So clearly blog writing and me aren’t exactly a big thing right now. But I do still enjoy popping on here and writing down some thoughts from time to time, regardless of whether people read them or not (and if you do, that’s so lovely thank you).
I think the main issue is that I use Instagram as a daily update on life, so this long form of writing seems superfluous and unnecessary. That said, the nuances and details do get lost in those tiny little squares. No one there wants to read an essay but at the same time I can post frequently enough that I don’t feel the need to write a lot here.
That said, I felt the urge so here I am.
A little update then I suppose. I knew that having children would change my life. I knew sleep would probably suck (yep, it did and still does – no lie ins and still consistent nightly wakes). I knew I’d have to de-prioritise things I love, like going further afield to run marathons, more frequent holidays or weekend trips. Of course these things aren’t impossible, but they’re just further down the list for the things we want to spend our time and money on.
I can still train for and run marathons thankfully. Since having Isaac in July 2021 I’ve run five marathons. I’m very proud of this. At the same time though, it is a juggling act and requires the goodwill and patience from Kyle and family members who help with childcare and support.
But yes, I was aware things would change post child. What I didn’t realise though was the illnesses. The never-ending string of sickness that Isaac and then consequently Kyle and I are have to deal with. It’s not an exaggeration to say every month something hits us. I’ve been told this is an entirely normal issue and it’s due to Isaac being all brand new and going to nursery, which is riddled with bugs and bacteria, all of which he’s new to. It’s great for his immune system and if it doesn’t happen now, it’ll happen later when he goes to school.
That doesn’t make the present feel much better when we’re constantly sniffing, coughing, or wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa slowly dying.
Currently I’m suffering from a rather grim cough and flu/cough-like experience. Thankfully COVID negative, but to be honest it might as well be for how bad I feel! And of course I have the London Marathon in a mere few days. Nightmare.
Honestly, when I was hit down with this last week I thought I’d be fine as I had well over a week but now midweek on race week I’m starting to get nervous. I haven’t run since Good Friday (a week and a half ago).
Now London was never going to be a super fast time and to be honest I’m OK just plodding round enjoying the atmosphere. But I don’t want to have a miserable experience and feel awful running. I also don’t want to knock myself down for another week afterwards for pushing myself all those miles, because regardless of how fast or slow you run you’re still running 26.2 miles.
I’m going to make my final decision on Friday. I intend to run tomorrow morning to see how it goes as well. It’s a delicate balance of testing the waters but not pushing my body to regress back to peak illness.
If by Friday I’m still feeling dreadful, Kyle and I will still go to London and enjoy ourselves. My parents are looking after Isaac, we have an AirBnb all paid for (past the point of refund) and some expensive train tickets to use. So we might as well go and enjoy ourself (i.e. go to lots of foodie places away from the crush). I hasten to add, I highly doubt I’ll be doing any supporting. We will probably head back home early Sunday to beat the rush. I know that seems a bit miserable and mean but I think I’m just going to feel a bit too grumpy. I want to run the marathon and I will be annoyed I can’t. A pathetic thing to admit I realise this but hey ho.
So fingers crossed it works out OK. Either way, we’ll have a good time either running around London for the marathon or for lots of food.
We decided to have a day date just the two of us and go to London for a foodie trip. We had considered bringing Isaac but it was likely to not be that fun a day for him. It would be a lot of time in the pram, being ferried around and his naps would be all over the place. Instead he stayed with his aunty and had a lovely day with her going doing fun things like soft play.
After she came and picked him up, Kyle and I walked to the train station and headed to London. The plan was to go to Camden Market as there are so many food stalls there which looked incredible. After arriving, we walked from Waterloo Station to Camden, which was about 50 minutes. We do love a walk and it whetted our appetite nicely.
We got to the market at 11.30am and the place we were intending on trying first wasn’t actually open until midday so we needed to mooch around a bit beforehand.
Because we were both quite hungry at this point we landed ourselves in front of Funky Chips, which looked divine. They had “nacho chips” which sounded incredible. Basically Peri Peri dusted chips (fries for any Americans) loaded with cheese sauce, jalapenos, sour cream, more grated cheese and two delicious sauces.
It was AMAZING. We hoovered these up so quickly it was unreal. I’m not a big spicy food fan but the jalapenos were delicious – enough heat to be warming and flavoursome. A very good start indeed to our foodie outing.
Then we headed to Oli Baba’s for their famous halloumi fries.
These were delicious. Crispy, salty and sweet with the pomegranate seeds scattered on top and a perfectly balanced hint of mint.
Then we followed that with a Bill or Beak honey butter fried chicken burger. It was a sticky, greasy, crispy mess but SO good.
After that we FINLLY headed to our main attraction, the Uh K Dogs n Juicy (basically Korean corn dogs). We were so excited. Corn dogs aren’t really something you see much of in the UK so we were really stoked to be able to try them. I went for a half turkey sausage and half mozzarella sausage, dipped in sugar and coated in mustard and ketchup. Kyle went for a full mozzarella, dipped in Cheetos dusting with cheese sauce.
They were really good. I sort of wish I’d gone for a full mozzarella in the end as the cheese was amazing but to be honest I have no regrets. It was fun to eat and the cheese pulls insane.
Then we squeezed in our last savoury item by enjoying a delicious New York Reuben. This was a bagel with sauerkraut, salt beef, cheese and a sauce. Delicious!
You might think we were full by then, this was not the case. We decided to end the day with something sweet.
Kyle enjoyed four churro doughnuts (which I had a few cheeky bites of – the dough was so soft and melt in the mouth) and I got two scoops of cookie dough (Mini Eggs and Red Velvet flavours) topped with a coop of gelato.
Stick a fork in me, I was done! We had spent a fair bit of money, walked A LOT and eaten a ridiculous amount of food… we were ready to head home.
All the stall owners we met were so lovely and friendly, which really made the day even better. Everyone had a story to tell or nice things to say and couldn’t be more helpful or generous. It wasn’t hugely busy either which was nice. I mean it was a random Wednesday but it was nice not
It was such a lovely day. Of course I adore my child and love being his mum, but it’s nice to take a break and spend some quality one-on-one time with Kyle from time to time. We both had such a lovely day. Then it was back home to be parents again!
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!).
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
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.
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
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 🙂
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!
Kyle and I left work on Friday after lunch and walked to the train station to head to London. We had an AirBnb booked so after arriving at Waterloo Station we headed there. Not to state the obvious but it was a pretty hot one! Walking and using the tube was hardwork.
After settling into our accommodation we headed to London Bridge to go up The Shard.
Neither of us had done this before so it was exciting to go up. Though I have to say, the number of queues before you get up there is a little ridiculous: there’s a queue to get inside, then a queue to get your ticket, then a queue to have your items checked, then a queue to have a photo taken (which is mandatory and later you have to queue to view and then pay for if you actually want it), then a queue to get into the elevator before FINALLY arriving on the viewing floor. Jeeze. But once you’re up there it’s pretty spectacular. We had a lovely clear day so got a great view.
We avoided the expensive ice cream (£3 per scoop!) and cocktails at the bar (£13.50!) – definitely not in Portsmouth anymore eh. And then we headed back to the AirBnb to get ready for dinner.
We were going to the Chelsea branch of the Marco Pierre White steakhouse. We glammed up and got an Uber there (who was super friendly and even recommended us the same restaurant we had booked for brunch to the next day – great minds!).
The restaurant was
super posh – definitely not something we’re used to 😉
We both had Whiskey Mac cocktails while we perused the menu. I drank mine trying to convince myself I do in fact like whiskey (I don’t, unless large amounts of the ice has melted into it). For starters we had the chicken parfait, then I had the duck leg salad and Kyle had steak, and for pudding we both had sticky toffee pudding.
It was very tasty, but quite small portions. I imagine for “normal” people this would be fine but I’m a greedy large appetited person.
We had grand ambitions of going to a pub and having a few more drinks, but reality set in and we realised buying a few snacks from a corner shop and going back to the AirBnb to watch some Good Place was actually better. We’re simple souls.
The next morning we walked to Burgess parkrun (unsurprisingly in Burgess Park). It was so hot. It was a two mile walk so we were nice and toasty when we got there.
While we were milling around I heard a man talking to two others about his parkrun Alphabet Challenge progress. He mentioned he was going to York very soon and then in a couple of week he was off somewhere in Poland for the Z,
Being the nosy person I am, I interjected and asked which parkrun in Poland. I asked because recently my Z for Zary had been removed from counting as a Z in the challenge. I only found this out fairly recently when I checked on my Bingo Challenge progress. Yep, no more Zary in the Z list. After asking around I found out it’s because the Z in Zary is actually not technically a Z in the Polish/Russian language (it has a special dot above it, meaning it means something else).
I mean, of course I was a bit frustrated when I found this out – I went all that way! But actually I really only have myself to blame for this mistake being the non-Polish speaking ignorant English girl… I don’t regret going to Zary of course as I loved going and it was a great adventure for Kyle and I. It also just means I need to go back to Poland to go to the actual real Z parkrun there (without the little dot above it), Zielona Góra. Watch this space…
But anyway, the man couldn’t remember which one he was going to but said his friends had been thorough in their organising. Well, good to luck him!
Burgess parkrun was a beautiful course which ran through the park, next to the large pond (small lake?) and back round again.
It was lovely and flat, asides from a couple of very brief inclines. And the marshals were lovely and enthuasiastic cheering us along.
My hamstring niggled a little but nothing major. I kept my pace controlled. I find it very hard though during parkrun because as you get to the end people are more enthusiastic in their cheering (“come on, sprint finish!”) and as tempting as that is, it’s not ideal when you’re trying to be sensible.
And it’s hard when people suddenly surge past you… Of course I did speed up a bit, but I tried so hard not to get too carried away in the moment. My time was 24:26.
At the end they had bananas and free gels to try (I declined both, far too hot). Then we headed quickly back to the AirBnb to get showered and head to our brunch in Covent Garden, The Big Easy.
Now BBQ food at 11am might not sound like everyone’s cup of tea but for me this was the absolute dream. It was called the Boozy Brunch and the one we selected (The Big Pig Gig) was an all you can eat BBQ food and unlimited drink. We’re not huge drinkers (and it was 11am…) so we opted for Diet Cokes (unlike the table behind us who were at least three pints throughout the meal haha).
I felt a bit bad because on our second Diet Coke I said to the waitress quite firmly (or so Kyle tells me…) not to bring straws with our fresh glasses. The waitress looked a bit affronted told me actually they were eco-friendly straws… Whoops that’s me told!
Anyway the food itself was so good. We had pulled pork, chicken legs, pork ribs, cornbread, coleslaw, BBQ beans and chips.
Once we got through our first ’round’ the waitress was there straight away asking what bits we’d like again, or just a bit of everything again? Well… just a bit of everything please!
Kyle was a big fan of the cornbread, I loved the ribs and neither of us touched the chips (why waste valuable stomach space!). But everything was delicious. On finishing most of the second round the waitress came back. We were both fairly full but being greedy I asked for a couple more ribs. You know, just because.
THEN I was stuffed. Ooooooof!
I had previously had ideas of going to Doughnut Time afterwards but noooo way would this be happening now. Also, the thought of giant sickly doughnuts really was not appealing in the heat.
We then rolled walked back to Waterloo and headed back home. Kyle played on his iPad while I read my newly acquired book, Ready Player One.
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.
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.