This weekend was full of highs and lows. Let’s get the lows done quickly, shall we?
I ran on Monday night and my shin/calf was really niggly. It had niggled slightly at parkrun a week ago but I put it down to it being really cold and my muscles not being warm enough. But Monday clarified things. It didn’t feel right and afterwards it felt pretty crappy. I’ll go into this in another post but basically this is rubbish.
Anyway, I didn’t run again until deciding to try a few miles before parkrun this weekend (because I was panicking I hadn’t hit the 8 mile long run I needed to for Tokyo). Though I knew I was lying to myself. I knew the run wouldn’t go well really and this was just to avoid me going to parkrun believing I could run and having to DNF. So on my pre-parkrun walk with Alfie I ran up the road with him and decided it was a no-go. I got back home, wrapped up in warmer clothes and headed to parkrun to set-up and volunteer.It was very cold and despite having several layers on and a hat I was cold. I was grumpy as I was overthinking about my leg, running and marathon training…but I was eventually cheered up by the lovely parkrun crew. You can’t be too sad at parkrun!
After parkrun and a hot bowl of porridge, I headed to the gym to take out some of my frustrations. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine which made me feel a little better about not running and then did a fantastic glute workout which I’m still feeling today. This included:
• Landmine squats (these are great for really working on your depth)
• Monster walks with a resistance band
• Cable pull-throughs
• Leg press burnout
• Single leg deadlifts
I left the gym feeling accomplished and far more happy. Sometimes you just need to sweat it out!
I was also feeling good because I was going out for a Christmas meal with my friends. It’s always so nice to dress up. I wore a very sparkly dress with sparkly shoes and felt really happy 🙂
We went to the Cams Mill pub (where the Fareham parkrun starts at). It was very nice!We’d made our menu selections a while ago and I was disappointed with myself for choosing trout as my main rather than turkey (who does that!??!). I think my rationale was that I didn’t want to over-do turkey before the big day. I was very jealous when the mains came out though. However, my trout was delicious (and I got some leftover turkey from one of my friends so it was a win-win!)And again I was annoyed that I’d selected a pear tart for pudding… but then realised I’d chosen it because the cheesecake was chocolate orange which I don’t really like. I’m not a Terry’s Chocolate Orange fan at all! And Christmas pudding is a bit too rich and alcoholly for me.
The pear tart, however, was really really good. The ice cream was lovely and creamy and the tart was lovely and (dare I say) moist. No big nasty chunks of pear in which I was fearing. As nice as it was, I got serious food envy when I saw the cheesecakes. They looked so good! My friends laughed at me for ordering the inferior pear tart and I grudgingly watched them enjoy their cheesecakes (the far more popular pudding choice). Isn’t it the way when even though the meal you’re eating is nice but you see something that looks more appealing suddenly your meal isn’t as good…just me?
However, I was very lucky that two of my friends didn’t finish their cheesecakes and passed them down to me! Now, on reflection, I can say the pear tart was the better pudding. I’m still not a chocolate orange fan and who serves cheesecake with orange sorbet?? But I can’t say I complained too much 😉 Though I felt very full afterwards!! Just call me the human dustbin…
I did have a few gin and tonics as well, because it’s Christmas 😉 Though amusingly my first G&T didn’t actually contain any gin and I was sipping away thinking “this is lovely!” until the barman ran over to me and said he needed to put the gin in as it got taken before it was ready! Oops. Shows how much I drink!Anyway the evening was good. Nothing like good friends and good food to make you feel 100 times better.
Christmas meal number two this week 😀
Are you going to any Christmas parties or meals this year?
Will you be dressing up?
What would you normally order on a Christmas menu?
I’ve never been on holiday on my own so I was quite nervous when my friend sadly had to bail out at the last minute of our trip to Iceland. Instead of just cancelling it though I thought I’d still go and enjoy myself. It would be an “experience” and a good time to get away from it all. I’m so glad I did go because I had a fantastic time. Though I was alone, I was never lonely.
I’d planned to do my usual tradition of going to Jamie’s Italian for a big dirty fry-up before flying but was aghast to find that Gatwick South Terminal didn’t have one. Despite this, I was spoilt for choice and almost went to Nando’s (I know, I know, I’m obsessed) but in the interest of trying something different I chose WonderTree as it seemed quite unusual and had a good menu. I ordered the ‘Woodstock’ with a side of bacon and sausages (because I’d been craving them).
Very tasty. It did feel weird sat there on my own but I enjoyed people watching and reading my Kindle (“My Sister’s Secret“- very good).
I arrived in Keflavik airport after an easy three-hour flight and got a transfer to the Blue Lagoon en route to Reykjavik where I would be staying. I really recommend this as it’s half-way there so you don’t need to waste time during your holiday to drive back out there. I used FlyBus which was great.
The Blue Lagoon was really something else. I changed into my swimming gear and did the mad “omg it’s so cold out here” dash from the lovely warm building into the water.
It was fantastic. I waded around (it’s fairly shallow, but enough so you can submerge your body) and just relaxed. It was cold and windy outside but deliciously hot in the water. It’s probably hot tub warm, though I found an area which was SUPER hot (it’s clearly marked as a hotter area so there’s no danger of accidentally going there). There’s also an area where you can put the white silica mud on your face and body. Lots of fun, though I did get my arm stuck when I foolishly tried to fish some out without using the special ‘stick thing’. It was one of those panicked moments where I tried to pretend it wasn’t stuck so no one would notice but at the same time try to desperately free myself.
A few tips if you ever plan on going there:
Take a towel, your swim gear and flip-flops with you (you can upgrade your ticket to include a towel, bathrobe and slippers but it’s over £7/10$).
DON’T get your hair wet as the water is so full of minerals it will dry it out (I read this beforehand luckily).
I took my waterproof iPhone cover so I could take photos easily without worry.
Be prepared for naked bodies in the changing room. Europeans are quite “free”. There are changing rooms but only a small number.
They have shower gel and a strong conditioner there (if you did get your hair wet).
Then I showered and got dressed (naked bodies ahoy!) and got my transfer to my AirBnB in Reykjavik. At this point I was beyond hungry as I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast (which was around 10am). By the time I got to my accommodation it was almost 7pm and I was HANGRY. I won’t lie, the choice of restaurant was more on “what’s closest” than any other value. But it was a great choice! (And TripAdvisor is so handy to do a very quick check). It was a restaurant called Meze which was Turkish/Mediterranean style.
I wanted to try to eat as much Icelandic food, and different food, as I could on the holiday. I also decided fairly early on not to worry about cost (to an extent obviously!) or about being particularly healthy. This holiday was about relaxing in every sense of the word.
I had a cheese platter (halloumi, feta and mozzarella) to start, followed by a lamb shish kebab for main and a melt-in-the-middle chocolate cake for pudding. OK so Turkish food isn’t exactly Icelandic food, but I was keen to try the lamb as it’s well-known that Icelandic sheep graze relatively freely and are hormone-free, meaning the meat is of fantastic quality and the animals had a happy life.
But I will stress that Iceland is not a cheap place at all. An average three-course meal was around £35/$54. To get a main course cheaper than £15 was rare.
The next day I’d planned to do a three-four mile run. Sadly there are no parkruns in Iceland, though I can attest to some fabulous locations where they could easily have them!
I scientifically tested how cold it was outside by sticking my hand out the window. It wasn’t too bad so went with shorts but wore a long-sleeved top (which later felt far too warm). I had a very vague idea of where to run as I’d Googled some routes beforehand, but I knew I wanted to get to the Hallgrimskirkja church as it looked so awe-inspiring.
Running so early in the morning (well, 7am) meant the streets were clear and there was no one around to get in my photos. It was very calm and peaceful, probably because they all went to bed about 5am judging by the sounds outside my flat. Reykjavik is also surprisingly hilly as you come away from the coast edge!
As I had a kitchen in the AirBnB I decided to save money (and time) by buying oats and milk and making porridge in the morning. I love my breakfast so I didn’t mind. It also meant I could sleep a bit more.
My plans for my first day was going on a tour of the Golden Circle. I used the tour company Iceland Horizon, which were fantastic. I was in a mini-bus with about 10 other people and our tour guide was both interesting and funny. I met a Portuguese girl and a Canadian guy around my age who were both solo travellers as well so we instantly bonded.
The Golden Circle consists of the national park, Þingvellir, the waterfall Gullfoss, and the geysirs Geysir and Strokkur on the valley of Haukadalur. We also saw the Faxafoss waterfall too.
L-R: the national park, a glacier in the distance near the Gullfoss waterfall, the Gullfoss, a geysir
The tour was great as the guide told us lots about Iceland and the areas we were visiting. I found the random facts the most interesting, such as most of the larger trees in Iceland come from Aspen (apparently a well-known joke in Iceland is that if you get lost in a forest, just stand up, as all the Icelandic trees are tiny. Incidentally a lot of teenagers will earn money over the summer planting trees). In the national park you can see the connecting points for two tectonic plates, the Mid-Atlantic ridge and the North American plate.
L-R: The thermally active geyser, the small Faxafoss waterfall, the tectonic plate ridge
We had enough time to look around the different sites and half-way to grab some lunch from a little restaurant en route. I had the Icelandic speciality, “meat soup”. The meat was lamb and it was amazing.
I’d dressed appropriately for the weather so I wasn’t cold but I was very wind-swept so the hot soup was much appreciated. If you’re planning on doing this tour, wear sturdy boots as there’s lots of walking and a mini-mountain you can climb (I saw a girl in Converses struggling…). The weather in Iceland is extremely changeable. One moment it can be sunny and bright, then the next clouds have come over and it tips it down. Be prepared for all weathers!
My two companions were good fun to be with and it was nice to turn around to someone and say “this is amazing”. And to take photos of each other as well. There’s only so much a selfie can achieve 😉
The tour was pretty much all day and I definitely felt like I got my money’s worth. I saw so much! I have so many photos it’s ridiculous. I had a lovely cheeky nap on the way back to Reykjavic to rejuvenate myself a bit.
I was fully ready for dinner after getting back and tidying myself up a bit (oh my hair…). I’d done a bit of research before coming to Iceland for some good restaurants but in the end I decided to walk down the main street, Laugavegur, to see what took my fancy. It’s quite tricky when you’re on own as you have no one to discuss with what you fancy eating! I literally could go anywhere I fancied which was both amazing and overwhelming. I knew I wanted something quite big though as I was hungry and was chuffed to find a fish buffet restaurant called Restaurant Reykjavik. It was quite expensive, but for all you can eat fresh and local fish I was swayed! And it looked very posh inside.
I literally tried everything. There was smoked salmon, cooked salmon, herring in several different sauces, pickled fish, ceviche, marinated fish, salted cod, fish stew, shellfish, soup, salad, vegetables, potatoes…so much food!! And randomly a leg of lamb that the chef would calves for you with a delicious red wine sauce.
Again I sat with my Kindle and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Of course there was a pudding buffet as well, and it would have been rude not to have tried some…I had blondies, rhubarb and oat cake and mango cheesecake. Yep I was stuffed!
I was a little concerned how my stomach would react to all this food as I had planned to run 13 miles the next morning (my last long run before the marathon). Because my tour the next day wasn’t until 1pm I could have a luxurious lie-in and a late breakfast. Thankfully I actually felt pretty good the next morning. I woke up naturally before my alarm (which had been set to 8am) and got ready to go.
I was initially nervous about running 13 miles in a new city but because I’d already done one run and lots of walking about I vaguely knew the area. I could run along the coastline quite easily and keep the sight of the church constantly in view which I knew was near where I was staying. Very handy!
I felt really good on this run. I listened to a podcast and just zoned out. I felt strong running and didn’t really think about my pace too much, except when I started going too fast. Near the coast it was very flat but it was a bit breezy. The weather was beautiful so I was pleased to whip out my MarathonTalk t-shirt from last year’s Run Camp.
I did get a bit concerned as I got to 8-9 miles and found myself quite far out from the church. I started wondering what I’d do if I hit 13 miles so far from my accommodation. Could I ask someone for a lift? Icelandic people seem so friendly (I could almost hear my mother screaming at me as I though this…). Not a good move I suppose! Anyway in the end it was a perfect 13.1 miles. I have no idea how I managed such a perfect route without properly planning. Especially as I have the worst sense of direction.
I’ll leave my recap there as I’ve already gone on so much. The next part will cover my amazing volcano tour and horse riding and the rest of the trip. Hope you’ve enjoyed so far!
Have you ever been to Iceland?
Have you ever been on holiday on your own?
Do you enjoy running around new cities? I found it such a great way to get my bearings and see the sights!
How s-l-o-w-l-y things seem to drag when you’re soon to be going on holiday. Every day seems to crawl by…I know I shouldn’t complain though. I’m very grateful to soon be on a beach in Mexico applying another layer of suntan lotion…
It couldn’t have come at a better time as well. I feel a bit frazzled. And I know Ben is as well with all his travelling and hard working he’s been doing lately. So bring on the cocktails!
But first I have the small tiny little Bristol half marathon to get through first…I’m strangely looking forward to it. It should be great to do such a big race in terms of numbers of people. Cheddar Gorge half was under 200, whereas this one is around 20,000! Even Reading was only around 15,000 I think. So a lot of people!
What’s crazy as well is that when we get back from our holiday the ‘big’ training begins. Marathon Training. Those words just look scary to me. Marathon? Whoa. It’ll be less than two and a half moths until the big date when we get back from Mexico. I already have two races planned to help the training along:
End of October: Great South Run (10 mile road race – very popular, should be brilliant)
Mid-November: A nice and local half marathon (Gosport Half)
December 22nd: Marathon
Annoyingly enough our work Christmas party is the night before. My work always do a really good Christmas do. Last year’s was in Bruges for the weekend. This year it’s at a beautiful stately home in Winchester. Unfortunately Ben and me will opt out as it just wouldn’t be a good idea. Not with a 9.30am start the next day. I’m not too sad… *sobs*
Anyway, like I said I’m feeling a bit frazzled with work. Definitely in need of a holiday. I’ve been using my workouts as a bit of a escape. Seriously, I can’t think of anything important during those tough spin classes. My mind is purely “this hurts” or “I’m tired” or “when’s it over”. And running is like a cool breeze flowing through my mind. It just wipes all that stress away. For the half marathon I plan on just putting on some music and enjoying the scenery. I do enough introspection and worrying in my daily life to allow myself to get bogged down by unnecessary thoughts for 13.1 miles.
I haven’t really posted much about food lately. Mainly because it’s all been a bit samey and not interesting at all.
However, as it’s Wednesday (WIAW: go check out Jenn’s blog!) I did stumble across a quick meal that I just can’t get enough of at the moment. It was after I’d gotten in from spin and my body was like FEED ME. We had a lot of vegetables in the fridge that needed to be used and I just thought “what the hell”. So it was pretty much a meal with everything but the kitchen sink.
This delightful mess is a three egg scramble with lots of stir fry veg, mushrooms, sun dried tomato and diced trout. With a side salad of course – because you can never have too much veg, am I right?
What made this was the trout and the sundried tomatoes. The tomatoes were in oil so this helped increase the flavour as well. I loved this. And good healthy omega oil from the fish as well!
Another meal that I’ve been enjoying is gammon steak.
I grilled the steak and had this with cauliflower mash with goat’s cheese mixed in (heaven) and broad beans…and maybe a sneaky bit of beetroot (it needed eating). Oh how I miss eating gammon! I’m on such a meat kick at the moment.
And at work it seems everyone can’t stop bringing in cakes. Not that I’m complaining!
Hello oat and raisin cookie. How I love thee.
Sadly our cake stash in our freezer is quickly going down. This is not good. My mum came over the other day for a catch-up…and we had the last slices of Victoria sponge. I almost cried. Well, that just means getting/baking more I guess!
As my last point, I’ve just started reading Gone Girl after it seemed the blogging world exploding with how amazing it is a while ago (I’m so behind the trend). I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. I’m 17% through (God bless the Kindle) and I’m not massively keen. DON’T HURT ME. It’s just that it reads a bit like a comedy romcom style book but so clearly is not. I don’t know how to take it if I’m honest. It just seems a bit odd. I shall persevere though.
Have a great week guys!
When’s and where is your next holiday?
What’s your latest favourite meal?
Do you use exercise to switch off or switch on? Sometimes a long run is quite cathartic to think about different things, but usually I just like to stop thinking and shut off from the world for a bit.
What are you reading at the moment ? Have you read Gone Girl? Thoughts?
I find some days are good days and some days are bad days when it comes to food. I use the word ‘bad’ lightly here because I’m a true believer that no food (or drink) is inherently bad. Oh sure, living on chicken nuggets and milkshake every day isn’t going to do your body any favours and will make you feel pretty rubbish eventually. But once in a while it can’t hurt! Newspapers love to scare us into submission, like pushing the idea that one sniff of a sausage will cause an immediate cancer epidemic. Whatever sells the papers…But in reality, I truly believe no food when eaten in moderation can cause our body’s irreversible damage.
That being sad, I like eating healthy, fresh food. Lots of vegetables, lots of fruit, meat, slow-releasing carbs…for me it’s not something I have to consciously work on because it’s second-nature to me.
This was dinner the other evening: smoked mackerel on a bed of lots of veggies, salad, slices of nectarine and sundried tomatoes
That’s not to say I’m the golden girl of nutrition. Far from it. I love me some sugar. Chocolate, sweets, ice cream… and of course cake.
My best intentions to try and have a day where I eat really well (i.e. avoid the copious amounts of biscuits and cookies at work and don’t consume too much chocolate in the evening) fell very short yesterday. I mean how could they not when you see such a beauty!
I ate a caramel flavoured slice from the top tier and a chocolate fudge slice from the bottom tier. And promptly felt quite sick.
Afterwards I needed to lie down in the foetal position for a while to recover.
But these things happen. Life happens. I’m not going to turn down an offering of a slice of Sonic the Hedgehog cake! I’d regret not trying it more than feeling a bit sick and a bit guilty after.
Like I said, cake is my nemesis…and it was damn good.
I’d also like to point out I wasn’t the only one who had two slices. There was a minority that I was joyfully part of…
Back to ‘proper’ food (i..e not just based entirely on sugar and food colouring haha)…one of my new favourite meals that I could literally eat every single day is this:
Three turkey sausages, broad beans (or other vegetable, I’m not fussy) and cauliflower mash with goat’s cheese. Hold the boat. This was delicious. I’ve had turkey sausages in the freezer for a while now but was inspired to do this meal by the lovely Laura.
The trick to this is to add a good amount of goat’s cheese to the cauliflower to really get the flavour zinging. Yes I said zinging.
Other than these meals, I’ve still been eating my usual stuff; loving the stir-fries and salads!
So basically my motto is, eat healthily but enjoy the good stuff too. Usually I try and ‘be good’ in the week so that I can relax at the weekend with a nice slice of cake in the evening, or a meal out with all the trimmings. But as you can see, this doesn’t always work out that way! But I won’t beat myself up about it because life is too short.
I will say though that I don’t think two slices of cake helped with running club in the evening. I felt very sluggish and a bit sick!! Ho hum.
Now I’m going to have a rant. A while ago I mentioned how annoyed I was getting with people using my mug. My lovely large mug, perfect for a good cup of coffee in the morning and a present from my mum. Yes I did leave it in the communal kitchen and no it did not have my name on it so my complaining was hardly that justified. I secretly glared at anyone I caught using it though.
It’s gone. It’s completely missing. I haven’t seen it in ages. I’m despairing. So I did what any sane, non-obsessed, normal person would do in a time like this. I created a poster and put it in the kitchen for all to see.
That picture is genuinely a photo of my mug. Ironic, I know.
Well, I’m in a state of mourning now as it’s been a week and all I’ve got are some sympathetic comments and strange looks. RIP mug.
I have lost a mug and possibly gained the title of “Weird Mug Girl”.
Have you lost something recently? I wouldn’t mind but, damn, that was a good sized mug.
What are you hopeless at resisting? It doesn’t have to be food. I’m also very and when it comes to anything running-related…what’s that? A new electrolyte drink that people are raving about? Let’s get five.
Now I’m going to throw out something a bit crazy here. The following eats will win no awards. The will not appear in any great book of recipes. They don’t look pretty. They are simply random, working-week dinners that were thrown together in the midst of hunger.
People, let’s get real here: I am not a fancy blogger. Don’t get me wrong, I admire greatly all those beautiful blogs with beautiful photos and the effort and time that’s been spent on them. I truly admire that.
But this week, I’m bucking the trend. Throwing in the towel. So please, be kind in your judgements…these are just some random meals from a busy working week.
Mystery Fish Meal
I wish I could take credit for this taste sensation, but I have to thank good old Sainsbury’s supermarket. We’ve been ordering our food online recently because life has been hectic at work and the weekends and it’s just easier. Anyway, I ordered fish (just plain old river cobbler) and they gave me this instead. It’s still river cobbler but it’s got some crazy delicious bread-crumb coating. I don’t even want to think of what’s involved to make it taste so good. It can’t be good
Anyway, I had this with broad beans and roasted butternut squash. Heavenly simple.
Random Beef and Egg Meal
I think I saw a recipe months ago that was something similar to the above and then I randomly decided to give it a go. However, I’ve later found it actually involved sweet potato and not mince at all (sweet potato hash maybe?). HOWEVER this was exceptionally tasty for all it’s randomness. For kicks here’s the recipe (it may not be the prettiest meal in the world, or the best titled but it tasted goood!).
Random Beef and Egg Meal (serves 2)
White onion, diced
Clove of garlic, diced
400g minced/ground lean beef
2 medium grated mushrooms
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Crumbled beef stock cube
1 tbsp. tomato puree
Mixed herbs (oregano, rosemary, basil)
– Pre-heat oven to 190C. Fry onion and garlic for 5 minutes, add beef, zucchini and mushrooms (the grated mushrooms was an idea I got from the lovely Jessie – GENIUS. Ben didn’t even realise and he hates mushrooms. Haha those vitamins snuck right in and he didn’t notice). Fry until beef has browned.
– Add Worcestershire sauce, stock cube, tomato puree and herbs.
– Transfer to an over-proof dish (e..g casserole dish) and then make two small holes at either end and crack an egg in each.
– Put in oven for around 15 minutes (until the eggs have cooked).
Egg and Beef Mess
I had some mince left over, I had a lot of eggs, and I had some veg. I threw it all together. New favourite scrambled egg meal right there. And seriously filling. Three eggs, 100g minced/ground beef, veg. You know it makes sense.
Chicken and Cream Cheese
This meal is such a staple meal for me. Chicken is one of my favourite meats and I adore cream cheese. Basically there’s a lot of veg (this time onion, zucchini and mushrooms), chicken and cream cheese with a tablespoon of tomato puree and lots of spices. Easy and quick thrown together in a pan and cooked through.
You could argue that the majority of my meals are never that ‘pretty’ or creative. You’d have a good point But as you can see, this week was even more so. I love cooking, don’t get me wrong. I love opening the fridge and cupboards and wondering what to make for dinner. But it’s not always going to be a culinary break-through. Sometimes it’s just a boring, run-of-the-mill meal. Three eggs and some tuna…some chicken with sweet potato…turkey sausages…
I do tend to put a lot of (highly unnecessary) pressure on myself to create elaborate, ground-breaking meals and post them on my blog in beautifully edited photos with a well-written recipe below. But sometimes, I’m just tired. Sometimes I honestly can’t be bothered. That’s not to say I don’t care. I just don’t always have the time.
So please forgive me this week, I will endeavour to do better
What’s your random, easy meal this week?
Do you cook every single day? Unless we go out or order in, I will always cook a meal – the degree of cooking involved varies though (see above ).
As a blogger, do you feel pressurised to upload great recipes and meals all the time?