Life Check-In

So life lately. Asides from doing idiotic things in my spare time, life has been pretty good, albeit somewhat stressful.


In terms of work, I’m still loving things. Now that schools have started again the traffic is heavier but it’s still nothing in comparison to my journeys to Basingstoke used to be. We’re still talking 30 minutes. This makes me extremely happy. Having more of an evening means I don’t feel like all I do is walk Alfie, eat and then go to bed. I can actually live a little. However this will be changing again as I’ve now moved back home to my parent’s house (more on this in a bit). Though they live closer to where I work, they actually live in a very annoying spot in terms of getting on to the motorway. So the likelihood is that I’ll get stuck in more traffic in the future. However, it still won’t be as bad as Basingstoke was I’m sure.

And the work itself? I’m loving it. So interesting and something I’m so keen to learn more and more about. Working in such a cool and friendly environment helps a lot as well. Not that my last place wasn’t friendly (I have some great friends I made there and keep in touch with) but I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be now.


In terms of moving, I kind of left everything until the last moment. I mean, ehhh, don’t we all work a bit better with some adrenaline and looming, flashing deadline in front of us? I’m renting my flat out furnished so this did make things somewhat easier in terms of physically moving. But I still had a lot of “stuff” to move regardless. And cleaning. I’ve maintained a very high level of cleanliness in my flat (the letting agency commended it when they visited. I was proud) but there were still areas to clean of course. Cupboards, drawers, deep cleaning the kitchen and bathroom.

I had Friday and Monday off to master this moving process (while still having quite a busy weekend as well – I never make things easy for myself of course). Friday was literally pack my life away into my Fiat 500, and thankfully my dad’s larger car. I packed about half of my stuff (SO. MANY. CLOTHES. WHY) and then realised actually I had quite a lot of stuff.This giant Next bag and the big blue IKEA bags were my saviour. As everything was to fit into cars, rather than a van, it was all about squashability. Plus I didn’t actually have that many boxes. I’m also going through the very freeing process of becoming more minimalist. There’s nothing like packing to make you consider whether you want to actually move something or not. I’ve gotten rid of (well, donated to charity) a lot of old trainers, shoes, clothes, books, DVDs and random items.I’ve sold more expensive handbags on eBay and given away other stuff to friends (ahh smoothie maker, it’s been quite a while since I used you). So Friday, Saturday afternoon and Sunday were spent packing the last bits. As I had a busy day (mainly eating, it must be said) Saturday and then a half marathon on Sunday, it was quite exhausting getting everything done.My flat was scrubbed clean; the fridge, the balcony glass panes, the windows (inside and out!), the oven, cupboards, bathroom, skirting boards…everything!It’s funny because I keep forgetting that it’s still going to be my flat. I can still move back there at some point in the future. I’m not selling it. So the level of sadness is minimal. I will of course miss it and I will miss my lovely cushty lifestyle there but I know this is the right thing to do. But jeeeesus was it tiring getting it all done. My parents helped where they could but they too were busy at the weekend and couldn’t have the time off of work. But I am an INDEPENDENT WOMAN, yes indeed. There is nothing like walking up and down two flights of stairs carrying heavy bags and boxes on your own to drill that into you.Running

By far the most interesting thing to discuss right? 😉 My running since the New Forest Marathon has been pretty good. Weirdly I’ve gone from the lone wolf runner who does most of her running solo, to someone who now regularly does her runs with other people. On Tuesday nights I’ve been running with a guy at work which has been nice. So far we’ve only run two four milers as we’ve both been recovering from high mileage at the weekend. But it’s been good regardless. It’s nice as well to chat to someone outside of work hours about work. I know that doesn’t sound great but for someone who would literally forget about work as soon as I left the building, to have interest and passion about what I do now means I’m genuinely interested in talking about it further.

Thursdays still see me running with my friend Mike. He’s always fun to run with and we often have good conversations regarding dating, life and the universe. It’s a bit like therapy 😉 Our recent run of 10k went by nicely. Though we both wondered how the hell we’d run regularly 7-9miles before. A marathon definitely takes it out of you. However, our splits were nicely around 8.30s rather than 9minutes so that was something.And Saturday is parkrun of couse. Speaking of adulting fails… I somehow managed to register myself TWICE. So when I’ve been scanning my barcodes recently I’ve been scanning a different Anna (it’s still me, but not my usual account, just one I created YEARS ago when I was just starting running outside). I only realised this when I went to see how many parkruns I’ve done and found I’d only done about five, which is wrong! Stupid me. I’ve sent an email to the lovely parkrun chaps but they said it was too time-consuming to change it. It’s fair enough, of course. This is my own error, but I’m still SO annoyed (at myself). This means I’ll be out of count for milestones… OK my next milestone is 250 which is over 100 parkruns away but STILL. And now I don’t have Brighton & Hove on my tourism list. ARGH.

But anyway, parkrun at Netley this week was nice. It was lovely weather and I did a nice negative split as I started feeling stronger as the run continued.

Photo Credit: Glenn Tyreman

I so much prefer to build up to speed than go out guns blazing. Though with 5ks if you want a really solid fast time you do need to be on the speed as soon as you start… but my body doesn’t really work like that for parkrun. I guess I could do more miles to warm-up but with helping set-up there’s never time. Plus I’m not too bothered by getting a super fast time these days!

Photo Credit: Glenn Tyreman

I look very much “in the zone” in that photo above – this was on the finishing straight. So my time was 22:19 which is not too shabby!I think we’ll be moving onto the dreaded winter course soon (which feels so much harder). I had to dash off quickly after finishing as I needed to get a bit more packing done before meeting my friend for lunch. I did get a cheeky photo though with our new sign. Very fancy shmancy indeed! My friend, Joe, decided to photobomb it which was quite amusing.I’ll do a recap of the Solent Half Marathon that I ran on Sunday in another post…

Basically, the Cliff Notes of the post is, my life is going well. I’m a very happy apple right now (yes I did just refer to myself as an apple). Things have slotted into place and life is feeling good.

Do you enjoy cleaning? This is a random question, but I actually love cleaning. I get so much satisfaction from it.

Do you like the people you work with? And the environment you work in?

How’s your running/exercising going?

Big changes ahead

I had quite a few different titles in my head for this post. Things like…. Have I failed? Two steps backwards to move forwards. Adulting is hard. Nearly 30 and starting again…things like that.

All the options were things that have gone through my head and in some ways make sense to the action I’m going to take. There are big changes ahead for me indeed. So the Cliff Notes version is: I’m moving back home with my parents. Yep.

I’ll start from the beginning. Towards the end of last year I was feeling really fed up, mainly with my job. As I’ve said before, I just wasn’t feeling that it was something I wanted to do for the foreseeable future. I was coasting along, getting my job done but getting more and more down. I was spending a good portion of my life at work but living for the weekends when I could do what I actually wanted to do. Not to mention the draining, long commute there and back every day.

I had no desire or ambition. Gone was the girl who left university ready to take on the world. Instead I was dreaming of the holidays and marathons I could run and justifying the rest of my time, where I was sad and bored, as a way to fund the more fun times in my life. So what my job wasn’t my passion? I could afford to go on cool holidays, go out for dinner all the time and buy unlimited pairs of leggings. I was living the dream.

But no I wasn’t. And it soon became very clear that the benefit of the solid paycheck wasn’t enough to keep me from sinking into a despondent, unmotivated and sad person. A few holidays a year doesn’t make up for the fact that the majority of my week I was spent unhappy.

So earlier this year I decided to look for another job that would be more in line with what I wanted to do. Something I had a genuine interest in. Having spent a good portion of my career in a quite different field, however, I quickly realised I had very limited experience. Searching for a job with a similar salary was laughable. I hadn’t a chance in hell. So I started looking for jobs from the bottom up. Grass roots’ positions where I could learn and hopefully work my way up. And this was obviously going to be reflected in the pay.

And so I took that pay cut. I could carry on living in my flat with my new job but I would be living hand to mouth every month, and that makes me very nervous. Yes I have savings behind me but I want them to remain there and not be eaten into if I fancy going on holiday or splurging on a trip.

Instead, after long chats with my parents and careful consideration, I decided the best decision would be to rent out my flat and move back home. Long story short, I’ll be moving in September (hopefully) and the money I’ll save will basically bump up my earnings back to a happy place.

I’m obviously extremely grateful to have parents that are so supportive and willing to have me come back home (*cough* my mum is ecstatic). As you’re probably aware, I have a very good relationship with both my parents so hopefully it won’t be a painful experience for anyone. I’ll have my space, they’ll have theirs.

Alfie will obviously be joining me (again, my mum is ecstatic). My parents already have three dogs and he gets on fine with them (though he’ll still sleep with me as he always does when I stay over). It also gives me a bit of freedom (ironically) because I don’t have to rush home all the time to make sure Alfie isn’t alone for too long. My parents have a lovely garden and he’ll be well looked after if I decide to go on a date, a spontaneous work thing or stay out late with friends.

So, a big change for me. For how long, I don’t know…

Have you ever moved back home with your parents?

Would you ever consider something like this?

Do you get on with your parents?

Working on my winter insulation layer ;-)

I am so chuffed. My flat is coming along so nicely!

My little home is very small, but it’s perfect for me. I thought that going from a house to a flat (apartment) would be really hard but actually it’s great. My previous house was a two bedroom end terrace so it was quite small anyway but just for me I didn’t need all that space. My new place is only one bedroom but it has enough space for all my things and storage room (which was always the worry for me if I went for somewhere smaller). I could have gone for a two bedroom but for my budget it probably wouldn’t have been in as good an area or would have been too far from my usual commute.

Anyway I had Friday off and got some bits and pieces sorted like getting my Internet hooked up and the delivery of my table and chairs. FINALLY I can eat at the table again after so long perching on my bean bag or my bed.

Friday evening was my friend’s Christmas party. It was planned for the week after but after a change of venue it was moved forward a week. Annoyingly this was the same evening as my running club’s awards evening and Christmas party 🙁IMG_6596But I had good fun with my friends anyway at a new Chinese restaurant. I’m not a huge Chinese fan but the food was good.Chinese food

There was a sharing platter to start, this had chicken skewers, spring rolls, dumplings and salted squid. Normally sharing food gives me anxieties 😉 but there was an equal number of different items per person so this was fine. It’s when it’s like a free-for-all that I get worried. Fear of missing out on food!


Good friends

For main I had chicken teriyaki and rice, which was tasty but quite sweet. I was glad I didn’t have the duck as I tried some of my friend’s and it was ridiculously sweet. I like sweet stuff but this was a bit too much (for savoury anyway…). For pudding there was another sharing platter of brownies, doughnuts and ice cream things.IMG_6603

Tom, you’re famous! 😉

The next morning my alarm went off at 7am and for the first time in a long while I considered snoozing it. I rarely ever snooze alarms as once they go off I’m awake and that’s it. But I wanted to snuggle back down and sleep. I checked the weather and it didn’t look too bad at 11-12 degrees (centigrade). When I got to parkrun though it was tipping it down and I was glad for my wellies.Hunter welliesI was happy to take the rain over gale force winds though! A few people were feeling rather delicate due to the awards the night before. Luckily I hadn’t been drinking at my do, but I was still tired.

My friend Chris tried to persuade me to run with him, but he was aiming for 22 minutes and I’m no where near that yet! I did give it my best though and was happy with 23:14!

parkrun splits

It’s annoying because I can’t remember what my best time for this course is (as on the parkrun results it just says Netley Abbey – and there are like four different courses we can do through the year) so I’m not sure how well I can realistically aim to do as the weeks continue. The six hills really do drain you dry whereas the normal course only has three smaller hills.Parkrun mud

Anyway, it was fairly muddy but thankfully the rain had stopped when we were running. The temperature wasn’t too cold either (thanks, global warming!).

The rest of the day was deja vu to last weekend where I went to IKEA again with my parents and then spent the rest of the afternoon constructing bits and pieces. I’m DONE with IKEA now. No more!! I have pretty much everything I need now (apart from my new bed being delivered this week).

I was really chuffed to find a sofa I liked and when I ordered it they told me it could be delivered later that day. Unfortunately I failed to realise it would be delivered in four pieces. When the delivery men turned up I asked them if they were going to construct it and they almost laughed in my face. Of course not. It’s IKEA after all. Anyway, it’s all sorted thanks to my dad and me who are now like IKEA pros.

Sunday I had a lovely 6.5 mile run which went far better than last weekend’s. It still felt hard but I didn’t feel like walking so there’s an improvement (though it wasn’t as windy). My endurance is s.l.o.w.l.y improving.

6.5 miles

I’m starting to think I should be adding in some speed work but I think I’ll leave it with a tough parkrun each week for now. When I move to four runs a week then one of those might be a fartlek or intervals…*shudders*.

Sunday lunch was amazing. Literally amazing. I’ve found my new favourite restaurant. Coast To Coast in Whiteley. Dear God it was good. The menu was insane. I was torn between four different choices (burger with pulled pork, calzone, ribs or chicken wings). In the end I went for wings but instantly got food envy when I saw a woman get a HUGE rack of ribs.Coast To Coast

My dad and me shared the BBQ platter to start (ribs, wings, chicken tenders with blue cheese, battered prawns and chorizo). It was so good. I traded him some prawns for chicken and chorizo for ribs so I think we were both satisfied 😉

My Kentucky wings and sweet potato fries for my main were awesome. I’ve never actually had wings as a main before and it rocked my world. It had some great dips as well – one of them was like a blue cheese thing which I could have swum in if I’m honest.

I’d already seen the pudding menu and had earmarked the mint chocolate chip Oreo sundae but I was stuffed. It wasn’t even a “oooh I could make room” kind of stuffed, it was a meat sweat kind of stuffed. Just too much protein. I needed a nap 😉

Pretty damn awesome. Needless to say dinner wasn’t necessary!

How was your weekend?

Do you snooze your alarm or get up straight away?

What’s your favourite dip?

Rants and Raves #25

I’m so tired this week. The weekend really took it out of me. Fortunately I have a day off tomorrow, wheeee! So I can do more sorting and organising (*cough* and spending). Alfie’s back from my parent’s now as well. He does not like the balcony at all bless him! On to some rants and raves…

Rave: It’s so close to Christmas. I’m such a big fan of Christmas. I love the music, the food (ALL ABOUT THE FOOD), the festivities, the sparkle… Everything. I was wearing my ‘gateway’ Christmas jumper at the start of December.Christmas jumper

Old house selfie

See, it’s not quite a Christmas jumper but it’s fairly festive. I think I can get away with wearing it in January as well. I do have a proper one that I’ll be rocking out soon.

Rant: I hate myself (real hatred) for saying this but… Justin Bieber’s music is growing on me. WHAT’S GOING ON. I still detest the singer as I think he’s very arrogant and just not my type of person (as if we’d be friends otherwise;)) but his latest music is so bloody catchy.

Rave: I don’t tend to spend lots of money… But when it comes to workout gear, I can’t seem to stop. I found these gorgeous pair of Lululemon capris on eBay the other week.

Lululemon capris

Lululemon gear is just gorgeous but ridiculously priced. RIDICULOUSLY priced. Even worse than Sweaty Betty. I often have a little look on eBay to see if I can find anything and I was chuffed to score these for a discounted price. They are so soft, fit like a glove and just make me wish I was millionaire so I could buy everything from that shop.

I also bought some (more) leggings from Fabletics in their Black Friday deal. Two pairs of leggings for the price of one, I couldn’t resist.Fabletics leggings

I’d had these mesh capris in my ‘Wish’ bag already so I was happy to get them and another pair (more funky coloured) for the same price. I was concerned the mesh would be annoying but I barely notice it.

Rants: Buying loads of new gym and running gear wasn’t a great idea just before I moved as it only meant packing more stuff. In the end clothes that were in drawers ended up in bin bags… which then ended up like this when I needed to find certain items.


Yes that is a random tool kit

My running and gym gear has lovingly been put away now in my newly created chest of drawers. Though I still have a bin bag left of normal clothes I’ve yet to get to. Priorities.

Rave: I’m really into snacking on biltong and dried meat at the moment. Such a good snack to tide you over until your next proper meal.


Like meat crisps in a way 😉 Sorry veggies, I know that must sound awful to you.

These high protein crisp snack things though didn’t blow me away… bit bland. I’ll stick to my Snack a Jacks I think.IMG_6308

Rant: Websites that don’t accept hyphens in names. CaptureSo many don’t accept ‘Anna Smith-James’. IT’S MY NAME. My name isn’t Anna SmithJames. Or Anna Smith. Or Anna James. It’s Anna SMITH-JAMES. And on that subject, it’s JAMES not JONES. EVERY FRIGGING PHONE CALL. *Sighs*

On the subject of my name. Before I got married I was Anna James, but then I took Ben’s second name (Smith) and made two boring names into an interesting one. Now my intention is to find my next husband and just keep adding to my name, like Anna Smith-James-Taylor, and so on.

Obviously I’m joking. But I’m not changing my name. Who knows what the future holds but for now my name is remaining the same. The process of changing it is far too stressful… so many people, companies, websites to inform.

Rave: I found out what noise was keeping me awake. It was a scent thing that had been left in the flat. It clicks and ejects a puff of scent out every so often. I thought the noise was due to the wind on the window or something like that but then I was right next to it and heard the bastard. It has since left my flat. Though I do also now have ear plugs 😉

What are you rants and raves this week?

Are you a light or heavy sleeper?

Did you get anything on Black Friday?

I’ve moved house!

What a weekend. I’m shattered. It’s been a blur! I’ve finally moved in to my new little home. Moved in but not entirely sorted. Oh the boxes and the disorganised chaos…

So Thursday I had the day off of work and really started packing in earnest. I’d done a lot of packing and sorting beforehand but now it was literally ensuring everything was packed. I won’t lie, I hugely underestimated this process. I don’t have a huge amount of stuff as it’s just me (and Alfie) and I wasn’t taking any real furniture with me, but that still leaves a lot of stuff that I’d left because I was still using. This included clothes, toiletries, shoes, handbags, kitchen stuff, food… and then cleaning the bathrooms, dusting, hoovering and cleaning cupboards.IMG_6441

Where’s Alfie?

I felt very overwhelmed and under a lot of pressure to get it done as the next day I had to be out of the house by 12. I rung my mum (who’s currently off of work for 8 weeks after having a back operation) and had a mini-meltdown. She felt guilty for not being able to help – which was ridiculous as she’s in a lot of discomfort at the moment and can’t drive or really do much and that’s hardly her fault so the last thing I wanted was for her to feel bad. But I just need to vent and stress before getting back to it.

I caved in the end and text my friend, Louise, asking her if she could spare some time the next day to help me. She’d offered her services a few weeks ago and I’d told her I’d be fine. Just a few boxes, easy peasy. Ha! How I’d completely underestimated things! Lou was awesome and said she could come in the morning and help. What a legend! She’s also far more practical and sensible in these sorts of areas. I’m from a different, less organised school of thought…

Friday morning I had to pick up a van at 8.30am and then get back home to start moving stuff out of the house. The hardest thing was the mattress, which Lou and I struggled to get into the van. And then found it took up a huge amount of space in the van. At this point the estate agent’s from where I was buying from had rung and said I could not pick up the keys for the flat. I thought it’d be a good idea to go to the estate agent’s in the van, pick up the keys and then take the mattress to the flat and sort that first.

Good plan in theory… we arrived at the estate agents around 11. I ran in and said I was there to pick up the keys only to have the woman stare at me like I was crazy. She said that that was a printing shop and that the estate agents had moved. So I had to ring them and find out where the hell they were: central Southampton (about 20 mins away)!! I would have had a mental breakdown had Louise not calmed me down. In the end we decided to pack as much as we could in the van (playing Tetris with the mattress and boxes and then I would carry on packing and Lou would go and pick the keys up for me.

We finished packing at 12.15. What an absolute grind!
IMG_6455I got to the flat and met Lou there with the keys and we unloaded a few things before she had to go. It was around 1pm and I needed to get the van back by 4.30pm (so leave at 4pm). My dad was supposed to be coming to help but he was stuck in a meeting at work. I tried to get on and get stuff unpacked but it was taking forever getting items out of the van and then up the two flights of stairs. It was slow and hard progress. I decided to call in another friend to see if he could spare even just 20 minutes.

I was so grateful when he, Mike, said he could spare an hour! When he got there we got a great system of him unloaded the van and putting stuff in the stairwell and me going up and down the stairs putting the stuff in the flat. It was like intervals, I swear to god. I was sweating, my heart was racing… it was exhausting! And not to mention the fact that I hadn’t eaten anything other than breakfast and two apples.

In under an hour though we got everything into the flat and the van was empty. Mike had to dash off to pick his daughter up but I was so grateful for his hard work and effort. I couldn’t have done it without him (or Louise!).

My dad arrived at 3pm and his task was to help me move an old sofa that had been left in the flat to the van so we could take it to the tip. I wasn’t going to kick up a fuss about it as I had a van and we could get rid of it quickly (I would have been in my rights to have done so though).

After dropping that off at the tip, I got a phonecall from my estate agents for the property I was selling saying that the buyer wasn’t happy I’d left the garden table and chairs. I had mistakenly thought I was leaving them (I had agreed to leave a lot of other furniture). So we then had to take the van and take that furniture to the tip.

This was all very rushed as it was just after 4pm and I needed to get the van back. We arrived at the tip literally  at one minute past 4 to find they were closed. WHAT. So we had to swing by my parent’s house to drop the furniture off there as there was nowhere else for it to go and I needed to get the van back ASAP.

My parent’s gardener was there at the time and offered to take it off our hands as she quite fancied the furniture. What a happy ending!! And I got the van back in time. *HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF*

By the time I stopped it was dinner time and I was now out of adrenaline and STARVING. Luckily I’d had the forethought to have made a Hello Fresh meal up in the week that I just had to microwave.IMG_6457

I ate it on a (Hello Fresh) box, surveying the madness.

I’ll leave it there as this ramble has gone on a fair bit. So I can fully confirm that moving house is bloody stressful. But if you’re looking for a good way to start intermittent fasting, house moving really helps 😉 Though not when you then have a massive slice of white chocolate blondie from your freezer stash at the end…

White chocolate blondie

Incidentally this is one of the cakes I got from Wales all those weeks ago. It was AMAZING. And all the better with my cake fork.

Have you ever moved house?

How do you cope under pressure?

Are you an organised or disorganised person?