In Bruges – WIAW

Hi all. Apologies for the long delay. We got back absolutely shattered from Bruges on Sunday night and then from Monday I’ve been suffering from being ill and just want to stay in bed all day. I went to work yesterday but just felt so ill I had to come home. So I’m currently camped out on the sofa (in a ‘nest’ as Ben calls it – lots of blankets) feeling very ill and very sorry for myself.

So I’m writing this post and then going to sleep. Sounds like a plan. I thought it might be fun to do my WIAW as What I Ate in Bruges.

We got up at an ungodly hour to drive to the station to grab the train to Waterloo, to then grab a taxi to St. Pancras, to grab the Eurostar to Brussels, a train to Bruges and a coach to the hotel. WHEW!IMG_3136

This is us hanging around St. Pancras. I was very pleased to have that coffee!! For breakfast I grabbed a chicken wrap from M&S and some fruit. In terms of breakfast options at train stations there’s not much really that aren’t pastries or at least resemble something healthy!

As my dad works in the company as well we travelled with my parents which was nice. When we got to St. Pancras we met up with the other guys from the company and we were given a goodie bag per couple which we opened on the Eurostar. It contained sandwiches for lunch (which we didn’t actually need as the Eurostar served food), chocolates, Christmas cake and a mince pie, a Bruges guide book and champagne!!

Bruges collage

Let’s ignore the fact that it was 11am. When the boss cracks open his champagne, you know you’re free to do the same! We amused ourselves by reading magazines, eating and playing hangman. Everyone was in great spirits (as you can imagine!)

Soo after much travelling we arrived in Bruges! And the hotel was beautiful.


On the Friday evening we had a quick wander around Bruges before showering and getting ready for our mussels and frites night out.


It was just lovely and I was very excited about our next day outing to explore the city. But first the dinner. We got dressed up reasonably smart…


And then met up in the hotel bar with the other guys who were going as well. And this is when I began drinking…I thought that I must try the beer as it’s a speciality in Bruges. However, it is very strong. I’m not usually a beer drinker but it was nice.


And then we moved on to the restaurant. The starter was like a little preparation of what was to come.


Some spaghetti, tomato sauce and a few moules. And then dinner was just a MAMMOTH bowl of never-ending mussels and chips.


They just kept bringing them out whenever we got near the bottom. And honestly, I couldn’t stop. They were so damn tasty. As were the gin and tonics… whoops. So needless to say that I never want to see another mussel again for a while at least. And in the morning I was pretty certain I’d never drink another G&T again either!!

So I woke up Saturday morning feeling a little delicate. But I enjoyed a nice breakfast in the hotel of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, a seeded roll and a slice of fruit bread.


We spent the day walking around the beautiful buildings and streets and, of course, the shops.

Bruges sights

We went into a lot of chocolate shops, as you can imagine…and brought a fair amount home!


We stopped for lunch in a tiny little tearoom. Tearooms were prolific in Bruges; all very small and quaint. I chose a light smoked salmon salad as I knew Saturday night would be quite a big meal.


Very yummy and freshly prepared. We then looked around the Christmas markets and partook in some more ‘must-do’ Belgium activities…i.e. eating Belgium waffles!!


It was surprising how light and fluffy it was. The texture was very pastry-like rather than stodgy pancake. I’ll pretend that made it healthier hehe. And Ben enjoyed some gluhwein (mulled wine).


I wasn’t quite ready to begin drinking just yet…

So after a quick nap, Ben and I got ready for the big evening party. We had a pre-dinner drink in the hotel bar with everyone (yes, this is how it always seems to start) and then left for the restaurant where we given champagne and canapés. Very posh.

Then we sat down for dinner to begin. You know you’re in for a good meal when there are FOUR forks.


I started with goat’s cheese tart with a mango salad.


Very yummy! Then the music started and people got up and danced, my parents leading the way!


So I obviously tugged Ben onto the dance floor too, along with all the other smiling wives and grumbling husbands haha.

Then there was sorbet to ‘cleanse the pallet’.


Then followed the main. I went for a trio of dover soles.


Then more dancing and more drinking…


And more food…


Fruit salad for pudding. Though obviously I tried some of Ben’s…


Chocolate mouse in a bauble!! The top bit was marzipan. How cool is that?? And yes, it was DIVINE. I kicked myself for not ordering it.

And, honestly, if that wasn’t enough there was then cheese. And THEN muffins and chocolates!!! I was finished by nibbling at the cheese though. I mean if anyone seriously had room for the muffins I applaud them. The person I was sat with though jokingly threw all the chocolates in my handbag. And there they stayed Smile They are now in the fridge. Hey, you gotta take what you’re given!

So we got in fairly late after much dancing. And woke up feeling fragile…to have an EIGHT HOUR journey home (coach, two trains, taxi, another train & car). Needless to say I was in bed by 9 and fast asleep Sunday night! It was a brilliant weekend though and very lavish. I felt very lucky to be enjoying it all to be honest. I knew the parties were good as my dad has been with the company for over 15 years…but seriously, it was amazing.

Unfortunately I am now suffering from feeling very ill. I guess I partied a little bit too hard. And no, I have done absolutely no exercise since Wednesday. And until I feel better I won’t be. Humph!

Have you ever been to Bruges?

What did you get up to at the weekend?

What do you do when you’re ill? I’m just planning on napping and watching rubbish mindless TV.

Week Catch-Up

Hi guys, hope you’re all having a great weekend. The rain has finally stopped, hurrah! Now it’s just very chilly. But dry, so I’m happy.

This week has been busy and long but I’m starting to feel Christmassy now. Might be because at work they have the radio on and every other song is a Christmas one…it wasn’t even December yet!! I loathe to think of what it’s going to be like now we’re actually in December…

At the start of the week I had a great (but very wet) 6 mile run, and on Wednesday I went for another run at lunchtime with one of the guys I went running with on Monday; the 6 min a mile guy. I was a bit nervous just running with him alone as I knew he was much faster than me. But actually it was great. Because he was naturally faster than me it pushed me to maintain a speedy pace. He was chatting away to me while I was on the verge of dying but it was good. Hard but good. We didn’t go off road this time due to it being a lot colder than Monday and we didn’t really fancy wading in the cold canal this time. In the end we did we did a nice 5 mile route along the roads.IMG_3065

I was shattered afterwards! Absolutely dead. But it was good to run at a good speed for a longer period of time. Just not something I’ll do many times in one week I think! I definitely felt it the next day.

Friday I ran with a woman who had a slower pace (9 min a mile) so it was a nice easy 4 mile run. Though very cold!


I never thought I’d enjoy running with other people as much as I do. I was always so focused on my own run and hitting certain targets, but sometimes it’s just nice to have a social run! The time flies by. Maybe every run won’t be pushing the absolute limit to my capability, but it still gets me out there and I still enjoy it. Can’t argue with that!

Instead of my usual strength routines, I’m now doing one mixed strength routine and two plyometric routines. When I researched some moves and planned a routine I think I was a bit over ambitious. I thought I could do the routine three times. I barely did it twice!! It killed me. I didn’t think it’d be so hard. But more on that another time!

On Thursday I was house sitting for my parents for the night as they went off and enjoyed an evening out in London. It really stresses me out not having my own things and the same routine so I really wasn’t looking forward to it. But it wasn’t too bad in the end. Ben and me just got an Indian take-away (chicken tikka mmmm – easier than bringing food and cooking) and enjoyed watching all the dogs together. Alfie came with us and my parents have three of their own dogs.

DogsLeft to right: Lexi, Dylan, Sam and Alfie

Alfie and Lexi are the same breed (Cavalier King Charles cross with a Westland Terrier) and they go crazy when they see each other.


They love to play fight with each other and run about the house like mad things. The other two aren’t so bothered…


My parents were so lovely. They left Ben and me a HUGE box of chocolates to say thank you.


Which obviously were a GREAT Friday night treat.


Honestly, these are AMAZING. Jam Roly Pudding, Bakewell Tart, Rhubarb Crumble, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Lemon Meringue…and more!! Though after a few you do start feeling a leeetle bit sick. But so worth it.

And my new favourite ‘go-to’ meal:

Balsamic chicken and cauliflower

Balsamic chicken (chicken fried in balsamic vinegar with a touch of sugar to caramelise it into a sticky sauce) with mashed cauliflower and mozzarella cheese. Heaven. And so simple.

Oh, and the other highlight of my week…getting in from work and getting started on dinner while Ben plays ball with Alfie. Ben kicks Alfie’s tennis ball, it hits his wine glass full of red wine, red wine sprays all over our living room wall, sofa and floor. I just love my husband.


Not sure why it went blue, but needless to say it STUNK. So we had to spend the next half an hour attempting to damage control. It needs repainting unfortunately. Though Ben loves the fact he gets to decorate. He loves doing manly things like painting and DIY. Well, there’s a silver lining for someone I guess…

What have you guys been up to?

Have you tried plyometrics before? Any tips?

Oxford day-trip

Happy weekend all! Hope you’re all having a nice chilled weekend Smile

So far this weekend has been brilliant. Yesterday I caught the train to Oxford to meet up with my friends from university. Usually we go to London or Reading as it’s a nice half-way point for us all as we’re all scattered over the country, but we decided to meet up in Oxford this time for a change. I’m so relieved we didn’t decide to go to Reading because that’s where I’ve been working for the past three weeks and if I’m quite honest I’m sick of it.

I think I’ve been to Oxford once before when I was looking around at universities (in the end the whole interview process and academic snobbery put me off – no offence to anyone who went there but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Plus I’m not sure I would have gotten in! It’s a whole different league of smartness).

Anyway, so I got the train (oh how I loathe trains) and met up with my four lovely girlfriends. Obviously the first thing we did was go to Starbucks for a coffee. Well of course, right?


Americano with a splash of hazelnut syrup thank you very much.

And we nattered on for a good hour I’d say. You know what girls are like…

Then we moseyed about for a while looking around the shops. We went into the Covered Market where there were all these little boutquey-style shops.

And we found a cake making shop where I bought some decorations for our Christmas cake (which is still to be made…).


Check out this amazing cake that was in the window:


Wow, right??

After the market, we meandered around the streets and admired all the colleges and old buildings, which were just beautiful.

Oxford collage 2

It was such a perfect day to wander around. It thankfully didn’t rain! We decided to look around the Deer Park. But when we arrived at the entrance the man told us it would cost us a £5 each. I mean seriously?? To walk around a park! We obviously looked a bit devastated so he said we could have a quick look. So we had a quick look and then moved to leave. The man then said “Oh alright, you don’t have to pay, just go in”. How nice is that? Thank you Mr Deer Park Man!


So we had a lovely walk in the park and saw some deer (albeit from a distance).


And then we started to get hungry and went to find some lunch. One of my friends suggested a pub, The White Horse, that she’d been to before which was 50% vegetarian. I’m not a vegetarian but one of my friends is and none of us are really your steak and kidney pie kinda girls so it made sense.


It was quite small and busy but it was just nice to be in the warm as the day was starting to get very nippy. I decided to go for the hummus and olive salad.


Very yummy. Can’t go wrong with hummus in my books! After we’d finished eating and we’re digesting we noticed the pub suddenly became even more packed. Ah ha, the rugby was starting. So we scampered quickly.

So we looked round more of Oxford.

Oxford collage

It was just lovely. It felt like Harry Potter (yes, go ahead and laugh at me) with all the cloisters and old buildings. I took so many photos! (Hence my collage explosion in this post, apologies).

Oxford collage 3

And finally we visited the Oxford Castle, which is basically just a mound of earth now. The Oxford Castle is also the site of the old prison as well so we had a bit of fun with the props at hand…


And then after another coffee we parted ways. It was such a lovely day-trip. I love our meet-ups. We just slot back into place like we’ve never left uni. I wish I could see them more often but it’s so tricky with us living so far apart. But it was a great day regardless!

Then Ben picked me up from the station and he dashed off for the evening to see his friend. So obviously I watched Pretty Woman on my own with a couple of my other friends.


Perfect day!

What have you been getting up?

Have you been to Oxford before?

Moral of the story

Hi guys, hope you’re having a lovely weekend. The weather has been chilly but sunny and dry here which makes for lovely crisp days.

Yesterday I can’t say I did anything terribly exciting I’m afraid. Ben and I went for a nice run. Mine was a short, sharp 2 miles as I ached from my lower body routine from Friday…


…but Ben went for a whopping 6mile run. I’m so proud of him! He’s starting to get back into it which is great as I missed running with him. I have to say, I was a bit jealous when he told me how far he’d run.

This week’s workouts have been great. My usual strength routine’s Monday, Wednesday, Friday and a 3 mile run on Thursday. The 3 miler was really tough. I’m running a new route that hits a hill about a mile in and the hill goes on for .5mile. I think I started a bit cocky as by the end of that hill I was ruined. It really took it out of me. Moral of the story: PACE MYSELF.


I was going to run on Friday as well but I just didn’t have the energy.

In a slightly related story…When I said I was running the other week a guy I work with seemed keen to join me. He goes to the gym and kept bragging about how many miles he’s run and how fast he goes la-de-da so I was really excited about running with him as (and please don’t take this as me being big headed or anything like that) I haven’t run with anyone who runs at my pace before. OK I don’t really run with many people so that’s probably why!

So anyway, I was looking forward to it. We started off at a nice pace of 8.10mins/mile. Then we hit that hill I mentioned above. Suddenly all that bragging and hot air disappeared very quickly. The pace dropped to over 9 mins and he was dying. I felt quite chuffed with myself as I was OK. By the end of the run, he was done for. Now, I might be a leeeeetle bit too competitive for my own good and we weren’t racing. But if we were…I would have won that race. Just saying.

So my run on Thursday was the same route but me on my own to see how fast I could do it alone. Hence why I ruined myself.

I have to mention lunchtime yesterday. It was amazing. Now I realise that this may seem gross and wrong and random, but it tasted gooooooood.


Three egg omelette with chocolate peanut butter (PB2) and Brussels sprouts. Before you judge me, you need to try it. I love it when lunch tastes a little bit like a dessert. With vegetables. Win-win situation. Basically I ran out of my plain peanut butter and had to improvise quickly before the hungry beast that is Anna at lunchtime took over the world. Not my finest hour, but definitely one of the tastiest.

Then last night Ben and I went out for a fireworks night at a friend of the family’s house. It was Ben, my mum, my dad, my sister, brother-in-law, niece and me in convoy. The house was packed full of people and it was all very relaxed and fun.

The fireworks were brilliant. A home-made affair in the back garden. Ellie, my niece (on the right), and her new found friend Abbie loved it. Abbie kept asking her dad to turn it down though haha.


There was a slightly unsafe feel to the fireworks when two fireworks clashed together and made a huge explosions. Cue all the mum’s grabbing the small children and running inside (yes, that might have including me. I’m small and I was scared).


But otherwise it was great! Seat of your pants stuff.

The hosts provided a mass of food and drink – amazing punch (the bottom one was apple and ginger – with marinating apples floating about, the top one was tropical punch):


And I happily tucked into a bowl of hearty chilli.IMG_2858

Followed by pudding.


Look at those home-made cupcakes! The were sparkly and everything.


Ah yes, that is a piece of rockyroad. To be honest, I’m not sure how that got in my bowl. Think it fell in there by accident…

As amazing as the cupcake and rockyroad was I think I was too quick for my own good (yes I’m one of those people who’s pretty much first in the queue at buffets). After stuffing myself full they brought out crumble. I was devastated. I did contemplate having crumble as well but I’m not sure I could have driven us home afterwards without being sick. Moral of this story? Wait until they’ve finished putting all the food on the table before stuffing yourself.

So, a pretty good evening!

And we woke up this morning to this furry, scruffy hound:


I really need to get his haircut sorted. He is a mess, bless him.

What’s everyone up to this weekend?

Merry Christmas??

Brrrrr it is cold! Though it’s actually quite nice in a weird way. To be snuggled up inside nice and warm and for it to be chilly outside. Though getting out of bed in the morning is not fun – nor is taking Alfie out for a walk first thing. Winter coat: check, Uggs: check, gloves: check. Result = a happy Alfie but a cold Anna.

And Christmas seems to have suddenly appeared out of nowhere. One minute we’re all vigorously carving our pumpkins and admiring the autumnal colours of the trees when suddenly, boom! hello tinsel, hello Christmas adverts on the telly! Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas so as far as I’m concerned this is brilliant. HOWEVER, I have now been thrown into a state of stress. When am I going to bake our Christmas cake? When will I have time to go shopping? What do my friends and family even want??

And breathe. Anna, it’s the beginning of November. But I am getting excited. I love Christmas. I love the food (who doesn’t?), I love how everyone is just more merry than normal, I love the Christmas decorations, the time with the family…the never ending boxes of Celebration chocolates (I don’t love that Supermarkets seem to think that they’ve put them on offer at the moment…erm, weren’t they always that expensive??) It’s without doubt my favourite time of year. So the sooner the better! Smile

As usual as it’s Wednesday it’s WIAW. A big thanks to Jenn for hosting this as usual. I’ll show you a selection of different meals from the week as my best eats were spread rather than an individual day if that’s alright!


Breakfast: OK, OK you’ve seen pancakes a fair few times now if you’ve been reading my blog for some time…before you fall asleep, I did try a new topping to jazz things up a bit (and use some of the mass of fruit I have sitting in our freezer…)


As it was too difficult for me to work out how to defrost my pumpkin purée from the freezer (yep I’m that person) I decided just to stick with the standard recipe I use (find it HERE). The topping I decided to just have fun with.


I thawed some frozen blackberries, then sprinkled them with quite a generous amount of cinnamon and a few drops of Stevia. Then I zapped it in the microwave for maybe a minute. Basically so the fruit turns a bit mushy and is warm. Then I poured it over the pancakes. Bliss!

Lunch: During the week I always take food with me to save on costs. I used to have chilli using Quorn mince but I’ve gone off that mince a bit now and much prefer using mixed beans.


[Apologies for seriously bad photo]

I used a yellow bell pepper, onion, courgette, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes and mixed beans (like butterbeans, kidney beans, chickpeas, etc.). I also added chilli powder, paprika, cumin, a little bit of sugar and some mixed herbs. To spruce it up I added a large tablespoon of Philadelphia cheese. This made it so creamy and delicious – definitely adding this again! Along with this for lunch I have two Baby Bells and an apple. Maybe not the prettiest lunch, but it works for me!

I’ve set myself a little target for November to make a new recipe every week as I was finding myself in a bit of a food rut. You know what’s it like…getting in from work, being tired, you don’t want to whizz up some all singing and dancing dinner. But I’m pushing myself to try – at least on Friday and Saturday nights! So far this is going really well. I made coq au vin the other day and that was deeeelicious. But I also made another meal this week as well. And I probably say this about everything I cook I cook but it was such a good meal! Filling and sneakily nutritious.


I used THIS recipe. Basically it’s chicken coated in a ground almond coating and then baked in the oven. Crunchy and spicy!


And alongside that I cooked some cauliflower and then mashed it with some mozzarella cheese (well I blended it with a hand-blender).


I LOVED this. Seriously easy and a good alternative to mash potato if you fancy a lighter dinner. With all the ground almonds and chicken, this was a very filling dinner.

Snacks: I sponsored Maria for her Great North Run a while back and she very kindly sent me some baked goods (Swedish Apple Muffins) as a thank you. How sweet is that?? (Due to me going on my honeymoon she sent them to me now – I’m very chuffed):


[Please don’t judge the photo too harshly, they have travelled via post to get to me!]

So I have been happily tucking into these this week. They are so moist and yummy. Perfect evening snack. I thoroughly recommend Maria’s blog, she always has such yummy recipes and ideas!

Oooh and I’ve also been indulging in a few squares of these in the evening:


I can’t always be snacking on apples after all I guess!

Fitness: I’m still following my strength routines three times a week. It’s not quite as difficult as it was originally so I feel I’m making some progress. I’ve got my plank back to 3 minutes. Does anyone else get bored doing the plank? I mean, it’s tough and painful but so boring. I just end up staring at my stopwatch…

I’m thinking of getting a resistance band – has anyone tried this? Is it worth it?

Running is going well. The only problem I have at the moment is that now I’m running at work it means that if I have a busy day I can’t always run. I’m quite a structure, routine person (have you noticed??) so I find this really frustrating. I hate pushing workouts to a different day. But it’s one of those things I guess.

Outfit of the day:


[Can you spot Alfie hiding in the background?]

I can’t actually remember where I got this dress from, whoops. But the cardi is from New Look!

Have a great Wednesday!

Do you hate it when you have to postpone a workout?

Are you in a Christmassy mood yet?