanyard you get has their phone number on, and once before I had to ring it when I couldn’t lock one of the gates) but it was super simple. Once I had cycled home I had some mince pie porridge (porridge with Meridian mince pie filling and some flaked almonds) and then had to head off quickly to school where I was helping in the grotto at the fayre (making reindeer food- bird friendly of course).

I was feeling very festive so in the evening I got on with decorating our Christmas cakes (I make them for our parents too).

I went for a robin theme this year and was pretty pleased with how they turned out. I think I’m going to add a ribbon of coloured icing around the bottom as they are a bit uneven. Made with love though.

On Sunday morning it was my running club’s annual run and brunch, so I got on some festive gear and headed out to meet a couple of the girls on their way to town.

I also decided to wear my new trainers- I got them back in July but have been wearing the old ones as they were fairly new then, but recently my knee has been a bit sore and I just wondered if old shoes could be the culprit. I do love them! My antlers kept blowing off in the wind though…

I wore a top to change into once we got to Bill’s (Happy Holidays 2008 from when we went to Disney!).

Pancakes were good as always, it was lovely to catch up with everyone as I don’t go on the club runs any more, and although I was full I ran home as I was a bit chilly.

In the afternoon we put up our tree, so I had a lovely time sorting through all the decorations.

Reindeer ones.

Disney ones.

New Disney ones- one for our anniversary, and one from the hotel we stayed in when we got married.

And a little cute elf for the top of the tree. We had some hot chocolate too- very festive.

So, December week 1 done! It just gets busier from here it seems!

Chocolate peppermint candy cane cookies

When we went to the giant gingerbread house in the Disney Contemporary hotel, we bought a couple of cookies including a chocolate peppermint one. This is my attempt at re-creating it. I based it on this cookie recipe, and oldie but goodie.


125g butter

100g light brown sugar

125g caster sugar

1 egg

1 tsp peppermint extract

175g self raising flour

50g cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

100g chocolate chips

100g dark chocolate

2 crushed candy canes


Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Cream together the butter and sugars.

Add the egg and peppermint extract.

Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, salt and chocolate chips.

Spoon the mixture onto the tray- walnut sized balls approx.

Bake for 7-10 minutes- until pale golden in colour-they will continue baking on the tray for a little.

Leave to cool on the tray.

Melt the chocolate and crush the candy canes. Dip each cooled cookie in the dark chocolate, then put back into the baking paper (the chocolate won’t  stick). Sprinkle over the crushed candy canes.

I was really pleased with how they turned out. For extra mintiness I think I would add a bit of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate.

I bagged them up and gave them as little gifts for my team at work- they seemed to go down well.

Do you like chocolate peppermint? When we went to Boston we had the most amazing chocolate candy cane cheesecake, which sounds strange but it was delicious.