Pymmes parkrun – finally ticking off my NENDY

According to my facebook memories, the start of February half term seems to be a traditional weekend for me to have some solo parkrun tourism. This time last year I went to Highbury Fields for the fun and madness of 5 laps (and of course a visit to Bird and Blend after), but with the trains having engineering works a trip into London wasn’t so easy this year. In the end I decided to brave the drive to Pymmes parkrun. It’s been my NENDY (nearest event not done yet) for ages, so it felt like a good a time as any to head there.

It’s only a 40 minute drive away, and fairly straightforward, mainly on the A10, but there is no car park, only street parking (which I worry about), and the added complication is that it is close to Spurs so on match days the streets have restrictions. Looking at the signs on google maps this seemed to be from noon onwards (and that was correct when I was there too). A friend did suggest Just Park (which she had used) but I wasn’t organised enough to sort that. Luckily as I got closer to the park I was driving down some residential roads and found a space (in fact I found two but decided to move it from the first one as it was a bit further away and there was a guy hanging about on the corner who I am sure was fine but made me feel a little nervous) on Sweet Briar Grove and close to Park Lane, so basically the north-western corner of the park. It drizzled as I drove there, but when I got out of the car to jog to the start it had cleared up, and the weather was actually pretty good for running- no wind and not too cold.

The scenes in the park before parkrun started- I found the Pymmes sign and then later on found the purple pop up!

I had a little wander around the park, looking at some of the regeneration that was going on. There were some wildlife area and a reclaimed wetlands section. It reminded me a lot of Lordship Rec with all the houses so close to the parkrun, and a really nice community feel, as well as more variety in that park than you might expect from a city centre one.

The first timers welcome was so friendly and informative, even warning us of the ground next to the CCTV poles, as the ground by them had sunk a little. The main briefing was equally welcoming, and it wasn’t long before we walked to the start (the main briefing was midway between the start and end- you can see on the map below that they are very close together and you could pretty much see one from the other). I left my jacket on the tarpaulin of trust, and then got very excited by the size of the cones that marked the start area (they were tiny!).

See how tiny they are? Over my shoulder in the top left pic you can see the teeny cones and the normal ones. One by my shoe for comparison, plus the main briefing (bottom right) and a photo taken mid run.

The route is very compact- just under 3 laps of the park. It’s also pretty flat, with a little slope as you head up towards the finish area (next to that little pond at the very bottom) but that really is minimal. I wasn’t planning on going particularly fast but I did end up with my fastest time of the year with 28:04- I think I’d like to revisit at some point and have a go at a faster time. It wasn’t busy (139 runners on that day) and there was no mud, plenty of space even when being lapped by the front runners, so would be pretty ideal and quicker compared to my local ones.

When I finished I chatted to a few people- one of the scanners was really friendly and wanted a chat, and then a tourist who saw my Ellenbrook Fields top had a chat, before I headed home. I also got a proper photo with the sign, which had been moved from the start line to the central area where the main briefing was. I do love the little chats you end up doing by the sign, offering to take a photo in exchange for someone taking a photo of you. I got to hear about some parkruns in Kent – the seafront ones appeal definitely, as I really like Hove Prom. Once home I made pancakes for breakfast and watched With Me Now.

NENDY ticked off, and 107th different event (and parkrun 347 too- closing in on 350!). Happy half term!

Jersey Farm with my brother and the longest parkfaff after junior parkrun!

My brother doesn’t parkrun much due to working or playing football, but in November he was free so we met at my parents house and walked around to Jersey Farm.

It was the most beautiful autumnal day with bright sunshine. It also happened to be Jersey Farm’s birthday, so lots of people were dressed in animal costumes (farm themed).

Animal costumes, finish token, by the sign in the sunshine and some of the OH ladies plus my brother.

A few OH ladies were there too, so of course we had the traditional start line selfie (Emily is an expert at the selfies) before heading off on our own. I did run most of it with my brother but he had to stop and retie a lace so we didn’t run the whole way together. It was such a beautiful day, and afterwards we walked back and Mum cooked us breakfast. Definitely a huge bonus of a local parkrun!

Junior parkrun marshal in a birthday hat, view from my marshal spot and the 7 balloon.

The next morning I was volunteering at Beehive juniors, and when I got there it turned out it was their 7th birthday so they had hats for all the volunteers to wear. Lots of OH ladies were volunteering so it was good to chat and catch up briefly at the start.

I was meeting a parkrun friend (Branka) there too- we both volunteered and then went to parkfaff in a cafe in town after.

Mince pie slice and tea, and the two of us in our hats!

We went to one of the Herts Coffee Labs and they did a vegan mince pie slice so of course I had to sample it- it was delicious! We had such a long parkfaff it got to midday before we realised the time!

A very parkrun celebration filled weekend!

Snowy runs and St Albans parkrun repeats

On the 10th December I went to St Albans parkrun with Dad. I had realised that I’d not been there for about a year, and was keen to try out their newest route. It was the first parkrun I did, and it used to be out along a path, 3 laps of the lake and then back. For a long time it’s been on the alternative course, laps of a field, because of flooding by the lake, but they have created a course that takes in the lake (confusingly, still 3 laps but not like the old route at all).

It was a frosty and beautiful morning- some of the lake was frozen, the grass was covered in frost but with bright sunshine so it just looked amazing. One of those perfect winter days.

My hands were so cold- I took my gloves off briefly to collect my token but that was it. It really was freezing.
The Sunday was just as cold, and my long run was another freezing but beautiful run, although this time under cloud rather than gorgeous winter sunlight.
In the afternoon I popped out on a walk to collect some greenery for making a wreath, and saw holly leaves just draped in frost. We also put up our Christmas tree.
On Monday I woke up to loads of snow, meaning work was closed (well, we had to set online work). I made the most of being home by heading out on a run at lunch time as I knew that I would not be running before work on frozen pavements on the following days. Of course I made a snowman in the garden too- I am sure that is a rule?
I could not get over how much snow we had! Back in 2021 we had some snow on the Sunday night, but it was all gone by the Wednesday. This was still around the following Sunday, and of course unless pavements had been cleared they were really dangerous. We attempted a few walks in the week but that was not easy as the pavements were so slippery. (We do own a snow shovel and had cleared our driveway and the pavement in front of our house on the Monday, but I appreciate that not everyone can do that).
One day I went out on a lunch time walk as the snow was not as bad there. I spotted some cool Christmas postbox toppers!
(Snow on my Monday run, Stitch Christmas cup and my wreath)
Snowy St Albans parkrun and our garden a week after the snow, all the cancellations on the 5k parkrunner app, and Christmas gear on at parkrun)

On Saturday 17th December I was meant to be heading to Letchworth parkrun for a meet up with the Herts branch of Vegan Runners. However, the snow was still around and loads of parkruns had already cancelled. Letchworth were on, pending on a morning course check, but you have to drive along narrow residential side roads and I wasn’t confident that they would be OK (lots of the side roads around here were still terrible and icy), and I would have had to leave before their course check had been made, so I made the decision to go to St Albans again as they were on (as they have their off road course that they can use). It was great fun, crunching through the snow, and it felt easier than when it’s muddy. I wasn’t even as cold as the previous week as I had taken my gloves off before the end.

It was only after that I realised I could have tried for Groundhog day (2 identical times, 2 weeks running) as I don’t often go to the same parkrun twice in a row, but with the two different courses it would not have been easy. 30:24 the first week and then 33:05 on the snowy (and hillier) route. But as ever, very thankful that the event was still on.

Hove Prom parkrun and Marmite fries! (Brighton weekend)

We had an occasional day at work one Friday in November (this is when the school is closed- we have one day a year and can choose when it will be- something to do with making up for the bank holidays that are in the school holidays). Anyway, in the past we have headed off to a European Christmas market, but this year the Friday was a week too early, so we went down to Brighton instead.

We had planned to get the train, and had paid for parking, bought our tickets and were waiting on the platform, but there had been signalling failures and something else (one problem on the northern line and one on the southern line), then the platform changed and we could not get up the steps and across the bridge in time, and then the next one was cancelled, so we ended up getting a refund for our train tickets and driving down, so we got there much later than planned, but as that was the Thursday night we still had all weekend ahead of us.

A walk to the beach huts, delicious vegan pancakes, a walk by the sea with a B&B chai

We went out for breakfast on the Friday- there is a fab cafe (Wolfox) that has a host of vegan options, so I went for the pancakes (of course). The weather was amazing for November- blue skies for miles, so we walked up to Hove, popped in and out of shops and generally got our fill of fresh air and sunshine.

It being close to Christmas (ha ha) meant that Pret were doing their delicious Christmas sandwich. It is good that lots of companies make these fake meat alternatives to help people transition over, but as someone who didn’t ever like the taste of meat, I don’t really want to eat a vegan turkey sandwich, and Pret seems one of the few places that actually uses veggies rather than the meat alternatives.

We went for dinner in Purezza (all vegan pizza place that is amazing) and then had another walk around after that too.

Hove prom parkrun selfie on the beach, marmite fries and vegan burgers, parkrun token and of course another drink from B&B (one for each day)

On Saturday I headed to Hove Prom parkrun as that was the closest to our hotel. It was their 300th event which got me thinking back to when I first went there. Back in 2015 it was my first UK tourism at their 17th event. It has got a lot bigger since then!  They had pacers so I tried to keep between 29 and 28 minutes, and ended up with 28:02.

Andy had been out to the flowerpot bakery to buy one of their vegan chocolate almond coconut croissants, so I had that in the room as we had to check out at 11. Then it was time for more wandering, more sunshine and more fresh air. Perfect.

Before heading home we went to Oowee for vegan burgers and Marmite fries. Something that I did not know existed until seeing them on the menu. They were so good! But so salty! We shared a large portion and that was probably too much- we will know for next time.

Autumn run scenes from Sunday, vegan croissant from Flour Pot Bakery, photo from Hove Prom and tea with Taskmaster

Of course I had to pop in to Bird and Blend for a few times too- they do the best chai lattes, fact. Then it was time to head home for tea and Taskmaster, and then a regular Sunday with a long run in gorgeous autumnal weather and of course a croissant brought back from Brighton.

Where would your ideal long weekend be?

I’m giving in to the Christmas vibes!

I am usually very much if it isn’t December, it isn’t Christmas, but now that it’s dark all the time (why do the clocks still go backwards????) and the fun of half term is over, I am embracing the festive vibes. I’m not saying I’m putting up decorations or anything like that, but I am saying I may have eaten a few mince pies this last week.

Christmas cake being mixed, mince pie and mince pie tea, and awesome marzipan and ginger muesli from Borough market

In my defence, if I have walked into town to get my free Caffe Nero drink, and I am very tempted by their delicious vegan mince pies but don’t buy one because they are expensive, and then I walk  past Greggs and they are advertising their vegan mince pies (a pack of 6 for less than one CN one) then really, what am I meant to do?

My Christmas themed tea club came, and I also caved and ordered a Bonne Maman jam advent calendar, so it’s just really festive stuff going on from now on.

Morning run scenes, Tropic foot soak and amazing Crosstown Halloween doughnut bites which we finished on the Monday

It was back to work with a busy week after half term. I wasn’t sure I’d keep up the morning runs, and have now cut them back to 2 mornings a week. I do a running club at school one day, and I think if I stick to 2 midweek runs I’ll enjoy them more.  I’d been given the Tropic foot soak as a happy half term gift and it was brilliant after Disney (and also after being at work in wet socks all afternoon as I got wet doing running club at lunch time and didn’t have any spare to change into).

Yoga wasn’t on, but that turned out to be lucky, as I had sprained my wrist doing some gardening, and so would not have managed many of the poses. Thankfully by the following weekend it was feeling much better.

Vegan crunchie style chocolate, parkrun barcode, cosy times reading and watching Taskmaster

On Saturday I was off to Jersey Farm parkrun. Our wellbeing team at work had asked for ideas for socials to do (as we can’t gather at the moment) and I’d suggested a parkrun, and this date was chosen. A few people were interested but in the end only one person came along. My dad used to be her headteacher, so the three of us ran together and had a lovely chat. She wasn’t sure if she would be able to run the whole way as she had not run for a while since doing a half marathon a few years ago (and we did say that walking was absolutely fine) but she managed it and was so pleased! Sadly she hadn’t managed to print her barcode, but she was so happy to have run and said she will be back.

The rest of the day was nothing to write home about- a walk into town, lots of cleaning and some work, and then I spent the evening reading (you can only have the new books from the library for a week so I was trying to see how much of it I could read- I didn’t manage it though luckily Andy popped in and could renew it in person) and watching Taskmaster.

I was also so pleased to track down the Buttermilk honeycomb bar- basically a vegan crunchie, as I used to love those. I had to pick up a prescription in the week and the pharmacy was right by a little Tesco, so I popped in (actually looking for vegan croissants) and found these instead. It was so tasty, but very sweet (and massive)- I had it over two days and already wished I’d bought more as I haven’t seen them anywhere else.

Autumn run scenes and some chocolate from my vegan box

On Sunday I saw a message on our running club page about a Sunday run. I wasn’t sure I’d make it, so didn’t say I’d be there, but thought I’d run in that direction, and luckily met them running down the hill when I was running up it (they meet at the station but there are many routes to take from there so I could have missed them entirely). It was a gorgeous day for running (so much better than last week) and I loved having a chat while I was running. Some of them didn’t realise about the new parkrun milestone tops (eg instead of V25, then participant 50, 100, 250, you can now have v or participant for 25, 50, 100 etc). I think I injected some new parkrun enthusiasm as they were closer to their next milestone than they realised.

Do you like advent calendars? Are you a Christmas person?