My favourite B’s – brownie and BBQ in Bristol

This weekend was my annual uni friends BBQ. We’ve been doing this for 11 years now, which just blows my mind.

It hasn’t always been a BBQ (one time we did a picnic in a park, though I didn’t listen properly and still brought raw food much to everyone’s amusement. Another Anna Stupid Moment), but invariable it is. The weather is usually always good, but annoyingly this year it rained. Ah well, can’t win ’em all.

I drove to Bristol on the Friday evening. It also happened to be the worst time to drive anywhere because there were so many family’s who’s kids had just finished for the year and were off on holiday. So my hour 40 minutes drive turned into 2.5 hours. Joy!

The evening was lovely. We had burritos (steak and chicken). Then followed by our amazing brownie.We’ve been making this brownie since our university days. It’s basically our way of throwing out the rule book and eating pudding exactly how we want (i.e. being a bit piggy and greedy). Straight out of the oven, with a spoon. I blogged the recipe before if you’re interested… this time we added lots of white chocolate and a KitKat Chunky. The KitKat didn’t really work, but it was still AMAZING.

I promptly went into a food coma. We then watched Naked Attraction (if you’ve never seen this programme it’s hilarious but also unbelievably cringey; people choosing dates based entirely on their naked bodies). There was actually a really sweet couple who got together and are still together post-show. Normally they never really work out but this was really cute how well they got on and liked each other. Ah romance 😉 It was a full-on rock and roll evening clearly!

Normally Saturday morning Kate, Jamie and I would go to one of the Bristolian parkruns but as I’m still  injured and Kate and Jay haven’t been running much we decided to have a lie-in instead. I did attempt a little run to see how the knee felt but it still pulled so I turned back after half a mile. Frustrating. Instead I walked to Starbucks with one of the others, Charlotte, and we enjoyed the nice weather (which was soon to turn) and a good old natter.

Then our other friend’s arrived with their newborn baby and the BBQ could commence! It was WEIRD seeing my friend with a baby. She’s the first in the group to have had one and it was just bizarre. She’s a proper grown-up now! The baby, Eloise, was very cute (that’s all you’ll get from me on babies). It didn’t change the dynamic of the group at all, which was nice. Eloise just slotted it like the new addition she is. Though babies do, in general, terrify me.I just don’t know what to do with them or how to speak to them… I held her once and then quickly gave her back. Whew. We survived. It was great hearing all the gory details of the birth though. You do need a close friend to tell you the truth about these things I think. Like I said, terrifying.

Then Jamie got ready with the BBQ. Check out the bag of meat!So. Much. Food. This is why I love going to Bristol. They feed me so well 😉There was a selection of chicken thighs and drumsticks, peppered steaks, lamb ribs, pork ribs, pork belly, sausages and burgers. Pretty damn good!Though the weather wasn’t great it was still a fun BBQ. We ate inside around the table which was nice, so we could all easily chat. And they no longer laugh at me when I take photos of food 😉

Obviously I ate too much, but what’s new? We followed the BBQ with Victoria sponge and salted caramel cake (it was recently Shell and Charlotte’s birthday – yes I had a slice of both…and maybe another later) and then BBQ bananas with chocolate sauce. YES.I’m not a huge banana fan but this was really tasty. The banana had gone all gooey and sticky and the chocolate sauce melted into it. SO good. Just slice a line into a banana, roll it up with foil and pop it onto the coals for 15 minutes).

I went home later that day very happy. I mean, ridiculously full but very happy.

The next morning…ah how I’d loved to have joined my friend Mike in his 20 mile run (I’m trying not to panic, trying not to panic) and instead went to the gym where I did 65 minutes on the cross-trainer at a quick clip. I was a sweaty mess by the end and somewhat satisfied with my workout. But not as happy as I’d have been having just done 20 miles! But hey ho, it is what it is.

I’ve found the perfect way to keep entertained on the elliptical machine; watching YouTube and films. I watched To The Bone on Netflix which was interesting. I’d heard about this through the Blogosphere and also on a film podcast. It’s about eating disorders, which isn’t an entirely fun subject but it was actually really good in a weird way. An interesting take on the subject and I thought Keanu Reeves in it was really good. The main female did annoy me a bit but I don’t think she was meant to be entirely likeable. I thought it addressed the issues well but it’d be interesting hearing from someone with more experience on the matter.

Anyway, it’d be nice to run again. My knee does seem much better so it’s frustrating that when it comes to running this isn’t translated. It feels fine in every other aspect but running. So who knows. Cross training is the way forward right now!

How was your weekend?

Do you have any annual traditions with your friends?

Have you watched To The Bone?

Double BBQ and the first proper long run

This weekend was another busy one. On Friday evening I headed to Bristol to stay over my friend’s house. I was quite stressed out and in a bad mood as I left but after chilling out to some music I got back into a happy place and was ready for a weekend of fun.

I’m always fed so well at Kate and Jamie’s. I never stress out that I’ll be hungry or I won’t like what the make as they know me quite well 😉 The next morning I had a lazy lie-in until 8.30am and then we got ready for yet another obstacle race, the Rough Runner 10k. I love doing these kinds of race with Kate and Jamie because they’re such good fun.The races are very relaxed and we go into them just looking to enjoy ourselves. We run as a group and tackle each obstacle together, motivating each other and of course laughing when someone face plants or falls off an obstacle. It’s really not that serious and doing races like this is a nice change and something that keeps me from getting fed up of road race after road race. I love my “normal” races but a change is always needed once in a while!

I’ll recap that in a separate post as it deserves it 🙂 After the race Jay manned the BBQ while Kate and I popped to the supermarket to grab some salad bits and pudding. Normally we’d go out for a meal after a race but as it was such a nice day (oof I got sunburnt during the race), a BBQ seemed like a far better plan. Jay is like the BBQ master. They always host an annual BBQ every year (coming up in July, whoop whoop!) which I always look forward to so I was really chuffed to have an early taster session.There were sausages, burgers, chicken pieces, ribs, pork belly and lamb pieces. I was in heaven! They really do do a great spread.By the time we sat down we were all ravenous, having had breakfast over five hours ago! I ate a bit (*cough* a lot) of everything and felt well and truly refuelled and restored. But obviously a bit of pudding was required too to fully finish the meal off nicely.Ooof such a good pudding. A salted caramel cookie topped with brownie and salted caramel ice cream. It was delicious. And so I drove home in a very content state of satisfaction. As always, a fun time had been had in Bristol!

I’d originally planned on getting up super early Sunday to get my long run in before it got too hot but actually the temperature was a lot cooler and it looked to continue that way the next day. So I treated myself to another lie in (8.15am) and headed off for my long run at 9am. I always walk Alfie beforehand to help wake me up and warm my legs up. I never usually have breakfast before either. I just make sure I’ve eaten enough the day before (see above…) and I like to run fasted as when I race I do use fuel so the boost is so much more pronounced on race day. This might be rubbish but psychologically it works for me.

I started off the run actually feeling pretty pants. I felt tired, my legs felt heavy and I was fairly demotivated. I was doing a usual long run route around the seafront area of Hill Head and Lee-On-Solent and I was genuinely dreading how far I had to go. Being so familiar with the route made me just dread it even more.

But I was listening to a really interesting TED Radio Hour (a podcast which looks at a few different of the TED Talks with an overriding theme). The one I was listening to was about robots and how that might affect the future of jobs and the economy. So it kept me amused and the miles ticked by a bit easier. As always, after the initial few miles I felt better. It wasn’t as hot but it was very windy but the wind was mostly coming across me so wasn’t too bad and kept me cool.

I carried some water with me and filled up at my usual dodgy tap on the seafront promenade (it looks suspect but doesn’t have a “no drinking water” sign… I’ve drunk from it several times and never had an issue but I always refer to it as a dodgy tap as I’m not entirely sure) which is at about half-way.I felt good after finishing the run but very tired. It’s the longest run I’ve done in a while and I think it’s on of those “ahh this feels like marathon training” runs. Glad to have ticked it off!

And then I had another BBQ with my family. My sister and her fiance came over so it was nice to them as well. My sister was lamenting that she’s put on weight. She’s the person who has never exercised, smoked and always eaten fairly badly (a diet of pizza and cereal would be an accurate description) but never had weight issues. She’s always been quite slim (I think my sister and me are quite lucky in that respect. I know I exercise a lot but I’ve never had an issue with weight even when I didn’t exercise and ate terribly at school). But recently the medication she’s been on has caused her to gain a bit of weight and she’s facing a situation she’s never had before (bar when she was pregnant). I tried to give her some advice but seen as how she hates exercise and, in her words, “likes cheese a lot” it might be tricky! It’ll be interesting to see her change her eating habits… 😉 (I’m allowed to say this as she’s my older sister!)

The food and family time was great. But I’m shattered now!

How did you spend the weekend?

Do your friends ever cook you dinner?

Do you carry water on long runs?

On a lighter note, running!

And after yesterday’s somewhat heavier post…onto something lighter!

Like some cool things keeping me upbeat. During my time in London we walked past an office WITH A SLIDE. It didn’t look like any sort of special office. Just an average office. But with a slide. Naturally.Being the slight over-thinker that I am, this would give me anxieties about what outfit would be slide-appropriate each morning. To slide or not to slide would have to be a consideration depending on what I wore. I’d also feel a bit like a pilock. I mean, it’s cool. But it’s also work so…

I spotted this on a bench in Lee-On-Solent on the promenade. I love this!Like a woolly jumper for the bench to wear. Not sure who made it or where it came from but I love little things like this that add a bit of quirky character to a place. And help you believe in the kindness and loveliness of the human race again.

 

But moving on to running. Now obviously I know this is no news to anyone but dear God isn’t it hot? In the South of England we’ve being seeing temperatures of 28-34 degrees Celsius. It’s positively baking. On a random note, I’m also the biggest numpty around. I didn’t think my car had air con so I was driving to work desperately putting the windows down whenever there was traffic on the motorway, trying to cool myself. Then out of desperation as we gained speed again and I put my windows up, I noticed that the temperature dial looked a bit odd… and then if I pushed it the snowflake light in the middle came on. Ah. I do have air con. Actually it’s so good that after 15 minutes of it on I’m actually too cold. Yep, I’m 29 ladies and gentlemen. Though when I work from home (which I’ve being doing quite a bit these past few weeks due to Internet issues at work) the temptation to go and sit in my car has been rather strong. My flat is TOO HOT.

Anyway, back to running. It’s too hot. But my running hasn’t actually been too bad, which makes me think that my fitness is really coming on nicely. My eight miles on Sunday, albeit highly sweaty, was actually great!

After the initial mile of “God this is awful”, I got into it and felt strong running. I took water with me and just relaxed into it.I then spent approximately 80% of the rest of the day in a state of over-heating. Not good. Us Brits are just not used to this! (Though I’m probably not helping myself by still eating porridge for breakfast and having hot drinks like coffee or hot chocolate…).

On Tuesday night I headed out on my own for a 5ish mile tempo and that also went well. I don’t think I’ll be hitting any PB’s in these temperatures, but it’s nice that I can get somewhat of a good training run in. My HR wasn’t too high either which is something I’m always cautious about during high temperature runs.

I mean, it’s not my best tempo paces obviously but for the conditions I’m really pleased. And considering I’m actually taking a different approach to marathon training this time. Basically I’m not running all my runs at one pace (i.e. 8 min/miles). I’m trying to make sure that at least two of my runs are fairly “slow” and then one speed session a week (whether that’s a tempo, a hard parkrun or an actual speed session). It’s going well, touch wood!

I have another obstacle race this weekend with my Bristol friends, so that’ll be good (though not really conducive to marathon training!). I’m actually quite looking forward to any water element of it as it’ll actually be the weather for it!

And now to leave on a final happy note. One of my favourite cards from my birthday (along with a Where’s Wally one, which entertained me for quite a while).

No truer story.

Have you got anything cool at your work? We have a vending machine. That’s about as good as it gets.

How have you been affected by the heat?

Easter and the last long run before the London Marathon

To think this time last year I was in Boston running the marathon the year has ZOOMED by. It’s mental. This weekend for me, instead, was all about Easter.

Like a lot of people, I had Friday to Monday off which was just perfection. Having not had a lie-in last weekend due to going to Salisbury and Brighton, it was nice to sleep in on Friday. For me a lie-in is anything from 7am really, so sleeping in to 8am was heavenly. I was staying at my parent’s house as in the morning we were off to Salisbury (again). It was so nice last weekend and we didn’t get much of a chance to do much moseying about so we thought it would be an ideal spot for a little bit of shopping and some lunch, this time with my mum as well.We walked to Salisbury Cathedral and enjoyed looking at the lovely old buildings around it. I do love Britain and the fact we have so much history. It’s incredible how old some of these buildings are (some having being built in 13th century!).

I also enjoyed looking round a few different sweet and fudge shops. I got myself some chocolate covered foamy bananas which are such a weakness for me. I love them!I also saw a HUGE Lindt bunny. It was enormous!

Then we headed to The Giggling Squid, a Thai tapas restaurant. There’s one in Brighton that my friend had recommended so I thought it a good shout to try the Salisbury one. That and the fact that I’d been craving Thai food since trying my hand at cooking it.As it was quite a chilly day I had some peppermint tea which was delicious. Fresh mint leaves in the tea pot! I had chicken satay skewers to start and, rather than tapas, I had a main dish. It was a standing sea bass! It was on a bed of salad and very tasty indeed. It had been lightly deep fried in order to make it..er, erect. My dad and me shared some boiled rice and it was a very lovely, and, I must say, light lunch for me! The meal and the service were fantastic.

Saturday morning saw me heading to Netley Abbey parkrun after not being there in ages. It was nice to be back in the fold and to see my parkrun friends again. We were on the summer course which meant no more six hills, just the usual incline three times. I ran with my friends Mike and Mark. Mark ran with a buggy and was recovering from the very hot Brighton Marathon a couple of weeks ago. This photo made me laugh a lot:

Photo credit: Chris Stapleford

The runaway buggy! A momentary lapse of control I believe. No one was hurt 😉

I felt quite strong on the run and put some effort in, though trying to talk to Mark and Mike at the same time probably wasn’t entirely wise!On the final stretch I was overtaken by a running club team mate who I thought was pacing someone. I looked a bit outraged as I thought it a bit mean to overtake so near to the finish when he’d been pacing someone. Though it looks like I’m genuinely annoyed, I was actually joking!In the end I got the exact same time as last week’s Salisbury parkrun which was quite amusing (22:36).I seemed to have stepped it up from lap one!
What made the parkrun especially good was the fact that Mike, who had celebrated his 100th parkrun the week before, had brought with him some saved pieces of shortbread that he’d made. I’d been sad I’d missed celebrating his 100th the week before and I was uber grateful he’d put a few pieces to one side for me.I took them to the cafe with me after clearing down parkrun and made it very clear: Anna does not share food ;-P To be honest, I ate them so quickly it’s unlikely anyone saw I had them anyway. They went very nicely with a mug of peppermint tea.

Sunday saw me waking up early(ish) again at 7am to meet some guys from the running club to do a long run. There were quite a few of us and despite not being a huge fan of waking up early when I could be sleeping in a little longer, it was so much nicer to go for a long run with a crowd than muscling it out on my own. Especially as at the moment I’m feeling so tired and a little fed up of marathon training.

The plan was 12 miles but I wanted to get a few more in, purely because I haven’t done that much long running for the marathon. So I ran to and from the meeting point to add on some extra. The longest run I’ve done since Tokyo has been 16 miles. Lord knows what this means for how the marathon is going to go!To begin with it felt quite tough going. Though there were a good number of us we seemed to be clipping along a bit faster than I’d intended. I was looking for 8.30min/miles. I enjoyed listening to people chatter but kind of closed in on myself a bit as I wondered about the marathon ahead. Quite a few in the group were either doing London or the Southampton marathon, which is on the same day. Everyone around me seemed so much more trained.

It just emphasised to me that I need a break from marathon training so that when I target the next one I can be fresh and put in some proper training, rather than struggle along. It would be nice to go in to one feeling confident and wondering if I could get close to my PB again. But it is what it is!

I felt stronger as the run went on and we finished on quite a clip, though it was tough. I ran the last mile back to my house with one of the ladies and was happy to get 14 miles in in total. I’d have liked 16 but it was hot and I felt tired. Best not to push it the week before!

Are you training for a marathon?

Do you like running long runs in a group or on your own? Usually I prefer to run them on my own, but when my motivation is low it’s nice to have some friendly company.

What’s your opinion on people overtaking you right at the end of parkrun?

Easy Detox by Amrita Review

So I’ve never actually done a detox before. I’m in the group that believes your body doesn’t actually need an external product in order to “detox”. That’s what your liver does, right?

That said, I was intrigued when I was contacted by Amrita to do a review of their “Easy Detox“. My initial thoughts were “this isn’t for me”. I don’t do meal replacements or juice detox programmes. I like physically eating my food and I like to eat a good amount. However, after reading a bit more I found it wasn’t actually a detox to replace meals, but rather as well as. Well OK, I can get on board with that.

What is it?

It’s an “all natural body cleanse” which is designed to support your body’s natural detox abilities and “clear out toxins”. It’s a 100% organic blend of herbs, spices and Thai fruit (interesting). It’s apparently used in their Luxury Wellness Retreats and was featured in Vogue, which sounds all very grand.So the blend itself is an interesting concoction. And may I say, not an entirely pleasant looking blend. I was sent the Easy Detox Mini Kit, which contains nine sachets of the detox blend which are taken over three days (before each meal basically). You get quite a comprehensive guide with the sachets to explain how to take the sachets, what’s in them etc.

As part of the detox there are certain guidelines to follow too, such as avoiding these things:

  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Dairy
  • Meat
  • Fatty foods

Now I’m not going to lie. I didn’t avoid caffeine. I enjoy coffee and don’t think I drink too much to be an issue (see my caffeine post from the other day). I naturally don’t eat that much dairy as I drink almond milk and have Alpro soya yogurt (I just prefer the taste). During the week I don’t tend to have many exciting treats or use sugary sauces on food so other than naturally occurring sugars I think I did OK with this (I’m no dietitian though!). Meat? Well, it may also surprise you to know that I don’t eat a huge amount during the week. I eat salmon for lunch and I just made sure to eat different fish for dinner instead. It was quite easy.So you mix one sachet with 180ml of water. 180ml isn’t that much at all so makes the “concoction” quite potent and, well, bitty. It doesn’t all dissolve. But I found the mixture with water really unpalatable. No disrespect to the company but it was revolting. So I quickly switched to adding coconut water (which was advised if water didn’t cut it). You can add the mixture to smoothies or soups but this was a bit too much faff for me. Coconut water was FAR better. It’s still not an entirely pleasant experience but a lot better than plain water.

So what did I achieve?

It’s tricky to say really. Though the detox isn’t primarily for weight-loss, it is one of the purported outcomes for strictly following. But I’m obviously not trying to lose weight and I’m pretty sure that would be a hard feat considering I’m quite small already and I eat a lot.

I think if you were on the first steps of a weight-loss journey and had weight to lose this could be a helpful way to supplement healthy eating and exercise. The sachets are packed full of ingredients that sound rather good which could support a healthy lifestyle. It’s also supposed to help things, er, move through quickly. I can’t say I noticed much difference as I don’t have any issues with getting blocked up. I eat enough fruit and veg! It perhaps made me feel a bit more alert and fresh but who knows if this was down to the detox.

Amrita offer a few packages of detox:

 

  • Mini: 9 sachets taken over 3 days with food
  • Classic: 21 sachets taken over 7 days with food
  • Deluxe: 35 premium single-serve sachets, taken as either a 7-day “intensive” or 14-day “relaxed” programme with food.

As detoxes go, this was rather painless and didn’t disrupt my lifestyle too much with suddenly not being able to eat my normal food or being hungry. It was more of a supplementation than anything. Ideal for people who need a jump-start to weight-loss perhaps if they’ve not been eating great beforehand.

Have you ever done a detox?

Are there foods you actively avoid?

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