A failed Iceland trip but a fun staycation

Kyle and I were meant to have gone to Iceland a couple of weekends ago.

Originally I had, on a last minute whim, signed up to the marathon as it was the only one still going on and, it seemed, Iceland were pretty COVID secure. Sadly within hours of signing up I received an email to say it’d been cancelled. I received my money back but it was disappointing nonetheless. Of course a worldwide pandemic is far more serious than missing a marathon so it is what it is. We could still travel to Iceland and had booked our flights and accommodation so decided to still go anyway for a nice short little trip. We knew we’d need to take a COVID test at the airport but otherwise all seemed fine.

Then a few days before we were to go our tour guide for one of the trips we had planned while we were there rang me and told me the rules had changed and we were now required to quarantine. As we were only to be there for four days it meant it would be pointless for us to go. We were super grateful for the guy to let us know as otherwise we’d have only found out the day before from the airline and we wouldn’t have been able to get our refunds back in time.

It was a shame of course but to be honest we were probably too gung-ho to plan such a holiday so soon. So for now we’re going to stay put in the UK. Things are just too changeable right now! We still had Friday, Monday and Tuesday off so we decided to plan in some fun things locally.

On the Friday we walked down to Southsea (a couple of miles from where we live) and had a fantastic meal in Meat and Barrel.

A true “Anna and Kyle special” involving loaded fries, chicken wings and a burger. It was delicious! I can never get bored of chicken wings…

Saturday we decided to head to Arundel, which is only about 30 minutes down the road from us.

The cathedral

I can’t remember the last time I went and now cannot wait to go back.

It was such a lovely day trip. Arundel is so beautiful! Proper oldie British village with a cathedral and castle, and lots of pretty areas to walk around. And you can’t move for tea rooms! We loved it.


We had a gorgeous walk along the river and lunch in one of the local pubs, The Red Lion. And I’ve discovered that I really love a ploughman’s.

Something so British about meat, cheese and salad on a plate with a chunk of bread. Delicious. Kyle had two sandwiches 😉

We also picked up some cake from a very quirky café called LG Cafe for later. They sold so many types of brownies and yumyums – so good! And even American style sheet cake, which I’d always wondered what was like when I’d seen American films or programmes (it was very sweet, lots of fluffy buttercream in the middle and super soft).

On Sunday I went for a lovely, albeit wet, 15 miles. It was just lovely to be running in cooler temperatures.

Though I did somehow get stung by a wasp mid-run! It flew into my face and then I felt a sharp stab in my arm and saw it buzz about me. I revved up my speed very quickly, I can tell you!

Then on Monday we headed to the Isle of Wight with our car for a little day-trip.

It’s a short drive to the ferry for us and not too expensive to go over so was a perfect little adventure for us. I’ve only ever been to Ryde once with school on a school trip so I was excited to see more of the Island.

We headed over to Compton Bay where we parked up and then walked around 2.5 miles to Freshwater Bay and back again.

It was very windy but otherwise perfect weather. We’re so lucky to live nearby to some truly beautiful places and in a way it’s good that we can’t go abroad easily at the moment so we can enjoy the local scenery instead.

We then had a bit of a nightmare finding somewhere for lunch as we thought we would be OK with the Garlic Farm (the biggest garlic farm in the UK – we’d heard some good things). Sadly we were just too late for food. We then had a mad dash around the place trying to find somewhere still serving lunch (it was close to 4pm now) before our ferry was to head home. Fourth time lucky we found a really lovely restaurant called The Breeze.

They did some delicious salt and pepper chicken wings for starters.

And for main I had another ploughman’s (when I like something I go to town on it haha).

It was a lovely long weekend with a good mix of relaxing, eating and exploring new places. Perfect despite our original trip not happening.

Have you ever been to Iceland?

Have you got any trips planned?

Did you want to go abroad?

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Old favourites and getting some structure into my running

A lot to catch up on recently…

So firstly, I’ve become a bit green fingered in our new house (and garden). I never thought this day would come. I’ve never been interested in plants or flowers before but now I’m loving that we have a beautiful little garden. I’ve planted some flowers, got some lovely little house plants and I’m carefully looking after them.

I’m trying really hard to not let them die, reading up on how to care for them and watering them as often as they should be. Who’d have thought some don’t like too much watering and some get very sad without it (my temperamental little peace lily drooped significantly when I forgot about him for a bit).

Well anyway, it’s bringing me great joy, much to my parent’s and Kyle’s amusement as I’ve never shown such an interest before.

The other weekend we also had a very lovely visit from my friend Emma. She popped down from Reading for a run and some brunch. Originally we’d planned 14 miles but when it came down to it neither of us were feeling it and decided to bump it down to 5 miles instead.

It was a lovely relaxed run and we were able to catch up whilst seeing the sea and enjoying some trails nearby to where I live.

Chicken, bacon, potato, cheese, coleslaw, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, onion, salad, berries

We then walked with Kyle down to Southsea for brunch at The Parade Tearooms. I had the rather un-brunch-like Jayne Salad which was, as always, ginormous but so tasty.

We then walked to The Tenth Hole to pick out some cakes – it had to be done of course! The Bakewell slice was particularly delicious I must say. We are so lucky to live within walking distance to these places – though not close enough to be a real danger thankfully 😉

This weekend gone Kyle and I house sat/dog sat for my parents while they visited my grandparents in Wales. At first we were very happy because my parents have a hot tub (!!) and we were able to get a takeaway from our favourite Indian restaurant (honestly, I’ve never found as good an Indian as the Stubbington Tandoori).

But then during the middle of the night the happiness drained away as their dogs barked several times during the night and I had to stand in the garden at 3am while they did their business. This happened every single night we were there… it was exhausting. How my parents live with this I do not know. I couldn’t remember them being that bad when I lived there so perhaps they were sad my parents weren’t there, who knows. Either way it was ANNOYING. It also meant one morning we didn’t wake up until 10am!!

Anyway, despite these problematic sleeps, Kyle and I had a lovely 6 miles walk along the Titchfield Canal and Hill Head seafront. Thankfully we were sensible enough to put on suntan lotion as it was very sunny and warm. It was a lovely walk. Asides from running, I just really love to walk, explore and be outside (you might already know this I expect).

Sunlight making us squint

We also enjoyed a lovely 4 miles run down to the beach followed by a huge full English fry-up at the Penguin Café (another of our favourites in the area).

It was delicious. It was lovely to sit outside in the sunshine with the sea breeze and eat a ridiculously large breakfast. Then we walked the 2.5 miles back – which certainly helped the full stomach I can tell you!

Then the next day I got up and headed out for a solo long run. I really didn’t know how far I fancied going or where I wanted to go so just went with enjoying some of my favourite routes at random.

I listened to the new-to-me podcast RunPod which I’m really enjoying. Lots of good interviews with people about running and in the end did 10 miles. It felt exactly like what I needed. Not too hard, or too far, or too fast… just a nice gentle plod. I’ve started paying attention a bit more to my heart rate. I won’t say that I’m specifically training using my HR, but I definitely want to keep an eye on it. When I say I’m going to go and do an easy run I want to make sure this actually happens.

So much of my running is just one pace. I feel a bit of a fraud compared to other runners who do specific sessions. They run their easy runs easy and their hard runs hard. Whereas I just…run. Sometimes I go a bit faster, sometimes a bit slower. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. And while I like to have a bit of freedom with my running and never want to go back to when I was going to the track every week, I do think a bit of structure would help. My motivation to run is never based on times or PB’s, but to some degree I know I need to have a bit more structure to at least keep me motivated and interested. With no races around the corner, my running is becoming a bit stale.

And on the subject of races… I was half-way through writing this post, about to say “guess what! I’ve just signed up for the Reykjavik Marathon – in like two weeks!” and was super excited. And then literally just got an email to say it’d been cancelled. That email came through mere hours after signing up.

I know I was probably too hasty to sign up with everything going on but it seemed like Iceland was fairly safe and they seemed pretty confident. *Sighs* guess not. I think Kyle and I will still go to Iceland (I was so super organised I’d booked flights and an Airbnb – yes, I KNOW, super keen). We’ll only go for a few days but hopefully it’ll be nice. I’ve been to Iceland on my own ages ago so it’ll be lovely to go back with Kyle 🙂

Are you going anywhere on holiday?

Have you got any races planned that are still going ahead?

Back to normal running and eating

I’m happy to update that my calf niggle has gone.

My runs feel back to normal and I’m slowly building up the miles again. As there are no races on the horizon it’s tricky to plan how to run right now, where I would have a peak to an end point then a rest for a bit before building back up. So I think what’s clear is that I shouldn’t just be smashing out 16-17 mile long runs every single week and plan in a cut-back week once in a while. So ideally mimicking my usual race schedule.

At the weekend Kyle and I went out for our long run on Saturday morning. I’m really loving our weekends together in our home. We set an alarm for 8.30am (so we don’t sleep too late – we have black-out curtains which are both amazing and dangerous) and then loll in bed with a cup of tea for a bit before getting up and heading out.

The long run is my favourite run of the week (whereas for Kyle…well, he’s less enthused). My plan was to run seven miles with Kyle, then he would run the final mile home, whereas I would head off for a few more miles solo. I had in my mind that I’d like to do at least 10 but see how I felt.

What’s nice about where we live is that there are lots of ways to cut back home without being stranded for miles or having to make decisions about the length of the route early on.

We ran down Southsea seafront which is lovely and flat but has no shade at all and in the beating sun it was quite hard work. While it’s lovely to be near the sea and run by it, it’s so open to the elements. When it’s windy it’s WINDY. When it’s hot it’s HOT.

As we got to where Kyle was to head off I’d pretty much decided to do 13 miles. I felt good and my calf was absolutely fine. I put on the MarathonTalk podcast and just zoned out. I had to do some quick mental maths and thoughts on the route I was going to do though while I listened. While I definitely could have just done an out and back style route I always find them so unsatisfying, so chanced it with more of a loop. I knew though it would likely be about 14 miles but I felt good so went with it. I finished the run happy, no calf issues but very hot.

Kyle and I then headed off to visit my parents and then off to Red Dog Saloon for some late lunch/early dinner. We, like everyone else, haven’t been out for food in so long. Red Dog Saloon was actually the last place we went to before lockdown happened and knew they were “on it” with their safety measures so felt safe heading back there. And as we assumed, they were. Waiting staff wore masks, tables were far enough apart etc. They sadly had a reduced menu though.

At first we were a bit worried they wouldn’t have what we wanted but turns out to get what I wanted I’d just have to order three chicken wings starters… yep.

The food was SO good. I’m  guessing because they have less on the menu they can really focus on doing the stuff they do offer really well. Honestly, it was some of the best buffalo chicken wings I’ve had in the UK! Previously they had been drenched in the buffalo sauce, which while I do love can be too overpowering and spicy, but now they were just lightly coated with such a tasty crispiness. Kyle equally enjoyed his Philly cheesesteak burger. A big thumbs up for our first meal out!

The next day we took a long walk down to Southsea with Alfie.

The weather was just perfect. Not too hot but warm and sunny enough to enjoy a quick dip in the sea with Alfie. Though it did take him some persuading to come into the water. He was very apprehensive. He’s been in water before but he’s not one of those dogs that throws himself in. He did several swims though (as long as we were in there too). Though he did look a little grumpy afterwards 😉

(And even more grumpy later when he had to have a bath).

Then we grabbed a drink and sat on the pebbles enjoying the rays. I just adore being close to the sea, it feels like being on holiday. All the smells of chips, doughnuts, coffee and suntan lotion. I love it.

We then walked back. All in all it was a 5 mile round walk. This nicely set us up for an appetite of roast pork later. I popped the meat in the oven then dashed out the door for a quick 5k (nothing makes me run faster than food, I tell you).

It’s the fastest 5k I’ve done in a while, so I was quite pleased. And a solid 29 miles for the week (a good 10 less than I was running previously before my calf issue – I’m trying to be cautious and sensible).

Then I was back in the kitchen sorting the roast out.

I rustled up home-made roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, cauliflower cheese, with veg and stuffing.

It all came together nicely. I can’t tell you how proud of myself I was! It tasted incredible (if I do say so myself…).

So a very satisfying and fun filled weekend!

Do you like roast dinners?

Do you like going to the beach?

Brownies, street bingo and running happy

Another week of lockdown living…

Kyle and I are still working from home, sorting out our new house, and staying “alert”… whatever that means. We ventured to Ikea a few days after it opened and thankfully didn’t have to wait in any crazy queues. In fact, we literally just walked in. Of course we had to keep away from other people and you couldn’t go inside one of the “fake rooms” if someone else was. But it wasn’t busy at all so felt all very normal. We got some bits and pieces but as I only have a Fiat 500, couldn’t get the armchair we wanted. But we’re hopefully going to ask a favour from Kyle’s brother who has a larger car to see if he can help us.

Ikea selfie

It’s been a lot easier buying furniture online. We bought a chest of drawers and a matching wardrobe. Unfortunately it required assembling and really wasn’t that simple. Pages of diagrams, parts and screws…

We built the drawers one weekend and the wardrobe the next. It literally took us four hours a piece and we still managed to mess it up somehow. We got the top of the drawers on backwards and managed to nail into the wrong areas in the wardrobe. Ah well, they’re both standing and doing the job intended so that’s all that matters!

Every week we’ve been getting involved with the “street bingo” that happens on our road at 2pm on Sundays. It’s run by an amazing guy who runs an Instagram page called @dontsufferinsilence1 which is all about improving mental health and looking out for each other. He got everyone together (he’s been doing it for like 10 weeks!) and loads of people sit on their doorstep and do the bingo and get involved (social distanced of course).

I’ve never seen anything like it in real life. To be honest it was somewhat overwhelming to begin with because suddenly you’re being introduced to loads of people but everyone is super chatty and lovely.

So we’ve sat outside with Alfie and did the bingo and got to know our neighbours each week. It’s really nice to see how much everyone looks out for each other – like proper old school Britain, you know?

Kyle thinks he’s cool…

What’s also been lovely is more house warming presents from lovely people! And OMG trying the BEST brownies I’ve ever had. Our lovely friend Shell sent us some Gower Brownies and Jesus Christ they were incredible. Perfect texture, dense gooey delicious squares of pure heaven. They don’t look like they’ll rock your world but honestly they were amazing. So moreish as well 😉

Running is still going well, happily! Without having any marathons coming up and not being injured or coming back from an injury has left me in a novel position whereby I can literally run whatever I want and my long runs have naturally just fell in the 15-18 mile region, which I love.

I don’t really set a concrete distance in my brain before I head out but I have a rough range. It’s very relaxed and it’s actually one of my favourite runs of the week.

Last weekend Kyle joined me for 6 miles before heading  home and I carried on to get 16 in total. It was windy and hot – not a great combo, but it was nice to zone out to the MarathonTalk podcast and enjoy the sunshine.

And less getting lost as the weeks go on, winning! I reallly love my long run route because it’s so varied, road, trail, promenade along the beach, coastal paths, and super flat! Perhaps not the greatest training for hills but ehhh I fully enjoy it.

What’s your ideal long run distance?

Do you enjoy putting furniture together? I’ve been surprised at how many people said they love it!

Have you ever been involved in something like street bingo?

Well that escalated quickly…

Life has really taken a dramatic twist hasn’t it?

Since the last time I posted (blissfully happy in a bubble of long running and marathon hopes), well, everything has changed.

For us in the UK things have really ramped up quickly in the last week. From advice of washing hands regularly to now schools closing and instructions to work from home, avoiding social spaces and parkrun cancellations.

It’s undoubtedly a scary and uncertain time but I don’t want this post to be all about that because let’s be honest we all know what’s happening and it’s pretty overwhelming and consuming. I’m actually quite glad to now be working from home because it’s all everyone talks about in the office. So I’m at home with a little set-up in my room adjusting to this new way of life.

Anyway, on to what this blog is about: RUNNING. Of course all the races I’d signed up for have been cancelled or postponed. I had the Eastleigh 10k this weekend, of course Rotterdam, and then I’d optimistically signed up to the Southampton marathon as a back-up, but that too has been postponed. Rightly so. And parkrun being cancelled.

Of course this is all the right thing to do. Not going out to social areas, not mixing unnecessarily, limiting chance of exposure. My dad has a heart condition so I’m worried. But we can only control what we can control and there’s point wasting emotional energy on things outside of that. Obviously easier said than done, but I’m trying.

So no marathon in the near future and a bunch of long runs and weeks’ of trainings that seem worthless now on paper. However, for me I really enjoy the process of marathon training so personally it’s not a waste. It’s just a shame there’s not a big shebang of a race to celebrate those long runs.

That said, I’m almost certain I will run 26.2 miles in April. My plan is to run the distance around where I live. I mean, it’s going to be ridiculously tough – so much harder than if it was a race as it’ll just be me on my tod running along. But part of me is curious as to whether I can actually do this… We’ll see. My plan would probably be to run it over the Easter weekend. I’d properly plan a route, maybe get my family out to support me, do everything I’d normally do. Well, watch this space!

Last weekend Kyle and I ran 18 miles together. We both knew Rotterdam had been cancelled and potentially the miles were “pointless” but we wanted to do it anyway as we’d planned it and had mentally geared up for it. Kyle is not a huge long distance fan and now that Rotterdam isn’t happening he’ll drop his mileage back down. It makes sense.

It’s such a shame for him because he did so well with the long runs – far better than last time when he trained for the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon and got injured halfway. He was very much on for a solid race. But such is life right now. He’ll be able to train up again if he wants to (Rotterdam is technically postponed until later in the year so this is real possibility all being well in the world, of course).

The 18 miler we did around where I live, my usual along the coast style long run which I love so much. We reversed the route and set off Sunday morning. We had a more relaxed start as no parkrun to get to (this was to be a “true” long run in the sense we wouldn’t be stopping or sandwiching anything in the middle). The wind was a bit blustery which was somewhat annoying  but generally the run went really well.

It’s funny though because when you’ve been doing a run route in one direction for so long, when you change it suddenly it makes everything different and you notice all these hills that you previously hadn’t!

However, we maintained a decent pace and then towards the end I stretched it out a tiny bit just to get my legs going. It’s my usual way of running long runs that I like to speed up a bit towards the end if I have the energy. Kyle wasn’t far behind at all though.

When we got back to mine my parents handed me a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts that a lovely friend had dropped off after I’d done a favour for him. What a fantastic way to finish a run, I tell you! We didn’t eat them straight away 😉

Instead we showered and then celebrated with an almighty carvery. Honestly, so satisfying and extra delicious after all those miles!

I had roast gammon with all the trimmings. It was glorious. The doughnuts were had later when we were chilling. Perfection!

Delicious Lotus Biscoff

Anyway, stay safe and healthy everyone!

What’s your favourite doughnut flavour?

Are still long running if you’ve had a race cancellation?