QECP parkrun, the Sweet Tooth Festival and the best ribs

Through Facebook I found out about an event that was RIGHT up my street. The Sweet Tooth Festival. I mean whaaaat.

On further investigation I found it was in Fareham, very local to me, and basically a load of stalls selling cakes, sweets, fudge and more. I was very keen to check this out!

But first, parkrun. I decided on Queen Elizabeth Country park parkrun as it was most local to Kyle as he very kindly offered to cheer me on. He’s still not running. He’s being far more patient and sensible than I would be as he wants everything to feel completely normal before he starts running again, which is obviously a good idea. It would be a shame to rush back into things and re-ignite the injury. But being the lovely guy he is, he offered to come with me to QECP.

We got there for 8.45am and walked the very short but STEEP distance to the start. I’ve run this parkrun once before but in the pouring rain so it was nice to have it in drier conditions. There weren’t a huge number of other runners – I don’t think there are usually because it’s quite out of the way from residential areas and it’s a tough one to regularly do. The run director delightfully informed us it sits at number 509 on the flat scale out of 519 parkruns!

Kyle would be able to cheer us on twice – after about a mile with the first loop and then at the finish. The first mile is a straight up slog and then a breakneck downhill, so quite varied!My legs were already burning within the first five minutes. I managed to take the lead out of the females quite soon but there were only 36 other females and 85 runners in total.I was actually quite surprised at how good my legs felt despite being asleep not very long ago and having run a marathon less than a week ago. I decided to just embrace it. The second mile is the worst. The hill you have to climb really does just go up, up, up. When you think you’re almost there, you turn a corner and see more to come. Definitely not a negative splitter!The run felt good but tough. The final mile has a great downhill section to really gain some speed and then some cheeky inclines and then a straight run to the end. I somehow managed to get myself 8th place which was very cool.
My time was 22:13 – I’m over the moon with that! It certainly helps to have someone cheering you of course.

After sorting ourselves out, Kyle and I headed to the Sweet Tooth Festival in Fareham.I’d describe myself as a small child in a sweet shop but realistically I was like Anna in a cake shop 😉 I was very excited. It was £4 entry and then we were able to wander round the different stalls and TRY ALL THE TASTERS. CAKE TASTERS. I mean, this is LITERALLY heaven. I realise I’m over-using the caps here, but seriously. Amazing.There were so many different local cake bakers and sweet-related companies – it was so cool! Companies like The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen, The Game Bird Country Catering, The Rolling Scones…etc. etc.
As we hadn’t had any breakfast yet and were planning to head to Southampton for lunch we really tried to not go to mad on the tasters…but I did have my fair share of brownie chunks, cupcake bits, pieces of cookie and forks of cake slices. A decent breakfast I think! 😉

I think I was mostly impressed by the amazing looking cakes. The Rolling Scones had so many fantastic and unique sounding cakes… a Rolo chocolate cake and a Caramac cake to name just two. And they looked incredible. The best part was there were taster slices that we could try. I mean WOW.There was even a competition to guess the weight of a cake – to WIN the cake. Kyle and I took ages trying to decide. We’ve both done weights in the gym quite a bit so we were trying to imagine what dumbbell it would equate to.
This was some serious business! In the end we went for 3.5kg. It was apparently around 1.9kg, so we were quite a bit out…wishful thinking eh!I could have spent a fortune at the festival. In the end I feel I was fairly restrained (for me!). I bought a blondie, a salted caramel brownie and a cookie.Kyle got a cookie, a Ferraro Rocher brownie and we both shared a rocky road slice. We saved them though because we were heading for lunch straight after. The temptation to eat them though was SO strong.It was a good thing that the traffic was horrendous getting into Southamtpon (because of the boat show) as it meant our stomachs could have a bit of time before our next onslaught of food. Because we’d enjoyed Red Dog Saloon so much the last time we went we decided to go there again. The last time we went Kyle had had these amazing deep fried ribs as a starter and we were both hankering after them again.

God they are SO good. To be honest I probably could have eaten an entire rack of them but they’re very salty and probably terribly bad for you… but they taste omg good.And for mains I went for chicken wings… I know, I’m so predictable. I went for quite a piggy 24. The options were 6, 12 or 24 and I knew 12 wouldn’t be quite enough. I wasn’t sure how spicy the buffalo would be so I went for half buffalo and half BBQ. I should have just had buffalo though, they were SO good and not spicy at all. I didn’t have any sides as I knew I’d literally have a lot on my plate. Kyle had a beasty burger and epic fries with bacon, cheese and chicken bits on.I managed 19 wings before throwing the towel in. I didn’t want to push myself to discomfort – I had nothing to prove this time 😉 I eat for enjoyment after all. They were very tasty though and I ate all the buffalo ones. We were far too full for pudding, and we also had our sweet treats back at home. I can definitely see her going back here a few times!

The next day I left my run until the afternoon so I could enjoy a lovely lie-in and chilled morning. It was such a nice change not to go running straight away when I woke up. I rarely ever have such lazy Sunday morning. And actually it worked perfectly because it was pouring it down with cold rain and howling a gale outside. It was a welcome relief to not go out first thing.When I did finally get out it was blue skies and only a little breezy. I had some grand ambitions of doing 15 miles but after running 10 miles on Thursday evening and being a week from the marathon I sensibly decided 12 would be quite enough. I know for me this high mileage so soon is a bit reckless so I need to be careful. Injuries are easily come by for me.Annoyingly my headphones ran out of battery four miles in but it was actually quite nice to have a “silent” run. I just relaxed and let my mind wander. Though I could definitely feel my legs getting tired towards the end. I was glad to stop. It was not one of those “I can run forever runs”! But a solid run nonetheless.

Do you ever do a long run without music or a podcast?

Do you enjoy food festivals? They’re one of my favourite things.

What brownie flavour would you go for?

Running to Havant parkrun and double breakfast

This weekend gone was a busy but good one! Through work I’d gotten a place at the New Forest 10k for the Sunday, but as I’m currently marathon training I still needed to get a long run in so I decided to run to parkrun on the Saturday to make up to 16 miles.

I haven’t done Havant before and after checking how far away it was from my house it was an almost perfect 13.5 miles away. So I could run there and do the parkrun and get the 16 miles I was after. Kyle very helpfully offered to cheer me on and then drive me back afterwards. He’s sadly not running at the moment as he’s being super sensible and giving his leg some time to get over its annoying niggle. But it was nice to know he’d be there and as he’d done that parkrun before he was able to give me some pointers and inside knowledge on what the course was like.

My alarm was set for the delightful time of 6.20am and at about 6.50am I headed out into the rather chilly morning to begin my journey. Though I’d sensibly put the route on my Garmin the day before I forgot to start my run using the route…and only realised about a mile in. I didn’t want to stop and restart my watch so I decided to wing it. The majority of the route I knew but it was the last bit when I’d get into Havant that I was a bit hazy about but I could work that out later (the confidence I have in my ability to find my way is probably unwise I know).

My legs felt tired and heavy as I set off…having been asleep not that long ago! But it was nice to be out in the cool fresh air and see the sun rising. It was very peaceful. I listened to a podcast which embarrassingly actually made me laugh a lot out-loud as I was running (a review of the new Nun film… “quiet, quiet, NUN” is basically how the film goes apparently).The temperature was perfect for a long run. Started chilly and then I felt fine.The nice thing about these sorts of runs is that because you have a destination to get to it doesn’t feel like too much of a slog. You’re running with a purpose to get somewhere, rather than just a loop.I did have the dreaded Portsdown Hill to go up though, which I knew would be a bit of a grind. It lasted for a delightful two miles but the views at the top were worth it. You can see straight over to Portsmouth (some might say that’s not a great view but ehhh).I did have to take a lot of care though (selfie taking aside…) as there wasn’t a consistent pavement along the road and the cars do come quite quickly down. But thankfully they all gave me a lot of space and didn’t make me throw myself into the ditch.When I got to the top of Portsdown Hill it then became more of a gentle decline which was nice for the legs! As I ran down the other side to Havant I then had to start whipping my phone out for directions. There weren’t too many roads to turn down so it wasn’t a stretch on my ability to follow directions. I passed a little girl riding her bike in full princess regalia and her dad and her both clapped me on as I ran passed which was quite nice.

Then I finally arrived at Staunton Country Park, which is where Havant parkrun is located. As you get closer to a parkrun around Saturday morning more and more runners start appearing, which is always comforting when you’re trying to find your way! Just follow the Lycra.Kyle was already there which was nice. He’d also packed me a water which I fully appreciated! Lots of brownie points 😉
I had about ten minutes to stand and chat before making my way to the start. I really wasn’t looking forward to this. I was feeling quite tired and I knew this parkrun was a tough one. One mini loop, then two big loops with a steep decline and a fair amount of undulation all on rocky trail. Okaaaay.We got going and my legs loosened up again after the standing around and I instantly felt a wave of tiredness. Ahh three miles really wasn’t that long…but then actually, it was in reality to my now very tired legs.

Photo credit: Martyn Garvey

I got to the very steep decline (it even had a sign beforehand warning runners) and tried to just let myself go but it was a tough ask. Bit of crazy pounding on the legs and feet… eesh. Just have to relax into it and not try to brake too much.

The first big loop really was a grind. It was nice seeing Kyle as I finished the first loop but it felt like such a slog to think I had to do that loop again – including the decline. I felt very much on the struggle train in terms of my legs. The ground was quite uneven as well which wasn’t comfortably underfoot. The marshals were lovely though, cheering everyone on and smiling away.

Photo credit: Martyn Garvey

As we ran round the final bit I turned my foot over which gave a sharp pain in my ankle and made me yelp out-loud. I tentatively  continued running and it felt fine after a few steps. I’ve actually done this a few times in races and it’s never amounted to anything. I must have strong ankles. The only part of me not injury-prone clearly!I found my footing and managed to sprint to the finish. Ooooof that was tough. My time was 24:04 and I felt every single second of it!I finished and sat down, glad to finally stop and chill.
It was nice to get another parkrun ticked off, even if it was a challenging one. There aren’t many nearby anymore that I haven’t done… except the Medina one on the Isle of Wight but that’ll take a bit of organising in order to get a ferry across. I foresee a day-trip in the future…

Anyway, after finishing parkrun I quickly put on some jeans and two layers of jackets ready for my journey home… on the back of Kyle’s motorbike!I mean, the epitome of cool right there yes? I’ve actually never properly been on the back of a motorbike so this was quite the adventure. I was a teeeeeny bit scared when we hit the motorway I have to admit. It was such a crazy experience being in the “open” going so fast (well, not silly fast but fast enough!). Kyle’s a safe driver though and I relaxed as the journey carried on.

After showering and getting sorted it was then on for some much needed refuelling. We went to Josie’s in Bishops Waltham. Now I’d heard great things about this place (there’s actually one in Winchester and Petersfield as well). I probably got a little bit too excited (and my grumbling tummy got the better of me as usual) when I ordered a fry-up……And also persuaded Kyle to share some fried chicken maple pancakes with me.The chicken pancakes were in the ‘savoury’ section of the menu but they were far from it! They were very sweet. The chicken was delicious and crunchy and the thick pancakes were fluffy and dense. SO good but very very sweet.The fry-up, of course, was delicious too. A very happy Anna!

Thankfully we went on a lovely long walk afterwards to help digestion. We went along the Meon Valley Trail in Wickham which was really pretty (and a popular running and cycling route).It was a lovely afternoon and definitely needed after all the food! We actually did quite a bit of walking that day as we headed down the beach to walk the dogs as well.Gotta get out while the weather is still nice!

That evening we went out for more food (I know, I know). My parents had invited us to our favourite local pub, The Osborne View, so we headed for dinner there.I had the chicken wings to start (let’s ignore they were a sharing starter)But balanced this with a lovely chicken and feta salad. All in the name of balance, eh?A solid day’s running, walking and eating! I was feeling good for the New Forest 10k the next day. On to that in another post!

Do you prefer savoury or sweet breakfasts?

Do you run to parkrun?

Have you ever ridden on a motorbike?

Instagram and that time I over-dosed on chicken wings

I was going to do a “What I’m loving lately” style post but I ended up waffling too much about two things so let’s just go with that…

Instagram: Say what you like about Instagram and why people use it, I love it. I enjoy using it, I enjoy posting and I enjoy following other people. You do need a degree of “take this with a pinch of salt” perspective of course because people generally post their best selves and it’s a very glossy world vision (as with all social media). You have to be careful not to think too deeply or worry too much about the things you see. Comparison is the thief of joy, and there are ALWAYS going to be people running faster than you, looking more put-together than you, have more money than you, go to more cool places, holidays, restaurants, get more free stuff than you. But as long as you can accept that and not let it affect your own self-worth and value, it’s good fun.I love a good scroll and I enjoy posting gym selfies and running updates on there. It’s fluff and nonsense and, in reality, no one cares more than you do about your own posts, but I enjoy the micro blogging element of it.

And after than preamble…I’ve started another Instagram account on top of my usual @AnnaTheAppleBlog one. This one is a food-based Instagram account called @AnnaTheCake88. Yes yes I know 😉I wanted somewhere to document all the amazing food I’ve eaten and will go on to eat. But I didn’t want to muddy my purely fitness-focused account with food. So a new one was born. On this one I can follow all different kinds of local restaurants (or aspirational restaurants I’d love to go to) and be inspired to visit new places to try new foods. I can really focus in on food-related stuff, which, as you probably know, I love doing.

A twing thing: Speaking of food…I’ve been enjoying lots of good food recently. I never realised how good a place Southsea was for food. It’s just down the road from work which makes it a perfect place to drop into. With the weather recently being so nice it’s a great place to walk along the beech, have a drink and enjoy some good food.It kind of reminds me of Brighton, but obviously a lot smaller and not as popular. It has so many quirky restaurants – and most of them have vegan options or some even have entire vegan separate menus. I obviously love my meat but I don’t mind trying a bit of a vegan food once in a while as a change!

I went to Two Doors Down recently with Kyle on a Wednesday evening as it was “Twings” Night. All you can eat tacos and wings for £13. I was ALL over this. I love, love, love chicken wings so this was right up my street. We’d been to the restaurant before and had had a really nice meal there so we knew we were in for a treat. The waiter informed us that to stop people over-ordering and wasting food you had to finish the plate you were on before ordering more, which made complete sense. I’m almost certain they looked at me and thought “ha, we’ll make our money on this one”. Little did they know…

There were lots of different wing flavours (buffalo, Korean BBQ, honey and mustard, honey and sriracha, etc.) and you could choose between cauliflower “wings” and regular chicken wings. As much as I would have enjoyed trying the cauliflower ones I decided to focus on chicken because it actually took a while each time to order another plate as they were quite busy and we only had our table till 8pm. PRIORITIES PEOPLE. This also meant that I decided to not get any tacos either. The tacos had different flavours too – and jack fruit versions not just different meats.The wings were good. So good. I decided early on to avoid the baffalo wings… they were the first eight that I had and it really did a number on my tongue and mouth with the heat. So I tried the Korean BBQ next. Still fairly spicy. As I was in it for the long game, I decided to move to and stick with honey and mustard.In the end I managed five plates of eight chicken wings… 40 chicken wings in total. I won’t lie, the last plate was a struggle and certainly the last two wings I probably didn’t enjoy that much but 40 sounds better than 38 😉 I realise this is the height of gluttony but I genuinely didn’t intend to eat as many as I did going into it. I just have quite an appetite!

It was a fun evening for sure. The next day I honestly wasn’t hungry until about 1pm. I don’t know how many calories I consumed but if each chicken wing was 80-100 calories (no idea if this is accurate but I did a quick Google) that would between 3,200-4,000 calories. Blimey. Let’s pretend I didn’t have chips with that too…

Do you like chicken wings?

Have you ever done a food challenge? I’m not sure I would. I like to enjoy my food rather than race through it or prove a point.

Do you use Instagram?

SimplyHealth Great Newham London Run

After a fairly late Saturday night, Sunday morning saw another 6am alarm and catching a train to London at 7am with my dad. We’d postponed my birthday celebrations and his Father’s Day celebration for this day because it meant we could combine going to a race (and my dad spectating, which he always enjoys) and then going out for a nice meal. A meal my mum probably wouldn’t enjoy! She happily stayed at home, bless her, looking after the dogs.

The 10k race was the SimplyHealth Great Newham London Run. This is organised by the Great Run people, who also organise the Great South Run (a nearby to me 10 mile race in Portsmouth) and the Great North Run (er, not so nearby), amongst others. Though these races can be somewhat pricey, they are always quite a big event with lots of supporters, sponsors and runners. They always feel like a big event, which can be a nice change from the smaller local events I often do. Each have their own pluses and minuses I think!

I was graciously given a place by the Simply Health guys, who are the main sponsors of the Great Newham 10k. They provided me with a very cool technical t-shirt to wear as well. I felt part of the team and ready to go!I had a couple of apples on the train as my breakfast (having a proper breakfast required me getting up even earlier and I preferred to sleep).Plus I knew I’d be eating more than enough later to make up for it! We then got the tube to Stratford, easy peasy. As we got closer to the area more and more runners started appearing. This always gets me buzzed as the anticipation starts to build. It doesn’t matter what race I’m doing, or whether I’m going to go for a PB or whatever, I still get nervous and excited for every race.We had more than enough time, which was nice and meant no panicked rushing around (I often think this is my default in life…). We walked through Westfields shopping area and headed to the Olympic Park.We had a little mosey about, took some photos of course and then I used the facilities. I’m pretty sure I’ve made this point before but it’s always nice to have a proper toilet to use before a race! There were lots of people everywhere but it was all very well organised, with big signs pointing people in the right direction, and water available for people to drink before the race. It was already very very warm. Someone on a speaker kept telling people to drink water if they were thirsty and that “today was not the day for PBs”. I quite liked that approach 😉

I spotted the SimplyHealth area and found they were sorting out a GIF booth. As it was literally just set up it meant I was the first to give it a try. You had to strike four poses in this little booth (with or without props… I went without as I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to increase how much of an idiot I’d already look). You can check out my ridiculous GIF here… I panicked and did a Usain Bolt/dab so it failed somewhat. I got a print out as well as a digital copy of my GIF so that was pretty cool. There was quite the line after I finished so I was glad to have gotten there so early!

Then my dad headed off to where he was going to stand and I headed off to the start. There were pacers, which was handy for anyone aiming for a certain time, and a rather elaborate warm-up (all about dynamic movements and warming the muscles up, which I much prefer to just static stretching). As I was tired from the night before and my 16 miles, I figured sub-50 minutes would be a good aim.Just as we started someone said hello to me and I turned to see my Twitter/Instagram friend, Matt. I knew he, as well as a few others, were doing the race but doubted I’d find anyone I knew as it was so crowded. So I was pleasantly surprised to bump into him!

We started running together and I realised I needed to check if he was aiming for a particular time or how fast he was going to go. He was aiming for 42-43 minutes, which was somewhat faster than I was hoping for! But we were chatting away and the pace didn’t feel too tough. It was nice to have the company too.

The course was a lot more undulating than I was expecting and the sun was beating down quite intensely. I saw my dad at 4k and did my usual wave madly to him. As the miles ticked along I was finding it harder to maintain Matt’s pace. I pushed him to go on without me and he gliding off. As much as I enjoyed his company, it had put a bit of pressure on me to maintain that speed. I didn’t get slower but I didn’t catch up with Matt!The course wasn’t hugely supported but it was clearly marked out and there were two water stops and a shower mist thing to run through if you wanted. We looped around the Olympic Stadium, past the different Olympic bits and pieces. It was a lovely scenic course in that respect. The waters were small little bottles, which are better than huge ones you normally get (so much waste) and you could carry with you as you carried on.

As I got past 5k (at just over 22 minutes, which I was pleased with!) I started to feel like this was too much like hard work… I remembered my intense hate of 10ks. The views were very cool and I really wanted to take my phone out to snap a few photos but the effort of doing that seemed beyond me. You know it’s a tough race when I don’t take any photos!

I kept Matt in my eye ahead but there was no chance for me to catch up. As we got onto the last mile (and nubbin) I could see we were heading back to the Olympic Stadium. The finish was on the track inside the stadium so I felt like the end was in sight. We got onto the outdoors track (where the athletes warm up) and I tried to keep myself motivated to get to the end.As we entered inside the stadium (the bit underneath the seats) the music started pumping out. It was very warm as the air was so still and stale inside the tunnel. And it seemed to go on f.o.r.e.v.e.r. I had visions of us spiralling and spiralling through the tunnel for hours… until finally daylight could be seen and we came out onto the track. Ahh such a good finish. 100m of Olympic track, trying not to look like I was dying for the cameras and hearing the speakers calling out people’s names. I smiled like a loon as I crossed the line. Whew!My time was 44:11 (7th in my age/gender category and 16th female and 340th overall – happy with that!).Considering the 16 miles the day before, how hot it was, the undulating course and my lack of sleep (ALL the excuses of course!!), I am OVER THE MOON. I saw my dad in the stands and he waved at me with a Diet Coke (from a soda fountain – my favourite!) and I headed outside. I saw Matt and congratulated him on his speedy work – I think he was happy with his time. I’m sure he will smash the Berlin Marathon that he’s training for.I headed outside to find my dad. He handed me the cold Diet Coke, which was just heavenly.I’m really pleased with the time I did. I did have ambitions after D-Day 10k to beat that time (43:13) but it wasn’t to be. Though saying that, I’m pleased to have put some effort it rather than slacking off and doing another race where I “just enjoy it” and don’t race. Don’t get me wrong though, I love doing races like that! But it’s nice to get a solid speed workout in, especially when I so rarely do them on my own. It’s always easier in a race because you’re far more motivated.Anyway, after the race we headed to Reds True BBQ restaurant for lunch. By this point I was VERY hungry.

We chose this restaurant because we both enjoy BBQ food and I’d heard good things.The restaurant has a strange religious (or anti-religious?) theme to it… all “unholy sauces” and crazy artwork. I loved it! Very original and unique.We ordered some XXL chicken wings in a Buffalo sauce to share as a starter. I adore chicken wings (you might have realised this by now) and these were some very delicious ones. They were huge! The sauce was delicious as well, not too spicy but a nice after kick. They came with a very small portion of blue cheese sauce but to be honest it wasn’t the best I’ve had and there wasn’t enough for all the wings. The Buffalo sauce was good enough on it’s own though.

For main, my dad had a steak with garlic butter and chips (which he ate a very small amount of!) and I got half a rack of St. Louis ribs with BBQ sauce. They were very tender and tasty. Not the best I’ve ever had (as I’ve had a fair number!) but definitely up there as a good set of ribs. I also added on some rib tips. My first mouthful though didn’t bode well as they were SO chewy. However, after having another try I found some really tender bits too. So hit and miss there.

We left happy and full! But also, very tired. My dad had only 2,000 or so less steps than me which was crazy! He had done a lot of walking while I was running. I had a lovely nap on the train back 🙂

I fully recommend the Great Newham 10k. It was a lovely scenic 10k. Well organised and good fun.

Have you done any of the Great Run series?

Have you been to the Olympic Park before?

**Full disclaimer: I was given a free entry to this race in exchange for an honest blog post review. All opinions are my own.**

Orlando food recap and how much weight I gained

Now if you’re anything like me, it’s all about the food on holiday. And when it comes to holiday recaps, I want to know ALL about it. So here we go. Get ready to feel a little bit hungry 😉

I’ll also preface this with saying that I pretty much ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and lots of it. I wanted to include my weight into this post because I want to reassure people that it is completely NORMAL to gain weight on holiday. You’re eating completely different foods and you’re on holiday so there’s lots of treats and eating out.

During a normal week I’ll probably eat out once or twice (usually with pudding). I’ll eat treats through the week but in general I’m quite healthy and routine-based in what I eat Monday to Friday. I like what I eat and I don’t restrict myself any food but in general, yes, I eat fairly healthily.

So going to Orlando and eating everything was bound to have an effect. And I was fully aware of this and quite happy with that eventual outcome. I love food and I didn’t want to come home with any regrets about what I DIDN’T eat, not about what I did eat. Food is a big part of what I love and how I like to spend time with people (as it is for Kate & Jamie who I went with) and it was a major part of why the holiday was AMAZING. And on that note…

Starting with the absolute breakfast must for me before a holiday, the usual fry-up affair at the airport.Gatwick South doesn’t have a great amount of choice (and no Jamie’s Italian, which I think does the best fry-up) but we had a fantastic meal at Grain Store Café & Bar. Though I dislike the baked bean contamination going on!

Anyway, onto actual Orlando food. The first night (being five hours ahead it was like ridiculous o’clock in the morning UK time) we arrived at the hotel from the airport and headed to our respective rooms. I promptly ordered room service as it was dinner time in Orlando and I find it best to get into the swing of the time zone I’m in. Annnnd I was hungry so why not!Not the greatest photo but basically I had a chicken burger with chips though I was a bit disappointed as I really wanted was some overly fried crispy fries. And a huge pickle. God I love America with their love for pickles. And I ate it in my PJs in bed watching TV. BLISS.

One of our first proper meals was at Longhorn Steakhouse. I’m not usually a huge steak lover – though I do enjoy them. I wouldn’t have picked this restaurant myself but Kate and Jay raved about it and I was very relaxed this holiday about where and what we were going to eat that I went with their better judgement. I’m so glad I did!I ordered a fillet steak (rare) with a sweet potato. The sweet potato weirdly came with cinnamon sugar butter which I asked for on the side because it sounded wrong to have it on the potato. I didn’t touch it…just weird. The bread at Longhorn was TO DIE FOR as well. Now I’m fairly ambivalent about bread, but this bread was warm and delicious. So a very simple but a very tasty meal.

We followed this with a trip to Menchies for some fro-yo and I went a bit crazy on the toppings (all the animal cookies, the brownie bites, the cookie dough chunks, the turtle chocolate caramel things). So good.

Another top meal was at a Mexican restaurant called Chuy’s which we went to the last time we went to Orlando together. I had chicken fajitas and it came with all the trimmings.At first I thought I’d need to ask for more tortillas it only came with three. But after piling each one with so much filling that they almost exploded, I really didn’t need anymore! I didn’t need my rice either. The guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese, tortillas and chicken with onion and peppers were enough!

We then popped into Coldstone Creamery. Jay and Kate had a crazy ice cream concoction but I went for a candy apple because, well, see blog name.I had a rocky road one and it was covered with caramel, chocolate, nuts and marshmallow. Ahh it was so good. I’m not a huge ice cream fan so the apple was always the way forward for me.

After doing Busche Gardens one day we had a late lunch/early dinner at a lovely little Italian pizza place called Giovanni’s. Again, this is one we’ve been to before and we all loved it. I shared chicken wings with Jamie and had a gyro salad with pita bread. The chicken wings. Good God. They were amazing. Possibly the best of the holiday? It’s hard to say. You know me, I love chicken wings and would eat them every day if I could (I did when I went to Boston) so this is high praise indeed. Buffalo sauce and blue cheese dip. I can’t even.We followed this by going to the ice cream parlour next door and I had seven bars flavour and birthday cake flavour. The seven bars flavour is basically seven different chocolate bars within the ice cream – it literally rocked my world. The birthday cake (which was underneath) sadly didn’t compare but was still good.

And something I always get when I go to Orlando… the turkey leg. It’s one of my favourite things. It brings out the true carnivore in me. And why my friends call me a hyena. When we went to Disney we decided to have a more ‘snacky lunch’ as we were going to Chuy’s that evening (see above).I sniffed out where the turkey legs were and settled myself on a bench with the above view while Kate and Jamie headed off to find what they wanted for lunch. Kate, being the pudding pro, went for an ice cream sandwich while Jamie had a hot dog. They had to wait a bit in a queue so I sat on my own started munching away. Jamie said from a distance it looked like I hadn’t been fed for a week and had finally been shown food… smallish girl with giant turkey leg eating like a hyena. I was in my own little happy world, what can I say!What we tended to do is if we were planning a big lunch, then we’d skip breakfast. I would get a fruit salad and a coffee from the Hard Rock Hotel mini-shop and that would tide me over until lunch. We usually also timed this with the previous night having had a huge dinner so I didn’t really wake up that hungry. So most days we’d have one really big main meal (with pudding) and probably snacks either side. I will say though on the days we didn’t have breakfast by midday I was SO ready to eat. But then so were Kate and Jay. We had very similar stomach clocks so this worked nicely. They’re very food-focused so I knew I’d never be without 😉

One of my favourite restaurants we went to (which we went to twice as it was just so good) was a restaurant about 30 minutes from the tourist area called 4 Rivers Smokehouse.Now I know I eat a lot of ribs, but honestly this was PHENOMENAL. I had a full rack of St. Louis ribs (my favourite style of ribs) and it rocked my world a million times over (OK how often will I use this phrase??). I got two chicken wings on the side because as part of the meal you got a load of sides with it (like cornbread, BBQ beans and Mac & Cheese, Southern greens…things like that) but I just wanted the biscuit and wings. The biscuit was ridiculously soft and delicious. The ribs…so good. If you ever go to Orlando, look this place up. Seriously.

We also went to Cheesecake Factory one day. We don’t really have anything similar to this in the UK. The menu is ridiculous. PAGES upon pages of options. Basically we went purely for the cheesecake. I shared some chicken wings with Kate (see, addicted) and then had a chicken and guacamole salad (so much avocado…) followed by the white chocolate macadamia nut cheesecake (not as good as the Ultimate Red Velvet though).For a giggle I worked out how many calories I ate in this mealThat’s pretty insane, right?? I have honestly never felt so full in my life. Yes I ate all of it. While I was eating the cheesecake I was thinking, “I’m a bit full but I’m OK” and then suddenly within the last bite of it I hit the fullest I’ve ever been. We were all stuffed. I literally needed to lie down and curl up in the fetal position. I think in my future full scale in life that Cheesecake Factory moment will be right at the top.

Another day when I literally ate more than I really should have was one of the best meals of my life. MY ENTIRE LIFE. This is a bold, bold statement I know. I went to Orlando knowing I wanted this meal after seeing a YouTuber eating it. This was brunch after the Orlando parkrun (another post to come) at Hash House A Go Go.Fried chicken on BACON-FILLED waffles covered with fried leeks (random but it worked) and hot maple reduction. It was ENORMOUS. But I was in food heaven. I dream about this meal even now.Best meal of the holiday. Best meal of my life. I pretty much ate it all bar maybe one of the waffles and the two random cherry tomatoes they served it with (weird). Jay ate those.It said it came with eggs but I honestly can’t remember eggs being in there. Anyway I felt ridiculously full. We ate about 9.30am? I didn’t eat again (absolutely nothing – not even coffee) until after 7pm (and that was a salad). What do you do after you’ve eaten a ridiculous big meal and feel a bit ill? Go to SeaWorld and do the roller coasters. Ooof. Especially when we went on Manta which holds you horizontal and we got held there at the end for a good 5 minutes as they took ages boarding the next people. I’ve never been sick on a ride but honestly I was THIS close. Stupid, stupid idea.

And the best pudding of the holiday? The chocolate brownie milkshake I got from the new City Walk restaurant, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. After *cough* chicken wings for starters (with an insanely good chocolate ale sauce) and a chicken salad, I had the best milkshake (and pudding) of the holiday.The brownie milkshake came with chocolate ice cream as the base of the milkshake but I changed to vanilla as I thought it would be a bit too chocolatey. They blend up a brownie in there too so this was a very wise choice. I was in heaven. I dipped the brownie in the milkshake and just floated away to heaven. Kate got the peanut butter one (far right) and Jamie got the Dulche Leche (middle). We all agreed it was AMAZING. My one regret of the holiday is not going back for the red velvet milkshake (they put a red velvet cupcake on top). But a reason to go back…

Other puddings worthy of a shout-out were the slices of red velvet and carrot cake at the bakery in 4 Rivers Smokehouse (can that place get any better?).Kate and I shared the slices as we couldn’t make our minds up. It worked out nicely as I found I preferred the carrot cake and she preferred the red velvet.

And then another candy apple that I got to choose the toppings for in the Disney Springs candy shop.It was a caramel base, a white chocolate covering, Butterfingers and Graham Cracker sprinkled all over and then a dark chocolate drizzle. Oh it was so good. But I felt incredibly sick that evening. Way too much sugar.

This obviously isn’t everything I ate on holiday, but it’s the real highlights. And the reason why I gained half a stone (7lbs)! I weighed myself before going on holiday and then after making a prediction with Kate and Jamie about how much I’d have put on, I weighed myself as soon as I got back from the airport. Half a stone! I mean to be honest I’m surprised I didn’t put more on but we did walk over 25,000 steps a day, I did lots of running and a few gym visits so really I came out quite well I think. I’m quite proud of myself 😉

But having weighed myself today (a week and a half later) I’m pretty much back to my pre-holiday weight. I DID NOT go on a ridiculous starvation diet. I just went back to my usual eating, running and gym visits (no more than usual). Honestly, I didn’t feel guilty or awful about what I ate or how much weight I put on. I knew when I got home things would readjust back. And they have done. I mean if I’m honest, I was craving my normal food and healthier ways of eating when I got back so it wasn’t that hard. Though I miss that milkshake and chicken and waffles every day. EVERY DAY.

So there we go. Go on holiday, eat all the foods, relax and think about the memories you make not the calories you’re eating!

Do you eat lots of holiday?

Best meal of your life?

What’s your favourite pudding you’ve ever had?