What I’m loving lately – January

Even during Lockdown 3.0 I’m trying to keep positive and find things to make me smile, though it can definitely be quite trying at times.

Being pregnant is all well and good and there’s definitely a constant low level of excitement and anticipation, but it’s quite a long time away before I actually give birth (July-ish) and I’m actually more often feeling impending doom and waves of fear. Fear of being a parent, fear of Big Life Change, fear of lack of sleep, to name a few. All the things basically.

But anyway I DO have things that I’ve been enjoying lately so thought I’d share.

First thing’s first, having Kyle come downstairs to inform me proudly he’s learnt how to swaddle a baby is pretty damn cute.

Especially considering the “baby” in question was none other than our baby Yoda cuddly toy.

It’s fair to say that both Kyle and I are entirely clueless with anything baby related so even these titbits of knowledge are gold dust for us. I feel very overwhelmed when I try and think about all the things I don’t know (let’s not even consider the “unknown unknowns”!). I know I need to be reading books, blogs and building a solid base of knowledge but at the moment I just feel it’s too much.

I also know that there are certain strong opinions on different subjects and if I read one book am I residing myself to that opinion? Or do I read everything?? Like best ways to feed your baby, getting them to sleep, routines… argh so much! So I bit of light relief from Kyle was lovely.

And speaking of baby stuff… I was recently sent an amazing piece of art from the lovely Mary (her blog http://www.ahealthiermoo.com/).

She’s started a business creating gorgeous pieces of running art (check it out here https://www.instagram.com/runnerprints/) which she was kind enough to send me one. I love it! Definitely be going up in the nursery (currently Kyle’s study). Thank you, Mary! Perfect gift idea for a runner 🙂

Something else I’ve recently been sent was a collection of bars from Human Food.

They’re basically an organic plant-based snack bar that contains no nasties, refined sugar, artificial ingredients and (which I love) their packaging is very environmentally friendly. They don’t use plastics and it’s all recyclable and biodegradable. Not only this but throughout their organisation, they pride themselves on fair treatment and fair wage of staff. Good stuff indeed!

So what were they like? I’m not a big fan of cereal or protein bars, but these were dense chewy, relatively sweet bars that I quite enjoyed.

They advise you can just eat them as a bar (very nice, I enjoyed it with a cuppa in the afternoon), or you can even break it up and add it to smoothies or even your porridge. Love this!

The ingredients are super healthy as well so you know you’re getting a powerhouse health snack (and as pregnant woman, this was so handy when I was suffering from nausea and really need to ramp up my nutrition in easy ways when I found so many other fruits and veg unpalatable). Each bar contains things like maca, ginseng, cacao and hemp seeds, along with other goodies like turmeric, spirulina, nuts and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. So a solid, quality snack that leaves a good taste in your mouth in more ways than one.

On a slight less healthy note… we’ve also been enjoying doughnuts from the a local Southsea small business (find on Instagram @southseadonutco). For £9 they delivered three homemade vegan doughnuts to us.

They were incredible. Unfortunately due to a confusion during ordering (probably my fault to be fair) we got the wrong order. But they were more than happy to deliver us our correct order the next day to make up for it – which is incredible!

So in the end we had four salted caramel doughnuts, a Biscoff one and a cinnamon sugar one. They were SO good. I especially loved the cinnamon and Biscoff ones. If you’re local, I heartily recommend these guys. We will definitely be ordering again. Soft, melt in the mouth and vegan!

We’ve also been seriously enjoying the influx of Easter chocolate that is now in the shops. Especially the Mini Eggs Bar that has just been released. This is such a moreish and delicious chocolate bar. We have literally been buying all our local shop’s stock. One of my favourite snacks in the evening is a few rows (*cough* few being subjective) of the chocolate with a decaf black coffee. It hits the spot I tell you.

We also managed to find the Easter Egg version of it so we have that ready to go for Easter (if we can avoid the temptation of scoffing it before that is). So it’s a thick egg with Mini Eggs in it with a bag of Mini Eggs (my favourite, so so dangerous though). This Easter we’re definitely not holding back – we need good stuff like this to keep us going with all things considered.

What has been so difficult (and I know pretty much everyone feels ecavtly the same right now) is not seeing our family that often. It’s so hard. Especially being pregnant, I want to be doing all the things with them like going shopping for baby items and just not having limits to seeing them. But it is what it is and we just have to live with that right now.

But I was lucky enough to see my mum for a walk down Southsea on Sunday – no hugging, no touching, but just walking and chatting. It was lovely but also so sad. My mum works in a hospital and she knows first-hand how bad it is right now and how we just have to keep going with being safe and sensible. But it doesn’t make it easier.

We got a takeaway coffee and she enjoyed one of the salted caramel doughnuts I brought for her, which she very much enjoyed.

Next weekend I hope to do the same, but with my dad. Tag teaming the family basically! It’s all we can do right now, and it’ll just have to be enough.

How are you coping in Lockdown 3.0?

Are there any new snacks you’ve been enjoying?

** Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Human Food for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones**

A weekend of fun and food in Brighton

Kyle and I just love Brighton and we like to go for a little mini trip just before Christmas.

This was our third time going and initially we were worried we wouldn’t be able to because of All The Reasons but thankfully both Portsmouth and Brighton are in tier 2.

We took Friday off and I got in a lovely seven mile run in the morning. Normally I’d quite like to do a run in Brighton but I thought it would just be easier to move my run from Saturday to beforehand on Friday so I wouldn’t have to take my running gear with me and we could have a nice lie-in. As much as I love running in Brighton, it’s also nice to lay in bed and chill with Kyle. He’s not as into running recently (for All The Reasons) and it felt a little sad me waking up early and doing a run on my own while he was back at the Airbnb.

Anyway my seven mile run was really lovely. I ran a new route down to Old Portsmouth and it refreshed things up for me a bit. My runs have become a little  samey recently. Just the same old routes, the same distances… my motivation was getting a bit stale. So changing my route up really helped and I really enjoyed the run.

Then Kyle and I headed to Brighton, all masked up, on the train. Our Airbnb was about a 20 minute walk from the station and super close to the seafront which was lovely.

The room itself was gorgeous – and definitely made me think to earmark if I wanted to do the Brighton marathon again (which is almost certainly something I’d love to do!)

We mooched around the Lanes and the local shops and stopped for a quick pick-me-up at a lovely café called Black Mocha. What I love about Brighton are all the independent coffee shops and shops in general. And they all offer vegan options for milk, which is great. We both went for a hot chocolate (I chose almond milk), topped with whipped cream, big marshmallows and huge chunky pieces of honeycomb!

It was delicious. And because we couldn’t resist we got ourselves a slice of the salted caramel brownie each too. Very greedy but very worth it!

We were then well-fuelled to do more browsing around the shops and enjoying the lights coming on as the darker afternoon drew in. It was quite busy in Brighton so we both decided to keep our masks on outside when it was super busy – it just felt a little claustrophobic round the shops. Of course we were part of the problem too…

We bought some doughnuts from Dum Dum Doughnuts (which we’ve tried before and are divine!) so we’d have some pudding or later and the next day.

Then we headed to Meat Liquor for our dinner. We went here last year and really liked it so decided to go again.

We both went for a fried chicken burger and I went for Buffalo and blue cheese loaded fries while Kyle went for cheesy gravy loaded fries. The food was so good!

We then ambled back to our Airbnb, watched Freaky Friday before munching on some doughnuts in bed. It was absolutely luxurious. I had an Oreo doughnut which was stuffed with Oreo buttercream – amazing.

The next morning we both woke up quite early surprisingly and decided to get up and get out for breakfast. We were going to go to the Breakfast Club, where we’ve been before, but then a café called Moksha Caffe caught my eye on Instagram so we decided to go there instead. While we do like the Breakfast Club it can get so busy and it’s a little bit over-hyped for what it is. We were so chuffed to have gone to Moksha Caffe instead as it was so good.

We easily got a table (I mean, we were quite early for a Saturday!) and both ordered the main big breakfast with homemade hash browns added.

I also had a carrot, apple and ginger juice which was super tasty. The breakfast was so good! From the homemade baked beans to the sourdough toast, it was very nice! We’ll definitely go back.

Then we headed back to the train to go back home. It was such a lovely trip to Brighton. So Christmassy, so full of happy memories – of which we added more too. I love this tradition for us!

The next day I got up early to meet my friend, Martin, for a rather wet and soggy run. I haven’t seen Martin in real life for maybe over a year which is mad! We had lots of catch up on and it was lovely to run with a friend on such a miserable day. I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed the run as much on my own.

I ran 6.5 miles with Martin then 3.5 miles on my own before getting home and dry with a much needed bacon roll!

And of course we finished our weekend with another doughnut 😉

This was a Lotus Biscoff cronut (doughnut cross with a croissant). Honestly one of the best doughnuts I’ve ever had!

It was such a lovely, albeit tiring, weekend. I’m so glad we were able to maintain some kind of normality through all the craziness. Who knows what the new year will bring after all…

Have you still been able to do “normal” things you’d do around Christmas?

Do you prefer chicken, beef or veggie burgers? I love chicken burgers.

Well that escalated quickly…

Life has really taken a dramatic twist hasn’t it?

Since the last time I posted (blissfully happy in a bubble of long running and marathon hopes), well, everything has changed.

For us in the UK things have really ramped up quickly in the last week. From advice of washing hands regularly to now schools closing and instructions to work from home, avoiding social spaces and parkrun cancellations.

It’s undoubtedly a scary and uncertain time but I don’t want this post to be all about that because let’s be honest we all know what’s happening and it’s pretty overwhelming and consuming. I’m actually quite glad to now be working from home because it’s all everyone talks about in the office. So I’m at home with a little set-up in my room adjusting to this new way of life.

Anyway, on to what this blog is about: RUNNING. Of course all the races I’d signed up for have been cancelled or postponed. I had the Eastleigh 10k this weekend, of course Rotterdam, and then I’d optimistically signed up to the Southampton marathon as a back-up, but that too has been postponed. Rightly so. And parkrun being cancelled.

Of course this is all the right thing to do. Not going out to social areas, not mixing unnecessarily, limiting chance of exposure. My dad has a heart condition so I’m worried. But we can only control what we can control and there’s point wasting emotional energy on things outside of that. Obviously easier said than done, but I’m trying.

So no marathon in the near future and a bunch of long runs and weeks’ of trainings that seem worthless now on paper. However, for me I really enjoy the process of marathon training so personally it’s not a waste. It’s just a shame there’s not a big shebang of a race to celebrate those long runs.

That said, I’m almost certain I will run 26.2 miles in April. My plan is to run the distance around where I live. I mean, it’s going to be ridiculously tough – so much harder than if it was a race as it’ll just be me on my tod running along. But part of me is curious as to whether I can actually do this… We’ll see. My plan would probably be to run it over the Easter weekend. I’d properly plan a route, maybe get my family out to support me, do everything I’d normally do. Well, watch this space!

Last weekend Kyle and I ran 18 miles together. We both knew Rotterdam had been cancelled and potentially the miles were “pointless” but we wanted to do it anyway as we’d planned it and had mentally geared up for it. Kyle is not a huge long distance fan and now that Rotterdam isn’t happening he’ll drop his mileage back down. It makes sense.

It’s such a shame for him because he did so well with the long runs – far better than last time when he trained for the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon and got injured halfway. He was very much on for a solid race. But such is life right now. He’ll be able to train up again if he wants to (Rotterdam is technically postponed until later in the year so this is real possibility all being well in the world, of course).

The 18 miler we did around where I live, my usual along the coast style long run which I love so much. We reversed the route and set off Sunday morning. We had a more relaxed start as no parkrun to get to (this was to be a “true” long run in the sense we wouldn’t be stopping or sandwiching anything in the middle). The wind was a bit blustery which was somewhat annoying  but generally the run went really well.

It’s funny though because when you’ve been doing a run route in one direction for so long, when you change it suddenly it makes everything different and you notice all these hills that you previously hadn’t!

However, we maintained a decent pace and then towards the end I stretched it out a tiny bit just to get my legs going. It’s my usual way of running long runs that I like to speed up a bit towards the end if I have the energy. Kyle wasn’t far behind at all though.

When we got back to mine my parents handed me a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts that a lovely friend had dropped off after I’d done a favour for him. What a fantastic way to finish a run, I tell you! We didn’t eat them straight away 😉

Instead we showered and then celebrated with an almighty carvery. Honestly, so satisfying and extra delicious after all those miles!

I had roast gammon with all the trimmings. It was glorious. The doughnuts were had later when we were chilling. Perfection!

Delicious Lotus Biscoff

Anyway, stay safe and healthy everyone!

What’s your favourite doughnut flavour?

Are still long running if you’ve had a race cancellation?

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?

A trip to London: brunch, doughnuts and The Waitress

What a weekend!

Let’s get started on Saturday. It’s my mum’s birthday soon so I’d treated her to a ticket to see The Waitress in London. We headed there in the morning to have brunch first.

I surprised my mum with a little bottle of Prosecco on the train – pffft it’s 5pm somewhere eh!

We had brunch in the Darwin Brasserie in the Sky Tower. I’d seen this huge building many times but hadn’t realised you could have food here. This is where my food and restaurant obsessions come handy as I do so much research to find a nice spot and this came up.

We went up 36 (!) floors and were treated to such fantastic views of London. Wow it was really spectacular.

We then headed to the Darwin Brasserie (one part of the Sky Tower) and had a three course brunch.

We had a seat right next to the window and it was truly such a special experience.

For starters I had the ham hock terrine which was divine with warm sourdough alongside.

I followed this with a Caesar salad. Now I know what you’re thinking, Anna a salad what?? But a Caesar salad is my absolute favourite – when done well. And this came with the works: chicken, anchovies, croutons, Parmesan, egg and crispy bacon. Oh it was so good.

For dessert I had sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. Not my usual choice but it was phenomenal. Delicious toffee sauce.

When my mum went to the bathroom the waiter popped over and asked if this was for my mum’s birthday (I’d put it in the booking notes) and when she came back they presented her with a little chocolate brownie with a candle in! It was such a lovely touch. My mum was very chuffed. Always worth noting these things when you book.

We then spent some time taking photos, of course. The views were just amazing.

Then we headed to Covent Garden to mosey about a bit (oh heyyyy Lululemom shop). I just HAD to stop at Doughnut Time as well. These doughnuts are INCREDIBLE. I mean they’re pretty much made for greedy people like me.

They’re ginormous, i.e. regular Anna size. I picked up four (one for me, one for Kyle, one for my parents to share (lol) and one for my friend Kirsty who I’d be seeing later in Manchester).

Then we headed to the show. Oh my goodness I can’t even explain how much I loved The Waitress. It was literally everything I love. Baking, retro American diner theme and strong female leads. I cried THREE times. I’m not an overly emotional person but this absolutely destroyed a me, and in a really good way. The story was fantastic. The music and songs so good. And it was quite funny as well.

Then I said goodbye to my mum and headed to Manchester (only two hours on the train!). I was signed up to do Great Manchester 10k as part of the Garmin team. Very fancy indeed.

On the train I ate a Subway salad (double rotisserie chicken – so good!) and then horrified the two ladies opposite me by wolfing down my doughnut. It was the Robert D’Noreo… brown butter glaze, New York cheesecake filling, Oreo crumb chocolate ganache and mini Oreos.

I mean WHAT. And yes I did eat it all. The two ladies said they had doughnut envy haha. You should have seen me, covered in icing and Oreo crumbs. I was a mess but so very happy.

That filling!

On getting to Manchester I met up with Kirsty (@shortgirlrunner on Instagram) and we had a quick drink. I’ve never met her before but have chatted a few times on social media and she’s just as lovely as she seems online. We arranged brunch for the next day (the race didn’t start until 1pm) and then parted ways, her to her hotel and me to my Airbnb.

I walked about 15 minutes to get there to find no one was answering and the key the host had APPARENTLY left on a window wasn’t there. It was past 10pm and I started to panic. I went up and down the lift to make sure it was the right place… I checked every window… I rang his mobile several times… left messages, and nothing. I was panicked, called Kyle and he suggested going back to the inner city and getting a hotel.

While I headed back (it was so busy and loud!) he found me a hotel to stay in that wasn’t too expensive (tho thankfully Garmin were paying my expenses – I knew I’d get a refund from Airbnb so that calmed my brain a bit). But Jesus it was so stressful and I was so tired!

I got a nice hotel room and got into bed after 11pm. The host messaged me saying he FELL ASLEEP and didn’t hear me knocking. Sorry sunshine, too little too late. Thankfully Airbnb did refund me and were super quick and nice about it. Just a crummy host! Always a flipping drama with me eh!

I should have just got a hotel to begin with but I’m not used to people paying my expenses for me and went with a cheaper option as I felt bad (this is silly logic I know). Next time I’ll just be more sensible (if there’s ever a next time!).

I’ll leave it there for now and recap the race proper in my next post.

Have you ever had a dodgy Airbnb before?

Do you like the Great Run series?

What’s your favourite doughnut flavour?