Will you…be my bridesmaid?!

imageI drove into school on Friday as Dan was heading out with work friends when he finished work so couldn’t give me a lift home.
Therefore I drove home straight after my last lesson rather than hanging around and ended up home before 4! Normally it’s gone 6pm by the time I get back from school and it was nice to have that extra time.
I used it wisely. Cleaning, tidying and then finishing these little pieces off!

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I saw these on Pinterest a little while back and knew I wanted to ask my bridesmaids in a similar fashion.

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Altogether, I am asking four of my best girl friends to be bridesmaids on my wedding day next year.
IMG_7914Hollie has been my best friend for the longest time. I’ve known her since year 8 and we’ve been best friends since not long after. When we were 16 Hollie invited me to spend two months in Idaho with her and her Mum, whilst they were visiting Hollie’s Grandma. I also went back with them the following year.
IMG_7911Zoë was also one of my best friends from school and I got to know her about the same time as Hollie. Zoë is a country gal, like me, also rides and we both love making crafty things.IMG_7912
Although Amanda was in my group of friends at school we were never ‘best friends’ until after we had left and gone to University. Amanda also trained to become a teacher and i guess we ended up having a lot more in common than we first thought!

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Vicki was my best girl mate from uni. The majority of my uni mates were guys but Vicki and I met through my housemate, who was on the same course as her and we just clicked straight away. She finished uni before I did and was actually up visiting me for a night out the night I met Dan.

For each girl, I printed out a little postcard with the question ‘Will you be my bridesmaid?’ and wrote a few paragraphs about why I wanted them to be my bridesmaid.  I cut out and decorated the girls holding hands and then wrapped the whole lot up in ribbon and placed inside the envelope.  I’ve had nothing but good feedback so far!  I’m just waiting for a response from Vicki…

Food was pretty average on Friday; a PB bagel for breakfast…

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…this sandwich wasn’t quite so average though…amazing bread, pesto, tomato, yellow pepper, cheese and lettuce.  I actually had two comments in the staff room about how good it looked!  :)

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Dan wasn’t home for tea so I grabbed a bag of these for a quick snack when I first got back…I’m not a big fan of crisps or crisp-type things but they’re actually really nice!…

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And tea was a tin of tomato soup with bread and butter.  Just what I was craving despite not being overly hungry!

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An ULTRA win and a pre-engagement party dinner

Thursday morning I had my bowl of cereal for breakfast.image

Lunch was just a small pot of grapes.  I thought this would be enough to keep me going as dinner was going to be much earlier (5:30ish, when we normally eat at 8-8:30).  It wasn’t.  I was starving by dinner!

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We had decided for our date night this week to go and have dinner at the restaurant where we have booked our engagement meal in a few weeks time.  The Pheasant, in Keystone, Northamptonshire.  We have eaten here before and really enjoyed it.  Also, I think it’s really cool that YOU CAN FLY YOUR PLANE IN TO STOP FOR A BITE TO EAT!!!  When we got engaged in May we both liked the idea of having an engagement party in order for both sides of the bridal party and our close family could get to know each other a little better before the wedding.  We purposefully organised the engagement party for mid-July, hoping that Mum would have recovered enough from her cancer operation by then to join us for the meal, although this isn’t looking very likely at the moment.  Part of the appeal of booking The Garden Room out at The Pheasant was that we would have our own patio doors which open out into the garden, and if Mum’s immunity was low we could sit her by the door, or take our meals outside if it was sunny and she would not be so close to other people, who could potentially, unintentionally make her more ill.

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(Image from the restaurant’s website)

When we went on Thursday evening Dan mentioned that we had booked out The Garden Room for a meal in July and could we have a look around?  The lady asked the date, and upon telling her, recalled my name and that it was for an engagement party immediately.  She showed us around and went through the menu with us, offering the opportunity to choose what was on the menu that day (the menu changes daily) and mentioned that she could even get the menus for that day printed with our names at the top and a little message.  She asked us a bunch of questions and we sat down at the bar for a drink feeling very impressed and happy knowing that a lot of effort was being put into the day not only by us, but also by the team at the restaurant.  Even having worked in the restaurant business for a while myself I have not been anywhere that has shown that much interest and effort to make the day go just right.  When we were taken through for our food the manager had added a little card to the table which said our names on and sat us overlooking the garden where we will be having our engagement party.image

I ordered the Char-grilled Cornish lamb burger with red pepper and mint salsa, goat’s curd and polenta chips.  Although I had it without the mint.  I would never normally order lamb EVER, but this hand-made burger was absolutely lovely, and the goat’s curd accompanied it perfectly.image

Dan went for the Chicken kiev with minted new potatoes and mixed new salad, although obviously didn’t touch the salad(!)

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It’s the little touches that count and The Pheasant really impressed me.  I would definitely recommend eating here if you are in the area, or if you are just flying by in your plane and fancy stopping by for some lunch!!!

Oh, and I almost forgot to add some very important news…I WON Women’s Running mag Operation Ultra competition!!!  I shall be running the Dusk ‘Til Dawn Ultra (50 miles!) on the 26th October this year and getting a whole bunch of support from some very fantastic people from the magazine!  More to come on this in my next post…  :)

Respect and support

Wednesday was a difficult day at school.  Half of my form didn’t turn up in the morning and upon investigating with my support tutor, we discovered them all downstairs along with 40-50 other students.

It turned out that the night before whilst at cadets, one of our year 9 students had died of an asthma attack.  Students in school were devastated and there were groups of them crying, some even howling all over the school.  Teachers were also trying not to shed tears whilst supporting the friends and classmates of the student who had died.  I had taught her this year and she had also been a member of our riding club when we first started out.

The head called an emergency assembly for all year 9 students.  Counsellors were made available for both staff and students.  I had two lessons with year 9s straight after the assembly and altered both accordingly.  We ended up creating a large A3 memories sheet which all students in the class added a note to and the best friends printed out some pictures from the internet.

elouiseOver lunch, the students I had taught, along with several other hundred year 9 students began to stick memories onto the tree where she used to sit to have her lunch.  I thought it was a lovely gesture from the students to post pictures and messages to the student that had died.  Something more permanent will be placed under the tree over the coming weeks.

The whole school site had the strangest atmosphere all day.  I couldn’t concentrate at all in the afternoon.  Since I began teaching nearly three years ago this is the fourth student to die at the school I am working at, and the second that I had personally taught.  Fourteen is too young to die.  You don’t expect to die at fourteen.  That should not be one of your worries in the world.

After school I had signed up to a teaching course run by the school which had been arranged to show us the benefits of taking the classroom outside.  I already take as many of my lessons outside as possible, which is often difficult as an ICT teacher, but I come up with some inventive ways to do so!  I find lessons in a different environment are much more memorable to the students and they are more likely to remember what they were taught much later on if the lesson is a little ‘out of the ordinary’.

I am very lucky to work in a beautiful school.  We have several ponds, a lake, an old Wendy house, a listed building and lots of woodland.  On the walk around the school site I discovered lots of new areas I had never seen before and all the teachers shared ideas about how to make lessons for different subjects involve the great outdoors.

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In the evening I headed out on a trail run along the river with six others from club.  I was by far the slowest one there this time but we were still running at a 9:30ish pace including the gate climbing and rough terrain.  There was a dodgy moment where some horses were stood in our path, staring us down, but at the last second they scarpered to the side allowing us to run through them.  It was a lovely route and one I want to remember for another time.  It goes all the way from Northampton to Peterborough if you start from the beginning and follow it right the way through.  I’m not sure I’m quite that dedicated of a trail ultra-runner just yet, but maybe one day…in stages!  For now I’ll stick with the 5.64 miles we completed on Wednesday night!image

For some of the time out on the run I chatted to Alan, our club Member’s Secretary.  His wife passed away last week from cancer.  Alan himself is in his seventies and has been with the club since it began.  Our club Ladies Captain made the lovely suggestion of fifty-one (the number of years Alan and his wife had been together) club members running the Cransley Hospice half marathon in September and wearing ribbons to show our respect and support towards Alan.  Cransley Hospice had been where his wife was cared for.  Within hours, fifty one people had already signed up.  The list is now closer to 100 runners and it is likely that we will will go for either 102 or 153 runners for the event which is evidence of how fantastic and supportive our club really are!  There will also be a large number of us running the Great North Run on the same day wearing our ribbons with honour.

Breakfast: Blueberry wheats and strawberry crunch.
Lunch: A beautiful salad of red grapes, lettuce, green grapes, a tomato, yellow pepper, cheese and some green pesto.
Tea: I was tired after club and Dan wasn’t hungry so I threw myself in a chicken and mushroom pasta and sauce.

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The importance of stretching

Last night at club we were given the choice of hills or 1k speed reps. We went with the hills.

Rob led us to a long, sloping hill not far from the club and we gently jogged up to the turnaround point (I think about 300metres, but don’t assume that’s correct!) and back down again twice as a short warmup and to show those that hadn’t run this hill before where the turnaround point was.

We were then set the task for 3 reps per set.  The first set was to push hard running up the hill, and then a recovery jog heading back down again (x3).  The second set was slow recovery up the hill and push hard running back down.  I struggle running quickly downhill and seem to never be able to trust myself to lean forward and really ‘go’!  However, it appeared that several in Group 5 last night were also struggling with the downhill running too.

We had a brief break, before two more very steady jogs to the top and back again and then two final sets.

The third set was the hardest…push hard going both up and coming back down again too.  I didn’t struggle as much as I thought I would though.  The final set was my favourite.  We had to go slightly further, until almost the very end of the road (an extra 150 metres each way perhaps?) and it was up to us if we pushed it whilst going up and recovered coming back down, or the other way around.  I recovered running up the hill before pushing it hard coming back down again.  I had started near the back and was one of only a few that had decided to push it downhill.  Several people therefore overtook me coming up the hill but I sped past them coming back down and picked off one extra person each rep I did.
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We had a discussion about heart rate monitors on the gentle jog back and I’ve decided I really need to get into the habit of wearing mine again to see if I’m working as hard as I possibly could be.

When we arrived back at the school (this is where we meet each week) we picked a spot on the field to lay down.  The weather was nice enough to let us do this last night.  We did a few more toning stretches than we normally do and I discovered just how much more inflexible I am compared to the rest of the group!  I’ve always known I’m really not very flexible at all but it really showed up when the 60 year old sat next to me could sit bolt upright, legs flat to the ground, lean forward and touch her toes, and I couldn’t keep my back flat long enough to reach as far as my knees!

I even asked Dan to take some pictures of me standing up trying to touch my toes when I got home…

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He couldn’t believe this was as far down as I could get!  He can also touch his toes and said that this looked like I wasn’t even trying.  Trust me, I was.image

I did ask just how the lady sat next to me had become so flexible, and she swears by the yoga she attends several times a week.  I don’t want to join a yoga class as at the moment I don’t think I would have enough time to fit something with set timings into my week, but I would like to try a few flexibility exercises and see if I can improve my current level of flexibility over the next few months, as it is pretty poor for a 28 year old to be in this state!

Whilst we were carrying out the exercises Rob reminded us that whilst we are training on our own or in groups away from club that all of our warm-up routines should consist of some dynamic stretches (making sure your limbs utilise their full range of motion and ensuring the blood is flowing before beginning your exercise) but not static stretches.

Static stretches are the ones where you hold a stretch position for a period of time.  Completing these type of stretches after a run helps to prevent a build up of lactic acid in your muscles and relieves tension.

The way he explained the difference to us I thought was quite good, and memorable.  Rob compared our muscles to a stick of chewing gum.  If you were to try and bend your stick of gum whilst it was cold into a ‘stretch’ position, it would likely snap.  If you tried this on your body – completing some static stretches before taking part in your exercise, when your muscles were cold you would be more likely to snap or tear something – possibly getting seriously injured in the process.

However, if you tried to stretch the gum once it had been chewed for a little while (having had exercise and warmed up) the gum would be much more likely to mold into the shape you want it to.

I liked that little analogy!

Breakfast: Bagel with Philadelphia chocolate cream cheese.  Does anyone actually like this?  I’m only eating it to eat it up out of the fridge now I think!

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Lunch: Salad – lettuce, red and green grapes, yellow pepper, a tomato, a block of cheese and a large dollop of pesto!  :)

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Morning snack: Tracker bar.

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 Tea: Dan re-attempted my pesto pizza with a few chips on the side.  Perfect this time!  :)

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After tea I headed out and followed Mum’s suggestion of circling ash around each individual lettuce.  Four had been eaten since I planted them on Sunday!!!  Fingers crossed they are now slug proof in my garden!

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