Running, family time and fro-yo

How nice was the sunshine this Bank Holiday weekend?? Normally when there’s a long weekend we get a lot of rain. I realise not everyone gets the Bank Holiday in August (sorry Scotland) but hopefully everyone had a nice weekend anyway.

I had a really good one. I didn’t go anywhere or do anything too crazy but it did feel a bit jam-packed.

On Saturday morning I was finally back to my home parkrun, Netley Abbey. I went down early as usual to help set-up and jokingly re-introduced myself to everyone as I haven’t been there in over a month! A couple of weeks before I went to Austria… and then I got injured and last week went to Lee-On-Solent parkrun, so yeah quite a while!

A few days earlier I’d been suffering with a random flu-like illness (I had stomach cramps, was hot and cold, achy and super tired). I had to skip my run on Thursday night annoyingly but this was clearly the best thing to do because by Saturday morning I was fine again (whew!). It was very warm and the sun was shining but I was looking forward to running.

Photo Credit: Glen Tyreman

I felt myself get stronger as the run continued and gave my legs a bit of a turnover on the final lap. I saw a few of my running club friends ahead and tried to catch one of them but they got away at the end. It was nice though to have a burst of speed! My knee felt fine as well which was great.

What was not great was my friend Terry, who was celebrating his birthday, grabbing me in a big bear hug and drenching me in his sweat. I was rather disgusted but let him off because he said it made his day, ha! He’s a lovely guy, but yes rather sweaty post-run. I had to take off my top and let it dry on a tree!! Thank you very much, Terry! (I had a jacket with me)Afterwards I grabbed a cold drink in the cafe with my friends and we chilled outside in the sunshine.

Later on I met with my sister, Rachel, for Nando’s and a cinema trip. She’s 2.5 years older than me and we don’t get to see each other as much we’d like as she often works weekends. It’s nice to see her one-on-one as, though we’re SO different, we just slot into place and have a good natter and a gossip. She has so much more common sense and adulting skills than I have so it’s always nice to hear her take on something or just to have a laugh and a giggle.

We enjoyed some Nando’s chicken (she’s not quite a glutinous pig I am and had a far more reasonable order of a half chicken with some sides compared to my whole chicken and salad…).Despite eating stupid amounts I really fancied some pick ‘n’ mix for the film. It’s been a while since I’ve had some. You can’t beat some super cheap sweets in my opinion. Yes they’re full of awful ingredients and so much sugar, but sometimes you just need something basic.The film we saw was Logan Lucky and it was brilliant. If you like Ocean’s 11 then you’ll love this. It was quick, quirky and hilarious. Daniel Craig is fantastic. It’s one to see twice I think.

Sunday morning I had a lovely lie-in until 8.30am before meeting my friend Mike at 9am for a long run. I’d managed to persuade Mike to go a little later as I knew I’d have a late on the night before. Yes it’d probably be a little cooler an hour before but not hugely. It’d probably been best to go at 6ish if we’d have wanted to have beaten the heat but sometimes sleep wins!

The plan was to run 12 miles together and then I’d go on and run four on my own. Mike is now tapering down for the New Forest Marathon (that we’re running together) but I’m building up again as I missed so many runs when I was injured. It’s not ideal but it is what it is!

We both sensibly took water as it was so warm outside. Mike wanted to do the first six miles around 9.20min/mile pace and then the last six 9min/miles. I was happy with whatever! I was glad we weren’t going to be running much faster than that as my fitness isn’t in it’s best and I had a long way ahead of me to run.

Luckily where we ran there was a spot to refill our water bottles up as it really was a hot one. And Mike’s route (yes I’m fully blaming Mike here) was quite undulating as well. Oof the run was not an easy one at all!We struggled a little at the end. Mike was starting to feel a bit dizzy. I was now dreading my four solo miles, wondering if I should just call it quits after 12. It was very tempting. But I decided that when we stopped I’d run up to my flat, drink some cold water and grab my phone and headphones so I could keep motivated by listening to a podcast.

When we stopped Mike looked a bit concerned about how the run had gone. But I tried to convince him that it was ridiculously hot and he’d run TWENTY MILES the week before. Marathon training really does play with your head. When you’ve had good solid training, like Mike has over the past few months, it will catch up with you when you start to taper down. You just have to remember you’ll feel a bit more fresh come marathon day and everything you’ve done before will come into play on the day.My four miles went well. I suddenly had a second wind and was able to zone out to my podcast and focus on just getting the last bit done. I told myself just do three but went a route that meant I had to do four (oh the games we play to get through tough runs). I felt really good when I finished. Gave me a bit of confidence for the marathon!

I quickly got showered and sorted (how I DETEST blowdrying my hair when I’m still super hot from a run) and then grabbed some porridge to eat while my mum drove us to Southampton West Quay for a bit of retail therapy. I must admit, I felt shattered after sitting down! You forget how hard long runs are when you haven’t done one in a while. This is why it’s so important for me to do a couple before the big day.

We had a lovely day shopping (though a big disappointment when we found that the West Quay Starbucks had disappeared!). I got some nice things from H&M, my favourite clothes shop, and we had a cheeky frozen yogurt to finish the day. By this point I really was drained and had a terrible headache. I was staying at my parent’s house that evening (I haven’t moved in yet) and couldn’t seem to work out if I needed a nap, food or water. I was probably quite dehydrated. I camped out on my parent’s outside furniture with a Starbucks I’d bought on the way over, but also made sure to drink water as well.I text Mike and he said he had a bad headache too. I reckon we both caught a bit of sunstroke, being out in the sun for 2.5 hours. I’d never sunbathe for that long! Even after taking some headache tablets the headache still lingered. The next morning it had thankfully disappeared but god my legs ached. I am definitely not in peak marathon running shape!

That morning I headed to the gym for a bit of strength work and then my dad and me walked to the butchers to get some BBQ meat. We thought it’d be about a mile and a bit but it turned out to be almost 3 miles! And it was really warm. But it was a nice walk, and it helped shake my legs out a bit.

So I finished Monday up with a lovely family BBQ and feeling a little more confident for the marathon…in two weeks!

What did you get up to over the weekend?

Do you ever get headaches after a long run?

What’s your favourite clothes shop?

Post Marathon

I’ve had such a blissful week off but now it’s back to reality. It was exactly what I needed. A whole week of no gym and no running post marathon.

After I finished the marathon I was walking along on cloud nine. I was just so flabbergasted at what I’d achieved. I genuinely hadn’t expected it to go as well as it did so I was fairly chuffed and surprised with myself.

As we headed out of the race village we spotted the area where the winners of the horse races go (the race village was situated in the Chester Racecourse). It did look cordoned off from the public…but the gate was slightly ajar and I couldn’t help but quickly grab a few amusing photos.chester-racecourseAs we snuck out of the area a few fellow runners noticed the ideal photo spot and trickled through. We felt a bit naughty but hey ho, it’s got to be done!

As food is obviously a crucial factor in any post-marathon experience 😉 I’d previously hunted a good spot online for lunch earlier that week. This saved us having to walk around Chester hunting while I slowly become more and more hangry. We had a bit of time to kill as I’d sensibly booked the table for 2pm which would give me some time to feel a bit more normal post marathon. For me it goes something like this: ooof don’t show me any food… bleurgh food… can’t eat a single thing… I can’t even look at a cake right now… SHOW ME ALL THE FOOD… I NEED FEEDING. The switch-over happens very quickly 😉

The restaurant was a Turkish restaurant called Meze. It was an ideal spot for me because it was all about the meat but it was actually fairly healthy so it was ideal for my parents, who are trying to lose weight. It had lots of options like grilled meats, hummus, vegetarian plates, salads and rice so it was a good all-rounder. I went for the mixed grill and it was divine.img_5569Very handy that as I got a bit chilly I had this lovely long-sleeved technical t-shirt to put on! The restaurant was really nice and the service was fantastic. The chef even sent over a freebie little plate for us to try – it was some sort of Turkish-style salsa creation. Very tasty.
After eating, we wandered around Chester and had a look at the Cathedral. The bells were going and the sun was shining so it was perfect.chester-cathderalAfter we got back to the cottage and I’d showered, we headed to the hot tub. Honestly I had been dreaming about this moment. And it was FABULOUS.img_5595Well it would have been fabulous had I not dramatically face-planted into the to tub when I got in. I slipped, fell forwards and then knocked my shin on the side. It wasn’t quite the graceful dip I was hoping to achieve and it was rather painful. I now have the most ridiculous bruises on my shin *sighs*. But the bottle of Prosecco we shared helped!

If I could do this after every marathon I definitely would (sit in a hot tub, not the falling in part). Bruised shin aside, I didn’t actually ache that much. I remember after my first few marathons every step was tough, though my calf was definitely feeling unhappy and niggly.

The rest of the week was very low key and chilled. I woke naturally most mornings between 7am and 8am, had a leisurely breakfast in the cottage (the ease of having self-catering accommodation) and then we’d set off to explore nearby places, such as Ludlow.ludlowAnd Powis Castle, which was just beautiful.powis-castleIt was full of peacocks as well, wandering about all casually. The grounds were beautiful and we had a lovely cup of tea in the cafe (isn’t that what National Trust locations are all about??)img_0902Over the week I ate lots of good food of course. Nothing crazily outrageous. Just a few scones here or there, some hearty sandwiches and a few puddings.
post-marathon-foodI did lots of walking and it was just so blissful. We were very lucky with the weather we had as well. Lots of sunshine, albeit a chill in the air indicating that autumn is very much en route.img_5655One of my favourite days was going on a 5 mile hike with my granddad around Longnor.

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We did this on the Tuesday and it was a perfect way to stretch the legs a bit after the marathon. Though during the steepest sections I could definitely tell I’d run 26.2 miles!longnor-hike

It took just over three hours and was fairly hard going but we survived. Not too shabby for an almost 83 year old and a post-marathoner, eh? Both my grandparents are in fantastic shape – heading off for bike rides and long walks.

It was, as always, lovely spending time with my grandparents and my family. It was just nice to switch off, sleep lots and rest. I ate whatever I fancied and reset myself basically. On the last day we went back to Chester before heading to pick up the dogs from my other granddad who lives in Stoke and we had a lovely time shopping and then a gorgeous meal at The Botanist.the-botanistI had literally a basket of chicken wings which weren’t amazing but tasty nonetheless (bit too overdone) – though the presentation was amusing. But the showstoppers were the main and pudding. I had a deli board for my main which you could pick lots of different things to have. I went for a baked Camembert with fig syrup, rollmops, honey glazed ham hummus and a fougasse bread (yes, the same as in the Bake Off!). It was delicious.

But the pudding… oh the pudding. It was the perfect end to such a fantastic holiday. A baked cookie with toffee ice cream and salted caramel sauce.img_5843I died and went to heaven. GLORIOUSLY tasty.

Though it’s sad it’s over, I feel very happy and content now I’m back. Exactly how you should do after a good holiday 🙂

What do you like to do after a big race or marathon?

What’s your favourite type of bread?

Have you been hiking anywhere interesting?

Sunny parkrun and I’m long running again!

This weekend was nice and chilled. Sometimes you need a weekend that you don’t do much and catch up on life, you know?

I headed to Netley Abbey parkrun on Saturday morning. I got there early, as usual, to help set-up the course. The chapel is being renovated for the next 18 months so the course has to change due to where the construction is going on. This meant a bit of confusion and rushing around as it wasn’t our standard set-up. Both the start and the finish were in different places and though the general route remains largely the same (still have that hill we have to do three times) it is a bit different and meant that we had to put our 1k markets, cones and arrows in different places.

IMG_3521Photo credit: Ken Grist

I’d brought Alfie with me as I knew my friend Mike wasn’t going to be running and said he was happy to look after him while I ran. I always feel mean if I leave Alfie behind when the weather is so lovely. So it was nice to bring him and give him chance to race around when we set up.

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It was quite warm so the run wasn’t that easy and there seemed to be a lot more exposure to the sun on the new route.

Netley July parkrun 3Photo credit: Ken Grist

I listened to some music for once, which I haven’t done in ages but as I had my Aftershokz headphones I thought it might be a nice change. They still let me hear my surroundings so I don’t feel as ‘locked in’ when I run.

Netley July parkrunPhoto credit: Ken Grist

Each lap I waved to Mike and Alfie. Alfie at first didn’t really notice me and then when he saw me his little face just looked like “where are you going? Come back!”.

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My time was 23:10 which I was chuffed with as I did put some effort in (it was about a minute quicker than I’ve been doing recently). I think the course is a bit easier than it used to be though as it has less turns but I’ll take it!

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Then I headed back to Mike and Alfie to cheer some of the others in. The weather was just beautiful but I was a sweaty mess!

There were some great milestones achieved this parkrun: a few 50s and a 250th! And course that meant cake…

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Very tasty! Then we headed to the cafe for a drink. I had an ice cold sparkling water instead of my peppermint tea as it was far too warm and I treated Alfie to some dog ice cream!

IMG_3503Whoops, upside down sorry!

Basically it’s frozen fruit puree with a few other relatively normal and human-safe ingredients so we all tried a bit. Not especially creamy but nice enough. Alfie certainly liked it (though I had to ‘mush’ it up for him as he couldn’t be pigged to spend his time licking away it).

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Then it was back home to have some breakfast, shower and then head to my parent’s house. They’re currently on holiday and had asked me to check in on the house and water their plants. As I was also meeting up with some friends that evening who lived in the area I planned on spending the night as well. It also meant my run the next day could be along my favourite coastal route.

I took Alfie down the beach for a nice long walk and it was just bliss.

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I bought an ice cold Fanta Zero from the ice cream van and was in heaven. The walk took about an hour and I listened to a podcast and might have played some Pokémon Go Winking smile Though this absolutely rinsed my battery.

I went to my friend’s house a bit later on and we ordered in some takeaway and had a very nice chilled evening watching the old classic, Wall Street. It was a lovely relaxed evening.

The next morning I got up and headed out for my first longish run in a while. I planned to do eight miles as I’d run five miles previously and if I’m planning on doing Chester marathon in the beginning of October I need to be increasing my mileage. I didn’t want too big a jump but I felt eight would be good.

Though it was overcast the run was still hot. I felt fairly comfortable though and the miles ticked by. I briefly thought about a tap that I knew was at the beach and would be at mile 6ish. I probably could have survived the run without water but I couldn’t get it out of my head. When I got there I couldn’t see anywhere that it said drinking water (nor that it wasn’t drinking water). But I knew people used the water for their beach huts – though I wasn’t sure if they boiled it first or not. In the end the desire for water was too much and I decided to risk it. It was nice and cold. Finger’s crossed I’m OK!

Somehow I’d gotten my route wrong (how do I always manage this?) and ended up going passed 8 miles. I decided to continue on to 8.5 miles then walk home. But then when I reached 8.5 I still felt good so pushed to 9. Then I stopped and walked home, which was about less than half a mile. I felt good though definitely like I’d run 9 miles, of which I haven’t done in a good few weeks!

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It was so nice to have a run that felt good. My hamstring is pretty much back to normal. After seeing my physio a couple of times and, as I’ve said before, he didn’t think it was my actual hamstring that was the issue. He worked on loosening my back (which was probably tweaking my sciatic nerve) and realigned my pelvis. So things have been a lot better. I’m back to squatting and deadlifting at the gym again (though not stiff-legged deadlifts just yet).

The rest of the day was life admin and chores. I also had a wonderful nap in the afternoon, perfect Sunday chill time. So basically my weekend was quiet but lovely Smile

Did you go to parkrun this weekend?

Would you drink from a suspect tap if you were thirsty?

NY’s resolutions, parkrun overload and the National Trust

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions I have to be honest. I think the only thing I’d like to do better this year is not be late All. The. Time.

I’ve mentioned this before on my blog I’m sure but I just don’t leave myself enough contingency time. In the morning I won’t add in time for my ‘faffing’, i.e. tidying, swapping shoes at the last minute, forgetting stuff, spilling stuff… I’m a nightmare. I literally arrive everywhere at least 5 minutes late. So there we go, New Year’s resolution: be on time.

In terms of what I hope for the year, like I said in a previous post, I don’t really know. I just want to be happy. I’m not sure how that happiness will look though. I’m at a strange point in my life as everything I thought I was working towards changed very quickly. Basically my motto is “just keep swimming” (or I suppose in my case, just keep running). I have a lovely flat, Alfie, good friends and a very loving family so things are pretty good. I also have no real PB ambitions for the year, just healthy happy running. I’m still loving the gym so hopefully continue on with that and keep getting stronger.

On the subject of running… After the double parkrun on New Year’s Day I was starting to feel a tad parkrun’ed out. So many parkruns within a short amount of time! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret them and I’ll always love parkrun but the weather on the Saturday just gone was awful and for once I just fancied staying in bed.IMG_7163

It was cold, windy and very very wet. I didn’t really want to be there but life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows (especially not in Britain) so I got myself out of bed and down there.

At the start, after jokingly debating with a friend about sitting back in the car with the heat on, I de-layered and got ready to run. At least it made me want to run quickly (well, as quick as I can lately and with that wind). The winter route goes down along the seafront bit which was just horrendous with the wind. It comes straight off the water and hits you sideways. I ran with (well, held on to!) a running club friend, Jim, and he helped pace me until I was able to push on on the last lap, after having gotten a second wind (no pun intended…).

Netley parkrun pace

A fellow blogger, April, was there as well which was nice – she almost out-sprinted me at the end but she was too polite, bless her. Take no prisoners I say! 😉

I got 23:59 which I was happy with. Straight away after finishing I grabbed my coat. Normally I’m really hot after running but I was quickly back to being cold. We were a miserable lot packing parkrun up, soaked, cold and wind-swept. Come on springtime!

The shower I had at home felt so good. It was ridiculously hot and strong so it was amazing. I didn’t want to come out! Thankfully the rain and wind died down and my parents and me met up to go to the National Trust’s Mottisfont Abbey and gardens.IMG_7171

I made sure to wear my wellies! The rain mostly held off and we had a lovely time just walking around the grounds and house. It was very quiet so it was nice and peaceful.
Mottisfont Abbey

Bottom right: David Breuer-Weil’s Alien

There was a crazy statue (sculpture? Not sure how to describe it) of what looked like a man with his head in the ground. Apparently it’s of an alien that had landed from space… Random but cool.

We had a nice little hot drink in the coffee shop (I love this about the National Trust, there are always coffee shops!). I forwent the cake as I wasn’t fancying it (shock horror, I know) due to the Christmas excesses I’d been readily indulging in. After eating everything under the sun I’m ready to ease back into normal eating (I suppose cake eating is my normal eating though…).

I’m tempted to get a National Trust pass as it’s such a nice way to spend a day and we have several locations near us (for non-UK readers, National Trust is a conservation organisation that looks after historic buildings, gardens and areas and you can pay to look around them). It’s nice to have somewhere to walk and look around. Something to ponder over anyway for the future!

What weather do you really dislike? Mine is wind. I can deal with rain and cold, but wind is a killer.

What day trips do you enjoy?

What National Trust sites have you been to?

My little holiday in Wales

I’m back from North Wales where I spent a lovely few days with my family. It just goes too quickly though, doesn’t it?

On Thursday afternoon I hopped into my dad’s car, with Alfie, and headed up the motorway to Stoke-on-Trent. My granddad lives there with his two dogs and had kindly agreed to look after Alfie and my parent’s three dogs while we were in Wales. My other granddad, who we were going to be staying with, is allergic to dogs so we sadly couldn’t bring them along.

It was nice to see my granddad in Stoke, albeit briefly. He makes awesome cups of tea and always has some funny stories. He’s also reindeer obsessed and every year he goes to Scotland to spend several weeks helping out with a reindeer sanctuary up there. He used to be a joiner before he retired and is always carving and making crazy creations from reindeer antlers that they’ve naturally dropped.

Reindeer garage

 

On his garage he painted a beautiful silhouette of reindeer too.

We then hopped back in the car for the last part of our journey to Llandudno. We left Southampton at 2pm and arrived at 9pm! I was definitely feeling a bit cabin feverish.

Friday morning we had a lovely walk in Conwy.

Conwy

The weather thankfully was good and we enjoyed a nice coffee sat outside a quaint cafe.

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In Conwy they have an interactive Alice and Wonderland trail for children to follow. There are wooden statues of different characters all over the town.

Alice and Wonderland Conwy

I saw Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and the Rabbit. I’ve previously seen the Red Queen but that’s all I’ve found so far.

We also did a little bit of shopping and I found an amazing sweet shop where I just couldn’t help buying a few chocolates and marzipan fruit.

Conwy Sweet Shop

 

I had a little mosey in Dorothy Perkins and bought a new top as well…the first non-fitnessitem of clothing I’ve bought in a while!!

My grandparents are keen golfers (and despite my granddad being 82 he’s still a very keen walker and cyclist!) so for dinner they took us to their golf club’s restaurant. I had a delicious gammon steak with fried egg and new potatoes. And for pudding a blueberry Bakewell slice with ice cream. Heavenly!

Golf club pudding

Before getting injured I’d hoped to be able to run the Conwy parkrun on the Saturday but sadly this wasn’t possible. Every part of me desperately wanted to go but I stuck to my initial decision. I’d rather keep on recovering rather than attempt something foolish and delay it longer. It was tipping down with rain in the morning which was some consolation to not running, but I was still grumpy.

Luckily there was the Convwy Taste Festival going on over the weekend so I could take my mind off things by enjoying stupid amounts of food. The festival was just next to the water and down from the Conwy Castle – only a few minutes drive from my grandparent’s house handily!

Conwy Taste Festival

Despite the poor weather, the place was packed! You paid £8.50 for access to the large tents, where inside were loads of food and drink merchants selling their wares. And, importantly, letting you try them!!

ConwyTaste Festival

I tried everything, as you can imagine. From chilli jams to sweet chutneys, from Welsh cakes to shortbread… balsamic vinegars, oils, hand-made marshmallows (the choc mint flavour was incredible), curry sauces, BBQ sauces, dried meats, pasties, pies, bread, waffles (best taster ever – a chunk of waffle dipped in caramel sauce…I considered sneaking back to that one to try it again), yogurts, fudge, sausages, meat and, of course, cakes!

Rocky road

I couldn’t not buy a slice of the rocky road…or the peanut butter millionaire shortbread style cake. And then later a large slice of blondie. It took all the effort in the world to not gobble them all up quickly.

After we had all enjoyed so many different foods we decided to head outside of the main tent to look for lunch (I know, because at this point we were soooo hungry ;-)). There were so many different street food options it was quite overwhelming.

Conwy food festival

Thai, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Chinese, English (bangers & mash, fish & chips), pulled pork and BBQ, Caribbean, Moroccan, mussels… I literally walked up and down the street for a good ten minutes having no idea what to have. I did really fancy a large skewer of tandoori chicken but seen as how we were out for an Indian that evening I knew I needed to go safe and not have anything spicy or similar to what I’d eat that evening.

Lobster roll

In the end I went for a lobster roll and fries. I saw it being made and it looked amazing. And it tasted so good. Not the cheapest street food I’d ever had at £10 (compared to the £3.50 hot dog my dad had!) but it was fully worth it. My mum got a sausage roll from a different place to my dad and for the same price as my dad’s they packed in pretty much an entire pack of sausages!! Helpfully, we were all there to assist her 😉

After a quick warm-up coffee we carried on walking around looking at the other food stalls (a few more tasters…) and some of the craft stalls as well. My day was made when I saw a dinosaur walking about – with a fully functioning roar.

Conwy food festival dinosaur

Such a great day. I loved it! We all agreed we definitely wanted to come back next year. It was a lot of fun. I came away with three cakes and a meat pack containing a zebra sausage (!!), a boar burger, pigeon breast, pheasant breast, venison steak, black pudding and a slice of bacon. Amazing.

That evening we went to a local Indian and had lots more food…

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I had a mixed Asian BBQ started followed by my favourite, tandoori chicken with onion salad. Yum.

I had a great long weekend with my family and it was sad to leave on the Sunday. It was nice to not be at home looking at my empty house still not moving and still not running *sighs*. I would have loved to have done some running while I was away, in such beautiful scenery (and apparently my granddad was going to bike alongside me) but it wasn’t to be. There’s always next time I suppose!

How was your weekend?

Would you have enjoyed the Taste Festival?

Do you like street food? What would you have chosen?