Aaand the rain is back again! Plus no long run this week.

Although the beginning of the week started well. I had a lovely surprise from my wellbeing buddy at work- she left me this vegan chocolate from Rhythm 108 and I have to say it is definitely a new favourite. After work I met Andy in town and we picked up our free drinks from Caffe Nero. I had a really tasty mint lemonade which was so refreshing. For dinner we had a Cook katsu alongside some freshly picked salad, and some pickled grapes. I really love the pickled ginger that you get with a Wagamama katsu, and this is close enough (just cut them in half and leave them in a bowl with some red wine vinegar during the day).

Mint lemonade, delicious chocolate and a katsu with homegrown salad and pickled grapes

Tuesday was more overcast but OK- the rain stayed away for my run and then the day got quite warm. My mum had given me a special porridge bowl (it has markings on the side for the oats and liquid, and instructions for how long to microwave it for)- it was too hot for porridge but overnight oats worked well in the bowl too.

Following the delay in the unlocking of things, Brighton half marathon finally postponed their race until October. Confusingly, when I had booked it in the middle of last year, for Feb 21, they said that if it had to be postponed, they had agreed a date of 3rd October with Brighton&Hove council. Then it was delayed from Feb to June (not the October date), and now it’s going to be 10th October, so not even their original delay date… Anyway, luckily we could change our hotel date and running a half marathon in June was never going to be my best day as I don’t run well in the heat.

The Make My Day Magical Baby Yoda hand cream smells like taffy and is absolutely amazing

When I got home I decided to paint our gate (well, make a start on it anyway). It was too hot at the weekend to be out in the sun, but by that time of day it was shaded. It was so fiddly though, and the paint was quite watery so I made a big mess on the card that I’d put down. I was planning on doing the other side and second coats later in the week, but the weather did not play ball!

My Vitality top and medal arrived so I thought I’d wear the top on a run. It was so warm on Wednesday that I set up yoga in the living room. Usually I go in my office, but the sun shines in there all afternoon and the window doesn’t open that wide so it’s not the best when it’s very hot. It was good to take part in the class with the view of the garden- it reminded me of actually going to yoga as the space we use looked out onto some gardens (and sometimes in the summer we would take our mats outside and take the class under the trees). During the nidra session the rain started, and got heavier and heavier. I was thinking I would be soaked on my run on Thursday, but it had stopped raining and was just so humid.

Andy had bought these Wicked Kitchen cinnamon rolls and they are the closest to the Starbucks ones that I have found- so often they are more like pastry whereas these are the bready dough which I prefer in a cinnamon roll. A good replacement if we were away for the weekend and wanted a quick breakfast to take with us.

On Friday the rain properly fell down- crazy flooding everywhere. We managed a quick walk before dinner, partly in between the rain (and thankfully when it started up again it wasn’t too heavy) and then watched the football.

On Saturday I went for a run with Dad, followed by breakfast in their garden. Our run was very enjoyable- we did our “classic” (not) parkrun route, in reverse (we run to Jersey farm, do a lap and run home a different way). We saw a few runners on the Jersey farm route (it’s a two lap course but both laps are slightly different)- one guy said to us “4 weeks to go” when he saw our parkrun tops, and then as we finished he passed us again and said “actually, 5 weeks to go!”. Even something small like that is so nice to have, and I really hope that it doesn’t get further delayed….

Andy was off into London for a work thing, so in the afternoon I decided to have a long walk in Panshanger. Now, I love seeing the cows, but I am not a fan of being in the same field as the cows- I prefer to look at them over a fence. These ones are meant to be a docile breed, but they still have huge horns, and as there were calves everywhere I didn’t want to annoy them. 

Thankfully I made it through – some were right by the path but seemed intent on just eating grass.

Of course I stopped at the amazing Planted Coffee van (all their food and drinks are plant based and they do an amazing assortment of baked goods). I went for an iced tea to accompany my walk, and then a piece of rocky road for us to share later (novel because it usually isn’t even veggie let alone vegan due to the marshmallows normally containing gelatine).

It was fairly overcast on my walk back, but it didn’t rain until I was home.

We had an Italian inspired evening with a pizza and then watching Luca, which I really enjoyed. The story was a lot smaller than a typical Pixar, but very sweet characters. Andy had been to Pret on his way back from London and picked us up an almond chocolate cookie too.

I then had a bit of a weird night- I went to sleep feeling fine, but woke up at half 2 feeling sick. I went to the bathroom and was just so dizzy I had to lie on the floor for a bit. I wasn’t sick thankfully, and started to try and get back to bed. I fainted just outside the bedroom- luckily Andy had woken up and saw me fall backwards and helped me in to bed (I thought I had just lay down on the floor in the hall, and when he ran over to me going “oh my God” I thought that he was making a bit of a fuss, but when we talked about it in the morning he said that I fell backwards out of the room and totally fainted- no wonder he was worried). I slept until 10:30 which is so unusual but I felt fine when I woke up. (I did speak to the doctor about it who said that it can happen with no clear reason, but if it happens again in the next few months they will investigate further). Anyway, on the Sunday I took it easy- no run obviously- we watched some TV including Penguin Town, did a bit of gardening and had a walk in the afternoon.

I did have a lot of excitement when I saw a little frog in our garden- I was doing some weeding and moving a few old stones and it just started hopping- it was so small (maybe an inch long) and I wouldn’t have seen it at all if it hadn’t moved. We are trying to make our garden better for wildlife- we added a pond, we’ve got log piles around, lots of flowers for bees and a patch of lawn that we don’t mow any more. Hopefully this is a good sign that it’s working.

Do you have much wildlife in your garden? Do you like cows?

Enjoying the home grown produce and “braving” shorts

After the lovely weekend with the day out at Wimpole Hall, it was back to work after a great half term break. The poppies were out in our garden, adding a huge burst of colour.

It was super warm, so I got out my shorts for my morning runs. I wanted to say I “braved” wearing shorts, because I do feel a little uncomfortable when I first start wearing them, but that made me cross with myself. It’s hot, so I should wear shorts if I want to. I am not sure what I think will happen, but I just feel way more exposed, even though they are a bit like cycling shorts in that they are longer. Anyway, they kept me cooler but of course meant that any stinging nettles or brambles stung and scratched my legs. The plants have all gone into overdrive so they are all growing across the paths- in some places if you didn’t know the path was there it would be hard to find at all.

Yoga wasn’t on, so I just had my regular morning runs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, plus walks on a few evenings too. My knee felt a bit stiff on the Wednesday so I did a gentle 5k and that seemed to help. Not sure why.

On Friday I totally got my hopes up for parkrun returning as they had crossed the line for enough landowner permissions. I’d listened to Free Weekly Timed (I don’t always as I am not massively keen on it) as they had Nick Pearson on there, and he said that although they were awaiting the announcement from the government (which I think by that time we all knew it was being delayed as so many stories had been leaked to newspapers etc), they had some scenarios that meant it could still come back in June.  They have had some criticism for announcing that on Friday, but to be fair to parkrun, the government were meant to announce sooner, so it should have tied it.  I also think that the pressure for landowners to have agreed by that Friday meant that more were across the line. Writing this later, when we know it has been delayed by 4 weeks, I am still hopeful that it will happen then (especially as technically it could have been back in March….).

On Saturday I went for a run with my dad, and we were surprisingly speedy- just over 30 minutes which is our fastest (not)parkrun for a long time. We had breakfast in their garden, and then I pottered around at home. We popped out to a car garage as we are still going through the process of going down to one (electric) car. Andy works from home, but my car is a bit too small for a holiday away (it’s fine for a weekend).

Our salad has been growing like crazy, so it was such a treat to be able to harvest it and have it with dinner straight away. You don’t get fresher than that.

Sunday was of course long run day- 11 miles to Panshanger. I was up early as it was going to be warm, plus I wanted to be back for the football. The cows were finally back in the park, and I was quite relieved that they were all over to one side, sheltering in the shade. I am not a big fan of cows, but these breeds are meant to be very docile so it’s OK for people to walk/run through the fields. Even so, they are huge and have huge horns so I would prefer to be on the other side of the fence!

Once home I had a lovely rehydrating drink of coconut water, salt and lime juice, and then made pancakes. A bit of pottering about and then it was time to enjoy the football.

Are you enjoying the football? Do you grow any food at home?

Finally a haircut! A virtual race and enjoying the outdoors.

A while back I signed up to the virtual Vitality 10k, as I’d enjoyed “racing” the virtual London Winter Run. Anyway, I realised that I was meant to do it this week,  and so on Friday I went to run it. It was meant to have rained first thing, but hadn’t, so when I was out running and it started raining it was very welcome, as it was warm.

I didn’t want to run crazily hard as I had a long run planned for the next day, but I wanted to pick up the pace a bit.

I managed some miles under 10 minutes, and was pleased to finish in 1:03 something. Not as fast as the winter run, but that’s no surprise.

From then the weather went downhill and it basically spent the day chucking it down. Luckily (?) I had a list of jobs to get on with so at least I could tick them off without wishing I was outside.

In the afternoon I was off to get my haircut. The last time it was cut was the start of January 2020, so this was pretty much 17 months to the day since the last cut.  I’d started taking pictures in March last year, and it’s quite strange to see them because with a gradual change you just don’t notice it.

March 2020

March 2021

June 2021- ridiculous- hardly even fits in the photo!

And after

I was off to a new salon, because the lovely hairdresser who cuts my hair had moved (and I was going to follow her of course). She is the only hairdresser who has not tried to make me put layers in my hair. I think because my hair is super thick, some people think that layers will take some of the hair away and thin it out, but it does the opposite- people usually have layers added to puff up their hair (that’s a technical term right there). Anyway, the new salon was in Hertford, which is near to me but I haven’t really been there. In the end I parked by parkrun and then walked the mile and a half there, but as it was pouring down it wasn’t that much fun.

I was quite nervous about going into the salon as sitting in the same place for all that time felt just the very opposite of what we are doing right now (limiting contacts and so on). But the new salon was much nicer (the one I went to before was in a shopping centre with no outdoor windows, plus it had a nail bar in it so always smelled very chemically)- bright and airy with the main door left open. A bit like with the comedy festival, I had forgotten how much better you feel after a haircut. The ends of my hair were just quite dry (no surprise there) and just all tatty as they were different lengths.

Hot cross bun after the haircut

I managed to keep it dry under my hood for the walk back to my car! I did a click and collect for a chai latte as I was feeling quite thirsty. They did offer me a drink but as you had to keep your mask on I wasn’t sure how that would work. I promise I won’t leave it another 17 months!

On Saturday I was up early for a long run, as we had plans on the Sunday. I went for a half marathon, doing a 5 mile loop and then an 8 mile loop. It was warm so I did lots of walking, but it was enjoyable and I was home before it was too unbearable.

The rest of the day was spent mainly relaxing (apart from moving some furniture around) and baking ready for Sunday. I had a few bits that had arrived (some end of term gifts for colleagues and some bits for me):

Caramel shortbread 

Including Disney themed (vegan) hand creams from Make My Day Magical (the Baby Yoda one smells like taffy!), and these cute plant pot holders/ coasters from Cottage and Castle on Etsy. To continue to chilled/Disney day vibes, we watched Raya and the Last Dragon which I really enjoyed (we both did).

On Sunday we were meeting Andy’s family at Wimpole Hall, and NT place not too far from us. Some of us are members and some had guest passes so we’d booked on to have a day there together.

We went to the farm, which I’d never been to before, but our niece and nephew loved. I loved seeing the Lil Sebastien. We packed a picnic, and I’d made caramel shortbread. It is one of Andy’s brother’s favourite bakes, and I can make it vegan using coconut condensed milk (they all thought I’d just made a non-vegan one which is a pretty good sign), although it wasn’t the easiest to transport on a warm day- I’d sliced it and wrapped it into bags but the caramel was still super gooey. Next time I’ll make cookies!  We ended up spending all day there- the grounds are huge so after the farm we had our picnic, walked around the walled gardens and main gardens, and then sat on the large lawn  in the shade of a tree until closing time.

Once home I had to make a plane costume for work (an up in the air themed day- I thought I would be Amelia Earhart as a good female role model) and then the final few bits to sort before heading back to work.

Do you like having your hair cut? I always used to feel so nervous because so many times I had left not feeling happy.

A trip to Bath and Bristol for the comedy festival

On Bank Holiday Monday we were off to Bath for a couple of days, so I headed out on a run first thing and then pretty soon we headed off.

We got to Bath around lunch time, and of course headed to Pret (to quote James Acaster, I love to manger). It was super hot and super busy in the town centre- I found it a bit overwhelming with people everywhere, so we walked along the river in the shade. Usually we visit Bath for the Christmas markets and don’t spend that much time outside, so it was good to see the sights a bit more. We’d found a little apartment to stay in so we headed to check in after our walk.

We ordered a Wagamama’s for dinner (click and collect)- the queue outside was crazily busy so we were very glad we’d ordered. However when we got back to our apartment, Andy found he had been given the spicy sauce and not the regular sauce- disaster. He likes spicy things, but this was full of chillis and way too spicy. Luckily I always think there’s too much sauce so I could pour half of mine over his. The poor staff were so busy sorting out all of the orders so it could easily happen.

The next morning we had booked tickets for an NT gardens in the centre of Bath, so we walked there (up a long hill), knowing that the walk in the gardens was downhill and the exit was at the bottom.

Well, when we got there it turned out they were draining the lake and doing some work, so the exit was back at the top again! Lots of walking up and down hills for us! It was lovely to be out in the sunshine, and of course places like that are nice and empty as they limit numbers.

We got some lunch after that, walked to see the Royal Crescent and went to sit in one of the huge parks. We found a nice spot in the shade and just watched the world go by- very relaxing.

After dinner (this time we ordered burgers- I had a nice vegan one from somewhere (I can’t remember) and Andy went to 5 Guys as he really wanted their peanut fries. We had seen another park in the afternoon, so walked over there after dinner.

On the Wednesday we were heading over to Bristol, so after a delicious breakfast of an acai bowl, we packed up and drove to an NT place between the two.  It looked very overcast, and rain was forecast, but as we walked around the gardens it held off. Literally as we were 10 steps from the car it started pouring! It was still raining in Bristol as we wandered around, but did dry up later on. We of course had to go to Bird and Blend for an iced drink- their iced chai’s (or hot ones) are just the best.

For dinner Andy found an amazing  pizza place that only did vegan pizzas, Purezza. We got them delivered and had them in our apartment as we had to head off for the comedy show- the main reason for our trip away.

The show was on the downs, a 2 mile uphill walk from the centre of Bristol- we waked up there but saw lots of people renting the e-scooters. It seemed like a good idea!

The show was really good- we had our own little square of grass with chairs, and then al the pairs of chairs were distanced from each other.  Thankfully it didn’t rain either! John Robbins was introducing each act and chatting in between, and then it was Phil Wang, Ray Badran (who I’d not seen before but was quite funny), Lou Sanders and Josh Widdicombe. It was really enjoyable. It’s funny, with lockdown I was in a nice routine of going on walks or runs, pottering around in the garden and so on. I can occupy myself quite happily, and of course there are ups and downs but most of the time I’ve been fine. However, going to something like this felt so enjoyable, I really hadn’t realised how much I’d missed things like this until I was at one again.  When we got home I booked tickets for a different lineup at the St Albans one.

On our final day we popped out for breakfast (Pret of course- got to make the most of having one nearby) and to B&B for a drink for the road, and then stopped at another NT place on the way home (Cliveden- I actually remembered the name!).

The wildflowers were looking beautiful, and we found a shady walk in the woods which was very much needed in the heat of the day.

Do you like comedy shows? What have you really missed these past many many months?

PS- This was not a staycation, it was a trip away that just happens to be in the same country still.

The weather is better! Wellbeing things, and looking forward to a trip away.

A while ago we booked tickets for the Bristol comedy festival- it was all set up with covid in mind- it’s outdoors, you have to book seats in pairs or groups so you are only sat with people from your household and so on. Since then the same festival is coming to St Albans which would have been ideal (so much closer to home), but as we had the tickets and it was in half term we thought a few days away would be good to look forward to. So reaching the final week of half term felt quite nice as we have that to look forward to next week.

Pineapple candle jar, buttons, wellbeing Disney tips and a wellbeing dinner (eg eating on the sofa instead of in the dining room- pasta with broccoli and veggie sausages).

The final week went well- the children were only in for 3 days as we had training days on the Thursday and Friday. This makes a huge difference as they all get so tired and it’s a lot harder work. We have wellbeing buddies in school (recently set up) and mine gave me a pack of dark chocolate buttons to help me in the final week- so thoughtful. We also had a staff get together where we did some glass painting. At the moment we can’t really socialise as you can only have 4 people in the staffroom at once, and so people tend to be quite spread out around the school. Working as a team is one of the really good things about working in education, and we have missed that for these past 15 months. Anyway, the get together (or stay apart?) was really good- we could use the hall so everyone was spread out. I made a little pineapple on my jar, and I was pleased with the result. Mainly though it was nice to actually chat to people for a bit.

Online training essentials of tea and biscuits, run scenes and lunch delivered

Also for wellbeing, I decided to order my lunch on one of the final days, from Pret (uber eats delivers). I had not had a lunch like that in ages, and it felt like such a treat.

On the Wednesday I had to rush off as I had an online training course to get to, and thankfully got home with enough time to make myself a cup of tea- training essentials of course!

I had some enjoyable runs again- on the Tuesday it started raining about half way around, but the Wednesday and Thursday were dry (although I got wet from the long plants again). One morning there were amazing sunbeams coming through some of the trees. I do love the peacefulness of the early morning runs- I might pass one or two people walking their dogs but that’s all.

On the Thursday we had to be in school- the morning was standard training bits, and the afternoon was gymnastics training. Oh my goodness me I was tired when I got home- we had the mats, the ropes (I can’t climb them though), ladders and all sorts of equipment out, we were running, hopping, skipping about and making routines. Good fun but tiring!

This robin keeps visiting our pots to collect nesting material

We watched the Friends reunion and had a Pudding Stop pudding to share- this one was a gooey chocolate pudding and was so good. They don’t look that big, but we made the mistake of having one each once and they are so rich it just isn’t good by the end. Sharing one is perfect. I really enjoyed watching the Friends thing too (although I didn’t feel they needed James Corden in it at all)- it was a bit like a flashback episode when they showed little classic clips. I know some of it hasn’t aged well, but on the whole it’s still so funny.

On the Friday we could work from home, so I took advantage of that and had a slightly longer run (5 miles) listening to With Me Now. It was so warm and I was regretting my longer leggings for most of it (not when I ran past a load of stinging nettles though).

I was super efficient with my work and managed to sort out all sorts of bits that had been on my list for a while so I felt very satisfied when I had finished for the day. No commute meant that I could also get on with cleaning (usually a Saturday job) so I could really set myself up for a relaxing weekend.

On Saturday we walked over to Panshanger and back. There has been a plant-based coffee trailer in the park but it’s too far from home to carry something back during a run (4 miles) so we treated ourselves to a drink each for the walk home, and a lemon muffin for later. We couldn’t hang about, as we had booked a test drive of an electric car. At the moment we have a car each, but Andy works from home so barely uses his car. Mine is small and perfect for commuting, but not good when we go away for a week (mine is an i10 like in the pic below- it just happened to park next to the car we had just test-driven) so we do need a slightly bigger one if we go down to one car. I was super nervous as I have only driven a handful of cars (literally- 1-the car I learnt in, 2-my first car, a Clio, 3-one of Andy’s cars- also a Clio and then 4, my i10). If we hire a car then Andy drives as I just get so nervous about it all, but as I would be driving each day then I really did need to give it a go. I’ve had my car for 6 years now (but my last car I had for 12 years…) and have always thought that my next car would be electric as that is the way things are going, but I did think I’d have this one for a few more years. Anyway, we’ve not decided anything, but I did manage to drive it and actually quite enjoyed it.

Test drive car park, half the lemon muffin and my pineapple candle holder being used

On our way back we popped in to see Andy’s parents and sat in their garden for a catch up.

On Sunday I had arranged to meet my dad and brother at the end of my long run, in Ellenbrook Fields. It was the 50th weekend of (not)parkrun, so I wore my red top to commemorate (I can’t say celebrate, because it’s not good that it’s been that long).  I had an enjoyable run through the fields, did most of the parkrun route, and met them near the back of the fields, and we then ran back to St Albans together. It nearly totalled 11 miles, and had I been at home I would have run up and down the road to get it up to the round number, but I could not be bothered with it then! Again thankfully the weather was good and we sat in the garden and had breakfast. My  mum insisted on making me some porridge as well as giving me a couple of vegan croissants- there is no saying no to her! (Technically we are allowed inside now, and both my parents have had both their doses, but of course they are not a guarantee of 100% protection, and none of the kids I work with will be vaccinated so I could easily pass it on- I don’t think the LF tests that we have to take at work are worth the plastic they are wrapped in as if we do get a positive it has to be conformed via a PCR one anyway)

Lots of daisies on our lawn from taking part in No Mow May, plus the red kite soaring overhead. I love hearing them whistle to each other.

Once home it was time for more gardening jobs (staking the trees, potting on seedlings and planting out some courgette and tomato plants), but also time to actually sit outside and enjoy garden. I’d made an iced tea latte (basically we had some left over peach tea, so I left it to cool, then topped it with cold milk) and that was perfect to enjoy in the sunshine.

Then it was time for some packing ahead of our little trip away.

How many cars have you driven or owned?