Secret Santa, Christmas cake and the re-balance of love

Three. More. Days. Then Christmas! I’m still at work for these days but I’m not too bothered. My commute is always a dream when the kids are off school and it’s very quiet in the office at the moment.

Our weekend was fairly low-key. I’ve been cleaning the house so it’s all nice and clean ready for Christmas. Not that we’re having Christmas at our house as we’re going to my parent’s house with Ben’s mum for Christmas day there. But I just like the house being clean around the holiday time, you know? I also borrowed my parent’s steam mop so I could give the kitchen and bathroom’s floor a good clean. Lovely.

Saturday morning I went to Spin. I’ve mainly been focusing on strength-based classes (such as pump and circuits) but I want to get my fitness going again. I had been dreading going but I went to a class on Friday morning and actually it wasn’t too bad. I mean, it was hell but it was less hell than I originally thought. Saturday’s morning class went the same way and I’m slowly getting addicted to it again. After that I did 20 minutes of strength work on my own. Bits and pieces like single leg squats, single leg decline squats, resistance band work such as clams, crab walk and monster walk. All good work on the glutes!

Then I dashed off to parkrun to meet up with my running club who were doing Secret Santa. I am really quite pleased with the present I was able to come up with for my person. I used a shoe box and put a load of tissue paper and shredded paper in it.


I then filled it with lots of running bits and bobs. I labelled the box “Runner’s Survival Box” (inspired by lots of the subscription boxes around at the moment).

IMG_8843In no particular order, it contained:

  • Little packets of Haribo – for quick release energy
  • Salted peanuts – for salt and protein (muscle repair)
  • Bottle of Powerade
  • High5 gel
  • Ibuprofen (always a necessity…)
  • Blister plasters (aka nipple guards)
  • OTE sachet (review HERE)
  • PowerBar Wafers (review HERE)
  • Cake

I had quite a few of the items anyway at home but what I had to buy was all under £5 so it was a really cheap and easy gift! When it was given to the man in question I sneakily watched him open it and he looked really chuffed and found it quite amusing. I was really pleased!

For me I was given a few bits and bobs that all around a certain theme.

IMG_8845 Shower gel, shampoo, apples and a notepad inside an apple

I think they were aware that I’m an apple fan 😉 I was quite pleased I must say.

After that I zoomed home and we spent the day cleaning and tidying. And maybe watched an episode of Gogglebox that we missed (hilarious). We also marzipan’ed our Christmas cake (yes I’m well aware of how close we’re cutting this!)

IMG_8848We had to carve the top bit off to get a nice straight finish and then got down to the fun part. Rolling out the marzipan and layering it on top of the cake (after coating it in apricot jam – for the recipe we used for the cake go HERE). IMG_8852 Not to shabs, eh? Excess marzipan was put to good use of course.


We always hope to have a bit left over so we can make a few marzipan treats that can be nibbled on over the next few hours days.

Then we got ready to go out for a Christmas meal with some friends.

IMG_8853 I haven’t worn heels in so long… It was nice to get all dressed up for once!


After being really excited about my impending turkey dinner, I was aghast to find out that I’d actually ordered salmon earlier in the month when we RSVP’d. I mean, what was I thinking?? I did not fancy salmon at all. My loving husband, who had the sense to have ordered turkey, decided to swap his meal with mine though. Now THIS is love. He said his motivation behind it was because a few Christmases ago I had asked for his last parsnip and he refused to give it to me and ate it quickly himself. I told him that that just showed the limits of his love for me. I always hold this against him saying that he loves me, but not enough to give me his last parsnip. But now the balance has been readdressed. Though he did look rather self-satisfied and smug about the whole affair. I think I was happier before having this one-up on him 😉 (Though the turkey was delicious…).

I wasn’t drinking as I was driving but Ben was having a merry time, and with one of the other guys had decided to make it their mission to acquire free shots from the manager. From my and the other guy’s other half’s perspective this was all rather mortifying. After a few rather lame failed attempts they decided to work harder. The other guy was able to make origami swans and he kept making them and giving them to the (female) manager, each time the swan was getting smaller and smaller and the manager was getting more and more exasperated (but in a fun way, she wasn’t genuinely annoyed I don’t think). But then the piece de résistance:

IMG_8862I mean that is TINY. And when you put the tail the wings flap. Incredible. After that she did indeed get them a free shot each. Well played, boys!

Sunday was a nice chilled day. I went to Spin and then Legs, Bums and Tums in the morning (I’m becoming a rather obnoxious gym addict now sadly). Then spent the rest of the day not doing too much other than walking Alfie, wrapping presents and helping Ben make a stollen (more on that in another post as this has gone on far too long now).

Are you off of work/school now for Christmas?

Do you make or buy a Christmas cake? Or forgo it completely (scandalous!)?

Are you a fan of Secret Santa?

My Cake Day, whoops I mean Birthday

Right, bare with me. I know I talk a lot about cake. I’m trying to tone things down a bit (talking about it and eating it). BUT it was my birthday…so I’ve got a free pass.

My birthday was last Thursday, and sadly I was at work so it was fairly nondescript. I hadn’t asked for anything from Ben as I couldn’t think of anything I’d want. In the end we agreed to go on a daytrip and do some shopping together and have a nice lunch out. But this will need to be sometime July as our weekend’s are so fully booked!

Just to rewind quickly back to Wednesday first. I ran the 10k Race for Life in Basingstoke with my newbie runner friend. She’s ran the 5k RFL before and she has done quite a bit of training so I wasn’t worried she wouldn’t complete it. She’d previously done a training run of 11k in 1hour 15minutes so I suggested we try and beat that and maybe aim for around an hour.

IMG_6950Ben, my mum, my dad and my friend’s husband and son came to cheer us on. The three of us girls were kindly bought a flower by our respective loved ones (*cough* let’s not talk about how I cajoled Ben to do this *cough*).IMG_6959I’ve never been to or raced a Race for Life before (if you’re not aware, it’s a women’s-only charity based event raising money for breast cancer – pink is a major theme!). It was completely different to any of the races I’ve been to before. There was a kind of party atmosphere and it was very informal. So many people had pictures of loved one attached to their backs for whom they were running and raising money for. It was very sobering.

The race was all on grass and through a very windy course completely off-road.

IMG_6968 We were running around 10-11 minute miles. I found this quite challenging as this is quite slow for me. I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone who runs at these paces, this is just something personally I found. It helped though as I could chat away and encourage my friend easily.

IMG_6977 My lovely sparkly pink nails done specially for the event

My friend achieved the brilliant time of 1:04! To be fair, she could have got a better time but we were held up a fair bit by walkers (it was a two lap course). She’s really getting into it now though: she’s going to Parkrun at the weekend and trying to improve her times. I’m so proud 🙂

Right, so back to Thursday and cake. Sorry, my birthday. I got into work to find one of my other friends had made my friend and me a Mars Bar crispy cake to celebrate our 10k.

Chocolate crispie cake

Ohmygawwwwd this was incredible. I could eat so much of this, it’s so moreish. I had about two…yeah let’s say two, pieces of this. Then at lunch I wandered over to nearby Tesco to by the standard cakes for the office. A weird tradition but one that I think is important to be upheld 😉

Office birthday cakes I tried to be good. I tried to buy things that didn’t really take my fancy. Except I picked up Smartie cookies. How can you resist a Smartie cookie?

When I got home one of our friends was over and Ben was being all sheepish. I wasn’t allowed in the living room. My friend (yo Nathan!) gave me some birthday goodies…err think he’s got me down to a tee!


Mini rockit apples (a variety I must say I have not been acquainted to before), some M&S sweets and muffins. Boom. Edible gifts are the best gifts in my book 😉

Then the piéce de resistance…I was allowed into the living room. And there on the table was the most phenomenal cake I have ever seen.

Paris Marathon birthday cake A Paris marathon birthday cake, made by a very talented lady at Ben’s work. I mean seriously, how absolutely fantastic is that?? There’s a little me on the top, even wearing compression socks! And the medal is very similar to my Paris marathon one – she got Ben to describe it!!

Needless to say I almost cried and then debated whether I should have dinner or just eat cake? Well, the sensible Anna implored the Cake-Frenzied-Anna to eat something sensible and then gorge on cake.

Alarmingly though I was only able to have one slice as it was so dense and sweet – but 10/10 in terms of flavour and consistency. And four layers?? Jam and butter cream? Heaven.

And I guess as we’re on the subject of cake I might as well mention the incredible chocolate cake I had a slice of (I say slice, more like WEDGE) at my other friend’s birthday party on Saturday. How dare she have a birthday so close to mine! 😉Chocolate birthday cake It was a bit of a shame considering after my cake-filled birthday I had decided to lay off the cake a little bit…then arrived at Saturday’s birthday BBQ to find this bad boy. How can you refuse?

Whew. So there we have it. What more could a girl want? This week I’m trying to eat less cake. That’s my mission. It hasn’t gone entirely well but the motivation is there and that’s half the battle right?

What is your dream birthday scenario?

Favourite type of cake…? I’m not sure I could narrow it down. Each cake has its merits.

Do you like more formal or informal race events?

Weddings, cake and apple

Hello! We’re in that awkward spot of half way between last weekend and next weekend (and a Bank holiday on Monday, wahay!)

Last weekend was a busy one. We had Parkrun in the morning as usual. We had to dash off pretty quickly afterwards to get home, showered and sorted as we had my friend’s wedding later in the day in Bristol.

I do love a good wedding, don’t you? Though it was a little overcast and drizzly at the start, when it was important the weather held out and there was some beautiful sunshine. Though it was quite chilly!

The ceremony was lovely. It’s so strange seeing one of your close friends walking down the aisle with her dad about to marry someone.


I mean I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’m a married woman!

Wedding I know this is quite sad, but I’m so happy I was actually able to wear my fascinator! My mum gave it to me ages ago and I finally had an occasion and a dress that went with it. The dress is from Warehouse and I love it! I didn’t do anything with my hair because, well, I’m not that creative and it’s quite stubborn in that it just likes being straight. Ben looked rather dapper as well I must say!

I don’t normally drink but I did enjoy quite a few G&Ts and bucks fizzes, but luckily it was over a long period of time so I wasn’t an embarrassing drunk! I don’t usually drink so it was a nice change. My lack of drinking is not really a conscious thing, just that I don’t like wine or beer. I find cake and chocolate help me relax better anyway 😉

Wedding favours The table favours and theme for the wedding were great. The wedding couple are obsessed with Florida and the theme parks so they named each table a theme park, like Magical Kingdom, Busch Gardens and Universal Studios. We were Seaworld. In our table favours there were American sweets (candy?) like Reese’s Kisses and Baby Ruths (what on Earth are they??) and Tootsie Rolls.

The wedding breakfast (though really lunch – isn’t that a strange term?) was delicious: tomato soup, followed by chicken with vegetables and a creamy mash and then the most amazing slice of apple pie.

Then it was time to cut the cake.

Wedding cake How cool is that? An upside-down cake! It was chocolate cake with a white chocolate hard coating.

Chocolate wedding cake I had three slices. To be fair they were tiny slices so really I’m sure it was only one ‘proper’ slice 😉

Later there was a lot of dancing and craziness. I missed the second coming of the cake and was a little disappointed (I know, I know…) but had a spare apple in my room in the hotel to tide me over into the evening.

IMG_6539 I am too cool for school I know. Can’t beat a late-night apple 😉

Needless to say I felt so tired on Sunday. The bride had booked the breakfast room in the morning for 8.45am for us all to have breakfast together. The day before that didn’t sound too bad, but in the morning I could have definitely had a bit more sleep! I might have had a little doze in the car on the way home…

We then enjoyed an afternoon of doing nothing. We watch the new Thor film (not bad at all!) and just chilled. Normally I hate just sitting down and doing nothing all day but actually it was lovely. A nice way to recharge the batteries.

Have you been to any weddings recently? What’s your favourite part?

Do you know of any interesting wedding themes that people use? At our wedding we used a ‘sweet’ theme, so each table was called a different sweet and the favours contained pick ‘n’ mix.

How do you recharge your batteries after a night out?

Post marathon – all the foods?

So here’s my last post of our Paris weekend.

After Ben had finished the marathon, we staggered back to the hotel room both eagerly recounting our races. Ben sadly didn’t enjoy his and felt very disappointed with his time (despite the huge improvement on his last one). It was hard because I enjoyed mine so much. But I knew I’d feel the same way if I’d have been unhappy with my race. Sometimes it just works out like that. I remember at the Great South I hated the race, but when I met up with Ben afterwards he was absolutely buzzing with how much he loved it.

Anyway, I had the best shower in the world. It was one of those really good power showers and the heat of it was just amazing. I had been fairly cold after the marathon waiting for Ben so this was pure, unadulterated joy.

Post marathon relax Afterwards I wrapped myself up in the hotel dressing gown and slippers and enjoyed my first post-marathon apple. No apple will ever taste as good.

Then Ben presented me with the best present ever. A Marathon Talk 26.2 Adidas hoodie.

Post marathon outfit So soft! I love it. I’ve wanted one for ages but obviously couldn’t get it until I’d run a marathon. I love that he knew that’s what I wanted. What a guy!

That was my outfit going out for late lunch/early dinner that day. I must say walking was a bit of an issue! Everything was 10 seconds behind and I was shattered.

Day 3 - post marathon2 My unhappy post-marathon walking (hobbling?) face

My expectation after the marathon was that I’d be ravenous with hunger. I wasn’t. In fact my stomach was just not happy at all. It coped well with the apple but then really wasn’t up for anything much else. But we had to eat obviously. We kept things simple and went back to the same cafe we’d been to before and we both had a starter (goat’s cheese on toast for me) and I had the same Caesar salad as before.

Day 3 - post marathon mealIt tasted very nice but my stomach still wasn’t completely OK. Funny side story, the waitress was only vaguely aware of the marathon and even asked how far it was. Seriously??

We picked up some food from a little corner shop to munch on in the evening (and Ben needed wine – he’d not drunk for four weeks prior to the marathon bless him).

Post marathon treats

At this point I was so completely fed up with water. I’d been drinking it all damn day I needed something else. I’m not a big drinker (one G&T and I’m anybody’s and post marathon it’s probably not wise for me) so I went for some crazy sparkling chemically-induced ‘fruit’ beverage.

We rented a film from the hotel TV thing (World’s End) and I promptly fell asleep at about 9pm. It was a horrific sleep though trying to get comfy with my very achy legs. And I woke up about 6.30am wide awake. Ben was like a rock next to me. I woke him at 8am out of boredom and sudden onset of RUNGER.

We headed to a lovely little cafe for petit dejeuner. We went for the whole hog.

Parisienne breakfastPlain omelette, croissants, bread and butter, dried meats and coffee. Everything but the croissants disappeared. We were seriously stuffed though until about 3pm.

We then went for an ill-advised walk to the Champs-Élysées and then down to the Tuileries Gardens where we collapsed onto some lovely chairs.

Day 4 - sight seeing12 It was lovely and sunny and we kept spotting fellow marathoners wearing their finisher’s shirt and hobbling along like us, struggling with very simple things. Honestly curbs – who invented curbs??

Day 4 - sight seeing13 We needed mini breaks like this for every 15 minutes. It was so tiring walking. But also good to keep the legs moving.

We carried on walking to the Louvre. The queue was huge so we decided to move on.

Day 4 - sight seeing27

Day 4 - sight seeing28 Possible the most stupid thing I’ve ever done – that landing was incredibly painful!!!

We walked up the road we ran along the day before. It brought back so many memories. It was great chatting to Ben and reliving it as we were walking.

We finally got to Notre Dame (after two hours of walking and stopping).

Day 4 - sight seeing35Bit ski-whiff sorry! 

After this we decided to trek back. All I had in my mind to keep me going was the thought of a break in one of the parks near the Champs-Élysées for an ice lolly. Honestly we were both fading by this point.

We got there an hour later and enjoyed a lovely ice lolly. Then headed for the next part of our trek back to the hotel with a cake pit stop for lunch.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love cakes. But I’m talking bit old fat slices of Victoria sponge, moist carrot cake, and chunky brownies. OK yes typical British cakes. In my marathon-fogged brain I stared around me in the French Patisserie…their delicate cream cakes and choux pastries I realised weren’t quite going to kick it. Yes I KNOW it’s France and it’s different but I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed (I’m not entirely sure what I expected to be honest!).Post marathon cakesIn the end I went for a rather large meringue and giant cookie. I’m sorry Paris, but British cakes are much more satisfying.

We had an earlyish dinner and another early night. We were absolutely knackered.

The next day we had a bit of time in the morning and early afternoon before flying back. We decided to treat ourselves to breakfast in bed.

Breakfast in bed in Paris I had the omelette, a sweet bread roll thing and a couple of pastries (they were only small honest! :))

Then we headed out for more walking. The legs were feeling more normal (though still fairly stiff and achy).

Day 5 - sight seeing3The day before I’d worn some plimsolls. I think my feet had swollen from the marathon because they were so uncomfortable. So I made the good move of wearing trainers the next day.

All in all, we had a great time in Paris. I must say we went more for the marathon than the sights but I’m glad we got to see them (both running and walking). I’m not sure we would go back as it was fairly expensive and I’m not hugely cultured to appreciate the significance of the different sights.

Now, enough marathon talk! Time to move on…until Berlin gets closer that is 😉

Are you a a fan of ‘cultural’ sights when you go on holiday? Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate them and it was absolutely fantastic to see such epic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. But I’m not one to spend hours around them. I’m ore a fan of ‘natural’ landmarks – like beautiful mountains, lakes, etc.

Would you ever do a race in a different country?

What would you/did you do post-marathon? I thought I’d eat more than I did. My stomach just didn’t feel right for quite a while.

Busy, busy!

Hi all! Well today Ben and me were off and won’t be back to work until Tuesday. Wheeee long weekend! Today was anything but relaxing though. We had a million things to do before we dash of to Bruges tomorrow for my work Christmas do. And, OK, we might have gone to see The Hobbit too…important things needed to be done obviously! [The Hobbit was amazing. I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan and was pleased how true it remained to the other films].

Anywho, before I go into my busy day… two lovely ladies nominated me for the Liebster award. Thank you Sandy (a great vegan blogger) and Elle (causes me to have massive food envy whenever I look at the amazing baking she does every week). liebster-blog-award

I know this is quite a late post for this as this was going a while here’s my 11 random facts about myself!

1) I eat at least four apples every day. Always chopped.


2) I have a secret love for movie music…I’m not talking about soundtrack songs, I’m talking actual original scores. Some of my favourites being Atonement, Jurassic Park, The Village, and Memoirs of a Geisha…. My favourite composers: John Williams, James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, James Horner… I am a film geek. And I am proud! I am a big believer that the music helps make the film.

3) I’m am always reading a book – I can’t remember a time when I’ve never not been reading something. I like to read with my breakfast – it’s my calming morning ritual.

4) When I’m alone in a public toilet and there’s music on I like to have a quick boogie while I’m washing my hands. I haven’t been caught in the act yet but I guess it’s only time…

5) Sometimes when I’m bored I daydream about end of the world scenarios. Not in a depressing way but in a ‘what would I do’ way. Like zombies attacking. What would be your first action? I’d get the family together (in my scenario we’d all be OK) and then head to the local supermarket and fill the car with tinned goods, then head to the docks, grab a boat and sail out – zombies can’t swim (or in my scenario they can’t)! These are important things to prepare yourself for.

6) I pluck my eyebrows every single night. It’s my night-time ritual.

7) I hate pasta. And not because of some faddy health reason. I hate the texture and I hate the taste. So you won’t find any pasta recipes here I’m afraid.

8) I will always wake up at least once in the night to pee. Apologies if this is TMI. I know this isn’t healthy, but I tend to have a hot chocolate before bed most nights…and well, you know.

9) I cry very easily. If Ben just mentions the Time Traveller’s Wife to me I will cry.

10) Mars Attacks caused me several months of trouble sleeping when I was younger. It scared the hell out of me.

11) If I could choose a superpower I’d be invisible. I’m so nosey, I’d love to know what celebs get up to away from the cameras!

Sooo, today. This morning I got up early and made some vegan cookies in my pyjamas. I have never made anything vegan in my life before so this was quite a challenge to a) find a recipe and that didn’t involve crazy ingredients which I didn’t have and b) to actually make them! They’re for the cookie exchange Tamzin is hosting and my partner (Sarah) is vegan. It was fun though!

Then I got dressed…


And then Ben and I dashed off to Southampton to take back my first unsuccessful outfit for the Christmas do. We had originally bought it from John Lewis using vouchers. When we returned it we assumed we’d just get store credit – but they gave us cash back!! Hurrah! Almost like free money. Sort of.

We also picked up Ben’s suit (proper penguin suit for the Christmas meal Saturday night). Then we had a quick early lunch. Originally we were going to have Nando’s but they weren’t serving until 11.30 and The Hobbit began at just after 12 so it was pushing it too close. So we settled for Cafe Giardino instead.


A chicken, bacon, spinach and basil ciabatta. Very filling. Then we dashed off to the cinema and watched The Hobbit sharing a large popcorn. I’m sorry but how expensive is popcorn at the cinema??!!! A nice treat regardless.

Three hours later we then zoomed home to post the cookies before the post office closes and then drop Alfie off at his dog-sitters while we’re away. He’s being looked after by a lovely old lady who’ll take great care of him…but it still hurt my soul to say goodbye to him. Those big furry eyes looking at me all accusingly…

Then Ben dashed off to get his hair cut while I packed. Then made dinner.IMG_3127

BBQ ribs from the freezer, roasted veg and salad that needed using up. Basically a ‘I don’t have any food and am going away the next day’ kinda meal. I love ribs though so this was a winner.

And now we’re chilling. Whew.

Oh was anyone else stupidly excited about yesterday’s date??


And…when I went out for lunch…


I love it when this happens! It is extremely likely that this won’t happen again in my lifetime.

And because I miss him…


I won’t see Alfie until Sunday night so I gave him lots of cuddles last night before he went to sleep.


So tomorrow is a very early start. The taxi is picking us up at 6.20am and then catch a train to London and then the Eurostar to Brussels. I’m so excited about the Christmas do and looking around the Christmas markets!

Have a great rest of the week and weekend and I will write a catch up as soon as I get back Smile

Are you going to see The Hobbit? Are you a big fan?

Do you have a Christmas party soon?

Have you been to Bruges?