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?

A Day in the Life of

Me! I did one of this ages and ages ago but thought I’d do another one as things have changed a bit. This was a working day last week where I was running in the morning. I don’t run every day but it’s more interesting when I do 😉

At 5.10am my Fitbit fitness tracker gently wakes me up by vibrating on my wrist. This is handy because it only wakes me up and not Ben (though, to be honest, a truck could drive through our bedroom and he’d still struggle to wake up, whereas a drip in the sink from the bathroom could jolt me awake).

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I took this photo from our bed just before I got up. Our curtains have been left open just because it’s so damn hot. Also it’s nice to be semi-awake anyway from the morning sunlight when my alarm goes off.

Around 5.30am after the bathroom usuals and getting my running gear on I take Alfie for a walk.

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Unbelievably this dog is raring to go at this time. What is wrong with him?? I do quite enjoy these very early morning walks with him. It warms me up for my run and it’s so peaceful and quiet outside, barely anyone else around except for a fellow crazy dog walker or two.

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I get home and do a little 5-10min dynamic warm up before I run. I do things like leg swings and high knees. Just some moves to get the creaks from my legs.

Compression sleeves Then off I go. Depending on the session I’ll either listen to a podcast (easy run) or music (intervals/hill sessions/tempo) or sometimes just run to sound of my own feet. I run anywhere from 3 miles to 6 miles (but this will be increasing as the weeks go on).

Then I get back and walk Alfie again as a cool down. On days I don’t run I usually give Alfie a long walk, so when I run I’m giving Alfie two short walks (we call him Double Dump Alfie – go figure!)

Then I get back and do some stretching and foam rolling while drinking some water with this stuff in it:

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I got this ages ago (I only have 5g a time). It basically helps with muscle repair and you metabolism. I can’t say I’ve noticed anything really but I take it anyway! I then race to the shower. I’m usually always late at this point (where does the time go??)

Shower, wash hair, comb hair, dry hair, straighten hair – gargh I sometimes HATE my hair. So damn long and so damn long to maintain.

IMG_7455 Acceptably groomed

Then I’m ready for breakfast!

IMG_7457 I sort my lunch out for the day (I’ve made most of it the night before so this is just a case of popping my popcorn in the microwave and putting everything in my bag by the door). Sometimes I also prepare dinner for the evening to go in the slow cooker. This day the evening meal was coconut beef curry so I prepared all those bits and pieces.

And finally breakfast time.

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Just simply oats, teaspoon of chia seeds and almond milk.

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Every single day and I love it.

Then brush my teeth and off to work. I have a 45-60 minute commute to Basingstoke which is just a joy, I can tell you. Sometimes I share a lift with my dad which has it’s good points and bad points… 😉

IMG_7459 Recently I’ve been dropping into Costa to grab a coffee (black Americano, sugar free caramel syrup – I just adore. No calories, more chemicals…yeah I know).

Then work, work, work.

IMG_7460 This day I was in a lengthy all day meeting so I had regular drinks to keep me going. This was a cranberry, raspberry and elderflower herbal tea.

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Finally lunch time comes around. I love my lunch. Sad but true. Tuna salad, salted popcorn, Greek yogurt with frozen blueberries and summer fruits.

Lunch for workThen work, work, work. Mid-afternoon Graz snack to keep me going.

IMG_7368[1] Mmm the cake ones are the best! Though I probably do prefer the nuts ones as they keep me going longer. Then my 4 o’clock apple and banana (someone stole my banana the other day – I had one left in my fruit bowl and someone took it. Everyone claimed innocence…apparently it was someone senior. Damn them. They were lucky it wasn’t my apple!).

If I have nothing on in the evening I’ll probably go to our office’s mini gym and do a 45 minute strength workout.

IMG_2717I really do mean ‘mini’ gym 

I tend to focus on my physio exercises that have been recommended to me in order for injury prevention (e.g. single leg squats, clam shells, core work, etc.)

Crab walkGetting ready to do the ‘crab walk’ with my resistance band 

Then the long commute home. I usually get home anywhere from 6.30pm to 7pm. Ben is already home and has walked Alfie so I sort my things out, pack my gym bag for the next day and get into mooching clothes. Then time to prepare dinner. This morning I’d already prepared the meal but some evenings I need to make something from scratch (like tortilla pizza, something egg based, gammon, etc.).

Coconut beef curry

As I said previously, I’d prepared coconut beef curry. This was OK, nothing amazing. It filled a whole! I don’t think I used a recipe, just put some diced beef (from the meat that Ben won) with some vegetables (like chopped onion, kale, carrots, courgette, mushrooms) and added a bit of beef stock and a can of light coconut milk with lots of Indian spices. It was kind of soupy as there was a fair bit of liquid but nice nonetheless. More of a stew I guess!

Then I have two apples after dinner (always) and chill out watching some TV with Ben. I’ll have a hot chocolate and a jelly (rock and roll) before hitting the hay around 9ish to read my book and get an early night. I’m shattered by this point! It doesn’t take me long to fall asleep at all.

My day might sound boring but I enjoy it. I love running so early in the morning and I love having an easy evening where I don’t have to do too much (quality sofa time!).

What is the favourite time of your day? I love mornings. I might not be overly chatty but I get so much done and am very efficient.

Do you have night time snacks before bed?

Is your day always the same during the week? The only real variations for me are if I run in the morning or not! Also if Ben is running in the evening (he’ll never get up as early as I do to run) then I might get to watch all those amazing shows like the Kardashians 😉

Brighton, Ben’s nuts and nipple plasters

So things have been a little running heavy round here. Now I know the main focus of my blog is running but I like to liven things up a bit occasionally and talk about other stuff.

The other weekend Ben and I went to Brighton for a daytrip to see my uni friends and their partners. One of them, currently living in Brighton, had just recently got married…the cheeky so-and-so went abroad and didn’t invite anyone, how rude! 😉 We were very pleased for them regardless though.

We had a lovely walk to a local pub which serves the best monster pizzas, salads and Turkish-style pizzas. As it was the day before the Stansted half marathon I thought it best to go for a nice carby meal. For the good of the race of course.

IMG_7261 Seriously that thing rocked my world. It was filled with lamb (not usually my thing), beef and chicken with a tomato sauce and vegetables. It was as big as my face pretty much.

IMG_7262No issue in finishing that bad boy. What did you expect?

After that we all went for a lovely walk in the hot hot sunshine along the seafront. I may have even dipped my toe in the sea. Or got ridiculously splashed by a ginormous wave.

IMG_7264 This is the new dress I got from Oasis a few weeks ago (the only damn thing in my size). Suitably summery enough. Gotta wear these things as much as possible in Britain as you never know how long the sunshine will last!

We headed back to the flat and the new-husband brought out the most delicious blueberry white chocolate cheesecake known to man.

IMG_7270So thick and creamy. I do love a good baked cheesecake. I might have had seconds but we don’t need to dwell on that.

Speaking of food…Ben has been in a quandary recently about food and what to eat. He wants to lose weight but not lose the will live when he runs. It’s tough. I’d say he does eat quite healthy (for the meals I make him anyway…) but he doesn’t eat breakfast (the cardinal sin) and his lunch of choice would usually be a chunky white mayo-filled cheese laden vegetable barren sandwich at work. With no option really to buy anything else as his office just had a ‘sandwich lady’ and no shop.

I make myself lunch every day and it can be a faff but I do it because I like my salads and can go to town on all my favourite ingredients. But Ben, bless his soul, is not the type of guy to make a salad every day (show me the guy who is…).

As I’m a good, loving wife (no comments please, it’s true) I suggested I’d buy him a salad every day from Tesco as it’s just over the road from work for me (so is Costa and this is becoming an issue) and then he could take it the next day for work. A guess a better wife would make him a salad but let’s not push it here, people.

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Salad selfie

Alongside this I would also buy him little portioned pots of nuts. But this was getting to be ridiculously expensive – how much for a 25g portion of cashews? Are you joking? So I bulk bought a load of mixed nuts, salted nuts, dried fruit and chocolate covered raisins…

Ben's nuts 2 Now each day Ben gets a little Tupperware box full of nuts etc. to take to work with his salad. I think I’ve earnt a few Wife Points 😉

Now to work on his breakfast…(*cough* and wine *cough*).

One of my other wifely duties is buying Ben his nipple plasters (he has mastered the chafe issue whereas I have not for my HR monitor). But we have serious issues.

Blister plasters Uh oh. We’ve got problems. Tesco do the best ones! OK that’s a lie, Tesco do the cheapest. Who charges over £3 for four blister plasters (*cough* Scholl, are you serious?)?

So you’re prayers are required. Our stock at home will only last so long. Dire times indeed.

If you have a partner, what do they have for lunch?

What’s your favourite nut to snack on? I love salted cashews. Or pistachios because they slow me down.

Ever suffered from the dreaded chafe?

A Little Change – WIAW

Hi guys, hope you’re all well. As usual, it’s What I Ate Wednesday. Check out Jenn’s blog to get involved or peruse other people’s exciting eats. I can’t promise mine will rock your world, but I certainly enjoyed them Smile

 

The theme is to get your veggies in and, to be honest, I never really have a problem with this. I’m a big vegetable fan (not you though, celery, you can stay back). Usually every evening meal is accompanied by a big serving of veg. Ben used to be shocked, but now he just expects it.

Breakfast is where I draw the line with veggies though. I just have my bog standard bowl of oats with almond milk, zapped up in a delightfully stodgy heap of deliciousness.

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Are you surprised? I literally don’t change. I literally haven’t changed this for about 8 years. I think I just like how simple it is to make, how filling it is and how much I love eating it. Why would I  change?

Lunch has been a different affair at work recently. Last week I had my usual monster tuna salad, Babybel and yogurt with fruit at work. It’s easier to throw together and I like it.

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However, I’ve been finding that I hit the afternoon and find myself feeling FAMISHED. I tend to have a banana and apple to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner and that used to be fine, but recently this hasn’t worked. I would drive home feeling not so great and in need of food. LIKE NOW.

I’m thinking it’s because I’m running more. I never used to run 5 times a week and never the mileage I’m doing now. Because I’ve crept the mileage up quite gently I haven’t really thought about increasing my food as well. Typing this now actually makes me feel stupid. It’s another “well duh Anna” moment.

Now you might have noticed, I’m not a huge carb lover. You can take your bread, your pasta, your rice…I’d much rather have protein or fat. Salads piled high with veg, cheese and chicken. Roasted vegetables with melted cheese. Chicken stews with a side portion of veg.

However, this isn’t working for me right now.

It’s annoying because I like what I eat. I don’t want to change, but let’s be sensible here. So for lunch at work I’ve swapped the tuna salad for a turkey bacon and cream cheese sandwich…

Lunch

…With a side portion of salad. I can change some things but not all! I also had fruit with Alpro soya yogurt and frozen fruit salad (that had nicely defrosted by lunch). This has definitely made me feel a bit better. I also adore the combination of bacon with cream cheese.

Then for dinner I tried something crazy (in Ben’s eyes). I attempted…savoury oatmeal. I was dubious going into this if I’m honest. I mean, I eat porridge every single morning and suddenly having it with chicken and vegetables. Well, that’s just weird…or is it?

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Yeah OK it doesn’t look great, does it? It looks pretty much like sludge. But! It tasted so good. It didn’t remind me of breakfast at all. It was just a completely different meal.

I based it on THIS recipe but added a few bits and pieces to make it a bit more filling for my new found hunger.

Chicken Savoury Oatmeal (aka Sludge for Dinner) (serves 1)

  • 1/2 cup (40g) quick-cook oats 
  • Garlic clove, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 small mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • 350ml (1 & 2/3 cup) chicken stock
  • 1tbs nutritional yeast

– Fry onions in a little oil for 5 minutes, then add garlic for a minute.

– Add chicken, mushrooms and zucchini and fry until chicken is cooked.

– While this is happening, cook the oats on the hob with the stock. Add more water if it looks too thick.

– Then combine all the ingredients together and add the nutritional yeast. Then serve when at the consistency you want.

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Yep, still sludge. But it tasted so good and was so filling.

Another meal I really enjoyed was Monday night. We had a lentil meal which we both loved (BBC Good Food recipe: Middle Eastern Chicken and Apricot Stew).

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Very simple to make and really flavoursome.

So, more carbs I hope you noticed. OK I didn’t go crazy – I didn’t chomp my way through a full-sized French baguette obviously. But I’ve been adding bits and pieces and adopting this pattern now throughout the week and my energy levels are so much better. I’m not a horrific beast when I get in after work (can you hear that sigh of relief from Ben??) Small changes!

Have you found that you needed to change what you were eating to compensate an increase in exercise?

What’s your favourite carb?

Have a great Wednesday!

Honeymoon–Part 2 (Colorado)

Hi guys! If you missed the first part of my recent honeymoon, please go have a read. It was a great week in Orlando Smile Now to carry on to part two…

After Orlando, we caught a flight to Houston (random I know) and then to Colorado Springs. We spent enough time in Houston airport to need to grab some lunch. We went to Cat Cora’s Kitchen. It was very good – sweet potato fries, where have you been all my life?

Cat Cora

[Beetroot and rocket salad with goat’s cheese on bread & fish burger with salsa and sweet potato fries]

And after checking out every single damn shop in Houston airport while we waited (for FOUR hours) we caught our fight to Colorado Springs.

For our first day we decided to go horse riding in Garden of the Gods. We felt very cowboy-esque. My horse was super speedy, while Ben’s took his sweet time.

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It was an amazing day! And baking hot! I thought it’d be cold but it was so warm. It was so much fun horse riding through this beautiful scenery. Such a difference from Orlando!

We also went mountain biking twice as well. The first time it was still so hot. I got badly sunburnt (whoops). We cycled some crazy routes through the Red Rock Canyon for about 2.5 hours. We were shattered.IMG_3020

Check out my cool helmet!

It was quite scary at times but definitely exhilarating. We had to get off the bikes at times and walk because it got a bit precarious. I could just hear my mother’s voice in my ear telling me to go back to safety…

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And the second day of biking it was freezing. It was crazy hot one day and then the temperature dropped so quickly.IMG_3133

[Ben was clearly too cool to wear his helmet. Safety first!]

We cycled to keep warm! We saw an elk as we were cycling along as well which was really cool. We were one with nature…careening through the wilderness.

We were intending on driving up Pikes Peaks (the main peak in Colorado) but it would have taken two hours apparently to drive it and so this is why we decided to do the biking again as we enjoyed it so much

And we did lots of walking. It was just so beautiful. Towards the end of our time there it just got so cold it was unbelievable. Really biting wind.

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[That’s my ‘hurry up and take the damn photo I’m cold’ face]

We made a road trip out to the Royal Gorge Bridge as well one day. Absolute fantastic views. Though pretty much everything was closed – apparently out of season. No white-water rafting for us! We were sad but it was so cold we were quite relieved. RG Bridge

Food-wise was a culinary delight in Colorado. IHOP for breakfast every day, yes please!IHOP

I’d like to point out that the left-hand side are mine and the right are Ben. Don’t get me wrong, pancakes and sweet things like that are yummy for breakfast but all that cream and sauce…my stomach just turns.

The meals in Colorado were really good. For lunch one day we went to a Black-Eyed Pea for something a bit more relaxed and ‘lunchy’. I got a turkey meal with two added vegetable sides (my kinda sides!)

3.10 Lunch Anna

It looks like a crazy roast dinner! And a little portion of cranberry sauce on the side. I think the bready thing in the corner was cornbread. It didn’t taste very healthy but it was very good!

For dinner one night we went to a Mexican restaurant and, unsurprisingly, the meal was HUGE, but very yummy.

4.10 Dinner Anna

Spiced pork with pineapple, rice, black beans, guacamole, sour green, salsa and a rolled tortilla in the foil. I just don’t understand how someone can eat all of that?? I gave it my best effort.

4.10 Dinner Anna done[Thought I’d do a little before and after!]

I didn’t even make a stab at the tortilla. Poor effort maybe, but I think I did pretty well!

I’ve shown quite a few of the meals I’ve had on the honeymoon and most of them probably weren’t that healthy (hello, turkey leg). But I think it’s important to relax a bit on holiday and try things you might not have normally. We were fairly active and we didn’t go absolutely mad so I think the ‘damage’ is fairly minimal. My jeans still fit and that’s all that matters! I can’t be one of those people who goes on holiday and worries and frets and not enjoy myself. I know I eat healthily at home and I exercise so I knew when I got home things would balance out. That’s not to say that if Pinkberry became available in Southampton I wouldn’t have it every day week…

Other than lots more sight-seeing, walking, eating and just having fun, that’s pretty much it! And the perfect end to the holiday was on the flight home:

6.10 flight[6]

I slept well on that flight Smile

So that’s my recap! We had an amazing time. We really had fun together, a little adventure if you like. And we’re so excited about the future and our life together (sorry, a bit sappy).Jump

I hope you enjoyed it! Has anyone else been to Colorado?