The buggy has arrived!

The running buggy arriving has been a complete game changer for me.  No more having to get up at 4:15am to fit runs in, or running solo in the dark from home during time that I should actually be spending with my family.

Having a running buggy and Oscar now being big enough and sturdy enough to fit and come out for a run with me is fantastic.  It means I can get my runs in during daylight hours (although that wouldn’t have been an issue for too much longer now that the evenings are getting lighter anyway) and combine my daily outside time with Oscar along with my runs.  Does it bother me that I’m not able to run at my regular training paces?  Not really.  I’m pretty sure that running up hills and off-road whilst pushing a buggy and a 15 pound baby will see an improved pace for me on days that I don’t run with it!

Oscar in the running buggy

I will get round to writing a proper post about the buggy and how I’m getting on with at some point.  I’ve kind of become a once-a-week blogger over the past couple of months as I’ve struggled to find the time during the week to sit down and write.  Dan and I are trialing something slightly different with Oscar’s bedtime at the moment though and the past few nights have seen us baby-free from 8:30pm rather than our usual 11pm (or even later!) so fingers crossed for some more free time heading my way over the coming weeks!

Oscar’s new buggy was ordered on the Saturday, arrived on the Tuesday and immediately unboxed and put together!

I headed out on a test run with it the following afternoon and Oscar slept through almost the entire run.  This was a good job as it allowed me to practice running whilst pushing without the extra worry of him no longer being able to see me when heading out.  I probably should have practiced heading out with him facing away from me in his regular buggy first, but it didn’t seem to faze him too much.

Thursdays and Fridays I spend in Norfolk at my parents’ so the next time I ran with the buggy was when I went to Northampton parkrun at the weekend.  As the park has been so crowded during recent weeks I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to navigate the paths whilst pushing a buggy.  During my test run on the Wednesday I had repeatedly stopped to alter features of the buggy, check on Oscar and even picked up Dan’s lunch for the following day from the Co-op on the way back home again!  Ignoring my stops I ran somewhere in the region of an 11 minute mile pace and running with the buggy was much, much easier than I had anticipated it would be.

I ran with Laura at parkrun again and the aim was just to keep running and chatting as I went round.  This I did!

I still need to learn the boundaries of the buggy.  A couple of times Laura pointed out that the buggy wheels were very close to the runner in front!  I hate getting stuck behind another runner when I’m running on my own and am dreadful at clipping the heels of other runners with my own feet.  It’s going to be 1000 times worse now that I’ve also got to maneuver the buggy!

Garmin time: 32:41
Official time: 32:41
Position: 402/547
Gender position: 122/221
Age category position: 19/34

I didn’t expect to finish in 32 minutes, and feel that if there had been clear pathways and I hadn’t been chatting as much as I was, I probably could have finished around the 30-31 minute mark instead.  I hadn’t really thought properly beforehand about the sort of finishing time I would come in at, but thinking about it now, I would have assumed I would be closer to 35 minutes whilst pushing the buggy.  Apparently not the case!

Northampton parkrun is having a real problem with parking at the moment.  With nearly 550 runners descending on it each week and somewhere in the region of 40-50 car parking spaces, which now also have to be shared with Saturday morning footballers, there isn’t a hope of me parking on the car park unless I leave before 8am.  I have friends that live in Northampton who leave at that time to get a space!  This week there was added drama when a van with a flat tyre was blocking several spaces in the already small car park.  Lindsay, among others ended up helping to push the van across the car park so that cars were still able to park.  Nightmare!

Van blocking the car parking spaces at Northampton parkrun(Lindsay’s pic)

Oscar got to have another ride in the buggy that afternoon when Laura offered to take him so that Dan and I were able to head over to Harlestone Firs and have our photograph taken.

A while back I saw a competition on Facebook for a ‘Day in the Life’ free photoshoot.  Maxine, from Do You Realise? photography had some new photography gear and wanted to update her portfolio so was offering a session where she would follow your family for the day and take shots of all the little things you took for granted but had never thought to capture.  I loved the concept, but I didn’t win that competition.  Rather luckily, Dan said, as it would have meant an incredibly quick tidy and finish up of our ongoing building site!  I followed the Do You Realise? Facebook page and when another competition came up for a couple photoshoot, I entered that too.  This time, winning!

Do You Realise photography couple shoot at Harlestone FirsMaxine was fab.  Really friendly and down to earth and made us feel super relaxed.  It was literally just like we had headed out on a walk through the woods with friends.  Although we had professional photos taken for our wedding back in 2014 I’m not really a big fan of any of the photos of just Dan and Me.  I love the day shots and the shots of our guests, and the photos of us with our guests.  The photos of just us were just too posed and felt awkward though.  Something I never felt when out in the woods on Saturday.  This is the only photo I’ve seen of the shoot so far, but I am confident that the rest will be just as fab!

Are there any parking problems at your parkrun?
Have you ever had professional photos taken before?

The scarecrows of Stanwick

Over the past few years, it has become a bit of a tradition that at the end of September Dan and I head down to Stanwick to discover all of the scarecrows on display for the Stanwick Scarecrow Festival.

Click on the years to see the entrants we photographed in 2014 and 2015.

This year was no different, and having had a mad week of rushing around with hospital appointments, trying to finish off bits on the house before baby arrived and my final few days at school it was nice to pootle down to the next village and mooch around looking at all of the hard work that had gone into the entries.

Here are some of our favourites from this year…

Stanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsStanwick scarecrowsIs there anything similar which takes place near to you?
Which is your favourite from the selection above?

Two years a wife

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of mine and Dan’s wedding.

Anniversary cardI’m sure everyone always says this, but I literally cannot believe that it has been two years since we got married!  (You can see all of our wedding posts here.)

Throwing confetti at our wedding in Sharrington church

To celebrate we had a fairly low key day yesterday, with presents in the morning…

Anniversary socks with Bella

(Check out my cute cat-face socks…!…Year two = cotton gifts.)
…a long walk in the afternoon…Dan and I walking round Grafham Water…and then got ready to head out for dinner at the Fox Inn, Thorpe Waterville in the evening.

Dan and Me on our two year wedding anniversary in the kitchenThis picture was taken in our kitchen – although you can see that we still have the horrific wall colours left by the previous owners in the background, you can also vaguely see that progress has been made when it comes to kitchen units!  As in, we have some now!  Three large larder units down one wall to begin with.  No doors on yet, as we’re still waiting for a plasterer to do our ceilings.  But, – my food is no longer all stored in a big pile on the dining room table!  Progress!

We’d only been to the Fox Inn once before.  About four years ago in the middle of a really hot Summer day and for some reason we decided to choose hot soup for our lunch?!
When we were hunting around for places to try for our anniversary meal out we decided to give the Inn another go after viewing their menu online though and we weren’t disappointed.

Dan went for the beef…

Dan with beef dish at Fox Inn Thorpe WatervilleAnd, continuing with my pattern from earlier in the week I stuck to a non-traditional-Mary-choice of linguine with Mediterranean vegetables.  I never choose pasta dishes when I go out.

Me with vegetable linguine dish at Fox Inn Thorpe WatervilleFor dessert, we both tucked into the brownie…

Chocolate brownie dessert at Fox Inn Thorpe Waterville

I actually impressed myself with how much I was able to eat at the meal.  It’s been a very long while since I was last able to do a main and a dessert in one sitting!

Having spent some time looking through our wedding pictures yesterday (which we still need to get printed!) I’m going to post a few below.  We were a long while receiving them from our photographer after our wedding so other than the previews I was sent early on, the majority never made it up onto the blog at the time.  Then last anniversary, when I planned to post some more pictures from the wedding we had only been moved into our house for a few weeks, and I could not find the box containing the memory stick with all of our wedding photographs on.

Anyway, here we go…

My parents…

Our wedding - Dan and me with my parentsDan’s parents…Our wedding - Dan and me with his parents

Walking out of the church with my bridesmaids…Our wedding - Me with my bridesmaids

My flowers…Our wedding - flowersPlacing my flowers on my Nan’s grave…

Our wedding - flowers on Nan's grave

Leaving the church in a horse and carriage…Our wedding - Dan and Me in the horse and carriageTaking advantage of the playground at our wedding reception…Our wedding - Me with my bridesmaids

Having fun on the zipwire in my wedding dress…Our wedding - Me on the zipwire

Climbing up into the wooden castle outside…Our wedding - Me in the castle

And struggling to make my way back out again…Our wedding - Me in the castle

Our band getting in on the castle act…Our wedding - The Yow Yows in the castleAnd, not from our professional photographer, but instead from a friend’s camera phone, this is one of my favourite shots of the night, and one of the few that I like of Dan and Me…
Our first dance…Our wedding - First danceHow do you celebrate your anniversaries?

All the delicious Summer foods

School, (as it has seemed to do a lot just lately) has managed to get in the way of my running and blogging over the past few weeks again.  Although I will be starting my maternity leave at the beginning of October, leaving me less than nine working weeks left before I disappear until June next year, another member of staff within our department has actually handed their notice in and this has meant that timetables and planning and classes have all been up in the year for the 2016-17 calendar for the rest of us within the department.  I’ve ended up taking on several year 11 classes for next year, many of whom I do not teach at the moment, resulting in hours upon hours of marking their coursework to come over the next few weeks, alongside my existing workload.  And I thought all the coursework marking was over for this year?!

Shhhh I'm marking teacher mugThis mug was given to me as a thankyou gift by one of my current year 11 students on the day of her last exam and was very fitting, especially when I actually ended up getting up at 2:30am the following morning to finish marking year 10 folders for a marking scrutiny within the department.  My hard work paid off and I aced the scrutiny with an ‘Outstanding’ grade.  But I was tired and miserable for the next few days, and not the sharpest for the rest of the week.  Dan cheered me up with a ‘Bee Happy’ bee from Waitrose.

Bee happy bee cookie

Luckily, this is the half term of trips and with year 8 currently abroad so out of lessons all of this week, and year 10 soon off for a fortnight of work experience fun, my workload should hopefully begin to balance out once more…

And then it will be the glorious long Summer holidays!

End of term

My teaching timetable is much lighter at this time of year, as my six year eleven classes and two year thirteen groups have finished now, and I am lucky(!) in that some days I have now been freed up to mark or plan for three-hour stints without a break.  By the end of the school day though, I have been ready to head home and never look at a computer again.

Dan and I had talked about getting a second car for the Summer, so that I would be able to head out and visit friends/shop/stay sane whilst he was still at work.  With a friend’s wedding up near Manchester at the start of July though, and Dan needing to head up in the day on Friday, whilst I would still be at work, we started the great car hunt of 2016 slightly early and managed to find Dan a new car at the weekend.

Dan’s priorities were that the car had a large boot for the buggy and space inside for our future children.  How priorities have changed!  He was also rather excited to see that the car had cruise control as well!

Going back to a two-car family means that if I know I will be working on the computer for long portions during the school day I can pre-empt this the night before, arranging to drive myself into work and thus enabling me to leave at 3pm on the dot, instead of having to hang around, forcing work from my tired brain before Dan would be able to collect me at 5, before reaching home at 6pm, after getting stuck in the post-work traffic.  Home by 3:45 means all things running and blogging and brain-break activities can take place, before returning to work in the evenings when my brain is hopefully ready for it again.  I’m super excited to have the option to commute home alone once more, although we will be spending slightly more money on petrol and it will mean two hours less that I see Dan during the day.

Anyway, I’ve written more than 500 words so far and without a single picture of any delicious Summer food as promised in my blog title!

Here goes…

Beckworth Emporium afternoon teaThis…was…amazing…!  I’ve heard lots of fabulous things about the afternoon teas at Beckworth Emporium before, but have never had the opportunity to give one a try.  (Dan won’t touch half the stuff on that slate!)  The day after heading down to marshal at South Downs Way 100, I headed out for afternoon tea and a long-overdue catchup with two of my running mates.  Somehow we managed to make this delicious slate (and another, smaller slate for one) of sandwiches, crisps, scones, tarts and cakes last for nearly three hours over our catchup.  It went down very well!

Beckworth Emporium afternoon tea

This last weekend was a busy one too.  On the Saturday I headed back down South to Basingstoke.  This time for a friend from Uni’s surprise 30th birthday party.Dan and me at Rich's birthday

A long way to go, but I hadn’t seen him for one reason or another since my wedding nearly two years ago, so it was good to catch up over the birthday BBQ.

Check out this awesome bar that his girlfriend’s Dad had knocked up out of the old logshed over the previous couple of days.

The outside bar at Rich's birthdayI made Dan take a sneaky picture so that we could recreate it at our house for next Summer…!

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to join in with the Pimms drinking, or the cocktail drinking, but I still made the most of the fab cocktail umbrellas that were out for use!

Cocktail umbrella in the shape of a peacockI’m really addicted to Raspberry lemonade at the moment.  This was also probably our first BBQ of the Summer?  I can’t remember having been to any so far in 2016 anyway!

We drove back on the Saturday evening, and I headed out for a long-overdue run in the morning.  Trail, out with friends and it was a gorgeous sunny day.  It was the best run I’ve had in a long while.  :)  More to come on that in my running round-up post later in the week though.

On Sunday afternoon we were off to Cambridge for Dan’s fancy work do.

His school had hired out Trinity College and welcomed all staff, along with partners and young children to a Summer Celebration.  There was a free bar, party food and a photographer doing the rounds to take group shots of anybody who asked.  For those not local to Cambridge, the Trinity College is in a beautiful setting overlooking the river and apparently is where the original copy of Winnie the Pooh is kept?  My school will give us each half a glass of wine on the last day of term and expect us to sing “We’re happy and we know it.” (!)

Finger food buffet at work doUnfortunately there weren’t many sandwiches I could eat at 25 weeks pregnant, as lots contained parma ham or salmon.  I made do with a cucumber sandwich instead, along with a selection of asparagus spears (never been to buffet where there has been asparagus spears as an option before!), cheese straws (these were the tastiest cheese straws I’ve ever had), bread, grapes, crackers and cheese (had to avoid the brie and blue cheese too.)  I’m not a fan of macaroons but wanted to know what the flavour ‘green’ tasted like.  (Playdoh if anyone is interested!)

Dan and Me at his work doThe highlight of the meal was the dessert though.  It’s got to be about berries and icecream at this time of year, and this dish of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries was perfect topped with toffee icecream.

Berries and icecream

Berries and BBQs…proper British Summer food!

What do you consider to be British Summer food?
Have you been to any BBQs yet this Summer?