Birthday celebrations – friends, running and ALL the food

This weekend was a scorcher! I was so pleased the weather was good as I was off to London on Friday afternoon to see my friends to celebrate my birthday (which is today…booo! On a Monday!).

I headed up to London on the train and met my lovely friend, Charlotte, for dinner. We decided to go for a Mexican meal and it fully hit the spot! Charlotte’s just changed from being a veggie to eating meat, and this still blows my mind. She ordered a chicken skewer and chicken tacos, while I ordered chicken wings and chicken fajitas.It was SO good. It fully hit the spot of what I wanted that evening. I even got to finish off Charlotte’s skewer as it was just a bit “too meaty” for her (she’s still adjusting to being non-veggie) and she’s also a normal person who doesn’t eat stupid amounts like I do! And of course, a cheeky frozen margarita was in order.

And what finishes dinner perfectly? Some pudding of course! I was on the hunt for something tasty…and found a lovely little waffle and dessert cafe to satisfy my cravings.From there we headed to some bars for drinks and then met our other friend Laura, who lives in London, and headed to Camden for some dancing. It was such a fun evening. I’ve been feeling a bit stressed and a bit frustrated with a few things so this was EXACTLY what I needed. We got to Laura’s, where we were to be staying overnight, at 2.30am. Pooped!

Now being the running-obsessed person I am, I had my alarm set for 7.30am to head to Wormwood Scrubs to meet our other friend, Kate, for some parkrun tourism. She’d driven down from Bristol and had found Wormwood Scrubs parkrun was the easiest for her to get to and a good spot for her to leave her car without paying a fortune. Also, she spec’ed out the place and found that the local running clubhouse had showers! So she brought me a towel and some shower gel to use, bless her.

When my alarm went off at 7.30am I was a little worse for wear but got myself together to leave by 7.45am and onto the tube. I was a bit of a walking zombie but got there on time and with no issues. Have I finally become a real adult!?Wormwood Scrubs is next to a huge prison (you can see it in the bottom left photo above). I had no idea but it was literally right next to the park. Interesting!Wormwood Scrubs parkrun is all run on grass and is 2.5 laps. It’s a bit uneven underfoot and though it appears flat, does actually have some deceptively sneaky inclines. I was having some serious hay fever issues that morning (damn Stingy Anna for buying Tesco’s own hay fever tablet) so this was giving me problems. Lots of sneezing and my eyes were SO itchy. Being in the middle of a field didn’t help.Nothing huge or could be called a hill, but it does increase the effort level. Considering I was feeling a bit, er, tender and the temperature was already at 23 degrees I made the sensible decision to go easy. Actually, that’s a lie; I couldn’t have gone faster even if I tried!!

I finished drenched in sweat and glad to stop. That was a tough one! I got 23:07 and was happy with that!

Sadly my friend Kate lost her footing a bit and hurt her calf. She had to walk a fair bit of it. But she powered through. Hopefully it’ll heal up quickly – we have another obstacle race soon!Wormwood is a really small parkrun. They regularly get less than 100 people there each week (it was actually a course attendance record on Saturday with 107 people). It was very friendly and felt very welcoming. It was nice to go to such a small one. It gives it a nice community spirit feel.

Thankfully we were able to find and use the showers in the nearby sports area. They were very basic but they did the job! Very grateful for Kate bringing her shower stuff as otherwise we’d have had to have been sweaty all day because we weren’t going back to Laura’s. Instead, after showering, we headed to Covent Garden to meet Laura and Charlotte again. They had had a lie-in (very jealous) and were feeling a bit more refreshed than I did when I woke!

We then headed away from the main Covent Garden area to look for somewhere for brunch. It was now past 11 and we were all hungry. I spotted a nice looking place but it was heaving and had no seats so we headed to a pub across the road. It was empty. I was dubious. But with no other nearby options we decided to go for it. I am SO pleased we did. And, to be fair, it wasn’t exactly peak pub time so you can’t really blame it for not being busy!

I ordered a Full English (of course) and honestly it ranks as one of my top three Full Englishes, EVER.It came with home-made hash browns. Normally I’m not a hash brown fan but home-made? I thought I’d give them a go. And I’m so glad I did!

The whole meal was incredible. Te beans were homemade and had a slightly spicy kick. Everything tasted amazing. I was definitely well refuelled!

We then walked to Green Park (with iced Starbucks, it was SO hot) and relaxed. We passed through Leicester Square and saw them setting up the premier for the new Transformers film. Very cool (though I don’t actually like the films. Urgh Michael Bay).It was such a beautiful day and so nice to catch up and chat with my friends. We weren’t a full group as one of our friends has just recently had a baby (this blows my mind) but it was nice to see the other girls.

Then we headed back to Covent Garden to indulge in a very tasty treat. This was my only request for our time in London, having seen these bad boys on Instagram and heard about how tasty they are. Freakshakes from Maxwell’s. Oh. My. God.A salted caramel milkshake with a salted caramel donut on top. My gawwwwwwd it was So good.I mean, I was covered in stickiness trying to eat this but it was phenomenal. And yes, I finished it! A perfect end to what was a really lovely, lovely birthday celebration. Even without all the amazing food, it was just so nice to have a beautifully sunny weekend chilling (and dancing!) with my friends. I went home very happy (and possibly in a deep sugar coma).

Have you ever had a freakshake?

If you had good weather, how did you enjoy it?

Have you ever seen a film premier?

Foodie block and recovery

Hello lovelies! Isn’t it chilly? The South of England hasn’t been affected too badly with snow but I know a lot of other places have been hit so I hope everyone is safe and not suffering too much with the chaos that usually ensues in Britain when it snows. And all those not in Britain but in other snowy places too! Where I work was dusted just a little bit but nothing major.

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Everything just looks so beautiful with a white overlay…

And on a snow-related note, Ben and me have booked our holiday to go skiing in Bulgaria for two weeks time! I’m so excited. I’ve never been skiing before (except at a dry ski slopes) so I’m hoping I will pick it up and enjoy it. We will have lessons as well though. I’m just worried as honestly I am the most clumsy person alive. Knowing my luck I’ll slip up just walking to the hotel and break something!!

But back to business. It’s WIAW. That lovely half-way point in the week where we can nosey around at other blogger’s food. Check out Jenn’s blog for more info!

I’ll show you what I ate on Sunday as this week has been rather boring and repetitive (halloumi salad again, tuna salad at work, chicken…).

So on Sunday morning I got up after a lazy lie-in and decided to finally crack on open the waffle-maker my parents got me for Christmas. I wanted to use up some pumpkin that I still had lurking in the freezer so I flicked through some recipes and then decided on THIS one (which I’ve previously used for pancakes). In retrospect the batter was probably a little too thick for my waffle-maker, but with my lack of waffle-making experience I missed this vital point.

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Hmmm, and this was the better one of the two. Doesn’t look like the waffle in the recipe picture does it haha.

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Aaaand here’s the second beauty. I have much to learn about waffle making I think…

However, despite it’s rather unkempt appearance, it tasted divine. I dolloped a big spoonful of Alpro soya yogurt on top and had a side portion of PB2.

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It definitely filled a hole!

After breakfast there was the funness that is household chores (woohoo for ironing and hoovering…not). Then Ben’s mum popped over for a visit which was lovely. Her birthday is soon and we were discussing birthday ideas which is all very exciting.

Lunch was another portion of butternut squash soup with chickpeas using my frozen coconut milk method.

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I am stuffed after this soup. Honestly, stuffed. I probably should make smaller portions…nahhh.

Lately I’ve been in a foodie rut; experiencing a foodie block if you will. I just couldn’t seem to work out just what I fancied eating. I love making new recipes and trying new things but nothing was appealing. Just the same old (dare I say, boring) meals were all that I could think of. Now there’s nothing wrong with cooking the same thing over and over if you really enjoy it. But I like to experiment and find new meals that I love. I also love spending an evening at the weekend cooking listening to my new favourite podcast Marathon Talk now that I’m doing Jantastic (thanks, Maria!). I find cooking very relaxing.

But over the weekend I got myself out of that rut! I made a two-toned cottage pie on Saturday night:IMG_3455

Half normal potato for Ben and half cauliflower mash for me.

Then for dinner on Sunday I tried out THIS recipe. As Ben and me aren’t huge beef eaters I decided to switch it to some turkey breasts instead so basically it’s balsamic turkey and pepper stew.IMG_3467

It was quite rich and very filling. But absolutely delicious! A heart, warming, comforting stew to commiserate the end of the weekend.

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If you’re a beef fan I’d totally recommend using beef as I think the flavours would probably work amazingly. But I’m just not a huge fan of the chewy texture. Turkey was a good alternative though.

My half-marathon training is still going well (I’m sorry if I’m becoming a bit of a broke record on this). I’m really enjoying the variety of runs and feel like I’m improving. My last run was Monday and it was a 3 mile speed run (basically I just ran as fast as I could).

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I was quite happy with that – especially as that was on a very cold Monday morning. Sniffing all the way, lovely.

I’ll be running at lunch today with two guys I work with so that should be fun. If I’m honest I much prefer just getting up early and getting the run done and then feeling happy for the rest of the day. I’m not a fan of delaying it until later. Plus, the shower at work is fairly rubbish.

Shower

But running with people is much better than running alone! So I think we’ll probably do 3 miles? Who knows!

My strength training now comprises of a quick 20 minutes once a week (mainly to maintain my ability of a 3 minute plank – heaven knows how long it took to get to that point!!)…I know I should keep it up but with all the running and Pilates, I honestly cannot be bothered. Oops. Did I say that out loud? After the half I’ll get back into it but it’s not my main priority now.

And that’s all folks! Have a great Wednesday – it’s practically Thursday now surely..?

What do you prefer: running or strength training?

What new recipes have you been enjoying – please share!! Smile