Our trip to London and all the food

I’m so behind on my posts. I have so much to talk about as well!

I’ll start first with an incredible weekend I had with Kyle that as just SO good. Kyle and I were super excited about it. It was literally all our favourite things, but sadly without any running.

We planned to go to London for my Christmas present, which Kyle had gotten me. A chicken wings tour! I mean, this was a perfect gift and a perfect excuse for us to spend a night in London and enjoy ourselves.

Originally we’d planned to do the tour on the Friday, stay over and then do parkrun and brunch Saturday. However it turned out that the chicken wings thing was only available Wednesday or Sunday… ehhh. So no parkrun for us sadly as we’d be travelling up Sunday morning to get there for the wings at lunch, then head home Monday after brunch.

It’s funny because after we got there we wondered why we hadn’t brought our running kit so we could do a cheeky run Monday morning. It was a bit of a lost opportunity but I think we were both just too focused on the food.

We did Lee-On-Solent parkrun on Saturday though and ran 1.5 miles there and 1.5 miles back to the car so we could get in a “long run” of just over 6 miles. Obviously 6 miles isn’t that long in comparison to previous runs I’ve done but I’m being super sensible about this comeback and I don’t want to just jump into a 10 miler and bugger everything up.

Anyway, parkrun was good. I saw a few people I knew, which is always nice and had a nice run with Kyle. We took it relatively easy and had a very enjoyable run. We made sure not to stand too close to the back as we have done in the past as it gets crazy busy at Lee and it’s a fairly narrow start.

Sunday we woke up early without an alarm – which is always nice. We got into a bad habit of sleeping very late a few weeks ago which made us feel terrible. I say late, it was about 9am, but this is late for us. We just felt so groggy and like we’d had too much sleep. As lovely as lie-ins are I’d rather naturally wake up earlier and feel refreshed. We relaxed in bed for a while as our train wasn’t until 10 and I decided to go for another short run.

I wanted to be running two days in a row again and adding another 3 mile run to the weekend would help me gently transition into this. The run went really well. No issues and it felt OK (asides from it being around Clanfield which is so fricking hilly!).

It was a fantastic Airbnb!

After the run we got ready and headed to London on the train. It was very tight on timings to get to Shoreditch, check in at our Airbnb (we love an Airbnb) and then meet our tour guide for the wings experience. But we made it bang on time!

It was just us on the tour which was really nice (the tour can have up to 15 people I think). The woman who was our guide (I’m embarrassed to say that while we did get her name I don’t think I’d be able to spell it correctly) was SO lovely. She was friendly, knew so much about the local area and just the right amount of involved. (If you’re interested it’s THIS experience).

She took us to Orange Buffalo to begin with an we got to try two different heat levels. Both flavours were fantastic and it came with a thick blue cheese dip. Honest to God, I could bathe in this stuff. One of my absolute favourite things in the entire world is a buffalo chicken wing with a thick cold blue cheese dip. NOTHING beats that texture and flavour combo for me. I am a simple creature I know.

She showed us around the local area (an area I’d heard about but never been myself), with all the street art, the food market, Banksy artwork… it was fascinating. It was hustling and bustling and busy with electrically (and far cooler) dressed people. It felt very “hip” (and by saying hip I have now fully separated myself from any form of coolness, I do realise this). She had fantastic tid-bits of information and interesting local knowledge.

Cool street art and a tree with lots of trainers hanging from it

The second stop was in the Boxpark in Shoreditch called Coqfighter. It was very exciting for me because I’d heard about these places on social media (follow my Instagram @AnnaTheCake88 for my foodie loving) and now I was getting to actually go there.

The wings were so different from this location because they were of the fried chicken variety so had a crispy Vodka and sesame coating and came with a soy sauce and chilli dip. Damn they were SO good. So different to what I’ve usually had before. The soy sauce dip, dear lord, was good. And the crispiness of the chicken just rocked my world. I was in heaven.

Then we headed, somewhat sadly, to our last location called the Blue Kitchen. We had double fried buffalo wings and Szechuan wings (pictured above). I didn’t think anything could top what we’d had so far but these were FRICKING AMAZING. Double fried? Yes please. In my excitement I sadly didn’t get a picture of the buffalo…but they were fantastic I assure you.

I think I amused our guide a bit because I was clearly VERY into my wings and did a good job of polishing everything off. She was amazed that we ran as much as we did as well – all the marathons and parkruns. It was fun talking to her about it. I felt like we just bamboozled her with our weird lives of eating and running haha.

After the wings tour, we headed to Doughnut Time for some pudding. I mean I was pretty full to be honest but we wanted to get some of these oh so Instagrammable doughnuts. Kyle was VERY excited. We’ve both had them before and had decided as a treat to get a box (and take a couple home for Kyle’s parents – my parents declined as they’re both on Slimming World).

We got over-excited and bought NINE. I mean, Jesus, they’re not exactly cheap either. I think they are a little over-priced and over-hyped for what they are, but it was good fun choosing and enjoying the moment.

We took a big box back with us to the Airbnb and enjoyed a few there. The ones I’d chosen (Sia Later, Ice Ice Bae and Caramacklemore) were delicious. The Sia Later (red velvet) was the best, Ice Ice Bae (with cookie dough and brownie bites) was VERY sweet but tasty and the Caramacklemore (white chocolate) was somewhat disappointing, but possibly because I was quite sugared out by that point. Yes, I was that greedy and ate three. I fully enjoyed them 🙂

Caramacklemore

The next morning, after a lovely little lie-in, we walked to Covent Garden with a little stop in Starbucks for a coffee. We had brunch booked for 12 at the Big Easy (blows my mind that this was the earlier we could book – surely this is now lunch?). We’ve had brunch here before and it’s all you can eat and it’s just fantastic. I mean, if you’re a big meat-eater of course.

We did have a little stop in ANOTHER Doughnut Time, but this time the Doughtnut Time “World”. You can really tell how much they bank on social media for their notoriety.

The shop was set up specifically for taking photos and promoting to Instagram. While it was good fun and quite quirky, it felt a little odd and, well, clinical.

I imagine when they have events it’s a bit better but just Kyle and I in the shop meant it was a bit weird. And the posters around the shop saying that the props were for photos only furthered this. I obviously fully enjoy social media and taking photos, but it was a tad overkill (tho tbf, it had worked for us right?).

Anyway, Kyle bought another of the OG doughnuts because he enjoyed it so much the day before and wanted to take one home. I refrained – I’d eaten three the day before and had one to take home, so I was happy.

Then we got to the Big Easy in Covent Garden and enjoyed even more excess of food. BBQ ribs, smoked sausage, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, chips, cornbread, coleslaw and beans.

It was fantastic and we left very full! The staff are very attentive and brought out more of what we asked and we enjoyed ourselves a lot, but we were now dunzo’ed on food haha.

So a whole lot of eating and a little bit of running!

Do you like all you can eat experiences?

Are you a doughnut fan?

Do you like social media? Do you use it a lot?

Back to my usual antics…

I cannot tell you how happy I am right now with my knee.

Things have improved so much! After spending so many weeks with a knee that either constantly ached, clicked, niggled and just felt uncomfortable to slowly seeing different symptoms disappear is just fantastic. To walk down a corridor without thinking about my knee is a relief in itself. I want to do a more in depth post on the things that helped and what I did so keep an eye out for that.

This weekend was full of good stuff. Friday night Kyle and I made rocky road ready for the morning as we would be going to Netley parkrun for his 50th. I do feel somewhat bad about how long this has taken because because obviously Kyle could have gone to parkrun without me or have me support, but when I’m injured we’re both a bit more inclined to stay in bed and make the most of not having to rush out the door on a Saturday. But now my knee feels better, we’re back at it.

We made the rocky road by basically melting a load of chocolate we had stashed from Christmas and random times with a load of butter and then mixing in marshmallows, chopped glace cherries, M&M’s and broken biscuits. SO GOOD.

The next morning we luckily naturally woke up earlier than the alarm and decided to get up and sort out the rocky road as it still needed slicing. Jeeze it was hard work! And I ended up eating lots of little pieces that fell off (“tidying up”). So much sugar so early, oops. It did not make me feel that great I must say… greedy Anna strikes again.

Kyle got a milestone shout-out in the run briefing which was lovely and then we were off. I ran a fairly easy pace with my friend Mike as I hadn’t seen him a while and it was nice to have a chatty run. He was running every day in January so he was happy to plod with me. Kyle had more in his legs so zoomed off ahead.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

We ran the winter course which is harder going, but to be honest I felt very comfortable running.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

In fact, chatting to Mike just took my mind completely off how my knee was feeling and when we finished I realised I’d just had a normal run!

My time was 24:55 which I was happy with.

We then handed out rocky road chunks and cleared down the course before heading to the café for tea, more rocky road and a slice of cake from someone else celebrating a milestone.

While I enjoyed all the delicious treats, I didn’t feel it did me any favours not having had anything substantial to eat yet. But it was worth it.

After lots of chores and boring life admin, Kyle and I went to Smith and Western for an early dinner. I mean, this really is our kind of place. Lots of ribs, burgers and, of course my favourite, chicken wings. It was nice and quiet though (it apparently gets very busy and loud later with lots of birthday shout-outs).

Of course I’d already checked out the menu and knew I was almost certainly having the chicken wing sharing platter… but just for me. Kyle was tempted as well. We asked the waitress what kind of numbers we were looking at because that would dictate if we would have one each, one between us or need to order something else alongside (yes, we are greedy people).

The waitress said it was 21 wings, 7 of each flavour (Southern Comfort, BBQ and Buffalo). That sounded like a reasonable number for us to have one each. The waitress laughed at us and said we clearly loved our wings. Yep! Kyle also ordered curly fries.

When the meals came out it looked massive. The waitress then told us that they’d actually just changed their ratios of chicken wings and it was now THIRTY per platter, 10 of each flavour. Wowza! The wings were so tasty. I definitely preferred the buffalo flavour though to the sweeter ones. The BBQ was nice and tangy but the Southern Comfort was really quite sweet if you had a few in a row.

We were well and truly stuffed afterwards of course. The waitress said she was super impressed. She asked us if we wanted pudding and I was like “we’re good but we’re not THAT good”!

That said, I did somehow manage to squeeze in a couple of pieces of rocky road later on as we chilled watched a film. A sweet end to the evening 😉

The next morning I felt well and truly fuelled to go to my personal training session. With my PT we just focus on leg strength. The idea is to get me strong for running so we do a lot of running focused exercises. It’s only been the last month or so I’ve been back seeing him due to my knee, but now I feel so much stronger. My squats are back up to where they were last year (75kg – not a huge weight I guess, but for me it is!), my hip thrusts are back at 90kg and I feel GOOD. I really like seeing my PT as he knows exactly what my goals are and understands my injury history and fears.

Then I headed off to Kyle’s dad’s to have a lovely pork roast dinner. I know, who would have thought I’d be hungry again after all those wings? But clearly my stomach is a bottomless pit!

Happy times indeed 🙂

What’s your favourite roast dinner?

Do you ever see a personal trainer?

Would you say you’re greedy?

Chicago Food Recap

Ahh our Chicago trip seems so long away now. But the memories are good 🙂

Staying in three different AirBnb’s helped extend our reach of where was easily accessible to go sightseeing (and eating). I did a bit of research before we went (one of my favourite things to do pre-holiday it must be said) and found a few top contenders for the best deep pan pizzas in Chicago.

Deep pan is a BIG deal in Chicago. One of the top rated was called Pequod’s. It was lucky we stayed in Wicker Park for the first night because in all honesty we probably wouldn’t have gone there otherwise because it was quite far out from our other Airbnb locations. I mentioned this meal a few posts ago, so go check that out.

Another pizza place we tried out was Lou Malnati’s and was actually one of our final meals. This was another high contender on all the lists of “best pizza”. As a chain there were many all over Chicago. It was very similar to Pequod’s in terms of how long the pizza took to prepare and cook (over 30 minutes) but I have to say, I far more enjoyed this pizza. And I don’t want to really as I always prefer more independent food places over franchises, but it is what it is.

I think the reason I preferred it more is because there wasn’t quite as much dough. It still had a thick base but it was a bit firmer and crispier. When we took a slice from the pan it held its shape better.

It was a lot more cheesy as well – in fact, one slice alone had 730 calories. That is crazy. As I always say tho, you’re on holiday and for me it’s part and parcel of enjoying myself out there.

I had two slices and a whole plate of chicken wings (a mix of buffalo and BBQ flavoured). And we had a sharer of mozzarella sticks.

I’m sure I don’t need to point out the obvious, but that’s a lot of food. It was very good though and we both enjoyed it immensely. But we were equally glad we had a 30 minutes’ walk back to the Airbnb to allow a bit of digestion and fresh air afterwards. Oof!

Of course it goes without saying I ate a lot of chicken wings.

Embarrassing really but I just fricking love them and the States do them so well. And not just your standard buffalo or BBQ fodder, but a range of flavours. While my previous favourite was the standard buffalo with a blue cheese dip (it has to have the dip), my new favourite is Garlic Parmesan butter. Hold. The. Boat. It was so good. No sauce needed, dripping in buttery cheesy goodness. Heavenly.

And I have no shame in admitting that I found this out when we ordered Uber Eats to the Airbnb and had an easy lazy dinner in. Out of a polystyrene box, it rocked my world. I’m not a posh person, I have no food snobbery, and I will happily enjoy it.

A mix of BBQ and Garlic Paremsan cheese

I did eat more colourful food during my time abroad of course. I had a very tasty “bowl” from Chipotle as an easy quick lunch. Tho the length of time it took to order and get it really questions how much of a fast food this really was…and it wasn’t cheap. I did double up on meat and add guacamole but seriously it came to over $10!

And on the same Mexican note, we had a lovely Mexican street food style lunch in a lovely little spot in Little Italy called Chilango. I had a steak rice bowl with lots of salad and salsa.

The post marathon lunch was of course epic as well. We walked the not-very-far way back to our apartment, I showered (best shower of my life, it always is after a marathon) and then stumbled into the very close Bar Louie and proceeded to order far too much food, of which we of course ate most of.

Pulled chicken nachos to share, chicken wings and pork “wings” (kind of ribs on a stick) for me, Pretzels and a burger for Kyle. The waitress was impressed.

The nachos were incredible. I think Kyle humoured me by agreeing to order them because he only had a few while I hoovered them up like nobody’s business. The wings were good and the pork was delicious.

I mean, it all tasted like I’d just run 26.2 miles and there is no better seasoning than that! (Edit: you don’t have to run a marathon to eat all this. I have eaten like this many times and not run a marathon, but the fact you are so hungry and your muscles are so tired and in need of a refuel makes it taste that much more satisfying).

We tried many treats throughout our holiday too like cinnamon sugar pretzel bites at the Navy Pier.

We had Insomnia cookies after we visited the Lincoln Zoo. We loved how they also sell milk along side them and that the cookies were WARM.

And of course fro-yo as a mid-afternoon snack… with all the toppings.

Chicago was a fantastic place to mosey around, shop and enjoy the sights.

I think I enjoyed it a bit more than New York because it felt less hectic, less busy, less noisy and dirty. The weather was cold and sunny, and of course windy. We were lucky to have one rain day at the start but the rest was beautiful.

And to take home (and one evening’s snack of choice) I bought far too many M&M’s.

The different flavours were amazing! White Chocolate Peanut?! Almonds! Pretzels! Ahh it was such a good haul. Now just to pace myself with them…

What do you love eating in America?

Are there any foods you just have to try when on holiday?

Are you a sweet or savoury person? I used to think I was definitely sweet but I think I’m steering closer to savoury (though of course cake is always a winner for me).

A failed parkrun but an epic burger

Coming back from injury is a tumultuous and emotional process (for me anyway).

You fill yourself huge amounts of hope and excitement. Yesss I can run. I can’t wait to jump ease back into training. Things start to feel very positive after so much negativity and darkness (perhaps an exaggeration, but you get the vibe).

I woke up on Saturday morning and straight away knew my hamstring was feeling pretty terrible. The plan was for Kyle and I to go to Netley as we hadn’t been in so long and I missed seeing people I used to regularly touch base with. I wanted to catch up with my friend Mike as well. Kyle wasn’t feeling particularly well but both of us, possibly unwisely, carried on anyway.

As we walked on over to the start area I knew deep down this wasn’t going to go well but I pushed that feeling aside and convinced myself a miracle would occur.

Of course a miracle did not occur. As soon as I started running it felt uncomfortable. Not quite as bad as pre-new physio but definitely not great. Ehhhh this was pants. I was glad to have no one running with me (Kyle was running solo – I didn’t want to hold him back again). I could spend my time focusing on how it felt and wondering what to do.

I was literally spiralling through so many thoughts… do I stop? Am I making it worse? Is it as bad as before? Should I push on through? And all the while I would have different people I knew overtake me as I increasingly got slower, and they’d say something along the lines of, “Either I’m running too fast or you’re running slowly!” with a chuckle.

And I don’t mind that people are overtaking me or that I’m running slowly but it just further compounded that I wasn’t running at my natural pace. I was running well over 9 minute miles. And of course there’s nothing wrong with that, but I felt I couldn’t run faster. Not because of fitness but because my injury was holding me back.

So in the end I stopped before the first mile. I found a point on the course I could quickly dash off from so few people would notice. I didn’t want someone to see and ask if I was OK. I just wanted to disappear. I was embarrassed, frustrated and angry. As I pulled away from the course I burst into tears. It was pathetic really but I just felt so frustrated and annoyed.

A lovely woman walking her dog asked if I was OK and it did feel ridiculous trying to explain what was wrong. In the end I just said I was OK and I rung my dad (who later told me having a phone call from me at 9:12 on a Saturday morning is never going to bode well…).

Kyle was still running so I just sobbed to my dad about how sad I was and how I felt panicked about Chicago and how I thought I was heading in the right direction…until now.

Eventually, after morosely walking around the cricket pitch away from the course, I headed back to the parkrun area. I didn’t want to cheer anyone on. I didn’t want to talk to anyone really. I felt embarrassed and I didn’t want to explain I was injured. I found Kyle and Mike, who’d just finished, and I explained how I’d pulled out and that I just wanted to go home. Mike understood, gave me a hug and then Kyle and I left.

Kyle was obviously lovely and we had a nice day ahead of us going to Bournemouth so I quickly cheered up. We got showered and sorted and then sat in the long traffic to get to Monty’s Burger Lounge to meet up with some of Kyle’s friends.

We’ve been to this restaurant before (over a year ago!) and we loved it. I’d recently won a burger from them as well through Instagram (they ran a competition and I won it) so it was the perfect place to meet with his friends.

I gave Kyle the free burger as I’m not a huge burger fan. The burger is called The Sinner and contains chicken nuggets, hasbrowns (which I don’t like), a 12oz beef patty, pulled pork sauce and American cheese. So pretty epic.

I, of course, had two lots of BBQ chicken wings. I adore their wings. So juicy and tasty. Probably some of my BBQ flavoured favourite wings (buffalo are still my all-time favourite).

And I also had a portion of mozzarella bites (coated in cheesy Dorita crisps!).

We had a lovely time eating and chatting away to Kyle’s friends. It massively helped take my mind off of my failed run. There are so many more important things in life and having lovely people to spend your time with helps puts things into perspective 🙂

But my hamstring thankfully feels a bit better and I hope to continue trying to run. I’m seeing my new physio again this week so FINGERS CROSSED.

Have you ever got upset about a failed run?

Have you ever had a parkrun DNF?

What’s your preference: Buffalo or BBQ wings? I’m also partial to vegan wings too – either cauliflower or tempeh, both are nice!

What I’ve been loving lately (July)

July has flown by, it is CRAZY.

So some cool stuff has been happening round here.

I’ve been eating some very tasty food as of late. As you should well know by now I’m a big believer in eating for your body and for your soul. Kyle and I went to the newly opening Greenwich pub which is home to the Nice Slice. They sell RIDICULOUS pizzas (20 inches!), burgers, chicken and lots of vegan options. We went with work friends for a random Thursday dinner and it was GOOD.

I had the double chicken burger (the Mickey Burger) with buffalo sauce and pickles with a side of chicken wings (obvs).

Kyle had a 20 inch (!) meaty pizza. I did have a cheeky slice 😉

The burger and wings were fairly spicy. I should have ordered the other chicken burger I think, that didn’t have buffalo sauce because two lots of buffalo was quite a bit to contend with! It was very tasty though. We’ll definitely go back!

Over the last year or so I’ve become a big M&M fan. I don’t know quite how this has happened but it’s happened. I’m actually not a big fan of the traditional chocolate ones, but all the others are a big yes for me (I could literally eat a giant bag of the peanut ones…god so good).

Anyway, I recently spotted in Tesco that they’d brought out an M&M chocolate bar – in several different flavours. I’m not a hazlenut fan (urgh Nutella…) so I avoided that one, but I bought the others. LEMME TELL YOU, they are INCREDIBLE.

It’s speckled with mini M&M’s and the peanut one has peanuts throughout. Very yummy!

I’ve also heard on the grapevine that there are now salted caramel M&M’s as well. They currently do the caramel ones, but they’re crunchy rather than soft like the American version (I love both to be honest). I will be grabbing some as soon as I can.

On a perhaps more health-focused note, I was recently sent some supplements from Wicked Gummy Co.

They’re almost like sweets, I kid you not. I was sent the full line-up: Happy Tummy, Hair, Skin & Nails, Multi Vitamin, Peaceful Zzzzz and Vitamin D Sunshine. A solid list of good stuff.

They are very much like gummy sweet and are tasty to eat. They’re also vegan friendly. They do contain glucose though, so be wary on that front if you’re popping all the supplement at once. That’s a fair amount of sugar!

The Multi Vitamin contains vitamin C, A, B6, E, selenium and biotin. This is all good for bone health, the immune system, vision and brain. The Peaceful Zzzzz contains valerian root extract (which has been argued to help with sleep, though I think conclusive scientific evidence isn’t there yet) and 5-HTP (again, similar to valerian).

The Hair, Skin & Nails contains similar ingredients to the multi vitamin but with zinc and folate. Happy Tummy contains Lactobacillus cultures, which are supposed to help promote good bacteria in your gut.

Now I can’t say for certain if my hair has suddenly become shinier, or my bones stronger, or I’ve caught less colds BUT they taste really nice and are easier to take than “proper” tablets. If you want to up your vitamins but hate tablets or don’t think your diet is good enough then these might be a good shout. To be honest, I just quite enjoy having a couple after my breakfast for a nice sweet treat 🙂

Do you take any supplements?

What’s your favourite kind of M&M?

Do go out for dinner with work people?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the supplements from Wicked Gummy Co for free in return for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**