Harry Potter and doughnuts – what more could I ask for?

Ah this weekend was a mad busy one. Going into it I wondered if I’d actually manage to do all the things I wanted to. Spoiler alert: happily I pretty much did.

Thursday I left work and zoomed to the station to catch a train to Birmingham. It was James’ birthday on the Friday so we had some fun time planned ahead. We spent a chilled evening eating homemade rocky road (so good, possibly my favourite thing) and watching easy TV. The next morning I got a quick 6.5 miles under my belt and even managed a royal flush negative split. I was trying to take the run easy but half of me also wanted to get back and get sorted before we caught a train to London (well, Watford). The intention was there but though it didn’t feel like a hard effort the paces were a lot quicker than I’d want. I’m trying really hard not to overdo each run in order to remain injury-free. If I want to run consistently five days a week I need to learn the balance of easy and hard. Living and learning!Anyway, so we caught the train to Watford. We were there to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and planned to grab some lunch beforehand. I mean, there’s not a great deal to Watford in terms of exciting things to do (Harry Potter asides) but we got ourselves our first ever Five Guys. Neither of us had had it before but had both been keen to give it a try.
I always seem to say this but I’m not a burger person…UNLESS the fillings are good. A plain burger is so dull to me. But at Five Guys you can go crazy with the add-ins. I had a bacon cheeseburger and went “all the way” but without mayo and mustard. So that includes lettuce, pickles, tomato, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms and ketchup. It was JAM-PACKED.James and I shared a large fries as well. I have to say, I was fully surprised at how good it was for what is essentially fast food. Definitely far better than a McDonalds or Burger King. That said, you are paying like three times as much… The chips were immense though. The annoying thing now is that I now have the craving and there’s a Five Guys fairly near to where I live. Oh the struggle.And then it was time for some Harry Potter fun! I won’t upload too many photos because you really need to go there to see how fun it is for yourself and photos just won’t recreate the magic. If you love Harry Potter you’ll love this tour. So many interesting facts, cool things to see and do and basically just a good time. I mean, it does make you fully realise how obsessed with Harry Potter people can be though! I’ve been to the Orlando Universal Studios and Island of Adventure where the Harry Potter themed area is (with the cool Hogwarts Express connecting the two parks) but it dilutes the craziness a bit because it’s also got lots of other non-Harry Potter stuff. This was intense Harry Potter-ness. But don’t get me wrong though, I’m a big fan too and will always love the fact that my age-group grew up with the books being released and Harry was the same age as us as we read.

After the visit, we caught a train into London where we checked into our hotel. We then headed out to buy some pudding… doughnut style. I’m obsessed with these artisan doughnuts I keep seeing everywhere on Instagram. I’m not usually a big doughnut fan but the artisan ones just look and sound amazing. Something a bit more exciting than your standard ring or jam ones! We bought six from Doughnut Time…despite only aiming to buy one. Oops.It was just a case of not being able to choose just one each. I went for a crunchy-themed doughnut (bottom left), a Nutella filled one (Love at First Bite) and It’s Always a Gay Time (top left) which is basically a lot of honeycomb caramel yumminess. James’ were Stranger Rings (chocolate glazed with Oreo crumbs and Nutella – middle top), Hans Rolo (chocolate and caramel – bottom right) and Cornelius Fudge (actually vegan with lots of chocolate and brownie pies – bottom middle).

But before we got stuck in, we headed to dinner at The Big Easy – a crab and BBQ restaurant. We ordered a sharing platter to start (even number of things helped keep things pleasant between James and I). This had lots of wings (Buffalo and BBQ), fried chicken pieces, ribs, calamari and hush puppies (not really sure what they were, fried corn bread?)This was SO good. The wings were amazing. I mean, to be honest it was all amazing. We thoroughly enjoyed this and polished it off easily. We then had another sharing platter for main. This time containing pieces of chicken, ribs, pulled pork, corn bread, coleslaw and chips (underneath the platter).I mean it was pretty damn good. The chicken was probably my favourite which is INSANE. Chicken? I know right. But it was just so tender and delicious. The ribs were obviously good too. But man, it was a struggle to finish and we didn’t manage it all. We did give it a good stab though and left feeling extremely happen, albeit quite fat! A fabulous experience nonetheless.

We did make quite a few of the staff jealous with our donuts though when we first arrived as we were carrying the box with us. We gave them a sneak peak and they all joked they could look after them for us while we ate. Surrrre 😉

Speaking of the doughnuts… After a good walk back to the hotel we did give them a try back at the hotel. What more can you dream of than doughnuts in bed, eh? I had the crunchy one which was OMG SO GOOD (filled with a delicious caramel flavoured cream). The dough was super light and melt-in-the-mouth.

I also had my Nutella one. Now I have an issue with Nutella. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I’m not a big fan. The doughnut was good but I think it was just too much Nutella for me. It was a bit of a shame but no regrets really!

So yes I realise my day of eating was TERRIBLE and I did go to bed feeling rather full . I also woke up feeling rough and not my best. But I don’t do this every day (Jesus I’d be broke). I do have the odd day at the weekend where I will push the boat out and eat foods people would class as “bad” or unhealthy but in the bigger picture of my diet, it’s fine. I eat my vegetables, I exercise… I’m a balanced individual. And I thoroughly enjoyed every single thing I ate. I woke up feeling the effects of eating a less than stellar diet which just helped remind me why I don’t do this every day. Furthermore, I don’t suddenly restrict what I eat the next day or go into a crazy “I must now diet” mentality. It was just one day (or a few days!). But I do try and get back to my more healthy approach to food and move on. Memories not calories, always my motto.

Do you worry about unhealthy food you eat?

What’s your favourite doughnut?

Do you like Harry Potter?

Tooting Common parkrun and the Harry Potter escape room

On Saturday I headed to the Tooting Common parkrun in London. This meant another early morning catching the 6.39am train.

Luckily it wasn’t ridiculously cold, but it was still fairly chilly. I was in my running gear plus a jumper (which I’d wear later after the run) and a big winter jacket with a fresh travel mug of coffee to take with me. I was going to meet my friends at 11 after parkrun for some escape room fun (more on that later) so I had a big bag with me as well full of a spare set of clothes, baby wipes, deodorant etc. The best you can do when you don’t have a shower!

On the train I chilled with my iPad watching Mudbound (really good film!) and my coffee. But in the back of my mind I was feeling a little stressed. The thing is, the parkrun I’d chosen wasn’t exactly the quickest one to get to. It was about 20 or so minutes on the tube and then a mile from the tube station. And as my train didn’t get in until 8.23am I was cutting it fine. Not only this but the tube I absolutely needed to get in order to get there in time was the 8.28 one. GAH. I could have made life so much easier on myself by choosing a parkrun that was a little closer to Waterloo, but I wanted to get another letter done for my alphabet parkrun challenge. There are no easy ‘T’s around where I live so this was perfect (I say “perfect” loosely here).

As the train pulled into the station I was like a runner at the start of an Olympic race, I was ready to go go go. As soon as the doors opened I leapt out and stormed it down to the barrier and then out down to the tube. My big bag didn’t help but I had to just move quickly. I thankfully got on the right tube and then was just left catching my breath and standing around for the next sprint. It’s amazing how stressed you can get just standing around waiting and not being able to do anything. The train arrived at almost 10 to and I raced out. I had a map screenshotted on my phone and had memorised the roads I needed to know. I saw another runner running from the tube so assumed I was in good company as they headed in the same direction as me. Though it was slightly awkward as I was running just behind them like some stalker girl.I remember running past a really nice coffee/cake shop and thinking “ooh” and then “FOCUS ANNA”. I got to the Tooting Bec Commons where the parkrun would take place and saw a number of runners. I asked one girl who was running if she was heading to parkrun and she said no. This stumped me a little as I just assume anyone running near to a parkrun would do it! Luckily though I could see a crowd of people in the distance and the welcoming signs of high-vis.I arrived with a few minutes to spare, so quickly stripped off my jacket and jumper and dumped my bag on a big canvas sheet that had been laid out especially for this purpose. I’d done a little bit of research beforehand and knew the course was flat and three laps, but also that it was narrow at points so if you wanted a speedy run you needed to be near the front. This always makes me nervous as “speedy” is so subjective. But I DID want a good time (for me) so tried to position myself in a spot that was behind the clearly very speedy types (you can always recognise them) and in front of the more casual runners. It’s a hard judgement and I was sure I’d probably get overtaken but there we go, you just have to guess!

I got my music sorted (always a requirement for a fast run for me) and then we were off. Tooting Common parkrun is run mostly on tarmac and basically in a triangle. The first bit you run down a path to get onto the “triangle” that you do three laps of. This starts as a long tarmac path, which is great for getting the speed up and finding your place in the crowd. Then you make a fairly sharp turn onto a more mud/compacted trail path. This felt *very* slightly uphill but I might be imagining it. Then you turn left again and run down a nice flat straight of tarmac. The first lap felt quite comfortable (comfortably tough I hasten to add). The second lap begun and I felt the effort of maintaining the speed (around 6.40min/miles) start to become tough. I remember starting to notice more of the course on this lap as the first lap was a complete blur. Like, oh look there’s a nice pond, a children’s play area and nice trees. The marshals, as always, were really energetic and friendly in their support. I tried to thank them all verbally or give a thumbs up as I passed – even if you’re going for a time, they deserve it because they’re standing in the cold! I also feel like they gave me a lot of cheers and support as they could see my gurning face and pain train grimace.

The third lap I managed to overtake a girl who’d been in front of me for a while but had to stop and stretch her calf, then I was on the heels of a guy who was running the same pace. He started looking behind him and then guiding me through other people and giving me the odd encouraging comment. I could barley respond. As the songs changed to the next one on my iPhone I could hear my gasping breath. Not a fun noise it must be said. I managed to drop the last lap to 6.30min/mile and was literally counting down the 0.1s to the end. I saw a girl just ahead of me ask which way to go as we finished out last lap of the triangle and saw we turned off to the right to head to the funnel. I was glad she asked as I hadn’t a clue! As I saw the funnel ahead and made my final sprint I genuinely thought I was about to hurl. That horrible, horrible feeling of almost being sick because you’re trying so hard is awful and one of the main reasons I hate short distance running. You don’t get that in a marathon (or at least the way I run a marathon!). I crossed the finishing funnel in 20:17 (but actually 20:18 officially and second female) with the contents of my stomach still thankfully inside.It took me about five solid minutes to get myself together though. I was absolutely rinsed. I was OVER THE MOON though. My third fastest parkrun (20:06 being my PB and 20:17 from Chelmsford parkrun so many years ago). I couldn’t have given anymore. But it does give me encouragement that a sub-20 minute parkrun might be achievable before the end of the year. As long as I remain uninjured and healthy!I caught my breath and then found my stuff and put my jacket back on as I started getting cold again. As I cheerfully walked back to the tube I noticed that cake shop again (called Crepes and Cakes by Nazish Omar – very nice indeed). Well, it would be rude not to! So I popped in and bought myself a very nice looking slice of rainbow cake. A little “well done me” present. I didn’t eat it then though as I wasn’t quite ready for solids yet 😉 (Actually I haven’t eaten it yet at all because of later foods. It’s safe in my freezer though for a day in need. My parkrun rainbow cake).From there I headed to Liverpool Street on the tube (smiling like a Cheshire cat, looking a bit of a loon in my short shorts it must be said). I had a bit of time before I met my friends so I scoped around for a coffee shop where I could grab a warm drink and a loo to change in. After walking around for ages – so many places closed! – I finally found somewhere that looked ideal. I was cold and really hungry by this point and saw they did fresh porridge, I was sold! Unfortunately after I ordered a coffee and the porridge I found they didn’t have a toilet. Great. Oh well.Anyway I ate the lovely steaming porridge before meeting with the first friend who’d arrived. We found a Costa and I managed to get changed there. Suitably attired for our Harry Potter themed escape room 😉 (Terrible loo selfie there, apologies).

With two more of my friends we got to the Enigma Escape Rooms for what has to be described as the most awesome escape room we’ve done yet (this was our fourth). If you like Harry Potter and like this sort of clue-based puzzle room thing it is definitely for you! It was SO much fun. You’re not actually locked in in this one, it’s more about passing the different classes (e.g. Potions, History of Magic, etc.). God it was awesome. We had put ourselves into the different houses and were wearing our corresponding t-shirts (I’m in Griffindor).We also managed to do the escape room without any clues (these rooms can actually be quite tough and in the previous ones we’ve done we’ve had to ask for help) and finished with 11 minutes to spare. We got a special little wristband thing because we didn’t need any clues and an “Outstanding” level of achievement in our overall OWL (right, I know I sound like a loser right now but I DON’T CARE).After this we headed to the Strut and Cluck where we met the final friend for a lovely lunch. I had a pulled turkey shawarma which was just delicious. It was a little small in my usual portion sizes so I ordered some bread and pita to go with it. But for normal appetites it would be fine.
Obviously an occasion like this will always require pudding so we headed to Shoreditch, not too far away, where the Boxpark is. Apparently this is the world’s first ever pop-up mall. It was very quirky. In fact, it was full of people so hipster it made my teeth hurt. Like you know if you ever walk into Topshop and you see a lot of the clothing and think “who on earth would wear this?”, well pretty much everyone in Shoreditch. It was quite a fun place to look around. It was full of quirky vegan eateries, street-food and, yes, lots of dessert spots. We first went into the Dum Dum Donutterie.After seeing so many cool artisan doughnuts on Instagram and always being so sad they’re always in London I was chuffed to finally see some amazing looking donuts. It was tough to choose but I went for the salted caramel one – I mean, technically it was a “cronut”. It was very dense.
Then, as not everyone wanted a doughnut, we headed to Nosteagia, which is a Hong Kong themed dessert bar (not sure if this is the right term but whatever) which made “bubble waffles”. Basically waffles full of deliciousness. One friend went for a Nutella one and another friend went for a peanut butter themed one, whereas I went for a honeycomb one.Yes, I know. I just couldn’t decide between the doughnut and this. In my head I was sure I’d eat half of each. Hummm.I started with the waffle which was delicious. The waffle itself wasn’t that sweet, but the ice cream, cream, popcorn and salted caramel sauce made it the ultimate pudding. After having about half I decided to try the doughnut. I’m actually not a huge doughnut fan (I really don’t like the jam-filled ones that are predominately popular in the UK) but this was no simple doughnut. It was dense and delicious, a bit like a very dense cake. SO good. (Un)fortunately though, both puddings were far too good to not eat the entirety of. I’m just far too greedy for my own good and finished them both. I’m not even mad. Life is too short to not eat the good stuff. Memories not calories 😉

And then I headed home. It was a lovely, lovely Saturday full of my favourite things 🙂

What did you get up to at the weekend?

Do you like Harry Potter? Which house would you put yourself in?

What pudding would you have gone for?

Southwark parkrun – my fastest parkrun in AGES

On Saturday I got up at the ridiculous time of 5.55am to get the 6.39am train to Waterloo. Normally I tend to get up earlier in the week if I go to the gym (*cough* an hour earlier than this) but at the weekend getting up super early just feels SO much worse. I do like my sleep!

But anyway I was off for a fun day in London so once the initial “oh my God it’s so early” feeling had passed and I was up and ready to go, coffee in hand, I was fine. I was going to meet up with my friend James (a fellow Marathon Talk lover whom I’d met at the Skidrow Marathon film showing in London a few months ago).I’d downloaded Hunt for the Wilderpeople on my iPad and once I was set up on the train I just eased into a nice relaxing journey (after loving Thor so much I was keen to see other films by Taika Waititi – by the way, Hunt for the Wilderpeople was BRILLIANT).

I got to Waterloo and met with James (he’d come from Birmingham) and we headed to the tube to get to Southwark parkrun. My train had arrived at 8.25am so we were needing to be fairly speedy about getting there, bu the tube journey wasn’t supposed to take long at all thankfully. Though we would have been fine had we not have randomly gotten out at the Southwark station and then realised we were still three miles from Southwark park. Oops. So we had to quickly dash back down to the tube and then get off at the RIGHT stop (Canada Wharf). I’m so glad I’m not the only person who does these sort of silly things – or maybe it’s my presence that causes it?We arrived at the park with literally less than 10 minutes to spare. We both lamented the fact that we needed a wee but just had no time. We found an ideal tree to dump our bags (I tried not to worry that I had my iPad in there and we were in London…but it was amongst loads of other bags so I just hoped for the best!)James and I had talked tactics beforehand, discussing what kind of times we were aiming for. He’s super fast (we’re talking a sub 19 minute 5k’er) so was aiming for sub-19. I was thinking I wanted to see how fast I could do after some really consistent running and speedwork lately. I haven’t done a flat parkrun in ages and I knew Southwark was supposed to be a good one. I said to James I hoped for a 21:30 as I was recently doing 21:40ish for fairly flat parkruns. He told me I couldn’t have brunch if my time had 22 at the start. He was joking 😉 but I knew I’d be disappointed if I wasn’t close to 21 minutes… maybe sub 21:20.Very soon after we’d arrived we were lining up and off we went. The course at Southwark is lovely. It’s all on concrete (which I don’t mind at all – no tricky areas underfoot) and it is indeed very flat. It goes around a lovely pond and it’s beautiful with lots of trees and foliage. It’s three laps, which I was slightly disheartened by as I find them mentally tough, but actually it was quite nice. Though it was somewhat amusing to see a guy in front of me try and finish on his second lap and the marshals explaining to him that he had another to go. Maybe he regretted his sprint (fake) finish…

What’s also nice about the course is that you can see other parts of the course while you’re running so James and I could shout over to each other at different parts as we ran. I saw my Garmin was hovering around 6.45min/miles and I decided to cling on to that for as long as I could. I didn’t feel terrible and I wasn’t dying so I felt like I could maintain that speed (at least for 5k anyway!). My only main worry was the fact I still needed a pee…it was dangerous territory to push the pace any more! I’m not sure I could have gone much faster though.I felt very much in control of the run though which was amazing. I remember thinking, “this is the best feeling in the world; to be running the fastest I’ve run in AGES and feeling everything working as it should and feeling strong”. I might have cursed myself with such thinking, who knows.I sprinted to the end, stopped my watch and promptly bent over next to a tree thinking “this is the WORST feeling in the world”. That horrible sprinting, lactic acid, everything hurts kind of fast running induced feeling. But it disappears quickly and I glanced at my Garmin.
IT STARTED WITH A 20. WHAT! And not just sub-21 minutes… actually well into the 20s. SUB 20:30! I was OVER THE MOON. 20:27, third female and 40th overall. I will damn straight take that!I saw James who’d finished already of course (thanks, James, for the pics!) and he told me he’d PB’ed! 18:47 – amazing time!! So fast. So we were both very pleased.
Randomly a lovely chap came over to us and gave us a leaflet about a running event and then offered us some banana bread. I will take any cake that is offered to me, regardless of who it is. You might be a full-on stranger, but I will take your free cake, thank you very much.Sadly it was a little dry though! But hey, beggars can’t be choosers. Especially when your friend also brought cake 😉Very tasty white chocolate chip brownies! Well, you absolutely can’t beat a bit of homemade cake after a very successful parkrun. My smile couldn’t have been wider.

After collecting ourselves and putting some clothes back on (hilariously James threw on a “I hate running” t-shirt) we headed towards the river to eventually get to some brunch. The walk was lovely to stretch our legs after a speedy run and we took some photos and chatted away.The views were beautiful. It really was a fantastic walk. It was chilly but I was OK in my shirt, jacket and coat while my legs were fine weirdly enough.James did laugh a little at just how many photos I take… I know I’m ridiculous sometimes but I just love having the photos to keep as memories later on (and of course for my blog). Now that I have so much memory on my phone (I used to have 16GB, I now have 128GB) I can keep them on my phone without having to delete any. I like to look back at them 🙂 We also found Paddington!Ahh how cool is that! I want to see Paddington 2 at some point as I so much enjoyed the first one.

Finally we got to The Breakfast Club, where we were going to get some brunch, but I was so dismayed to see such a giant line outside it!James made the executive decision that we’d wait – and I was grateful he did that because I have no patience and would have just wandered off elsewhere to somewhere not as good. I mean, all it meant was standing and chatting for a bit which, considering we’d met up to catch-up, seemed like a fairly decent way to spend some time! It wasn’t raining and it wasn’t too cold. And the nice hostess from the restaurant brought out hot chocolates for everyone in the queue!
I mean, how good is that? They even had marshmallows in them. Delicious. Around 40 minutes passed very quickly and we were inside picking from some delicious options. I decided to forgo my usual fry-up and decided instead for Beer Cheese Benedict (with a side of bacon). It was INCREDIBLE. To save on calories I went for roasted butternut squash instead of the breakfast muffin though (ha I’m fully joking here, I genuinely liked the sound of the butternut squash better). James got the chorizo burrito (I had a little bit of food envy it must be said). We also ordered a serving of banoffee pancakes to share (without the banana as we’re both not big banana fans). Basically big fluffy pancakes with salted caramel and chocolate sauce with vanilla cream.My god it was good. The Benedict was rather rich but it was fantastic. We we were both full to the brim by the end. So obviously the next thing to do in that sort of situation is to head to the Borough Market and walk round food stalls… There was so much good food on offer… stalls selling fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, SO much cheese, mushrooms, condiments, Prosecco, bread. But I couldn’t see any sweet stalls or cakes. We hunted around for ages until we eventually asked one of the cheese stall guys (I reasoned that he wouldn’t be offended as it wasn’t like we were asking about other cheese stalls). He pointed us in the right direction. The cake stalls were indeed very good but there still weren’t that many which I was surprised about (though there were a few tasters!). We both really fancied buying some cake but nothing looked that good (and at £3 a doughnut, quite expensive!).

I’d previously done a bit of research before this trip to find decent food spots (one of my favourite things to do before a trip) and I remembered seeing a bakery that looked amazing called Konditor & Cook. The cakes looked AMAZING and were reasonably priced. There were also samples so I was very happy.I went for a Fudgepacker brownie (as named because 20p goes towards a gay right’s charity), which was salted caramel…omgawwd and a slice of the red velvet cake. I could have bought so much more though.I was so stuffed though that I packaged them away into my bag to go promptly into the freezer at home for another time. I CANNOT WAIT. And then James and me headed back to Waterloo to say our goodbyes. Such a fantastic day. I mean, good company, parkrun, brunch and cake. Can you really do better?

I was adequately fuelled for the next day’s 17 miles (which would include the infamous Gosport Half Marathon, which I’ve entered four times and never run).

Would you wait in a queue for a restaurant?

What London parkruns have you done?

Do you lie-in at the weekend?

Skid Row Marathon and another adulting fail

On Saturday I headed up to London just before lunch for a running-specific visit. However, there actually was no running involved…not even for a train!

I always seem to harp on about this in my blog, but I’m a big fan of the Marathon Talk podcast and have been on a few different of the events that they run. They tend to run an annual run camp located in the heart of the New Forest (at a place delightfully called Sandy Balls) which I’ve been to three times and really hope to make next year too. I’ve also been on the Austrian run camp that they trialled this year, which was FANTASTIC (even if I did come back injured from over-zealous running).

At these events I’ve made some fantastic friends who I’ve kept in touch with and hope to continue being in touch with for years to come. Running really does bring people together and, as I always always say, is just such a warm hug of a community.

So when I heard about a running-based documentary being shown in London and a few of my fellow Marathon Talk friends had decided to go I immediately signed up. The film, Skid Row Marathon, sounded interesting enough but really I just wanted to hang out with some cool like-minded people and geek out over miles, splits and races.

Through the magic of social media I arranged to meet up with a Marathon Talker, James (@Runeckers on Insta) who I didn’t really know in “real life” but knew vaguely through Twitter and Instagram. But I thought he didn’t sound particularly like a psycho and it would be nice to grab some lunch somewhere before the 3.30pm showing. If I’m going to go to London I might as well make more of a day of it.

We arranged to meet in Leicester Square and had a brief moment of funny awkwardness when I could see him across a busy crossroad but he couldn’t see me but I couldn’t get across the road. I was messaging him saying “I can see you!” only to watch him look around bewildered. Eventually he spotted me, but it did scream slightly of a weird stalker girl 😉

James turned out to indeed not be a psycho and we chatted easily, as runners do, about all things races, PBs, injuries and goals. As I’d run 16 miles earlier that morning I could feel my runger start to emerge even though I hadn’t had breakfast that many hours ago. So there ensued us walking around trying to chat but also trying to make our minds up on where to eat. As tempting as Nando’s was, we both decided maybe something a bit more original and found a lovely spot called The Hummus Bros. It was lovely.I must admit the portion sizes did look alarmingly small to my highly greedy eyes, despite having “gone large”. However it was actually incredibly filling. It was quite intensely packed with hummus (surprise, surprise), shredded chicken and guacamole. It also came with two lovely warm thick pitas as well. James had the beef stroganoff hummus bowl which sounded bizarre to me but he said was nice.

On our quest for lunch I’d spotted a fro-yo spot, Yorica, and as James had never tried fro-yo I pretty much demanded that we go there for pudding. You know, to spread the good fro-yo word.The fro-yo flavours sounded good and the lady behind the counter tempted me to trying a mix of chocolate with “mellow macha”. We saw someone having large chunks of brownie put onto theirs and immediately followed suit as well. They looked pretty tasty! It was an interesting spot with a machine for free sprinkles which was rather jazzy. Of course we had to have a little go.Though my fro-yo looks huge in comparison to James’ I actually had quite a big hole within the depths of the fro-yo which was somewhat disappointing but actually it was quite a decent portion (even for me). Then we ambled back towards the Prince Charles theatre in Leicester Square to meet with the others who’d arrived.Quite a few of the Austria run campers had come so it was nice to see them and catch up. Martin Yelling (one of the Marathon Talk presenters, who had organised the event to take place) and his wife, Liz Yelling, were also there and it was nice to say hi and briefly chat again. They also introduced us to the producers of the film which was very cool indeed.

I then bumped into Maria and had a nice chat briefly. She was far more organised than me and had printed off her ticket. I suddenly realised I didn’t have my ticket. What an idiot! I realised it would be on my phone in my emails but I was struggling with Internet signal. And suddenly everyone was going in! Ensue major panic. Luckily my lovely Austria run camp friend, Zoe (who incidentally was the one responsible for organising the cinema screening with Martin – they actually organised it while we were in Austria after Martin asked if anyone had any contacts for cinema screenings in London!) said she knew I’d bought a ticket so I didn’t have to struggle anymore. Thank God. Why am I not more organised!?

John (he’s just completed a ridiculous week of running silly miles every day, legend), James and me

The film itself was just fantastic. It was so interesting, so moving and so well made. I mean, I’m clearly no movie critic but I thoroughly enjoyed it and it deserves to be seen by more people. The film roughly followed four years of an LA criminal judge, Craig Mitchell, and a running club, called the Midnight Runners, that he helped set up. The club is part of the Midnight Mission which is a shelter and addiction centre in the heart of Skid Row where around 6,000 homeless people live (LA actually has 47,000 homeless people in total). It honed in on a number of real people who were trying to make a better life for themselves. They were previous addicts, criminals – even a murderer. A theme through the film, that the producer highlighted at the end, was that no single act defined a person and that people should be given a second chance. It really spoke volumes to me.

I could go on and on about how good this film was but I won’t. I will stress though that if you get the opportunity to see it (hopefully it will become available to stream) then you really must. It gave me a lot to think about.After the film had finished there was a Q&A with the film makers themselves, Gabi and Mark Hayes. They were lovely and were very generous with their time and patience to answer a number of questions. They shared a hilarious tidbit that during the Rome Marathon that the running club took part in, one of the main “characters”, Rebecca, stopped half-way for a pizza and a cigarette as she was struggling so much. I think we’ve all felt that pain before!

When we broke out into the foyer I hung out with other Marathon Talkers. Gabi and Mark were there too so we could ask them a few more questions. They were so willing to chat and so friendlyEventually a bunch of us headed off to grab a drink and food as it was now around 6pm. We stopped at a nearby Slug and Lettuce. A few of us ordered a chicken salad in a tortilla bowl (very tasty) and my lovely friend, Deni, ordered four portion of chips for us all to share.Runners know how to eat, of course!

After chatting away it was time to head back home. An easy train ride for me at 8.09pm to Portsmouth Harbour, which would stop at Hedge End where I’d walk the 15 minutes back to my flat. Easy peasy.

I got on my train (yep, it said Portsmouth Harbour, yep it was around 8pm) and happily chilled out. It was only when I got chatting to a lovely couple near me that I realised I’d made a mistake. Well, they highlighted to me my mistake. I was on the wrong train. The wrong Portsmouth Harbour train. I’d gotten on the one that didn’t go through Southampton! Why put TWO Portsmouth Harbour trains running at VERY similar times on neighbourghing platforms!? Don’t they realise they’re dealing with people with limited common sense, AKA me??

I quickly checked online on my phone and the couple were, of course, correct. This train did not go anywhere near Hedge End. Anna Standard Behaviour right there. So I made the dreaded phonecall to my parents to see if by any chance they could pick me up and take me home from Havant (a legitimate stop on this train), which was about 15 minutes from where they lived. As ever, they came to my rescue (and may I add, not at all surprised. After all, this is not unusual behaviour for me to be without my brain at crucial moments). In fact, my dad went as far to say that whenever I travel a distance away from home one of them won’t have a glass of wine that evening as they never can guarantee I can make it home safely alone. Jeeze.

What made it even worse was that the train was delayed by 45 minutes. My dad remarked when he finally saw me that only I could get on the wrong train and then have it delayed. The couple who I was sat near were lovely company though and we passed the time chatting away. Bless their hearts, they said they had a daughter “my age” too…she’d just finished travelling after university (she’s 23! Ha! I’m almost 30 don’t you know!). That said, this 23 year old could evidently make it safely and happily around South East Asia for six weeks without any issue. I can barely navigate two hours from my home.

*Sighs* but I made it home safely thanks to my life-saving parents. A silly way to end a fantastic day. At least I go to talk their ears off about the film that evening…

Have you ever got on the wrong train?

Do you enjoy documentaries?

What I ate when working in London

Whew last week was tough. I was in London for four days as part of the final bit of a project (for those who don’t know, I’m currently a software test analyst… yes very geeky). These last few weeks have been very stressful as we’ve had some unmovable deadlines to hit and lots of work to get done. But I won’t dwell on that for this post, this post is about the good stuff. FOOD.

I was in London Monday until Thursday. I was the only one in the group to be staying in a hotel. Everyone else lives in Basingstoke or nearby so the commute was a bit more manageable (well, I say that but one guy had commuting issues all week… something I was glad to avoid!). Luckily the office we were in had a very fancy pants kitchen area so I bought porridge oats and almond milk at lunch time on Monday so breakfast Tuesday until Thursday was covered as I could make it in the morning there. Saving money and still able to enjoy my usual breakfast 🙂

My job expenses travel, hotels and dinner but for breakfast and lunch I need to buy myself. The office was located in Victoria so at lunch there was a wealth of options available, from the Shake Shack, Subway, Pret, Itsu, McDonalds, Starbucks…etc. I’d heard good things about Leon so went there on Monday to grab something.

I went for the South Indian Spiced Fish, which was delicious.It was really tasty. It contained chunks of smoked fish in a mild coconut and turmeric sauce on a bed of rice. It was lovely and hot but not too spicy. I actually did buy some extra cooked chicken though to add to it as I knew I wouldn’t get much of a chance to eat again until dinner and I generally have quite a big appetite! It kept me going until 8.30pm (we didn’t finish work until 7pm).

That evening after getting to my hotel, which was in Paddington (so not too far from Victoria) I’d made sure I’d already made a Deliveroo order on my commute back. I didn’t fancy going out as I was exhausted from the day so this was ideal. I ordered from Lokkanta, which is a meze and barbeque restarant. I ordered a Tavuk Shish, which was chicken with Bulgar wheat with a halloumi and sundried tomato salad. I also ordered some bread on the side. I’m always wary of ordering when I don’t know portion sizes so I’m always willing to get more than I need than risk not getting enough 😉 Turns out I didn’t need the bread, but it was tasty.

My hotel… *sighs* was dreadful. It was tiny and not part of a chain, which can be nice sometimes but in London a chain is sometimes better because there’s a level of quality that needs to be maintained however basic the actual amenities are. When I was lying on the bed watching TV after eating I noticed tiny little white dots slowly moving on the sheets. On closer inspection I found that they were tiny mites. URGH. I headed downstairs to talk to the manager (the only person who seemed to work there…) and complained.

He literally looked like he couldn’t care less (by the way, this is the same guy who gave me a master key for the hotel when he couldn’t find the key for my specific room – oh yeah, I felt safe!!). When it looked like he didn’t really a) know what to do and b) want to do anything I suggested quite firmly new sheets for my bed. He looked really grumpy and finally agreed. He appeared at my door a few moments later and handed me the sheets. I handed them back to him and said I was going to step out to make a phone-call. I was not going to change my own sheets thank you very much. I came back and thankfully my bed had been made and the mites had disappeared. But Jesus. So yeah, that delightful abode is called Mina House Hotel FYI.

The next morning I headed out for a run. Despite my hotel being awful, it was very close to Hyde Park. As my last solo run in London had be disastrous I was glad to have somewhere specific to run around that had lots of maps about the place (and water fountains)!

I thoroughly enjoyed this run. I decided to go around the perimeter and see how far that was. It was very warm but the sights were so pretty with trees, grass, fountains, flowers and statues. I don’t think I’ve ever actually been to Hyde Park before so it was a lovely way to explore it.At one point there was this huge line of horses with very fancy looking men all in special uniform walking graceful through the park. Apparently the Queen’s Guard! The Queen wasn’t there (obviously, it was like 7am) but it was very cool to see this procession.In the end I ran 8 miles which felt great! I had breakfast at the office again (porridge) and for lunch I headed out to find what delights I could embark on. I decided on Pret (how original) because I love their salads and their miso soup. I got that with the extra chicken from Sainsbury’s and some apples. The salad was the Greens, Grains and Chicken Salad. Sorted!

For dinner I decided to find somewhere on the way home from work as we finished after 6pm again and I wanted to prolong the time before I had to face my hotel room again. I found a lovely little Turkish restaurant (I think it was called Raffles) in Paddington. I went for something simple so had chicken wings to start (*cough* I know, I just can’t help what I like!) and chicken with rice and salad for main.It was really tasty and just what I fancied. When you have to spend a number of days away from home (and not on holiday) eating out on your own can get a bit tiresome and annoying. Granted this was only my second evening but I was pacing myself. I’d have loved to have eaten crazy exciting meals each night but I didn’t want to be too unhealthy. My usual mantra is eat fairly balance and normal meals during the week and then splurge at the weekend on more fancy and exciting meals.

The next day I headed out early to go to the local PureGym. I’d rung up the day before to extend my membership to the Bayswater one (which was about a 15 minute walk from the hotel). It would cost me £4 for the week on top of my month’s membership which sounded good to me. I punched in my code when I got there and found it wouldn’t let me in. I got a text message from PureGym informing me that my code wouldn’t work at this location. WHAT.

I tried ringing them but at 6.30am the hotline wasn’t open and there was no one in the gym to help me. So I huffed and puffed and then walked back. Luckily the weather was nice so that was something. I rang them later to find out what was going on and it turns out the person who I rang the day before hadn’t extended my membership properly. They were very apologetic and said I could go to the gym for the rest of the week without the £4 charge.

I had the same Pret lunch again (as I did for the next day – I just love that salad) and after work went for another run round Hyde Park.I decided to do something similar to before by running the perimeter. There were some live events going on (music, cinema and things like that) but being on my own I didn’t really fancy getting involved.A run was a far more fun activity for me as a solo person. As I was running I thought I might as well run somewhere to dinner and really fancied Nandos. So basic but I do love it. And handily Nando’s was just over a mile from Hyde Park so I incorporated that into my run.It did mean me sitting there in my shorts rather hot and sweaty but no one seemed to mind and I actually didn’t look that weird amongst the other assorted London folk… I was very warm though and cleaned up a bit in the bathroom. I went for a half chicken, with a side salad, char-grilled vegetables and a corn on the cob. I would have loved a whole chicken but it was only a Wednesday night after all!

The next morning I got up early once again to attempt the gym for the second time. I am but a girl of very small brains. Of course a trip to London must mean at some point I will go wrong and have an adulting fail moment. This was my time to shine. I put in my maps app what I thought was the Bayswater PureGym and headed off. I used a different app from the day before just because I prefer it to the Google one. It took me on a different route, which I put down to it being a different app. But as I became a bit more awake and compos mentis I realised I was actually no where near where I was the other day. And lo and behold, the PureGym I arrived at was not in fact the Bayswater one but a different one entirely. And nope, I could not get it. So I had to turn around and walk all the way back again. Well done, Anna.

My last day in London saw the same breakfast and lunch as the days before. I’m fairly glad I don’t work in London all that often because spending £6-7 at least every day on lunch was becoming expensive! Normally I make my own lunch and take it with me, but for four days it was a nice treat (especially considering dinner was sorted for me).

This will be my only post for the week as I’m actually currently in Austria on the MarathonTalk running retreat (SO EXCITING!). So catch you on the other side!

Do you go to London for work often?

What do you eat for lunch during the week?

What’s your favourite lunch restaurant?