parkrun, a date and THOSE pancakes

Why is it weekends fly by so quickly? I was quite busy so this is probably why I guess!

Saturday morning saw me back at parkrun at Netley Abbey after a couple of weeks off of running. I hadn’t seen Mike, or any of the Netley parkrun crew, in ages so it was nice to catch up with everyone. I basically chatted the entire way round parkrun! I wasn’t interested in a fast time and just wanted to have a nice enjoyable run. I also got to showcase my Chester Marathon long-sleeved technical tee and my parkrun cow cowl.img_5974This photo made me laugh so much as I literally had no idea that Jim, the photo bomber, was behind me doing that. It was only when I looked at the photo I saw. Hehe.

I bought my cow cowl after I had successful done 20 different parkrun courses and am now on the Most Events table. It’s not a freebie thing like the milestone t-shirts or directly associated with parkrun, you do have to buy it yourself (but it’s like £7 so very cheap), but it’s a great way of identifying with other Most Event parkrunners.cow-cowlThe cowl (or buff) was actually really nice to wear as it was quite nippy at parkrun. Winter is definitely on it’s way 🙁 I’m really not looking forward to the cold morning’s of parkrun set-up and then running in the nasty weather. Hey ho.

My pacing at parkrun was all over the place as I was too busy chatting… parkrun-paceNot particularly consistent really and fairly slow in comparison to previous runs (25:39). But my legs felt alright post marathon (well, they would do I guess after almost two weeks off!) andI’m still trying to take things nice and slow. I want to be really motivated when I get back into proper training so I don’t want to ramp things up too quickly now. I probably won’t run a huge amount in the next few weeks if I’m honest as I also have my eye laser surgery coming up this month. (I will blog about that experience.)

Later on I had a date… we’d “met” through internet dating (Plenty of Fish – just that one tiny step above Tinder I think as I’m not ready to pay actual money yet) and after he cancelled on me the other week we finally rearranged another date. He lives 45 minutes away which, if I’m honest, annoyed me more than it should. After lots of nice reassurance from the Twittersphere that that wasn’t that bad I decided to go more positive than I was initially.

img_5975From my Instagram Story

We met at a pub for lunch. It went OK, he seemed nice and we chatted a lot but then it all fell apart when he said he was too full for pudding. Game over.

No, I’m joking (well, there was no pudding which was somewhat devastating after seeing the table next to me get chocolate fudge cake and millionaire shortbread cheesecake). In truth, as nice as he was I didn’t feel a huge connection and there were things that were fundamental no-no’s (who doesn’t like Harry Potter?? <– OK that is sort of a joke but it was one of a few things I found that didn’t work for me).

*Sighs* so much effort wasted. I don’t think I’m going to continue with the Internet dating at the moment as, in my opinion, the effort involved finding, messaging, working out if they’re not a psycho, meeting up, etc. is just not worth it. I’d rather pootle along as I am right now.

That evening I met up with friends for a house warming party and we had a lovely chilled evening of chilling and chatting. The host provided an amazing spread of Slimming World approved snacks (as she’s trying to lose a bit of weight). There were sweet chilli chicken bites, bacon wrapped asparagus, fruit, crudites and dips. It was fantastic!

I’m definitely starting to warm more to Slimming World – not that I’m going to start obviously but what I mean is that it’s not quite the product-pushing fad diet system I thought it was. It’s working so well for my parents (they’ve both lost over a stone each!!) and it seems to have some sound and sensible guidelines and support system.

Then the next day I headed to London to meet with my uni friends for lunch and catch-up. (Side note: I watched Money Monster on the train and it was really good – very tense. I thoroughly enjoyed it! The train journey flew by).

My friend, Charlotte, took us to an AMAZING spot for lunch called My Old Dutch and WOW. Basically the menu was just pancakes – both sweet and savoury. As I had to catch the train fairly early that morning (damn Sunday trains) I’d forgone a proper breakfast as I wanted a bit longer to sleep in the morning and I knew we were going to this pancake place so wanted to be adequately hungry. I had a banana and a couple of apples but by the time we got there I was starving.

Originally I thought I was going to go for sweet pancakes as I’d already checked them out on Instagram and the pancakes looked i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e. But because I was just so hungry I thought it would make me feel a bit ill. Bit of a mistake I think but I REALLY enjoyed the savoury pancake I had.img_5983It was full of halloumi, feta, olives and aubergine.img_5978Perfection. I did get enormous food envy though as one of my friends ordered the Willy Wonka Kinda special.img_5982I mean WOW. It looked amazing. She found it got very sickly (as you can imagine) so I was able to help her out at the end 😉 But yes, it was ridiculously sweet. She was in a sugar coma afterwards which was quite amusing (seen as how it’s usually me who ends up that way!).

Apart from a downpour we got caught in, the meet-up was lovely. Though it sucked it was a Sunday and not a Saturday like we normally do as it meant getting home at 6pm and still having chores and food prep to do… worth it though!

What would you choose: savoury pancakes or sweet?

What would be deal-breakers for you for relationships?

Do you judge people on what they order at restaurants? 😉

So excited

The weekend has just flow by. I can’t believe how close to Christmas we are now! And how close to Ben and my next holiday – wooo wooo!

At the end of January we’re off to Florida to go and do some theme park craziness (though missing out Disney World as it didn’t rock our world at all the last time we went) for 8 days, and then travelling to Dallas for 6 days. The first part of the holiday we’re going with a couple friend of ours, Kate and Jamie, and they are literally obsessed with theme parks and Florida. They’re going for two weeks which was just too hardcore for us, which is why we’re then going to Dallas.

So this weekend gone we went up to Bristol to stay over at Kate and Jamie’s house on Saturday to get down to the Holiday Master Plan, i.e. where we want to go, what we want to do and more importantly what kind of restaurants and food we like and want to go to. Jamie is a HUGE food enthusiast and loves all the American-style food and, well, food in general. Jamie is like the male version of me basically. Food is important to us!

They cooked an amazing feast of food. Honestly it was incredible.

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There were tortilla chips with dips, oven-roasted hot and plain chicken wings, corn on the cobs, home-made burgers, crispy bacon, ranch dressed slaw and regular salad and my personal favourite RIBS.

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Ribs are one of my favourite meals in the entire world. I adore them. It was such a good spread, but it didn’t end there.

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Pudding!

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Home-made brownie, hot fudge sauce and Hagen Daaz vanilla ice cream. Oh my life. All in a special Mickey Mouse bowl (sink?). The photo above really doesn’t do it justice but as you can see there was a HEFTY amount of ice cream there – a slab I would say.

We all stumbled to the finish line in states of absolute fullness and severe feelings of sick. We literally sat there in silence (I’d like to say a satisfied silence, but it was more a silence of necessity as movement in general was painful at that point). I regret nothing though 😉

What was really fun was we took Alfie with us and he got to meet their pug, Doug. They seemed to get on well – though Alfie refused to allow Doug to sniff his bottom. Not sure what that means in Dog Code. But Doug didn’t mind Alfie having a sniff. I like to think that this is Alfie asserting his Alfa male status 😉 Or just being grumpy!

IMG_8805We had such a fun evening, ending in a random Harry Potter quiz to get us ready for the mayhem ahead. We’re all huge fans of Harry Potter, roller coasters and general silliness that it will just be like being a kid again I think. And we’re staying in the same hotel which is a walk or a short bus ride from Universal Studios so it’s perfect. And we’ve got tickets to an ice hockey game!! It should be mental 😀

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The next morning we all went for a walk with Alfie and Doug to their nearby park and had a nice long walk – the conversation never veering far from the impending holiday. We are all SO excited.

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We got back and Jamie did a fabulous pancake breakfast for Ben and Kate. I brought my porridge (what did you expect?). My friends know what I’m like (apple obsessed, porridge lover…) so they didn’t mind. Ben was in chocolate chip, cream and syrup heaven though.

IMG_8811He stacked up his three pancakes (first batch) with white and milk chocolate chips in between each layer, coated with golden syrup and then finished with cream. He loved it. I’m actually not a massive pancake fan (or crepes for that matter) so America in that respect is a little disappointing at breakfast for me. I’d much prefer just my regular porridge as the idea of lots of sweet stuff in the morning doesn’t do it for me. When we last went to Florida we had a villa so I could satisfy my porridge need by making it myself but this time we’re in a hotel. It might be time for me to branch out. Watch this space…

And then we were on our merry way back home. It was such good fun and I now have a list of restaurants that I’m subsequently going to peruse through. Does anyone else do that? Find restaurants beforehand and then look through their menus? It gets me really excited about what’s to come!

And so we drove back home, Alfie on my lap. He hates travelling in the car but when he got to look out of the window he was more impressed.

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What do you eat for breakfast on holiday? Do you branch out and have something different? Any recommendations for a pancake un-enthusiast?

What’s the most exciting part about going on holiday for you? For me a big part if trying new foods. But going with friends now is going to add a brilliant new element – and we’re all similar to each other in different ways so it makes things very easy.

Do you enjoy roller coasters?

MyProtein and MyVitamin review

Happy Friday everyone. The cool people behind MyProtein and MyVitamin (The Hut Group) sent me a couple of products to review.

Before now I have never tried protein powder. To be honest, I didn’t see the point. I love my food so why on earth would I drink my meals or the extra calories I need?? Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve been tempted when I see so many protein pancake or protein cookie recipes. But again I was like “why not just have a regular pancake instead?”

So I jumped at the chance to try the whey protein power to see what the fuss was about. I chose True Whey in the Chocolate Caramel flavour. It actually took quite a while for me to choose the flavour because there were several very tasty sounding ones (like chocolate mint, strawberry delight and velvet vanilla).

From the website, it notes the key benefits as:

  • Highest quality protein source
  • New fantastic flavours
  • Includes Lactospore® and Digezyme® (aids digestion)
  • Rich in BCAA’s and Aminoacids

I must say this all sounds very foreign to me! Apparently it has the “perfect blend of the highest grade whey protein concentrate and isolate” And “contains very little fat, zero added sugars and a only small amount of carbohydrates, but it is packed with the most biological available protein available and also contains a high amount of branch-chain-amino-acids (BCAA’s).”

MyProtein Whey Protein Powder It comes with a little scoop which portions out one serving. You can mix it with water or milk. I decided to go for milk because the idea of mixing it with water didn’t really appeal to me. I tried it with both cow’s milk and almond milk. Cow’s milk worked a bit better in terms of how well it mixed. Almond milk needed a bit more stirring and still it wasn’t fully dissolved. (You can buy those shaker things which I’m sure would help, but I was mixing using a spoon).

IMG_6904 Also, the less milk you put in, the thicker it gets (like a thick milkshake). The taste is pretty good, very much like a chocolate milkshake. There is a very slight chemical taste but nothing horrendous or off-putting.

I’ve also tried blending it with frozen banana as well (Ben absolutely adores this and often has it after running).

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It mixes really well in the blender

Roughly per serving it’s 98 calories (without milk) and almost 19g of protein. Needless to say that when you have one of these you feel quite full afterwards.

Clearly I’m no body builder or have huge intentions to put on a lot of muscle weight so I’m not drinking this everyday. One of the reasons I was originally put off by protein powders was just knowing when to have it – I fill my day nicely with the food I need. However, there is a key time when this is very handy. When I go to races I usually have a stupidly early breakfast, then race and then finish. The time between breakfast, finishing and then getting myself together and finding food can be quite a few hours. By the time I do find food I’ve often felt very weak. Making up a good portion of this and taking it with me would be ideal to have straight after the race to fill that gap. Especially as I never fancy anything to eat after a race, but having a drink that would keep me from feeling faint is perfect!

We also made protein pancakes using the following ingredients:

  • 40g rolled oats
  • 1 scoop of protein powder
  • 2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)
  • Dash of milk if batter is too thick

Blend all the ingredients together and then fry batches on a heated oiled frying pan. Should make three decent sized pancakes.

Protein powder pancakes We did have three but Ben ate one before we could photo all of them (*sighs*). Add lots of great toppings, like maple syrup, fruit, peanut butter, etc.

I also tried some supplements from MyVitamins. I thought considering all the running I do and how injury-prone I seem to be I’d try the Joint Plus MSM Glucosamine and Chondroitin multi-nutrient blend.

IMG_6907 Basically it’s a combination of the three “widely recognised” join care nutrients. Each capsule contains 300mg MSM, 250mg Glucosamine HCL and 200mg Chondroitin Sulphate. I take one one every day with breakfast. Finger’s crossed it’s making a difference. I don’t feel any different but I can’t imagine you would! A bit like any supplement you take I guess.

All in all, two decent products that I will continue to use!

HERE is a link to their voucher code page, full of discounts on a wide range of supplements if you’re interested 🙂

Have you tried anything from MyProtein or MyVitamin website?

Do you use protein powders?

What supplements do you take?

***I was sent these products for free to review but all opinions are my own***

Steak, chicken and peanut flour pancakes

Ah Monday. So we meet again.

Seems like just a few seconds ago it was Friday and I was leaving work. Ah well. And it seemed to rain from Friday until Saturday night.

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This is the dismal view from the window by my desk at work. It looks like February. It felt like February.

Friday night I decided to whip up a different meal from usual. You might have seen that I eat a lot of chicken and not much other meat. I don’t mind pork and I don’t mind beef mince but I can’t stand lamb. Not sure why but there we go. Anyway, I saw a recipe and knew I needed to try it. Main ingredient? Steak.

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Basically it’s steak with a honey marinade and goat’s cheese salad. I used THIS recipe but subbed the gorgonzola for goat’s cheese just because I love goat’s cheese. I also left out the walnuts and portabella mushroom as I thought I’d keep it simple.

The marinade was this:

  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbs. honey
  • 1 tbs. soy sauce
  • good splash of Worcestershire sauce

I used thin steaks (as the recipe says) which I was glad for as I’m not that adventurous to try a big old thick steak. They took next to no time to fry. So a very simple meal all in all. And very tasty. The goat’s cheese and steak went perfectly together.

Then we watched a whole lotta House of Cards (the new series we’ve gotten into as we signed up to Netflix). I love Kevin Spacey, there is something strangely attractive about him and his smooth talking. Am I alone in this?

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Saturday morning I managed to dodge the rain and get out for a 9 mile run before it started again with a vengeance about 30 mins after I got back. I knew that the run would be tough because of Thursday’s super charged run. Honestly, even if I wanted to run faster I couldn’t have. My legs were so fatigued.

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As soon as I started I knew it was going to be tough, so I kept the pace easy and just enjoyed being outside listening to my podcast. Sometimes it’s good to just let your mind wander and just relax into a nice pace.

And guess what I had for breakfast afterwards? You’ll be forgiven for guessing oatmeal, but I had something different. Yes. I know, shocking.

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I was going to have some basic pancakes but realised I didn’t actually have any regular flour. Ages ago I bought some peanut flour but have never used it so I thought I might as well give it a whirl.

Peanut Flour Pancakes (Serves 1)

  • 1/4 cup peanut flour
  • 1 tbs. oats
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbs. sugar/alternate preferred sweetener
  • 2 egg whites/1 egg 
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • pinch of salt

– Basically, mix all the ingredients together, then heat a tsp. oil in a frying pan and pour in the mixture in batches to make about 4-5 pancakes.

– Then add your favourite topping! I served mine with some mango that needed using up.

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A random choice perhaps and not particularly beautiful but it tasted pretty good. To be honest, I couldn’t really taste the peanut flour. It tasted just like normal pancakes, but I guess the mango could have helped disguise any differences hehe.

Hurrah a different breakfast for once! Though I did miss my oatmeal…well, you can’t have everything Winking smile

After getting ready we then had to take Alfie to the vets for his booster injection.

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Bless him, he was all fine in the waiting room sniffing around but as soon as we got into the vet’s room he was not a happy bunny. And he really didn’t want his injection and tried as hard as he could to avoid it Sad smile But in the end it was fine. Honestly he’s a big girl’s blouse. Also, check out the crazy dog hair products you can buy.

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They were £9.99 for a spray to make your dog’s fur smell nice. I don’t even spend £10 on my own shampoo!! I think Alfie would be offended if we suddenly turned him into a pampered pooch. In his mind I’m sure he believes he’s a big scary Rottweiler (incidentally, one of my friends has a 2-1 shampoo and conditioner for her pug…).

Saturday evening we met up with Ben’s mum and went out for dinner at a local pub. Usually this pub is quite nice; we’ve been a fair few times. But it wasn’t amazing. Ben and me shared a mezze board for starters which was tasty but nothing spectacular (and we know our mezze boards!)

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The falafels were nice, as was the hummus and obviously the sweet potato was good if not a bit huge for a starter. But three olives? Hmmm. And the square pastry things were tasteless.

The main I was really excited about, but the portion was quite small considering it was one of the more expensive things on the menu and this isn’t a fine dinning restaurant, it’s just a regular pub!

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It was turbot steak with mango salsa and more sweet potato. The two bits of sweet potato at the top were actually from Ben as he had them with his meal and didn’t want them. They must have had a stupid amount of sweet potato in the that kitchen!!

It was tasty but just a bit small (I was grateful for Ben’s off casts – though I was feeling a bit sweet potato’ed out by this point). But the company was lovely and we had a good natter Smile

Sunday (today) we enjoyed another roast chicken, this time a bit bigger and I left it to roast without adding anything to it as I wanted some plain meat for other meals in the week.

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I love how the house smells when you’re cooking a roast! So warming.

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I had a whole lot of chicken with veg and, er, yeah more sweet potato…I obviously wasn’t put off too much last night! Deliciously simple. I could have made gravy to go with it but we just fancied something really fresh and simple. And Ben wanted to drown his with lots of garlic mayo sauce. Lovely.

Speaking of Ben…he was keen for me to mention that he’s still going well with not drinking alcohol (he gave up four weeks ago in effort to get more healthy, run more and be ready for the 10k which is in 4 weeks time). Unfortunately his running has had to stop for a bit as he’s had some knee and back issues but hopefully, after seeing the physio a few times, he’ll be raring to go again. Though he is counting down the days until he can have a glass of wine again haha.

*** I’m still waiting to hear back from SlimKicker regarding the giveaway, I’ll post the winner as soon as I  know***

What did you get up to this weekend?

What’s your favourite way to roast a chicken?

Do you have a dog? What’s his feelings on the vets?

Friday catch-up and Valentine fail

It’s Fridaaaay! I think my absolute favourite time of the week is Friday evening just as I get in from work. It’s that glorious moment of ‘whew the week is done’.

This week has been pretty good in terms of key dates – Shrove Tuesday and Valentine’s Day. And also, my dad’s birthday (which is also 14th February). Happy birthday for yesterday, dad!

So Tuesday evening Ben and me celebrated Pancake Day with eating pancakes for dinner. Ben had the standard egg, milk and flour pancakes with sugar and lemon. I even managed to convince him to use wholemeal flour (OK, we didn’t have any regular flour so there wasn’t much choice). I’m not a big fan of the sugar and lemon variety, but luckily I was inspired earlier in the day from the lovely Ffion from ChocolateAndRaspberries blog.

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Definitely wanted to give them a go and such a simple recipe! So I microwaved some chopped sweet potato for around 5 minutes, let is cool and then whizzed it up with one egg with a hand blender and then fried a few batches in coconut oil. They didn’t quite work out as I hoped in terms of presentation – they fell apart. However, they tasted mighty delicious!!

IMG_3760I topped them off with some stewed plumbs (cooked in a bit of a water and sugar) and then added a good dollop of PB2. Really, really good. Thank you Ffion!

Thursday was obviously Valentine’s Day and my dad’s birthday and it was our work bake off and bake sale. I was planning on making lemon drizzle cake and some cheese scones but on Wednesday night I didn’t get back from work until fairly late…So I decided to just stick to cheese scones. I used THIS recipe and didn’t amend it at all.

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In true Anna fashion, something always goes wrong with me and baking. It’s usually because I don’t read recipes properly. It doesn’t matter so much in cooking but baking is more precise and so the problems arise for me. The recipe instructions said:

Lightly dust the surface with a little flour. roll out the dough no thinner than 2cm

I read that to be that I was to roll it out to be 2cm, no thicker. So I got very mini flat scones. And loads of them! They were more cheese biscuits than scones. They still tasted good though – and the recipe says they’re 130 calories per each one, but as I made twice as much they’re likely to be half that Smile

On Thursday morning I put my scones next to all the other bake goods that had been brought in and I felt mine didn’t quite living up to their peers. Ah well.

Bake off

There was a carrot cake, two banana breads, chocolate muffins, chocolate cupcakes, Mars Bar crispy cakes, ginger cake, lemon drizzle, my cheese scones/biscuits, more muffins, and a marble cake.

Well, we had to stand there and watch one of the managers try a small piece of each cake to make his mind up which was going to win. It was excruciating as I just wanted cake!! And watching him stuff his face was unbearable. At this point I couldn’t care less who won!

In the end one of the banana breads came third, the Mars Bar cake came second, and the marble cake came first.

Marble cake We later found out that it was actual the winner’s wife who made this cake, not him! Haha.

Anyway, though I wanted a bit of everything I went for two Mars Bar crispy cakes as honestly they were UNBELIVABLY good (I had one and just had to go back for a second), a small slice of carrot cake (very moist and yummy) and a small slice of lemon drizzle as this was my dad’s cake. I couldn’t believe it when he told me he’d baked. He never bakes. I have never known him to bake anything in my entire life.

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And it was very good!

I was hyped up and full of sugary goodness by 10.30am. Can’t complain.

We then sent them down to reception to sell for charity to the other companies in the building. I was really chuffed later as I saw a woman from another office walking along with two of my biscuits.

So it was Valentine’s Day. Ben and me had previously agreed to do nothing. I’m not that sentimental in that I need a card or chocolates to know Ben cares. Now I have nothing against other people celebrating it together and sending flowers – if that makes you happy, enjoy it! For Ben and me it was important at the beginning of our relationship when I was at university and he was at home, so sending flowers and cards was lovely as I didn’t get to see him that regularly. This year we just wanted to save some money and not bother.

BUT in the afternoon I was sat in a meeting when someone came in and told me there was a huge bunch of flowers in reception for me. I couldn’t stop the huge grin on my face and feebly saying “we said we weren’t doing Valentine’s Day this year…”. I skipped off down to the reception and found a box of flowers waiting for me to unwrap. The receptionist helped me and we giggled together about how lovely it was. I opened it to find twelve beautiful roses.

Ben’s never sent me roses before (other flowers, yes, but not roses) so I was surprised and initially thought it was a little bit of a cliché but these thoughts were quickly swept away with happy thoughts of how romantic Ben was in a very classic way.

As I headed upstairs I opened the little card that comes with it:

“Love you lots, love Rob xxx”

Who the hell is Rob?? They must have confused the cards! That’s all I could think. As I headed back to the office one of my colleagues saw the flowers and commented how lovely. I told him about the card and said how strange it was. He burst out laughing and said “Rob is the other Anna’s partner”.

Oh. My. God. Reception rang the WRONG Anna (there are two Anna’s in our office) and gave me her flowers. So I walked back into the office, sheepishly gave the other Anna her flowers and apologised for opening them. How embarrassing is that? The whole office thought it was hilarious. I did find it quite amusing (after my cheeks had faded from the beetroot colour). I mean, you have to laugh, right? I told Ben and he felt really bad.

As he should Winking smile

So that’s my week. I’ll do a recap on my running at the weekend – it’s been a hard week! And I have a 10 mile run planned for tomorrow morning so finger’s crossed it goes well.

Did you celebrate Pancake Tuesday? What kind of pancake did you have?

Did you enjoy Valentine’s Day? Any surprises?

What would you make for a bake off?