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?

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.

The best meal of my life?

This weekend was one of those weekends that was just great from start to finish. It probably helped that the weather was just fantastic. It felt like summer on the South Coast!

My mum was away so my dad and me decided to have some dad-daughter time and make the most my mum not being there. To that effect we went to a restaurant we knew she would hate and saw a film we knew she wouldn’t enjoy.

But first parkrun. The day before my local parkrun, Netley Abbey, had posted on their Facebook page that they needed someone to assist a partially sighted runner round the course. The runner was aiming for 8min/miles and they didn’t need someone with experience as a guide. I thought, why not? I wasn’t aiming on blasting a parkrun so 8 minute miles sounded good. I signed myself up. And then proceeded to feel ridiculously nervous. What if I was rubbish? What if I tripped him up? What if…what if…

The next morning I headed to help set parkrun up WITHOUT my coat (hurrah!). It was nice to be back at parkrun after three weeks off so there was lots of catching up to do. And the sunshine was an added bonus. We were on the cricket pitch course which I was quite happy about because it meant easier in terms of guiding, and you do five laps so it’s relatively simple.

Unfortunately though Southampton parkrun had been cancelled due to a race so a lot of people decided to come to Netley. This meant it was very busy. I met the partially sighted runner, a lovely guy named Khalid, and he briefed me what I should do. He had a short piece of string for us both to hold onto. Verbal cues were ideal but if something appeared in front of him suddenly then I should grab him and move him rather than waste time telling him.

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I donned an enormous high-vis vest and got ready to go. He suggested we start right at the front as it would be easier for people to overtake us then us to try and navigate around people. I felt quite nervous stood right at the front with all the fast people but it made sense.

This was one of the hardest parkruns I’ve done. Physically it was absolutely fine, but mentally I was concentrating very hard. I had to look ahead the whole time to prepare for what was coming – any downhills, holes in the ground, twigs, turns – and also what was directly in front of us, such as people.

I would say things like, “a downhill approaching in 3, 2, 1” which worked well as it gave him time to prepare. There aren’t any big downhills on the cricket pitch course thankfully but there are small declines which you could lose your footing on. And obviously four turns as well as some veering on and off grass to paths.

Without a doubt the hardest part was people. I was surprised they didn’t mention about Khalid in the race briefing, but on reflection I don’t think that would be fair on him. He just wants a normal run after all, rather than be made to feel ‘special’ or centre of attention. However it was hard on the five laps because you’re doing a lot of overtaking of people all the time or being overtaken yourself. And it was very busy. I would do a lot of shouting ahead to people to say what side we were overtaking or in some cases, when people were oblivious or wearing headphones, I had to push past them or physically move them as there was just no time if they didn’t hear me yell. Many people were fine and very apologetic once they saw Khalid but some people gave me such boggy looks. They did later apologise but it was a bit hard to take initially and I was feeling very stressed. I don’t like to be rude or for people to think I’m rude but I didn’t want Khalid to bump into people or trip.

It made me realise how annoying headphones can be to other people. I too like to wear headphones when running. However I can’t remember the last time I wore them for parkrun. It made me feel very isolated. I love how social parkrun is and wearing headphones shuts you out from that. I’ve recently bought some Aftershokz headphones which don’t cover your ear but work on vibrating through your head (“bone technology”; yes it does sound weird!) so you can still hear regular external sounds because your ears are free. Obviously sound quality of the music/podcast isn’t as good but when I’m running on my own along roads it’s far safer and I feel far more aware of my surroundings (incidentally some races that previously banned headphones allow these headphones now). But anyway, I digress. Wearing headphones isn’t a cardinal sin or make you any less of a runner, but it did make me see it from another perspective.

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We finished in one piece, me with a time of 23:48 and Khalid just before me. He seemed happy so I felt relieved it went well! I then enjoyed a nice cold slush puppy-style drink sitting outside the cafe with some running club friends. Perfection!

Later I met up with my dad and we headed to a new-to-me restaurant, Sadler’s in Southampton. I’d only heard about this place the day before from my friend’s Instagram picture. As soon as I saw his picture I was like, “I must go there IMMEDIATELY”. I knew it would be a place my dad would love but my mum wouldn’t. Basically it’s a BBQ restaurant (my favourite food). We had a table for 4pm as we had the cinema booked for early evening. It was quite quiet which was nice! And our waitress was just amazing.

Their menu is basically just BBQ food. There are no starters, just main meaty numbers. It does have a vegetarian section as well though. We decided to push the boat out and share a Bears’ Grill sharing platter. Let me just talk you through this. On the board you get: two smoked turkey breasts, four chicken wings, four chorizo pork sausages, four ribs tips, three smoked gammon pieces, a mound of pulled pork, two chunks of cornbread, more chips than you can believe, coleslaw and a side salad.

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I had also cheekily asked the waitress if there was any chance to add a small portion of the St. Louis ribs to the platter as, you know me, I love ribs and I’d heard the ribs were the business. She said normally they don’t as they come as there own separate meal but she’d have a word with the chef. She came back and said she could add two for a fiver. SOLD.

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That is the face of someone who has died and gone to heaven. It was absolutely delicious. Special mention goes to the turkey. Normally quite a dry meat but it was really moist and tasty. The ribs were obviously incredible – and MASSIVE. The wings were so good. I mean it was all good. I couldn’t touch the sausages though as by that point I was at risk of turning a very good experience into a very bad experience. I think I had one chip! My logic was to enjoy the main bits rather than fill up on something I could have anytime anywhere. Five star meal.

My dad enjoyed it too – we were both just in a bubble of happiness. Though I think if we went again he’d go for steak as he’s more of a beef man and it was all pork, turkey and chicken. For once I was defeated. We just couldn’t eat anymore. Filling up on protein is so different to carbs. After a while you can go back to carbs and nibble a bit more but with protein, when you’re full you are FULL.

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I think we did a good job! I think we left most of the chips, cornbread, coleslaw, one and a half sausages, a piece of gammon and a whole load of pulled pork. I asked to take the leftover meat home and the waitress said she’d wrap it up in a “swan of shame”.

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Oof! I was so full. We did a bit of walking before the cinema thankfully to let things go down. We had some time before the cinema so we walked around West Quay for a bit. I think my dad wanted a nap but I needed to move!!

We then saw Demolition, the new Jake Gyllenhaal film. I’d seen a trailer and it looked quite funny in a weird idiosyncratic way. It was that or Jungle Book and we didn’t really fancy it.

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The film was very strange but I really enjoyed it. The music was great and Jake Gyllenhaal was superb. Strange but good. The screening was completely empty as well until right before the film began when a couple joined us. They literally had seats next to us. Surely you’d choose seats somewhere else?

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I enjoyed a HUGE diet coke – I was so thirsty after that meal – and just settled back in a nice comfortable state of contentment.

I had a rubbish night’s sleep though as I was still quite full and there was a garden party happening across the road that was so loud. It went on really late – and there’s something so awful about drunken girls ‘singing’. Moan over. It was also really warm. So not a great sleep! The next morning I had planned to run three miles, then run Alton 10 miles, which I did two years ago. More on that in another post!

What was the best meal of your life so far?

Do you prefer to fill up on protein or carbs?

What was the last film you saw?