Rants and Raves #38

What’s been bugging me and making me smile lately? Let’s find out… (did that read as cheesy as it sounded when I read it out-loud? Yeah).

Rave: Time. I have so much more time in my life at the moment. When I worked in Basingstoke it would take at absolute best 40 minutes to get home. But that was from sitting in the car in the carpark to parking my car in the garage. From my new office in Portsmouth (incidentally the same location as the Lakeside parkrun and also the D Day 10k I did back in June), from being in my office to standing in my flat it takes 25 minutes. It literally takes 15-20 minutes to drive there. THIS IS INCREDIBLE. For over five and a half years I have driven up and down the M27 and M3 and more times than not it will take me over and hour to get home. OK yes it is currently school holidays so the roads are quieter, but even still if it takes less than hour from door to door I will be over the moon. Alfie doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s dead asleep when I get in.

And, similar to my last job, the working hours are fairly relaxed. Obviously you make sure you do your core hours and necessary tasks over the week but you can come in earlier or later and then correspondingly leave earlier or later. It’s fantastic. I think offices like this are far more realistic to how people want to work (obviously I know not all workplaces can or should do this but for a lot of office-based work it makes a lot of sense). It gives a good level of morale.

Rave: And while we’re on the subject of my new job… I love it. I mean it’s early days of course, but it is so interesting and everyone is so friendly and nice. The majority of people who work at Wiggle have some level of interest in cycling or running. You hear people chatting about their latest rides and runs all over the place. And there are bikes and trainers everywhere as the brand and design teams check them out. I mean, it is SUPER cool. And not to mention the bikes hanging from the walls, one of the Brownlee brother’s GB tri-suit framed, bikes wheels as clock faces, pictures all over the place. I’m very happy. And my job itself is something I have a genuine interest in and can’t wait to get more stuck into a progress further. I won’t be posting a huge deal about it because I want to maintain a level of professionalism but I will share where I can the little tidbits tat I get excited over 🙂

Rave: OK, OK one more rave about my new job. Every Friday they have a mini food festival on the field outside the office. EVERY FRIDAY.When I heard about this I had to swallow down a squeal (can’t let all the craziness out on the first week, of course). Sadly I’d already brought lunch with me but decided to venture downstairs and see what was on offer for future Friday lunches.Well, they had Caribbean food, Mexican food, pizzas, some American-style BBQ… and cakes. Oh the cakes.I stood there for too long and caved under the might cake pressure. I had to get myself a rocky road slab. And I say slab because it was HUMUNGOUS.Rant: I had a car accident on my second day driving into work. It was my fault and it was very stupid. Luckily no one was injured. I was in a queue for some traffic lights and we’d stopped. I then saw the lights go green ahead and I went forward…straight into the still stationary car in front of me. Completely my fault for not checking the car RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Luckily the man I drove into was very nice and didn’t yell at me. He calmly asked for my details and told me (after I’d apologised about a zillion times) that in the great scheme of things, it wasn’t that big an accident. No one had died or been badly hurt. So my little Fiat 500 is at the garage getting fixed and I have a little Citroen C1 and a £250 excess to cover. I’m trying not to think about how much my insurance will be when I renew it at the end of the year…*Sighs* you live and learn. Life was clearly going far too well for me currently!

Rant: Turning up to my gym (luckily a bit later than my usual 5.30am, I think it was about 6am) to find that the fire alarm was going off and everyone was stuck outside waiting to go back in.
Thankfully it was an error and luckily it was quite mild…in the middle of winter I would not have been amused. It was fairly cool to see a fire engine show up and a load of firemen ‘save the day’. Made for an interesting morning anyway!
Rave: Being interviewed for the runABC magazine. It was a while ago I was sent the email so I’d kind of forgotten about it until someone Tweeted me letting me know. Ahh, fame! 😉
 My mum was so proud!
Rave: And a final rave…I was sent a crafty little hand-held device, called Zap-It!, which helps stop you itching when you get attacked by mosquitoes and bugs. Basically it generates a low, electrical impulse when clicked against the bite and what this does is reduce the histamine flow and stimulate capillaries, which flushes out the toxins (that make you want to itch).The shock is really very small so not painful at all. Not like that HORRENDOUS Tough Mudder electric shock obstacle, dear God. It can also be used up to 1,000 times (the poor soul who gets 1,000 bites…). A great addition to your essential gear for BBQ’s, festivals and of course any trail races! You can buy it in lots of chemists and supermarkets or online.
What are you ranting and raving about this week?
Have you ever had a car accident?
What’s most important to you about the environment you work in?

Good things making me happy

Apart from the dark mornings and evenings, the cold and rain, things are quite happy in my neck of the woods! It’s always nice to take stock of a few things that are making me a happy Anna.

The ‘C’ word: What is this madness? Christmas stuff already out in supermarkets. This photo was actually take two or three weeks ago as well.Christmas cakes, mince pies, stollen… yep. It’s October. That said, I love all things Christmas, especially food-related items) so I’m happy with this state of affairs. More mince pies in my life can only be a good thing.

Tesco encouraging kids to eat more fruit: They’re offering a free piece of fruit to children coming into the supermarket.

So they can chomp on something healthy as they walk round with their parents. What a great idea! Nice one, Tesco. We’ll let you off for your Christmas products 😉

New shoes: I bought some new shoes. They were really cheap as they’re of an older seasons but I really needed a pair of simple comfy shoes I could easily slip into and wear for quick errands or walking Alfie.

I tend to have a lot of trainers, pumps, boots and then my gym shoes (Vans & Converses – ideal because they have flat soles for squatting and deadlifting which help me be more “in tune” with the ground and lifting) but nothing that I’d be happy to get a bit mucky. I had a previous pair of Skechers and I wore them to the ground. These were only £25 which I thought was a steal.

Unusual gel flavours: A lovely friend of mine (a triathlon legend it must be said – his training cycles make mine look very amateur indeed) sent me some gels as a good luck present for my marathon (though with strict instruction NOT to use them during the marathon if I hadn’t tried them first).

Maple Bacon flavoured gels!! I know some (many?) of you will be thinking “that’s so gross” but I’m genuinely looking forward to trying them out. I quite like the GU gels (I still remember that salted caramel one I had once…so good. And the lemon flavoured one that tasted like a zesty pudding) so I expect good things 😉

Protein Porridge: I got a packet of this Mornflake Go! High Portein Porridge in my goodie bag from the Chester Marathon. Normally I will never use porridge packets because they always contain some form of sugar or flavouring and I can’t stand sweet porridge. For me the only sweetness I like is from the milk, so it’s very subtle.

But this was different. It’s a pack of oats containing soya protein isolate and (other than a stabiliser) that’s it. No sugar, no fruit, no seeds…just oats and protein. One packet though wouldn’t be enough for me for breakfast as it was around 130 calories. So I used two with almond milk and it tasted almost identical to my normal porridge.

Basically the same texture and it was really filling. I’m still regularly having scrambled eggs (with cheese, kale and olives – love it) for breakfast but I miss my porridge. The reason I swapped was because the porridge was quite low in protein but this is a great compromise. Though it is more expensive, so I’m looking into getting some unflavoured protein powder and playing around with that.

Woofins: These are adorable…even if I was disappointed when I first saw them as I thought “oooh cake” and then realised they’re actually for dogs.

Alfie isn’t a huge treat lover or chewer. For example, if I give him a dentist stick to chew on he puts it in his mouth then wanders around whimpering until I take it off him and cut it into four pieces for him (what a princess…). Although he will easily eat them normally when he’s around my parent’s dogs – but I think this is due to the fear that if he doesn’t they’ll eat it for him. Anyway, I digress, he wolfed down this mini cake – he loved it!

New car: OK it’s pretty much identical to my old car, just new.

I love the Fiat 500 and wanted to stay with them. Unfortunately I did want a different colour (I quite like the mint) but they didn’t have it in stock for when I wanted it so I had red again. As someone who is rubbish with adulting, having a brand new car with no MOT or service to worry about for a while is a huge weight off my mind (especially as I was late with my last service by about 10,000 miles as I got confused <– story of my life).

But things making me nervous: A 10k obstacle course race (Chepstow Stampede) with my friends, Kate and Jamie, that’s happening Saturday. I did that obstacle course in Spain but I don’t think it can quite compare to a muddy obstacle course race in Britain during a rather wet autumn. I’m stressing a bit with what to wear as I don’t really have anything I’d happy to never see again if it got ruined… and I’m scared about being really cold and wet. But other than that, it should be a laugh. We’ll see…

Have you ever done an obstacle course race?

What kind of car do you have?

What non-workout shoes do you normally wear?

The 5 Best Cars for Fitness Enthusiasts

Today I have a guest post regarding on the subject of cars (ooh er, bit different for me!) and the best one for your personality and needs.

You cycle to work, take the stairs instead of the lift, drink plenty of water, hit the gym five times a week, and always get your five-a-day – or at least you try to. If this sounds like you, you’re a bona fide fitness fanatic and a new car is never likely to be top of your list of priorities.

The trouble is, when it comes to cars, your needs are very specific – not only do you need something big enough to fit all of your weekend sports equipment into, it could do with being good on the gas for those trips to the coast and probably have four-wheel drive for when you venture out into the wilderness.

So here are the five best cars for all you fitness enthusiasts out there…

Nissan Qashqai

This is the model that has arguably come to define the crossover and SUV class and is an outstanding all-rounder with an excellent driving position, great handling, and surprisingly low running costs.

Inside, it has enough room for a full five-a-side team (including subs if you opt for the +2 version) a versatile boot with a fully adjustable shelf and a reversible floor with a wipe clean surface that’s perfect for muddy boots or sandy wetsuits.

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Skoda Yeti

The Skoda Yeti is a firm favourite among families and outdoor types alike as it is as adept at the school run as it is a cross-country run, particularly if you plump for the four-wheel-drive model.

And despite being one of the few crossovers that looks more like a good, old-fashioned estate car than a scaled down traditional 4X4, it handles the great outdoors better than most and is equally at home in a muddy field as on a motorway.

It has a versatile interior in which the rear seats create extra load space by moving independently or coming out completely.

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Citroen C4 Cactus

If the Qashqai and the Yeti look a little too run-of-the-mill, then look no further than the Citroen C4 Cactus – although it has no 4X4 option, it is chunky, has a relatively high wheel clearance and ‘Airbump’ panels on the sides that protect the body work from all sorts of scrapes.

It’s economical – some models promise up to 90mpg – and has a spacious interior and a good-sized boot. Not one for the off-roaders, but certainly a great option for those who like to stay on the beaten track.

Range Rover Evoque SUV

If you’re looking at the higher end of the SUV market then you need look no further than the Range Rover Evoque – it has all the handling and power you’d expect from a Range Rover, but with some seriously good looks and luxury interior.

In short, you can take this car absolutely anywhere – it’s just as at home tearing across an open field as it is pulling up outside an expensive restaurant.

And although they don’t come cheap, they do hold their value remarkably well.

Audi Q3 SUV

If you want a crossover with a little more refinement than a Nissan, a Citroen or a Skoda can offer, but can’t stretch as far as an Evoque – then the Q3 SUV is the car you’re looking for.

It re-houses the best of the A3 hatchback in a study SUV shell with an elevated driving position and a plush interior. And although it’s not as fuel-efficient as the others on the list, it’s great to drive and has bucket loads of space.

There’s even an RS model if you prefer your ride to have a bit more power and excitement.

Whether you prefer the down to earth ruggedness of the Yeti, or the refined thrills of the Evoque, the crossover you drive says a lot about your personality – find out exactly what your car says about you in the We Buy Any Car Personality Quiz.

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What car do you drive?

What do you look for in a good car?

I think we can agree I’m fragile…

Hello sunshine! Down South we had a gorgeous weekend of beautiful sunshine and warm weather – I hope it was just as nice where you were.

Last week was a bit of a downer for me. After the Alton 10 miler (OK, let’s be completely honest here, after Parkrun on the Saturday) my hip was niggling. God I never, never learn. I shouldn’t have run Alton. It only aggravated it further and made walking afterwards uncomfortable and a little painful. What an idiot. The Alton race wasn’t important at all and yet I thought if I ran it rather than race it I’d be OK. And it niggled the entire race. I really only have myself to blame. Especially because our running club championships were the following Sunday (Netley 10k). Yeah, so really stupid.

I took the rest of the week off running in the hopes that I could run the race. I had a deep tissue massage from a great local sports masseuse, Kyle, who’s basically become our club’s favourite masseuse and he’s doing the rounds on everyone. He comes to your house as well which is just so handy for me with my stupid commute. If you’re local to Southampton, look him up he’s great –> http://www.hackettmassage.co.uk/ He’s also a nice guy who’s an amazing runner (we’re talking 5 minute miles and winning races).

But unfortunately the hip niggle was still there. On Saturday I cycled down to Parkrun on my new road bike and met Ben there to set up in the morning.

Parkrun 17.05.14

It felt dreadful and I became Grumpy Anna in my dark and shady place. I marshalled and cheered on the runners. Still fun, but not as fun as running obviously. Ben did great pacing one of our running club friends and helped him PB.

After that we headed quickly to see Kyle (as I’d panicked text him that morning after thinking my cycle had made things worse) so he could help set my bike up correctly so not to aggravate things any further and have a quick look at my hip. Very helpful and nice considering it was the weekend.

IMG_6685Then we rushed back to shower and then pick up my new car, which obviously turned Dark and Shady Anna into very happy Anna.

Fiat 500 A lovely shiny red Fiat 500…sport turbo something-or-other (Ben spec’d it – I know nothing about cars). It drives like a dream, very speedy despite it only being a 0.9 (hello no road tax!). It’s like a go-kart, so light and zippy. And the interior is all lovely and black and red.

New car selfieNew car selfie – self-indulgent I know, but I just couldn’t help it

After that Ben and me went out for a little cycle on our road bikes with our friend who’s also bought a new road bike. In true Anna style though after about 5 miles I panicked it would make my hip hurt and decided to turn back home (around 10 miles in total – not a huge distance I know).

The rest of the day was me moping about umming and arring about the next day’s race and generally being quite annoying to be around. Ben is quite the saint to live with me when I’m suffering from a niggle!

Speaking of Ben, we went out for dinner with previously mentioned amazing sports masseuse and his wife on Friday night and Ben did the most amazing parking.

Close parking Our car is on the left. There was perhaps a little bit more space on the other side but it was so tight. I am hugely impressed! He had his proper Serious Parking Face on and I was just stood there biting my nails. Stupid Mini driver though, learn to park!

Sunday was our Netley 10k…more on that in my next post!

Netley 10k (14) 18.05.14 (Spoiler alert: I did indeed run it)

Do you have sports massages regularly? I would have them every week if I could.

Are you good at parking? I think I’m OK at parking… it’s just general driving I struggle with 😉

Do you get grumpy when you can’t run/work out?

Another wedding and yet more cake

I’ve had four days off and yet I feel like I’m even more tired. We’ve just been crazy busy. But in a nice way.

Ben and me had Thursday and Friday off as we had a wedding Thursday afternoon and were staying the night in the hotel where the reception was being held. On Thursday morning we tried to get some boring house jobs done and also sort my new car out (very exciting!) Then we headed to the wedding, which was being held in the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.

IMG_6630 Basically it’s this huge tower-like structure where you can go up in a lift and see amazing views. Well, I say amazing…it’s about as amazing as it can get in Portsmouth 😉 Because we got there about 40 minutes before the wedding began we waited in the cafe and had a sneaky bit of cake.

Spinnaker Tower wedding

We had a slice of carrot cake and millionaire shortbread and had half each of both. This is big news as I never normally share cake!

Spinnaker Tower views

Despite the weather being less than stellar, the views were fantastic. It was really quite a unique and lovely ceremony.

Spinnaker WeddingAnd there was a glass floor you could stand on (without shoes) and look straight down. Very cool.

After the ceremony we headed back to the hotel for the reception. Despite my previous cake, I was getting hungry. The meal was a buffet and in true Anna fashion I started getting antsy. I hate buffets. I’m always scared they’ll not be enough food – and consequently eat way too much. When will I ever learn? Ben said he thinks it’s hilarious, but I tried to make him understand by saying imagine that the bar was a buffet format and there were only so many drinks available. His eyes lit up in panic. Exactly!

Wedding food Spinnaker I ate quite a lot of sweets from the sweet buffet too…and three *little* pieces of wedding cake. I felt quite full by the end. And rather rough. It was a good evening though with lots of great company and banter.

IMG_6654The sign reads: “I’m here for the cake” 

I woke up feeling a little delicate and quite bloated. Not good!

Then we had a mad whirl-wind of a day where we had to dash back home to Southampton to pick up my paper bit of my driving licence to then drive back to Portsmouth to sort my new car out. We’ve officially bought a new Fiat 500!

IMG_6627And amazingly it’ll be ready this week as they had one in stock to the spec we wanted. How lucky is that??

Then from there we had to go home, do the food shop, go to the post office and pick up our road bikes from Halfords. And I wanted to do a bit of baking for a party I was going to the next day. Whew.

As we don’t have a bike rack we could only get one bike safely in our car so I cycled mine home (it was only 4 miles). It was great to get a proper feel for the bike. It felt really good. It fit well, I felt very comfortable and it was light and speedy – from my limited experience!

Unfortunately we don’t have anywhere to put them yet as our shed is rather full. So they’re in the living room for the moment.

IMG_6669 Looks fine, right…? Alfie doesn’t even care.

After Parkrun on Saturday morning I headed to a surprise party for our lovely previous ladies’ captain who’s currently pregnant. A fair few of us made cakes and it was all very lovely. She was very surprised and chuffed (I think!) I brought cupcakes but forgot to take a photo. They looked liked cupcakes… 😉

IMG_6666 Obviously I was in my element with the cake…

So much cakeWhich was well documented by our current ladies captain (I’ve stolen the photos from her – thank you, Kelly!)

But this was the best part:

Mini running gear  Photo credit – stolen from Karen (thank you!)

Now, I’m not a baby person but that is just adorable! Mini Hedge End Running Club gear. Karen’s baby will be the best dressed baby in town 🙂

On Sunday we went to the Alton 10 mile race where Ben aimed to beat his PB (around 1:26 I think) and I planned to just run with him and help push him along and keep him company. I’ll do a recap of my latest runnings in another post. Spoiler alert: Ben got his PB 🙂

Whew. Lots going on!!

Next weekend is the Netley 10k which is our running club championships (lots of medals up for grabs for different achievements). I’ve eaten so much rubbish the past few days (yep, I include cake in that) that I’ve decided to go on a bit of a ‘detox’ this week. I say detox but what I mean is a ‘cake and rubbish free zone’. No cake, chocolate or ‘big’ treats until I finish the race. I feel like I went overboard the past couple of days and I want to get back to feeling good and in race shape!

How was your weekend?

What’s the best part of a wedding for you? I’d be lying if I said the cake was one of my favourite parts…

What’s your car like? I’ve never had a new car so this is very exciting. I will be cleaning it every weekend…maybe.

How do you deal with a weekend or few days of eating rubbish?