Unpopular opinions and things I’m loving lately

Well this is really a random post! It’s a mix of things I’m loving at the moment and some unpopular opinions.

The unpopular opinions idea came from a post from Hungry Runner Girl and I thought it would be a fun post to do as well. I’ll throw my hands up and say it’s mainly food related but that should hardly surprise you 😉

  • I really don’t get Nutella. Yep starting with a big one. I mean, I like chocolate and I like hazelnuts. But together? As a weird thick paste you put on bread and crepes? Nope. Doesn’t do anything for me.
  • I also don’t get the craze for peanut butter (or any nut butters really). It could be because I don’t often have bread or toast. But I don’t see the appeal even on it’s own. It’s alright but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find any or eat it. I quite like a peanut butter chocolate flavour combo with cookies and ice cream but as a fun change rather than something I’d crave.
  • Toppings on porridge. In fact, I could say a whole lot about porridge and what people do to it. Cold overnight oats? Nope, no, nooo. The most exciting I do is putting protein powder in it.

  • Not one for the veggies… I really like eating my chicken with the skin on, and in general I’m a big fan of meat on the bone. I think it’s because I’m a mini T-Rex.

  • And one non-food related one. I’d rather get up at 5am to workout in the gym than do it in the evening. I can be motivated to run whenever, but going to the gym? Nope.

And onto things I’m loving lately…

This is fairly random but it made me laugh. Have you ever wondered what animal you’d be if you were to be one? On my two holidays I was called two different animals. The first was a hyena. This goes back to the eating meat from the bone (see above).I’m pretty good at getting as much meat as I can off it. It’s a well-honed skill. I like to think that back in the day (you know, a few million years ago) I’d have survived for a good amount of time as a neanderthal with that kind of ability.

In Tokyo I then got called a squirrel. This is because I have a fear of food running out and so to combat this I constantly carry snacks round with me. On the flight I had three different packets of crisps, two apples, a mini bag of pretzels and some turkey jerky. I didn’t eat them all but I felt happier knowing they were there.

This doughnut. Now I’m not a huge doughnut fan. I’m more of a cake-lover. However when I was in Southampton West Quay shopping centre I saw a “make your own doughnut” stand. Basically you could choose your own toppings…as many as you liked! For £1.50! I walked over to have a look – just a LOOK – and found myself with my purse in my hands perusing the menu before I knew what I was doing.I got a white chocolate covered doughnut with caramel sauce and caramel shrapnel.Caramel shrapnel? What a wonderful way to describe little droplets of sugary heaven. I won’t lie. I got it all over me in the middle of the busy shopping centre and I did not care.

Odd but tasty gels. My lovely friend, Mat (AKA triathlon legend) sent me some gels a while ago and I was FINALLY able to try them out during the marathon. Well, one of them anyway! Maple Bacon flavoured GU. Yes really.I have quite a strong stomach and have never had an issue with gels before so I was confident to just try it for the first time during the race (I live life on the edge…). It was really good. I love the flavour of maple bacon anyway (Kettlebites I’m looking at you) so this wasn’t too weird for me. Sweet and salty yumminess! (FYI: I believe he bought them from Amazon).

Tokyo goodies: When I finished the Tokyo Marathon (I’ll stop talking about this one day), we were first given a towel as we walked from the finish line. I was like “oh cool…but we still get a medal, right??” Thankfully we did, but getting a towel as well was pretty cool.I’ve only ever received a mini gym towel (and that was in place of a medal) but this is pretty damn good. Get me to a swimming pool/beach/plumbing disaster immediately!

I also got a technical t-shirt which (hallelujah!) actually fits.As I’m a fairly micro person I always opt for extra-small if it’s available as an option and this fits like a glove. I suppose it helps that Japanese women in general are quite small.

ASICS running gear from Millet Sports: Millet Sports kindly sent me a pair of ASICS leggings and ASICS running jacket to review.Firstly, apologies for the most ridiculously cheesy pose in this picture. Catalogue pose eat your heart out.

The jacket is brilliant. It’s quite thick, so perfect for when it’s really cold outside (like those ridiculously cold mornings or evenings we’ve been having). It has the fabulous thumb holes as well as a couple of nice pockets. It’s waterproof, breathable and has reflective dots over it so great for visibility when running in the dark. I just love the colour as well.It matches my new trainers!

The leggings are full length made from a breatheable stretch material, with a short zip at the ankles to give a bit of ventilation (I personally wouldn’t when running as it would flap, but I imagine after a run it’s lovely to have a bit of air). There’s a drawstring around the waist so there’s no worries about them slipping down mid-run as well. Though they’re not baggy they are less tight than other leggings I have, like ones from Fabletics or Lululemon which literally suck you all in. This makes running in them a lot more comfortable.

There’s also a back pocket slightly to the side which I like as sometimes a back pocket can annoy me with the zip, whereas slightly to one side is a bit more comfortable.

A great winter running outfit. Check out Millet Sports for more running gear!

What would be your ideal doughnut topping?

What animal would you be and why?

What’s your unpopular opinion?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the leggings and jacket for free in return for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Things I’m Loving Lately

I’m fairly behind in my blog posting. I still have an epic food recap for Orlando and the MarathonTalk Run Camp to come, but while I work on those I have a quick post for things I’m loving lately.

Hard Rock Hotel: As I mentioned in my Orlando recap post, I stayed in the Hard Rock Hotel which was amaaazing. But yes fairly expensive. The room I stayed in was so nice. Oh the bed… the bed was super comfy! I actually had two beds which was amusing; which one to choose each night??And I don’t know if you can quite see, but on the mirror it has a measuring rule and then the heights listed for different famous people. I’m 5ft4(ish) so I’m around Madonna and Pink’s height apparently. Very cool.

And as the hotel was fairly expensive I had no issue in stocking up each day on the really fancy smelling bath products each day…I’m sure I’m not alone in doing this… because after all, these little shampoos and shower gels are so handy for when you next go away and don’t want to take a huge bottle with you!

Jam Bluetooth Speaker: My dad gave me this little speaker when he saw how I was playing music… through my phone and carrying it around the flat with me. He had one of these spare.The sound quality isn’t exactly Bose quality of course but it is a lot better than my phone! I love this little speaker as it means I can leave my phone on charge somewhere and still listen to music or a podcast. I usually listen while cooking so this is perfect.

Boots: During the winter I practically live in boots. I have a fair collection now, whether that’s ankle boots or more full leg boots. My mum recently passed these UGG boots on to me as she bought them on a whim and then found she actually didn’t like them (yes, my mum actually does this).Obviously it works out quite nicely for me! They’re so soft inside as they’re lined with sheep’s wool. But they’re suede so I have to be choosy when to wear them!

I also ‘splashed’ out on a pair of over the knee boots (they weren’t expensive at all!).But they’re great for the winter as they basically give you another layer over your legs over your jeans!

Chicken: It’s kind of become a Sunday tradition for me now to cook a whole chicken. I then carve it up and it gives me delicious roast chicken for the week. OK that’s a lie, it probably feeds me for four days… But that’s still pretty good.It may not surprise you that I love roast chicken so it’s always nice getting home from work knowing I have some in the fridge to throw into different meals that night.

And now on to a quick review…

Splat Blackwood Charcoal Toothpaste Review

Charcoal toothpaste you say? Doesn’t sound entirely pleasant, right? But withhold your judgement for just a bit…

So I was sent this charcoal toothpaste to review and was indeed fairly sceptical and a bit worried about the taste.

The company who made this, My Natural Smile, is a natural and organic teeth whitening and healthcare product specialists. My Natural Smile has been endorsed by the dental team at Visage, the UK’s best Private Dental Practice North as voted for at the Private Dentistry Awards 2016, as well as Avsan, one of the UK’s leading dental groups.

They argue that because your mouth is pretty significant gateway to your body and health, it’s probably a good idea to look into more natural and organic ways to strengthen gums, whiten, help sensitive teeth and bad breath.

There’s no alcohol or dodgy chemicals. The birch charcoal whitens enamel and absorbs odours, while juniper berry extract has antibacterial effect to ensure protection against bacteria and plaque formation. It helps normalise pH balance, it’s fluoride-free and vegan friendly.

But what does it taste like? Because let’s be honest, that’s a very key part of a toothpaste if we have to use it at least twice a day.Yes the toothpaste is actually black, which is slightly disconcerting. And it does foam up to be fairly grey. But it does taste like toothpaste, though you can tell it’s not Colgate or something seriously minty. It does have that kind of “natural” edge to it.

After using it now for over two weeks I’m fully used to it and quite happy with the taste. The only slight con is that the black colour can leave unsightly marks on your sink if you don’t wash it all away. It doesn’t stain but it does make your sink look a bit grubby if you don’t wash it all away, whereas normal toothpaste would just leave a white mark which is harder to see. You can check out more of their range of natural oral care products on their website.

What’s your favourite style of boot?

Do you listen to music or podcasts around the house?

Do you do any food prep on a Sunday?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent the toothpaste for free to review for my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

A parkrun fail and trying new things

This weekend gone I headed up to Cheltenham. I’ve only been there once before for like a day to see my friend Shell so it was nice to see it again for a bit longer. It’s a lovely place – though strangely has lots of white buildings and lots of buildings with columns on, which to me is the height of poshness 😉

And clearly Cheltenham is very posh as they even have their own Wholefoods! Wholefoods is obviously a lot more popular in the States, but we have a few mostly in London and this random one in Cheltenham. Obviously I had to pop in there for lunch on Friday between working.

The salad bar was obviously a lot smaller than the amazing America ones and I was told the burritos were amazing so that’s what I went for. There was a little Mexican food stand where you could have burritos or quesadillas made up for you there and then with your choice of fillings. I went with a chicken, rice and extra guacamole burrito and it was HUGE. It was jam packed full of filling. So tasty. I also had a cheeky rocky road slice afterwards as well. I pretty much needed a nap afterwards though I was so full…but back to work I went!

On the Friday night I did a (beginner’s) salsa class. This is a bit crazy for me as, being ridiculously clumsy and generally an awkward person, I’m not a natural dancer. That said, I did ballroom dancing at school (in preparation for our prom) and I loved it so I was quite excited to give it a go.

Awful photo sorry but I tried to take it discreetly at the beginning!

Well, I wasn’t terrible. I was surprised at how quickly the instructors went through the steps but after a few attempts it was easy to pick up. I mean, I was rigid and awkward but I didn’t step on any toes. I think that’s a success! The guys stood in a circle and the girls would dance with one and the move on to the next after performing a certain move (very basic moves!). One guy, who later told me he was actually another teacher, laughed at my “furrowed brow of concentration”. Well I was concentrating! I might need to aim to not try and look at my feet the entire time I suppose… I’m keen to try a few more lessons, but we’ll see!

Then Saturday morning was going to be the Cheltenham parkrun. Annoyingly though I woke up to -5 temperatures and a Tweet from my Cheltenham-based friend saying it was cancelled. I’m very grateful for his Tweet (thanks Mat!) as otherwise I would have just gone there without checking and then been disappointed and very cold. So instead, a bit of shopping happened instead. I re-planned the run to be after lunch so I had a nice light Greek salad lunch in Patisserie Valerie, which I’ve never been to before but was really lovely (though can I just say, the salads are not filling for lunch. Not for me anyway. I was still hungry and would easily have had one of their very tasty looking cakes afterwards had I not needed to be careful of my run later).

I hate leaving my run until later but realistically it made sense with fitting it in the weekend and the fact that in the morning the paths everywhere were so icy and dangerous. I’m pretty sure I spent quite a significant portion of Saturday cold. At first I thought I was going to wear my compression socks and shorts but after feeling so cold all day I decided to go with leggings and compression socks. Luckily my leggings were long enough to cover my knees so I didn’t have that awkward knee exposure look 😉The run went well. I didn’t really intend to go very fast but as I was so cold I just wanted to get warm so I pushed the pace. I got to two miles and found I was really struggling though and thought maybe best to slow down a bit! I slowed a little and told myself I could take it easier.It did feel good to get a bit of a tempo run on as I had intended to blast parkrun that morning. I’d heard that Cheltenham parkrun was really flat and I was sad I missed out on seeing what time I could currently do. It wouldn’t have been crazy fast but it’s always nice to have a “check in” run to see what paces I’m hitting. I need it have a long think about how I’m going to approach Tokyo and this would have been handy. But I got in a longer run and was able to pick up the pace so that was good. I guess that just means another trip to Cheltenham to eventually do their parkrun! 😉

I ran around Pittville Park which is where the parkrun is located anyway and it was a really lovely run. I did a couple of laps and aside from dodging dog walkers and small children it was a perfect runner’s route next to a lovely lake (pond?) and trees.

That evening I saw the new M Night Shyamalan film, Split, with James McAvoy in it. It was brilliant. Well, I know that his films have never reached the lofty success of the Sixth Sense but I actually really like his films (though there are a select few I haven’t seen like Lady in the Water and the Light Bender thing…). I loved The Village, Signs, Unbreakable and The Happening. And I love James McAvoy. There also might have been a tub of Ben and Jerry’s (Cookie Dough) that was snuck into the cinema…thankfully outside was cold enough for it not to melt prematurely in my handbag!

The next day I left to drive home and, because I needed to get a long run in, decided that I would do it as soon as I got in to stop any temptation to avoid it. I also cleverly bought a whole chicken from Waitrose from a services and popped that in the oven so when I got back it was pretty much done and my flat smelt amazing.The run went really well. My shin only very slightly niggled (progress, progress). I was worried that having run the day before might cause my shin an issue but it felt alright. I also felt really good in terms of my fitness. I effortlessly remained around the 8min pace without feeling it was a push so that was comforting.I won’t be running at that speed for the marathon but it was nice to feel comfortable for 10 miles at that pace. I planned my route so that it was my usual 6 mile route and then another usual 4 mile route so I could break it up in my head. It worked perfectly. Then I got home and enjoyed carving up the freshly cooked chicken. A food coma promptly commenced 😉

When do you prefer to get your runs/workouts done? I always prefer the morning.

Have you ever been to Cheltenham before?

Have you ever done a salsa/dance class?

A food-filled trip to London and Oxford

Last Friday, after work, I headed into London on the train to meet with my two uni friends, Laura and Charlotte, for a good catch up. I’ve said this before, but I do like going to London with people who know London. Both Charlotte and Laura are very travel-savvy as well so I  know I’m in good hands and can relax (and not make any Anna Errors).

We met up at Waterloo and then headed straight to Covent Garden to get some food. We had no real place in mind so walked around enjoying the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations – and smelling the delicious food stalls that were selling hot mulled wine and tasty cakes.london-covent-gardenAnd seeing an “Apple Market” just made my evening 😉img_6595We eventually decided on Southern Joe’s for dinner. It was fairly dark inside but looked pretty cool and the menu seemed to specialise in chicken (and you know I love me some chicken).img_6597It was very much Southern American food with lots of fried chicken, burgers and gumbo. I ordered half balsamic honey roasted chicken (after a brief discussion with the waiter who seemed to think that half would be too much for me, but I reassured him otherwise).img_6596Laura ordered a burger and Charlotte ordered the vegetarian gumbo which came with cornbread. She let me try her cornbread and I’m not joking when I say it tasted of sticky toffee pudding. It was literally like a pudding. How bizarre! My chicken was delicious – probably insanely unhealthy with all the honey glazed-deliciousness (and serving size) but satisfaction was left high (as was my blood sugar I imagine).

As we were in Covent Garden and because no meal is complete without a pudding, we headed over to Snog for a frozen yogurt.snog-frozen-yogurtI went for a regular sized original flavour(which was actually quite big – says the girl who at a previous time had ordered the large) with raspberries and brownie chunks. It was delicious.img_6600

We then headed to Soho to go to The Piano Bar, where we’d booked a table for drinks. However when we got there we were told that it was full. We were a bit confused because what exactly does booking mean then? The bouncer on the door had no idea and just said we couldn’t be let in because it was full. Well, that’s helpful! So we headed off somewhere else instead – and I’m quite glad we did as where we ended up was lovely and the cocktails were DIVINE (I can’t remember the bar name sorry!).img_6606I had a gin sour which contained sloe gin amongst other ingredients (including an egg white!!). It tasted delicious. After lots of giggles and cocktails, we headed back to Laura’s.

The next morning, a little bit tired, we got up and headed to Oxford to meet our two other university friends.oxfordThe train was ridiculously busy from London to Oxford but luckily the three of us got seats. It was nice to travel on a train with friends rather than on my own.

We met up in Starbucks (“but first coffee” springs to mind) and one of our friends dropped the bombshell that she’s pregnant. We were all squealing and cheering – much to the annoyance of the studious people in there trying to get work done. It’s quite shocking really; having babies is proper adult. She’s the first in our group to be pregnant so it’s all very exciting. I’m very pleased for her and her husband, they’ll make fantastic parents!

We walked round Oxford for a bit and got a bit of déjà vu walking through the Covered Market and seeing the cakes being make and decorated, as we’d previously done this pretty much at the same time (bar one day) four years ago (you can check that post out HERE).cakes-in-the-covered-market-oxfordLunch was next on the agenda and I quickly Googled Oxford restaurants and found a good one through Trip Advisor called Kazbar, a Spanish tapas restaurant.
the-kazbarThe decor was fantastic; lots of low seated tables, big cushions and cool art everywhere (I won’t pretend to have any further knowledge of this sort of thing). Normally tapas isn’t really my thing. I enjoy the food, don’t get me wrong, but the idea of sharing dishes with people is my nightmare (for the Brits reading this, imagine Smithy from Gavin and Stacey). But as I was among good friends they know what I’m like and reassured me I wouldn’t have to share 😉

We ordered some bread and hummus for the table (acceptable sharing) and everyone ordered three dishes while I ordered four (standard).img_6620Tapas is great because you can really have a lot of variety and mix and match flavours. I had slow cooked lamb, a goat’s cheese salad, pork ribs and chicken chorizo. Very tasty (the ribs were my favourite, of course).img_6626After lunch we wandered around the shops. Thankfully the weather was just cold and not wet. We then went into search of something sweet to just top the day off nicely. We found a nice little cafe and had a hot drink. My friend Kate and I had a cream tea. It came with two scones. I suppose normal people would share but Kate and I are quite good at eating (she’s my Florida buddy).img_6629I mean it was a bit of a push but we persevered. I was fully ready for a nap after that! After more walking, we parted ways and I headed back to Southampton. A lovely jam-packed (literally with the scone…sorry, couldn’t resist!) weekend.

What’s your favourite place to visit in the UK? I do enjoy London but only for a brief visit as I find it very overbearing, crowded and stressful.

Do you share food at a restaurant?

What’s your favourite cocktail/mocktail?

More leggings, a cheeky Nando’s and the cinema

Last weekend went from, on the Friday, having no plans to then being busy both days. My mum asked if I wanted to join her to go to Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth for a little mooch. It’s always nice to go to Gunwharf around Christmas as their decorations are pretty and it always feels very festive.

Plus, they have an Adidas and a Nike factory shop which always deserves a little wander around. I hadn’t planned on buying anything. I’m quite up to date on my Christmas shopping, which is super organised for me, and I’m trying really hard to not spend unnecessary money as I have two rather large holidays coming up.

I popped to the gym in the morning, of which I was quite happy to do as it was chucking it down and parkrun didn’t sound appealing at all. I’m currently not running due to a shin niggle (same one as I always seem to get) and my physio advised taking a couple of weeks off to let it calm down. I’m actually feeling alright about this as I’m loving the gym at the moment and can really focus on my strength gains.

Though I am wary that marathon training should begin soon so I’ve been incorporating 3-4 elliptical sessions into my week to make sure it’s not a complete shock to the system when I do get running again in terms of my cardiovascular fitness. It’s quite easy to get these sessions in as I can do them in an evening after work in my work’s gym rather than take away any time from my strength training. But on Saturday I had the morning free to do both the elliptical and strength training which I really enjoyed (weird I know).

Anyway after than long meandering diversion… my mum and me went shopping. I ended up in the Nike changing room trying on a pair of leggings (the Epic Lux) I didn’t need and then boom! I’d bought them. It was like I blacked out for a second. I don’t know how it happened but it did…

Basically they are some of the nicest leggings I’ve ever worn. The material, the fit, the colour. So nice.img_6463I have zero regrets as they’re perfect. They survived the squat test, the lunge test and the “how does my bum look in these?” test – all that were confirmed my mum 😉 It was a lovely shopping trip with my mum, though the weather was rather grim.

For Sunday, again I didn’t have plans initially until I heard a review of Arrival on the radio and having seen the trailer I was really keen to go and see it.

I don’t often go to the cinema as I find it quite expensive and a bit of a faff. I’d rather watch a film at home in PJ’s with my own snacks, not the overpriced and ridiculously unhealthy snacks at the cinema (though let’s be honest, there is always a place for those occasionally!). But the film looked really good and it looked like it warranted to be seen on the big screen.

I thought it might be a film my dad would enjoy and wafted the idea past him, mentioning maybe a cheeky Nando’s beforehand? Though he’s still losing weight and is doing very well, a Nando’s can easily be accommodated as it’s basically just chicken. Don’t have the chips and have a different side, like the rice, sweet potatoes or the roasted vegetables, and it’s a perfectly reasonable meal. The invitation was of course open to my mum as well but she’s not a big sci-fi or Nando’s fan so…

Sadly though my dad was ill (you know he’s ill when he turns down a trip to the cinema with food). I was quite happy to go on my own because #independentwoman 😉 but I think my mum was distraught at the idea of me going alone. I swear my mother has visions of me dying alone and sad. If I ever bring up the mere mention of a male she leaps on the potential prospect, even if I don’t actually fancy them (“you could grow to like them”), they have a partner (“but not married, Anna”) or they’re a lot older than me (“age is but a number”) *sighs*. So the mere thought of me going to the cinema alone caused enough distress for her to join me – even if meant enduring Nando’s and a film she was less than lukewarm about. Mothers, eh!

That said, it was far nicer to go with my mum than on my own. Once again I went to the gym in the morning. I tend to do the gym fasted because I like to get up and go rather than get up, eat breakfast and wait a while then go (exactly like my running). By the time I met my mum though it was almost 1pm and I was HANGRY. Luckily we were seated straight away at Nando’s and I very much enjoyed my usual Nando’s meal (whole chicken with side salad).img_6478My mum had the Mediterranean salad with chicken and added avocado and halloumi.img_6479She said it was very tasty – I was actually quite surprised at how nice it looked. Nando’s isn’t exactly Michelin Star. It’s more close to fast food!

I felt very satisfied after the meal and in a very happy place. It was, as always, delicious. We then went to see the film with two large Diet Cokes (though Nando’s is very tasty, it is quite salty and I’m always very thirsty afterwards!) and I brought two very special snacks to enjoy as well.img_6481I did make sure to eat them during the trailers though as I realise they are not very cinema-friendly snacks (a lot of crunching!).

The film was brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was actually quite sad but very thought-provoking and definitely warrants another watch. Amy Adams is fantastic in it. A great way to end a really fun weekend – quality mum and daughter time 🙂

Do you spend a lot of time with your mum?

What have you seen in the cinema lately?

Do you workout fasted? I will in the morning just because it’s easier I like a big refuel afterwards.