parkrun and friends

After having a solid eight days off of running to let my running mojo reignite and my calf chill the hell out, I’m back to running. This was good timing as a few guys from work were heading to Lakeside parkrun (actually located next to where we work) and I was glad not to miss out.

It was Trystan’s first time at parkrun so I was really chuffed for him (being the parkrun nut I am). He’d only recently gotten into running so this was a step in the right direction. My friends Ed and Kyle were also coming so there was a nice bunch of us. It was a warm morning and none of us were planning on any crazy PB attempts but we decided to all just run separately to keep the pressure down and let us all just run however we liked.

I’d had some acupuncture and massage from a really good local physio on Wednesday. I’ve mentioned him before (check out his website HERE – I fully recommend him!) and after that my calf was feeling good. I’d tested it out with a gentle 3.5 mile (a little niggly but much better) and then a 10k run with two guys from work, also fairly easy. So I was confident I would be OK. The calf felt on the mend! Hurrah.I had every ambition of taking parkrun easy. My mistake was wedging myself forward in the start line-up because as we got going I found myself getting carried away with the people around me and running 7 min/miles pace. Slow. Down. Anna. Unfortunately the brain didn’t quite compute that and I continued on. My calf felt even less niggly than previous runs… if it had gotten worse I would have slowed down (I mean, in retrospect, you can really say anything can’t you? I hope I would have slowed down). I saw some familiar faces as I ran and we exchanged cheers and hellos. parkrun is always so friendly and of course this is quite a local one so you see lots of the same people about.

From the Facebook page

With Lakeside, there’s a lovely chunk where you’re running past the lake under the shade of the trees. Though as people were running along the sandy track it was lifting dust into the air which was a little disconcerting to breathe in. Though the annoying part about this parkrun is the final out and back bit where you run out into the sunlight again and then under an underpass – so two mini hills – before heading back the way you came to finish on a long straight. It can be a bit wearisome.

From the Facebook page

Anyway, I managed to gain on the first female and this only made me keep my speedy pace rather than be more sensible and slow down. But I still felt OK.

Kyle wasn’t too far behind me – apparently trying to catch me (spoiler he was just 14 seconds behind – though to be fair to him, he’d started behind loads of people. His watch time was very similar to my watch time). Ed wasn’t far behind either and Trystan smashed it with just over 27 minutes. My time was 21:30 which I was both happy about and annoyed at myself for. I should have taken it easy. But the calf felt OK at the end…fingers crossed.

Trystan’s sprint finish was honestly amazing. I mean look at that determination!
We all had a great run. Trystan was pleased with his first parkrun and seemed keen to do another (yessssss parkrun convertee).It’s just so nice to have a beautiful morning and a great run with lovely people. Can’t beat that on a Saturday morning! I also got to catch up with the ever friendly Paul (check out his parkrun-full blog HERE). He’s a lovely guy and gave me some good parkrun tourism ideas. The guys and I then headed for a nice coffee in the Starbucks nearby. Good start to the weekend!

As for once I had no major plans, I enjoyed a nice dog walk with Alfie in the sunshine and watched the Germany vs. Switzerland match in the evening with my dad. I’ve actually been really loving the World Cup. I don’t usually watch football and know next to nothing about it but I do enjoy the World Cup time. I like how people get involved, talking about it and getting excited. Obviously I’d love England to do well but to be honest it’s just fun to be involved. Luckily at work we have a television which is showing all the matches so we can keep up with the games through the day.

On Sunday I played it safe with going to a Les Mills RPM spin class (currently on 78) which properly kicked my butt. Who knew you could sweat from your elbow creases and shins? Obviously I’d much rather be running but these Les Mills spin classes are actually really good. The “virtual” instructors on the screen are so full of enthusiastic beans and the workouts are so tough you do feel properly worked out. My calf felt OK in the morning but I wanted to give it another day. I’m going to the Marathon Talk Austria Run Camp in a week so I wanted to be fighting fit for that. Fingers crossed.

After the gym I had a nice (albeit HOT) walk round Queen Elizabeth Country Park.It was very sunny and the trails around QECP are quite hilly. But it was a good walk nonetheless. A refuel was definitely needed afterwards. That came in the shape of a lamb and feta burger (done on the BBQ) with some very crispy chips at the Hampshire Hog nearby.

Followed by a VERY tasty brownie.The brownie was SO good. It was so gooey, warm and fudgie. It rocked my world.

So a good weekend with a bit of running, a lot of sunshine, good food and fun times.

What did you get up to this weekend?

Have you introduced someone new to parkrun?

Have you tried any of the Les Mills classes before?

30 and loving life

Turning 30 hasn’t been so bad. I had a fantastic weekend with my friends and my family doing what I generally do best (eat lots of food). And recently so much good stuff has been happening.Having a birthday that sits on a Tuesday is pretty lame but actually I had a really lovely day. I’d obviously brought cakes in for everyone but I was really chuffed to find my work colleagues had bought 12 brownies from the amazing Melted cafe in Hilsea in Portsmouth.I’ve tried these brownies before and honestly they’re probably the best brownies I’ve ever had. They’re really dense and stodgy. I’m not really a fan of the more cakey and light brownies. I like them to be gooey. And these are so gooey. There were two kinds: Oreo brownie and peanut butter brownie. I thought it was caramel so went with that one.I’m not a huge peanut butter fan but actually this was crazy good. Chunks of peanut butter in it with all the dense chocolate. It was so so good. My colleagues know me well clearly! Of course I shared them, though it was like a dagger to my soul every time someone took one… 😉 I did make sure I snagged an Oreo one to take home and put in Anna’s Glorious Cake Freezer though!

Speaking of good food and lovely people, the amazing Jude (@RunnerViking) sent me some WHITE CHOCOLATE Lion Bars all the way from Scotland.

I’d been moaning about not being able to find them in shops and she was kind enough to buy me a few and send them to me. They arrived in perfect timing for my birthday. I’m SO excited. She’s an awesome person and an awesome runner 🙂

And as we’re on the theme of awesome people and white chocolate… my lovely lovely uni friends bought me the BEST present for my birthday. A white chocolate crazy rocky road chunk of heaven. It’s from Choccywoccydoodah. White chocolate covering marshmallows, jelly babies, nougat, honeycomb. I mean MY GOD.

I won’t lie, I’ve cracked into that bad boy already. I meant to only have a bite but ended up eating maybe almost half (OK OK two thirds). It was just phenomenal. I mean what was nice was that every bite was different – which is probably why I kept going.

They also got me a jar of hand-picked sweets from the Brighton sweet shop (Sugar Sin) which I’ve been to a few times and ADORE. The sweets aren’t you’re usual pick ‘n’ mix sweets, they’re crazy sweets you can’t get in the UK. So needless to say, I am very chuffed.OK one last food-related item… I saw this at my new gym and it really made me laugh.It’s a twist on that famous line in Notting Hill (one of my favourite rom coms). Don’t get me wrong, I do love a salad (as long as it’s a big salad) but I think we can all agree there are definitely days when you just wish it was a giant doughnut.

Speaking of my new gym (how good are my seamless tangents today eh!), I’m really getting into the spin classes. I’ve tried Les Mills Sprint, RPM and The Trip. RPM is probably my favourite as it’s hard but the instructors and music really keep you going. Sprint is just Go Go GO and The Trip is…well, a trip really.You basically follow a route on the screen and put your resistance up when you get to a hill and then beast it on the downhills. The “routes” you go on are either normal places like San Francisco or they’re crazy worlds (very trippy). It’s good fun though.

Does anyone remember the old skool ipods? My dad is a proper technology geek and as a family we were early adopters of most new technology and gadgets (like game consoles and mp3s – anyone remember the Microsoft Zune? No…?) so I was the first one in my school with one (yes really, it was 2003 – it wasn’t mine though I hasten to add, but borrowed from my dad) and I remember people looking at it in wonder and asking what it was. Yes I could really keep 1,000s of songs on there. This wasn’t even the first version of the iPod we had. I dropped it about four times and as it was in warranty I could keep sending it back and they’d send me a new one (oh those were the days…). And then the last time I dropped it they sent me the updated version. It’s amazing because now we just use our phones to store music. Mental. I can even remember when they became colour.

And one last thing I’ve recently been loving is the episode I listened to from the Ben Coomber Radio podcast. I have a love-hate relationship with Ben Coomber. I do rate him as I think he’s super hardworking and driven and has a lot to give in terms of knowledge and passion, but there are also things he does or says that I struggle with (or cause excessive eye rolls). But I listened to his interview with James Haskell and I really enjoyed it.

James Haskell has such a no nonsense approach to training and keeping fit. He has a very direct and blunt way of talking and a lot of sound solid knowledge. It’s worth a listen if you’re into that kind of thing (strength training, fitness in general and social media). Also, he has a very weird fascination with diggers (to the point he actually has one loaned out to him…).

Did you have the iPod back in the day?

What podcasts do you listen to?

Chocolate or sweets? It’s probably chocolate for me but I ADORE pick ‘n’ mix from the cinema.

Celebrating my birthday and not running

So I’ve taken a week off of running. After the Jersey Half (and, let’s be honest, a good number of weeks of beasting myself with races and speedwork) I needed a break from running.

Basically mentally and physically I was kind of done. Don’t get my wrong, I’m super pleased with everything I’ve achieved but I’m genuinely pooped. I could feel it happening the week before the half and the half just pushed me over the edge. My calf had begun to niggle as well – which is always a sign of me over-doing things, especially speedwork. I’ve come to realise that it really doesn’t matter what kind of strength training I do, my calves will always be my weak point and I’ll always get niggles there. Maybe I need to strengthen them up? Foam roll them more? Do more stretching? Who knows. But I’m pretty sure my calf has started to niggle because I’ve ramped up the speedwork quite a lot recently as well as the volume of my running. I never learn but there we go.

The calf is feeling a lot better though and mentally I feel a lot more chilled. At the same time I also changed gyms. I just randomly decided to do this on a whim. I saw a new PureGym had just opened literally 5 minutes from my work (though my old gym was only further down the road so really the distance isn’t a thing) and it was offering a cheaper rate. I like PureGym and because it’s all new and swanky I thought I might as well change. As much as I did like my old gym, it was old and the changing rooms were a bit grotty. There was also no air conditioning.

Anyway on Saturday morning I decided instead of parkrun (to be all sensible and keep the calf happily getting better) I went to a Les Mills spin class (“Sprint”). I’ve been to many spin classes but never a Les Mills one. And at this PureGym (North Harbour one in Portsolent) they have a “digital coach”. This means that instead of having a real person guiding you through, there was just a huge screen where you watched some Les Mills coaches giving the session. That sounds pants, I know. But actually it was brilliant. The coaches were really good. And the room was all dark which strangely made things easier – but harder? Like you could just absolutely beast it out but without worrying about people seeing you gurning. I don’t know, it worked for me! Better to have a virtual amazing coach than a sub-part bored real instructor in my opinion. It properly destroyed me though. I was a sweaty mess at the end. I think I’m a relatively fit person… I’ve run marathons and stuff. But jeeze that killed me.Then I headed quickly home to get showered and sorted to meet my uni friends for a fun birthday meal. My 30th is on Tuesday so they were down to help me celebrate. We went to one of my favourite restaurants in Southampton, Sadlers, which serves insane smoked and BBQ food. I’ve been a number of times and it’s always fairly epic.Since Jersey I’ve been craving nachos like crazy. What is wrong with me?? But I didn’t just want to order nachos (though they were renowed to be a large portion). Thankfully though my friends came to my aid and we ordered two portions for the table to share. Whew! So I was free to order my own meal of ribs. Unfortunately compared to previous times I’ve been it seems that portion sizes have changed. I mean, I know realistically I’m the only one who’d be miffed at this because I have a monster appetite but I only got two ribs. I went for the smaller portions of ribs but STILL. £15 for two ribs? You’re joking. And also, no cornbread despite it being on the menu? I’m disappointed. The ribs were good don’t get me wrong but the portion size was a bit lame.I realise for normal people this would probably be fine. But Kate went for the larger portion of ribs and got four. She paid £5 more… I just think that’s a bit lame really. I remember ordering ribs and having loads. Like I couldn’t possibly finish them. Anyway, when I saw the portion size I quickly ordered a side of wings. The wings were lush! The nachos were good too but there were blobs of pulled pork rather than a layering. So again, a bit lame.

Despite the food being somewhat underwhelming, the company was fabulous so really I didn’t mind at all. The food was tasty and we had a good time regardless. It was lovely to catch up and see them all (especially as there are now two gorgeous babies in the group as well – not that I’m a particularly baby person but as babies go, they’re alright ones).

Then we walked to Sprinkles down the road and had an immense pudding. I went for my usual Sticky Situation (lots of cookie dough, ice cream, chocolate and white chocolate). But ooof it was tough-going and I only managed HALF. What is even happening to me? Where has my monster appetite gone?!

It was just too much sweetness. But it was delicious. All in all a fantastic day. In July we’ll be going to Centre Parcs as a group to jointly celebrate all our 30th birthdays so that’ll be amazing.

Saturday evening I had a very chilled one (I was partly in a food coma if I’m honest) and watched the very strange film mother! I quite enjoyed it. Once I got on board that it was an allegory of the sixth day of creation from the Bible I found it a lot more engaging. But yeah, a weird one.

Sunday I had a nice lie-in and then took myself to another spin class (this time Spin RPM). If I thought the class the day before was hard I knew nothing. This was insane. I’ve never sweated so much in my life! And yet, as hard as it was, it was really good. Like I felt like I could properly push myself hard. My calf and everything felt fine so I could properly get into the workout and give it my all. I then did 30 minutes on the cross trainer at a light intensity. So though I didn’t get my beloved long run I did get a good sweat on and enjoyed a rather different workout.

Then I got home and ready super fast to head out for a joint celebration of Father’s Day and my birthday. My parents and I headed to The Pig in Brockenhurst. I booked this in April because it’s renowned of being super hard to get a table. We all kept remarking how lucky we were to be there on Father’s Day no less!

The Pig was AMAZING. Like the whole setting was beautiful. A very rustic and old antique style to it.The restaurant was located in a like a large conservatory type room which was just beautiful. Lots of plants, pretty paintings and rustic style furniture. And the service was so good. Very attentive, you felt well looked after.

We had mini starters before our regular starters (“Piggy Bites”) which were delicious. I had the Brock Eggs (eggs wrapped in shredded ham and bread crumbs), which tasted divine. And then for my actual starter I had the charcuterie board. Oh so tasty!!

For main I had The Pig’s signature dish, the tomahawk pork chop with a creamy sauce and a side of Isle of Wight tomatoes and basil. Literally HEAVEN. It was so tasty. But of course there was just enough room for pudding…because, why not?

I had the dark chocolate tart with toffee honeycomb ice cream. YES. A perfect way to end the meal. We all enjoyed our food and vowed definitely to come back at some point (for a special occasion, because it’s not cheap!).

A fabulous way to celebrate Father’s Day and my birthday. Despite not doing any running for the weekend, I had such a good couple of days!

How did you spend Father’s Day?

Do you like going to posh restaurants? The Pig didn’t feel super posh but it was definitely not Nando’s!

Have you ever done a Les Mills class?

What I’m Loving Lately

I started out writing this post as a Rants and Raves post…until I realised I actually didn’t have anything to rant about. This is obviously a good thing! So instead, here’s what I’m loving lately.

The Olympics: I’m quite sad that the Olympics is over. I must admit I was a bit late on jumping on the band wagon. It didn’t help that some of the stuff I would have watched (Mo’s races, Usain Bolt and the heptathlon) were in the middle of the night. It’s really not my thing to set an alarm and stay up to watch things. I like my sleep too much!

I did, however, watch both triathlons. Is it wrong to say I find them more interesting than regular running races because a bit more happens (oh the drama of the transitions and the different strengths involved)? The Brownlee brothers were amazing but the women’s race was quite tense! I watched the men’s marathon as well and thought it was hilarious when Meb Keflezighi fell over right on the finish line and then started doing press-ups! What a great save of face.

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Rave: Finding new podcasts. I love my current favourite podcasts but I’ve been zipping through them really quickly on dog walks, driving to and from work and while cooking/cleaning. My two new additions are TED Radio Hour and Stuff You Should Know. Again, so late in the game with Ted Talks (I’m like a lost sheep… I will eventually follow the flock but only after they’ve left and headed way up the hill).

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I love the TED Radio Hour because it has an overriding theme. It discusses several different talks that relate to the theme the host interviews the different TED talkers so we hear a bit more detail. It’s very good. One I listened to the other day was called Brand Over Brain and it was so interesting. I’m trying to pace myself through them but it’s tough.

The Stuff You Should Know is great for more focused information on one specific subject. For example, I listened to a podcast all about caffeine the other day which was cool. The two guys also have very soothing, smooth American voices which are very calming!

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To be honest, I could listen to them discuss anything. Case and point: I listened to them discuss the differences between jelly fish and octopi. Honestly, my brain is going to explode with information Winking smile

Books: On a similar knowledge-seeking vein, I’ve just finished The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor (as an audio book). It started off really interesting and I was fully on board with what he was saying… Things like going really low in calories isn’t the best way to lose weight and how eating more food of better quality actually regulates your metabolism, set-point and hormones and losing weight becomes easier. Obviously I’m not looking to lose weight but I find books like this very interesting. I get so annoyed when I read about diets touting 1,200 calories as the “golden number” and this book gave more insight into why those diets don’t work in the long-term. There was lots of science and clinical studies to back things up which made it very compelling.

However, I struggled a bit with the overall guidelines and mandates of the book. He dismissed “jogging” in a big way and claimed only 20 minutes of resistance exercise each week was enough. OK, I fully agree that exercise isn’t essential for weight loss. It’s a tool and can help speed up the process. And our body’s aren’t stupid, we adapt. That three mile run you did last week will have less of an effect this week because your body is adapting and finding sneaky ways of making it easier (biologically speaking). And anyone who’s trained for a marathon knows that it’s not the way to lose weight. If anything, you put on weight. More miles does not mean more weight loss. But to dismiss it outright… hmm. OK it won’t make you lose weight but there are so many more health benefits (physical, social and mental) that are given. But it was an interesting read.

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The book I’m currently reading I actually heard about through the Marathon Talk podcast. Tom Williams, one of the presenters, mentioned it in passing. It’s called Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The tagline is “The Surprising Truth About Success”. I’m not one for self-help books but it didn’t seem like that kind of spiel. And it isn’t. The title refers to the black boxes found in planes and how when a plane crashes or has a problem, the reasons behind it can be fully examined afterwards and we can learn from those mistakes.

This is not the case in other industries however. For example, in healthcare mistakes are not examined as thoroughly. An accident in surgery can be swept under the carpet as a “something that happens” or “an unfortunate complication”. Not because doctors and healthcare workers are dishonest or stupid, but because of culture and psychology. It’s a fascinating book and I fully recommend it. It also makes me never want to go to hospital again!

Workouts: Asides from running (see my last post), I’m still going to the gym and working on my strength. I do three strength sessions a week. One session is focused on glutes and legs, one on shoulders, arms and chest, and the third on my back with running-specific exercises and core work thrown in here and there. I’m also going to spin on Fridays when I can. This was originally because a cute guy started to do it (yes, I’m that sad and clearly I’m at my most attractive covered in sweat, ha!) but I’m now going because I enjoy it.

With running I’m not really doing any intense speed sessions because marathon training is hard enough coming back from injury and not having enough time. I’ve dabbled a bit with some harder effort parkruns and a fartlek session but otherwise it’s just getting the miles in to sort my endurance out. I’m not expecting a fast time for Chester after coping with that hamstring thing for so long it sort of shot down those hopes. So to just get through this training and the race itself without injury is good enough for me!

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So spinning. It’s a great way for me to get that quick leg turnover and fast speed workout in without the impact and injury-risk that a hard running speed session could pose for me. It was also nice to see the friend face of fellow Southampton runner, Ruth, as well.

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She used to write a blog (not sure she does anymore!) and that’s how we connected. Interestingly enough was suffering from a similar hamstring issue to me. It was lovely to have company while spinning (though she’s a spinning extraordinaire and put me to shame).

What workouts do you do in a week?

What podcasts do you listen to?

What books have you enjoyed recently?

Secret Santa, Christmas cake and the re-balance of love

Three. More. Days. Then Christmas! I’m still at work for these days but I’m not too bothered. My commute is always a dream when the kids are off school and it’s very quiet in the office at the moment.

Our weekend was fairly low-key. I’ve been cleaning the house so it’s all nice and clean ready for Christmas. Not that we’re having Christmas at our house as we’re going to my parent’s house with Ben’s mum for Christmas day there. But I just like the house being clean around the holiday time, you know? I also borrowed my parent’s steam mop so I could give the kitchen and bathroom’s floor a good clean. Lovely.

Saturday morning I went to Spin. I’ve mainly been focusing on strength-based classes (such as pump and circuits) but I want to get my fitness going again. I had been dreading going but I went to a class on Friday morning and actually it wasn’t too bad. I mean, it was hell but it was less hell than I originally thought. Saturday’s morning class went the same way and I’m slowly getting addicted to it again. After that I did 20 minutes of strength work on my own. Bits and pieces like single leg squats, single leg decline squats, resistance band work such as clams, crab walk and monster walk. All good work on the glutes!

Then I dashed off to parkrun to meet up with my running club who were doing Secret Santa. I am really quite pleased with the present I was able to come up with for my person. I used a shoe box and put a load of tissue paper and shredded paper in it.

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I then filled it with lots of running bits and bobs. I labelled the box “Runner’s Survival Box” (inspired by lots of the subscription boxes around at the moment).

IMG_8843In no particular order, it contained:

  • Little packets of Haribo – for quick release energy
  • Salted peanuts – for salt and protein (muscle repair)
  • Bottle of Powerade
  • High5 gel
  • Ibuprofen (always a necessity…)
  • Blister plasters (aka nipple guards)
  • OTE sachet (review HERE)
  • PowerBar Wafers (review HERE)
  • Cake

I had quite a few of the items anyway at home but what I had to buy was all under £5 so it was a really cheap and easy gift! When it was given to the man in question I sneakily watched him open it and he looked really chuffed and found it quite amusing. I was really pleased!

For me I was given a few bits and bobs that all around a certain theme.

IMG_8845 Shower gel, shampoo, apples and a notepad inside an apple

I think they were aware that I’m an apple fan 😉 I was quite pleased I must say.

After that I zoomed home and we spent the day cleaning and tidying. And maybe watched an episode of Gogglebox that we missed (hilarious). We also marzipan’ed our Christmas cake (yes I’m well aware of how close we’re cutting this!)

IMG_8848We had to carve the top bit off to get a nice straight finish and then got down to the fun part. Rolling out the marzipan and layering it on top of the cake (after coating it in apricot jam – for the recipe we used for the cake go HERE). IMG_8852 Not to shabs, eh? Excess marzipan was put to good use of course.

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We always hope to have a bit left over so we can make a few marzipan treats that can be nibbled on over the next few hours days.

Then we got ready to go out for a Christmas meal with some friends.

IMG_8853 I haven’t worn heels in so long… It was nice to get all dressed up for once!

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After being really excited about my impending turkey dinner, I was aghast to find out that I’d actually ordered salmon earlier in the month when we RSVP’d. I mean, what was I thinking?? I did not fancy salmon at all. My loving husband, who had the sense to have ordered turkey, decided to swap his meal with mine though. Now THIS is love. He said his motivation behind it was because a few Christmases ago I had asked for his last parsnip and he refused to give it to me and ate it quickly himself. I told him that that just showed the limits of his love for me. I always hold this against him saying that he loves me, but not enough to give me his last parsnip. But now the balance has been readdressed. Though he did look rather self-satisfied and smug about the whole affair. I think I was happier before having this one-up on him 😉 (Though the turkey was delicious…).

I wasn’t drinking as I was driving but Ben was having a merry time, and with one of the other guys had decided to make it their mission to acquire free shots from the manager. From my and the other guy’s other half’s perspective this was all rather mortifying. After a few rather lame failed attempts they decided to work harder. The other guy was able to make origami swans and he kept making them and giving them to the (female) manager, each time the swan was getting smaller and smaller and the manager was getting more and more exasperated (but in a fun way, she wasn’t genuinely annoyed I don’t think). But then the piece de résistance:

IMG_8862I mean that is TINY. And when you put the tail the wings flap. Incredible. After that she did indeed get them a free shot each. Well played, boys!

Sunday was a nice chilled day. I went to Spin and then Legs, Bums and Tums in the morning (I’m becoming a rather obnoxious gym addict now sadly). Then spent the rest of the day not doing too much other than walking Alfie, wrapping presents and helping Ben make a stollen (more on that in another post as this has gone on far too long now).

Are you off of work/school now for Christmas?

Do you make or buy a Christmas cake? Or forgo it completely (scandalous!)?

Are you a fan of Secret Santa?