Climbing, running and eating

The weekend seems a long time away now, doesn’t it? There’s some crazy inverses time law I think whereby time moves quickly at the weekend and slowly during the week. Saying that though I don’t actually mind weekdays. I always think it would be awful to hate five days out of seven. Or maybe my weekends aren’t that interesting in comparison?? Who knows!

I made my way to the Netley parkrun on Saturday morning. It felt like forever since I was last there. It was nice to see the set-up crew again, albeit missing a few people due to holidays and injuries. The weather was really nice and made me think of those horrific times during the winter months where I was bundled up in a thick coat and dreading the time when I’d have to de-layer.


Recently I was asked to take over the Twitter account for Netley parkrun and I happily took the job. I’m a big fan of Twitter (follow me if you like!) and the person who was doing it before was getting a bit tired of looking after it and said I seemed like the right person for the job Smile It’s fun because I can tweet out motivational messages, information about Netley and parkrun in general. But I did have a moment where I got confused with the accounts and retweeted a humorous tweet from what I thought was my account but turned out to be Netley’s. It wasn’t offensive or rude but it was a bit random (a funny meme about football) so I quickly deleted it. It is tough though managing the two accounts post-parkrun when there is a lot of Twitter activity happening!

Anyway, my hamstring was feeling better than has it done but still not right. I did a warm-up and then stood umm’ing and arr’ing about whether to run. In the end my friend Chris said to try a slow lap and if it got worse stop. So this is what I did.





My hamstring did niggle but it didn’t get worse. It was just a discomfort in the back of my mind. I kept it slow. Jeeze how tough three miles feels when you haven’t been running much! It felt like it went on forever. I’ve lost a lot of endurance for definite. Afterwards the hamstring felt niggly but not significantly worse and actually the hours and days afterwards it felt no worse. *Shrugs*. I’ll write some more about that in another post anyway as I saw my physio on Monday.

I was happy to have run parkrun though and it was nice to be in the sunshine with lovely people.


Later that day I had a climbing induction booked at Romsey. As I drove there the weather took a turn for the worse (ridiculously worse) and pelted it down with rain. When I arrived the people looked a bit confused and said I’d booked on the supervised auto-belay climbing wall. They said it wasn’t an issue but really I didn’t need to be supervised. I thought I was going to be taught about climbing! But apparently not. The website wasn’t entirely clear…Though, let’s be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve booked something wrong.

An auto-belay is really very simple and the supervised sessions are more for kids so after the instructor showed me what to do I was fine to do my thing on my own, switching between the different belays to try different problems.


It was basically like bouldering but higher and with the comfort of having a safety net (or a safety rope as it were). The auto-belay would ‘catch’ you if you fell backwards then lower you quickly to the floor in a controlled way. It gave me confidence to try reaches I wouldn’t have done during bouldering which was great!


You could climb down or throw yourself backwards and let the auto-belay catch you as it tightened up under your weight. But it feels loose when you initially let go of the wall so it feels like you’re going to fall as you don’t feel any of its support until you put your weight into it. Honestly it took me a good few minutes to get over the fear and allow myself to fall. It’s genuinely terrifying the first time. I had to do it from a very low height just to convince myself I’d be OK. Afterwards though I was fine, though in the end I actually preferred climbing down as this provided more opportunities to improve my ability (and grip!).

IMG_2490‘Falling’ using the auto-belay

I had a lot of fun though I was disappointed not to learn a bit more about climbing, like tying certain knots, attaching the harness and belays. But I’ll definitely be planning some proper lessons soon.


And because I’m so thoroughly addicted (and running is not enjoyable right now) I got up Sunday and headed for some more bouldering at Red Spider. It opened at 10am and I was in pretty sharpish to get as long as I could there before going to a BBQ with my friends later on.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and managed to conqueror some of the problems I was unable to complete the last time. It felt hugely satisfying. I like that there’s a ranking of the problems as well (V0, V1, V2…V6 etc.) and I’ve found I can do up to V2s without issue and V3s are hit and miss depending how much over-hang there is. When it’s like a cliff jutting out and you have to get from below it to over it I really struggle as it pushes my body out and I’m terrified I’m going to fall (see below my pathetic little stick-man drawing).


But anyway, it was fun. I wish I could have stayed so much longer but I had to quickly head home, shower and head to see my friends. And also, my arms and hands don’t quite have the strength and endurance yet for mammoth bouldering sessions – especially having done a session the day before!

For the BBQ, my friends and I were a bit worried about the weather (given how bad it had been the afternoon before) but it held out thankfully. It was a weird day of lovely sunshine and then overcast chilliness.


I basically just brought chicken with me (two types of skewers and drumsticks). It was a lovely afternoon just chilling. Though we did have a collective moan about the EU result…How adult we all are now, discussing politics and how it affects our lives. I think we can all agree though that there are uncertain times ahead. A nice weekend though nonetheless!

Do you discuss politics with your friends?

If you have an niggle do you prefer not to run at all, or try a gentle run and stop if necessary?

Are you afraid of heights? I used to be, but I don’t seem that bothered anymore. I remember a time when I went on a school trip rock climbing I cried at the top of the climbing wall refusing to abseil down because I was so scared. I had to be lowered down! Pathetic child that I was.

Could you turn your passion for good food into a job?

Hello lovely readers! Hope you’re having a fantastic week. Today I have a really interesting guest post about working in the food industry. I think it would be dangerous to work with food – I’d just eat it all Winking smile

The great thing about the food industry is that eating doesn’t exactly go out of style. The food industry relies on passionate professionals with a broad range of skills to give us quality food, day in, day out.

There are lots of different ways your skills can be applied within the food industry – you don’t just have to become a chef! Here’re a few alternative foodie career options…


In the UK, you can enter the food manufacturing industry by earning an NVQ while working on the job. By picking up the skills as you go, you’ll have a great foothold in an industry, which currently employs tens of thousands of people in the UK. This job might not exactly by ‘your calling’, but there’s certainly lots of interesting and well paid careers available in this area of employment.


It’s not just a box – the amount of work which goes into the packaging of your food is staggering. Packages need to be designed to be attractive and meet industry standards for distribution. Every element of food packaging, from colour to imagery, requires a creative eye and a specialist skill set.

Research and development

Get into the food and beverage industry by working to put more, and better, quality products on the shelves. If you have an interest in food-related science or research in general, you could find yourself developing new products for domestic and international markets.

Logistics and supply chain

Good food has to get the people, and the logistics of delivery are an extremely rewarding career. On one end of the process, you’ll be sourcing ingredients for manufacturers, negotiating prices and quickly securing stock from around the world. At the other end of the food industry process, logistics work secures the supply chain, from manufacturing to retail outlets.

Marketing and PR

Manage a food company’s public image, deliver marketing campaigns, and maximise your brand to increase sales. It’s a highly translatable career and gives you a chance to exercise your creativity in service to good food. Food is big business, and even if you’re a qualified nutritionist or dietician, you could find yourself in a marketing role. Whether it’s online marketing, creating content for a company’s blog, or directing TV adverts, if you are struggling to get a job which directly utilises your nutrition skills, you can always expand your skillset outside of nutrition and obtain experience and skills in an niche such as marketing. In turn this will greatly enhance your chances of obtaining a job you will love. Take a look at this article to see an interesting case study.


The manufacturing section of the food and beverage industry coordinates the production of quality for a food supplier such as Bidvest. This could involve supervising production chains, fixing bottlenecks or even redesigning the manufacturing process to develop more efficient manufacturing systems.

Health and safety

In the tabloids, the words ‘health and safety’ are treated like a slur, but it forms a vital part of the food industry. Health and safety specialists protect workers from injury in the production of food and are also responsible for making sure the environment is protected in the manufacturing of food.


If you really want to come at your career from left field, you could always pursue a career in fortune cookie writing, or become a ‘flavour guru’, dedicated to using hyper focused taste buds to tasting the food before it’s sent to market! Or, you could even work as a professional food forager for kitchens dedicated to using wild food.

Have you found an amazing career in the food industry you’d like to share? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear about it!

Rants and Raves #33 and Phoenix Fit UK Elastic LaceSystem review

Hello, hello! I shan’t mention the obvious (to us in the UK) this morning as I don’t want to go into political discussions on my light and fluffy blog…however, I will say that I just hope that the future is as bright and cheery as the Leave campaign pledged it would be (*cough*). For me it’s a rant but to others it might be a rave. We shall see! Anyway I have other rants and raves for you today, hope you enjoy!

Rant: My name just seriously causes problems for people. It’s Anna Smith-JAMES. I get so many variations and people just don’t seem to get the hyphen. The two names are relatively simple, why is it so difficult to understand? This was the reserved sign for our Sadlers meal at the weekend.

IMG_2219Come on people!

Will I change my name back to just James when Ben and me complete our divorce? Probably not. I like my name at the moment and it’s such a ridiculous faff to have to go through so much paper work to change it.

Rave: New gym and running gear. Yes the obsession continues to live on. I can’t help myself. I buy more workout clothes than I do normal clothes. And to think if I do get into climbing I’ll need to buy more stuff for that I’m sure Winking smile


A lovely lady was wearing some really nice Adidas shorts at parkrun and I asked her where they were from and she said Sports Direct! And they were in the sale too. So I literally went out and bought them that day.IMG_2278

They have pink shorts underneath the black material which looks really cool and prevents any unfortunate moments of exposure. Oooh er!

I also bought three new sports bras from Forever 21. I love Forever 21 as it’s very cheap and the colours and styles are always really bright and fun, and you can choose between low, medium and high impact.


Rant: When I was bouldering on Sunday I got a savage blister on my finger. I won’t share a picture because I hate it when people do this as I hate wounds and things like that on the Internet (I suppose you could argue that vegetarian/vegan readers might feel similarly to my excessive meat pictures on my blog, sorry!).

Anyway it is ridiculous how painful my finger is. The pain woke me up in the middle of the night! It’s only a small wound but it’s basically exposed flesh from where the top layer of skin has been rubbed off from the climbing. I have a true appreciation for the pain that Ramsey Bolton’s victims went through. I would not survive well under torture I can tell you that!

Rave: On the meal at Sadlers on Saturday there was a party of twenty people. Happily we had ordered our food and been served before them so our service was tip top and quick. This did mean though that during our meat coma at the end we got to see there food arrive.


And arrive it did! They had meat platters for everyone and this basically meant three HUGE wooden platters just piled full of food, following by bowls of chips coming afterwards.


It was insane. We just looked on in awe (though none of us craving ANY food by this point!).

Though despite saying I wouldn’t need to eat meat again for a good week, I have started to get the cravings again. I tend to eat a lot of fish during the week but I’m glad I have the contents of my swan of shame in the freezer…


Rant: [Game of Thrones spoiler alert] What is Sansa thinking?? Withholding crucial information from Jon because…? Either it’s bad writing or Sansa is not who we thought she was. Also, there are some ridiculous Sansa pregnancy rumours going around social media. This will really annoy me if it comes to be true because in the books Sansa and Ramsey haven’t actually met.

And I fully topped up Alfie’s food bowl that evening Winking smile

Phoenix Fit UK Elastic LaceSystem

I was recently sent some new elastic lock laces from Phoenix Fit UK.


Basically you swap your regular laces for these elastic laces and, due to the lock system, you don’t need to actually tie the laces. They’re primarily aimed at runners.


The pack comes with easy-to-follow instructions (and there is a YouTube video you can watch as well) so it didn’t take long for me to put them in my trainers. You then snip the excess laces and add the lock system onto the end. It sounds more complicated than it is really.


I chose a pink colour and they go so well with my Helly Hansen trainers. And, having worn them many times now, find the laces to be very easy to tighten, keep my foot secure in my trainer and are really comfy. It’s actually upgraded my trainers a bit as previously I had just plain white laces that had seen their best.


I imagine they’re ideal for triathletes because they’re super quick to loosen and tighten, which is handy for the transition areas. You can buy the laces in many different colours from Amazon for £6.49, which in my eyes is a bargain.

What are your rants and raves this week?

Lock laces or regular laces?

Game of Thrones watchers, did you enjoy the last episode?

**Disclaimer: I was sent the laces for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.***

Bouldering (Birthday weekend–part 2)

Having the birthday that I have (19th June) means it often falls on or is around Father’s Day. I was actually born on Father’s Day and my dad always says it was the nicest present to have gotten (ha, take that Big Sis Winking smile).

Since I did most of my celebrating the day before and my dad and me had done a dual celebration a few weeks ago (Nando’s and cinema – two of our loves), we hadn’t planned anything concrete for the actual Sunday. My dad and me had a nice walk down the beach with the dogs while we waited for my mum to finish at church (my dad and me aren’t religious). Then, with my mum, we went for a little mosey round the shops and they treated to me to a Starbucks. They also got me a brand new travel coffee cup as well as I broke my last one (I’m notoriously clumsy and dropped it).


It’s cool that Starbucks sell smoothie drinks now with ACTUAL fruit in them. You just take a plastic cup of the fruit to the till and they blend it up.


My dad had one of those while I had my usual Americano. My parents each had a slice of cake but I resisted the temptation, which actually wasn’t that hard as I was still recovering from the mammoth meal the day before…

Then I went on my merry little way to my bouldering induction. After my booking fail of last weekend I was really keen to make this one! Though not actual rock climbing (with harnesses) it was the next best thing I could do within a short notice (I’ve got rock climbing this weekend).


It was based at a place called Red Spider in Fareham. I paid £15 for a one-on-one introduction to bouldering session (lasting an hour). The instructor who took it, a lovely guy named Chris, was really good. Very friendly and thorough, especially with safety which is obvious paramount as you don’t have a harness and you are climbing fairly high!


Yes there is a cushioned mat underneath the wall but that minimises the impact rather than acts as a safety net. You’ll still get injured or cause yourself damage by falling or dropping incorrectly from the wall.

IMG_2302Special climbing shoes

Anyway he got me to warm up by following him through the kid’s climbing area which was highly amusing. We were going up and down these twisty passages (which were actually quite narrow!) and then up slides and things like that. Seemed random but I understood the logic – bouldering uses pretty much your entire body and scampering up and down the kid’s play area was working all our muscles dynamically but safely. Then we started on a wall that was standing height so I could get used to the grips and foot placing. I seemed to do alright and he said my technique and strength was good so we moved quickly on.

IMG_2307After the session on my own

The climbing wall has lots of different ‘problems’ (routes to climb the wall) and each problem is categorised between V0-V5, V5 being the hardest and they’re indicated by colours. You then follow (or attempt to follow) the colour of the holds (the things you grab onto and/or put your feet onto). You can only use the colour holds that are for that problem. So obviously we started on the V0s to get used to climbing up and down. I found this quite easy (not to beat my own drum!) and we moved on to harder ones.


It obviously helps that I have a fitness background – being a runner means I have strong legs and a high endurance for effort and all my gym work has improved my strength, especially in my arms and core. I also like to think that since my grandad was a proficient climber (he’s written two books about it and is in Wikipedia!) that something may have trickled down into my genes Winking smile

I still found it tough though and on the tricky ones he would explain or demonstrate how to do certain routes, which gave me a range of skills that I could learn and work on. Though obviously I know rock climbing and bouldering has a lot of skill involved, it was fascinating to realise it was a lot more than just having a strong grip and strong arms! There was so much core strength and mental ability required to work out the best way to navigate up. Using your hips as a centre of gravity and twisting your body to get the right balance to get to the next grip. A lot of balance and stability was required.


Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I got a super pump from it and I was buzzing. It was amazing how quickly it became a tough workout as well when you went from the easy problems to the harder ones. And the genuine fear of falling was always there. After we finished the session I carried on by myself for about half an hour doing the ones we’d gone through.


What I also loved about it was how social it was. There were lots of other people there climbing and everyone was so nice. When I got stuck trying to get past a problem, someone was always there to help me out and explain the best way to do it.

I left buzzing and wanting to go back as soon as possible. I’m going to try rock climbing as well but bouldering seems a bit more accessible as I don’t need to worry about having someone to help with a belay. But I’ll see what the rock climbing is like. This is something I really hope to continue. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously still love running but for my sanity I need something else I can enjoy when I can’t run. I like going to the gym but it’s not exactly something you can go and do for fun per se. Bouldering is definitely something I can go off and do on my own and enjoy myself on afternoon.

Have you ever done rock climbing or bouldering before?

What are your hobbies?

What’s your favourite coffee shop? I know it’s so commercial, but I do love Starbucks.

Birthday weekend–part 1

And just like that I’m another year older… I turned 28 yesterday. I’d like to think that I’m wiser and have it all figured out but I absolutely don’t. But I’m happy and enjoying life so I’ll take that!

For the Saturday I had a few of my university friends down. Kate and Jamie (I went on holiday last year with them to Orlando) came down earlier so they could join me at parkrun. Now this is a BIG DEAL. This is the couple who laughed at me for going to parkrun when we were on holiday together. They were the least likely out of all my non-running friends to want to do parkrun. But, major kudos to them, they’ve started running and eating better in order to lose a bit of weight and get a bit more healthy. Jamie has lost FIVE STONE and Kate has lost (I think) over two stone. They’ve both also been doing the Couch to 5K programme and Kate had timed it perfectly as to use parkrun for my birthday weekend as her target.

They got to mine just before 8am and we headed down to Lee-On-Solent parkrun. Ordinarily I do Netley but Kate wanted a nice flat course and my dad was going to do Lee as well as my friend, Mat, who was down from Cheltenham for the week so it made sense.

IMG_2215Kate, Jamie, me and Mat

It was a beautifully sunny day. I was a bit worried about my hamstring but I’d done a quick tester run when I walked Alfie in the morning and it held up OK. Not perfect but alright.


I’d planned to take the run nice and slowly and stop if at any point it became bad.

IMG_2216My dad rocking the England shirt

It was quite amusing to see Jamie and Kate’s reaction to parkrun. They tend to run very early in the morning and never with other people. They genuinely thought they’d be about 12 people at parkrun. Jamie said he was shocked that one minute there were a couple of people and then the next there were hundreds. They were literally taken aback by the amount of lycra and colour about.

The start was a little bit hectic I must admit. There was over 300 people and we were all bunched together. It involved a lot of negotiating around people and trying not to trip over anyone else or be tripped up. But eventually it evened out and there was enough space.

I found a nice easy rhythm. I wasn’t pushing it or feeling out of breath and the hamstring felt OK. I was surprised to see I was running around 8 minute miles.

FullSizeRenderPhoto credit: Eileen Bartlett

Lee’s a good course as you can see runners ahead and behind so I could cheer people on and spot people I knew.

IMG_2254Photo credit: Eileen Bartlett

I’d say the hamstring felt 80% OK. It niggled slightly towards the end but there was no pain, just felt uncomfortable. It just annoys me though as it doesn’t make for a great run as I’m constantly thinking about it and not wanting to push myself to go fast because I don’t want to annoy it. But least it was better than it has been! I finished in 24:15 which felt nice and comfortable.


Mat had already finished in a great time of 20:50 so we walked together to walk my dad in. He was power walking the course and desperate to beat his last time of 51:12. He was finding it tough but the tail runner was apparently really good at keeping him going.

IMG_2261Photo credit: Eileen Bartlett

Towards the end, he picked up speed, overtook another guy and sprinted to the finish. Everyone cheered him in and it was lovely.

IMG_2256Photo credit: Eileen Bartlett

And he completed it in 50:16 so almost a minute off his time! He was made up Smile Kate squeaked under her goal of sub-35 by getting 34:57 and Jamie got 33:58. The absolute best part was hearing how much they loved it. Kate and Jamie are now full-on parkrun converts. On the way home they were already planning their next one (depressingly their local one was Little Stoke so now their nearest one is about 20 minutes away). Jamie was already commenting how he felt he could run further when he finished as well. YES!!! Converting my non-running friends one person at a time Winking smile

We got back to mine, showered and then my friend Shell and her fiancé, Rob, showed up to join the fun. Again, hearing them tell Rob and Shell how good parkrun was just made my day. A year ago there was nothing I could say that would persuade them that running could be enjoyable. People have to find out for themselves.

I had booked my latest favourite restaurant for lunch and we were all pretty excited. After catching up and walking Alfie and Kate’s pug, Doug, we headed to Sadlers in Southampton.


As I’ve mentioned before, Sadlers is THE restaurant for meat (though they also have a strong vegetarian section of the menu too). The last time I went was INCREDIBLE. My friends love BBQ food too so it made sense to go here. I decided to go for the ribs rather than the platter this time as, though the platter is amazing, I was really craving ribs. And they did not disappoint.


HUGE chunks of meaty ribs on top of chips, salad, coleslaw and cornbread. I didn’t even touch the chips. There was just too much meat (which, by the way, is not an issue).


So tasty. Shell and Rob also went with the ribs and Jamie and Kate shared the platter.


Ridiculously (and foolishly) Shell, Rob and I ordered sides as well. Shell and Rob went for some pulled pork and I went for some chicken wings and we ordered the bourbon BBQ sauce to go alongside. (Greed took over sanity here as you can probably tell…).


Yeah I didn’t even touch those wings. There was just far too much going on my plate. And, amazingly for me, I couldn’t finish the ribs. I was beaten! Everyone was. Happily Kate and Jamie said I could take their leftovers home so I took a swan of shame back with me.


Needless to say my freezer is now joyfully stocked with some smoked turkey, gammon, wings, hot link sausages and pulled pork. Happy days!

As we sat there afterwards chatting and basically recovering from the meal, the waitress appeared with a cake with lit candles and they all started singing happy birthday to me. It was such a surprise and so lovely!

IMG_2323Action shot

To be honest, I think the last thing we all wanted was a slice of chocolate cake. But you gotta take one for the team right?? Winking smile


The chocolate cupcakes on top were filled with delicious buttercream. We were literally DONE after having a slice.


We spent a long time at my flat just laying around chatting and digesting. We probably could have napped! It was such a great day. And to top it off they got me some super cool Superdry workout gear.


Because what else would you buy me?? So, an absolutely perfect Saturday.

What is your perfect way to spend your birthday?

Have you converted any non-runners to runners?

What’s your perfect birthday gift?