Working on that core!

This week at club we have been joined by Steve Kearns, a personal trainer who is focusing on corework for running.

He is with the club for six weeks in total, with each of the six groups seeing him twice a week over the Summer.  We had the first session on Tuesday night, but unfortunately it looks like I shall be missing the next session tonight, as I am headed to Norwich to find a bridesmaid dress for my friend Vicki’s wedding and doubt I will be back in time.  I’m hoping to gatecrash the Group 6 sessions next week though if that’s the case.

I found the night really interesting, although I am certain (by a long way) that I am the least flexible member of our club!  I’ve mentioned in the past about my attempts to touch my toes.  (This picture is from June 2013 and I’ve not improved at all since then!)Stretching to touch my toes and failingBut I am determined that by Christmas (four months away) I shall be touching at least the tongue of my trainers (even if I have to pull them up really high to do so!)

Working more solidly on my core, flexibility and upper body strength is something that I had been thinking about over the Summer and my time away from running in August.  I jump in and out of routines (apart from with running) and never really stick working at anything long enough to see solid results.  It’s really important that the upper body stays strong so that it doesn’t tire and under-perform or increase the chances of me running with poor form and end up getting injured.

On Tuesday Steve explained that the core isn’t just our tummy, but in fact right up to our shoulders and right down to our hips.  We started with some dynamic exercises to open up all our joints.  Staying tall up on all fours, then stretching our right arm out underneath our left arm and going straight into the reverse move.  Steve made it clear that he wasn’t a fan of the situp, but his exercises were much, much tougher!

You’ll have to excuse me because I can’t remember any of the names of the moves.  One was called something like a ‘dog-duck’?…But I think Steve is putting together a pack for us to refer to at the end of next week.

One exercise that really highlighted my lack of flexibility was one where we had to get into the press-up position and gradually walk our feet up towards our hands until we could not get them any closer without bending our knees.  We then had to walk our hands back away from our feet.  Then repeat.  Your legs had to stay straight the entire time and I only got three or four tiny movements in from my feet before having to move my hands away.  The worst in the group!

Stretch work on our cores

For the second half of the session we had to team up with a partner and collect a rubber resistance band for our moves.  One person would lie down on the floor, holding the two ends up, one in each arm, above their head.  Knees would also be up and held at a 90° angle.  You had to slowly lower each leg to the ground, along with the alternate arm behind your head, bring back to starting positions and repeat with the other side.

I don’t ‘hurt’ yesterday, but I have felt my core as I’ve gone about my daily tasks, and it was quite satisfying to feel it aching slightly on last night’s run, as I knew that meant improving my core would definitely benefit my running.

Yesterday was my first day back at work.  Officially we don’t start back until the training day next Tuesday but there are lots of admin tasks and things that need doing around the school that I volunteered to go in and help for.  One of those things was moving trees!  The school has had several large trees that lined the grounds chopped down over the Summer and there is enough wood for our woodburner for a good few years sat outside Reception right now!  For today, I just brought this little bundle home in the back of my car (This would probably still keep us going for several weeks!) but plan on bringing more back each day that I work in the new term to stock up our woodshed ready for the Winter again.

Wood in the back of my car

I’ve been picking at this massive bag of Smarties just lately.  We got a big bag for about a fiver from Cash & Carry for the kids at the wedding, but despite two massive pots being put out on the day, and several people taking handfuls home, the bag seems to be never-ending!
A HUGE amount of smarties

I’ve already posted these on Instagram (if you don’t already follow me, please do, because I keep forgetting to repost the pictures on my blog and I’ve posted lots on there over the Summer!)  Here is one of my favourite wedding gifts, from my bridesmaid, Vicki.  Mr Brightside is one of the songs that reminds Dan and I of uni times and when we first met.  Vicki gave us a print of the sheet music, stamped with our initials and framed.  I love it!
The Killers; Mr Brightside frame - wedding gift

Here’s another great gift…CHOCOLATE!  These are the chocolates that Dan has always bought me at Valentines, Anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas.  Although he didn’t know this, as part of the wedding present from my Uncle was this massive box of Guylian chocolates.  It is literally the size of my core!
Guylian huge box of chocolates

I’m having a problem with WordPress not uploading any images at the moment.  Initially I thought it was because I was out of space, but I’ve had that upgraded and still they won’t upload.  I’ve had to host these images elsewhere.  Has anyone had a similar problem?  I’m going to get in touch with Streamline today once their helpline opens.

Lover or hater of core work?
Are you a fan of Smarties?
– They are probably my favourite old-school chocolate treat!

I have the very best friends

All through Uni the majority of my friends were guys.  I hate the hassle that often comes with having girl friends.  The catiness, the drama, the competition.  Guys are much simpler – they tell you how it is all the time.  No pretense.

That being said, I have gone through life with some fantastic girl friends and it was obvious who my choices for bridesmaid should be to take part in my wedding day.

Zoë, Amanda and Hollie I met when I moved forms in year 8 at school and Vicki was my best girl mate from Uni.

In the lead up to the wedding they helped me to create the invitations…

Making my wedding invitationsTook me on some amazing hen dos.

Glamping in WhitlinghamMade some beautiful wedding decorations and spent the whole day the day before the wedding helping me to put them up.

Spent the entire morning from 8am-12:50pm making food for the evening guests, before getting changed and made up just five minutes before they were due to be at the church.  Not whinging once!

They also stayed late after the evening reception was over, cleaning and clearing the hall with their boyfriends and husbands.

Not only did they do all those things, but they also gave beautiful speeches after the dinner.

Without a doubt I have the best girlfriends I could possibly want!

Have you been to a wedding before where the bridesmaids have given a speech?

The most important part…the CAKE

I don’t have the professional wedding pictures back from our photographer yet (hopefully later this week) so I’m a bit reluctant to post too many wedding pictures from friends until I can also pick out the best ones from the photographer.

However, I’m sure that most of my readers aren’t too interested in the dress, or the speeches, but instead, the cake.  So I’ve decided to blog about the wonder that was our wedding cake today!

Wedding cakeBack in June I wrote about the cake board and knife/cake slice.  We were after something rusticy and when Dan’s Mum offered to make our cake for us, it didn’t take long for us to fill a Pinterest board of cakes we liked the look of.  We were very insistent that we should have buttercream icing for our cake, rather than royal or fondant icing to stay in keeping with the rustic theme.  Flowers on the cake were also a must and we liked the idea of having raffia tied around each of the tiers.

Finding a cake topper was one of the things that got left until the last minute and then all we could find were old fashioned cake toppers or ones that looked nothing like us (eg; black haired bride and ginger groom!) or it became really expensive if we wanted to venture into handmade territory.  We loved this pinecone topper on Pinterest, but felt it suited for a more Autumny-wedding.

Pinecone wedding cake topperThen we saw this rusticy topper, which my now Mother-In-Law created perfectly for our own cake but with little sunflowers instead of the roses that were in the example we had found…>

Wedding cake rustic topper

Because Dan’s parents stayed with my parents in the week leading up to the wedding, Wednesday became baking day for Ann in my Mum’s kitchen and Dan’s Mum spent approximately eight hours mixing, baking and cooling cakes!

Wedding cake baking Wedding cake bakingWe had four tiers on our wedding cake and each tier was three cakes on top of each other and filled with jam and more buttercream icing.  Two of the tiers were chocolate sponge, and two were vanilla.
Wedding cake baking

My Mum’s oven was rather busy for the day.  I love my Mum’s oven and have baked many tasty treats inside.  I’d love a big oven like this one day!
Wedding cake baking

By the end of the day we had twelve cakes all clingfilmed up and one part-broken cake to pick at and taste test, as it had fallen apart when placed on the cooling rack.

Thursday was spent putting the cakes together and icing and then on Friday the cake was assembled and placed at the village hall ready for our reception the following day.

Cutting the wedding cake Cutting the wedding cakeNo-one tells you beforehand just how awkward the cutting the cake moment is!  You stand for several minutes with a hand each on the knife poised and ready to cut the cake.  Every time you start to make a move with the cut, another camera flash goes off and you daren’t move incase somebody is in the middle of taking a photo!

After we had made the first cut, our caterers whisked away the cake and slices were cut ready for when the buffet was produced later in the evening.  I never actually got a slice of cake on the day but there was plenty left over.  (I’m pretty sure this cake would feed 500 people rather than the 100 we requested it for!)

Mum currently has the base layer, cut into four in her freezer at home and the next few times I am back I shall bring a section home with me so that I can distribute cake amongst people that couldn’t make it on the day (or just eat a lot of cake myself!)  Here is the quarter I was sent back with on Thursday night.Wedding cake I cut a thin slice off, just so you could see the layers in the cake.  (Not so that I could try a slice without Dan noticing at all!)

Wedding cake

Did you find the cutting cake moment painstakingly awkward?!  Or have you found it awkward at other weddings?!

Indiana Jones and the food of Italy

So I have returned from the land of South East Italy where Dan and I had a lovely honeymoon.

Wine in South Italy on honeymoon

We arrived back in Norfolk at my parents’ house late Thursday evening, ate some tea, picked up Bella from my Aunt’s house and loaded our cars with wedding gifts, suitcases and decorations from the day.  It was probably midnight by the time we had gotten back to our house in Northamptonshire and unloaded our cars.  I was so ready to fall into bed!

I managed to get my first run post-honeymoon in yesterday afternoon.  Just 3 easy miles, but it felt good to be back in trainers again after promising Dan I wouldn’t take the trainers on honeymoon with us!

Most of yesterday was spent unpacking and cleaning the house.  It’s amazing how quick spiders can appear to populate and spin webs in just three weeks!  I’m sure there were none when we left!

In the evening, we headed to Stanwick Lakes a few miles up the road with our friends Vick and Alex to watch Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark as Stanwick Lakes were playing it outdoors on a blow-up screen.

As many others did, we packed up a picnic to enjoy before the film started.Picnic for Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark at Stanwick Lakes

We arrived in plenty of time as we’d not spoken to Vick or Alex since our wedding day and both couples had loads to fill each other in on.  We were actually the first lot of people to arrive for the film, arriving at about 6:30, when the film wasn’t due to start until nearer 9!

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark at Stanwick Lakes

There was a blow up gladiator ring to the left of the screen and the boys enjoyed challenging each other to duals in the enclosed ring, to the delight of all of the other spectators!

Alex and Dan at the Gladiator ring

Vick and Alex didn’t have camping chairs to bring and it seemed that everywhere had sold out of them (must be due to festival season in the UK) so in the end managed to get a ‘couples’ camping chair from Argos on their way to the Lakes!
Vick and Alex at Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark at Stanwick Lakes

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark at Stanwick Lakes

Despite it being so cold I really enjoyed the night and we will be back next year!
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark at Stanwick Lakes

Whilst we’ve been away I’ve been occasionally checking blogs and commenting.  To start with I felt a bit guilty for doing so…I was on honeymoon!  But I’d run out of books early on and whilst Dan can lie by the pool day after day, that is just not for me!  Luckily there was wireless by the pool, so during the second week, on the days that we spent at the pool, blogs became my reading material.  What can I say…I’m addicted they’re just my way of relaxing!  I’m looking forward to catching up a bit more now I’m home again though.

I’ve got so much to write about from the last three weeks…wedding, pre-wedding, more GRIM 70 details, honeymoon…I’m going to start with the food from honeymoon though as most of those pictures were on our phones so easy to upload to the blog (and I can’t find my camera lead right now!)

We stayed in a little area called Cilento in the South of Italy, just round from the Amalfi Coast and it was absolutely beautiful.  this was the view from the balcony of our hotel room.  (Hard to capture in a 500px wide photograph!)

View from Hotel Hermitage (Italy) window

We had opted to stay in a less touristy area of Italy, – I think we only ever saw four English tourists whilst we were there. This did make ordering food a little difficult though, especially as Dan is such a picky eater!

Several times we stuck to the pizza portion of the menu as the choice was quite large, and it easy to memorise pizza toppings in Italian before heading out for a meal!  Everywhere sold pizza and prices would often start at just €3.50.

Pizza in South Italy on honeymoon


Wine was also incredibly cheap at just a couple of Euros per glass, and as a rare-drinker, I drank much more than I would have done in England.

Me with a glass of wine


We did get some gorgeous cocktails in on the day that we headed up North to visit Capri.  As the area we were staying in wasn’t very touristy, there didn’t seem to be anywhere that sold cocktails where we were and we had always said that cocktails are a must whilst on honeymoon!

Dan with a cocktailMe with a Midori and lemonade cocktail


The fruit in the cocktails was amazing – so fresh and large.  Obviously I pinched the fruit from Dan’s as well.  It was like having a whole fruit salad for dessert!

In the supermarkets I couldn’t get over how large the watermelons were!  (Pringles in the crate for comparison!)

Watermelon in South Italy on honeymoon


I’m pretty sure that I could have demolished that watermelon in a couple of days had Dan let me buy it!  (On a side note, did anyone else spot that nuun are bringing their watermelon flavour over to the UK?…Yay!)

There were fields and fields of tomatoes where we were as well and I enjoyed my favourite caprese salad on more than one occasion…

Caprese in South Italy on honeymoonThe area was famous for its buffalo mozzarella which was so soft and delicious.  It came with several of the meals.

Another of my favourite salads was this one (poor pic as we sat underneath a group of trees and the light was very bright in some spots, and dark in others).  Slices of melon with slices of prosciutto over the top.  I’ve already bought both melon and prosciutto to recreate this lunch several days this week!

Salad in ItalyAt this restaurant we were bothered by a few wasps.  Dan leapt up out of his seat several times, while I calmly placed wine glasses over the top of each wasp that joined us on our table.

Wasps in glassesI was ready and waiting with a fourth glass (stolen from another table) but luckily, three was enough and after we had paid the bill, I quickly tipped the glasses upright again and we ran!

Every meal came with a bowl of bread.  I love bread.  It’s one of my absolute weaknesses that I can never resist, but it just wasn’t as nice as English bread.  I’m not sure exactly why not…it could be that it wasn’t quite as soft, that it never came with butter or that I had to resist the urge to nibble through the soft centre of the slices before breaking away the harder crusts, as that would probably have been frowned upon in the lovely restaurants we were in!

Bread basket in ItalyThere weren’t actually very many restaurants in the town we were staying in (three!) so we repeated visits to some several times, and walked to other local towns at points as well.  Our hotel had a restaurant which was really good value for money, serving delicious food and so much of it.  For €25 each evening we could have an appetiser, first main course, second main course, side dish and dessert.  We didn’t even attempt to order from every course as we knew we would never finish it all, but we had some beautiful food from the hotel.

Italian startersFrom top to bottom: Cream of onion soup, lemon rice cake, cream of tomato soup, spaghetti bolognese and ham and mozzarella potato hash.

Italian dessertsFrom top to bottom: Swordfish steak, pork slice, side of roasted vegetables, tiramisu, chocolate cake.  Dan was very excited about trying the swordfish and I tried a mouthful of his dish.  All of the meat I tried from Dan’s meals were lovely and tender and I’m sure I would eat much more meat if I lived over in Italy, as often I pick vegetarian dishes from a menu because I don’t like how tough the meat can be.

We didn’t have a huge amount of desserts whilst we were away.  Often, the main courses were filling enough and the sweetness of the house wine was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth after a meal.  We did have desserts for Dan’s birthday last Sunday though when I enjoyed this delicious chocolate pear dessert.

Italian dessert




Have you ever been to an outdoor cinema before?
Do you enjoy trying new foods on holiday?  Do you eat differently whilst you are away?