The end and the beginning

The end of term and the start of the summer holidays was finally here!

The end of term is always a bit frantic, with so many things needing doing and less and less time to fit them in, and this year has been filled with extra challenges (hello online learning), and that coupled with more and more bubbles “bursting” meant the sense of relief at reaching the finish line unscathed and un-pinged was just huge.

I was given some gorgeous gifts from colleagues and from the children- including a selection of penguin themed things. (The top right is a badge with a penguin having a cup of tea- there is not anything more perfect for me than that!)

I had a lovely run on Tuesday morning with the sun looking beautiful across the fields, but the brambles were so overgrown and I ended up with loads of scratches all over my legs.

On Wednesday I did a similar run- out and back so avoiding the worst of the brambles, and in the evening we had our final yoga session of the term. It was super warm and so we did lots of slower poses, focusing on hips (always needed).

On Thursday I did my regular Saturday route- 5 miles through the woods- although I won’t be running it on Saturdays any more (as parkrun is back, hooray!). Later in the morning I parked outside town and walked in, as I’d booked a massage. I was going to go to Pret to get a drink (and maybe sandwiches for the Friday) but they were closed (due to the “pingdemic”- although in fact we should not be blaming the app but blaming this government for letting the virus get out of control….) so Starbucks it was for the walk back.

Friday was another run in the woods (a different route and more overgrown brambles) and then time to pack as we were off to Suffolk for the weekend. We drove up to where our hotel was, dropped off our bags and then headed to Latitude festival.

We were hoping to see Adam Buxton, but by the time we got in (the walk from the car parking to the site was longer than we had anticipated) they were not letting anyone else in. Never mind- there was loads to see. We went to the comedy tent and watched Simon Amstell, saw The Staves in the BBC Sounds (baby sea clowns) tent, went to the Waterstones tent to watch a talk on films by Mark Kermode, got some dinner (there were so many good vegan options- we had a peanut butter burger each) and then watched Wolf Alice headline on the main stage- they were brilliant.  At first I was a bit apprehensive about being with lots of people, but you had to show your vaccine passport or a recent negative test, and it was all very spread out. I’ve not been to that festival before, but it had lots of tents and stages all spread out, and everyone seemed very respectful of giving each other space.

On the Saturday I was off to parkrun (hooray), and as we hadn’t bought Saturday tickets, we had a day pottering around Suffolk. We drove down to Sutton Hoo (made famous in the film The Dig), and then went to Southwold (via a short stop to charge up the car a bit).

We sat by the sea for a bit and realised that we’d not seen the sea since October last year, when we went to Cornwall. There is something so refreshing about the sea air- it properly clears away the cobwebs.

The Sunday was another festival day- we got there much earlier (as we had to check out by 11am anyway), and managed to see loads of comedy- Joel Dommett, Reginal D Hunter and Jo Brand, plus lots of music (Tim Burgess regretting his choice of wearing a jumper)- the day was forecast to have thundery showers, but somehow we totally escaped. At around 8pm there were a few spots of rain, but that was all (unlike Standon Calling which was called off due to the site flooding).  We had to find places in the shade (I watched some of the comedy from the shade of a big oak tree nearby) and were both very glad we’d put on suncream. We’d brought along a blanket so spent some time sitting in the shade near a tent, listening to the music and relaxing, and then later on wandering through the woods and finding some of the smaller stages  (one stage was like an open air hipster coffee shop with random sofas strewn about in a clearing in the trees). The night ended with Bastille in their Re-Orchestrated show, playing music alongside an orchestra and amazing singers.  It was a brilliant weekend and I am so glad that we decided to go. We didn’t get home until 2am and I don’t know the last time that I’ve been awake at that time!

Do you like going to festivals? 

Lowestoft parkrun- parkrun is back!

Unless you have been living under a rock, you will have realised that last weekend, parkrun was back in England (it was on TV, on the Guardian, in local newspapers…).

The date kept being pushed further back in the year (legally they could have come back in March, but getting the landowner permission ended up with it being tied to Step 4 of the restrictions being lifted), and for one of the comeback dates we were due to be down in Brighton for the half marathon, although that ended up being postponed and the parkrun date was changed too. I was looking forward to a run with my dad, but then it turned out that the return date coincided with a weekend in Suffolk as we had tickets for the Latitude festival. Our tickets were for Friday and Sunday, so with the Saturday free it was perfect.

We were staying about 10 miles away from Lowestoft, so it meant a short car journey (easier now we share a car, as my car was always deemed “too small” for a weekend away, and I didn’t like driving Andy’s car). I was out of practise though- navigating myself is something I try to avoid as I find it difficult, so parkrun tourism was always a good thing to push me out of my comfort zone a bit. I only went wrong once, and nearly missed the entrance to the car park (the sat nav was telling me it was on my right, as it was directing me to the postcode on the event page, whereas it was on my left about 10 metres ahead of where I was…). I was relieved to arrive and so full of excitement.

The weather was forecast to be showery, but ended up being perfect, with some clouds and a slight breeze to help you feel cool. The car park was right on the seafront, and I could see loads of high viz vests out already(I was there at about 8.30am). The route starts a little further down the prom, so I did a little warm up along the seafront too, before starting to walk along to the starting area. I briefly chatted to a runner who usually did ultras, and then in the start area was asked my home event by one of the volunteers (I think because I had on my apricot top they thought I was a tourist, although it was my “it’s still parkrunday” one and not Panshanger/ Ellenbrook one. Even though I’ve had to change my home event now (it had defaulted to one beginning with A, so I’m back to Panshanger being my home now), I still feel like Ellenbrook Fields is my home event, and that is what they wrote on their run report.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel surrounded by lots of people, but it was all outside and people kept their distance- I hung around near the side and I felt that everyone gave each other plenty of space. I also have to trust in the vaccine – I had my second dose over 2 weeks go, and yes I know that you can still catch it after the vaccine, but there is much less chance, and I also trust in the research that parkrun did a while back showing that there was a very low chance of it being spread at an event.

The run briefing was listened to by everyone (they had volunteers spread out to ask people to listen), and it was brief, including a clap for NHS and key workers, and then we were off. I did feel a little emotional as we started running- I think for a while I had lost hope that parkrun would actually come back again, and it was just so happy to be participating in something alongside so many other people. 

The route was super simple- along the seafront/prom for a mile (past lots of beach huts), up a slope (walk on the left, run on the right) to the higher level path, back along the seafront to some little gardens (next to the car park), then back along the seafront again, past the beach huts, up the slope again and then finishing in the gardens. As I was heading out of the gardens (just over half way) the first runner was  coming in to finish- impressive! The first little part was a bit busy (we were asked to self-seed, and I had no idea of my time. Yes I’ve run some (not)parkruns, but never as fast as actual parkruns. I found that I was overtaking quite a few people initially, but it was wide enough to do so and once I was along the seafront by the beach huts it was all nice and spaced out.

The finish bit in the little gardens was so well organised with a nice long funnel and volunteers keeping everyone moving (but spaced apart). I couldn’t see the scanners straight away but they were just across the cycle path on the beach. Some of the scanners had gloves and masks on (which is of course perfectly OK), but the app seemed to work well from a distance (you hold up your barcode and the token for them to scan).

I was finisher number 163/ 350 runners, and amazingly when I got my text trough later on, I had the exact same time as my last parkrun before the pause- 28:17! I’ve never managed Groundhog day in the challenges (two identical times on the same course, two weeks in a row)- this is the closest I’ve got!

Time to head back to the hotel- I’ve missed this so much!

Where were you last Saturday? And Scotland and Wales- my fingers are crossed that you are following in our footsteps soon.

The last full week of term, baking AND a waffle!

The end of term tiredness was creeping up on me and so I very much appreciated a sugar boost in the form of Candy Kittens.

I celebrated my second vaccine+2 weeks this week, and although I know that it isn’t 100% effective, it does give me a bit more confidence with going to a few more places.

We had a few evening walks once it was much cooler. I was glad of my routine of running first thing, as after work it would have been absolutely awful to run in the heat. Runs went:

Tuesday- 4 miles

Wednesday- 4 miles plus yoga in the evening

Thursday- 5K ahead of Sports Day at school (plenty of walking around plus  of course the teacher race!).

Friday- I went on a walk in the morning as I thought it was forecast to pour later, but it was actually OK.

Saturday- 5 miles

Sunday- 9 miles with many walk breaks as it was so warm.

Pre walk work/ early morning light run scenes

After a colleague gave me some peanut D&D’s I ordered a few bits from their website (they did have an offer linked to the football…).

After watching so much football we decided to have a movie night on the Thursday and used a voucher to rent a film – Judas and the Black Messiah. It was very good, but of course due to the content it was fairly heavy going, and also depressing that even though the events happened so long ago, little has changed.

Something that I was cheerful about was the return of parkrun to England (sadly not Wales or Scotland just yet)- one week to go! (That’s me showing one finger in the photo, I don’t think it shows up well). I’ve loved my 5 mile route through the woods, and of course doing lots of (not)parkruns with Dad, but I am really happy about real parkrun returning. After not being able to log my result as Ellenbrook Fields is “no longer a live event” I’ve sort of protested  it by not choosing a new home event. Pancakes and watermelon to cool down with (I got a mini watermelon with our shopping and I have been eating it two or three times a day all week- how does a small one still contain so much?).

In the afternoon we popped out to charge the car- we are getting a point installed at home but it takes a bit of time for that, so in the meantime are using local charge points. There is one fairly close to town so we plugged it in and then walked over to Caffe Nero to get an iced drink and then walked through the woods. By the time we were back it was at 80% charge (which is the optimum for good battery health). Perfect.

I also did some baking which I feel like I’ve not done for ages. I used the Pret vegan recipe and added some of the dots (basically smarties but vegan and no palm oil). A perfect addition.

On Sunday I’d gone out early (before 8am, so early for a Sunday) to beat the heat but also because I was meeting a friend for lunch. It was already sweltering and although I found some shade, I also ran through fields right in the sun. Thankfully I had on sun cream, a cap and sunglasses but I still took plenty of walk breaks to take photos.

Mum also gave me a bird bath she had “rescued” from the charity shop that she volunteers in, so I took some photos of it in the long grass- after doing No Mow May we mowed a path around the outside but left the grass in the middle to grow long.

I met my friend at The Waffle House- another friend I had not seen for around 2 years. It was so lovely to catch up, and it felt OK as the seating there is all outside (under umbrellas and things). We agreed that we must not leave it as long until our next catch up. I had the vegan waffle with spiced apple, plus Jude’s vegan ice cream. I don’t normally go for ice cream on a waffle but it was so hot that it felt needed. I also got the lemonade as that is what I had last time and it was refreshing, but just after ordering I noticed peach iced tea which is my absolute favourite- I shall just have to go back! We didn’t have the table for that long, and ended up chatting in the car park for ages. We really should have moved to the shade, but it was that sort of chat where it’s one more thing, and then one more thing. Anyway, when I actually got in the car I realised I was absolutely boiling, my face was quite literally dripping with sweat and I just felt so thirsty. I was going to see my mum on the way home as she wanted to give me some tadpoles for our pond (they have a pond the size of a washing up bowl that is teeming with tadpoles), so I asked for a glass of water while I was there, which then turned into 2. It took me hours to cool down after that!

And just like that it was time to get ready for the final few days at work for the year.

Are you changing your runs or routines due to the heat? Are you excited about parkrun finally returning in England?

More football fun and afternoon tea

Hairband pot from enchanted cosy co

The beginning of July brought many things, including July tea club, always a good part of the month. The postcard this month is adorable, and it also came with some tea stickers.

I was a bit superstitious about ordering a badge before I got my vaccine, just in case the appointment was cancelled or a school bubble popped, so once I’d been I treated myself to these badges (could not decide, so got both in the end). One not suitable for work though!

We finally have a lily in our pond!

Running was back to normal (Tues, Wed and Thurs) although no yoga on Wednesday night due to the semi final of the Euros. I was so excited that the tiny football car was back, and then so annoyed at ITV for not even showing it! On a side note, when the football is on BBC, who on earth actually chooses to watch ITV??? Anyway, I’m not on twitter, but the tiny football car is, and well worth a look if you want something light hearted to look at.

The runs were OK, but I got absolutely soaked on Tuesday morning (and no time to wash my hair so just had to towel it down and hope for the best!). I was so tired on Thursday morning after the late night of football (and the excitement of being in the final) but I had a meeting after school and didn’t want to leave my run until then as I knew I’d just want to come home and rest.

Big puddle on a run and fresh lemonade with my waffle

On Friday after work the 4 people in my team went to The Waffle House as a nearly end of term celebration. I’ve not been to a restaurant probably since 2019 (only the outside afternoon tea for my birthday, plus we’ve got a few takeaways when we’ve been away for the weekend) so I was a bit apprehensive, but it was good- the seating is all outside anyway, and it was well spaced out so it felt OK. I had the hummus and avocado on a vegan waffle and it was delicious. We have sometimes recreated this at home, but never with all the garnishes and it is just so much nicer having it cooked for you.

On Saturday we had some sad news- people can no longer log a (not)parkrun if your home event is Ellenbrook Fields, as it is “no longer a live event”. I knew that it was not coming back right away, but this seems to suggest that it’s gone for good. It’s frustrating because with places like Tring and Little Stoke, the reasons were a bit clearer, but parkrun have posted something a bit ambiguous about not securing landowner permission (when people in my running club who are in the core team say this is not true).  Anyway, I cheered myself up thinking about actual parkrun returning in a fortnight- it’s not all bad. It’s funny because I now need to choose a new home event, and for ages Panshanger was (it started as St Albans, but once Panshanger started I changed it to that), but as I was more involved in EF I just feel like that is my home because I know the community there much more than anywhere else. No doubt we will go between Jersey Farm and Panshanger when not touristing, as JF is right by my parents and I can run to Panshanger as they’ve moved the start closer to me, but EF was perfect as it was in the middle.

Pancakes for breakfast, vegan doughnuts ordered, and a cute postbox topper seen on my run.

Anyway, Saturday after my run was a lot of jobs (cleaning, work bits, car admin) to get done so Sunday was free to be enjoyed. We even popped out to charge the car a little bit as our home charger has not been installed yet. I must say I am not missing going to petrol stations.

The weather was gorgeous on Sunday. I went for a run to Panshanger trying to work out the new parkrun route (they’ve posted it on their page and I know some people who’ve put it on strava). I think I did it? It will be a fairly longish warm up and cool down though as it totalled over 8 miles in the end. Or maybe 9.

Andy’s parents popped by to sit in our garden for a bit, and then I was off out again. Socialising is  turning out to be like buses! I’d arranged an afternoon tea with a couple of friends- we usually meet up a couple of times a year, but the last time we managed this was November 2019. We walked over to the farm where I’d been for my birthday- as the seating was all outside and very well spaced it felt good. Both of my friends are teachers too, and just hoping to make it to the end of term without any bubble popping going on, and they’ve been as cautious as me about mixing with others (or not basically). Apart from work colleagues and immediate family, they are the first people I’ve seen since the pandemic began- I felt out of practise with conversation! But it was lovely to catch up.

Just like in May, the vegan one was super tasty, and we appreciated the walk back after! They couldn’t hang about though as we’d booked it months ago without knowing about the football!

So, then there was the football. I enjoyed it. I think I went into it feeling happy that we’d made it that far, and of course winning would have been amazing. Penalties are always my most hated outcome (even if I don’t mind who wins I find them so stressful to watch), so that wasn’t great, but at least we got to celebrate a goal and be winning for a bit. Look on the bright side! I went to bed feeling OK (a late night but I slept better than the Wednesday night), but waking to see the news of the racism and the violence (the people trying to get in without tickets), was just depressing. This is why we can’t have nice things. This is why most other countries would be glad that we lost. And then the PM having the cheek to come out and criticise the racism after what he has said and done (check out Gary Neville’s interview on Sky…) and who he employs as Home Secretary just infuriated me more. So I went into Monday feeling a bit deflated, and not because of the loss, but because of the reminder of who I share this country with.

On a lighter note, it made me look forward to the Olympics and Paralympics.

Did you enjoy the football? Do you have any superstitions around sport? For us having nuts as a snack worked up until the penalties!

Together in electric dreams!

My week had runs on different days, due to me getting my second vaccine on the Wednesday (after the stress of my appointment being cancelled and then having to try and find a centre to rebook). I actually felt OK, but after I felt so bad last time I decided to set my alarm a little later on the Thursday, and run on Friday morning instead.

Those last few minutes of the match were super stressful and my Garmin agreed!

Back to the start though- it began with Wimbledon, as well as continuing with the Euros- lots of sport to keep us entertained. I always look out for my dad at the tennis (as he does the line judging), plus I find it quite soothing to watch.

I had a 4 mile run on Tuesday, and was super pleased that our site manager wanted to get home to watch the football (England playing Germany in the next round), because it meant we had to leave earlier than 5pm so I was just home in time for the kick off. We kept up the tradition of having some nuts as a football snack, which worked (as we won). We had to have a packet of Christmas nuts though as that was all we had!

I listened to the Tape Notes podcast with Adam Buxton and it made me sooo happy. I watched The Adam and Joe show when I used to babysit, and then listened to their radio shows and podcasts (I had the royal wedding song stuck in my head as an earworm when I did the Stockholm marathon)- it was such an in depth look at how he creates jingles and songs and was just such an enjoyable listen. 

On Wednesday I had to get to a vaccine centre after work. I was really nervous as I don’t like injections (I know that they don’t hurt, but I think as I have fainted in the past I get a bit worked up about it happening again). Also, as after my first jab I felt quite under the weather, I wasn’t looking forward to that potentially happening again. I went to a different centre this time, and it was much easier. There were no queues, and I was seen really quickly which was good as then the nerves could not build up too much. The person administering it said that probably my side effects would be far less this time, but I’d still have the sore arm. She was sort of right, although my arm was way better (it felt more like a muscle pain last time). I was relieved to get it done (particularly as we keep having kids at work being tested, and if they come back positive and we all have to self isolate it would have meant cancelling the appointment). The best bit? I got a sticker! I didn’t get one last time.

On the Thursday Andy was off to pick up our new car while I was at work, and the garage gave him a cake with my name (the car was in my name) and the new reg number. That was a very kind gesture, although sadly not vegan so I had something from my Vegan Kind subscription box instead. I wasn’t brave enough to drive the new car to work on Friday though!

Friday started with a gentle out and back run to the fields- I was feeling OK after my jab but I didn’t want to push it in case I felt worse later. all was good though. Annoyingly when I checked on Strava, June was the first month this year where I didn’t run over 100 miles- it was only 97! If only I had noticed sooner then I could have gone out on extra bits here and there. Although I missed one Sunday long run due to not feeling well, and of course the Brighton half was cancelled so I didn’t run a half marathon.

Pancakes an Red Velvet tea for breakfast = good start to Saturday 

Saturday started with a run, and then time to get more car bits sorted. I was selling my car to my brother, so I sorted out the paperwork, took it to the car wash and then took it over to him.  Andy drove over later and then I had to drive home. It’s going to take some getting used to, as there are no gears (and not even an ignition switch, you just unlock it, get in and then somehow it’s ready to drive).  It’s also way bigger than my old car (which was a little i-10)- I have never needed a big car and really like the flexibility of being able to squeeze into a small parking space and so on. Anyway, as we are down to one car now, it needed to be a bit bigger for weeks away.

I did a bit of pottering in the garden (including the third and hopefully final coat of paint on the gate), but we made sure we had eaten dinner before kick off of The Big Match (England playing Ukraine). As previously mentioned, nuts had been our lucky snack, so we opted for salt and vinegar peanuts this time. I’d made some cold brew tea (fruity tea in water in the fridge) and topped that up with lemonade. The match turned out to be much more enjoyable (usually it is so tense that you can’t enjoy it) and even relaxing- how novel!

On Sunday I headed out on a shorter run (7 miles) as we had planned a walk but Andy wanted to be back for the Grand Prix. I met some of the OH ladies out on their run (going in the opposite direction) so we had a nice catch up mid-run. Croissants for breakfast (one vegan Pret bake at home, and one of the nice La Boulangerie ones) and then we were off to Panshanger. I drove the car part of the way, partly to get the hang of driving it, but also as it’s 4 miles away so it would have been a super long walk and we would not have been home in time.

The cows were in the field we walked through and they were all over the path! I don’t mind them but I still prefer them further away. Of course we could not resist stopping at the Planted Coffee Co trailer- it was super warm despite being cloudy, so an iced tea was perfect for the walk back. I also bought a lemon muffin to have while Andy had more of the car cake.

I caught up on some TV, did a bit of work and pottered in the garden (in between rain showers). I was so excited to see a flower appearing in the lily in our pond!

Have you ever driven an electric car? How many miles do you tend to run in each month? Are you enjoying the Euros/ Wimbledon?