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? 

Running with a buddy- what a difference it makes

I have always been quite happy to run on my own. I love that running gives me “me” time, and that I can clear my head, process things for work, or catch up on podcasts. But then when I joined my running club I really looked forward to the club run each week as it was a chance to catch up and chat- the miles do fly by. Due to logistics, I haven’t been regularly attending the club runs for a few years, but every now and then I have, and of course at parkrun there was always the opportunity to run with others.

I had been running with Dad on a Saturday morning before the latest lockdown, but that stopped as I had been popping in to see my mum too (and sitting in the garden for breakfast). As the guidelines stated that we were allowed to meet outside with one other person for exercise, our running club facebook page has been getting a lot of requests from people for a running buddy, and as luck would have it, one friend wanted to run after work on a Thursday.

I messaged to say I would meet her around 5, as I could drive past her house on my way home. I was looking forward to it all day. I changed at work (above- pink cheeks as I had to make several parent phone calls after the kids had gone home- and then after I had changed into my running kit in my cupboard) and then parked outside her house.

It was fab! We did an out and back route, different to my normal route as she lives in Hatfield, and it was so good to chat and just talk to someone different. I don’t think I realised how much I’d missed it until we started running.

The Leon burger sauce is still going strong- with veggie burgers and vegan brioche rolls from Aldi it is as close as we can get to Leon right now!

The following week I did the same thing- on Tuesday I met Carrie on my way home (although my meeting went on a little longer and then I got stuck in bad traffic so was rather late) and on Thursday I stopped and met my dad. We did our traditional route through Jersey Farm park- luckily we both had lights, and it was so good to be running through theses deserted woods and paths.

I think because at the moment everything is more lonely than usual it’s just even nicer to speak to someone in real life, so I am really appreciating runs with company. It does mean I am getting behind with my podcasts though!

Do you like to run on your own?  How are you coping in the lockdown?

Baking successes! Including Christmas cake

So last week I mentioned that I decided to re-do my Christmas cakes. I was trying out a new recipe (a vegan one) and also dividing the mixture into smaller tins, and I think I just overcooked the first lot. A bit of a pain, but I have nowhere else to go at the weekends right now!

It was so sunny the other weekend that I wore sunglasses on my (not)parkrun- it made a nice change from after work runs in the dark. I thought our Vitality reward would stop in the lockdown (last time they stopped) but we are still being credited with a free drink each week, so on Saturday we walked into town to get a takeaway- I tried their mint hot chocolate and it was really good. We also bought a mince pie because they are so tasty (and happen to be vegan).

(This shows how behind the blog is)- on Sunday I wanted to run 11 miles as it was Remembrance Sunday- as I ran past home I realised I was just over, so kept going to make it 11.11. I had made baked French toast- before I have used the Pip and Nut recipe, but I am reducing animal products more  and more (it includes eggs- I used to get eggs from my mum because she keeps hens, but I am going off the idea more), anyway, this recipe uses a combination of coconut milk and silken tofu, and was so tasty. (I kept the slices whole and spread peanut butter on them and sprinkled with berries, so it was a bit of a mash up between the two recipes).

I wanted to do some bits in the garden, and am amazed that lots of the flowers are still going. Our rose has started flowering again, the fuchsias are still going strong, as are the geraniums. Good for the bees.  I am finding the temptation to work a lot more at the weekends, but I know I need a real break. Work is always busy, but with the added covid pressures I am feeling more drained at the end of the day, so I know I need a rest at the weekend, but as there isn’t a great deal to do it’s hard to stop. I used to like a walk into town and a sit in a café with a magazine, because at home I could sit and read but there would always be a job that needed doing. Anyway, now that isn’t an option either, so I am finding that giving myself something else to do is helpful. I like to watch a film or some TV, but only after I’ve been busy first- I feel all antsy if I sit around inside all day.

That weekend I made a little hedgehog home. I say home, really it’s some leaves and twigs (no woodwork involved).

I’d seen it on a newsletter, and thought I’d give it a go. Apparently hedgehogs are really struggling, partly because we are all putting up fences so they can’t wander from garden to garden, and also because we tend to keep our gardens tidier so there isn’t piles of leaves for them to hibernate in/ logs for the bugs to live in that they feed on and so on. This home was simple- pile up leaves (I started with small ones first) and then top with twigs so they won’t blow away. I tucked it at the back behind a tree stump, and am hoping that it is useful, if not for a hedgehog at least for bugs.

On Sunday afternoon I had another go at the Christmas cake- this time it turned out really well (I made one big one instead of two smaller ones)- it smells delicious. It was this recipe– looking forward to decorating and gifting later. While it was baking I watched a movie- this time I gave The Descendants a go. Someone had recommended it to me, although I had got confused and thought it was the film set in Hawaii about the family on Kauai. Anyway, it was quite fun although I kept getting confused by who the characters were related to!

Grilled cheese/ beautiful morning sky/ after a run in the cold/ Christmas cake

In the evening I sampled the Christmas cake (of course I had to put a bit of marzipan on it, because that’s the best bit) and it passed with flying colours.

On a side note, I love a grilled cheese sandwich, and used to have a sandwich maker but it broke (this was probably 15 years ago!). I saw this sandwich maker getting lots of positive reviews (randomly on a teaching forum) and decided to treat myself. Well, I have no idea how it works, but it’s amazing! I use the violife cheddar which melts really well, and added a bit of piccalilli in- alongside some veg soup it was such a good dinner.

Do you have any traditions? For a long time now I’ve always baked a Christmas cake for us, my parents and Andy’s parents, and it’s one of my favourite projects as I get to decorate the cakes too.

What sort of things are you doing to relax at the weekend? I’ve been eyeing up some craft projects for the next few weekends.

If you have a garden, do you think it helps to support local wildlife?

A (not) parkrun challenge and even my car wishes that time would speed up!

My Dad had decided to run 16 (not)parkruns in October to celebrate their 16th birthday, and on the final Saturday of October I headed over to run his 16th one with him.

It was great to see him complete it, and to run together too. He usually does a fair bit of cycling, and maybe 2 or 3 runs a week, so it was a challenge for him to get them all done. The weather played ball and we enjoyed our final run together (for a while).

Of course we had those amazing Crosstown Doughnuts to work through, and walked into town for a takeaway drink and to stretch our legs.

I ran to Panshanger on the Sunday, in a Disney top to pay tribute to the Run Disney weekends we’ve enjoyed in the past 2 years (although in fact this year the Disney Run weekend was the weekend after half term, so had we had gone, it would not have matched up with the run dates).

When in Disney for our wedding day and our anniversary we had shared an ice cream cookie sandwich, so for posterity I made the  Pret chocolate cookies, and we had them with some ice cream. I also made some Christmas cakes as that’s usually an October half term job but they were in the oven a bit too long and I think need re-doing.

Then it was back to work. One of my best work pals has a balloon business, and so gave me this cute Disney balloon for our anniversary- it’s still going strong 2 weeks later!

All was as standard apart from no yoga on the Wednesday as we had a late meeting. Runs on Tuesday and Thursday (in the dark-boo- why do the clocks have to go back still???), and walks on the  other days.

In fact it was lucky I had no yoga on Wednesday because it was a frosty morning, and as happens each year, the tyre pressure warning light came on as I was driving to work. I once tried to sort it myself but ended up panicking because there were people in the queue, I ran out of coins and managed to deflate my tyre instead, so after that incident, Andy helps me! So in the evening we drove over to the garage to check them and inflate them all. On the Thursday morning I had to drop some shopping off at my parents- it was cupboard stuff so if the traffic was bad I could leave it in my car and take it on my way home. As I was driving, I glanced at my car clock and saw that it said 23:20- not even the minutes were right (it was around 7.40 I think). It also said the wrong day (Friday), and then on Friday morning the time was back to being right, but the day said Saturday. I have no idea how it works- it must update by radio because when the clocks change (boo- I wish they wouldn’t) it just changes by itself. I think even my car wants 2020 to be over (and that is with the promising news of the vaccine and US politics).

We did have some beautiful sunrises and skies in the week, and the cold evenings meant we had the wood burner on for super cosy vibes.

Did you do any (not)parkruns? Apparently lots of people have done them who have not even done an actual parkrun yet, so that’s exciting news.

Do you like the clocks going back? 

A different half term to usual- escaping to Cornwall

We would usually go away on holiday in October half term, and had booked a few days this week, so before we had our long drive I had a short run to stretch out the legs, wearing my run Disneyland Paris top (to remind me of happier times…).

I find it a good time to get away because the first half term is so busy, but with parents evenings and assessments all due in the final week, there is not much work to be done in the holidays (versus other holidays with report writing or other tasks) so you can properly switch off. Google Photos keeps reminding me of trips- 5 years ago we went to Iceland, 4 years ago to Edinburgh and 3 years ago to Devon (we were meant to be going somewhere warm that year as it was Andy’s choice, and had booked flights to Croatia but then the airline went bust so we travelled closer to home instead), and the last 2 years we’ve been to Florida. As it’s now our wedding anniversary I think it is safe to say it will still be a tradition moving forwards. Andy had the week booked off, but we could not decide where to go- we wanted somewhere with lots of outside options as we are not going in to restaurants or cinemas or anything like that, and of course lots of places were booked. He found a cancellation of a self catering place in Cornwall so we jumped at that.

The journey there was fine- we stopped at the services to pick up lunch (they had a Pret- I was very excited) and had booked a slot at Stourhead because the autumn colours there are very pretty, plus it was around half way so ideal for a walk and lunch.

We were staying in a converted boat house on a lake- the grounds had some yurts for people to stay in too. It was so peaceful, and you could look out across the lake. It felt like somewhere that Bob and Paul would stay in for Gone Fishing.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we had booked a garden visit each day (2 National Trust places and the Lost Gardens of Heligan) and then around those headed to a town or the coast for a walk somewhere else. We had taken food with us (our place had a microwave and hob) so could be fairly relaxed about what time we headed out and back- no need to get to the shops or anything.

We were super lucky with the weather too. It poured with rain in the night, but when we were out and about it was generally fine- we had to shelter under a tree a few times, but we didn’t need the waterproof trousers.

Tuesday- gardens, seaside, Lizard Point.

Of course I had my autumn sweater with me too!

Wednesday- Lost Gardens and the wood burner on for a cosy evening.

Thursday- gardens, awesome cinnamon bun (yes, we pack our own cups because often the cups in places like this are tiny and it is almost not worth using a teabag in such a small cup…).

Then to St Ives, which was so busy – I dread to think what it would be like in the summer. After a bit (and finding a bakery with some amazing vegan options) we headed out to the coast for a more socially distanced walk.

On Friday we had to head home, and the traffic was awful from the start. It took us 9 hours and we were so fed up by the end. It was a good trip, and we were lucky to have been somewhere, but that is a very long time. We have not been to Cornwall much in the past because it seems like such a long drive (and we could have seen lovely coast in Dorset/Suffolk etc), but thought we would give it a go. When we arrived after the  Monday drive (which I think was a little over 5 hours) Andy said that we could have flown to New York in that time, and of course on Friday it could have been to Florida!  When we were nearly home Andy said he had to make a detour to his parent’s house to collect something, and when he got back in the car he presented me with this box:

Yes, a box of Crosstown vegan doughnuts (pistachio, honeycomb chocolate and pear and blackberry). I was not much of a doughnut fan (although I think that is because I’d either had the big greasy supermarket ones, or weird dry Krispy Kremes), but in Portland last summer we had a proper one, and then when we went into London in February we shared a Crosstown one- these are something special- they use sourdough dough and they are not overly sweet or stodgy. Anyway, they have started delivering more than just to London, but not as far as us, but Andy’s parents were in the delivery area- how exciting! A pretty good wedding anniversary surprise.

Have you been to Cornwall?  Do you like doughnuts?