Geneva and parkrun du Lac de Divonne

I am back from my holiday adventures! I have so much to talk about I don’t even know where to begin.

I’ll start with my little trip to Geneva. James and I arrived in Geneva Friday evening. Our hotel was actually in France though (Geneva is right next to the border). We got a taxi and headed for the nearest restaurant that would still be open (funnily enough, it was an America-style grill place) and then we had to lug our bags a mile to the hotel afterwards. It was a bit of a ball ache it must be said but hey ho. The little town we stayed in was very pretty and ridiculously French – like you definitely knew you were in France! It was gorgeous.The next morning was the time time for me to execute my genius “get to parkrun” plan. The nearest one was the parkrun du Lac de Divonne (again located in France). There weren’t any buses that came near our hotel and went to the parkrun which caused some complications but I’d found that in Geneva you could hire bikes for free. Geneva was only four miles from our hotel so the plan was to run in, grab the bikes and then cycle the roughly 11 miles to parkrun. Eeeeeeasy. Simple!

The four miles (which I’d already planned out and put onto my watch before the trip – check me out being all organised) were super easy. A real novelty was running through a tunnel which went under the Geneva airport runway which was rather cool – and ran from France into Switzerland. One for the memories!We passed the Place des Nations with all the flags lined up at the front. There was also the Broken Chair in front and the water fountain things.I didn’t realise but the Broken Chair was to commemorate the landmine victims and encourage countries to prohibit their use. Quite poignant.Because we were there so early there weren’t many people. It was nice to see some of the key touristy areas in the quieter times. And obviously get good photo opportunities! And then we got back to running to the bike hire place, which was about a mile or so away.The bike hire spot took a bit of time to actually find. And then we found it was closed and not open until 8am which was about 15 minutes away and meaning that suddenly 11 miles on a hired bike was going to be quite the ask. When we finally got inside the shop we were then informed that we’d need ID. Ah. We had money and our phones, but no ID. No bikes for us then.I take the full responsibility for this idiotic planning because, let’s face it, it was my fault for not checking the website (standard Anna-ism). After some discussion we decided to just take the hit and call an Uber – annoyingly now to be more expensive than if we’d have just done that from the hotel as we were now further away. Oh well, the things you do for parkrun tourism eh (ironically a free 5k event…).We arrived in good time and had a wander around the lake and then a quick visit to the single public toilet. The toilet was very odd. When it flushed it apparently washed out the entire room… you needed to make sure that you weren’t in there when that happened basically. We then headed over to the start…to find that we were surrounded by quite a few fellow Brits. In fact, there were so many British people compared to the French locals that it felt like the Benidorm of parkrun. That said, it was interesting to have the parkrun course explained in both French and English. Very cool.Then we were off. The parkrun was super flat. It was basically an out and back along the tarmac road next to the lake. It was very pretty but completely out of any shade and, as it was a rather hot and sunny day, this was quite taxing. I wanted to try hard but I just couldn’t seem to get my legs to go particularly fast (relative to what I’ve previously been running). I felt a little bit demoralised and that I’d wasted a decent course. But then I told myself to get over myself and just enjoy running in a different country in a beautiful place. Perspective certainly helps!So I whipped out my phone for some mid race snaps. I find this is a sure fire way to turn a hard run into an enjoyable experience. It takes the pressure off and I started enjoying myself a lot more.The finish line was a long straight strip of road which was great if you fancied yourself a sprint finish but reminded me horribly of the long and never-ending finish of the Dubai Marathon… *shudders*. Anyway I finished in 22:43 and first female. Though the field was very small – there were only 50 or so people actually running in total. I also came 6th as well which is definitely my best position ever.From the parkrun website they’d mention a café and given some directions so James and I headed over there – which was quite a walk. When we got there we realised it was part of a small children’s adventure park thing. We could see a café inside but the whole place was locked until 10am. So we hung around until they opened up. We were hoping to get some food but, using my very limited French (i.e. “petit déjeuner?”), we found they were only serving drinks. Well, the server did offer me Tiramisu but I politely declined.

We then tried the second café that was given on the website… another long walk away. But we eventually arrived and found the only place to buy food was a bakery. We could buy something from there and then sit in the café next door with a coffee and eat it (apparently a very acceptable thing to do). Obviously I wasn’t expecting a greasy spoon but I did fancy something a bit more than a croissant or cake (shocking I know).I managed to get myself a beef and cheese panini though and that helped tame the runger. Because we’d faffed so much with the different cafés we found the other parkrunners had since left. This was somewhat problematic for us later when we could have done with a bit of advice on how to get back…

Uber apparently did not want to pick us up from our location. To be fair, we were in a fairly quiet a remote French village. The thought of having problems getting back to our hotel hadn’t really crossed my mind. Now, as we started walking around the small town, it suddenly became apparent that this was a very real situation. Having previously checked for bus routes as a method to get to parkrun, I knew there would be no direct or easy route through public transport. And we certainly couldn’t find any bus stops with anything remotely near our destination. Right.

After getting not much help from two police men who spoke limited English (but were very nice) we felt a bit stuck. Two stupid Brits with no local knowledge or French… our own fault but frustrating nonetheless. We asked in a local café and the waiter, though friendly, wasn’t entirely helpful. He sort of shrugged in that very French way. He did eventually give me two numbers to try ringing for a taxi. Neither of which were any good – one couldn’t understand my request and the other laughed saying he wasn’t a taxi.

Panic now set in a little. It was over eight miles back and getting very hot. Sure we could run back but having run seven miles and feeling quite exhausted by the whole charade that morning, neither of us fancied it. Walking would be ridiculous too. Both our phone batteries were getting dangerous low and we decided to stop using them for anything other than emergency map use.

Finally we found a hotel and managed to beg the owner to ring us a taxi. She was super helpful and very apologetic when she told us it would be 50 Euros to get back. Well we had no choice! What a mess eh?

We did manage to arrive safely back at the hotel. Thank God. Another one for the Anna Book of Idiocy… but HEY I got a cool parkrun done!! Swings and roundabouts.For the rest of the day we spent walking round Geneva in the sunshine. Handily we’d gotten a decent piece of information from the taxi driver who told us about a place called Plainpalais where we could watch the football in a big outdoors area with food and drink.I’ve been really enjoying the World Cup and as it was Argentina vs. France it was definitely a game to catch, being that we were right on the French border as well. The atmosphere was bound to be good.We arrived luckily about 10 minutes before the match began and then queued to get in. I was highly affronted when the security guard told me I wasn’t allowed to take my apple in with me (no food and drink other than what you buy within apparently). I was so annoyed at having to throw a perfectly good apple away (I even offered to her but she didn’t fancy it. Hmm). Luckily though she was too concerned with the one apple in my hand she didn’t spot the other one hidden away in the depths of my handbag. Always good to have a safety apple 😉 James and I found ourselves two decent seats next to pop-up bar in the shade and settled in to watch the match. We had a few beers and enjoyed the atmosphere and cheering. It was good fun. By half time though we were both fairly hungry, having not eaten since ‘breakfast’ and it was now closing into the evening.We found ourselves a pizzeria (that happily had a TV) and continued watching there before moving on to a crêperie for some crêpes (when near France, eh). I had a delicious chocolate brownie one.It was divine. By this point I was steadily becoming rather merry – being quite the lightweight and having being drinking on an empty stomach.We watched the next match in the evening before calling it a day and heading back to a bus to take us back to the hotel. By the time we arrived back at the hotel (after passing through a weird carnival in the local town where our hotel was – very trippy in my tipsy state) we’d done over 42,000 steps. Jeeze. I was absolutely shattered!

Have you ever been to Geneva?

Would you have paid for a taxi to get to the parkrun?

Have you been enjoying the football?

Rants and Raves #32

I feel like I’ve been sleepwalking through this week. I’m really struggling with getting proper night’s sleep with hay fever. Humidity and rain makes it so much once I think. It’s the itchy eyes and throat that kill me. A trip to the pharmacist is required I think! Some random rants and raves then…

Rave: As most of you know I get up ridiculously early (5am) to be at the gym for 5.30am four times a week. Sometimes it drops down to two or three visits depending on my running and the races I have coming up, but recently it’s been four times during the week days and then once at the weekend. I enjoy the gym but it is hard getting up so early.

Anyway, I like to listen to BBC Radio 1 as I like the presenter, Adele Roberts, and I like the music. She has a feature on her show at 5.55am every day called “Resident DJ” where each day a listener has a chat with Adele and picks a song that corresponds with the theme (Top of the Charts Tuesday, Workout Wednesday, etc.).

I always hear it and then last week I thought “I should apply for a laugh”. I went online and applied. Then two days later I got a call from the radio to say could I come on the next week. Oh god… So I said yes. They said they’d call me at 5.50am on Monday to be ready to go on air for 5.55am.

I was so nervous on Monday morning. I was at the gym, sat in the changing room with my phone waiting for them to call. I had to do a 30 seconds little bio of myself which obviously entailed me saying about how obsessed with running and food I was…Adele was lovely. She called me wonder woman which was nice Smile

So far I’ve done three days. It’s fun but I do find it quite scary. It doesn’t last long but I get so flustered and honestly feel a bit like a knob with what I say. I wish I could be cooler, or sexier or just more interesting but there we go. I am who I am. I’m not built for radio. Today’s one was cool because it was Workout Wednesday so I felt on safe ground talking about my running and marathons.

What was also cool was when I finished on the phone on Tuesday a lady noticed what I was saying and came up to me afterwards and said “Oh wow are you the resident DJ for this week?”, I said I was and she went “yay I’ve met someone famous!” She was joking (obviously) but it was very sweet.

Rant: rain. That is all.

Rave: A little independent health-food style pet shop has opened up within walking distance from my office. I don’t usually buy Alfie treats or chews, mainly because he doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. With chews he just puts it in his mouth and then wonders around the place whimpering. I’ve tried cutting it up for him and then he’s sort of on board but otherwise he just doesn’t chew things. Anyway, I found some Alfie-friendly things at this new shop and they’re not full of rubbish (yes I do try and make sure Alfie eats well too!).

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Peamutt Butter (though I think Peanut Mutter would have sounded better personally) and these Arden Grange crunchy bites that are free from any nasties. I figured that the peanut butter stuff could be on treats to encourage him to eat them. It’s funny because Alfie will eat chews and treats when he’s around my parent’s dogs because their dogs go mad for them and then want Alfie’s. But when he’s on his own he’s not bothered.

Rant: I paid £5 to be involved in my work’s sweepstakes for the Euro football.

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Well, I waved goodbye to that money! Probably just as likely as England doing well I suppose Winking smile My money’s on Germany…

Rave: Food is generally always a rave for me. I’ve found I can sort of recreate the Nando’s experience at home, but in a more small and normal portion size. I buy Gressingham Poussins, which are basically small young chickens.

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I roast it whole and then have it with some tasty veggies. It’s not a regular meal I have in the week but it’s a nice meal to have on a Friday night when I want something a bit more interesting but don’t want to go out or get a takeaway. It satisfies the protein beast inside Winking smile

Rant: Porridge has been my go-to breakfast of choice for over ten years now. I love it. I never have any toppings, just chia seeds and either almond milk, cow’s milk or goat’s milk. It fills me up and I enjoy it. I decided though to mix things up and try having something different for once. Everyone raves about eggs so I thought I’d give them a go. I like my protein so I figured it would be a good choice as I don’t tend to snack between breakfast and lunch.

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So far I’ve tried three eggs scrambled with four rashers of turkey bacon (to be fair, each rasher is 21 calories so four seemed the right number!) and kale. It didn’t fill up my up for long at all and by 11am I was grumpy for food. I tried it instead with fish (river cobbler) and this is somewhat better. To be honest though, I still love my porridge and once I’ve got through my eggs I’ll be back to normal!

Rave: While at the gym I needed to use one of the boxes for my box jumps but a girl was using the one I wanted. I sort of hovered awkwardly nearby and between her sets I asked if I could use it when she was done, which she happily agreed to. She’s a regular early morning gym go-er too and often does some hard-core weight sessions. Saying that might imply (because of those oh so annoying stereotypes driven by the media and common misconceptions) that she might be bulky or mannish-looking girl, but far from it. She’s got a rocking body: strong but feminine. She can lift some heavy weights though!

Anyway, when she dragged the box over to me she asked my name and we chatted for a bit (normally I’m a bit of a gym ninja where I try not to speak to anyone as I want to get in and out fast and, well, its 5.30am). Anyway she said I should join her to workout (she has other girlfriends who she works out with sometimes) as I’m “good”. Ahh little fan girl moment though. Being told I’m “good” by someone as cool and strong as her made my day Smile

What are you rants and raves this week?

Have you ever been on the radio or TV?

What’s your go-to breakfast?

A mixed bag

So this weekend’s weather wasn’t exactly great, was it? Well not for us on the South Coast – or I suppose many places in the UK.

Saturday morning I was up and ready to volunteer down at Netley parkrun. Though I wasn’t running I still wanted to go. I like seeing the usual faces and catching up with people and it’s always fun cheering people on. I was hoping to take Alfie with me but it was a bit too wet.

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I helped set the course up and then stood to marshal at the bottom of the hill that you go up three times. It’s a tricky area because you go up the hill and into the bluebell woods and then come back down the hill. When people go up the hill they sometimes forget the people coming down and it can be a bit of a car crash if people don’t keep right. So it’s a handy spot to marshal to remind people to keep to the side.

It was lovely because while I cheered and clapped, a lot of runners thanked me and said well done to me. Always nice to hear! I always try and thank marshals when I run because I know how much I like it when I volunteer. But it does hurt your hands all this clapping business Winking smile

IMG_2074My view from afar just after the parkrun had begun you can see the tiny runners in the distance

After clearing away and a quick drink in the cafe, I headed home to shower before heading to my parent’s house. My birthday is on the 19th June and this always falls really close to Father’s Day so most years my dad and me try and combine our celebrations because it just makes sense. This year we decided to go to Nando’s and then the cinema to see the new X-Men film. Though my mum was more than welcome to join she was fine to let us have our dad-daughter time as she a) hates Nando’s and b) wouldn’t want to see the film c) was busy anyway.

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I had my standard Nando’s: whole chicken with a side salad. And my dad had the more traditional half a chicken and chips.

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What always happens when I go out with my dad to Nando’s is they think my meal if for him…it’s always funny to see the server’s face when I say “the whole chicken’s for me”.

There was a slight issue as we headed to pick up our tickets that I’d booked on the Thursday. My booking reference wasn’t working and when I inspecting the email closer I realised I’d bought tickets for Thursday and not Saturday. What an idiot. I spoke to an usher and they said if I ring customer service (joy) they’d refund my mistake tickets but I’d still need to buy new ones today. *Sighs*. But the film was good nonetheless. I’m not a comic book/superhero fan but I have a soft spot for X-Men. I like the characters and actors. A good watch if you like X-Men!

I spent the evening at my parent’s and enjoyed their facilities while we waited for the football to begin.

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This helicopter chair thing is AMAZING. It just hangs there swaying gently. So comfortable. And Alfie quite enjoyed it too Winking smile

We watched the match and though I’m not a big football fan, felt a big disappointment for England. What a shame as we seemed to play so well!

The next day I was booked in to go rock climbing in the afternoon. A bit random but my friend, Tom, put the idea into my mind last week. I love stuff like that and thought it would be a fun thing to do as I’m not running at the moment. Plus my granddad used to be an amazing rock climber (he’s written two books about it!) so I feel I need to uphold the family tradition. Just before heading to bed I checked my emails to make sure I had the right time…and found it was for Saturday not Sunday.

Honestly, why am I such an idiot? Why am I incapable of making online bookings? Do I not own a calendar??? I was actually really disappointed and angry with myself. I had no other plans for the next day and I’d been looking forward to it so much. It really sucked. I’ll now have to wait two weeks before I can go to the next taster session. My own fault but really annoying.

So instead I went to the gym, did some shopping and got some really exciting chores done (ha ha). It was a nice relaxing day and I went on a few walks with Alfie. Unfortunately one of those walks was cut super short as it literally tipped it down just as we got out the front door.

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So we quickly headed back inside and tried again 30 minutes later.

Annoyingly I had hoped to have a great rock climbing adventure to recount but sadly not. In a few weeks I hopefully will. Then I can put to test all my upper body strength gains I’ve hopefully been making!! So it was a mixed bag of a weekend really.

Have you ever been rock climbing?

What did you do this weekend?

What’s your Nando’s meal if you go?