My trip to Llandudno and a Christmas party

Life lately has been so good. I know I’m probably a broken record on this front but I’m very happy right now. Running is going well. I’m loving my job. I have a solid group of friends who continually make me smile every day. Life is indeed good.

I’ve just got back from Llandudno, seeing my grandparents, and instead of the usual “oh god it’s back to work” I was actually quite happy to go back. Not necessarily as happy about the super early morning, but you can’t win them all.IMG_1646Spending the four-ish days in Llandudno was lovely. Unfortunately my grandad wasn’t his usual energetic and fighting fit self due to an ongoing cough he couldn’t shift, but it was nice to be there anyway. Though he did go on an epic 5.4 mile walk with my dad around the Great Orme while I was out doing my long run on the Monday morning. I mean, as you do when you’re almost 84 right??My 15 mile long run was great. It was very icy and frosty but it was nice to get out in some different scenery. To make life easier I used a 5.6 mile loop that my grandparents had marked out for me (on proper maps, with elevation charts and everything!). This was handy because it meant if the roads were too dangerous I wasn’t going to be too far away from their house to stop.Llandudno runIt also felt a bit easier in my head mentally to think I was doing two-three loops rather than 15 miles. It was a great route because it went from one coast to the other, so you got to the see the sea twice which is always a win in my book.IMG_1697I didn’t have any choice but to wear my shorts as I hadn’t packed any leggings with me (I live in Anna La La Land where I don’t consider any negative prospects ahead, just everything running smoothly and the sun perpetually shining). But actually my legs were fine. It was my the tops of my ears and my fingers that suffered. I was wearing my Nike gloves and they’re still quite thin so my hands got really cold. I ended up pulling my sleeves down over them too. I made sure to  stop a couple of times to take some photos – it was so beautiful (with or without snow, really) that I had to.
Snowy LlandudnoThe first lap was good because I was new to the route and had to double-check my carefully written out paper instructions to ensure I was going to the right way, which helped pass the time. The second lap I just zoned out as I knew where to go. When it came to finishing the second lap I was at over 11 miles I didn’t fancy doing another lap as it would make my long run too far (almost 17 miles) and I really couldn’t be bothered. Instead I started the third lap but turned around when I hit the golf club, which we’d walked to the day before and I knew was 2 miles, so there and back would get me to my 15 miles. Perfect.
15 milesThe rest of the time in North Wales was good old fashioned family time. Lots of walking, quality quiz time (I love a quiz) and good food. My grandparents eat really healthily and light so the only indulgences were when we ate out for food (we had an Indian and a Christmas meal) or when I bought a chocolate drenched waffle at the Christmas market…IMG_1802Some thing have to be done. We also did a fun walk around Llandudno to find all the different Alice in Wonderland statues (called the “Alice Trail”). I love stuff like this.IMG_1799Then I was back at work on the Thursday, just in time for our Christmas do. It was at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which was rather fancy and meant I could put on a sparkly dress.IMG_1868The event only cost £5 and we got a drink on arrival, half a bottle of wine, two drinks tokens and a three course meal. I mean, that’s not too shabby at all! I got myself all glamorous (well, as glam as I can really) and enjoyed a fun evening of food and dancing. IMG_1871I did drink but not to excess as I had work the next day (and not to mention a marathon the following weekend). I’m actually not a huge drinker. I don’t mind getting a bit tiddly but I hate the feeling of wanting to be sick or the room spinning, which inevitably happens after drinking too much. The dinner was great (even more so because my friend and I got to split someone else’s meals between us as they hadn’t shown up). And the pudding was a pudding BAR. I will unashamedly say I returned after my first selection for more. I must have eaten about nine different selections (tiffin, rocky road, mince pie shortbread (!), blondies…). I mean, to be fair they were quite small.Historic Dockyard Christmas partyAnyway it was a really fun evening. It was nice to have a Christmas party with people who were around my own age. However, it did make for getting up on the Friday morning somewhat tricky. Luckily though everyone who’d been just as foolish as me not to take a day off or a half-day was in the same boat, so I wasn’t alone in my grogginess at work!

I’m working most of Christmas (except the Bank Holidays) but I don’t really mind as everyone is so jolly and festive. Plus I have a holiday to Dubai in January to look forward to. I’ll have my Portsmouth Coastal Marathon recap coming soon! Spoiler: I finished and I’m not injured 😀

Did you have a work Christmas party?

Do you run in the snow?

Do you cope well with being hungover?

5 Great Cycling Destinations in North Wales

Happy Friday everyone! I have a great guest post today all about cycling and in such a beautiful part of the UK, North Wales.

Cycling is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK, and we’re lucky to have a nation covered in quality cycling routes. Combined with North Wales’ popularity as a family holiday destination, you can’t go wrong planning a cycling trip in the area. Get yourself a holiday cottage in Snowdonia and spend a weekend, or maybe a bit longer, on your bike in the beautiful Welsh hills.

Chester to Holyhead

Chester and Holyhead are already worthy destinations in their own rights – and for cycling fans there’s a really charming, but quite challenging, ride between the two. You have a multiple options along the way: National Cycle Routes 5 and 8 are available at various times, or you can hop off the main roads and take a scenic detour to avoid traffic. Strong cyclists are required for this route, as it takes up to eight or nine hours to complete in a day.

Coed y Brenin

For mountain bike enthusiasts, Coed y Brenin is kind of the big one. It hosts a huge network of mountain biking routes of varied levels of difficulty. We recommend trying the Tarw Trail, if you’re an experienced mountain bike rider, a reasonably tough trail that starts off quite easy but, over the course of the ride, accelerates you into twisted rocky corners and some challenging terrain cambers. If you’re not a technically skilled rider, there are plenty of other options in the area.


Dolgellau to Barmouth

If you’re interested in a more family friendly experience, the Mawddach Trail is a great bet. Both ends of the course lead to plenty of parking, cafés, and bike hire facilities. The ride itself is spectacularly scenic, giving you views of Southern Snowdonia and the gorgeous Mawddach estuary. The route is 9.5 miles long, so younger riders need not be overtaxed by taking in the whole route. If you plan a trip, don’t miss the iconic bridge railway at the Barmouth end.

Note: The flat, paved terrain and traffic-free ride make this a great route for any wheelchair users, or for disabled cyclists to build confidence before taking on other routes.

clip_image004Image Source

Talacre to Penmaenmawr

Forming part of National Cycle Route 5, the bike path between Talacre and Penmaenmawr is a charming coastal course. You’ll pass through Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Conwy, Llanddulas, and more. The full route is 34 miles, so a competent rider should be able to complete the round trip in a day quite happily.

Caernarfon to Bryncir

The trip from Caernarfon to Bryncir is a 12.5 mile stretch of scenic cycling on a section of National Cycle Route 8. You’ll be skirting the edges of Snowdonia with some wonderful vistas of nearby ridges and the occasional glimpse of Mt Snowdon over the hills. An usually-wide bike path with good tarmac, you’ll have wonderful views of the sea as you descend towards the ocean overlooking the Lleyn mountains.

If you’re screaming at your monitor because you can’t believe we left out your favourite route, let us know in the comments!

Do you do much cycling?

Have you ever been to North Wales?

Mountain bikes or road bikes?

The most sensible route to take

Continuing on from my trip to North Wales recap…I’d planned to run 18 miles on the Sunday. My grandad, the legend that he is, had said he’d cycle alongside me while I ran.

Before the trip I previously asked his advice on where to find a good running route for the 18 miles I needed to run and he came back with a fantastic route (below) that was comparable to the Boston marathon elevation. My grandfather is truly inspiring. He’s 83 years old and used to be a mountain climber and mountain guide, but is still very active cycling, playing golf or walking most days. One of his most exciting jobs back in the day was taking 40 SAS men out to whittle them down to the 10 best leaders during a gruelling week’s worth of outdoor activities and traversing the 15 peaks of North Wales (which my grandad did in just one minute over nine hours!).

Boston marathon prep

So my grandad is in great shape and knows his stuff when it comes to being outdoors. On Sunday morning I joined my family for breakfast while they all had normal stuff while I munched on a tasty, albeit rather sad, Trek bar and black coffee.IMG_8373

I would have much preferred a hot bowl of porridge but that would have meant getting up a lot earlier to allow it to digest. After quite a big meal the night before I was happy enough to settle for something small instead and get more sleep.

Ginny, my step-gran, was quite worried about my grandad going out with me as it was very cold and windy but my grandad had his plan and felt confident. He had on lots of layers (as he’d be cycling alongside me at my running pace, so fairly slowly as a cycling pace) and a rucksack with snacks, drinks and First Aid.

Ginny drove us up to to our starting point at the Great Orme and we got ourselves together.

IMG_8375Sorting the bike out

I did my warm-up routine (leg swings and lunges etc.) while I was waiting and then decided to hop back into the car as it was very cold and windy at this elevation.


My grandad had sent me the route before the weekend and had talked it through with me, but I was still a little nervous in case I got lost if he decided to speed on ahead or turn back because of the cold. He said once we saw the sea though it was really straight forward: keep the sea on my left and continue along the path all the way to 18 miles. Even I can handle that!


We set off straight away with a fairly steep downhill for the first couple of miles. This is very similar to Boston so was a good test for me to hold myself back and not go crazy burning myself out for the following miles.IMG_8380

I took it nice and gentle and my grandad chatted away to me. It was really nice having the company. My grandad remarked that he was like a boxing coach cycling with me! It did seem like that way – he was able to chat away quite easily and though I could talk too it was harder for me than him. The wind though was tough going and we soon realised it would be against us the entire way.

Despite the cold wind, the views coming down the Great Orme were fantastic. It’s such a beautiful part of Britain I can’t believe more people don’t come here. Llandudno is somewhat touristy but not as much as it deserves considering all the natural beauty it has to offer.IMG_8379

After the first couple of miles I started feeling a bit of discomfort in my left foot, just under the arch. It felt like something was sticking in to my foot or that my trainer wasn’t hugely comfortable. As it wasn’t painful I just ignored it, thinking of stopping at some point to maybe have a fiddle and readjust.

We got to the Llandudno promenade and the wind was really tough going now. My pace was forced to slow. My grandad said he was going to make sure he wasn’t drafting me as that would be unfair training… I value that now but at the time in the thick of the wind I didn’t appreciate this Winking smile When training is hard it means racing is easier!

Anyway, the wind slowed my grandad down and he dropped behind me. It’s harder to cycle into the wind than to run due to the surface area and weight I guess. I just wanted to get off the direct seafront as quickly as possible so powered on. As soon as I reached the end of the prom though I reached a hill. It was tough going! As my grandad was a distance behind I decided to take the time to check my foot out. I stopped and took my trainer off, fiddled around, felt my foot (slight niggle spot where it felt like it had been rubbing) and then put it back on and retied it back up slightly looser.

The niggle disappeared for a bit so I felt a bit happier. My grandad caught me back up and we carried on along another part of the seafront, again against the wind, but at least back on the flat.


Ginny appeared occasionally alongside us in the car to check how my grandad was doing – which was very sweet but I think exasperated my grandad a little. He’s very driven, so when he plans to do something he gives it his all to complete it.IMG_8384

The miles ticked by. The foot niggle reappeared and I started to worry. It was annoying me and I couldn’t seem to shake it. Eventually my grandad called it a day with cycling as the wind was so relentless and Ginny was persistent that he’d get cold cycling so slowly alongside me. I think he stopped around 10 miles. Ginny had stopped ahead and we could see the boot was open, basically her saying, “End of the road. Time to stop”. Hehe. In the distance I could see where I was heading (Rhyl) as the route just wrapped along the seafront so I was in no danger of getting lost. But now that I was alone I felt the demons come into my head.

This foot niggle… what was it? Was it serious? Was I making it worse running? Should I try and get to the end regardless? Would my grandparents think I failed?

After a mile of umm’ing and arr’ing I decided that the best thing to do was stop. The niggle wasn’t going away and 7-8 more miles of running on it wouldn’t help at all and could compromise later weeks of training. I rang my grandparents and they said they’d meet me at the next car park as I was now on an enclosed cycle/walkway away from the road. When I got there I sat down, took my trainer off and poked and prodded. Hmm, very tender and painful if I poked hard.

A man started walking over to me, quickly saying “don’t worry, I’m not trying to chat you up! I think I know what’s happening here though”. He looked vaguely familiar. “Running injury?” he asked. I nodded sadly. “I’ve been there many times! I’m a past runner too.”

He gave me some solid advice about icing and elevating. He also kindly offered me a phone or a lift but I assured him I had people coming for me. I asked about his running and he said he doesn’t run as much anymore now he was a bit older but he likes to stay involved through race photography. Ah ha! I knew where I’d seen him before. I mentioned that I ran Conwy parkrun the day before and he smiled and said he’d been the photographer there. What a small world! It was lovely to chat to him.

Then my grandparents picked me up. I felt like a huge failure and had a huge amount of disappointment for not completing the entire 18 miles. My grandad was frustrated too as he had wanted a good cycle as well but found the wind just too much in the end.


I managed 12 miles in the end (8.38min/mile pace) which were tough in the wind and mentally tough with all the injury fears flowing through my mind. I’m actually quite grateful for the wind because I think if it had been a perfectly still day my choice for stopping might not have happened as soon, if at all. The wind had mentally drained me and not having my grandad alongside me wasn’t as fun.

I know I did the right thing stopping. I don’t believe I have an injury, I reckon it’s a niggle that might take a few days or possibly a week of rest to calm down (FINGER’S CROSSED). I wasn’t limping at the end, my gait wasn’t changed, it just felt like something had kept battering against a certain spot in my foot for too long. And today (Wednesday) it feels much better, still not 100% but barely noticeable.

I wore a different pair of trainers for this run. I’m so annoyed at myself. I saw on Strava that my older Brooks had only been worn just over 100 miles and I thought, to save money, I should wear them out a bit before having to buy new trainers. I forgot that they were my gym shoes for a long time and that there was probably a reason I no longer ran in them. What an idiot. Though I don’t know for sure if it was the trainers it’s the only thing I can think of as it’s sort of out of the blue. Perhaps the steep downhill at the start aggravated something? Who knows! What I do know is I’ve purchased a new pair of trainers that I trust.

Ahh well, as per usual injury prone Anna picks up a niggle. But on the plus side, it’s a small niggle (I’m confident but not certain…) and I have about nine weeks until Boston so it’s not panic stations yet Winking smile

Anyway, the run, despite not ending as I wanted and being tough with the wind, was a fantastic experience. Running with my grandad was great and 12 miles is still a good distance. I also felt like I could have gone on and on (which is another frustration that it was just my foot letting me down rather than anything else). The scenery was beautiful and I enjoyed it. So not a fail at all!

Importantly, it didn’t take away from the enjoyable and fun weekend I had with my family anyway!

Have you ever run with someone who was on a bike?

Have you ever had a foot issue before?

Do you enjoy spending time with your grandparents?

Conwy parkrun and family time

And I’m back in England again after a flying visit to Wales this weekend. I travelled up to North Wales, Llandudno, with my dad to see my grandparents. Originally my mum was meant to come too but for various reasons she couldn’t unfortunately.

My dad and me drove together straight from work on Friday evening and got to Llandudno just after 10pm. After a quick catch-up with my grandparents I headed to bed – after over four hours of being in the car! The next morning the plan was to head to the very local Conwy parkrun. As it was just a five minute drive from the house it meant we didn’t need to leave until 8.20am and even then we when arrived we sat in the car for a little bit to keep warm. It was such a luxury to not have to get there early to set-up the course! (Though I did miss the social side of Netley parkrun).IMG_8338

The parkrun is located just next to the RSPB Nature Reserve (which I visited a few years ago on a different visit). It was easy to park (for free!) and the views were fantastic. It was a beautiful crisp and clear day and you could see out to Conwy castle and the surrounding areas.

IMG_8341The gate is where the parkrun begins, Conwy castle in the distance

My grandad and dad had come to support me which was lovely. I think my grandad was a little shocked that I wasn’t wearing warmer clothes but I assured him that within a few minutes of running I’d be lovely and warm – especially doing a 5k! He used to be a mountain climber and guide so proper equipment and clothing is vital to him.


My plan was to give it a blast but not be stupid due to my long run planned tomorrow. But I did want to make the most of the flat course to see where my fitness was sat.


I also had my music with me for a change to help motivate me to run fast. After a gentle warm-up and the race brief we off. Annoyingly I should have started a bit closer to the front as I had to weave in and out of people. It’s always tricky to judge where to start at a new parkrun!

The route is very simple, you head out alongside the Conwy River on a compacted dirt track, have a brief moment of pain as you go over the footbridge over the main road, then turn left to do a quick out and back to the Conwy Castle, then continue alongside the river before turning around and going back over the footbridge and back to the finish. It’s super flat (bar the bridge) and great to stretch the legs on. It was a little windy but nothing major. I’d say I felt comfortably steady for 80% of the run but had to dig deep and ride the pain train for the last stretch.IMG_8387

Photo credit: Steve Jeffrey Photography

I knew I was second female as I’d seen the first female ahead of me on the out and back but I managed to catch her up a little bit and she finished 20 seconds ahead. She was wearing a hoodie which leads me to believe she might have been taking it easy!


My time was 21:40 with an overall place of 17/202 (one of my best finishes!). I also managed another royal flush negative split which continues to surprise me!


The Conwy parkrun was very friendly and welcoming and had a fantastic course really showing some beautiful scenery. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re in the area. There’s also a lovely cafe at the Nature Reserve to go afterwards (we didn’t, we went straight home as we were cold).

The entire weekend’s weather in Llandudno was really good. Beautifully sunny though very cold. Conwy parkrun wasn’t that windy (though the next day it was), whereas at Netley, my usual parkrun, it was cold, wet and miserable. Apparently it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Very odd that for once Wales had the better weather!

The rest of the day we spent doing some odd bits of shopping and walking around Conwy. Conwy is known for its mussels so I had to take a photo of the HUGE bag I saw next to the water. They’re sustainably hand-raked.IMG_8356If I lived in Conwy I think I’d be eating them all the time! Anyway, it was a nice relaxed day.

That evening, as a normal tradition when we visit my grandparents, we went to their favourite Indian restaurant. Perhaps not the wisest choice before my planned 18 miles the next day but I know exactly what to order that won’t upset my stomach.IMG_8357

Tandoori chicken and an onion salad – my usual! With poppadum and a mixed kebab starter. Half way through the meal the owner of the restaurant came over and presented us with a bottle of champagne. We all looked at each other a bit confused as we hadn’t ordered it. He said it was because we were celebrating a special birthday. Well, we were – it was my dad’s birthday the next day, we were just confused as to how he knew! And then at the end of the meal he brought over a chocolate cake with candles and they sang him happy birthday. Though it was obviously very nice, we were still confused as to how he knew.

My dad then received a phone call from my mum saying she’d planned it! How lovely! My dad was so touched. Strangely though, my mum hadn’t paid and when my dad tried to pay they refused. How bizarre!


Obviously we all had some chocolate cake to finish off the meal.

I’ll do a recap of the next day (well, the long run I had planned) as this post is getting quite long and I have a lot to say about the run. But as a synopsis for the entire weekend, it was fantastic. I love seeing my grandparents. My grandad is very similar to me in his personality and how much he enjoys staying active and being outside. He’s 83 years old but he’s not stopping yet!

Have you been to Wales before?

Do you enjoy seafood?

Have you ever had a birthday surprise?

My little holiday in Wales

I’m back from North Wales where I spent a lovely few days with my family. It just goes too quickly though, doesn’t it?

On Thursday afternoon I hopped into my dad’s car, with Alfie, and headed up the motorway to Stoke-on-Trent. My granddad lives there with his two dogs and had kindly agreed to look after Alfie and my parent’s three dogs while we were in Wales. My other granddad, who we were going to be staying with, is allergic to dogs so we sadly couldn’t bring them along.

It was nice to see my granddad in Stoke, albeit briefly. He makes awesome cups of tea and always has some funny stories. He’s also reindeer obsessed and every year he goes to Scotland to spend several weeks helping out with a reindeer sanctuary up there. He used to be a joiner before he retired and is always carving and making crazy creations from reindeer antlers that they’ve naturally dropped.

Reindeer garage


On his garage he painted a beautiful silhouette of reindeer too.

We then hopped back in the car for the last part of our journey to Llandudno. We left Southampton at 2pm and arrived at 9pm! I was definitely feeling a bit cabin feverish.

Friday morning we had a lovely walk in Conwy.


The weather thankfully was good and we enjoyed a nice coffee sat outside a quaint cafe.


In Conwy they have an interactive Alice and Wonderland trail for children to follow. There are wooden statues of different characters all over the town.

Alice and Wonderland Conwy

I saw Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and the Rabbit. I’ve previously seen the Red Queen but that’s all I’ve found so far.

We also did a little bit of shopping and I found an amazing sweet shop where I just couldn’t help buying a few chocolates and marzipan fruit.

Conwy Sweet Shop


I had a little mosey in Dorothy Perkins and bought a new top as well…the first non-fitnessitem of clothing I’ve bought in a while!!

My grandparents are keen golfers (and despite my granddad being 82 he’s still a very keen walker and cyclist!) so for dinner they took us to their golf club’s restaurant. I had a delicious gammon steak with fried egg and new potatoes. And for pudding a blueberry Bakewell slice with ice cream. Heavenly!

Golf club pudding

Before getting injured I’d hoped to be able to run the Conwy parkrun on the Saturday but sadly this wasn’t possible. Every part of me desperately wanted to go but I stuck to my initial decision. I’d rather keep on recovering rather than attempt something foolish and delay it longer. It was tipping down with rain in the morning which was some consolation to not running, but I was still grumpy.

Luckily there was the Convwy Taste Festival going on over the weekend so I could take my mind off things by enjoying stupid amounts of food. The festival was just next to the water and down from the Conwy Castle – only a few minutes drive from my grandparent’s house handily!

Conwy Taste Festival

Despite the poor weather, the place was packed! You paid £8.50 for access to the large tents, where inside were loads of food and drink merchants selling their wares. And, importantly, letting you try them!!

ConwyTaste Festival

I tried everything, as you can imagine. From chilli jams to sweet chutneys, from Welsh cakes to shortbread… balsamic vinegars, oils, hand-made marshmallows (the choc mint flavour was incredible), curry sauces, BBQ sauces, dried meats, pasties, pies, bread, waffles (best taster ever – a chunk of waffle dipped in caramel sauce…I considered sneaking back to that one to try it again), yogurts, fudge, sausages, meat and, of course, cakes!

Rocky road

I couldn’t not buy a slice of the rocky road…or the peanut butter millionaire shortbread style cake. And then later a large slice of blondie. It took all the effort in the world to not gobble them all up quickly.

After we had all enjoyed so many different foods we decided to head outside of the main tent to look for lunch (I know, because at this point we were soooo hungry ;-)). There were so many different street food options it was quite overwhelming.

Conwy food festival

Thai, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Chinese, English (bangers & mash, fish & chips), pulled pork and BBQ, Caribbean, Moroccan, mussels… I literally walked up and down the street for a good ten minutes having no idea what to have. I did really fancy a large skewer of tandoori chicken but seen as how we were out for an Indian that evening I knew I needed to go safe and not have anything spicy or similar to what I’d eat that evening.

Lobster roll

In the end I went for a lobster roll and fries. I saw it being made and it looked amazing. And it tasted so good. Not the cheapest street food I’d ever had at £10 (compared to the £3.50 hot dog my dad had!) but it was fully worth it. My mum got a sausage roll from a different place to my dad and for the same price as my dad’s they packed in pretty much an entire pack of sausages!! Helpfully, we were all there to assist her 😉

After a quick warm-up coffee we carried on walking around looking at the other food stalls (a few more tasters…) and some of the craft stalls as well. My day was made when I saw a dinosaur walking about – with a fully functioning roar.

Conwy food festival dinosaur

Such a great day. I loved it! We all agreed we definitely wanted to come back next year. It was a lot of fun. I came away with three cakes and a meat pack containing a zebra sausage (!!), a boar burger, pigeon breast, pheasant breast, venison steak, black pudding and a slice of bacon. Amazing.

That evening we went to a local Indian and had lots more food…


I had a mixed Asian BBQ started followed by my favourite, tandoori chicken with onion salad. Yum.

I had a great long weekend with my family and it was sad to leave on the Sunday. It was nice to not be at home looking at my empty house still not moving and still not running *sighs*. I would have loved to have done some running while I was away, in such beautiful scenery (and apparently my granddad was going to bike alongside me) but it wasn’t to be. There’s always next time I suppose!

How was your weekend?

Would you have enjoyed the Taste Festival?

Do you like street food? What would you have chosen?