Scarecrowy Stanwick

Lately, I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for cheap date nights for Dan and I.  We’re still trying to fit in one date night each week where we get out of the house and laptops and phones are not allowed!
This week our date night was a walk to the nearby village of Stanwick, where there is currently a Stanwick Scarecrow Festival taking place!

Stanwick scarecrowsWhat is a Scarecrow Festival?  Several of the houses in Stanwick have given £2 to have their scarecrows displayed in their front gardens and included on the Scarecrow map.  For £1 you can buy maps from a couple of places in the village and go on a ‘Scarecrow Hunt’!

Stanwick scarecrows

There was a huge range of scarecrows to be found and we didn’t get round them all before the sun went down.
Stanwick scarecrows

This was one of our favourites…so inventive!
Stanwick scarecrows

The local junior school got involved and put together a scarecrow as well.
Stanwick scarecrows Stanwick scarecrows

And I loved the idea behind the black figure in the graveyard!
Stanwick scarecrows

Even Jeremy Clarkson made an appearance at number two!
Stanwick scarecrows

The large scarecrow and a slightly slimmer scarecrow sat outside the Weight Watchers meeting point made me smile as well.
Stanwick scarecrows Stanwick scarecrows

There were a couple of the scarecrows wearing the local school and playgroup uniforms.
Stanwick scarecrows Stanwick scarecrows Stanwick scarecrows

There was even a Great British Bake Off set of scarecrows in one garden!
Stanwick scarecrows

A poor paratrooper had missed his landing spot and was dangling off the edge of a roof.
Stanwick scarecrows

And we caught Spiderman making a web between two trees.
Stanwick scarecrows Stanwick scarecrows

Stuff like this always makes me miss living in a little village!  Does the town/village you live in do anything similar?

Royston half and a celebrity meet

I’m going to start with the celebrity before I talk about the half marathon, as it was rather exciting to meet Dawn French on Saturday night!  Dan had been looking for a night out that we could look forward to just a fortnight ago when he spotted that tickets were still available for Dawn French’s tour in Milton Keynes.  We booked two central seats and counted down the days.  Of course, when we arrived on Saturday night there was the obligatory pre-performance selfie…

Dan and I before seeing Dawn French

And then we grabbed a quick drink and took our seats ready for the show to begin.

Thirty Million Minutes - Dawn French

Thirty Million Minutes is the name of the tour that Dawn French is currently on as this is approximately the number of minutes that she has been alive for.  The material for her show has come from her life experiences and she told us funny tales of having to check her Mother’s lady parts for glass interspersed with more serious details, such as her Dad’s suicide and her miscarriages as well as her more recent 7.5 stone weight loss which actually came from a cancer scare and the doctor requesting she lose weight before surgery.  I knew several of the stories from reading her autobiography, Dear Fatty, but nothing beats hearing stories from a true storyteller such as Dawn.

As we filed out of Milton Keynes theatre at the end of the show and headed towards the car park Dan noticed that we were walking right past the stage exit, which had a fancy car outside.  He convinced me to wait a few seconds, and then the next thing I knew Dan was introducing us to Dawn who was stood infront of us with a permanent marker asking if we would like an autograph!  Her bodyguard took a photo of Dan and I with her (although it took him three attempts as he struggled to use Dan’s phone!)
Dawn French with Dan and I in Milton Keynes

She was very nice and joked with us about Dan buying the tickets and picking up brownie points for his new wife and then, without me requesting she gave me a personal signing in my program.  :)
My program autographed by Dawn French

Very glad Dan decided to pick a program up and that he convinced me to wait a couple of minutes on the walk back to the car!

Sunday morning I was up bright and early and off to Royston half marathon.  I headed up with Hayley and June from my club.  The race itself only cost £6 to enter.  (This is such a bargain, especially knowing that the Great North Run costs nearly £50!)  I got my place for free though as June’s daughter could no longer make it so I took her number.  When I went into the number collection tent to ask for a name change I provided entertainment for the ladies as I struggled to pronounce June’s daughter’s surname then told them my name was Mary Moore before quickly correcting myself with Mary Pearson!  One day I’ll remember that I have a new name!

Quick pre-race selfie…

Me, Hayley and June at Royston half marathon

 

It was a beautiful morning – perfect to run my first trail half marathon.  I had no expectations for time and just intended on enjoying the run.  I’ve run 13.1 miles in training in 2:03 before with my half marathon race PB currently at 2:08.  I’m not at that standard at the moment though, so thought after looking at last year’s results from our club runners and dependent upon hills I would probably be coming in anywhere between 2:30-2:40.

I quickly realised that it was too sunny for me to be wearing a t-shirt underneath my club vest so about a mile in I leapt off into a field and pulled both tops off, just putting my race vest with number attached back on again.  I tucked my red t-shirt into my race belt.  I can’t believe how warm it still is when we’re nearly into October.  At this rate I’ll be one of the nutters running the cross-country season in a vest and shorts!

The course was described as ‘hilly’.  In my experience of races, courses are never described as hilly, always as undulating.  At mile 9 I can remember thinking this course could be classed as undulating.  I’d not run anything I really felt classed as ‘hilly’.  Then the hills hit!  About 2.5 miles from the finish we began a very steep climb to the top of a hill.  From here it was beautiful though – we could see all along the golf course and down into Royston on one side and it overlooked a wood on the other.  At the start Kev had told me that the finish was a rolling downhill from the big hill.  I thought this must be it…one big hill then freerunning back down again.  Not the case!  We headed alongside the golf course for a little way before turning into the wood.  Here, there were roots sticking up everywhere and there were steep downhills and steps followed by more steep uphills.  I struggled more with the steep downhills though – really must learn to let myself go and trust my feet on the downhills!

Eventually we came out into a clearing and could see the finish in the distance at the bottom of the hill.  Luckily it wasn’t a direct route straight down the hill so I managed to pick up a bit of speed as the track gradually made it’s way down to the bottom, around the outside of the field and through the finish.  Because of the mixup with my name when I signed up, the marshals recognised me and cheered me in by name which was nice.

I recorded the distance as an extra 0.5 miles and I came in just under 2hr40m.  But most importantly I’d enjoyed myself and ticked another half marathon off my list.  All good training for my upcoming marathon and ultra.Royston half marathon on the garmin

(Official time 2:35:51)

For £6 you can’t expect too much, but I was happy to see two water stations on the course and to receive a finisher’s certificate at the end of the race.  (Mine is only not filled in because I took someone else’s number on the day but I will add my name and time when I get my official time through.)Royston half marathon certificate We also got a cake at the finish.  Runners certainly know runners and their needs!  :)Cake at Royston half marathon

This race was part of our club trail league so there were quite a few of us there today, despite it being on the same day as Cransley half marathon, a closer race which is part of our road running league.  We nabbed a runner’s husband to take our photo at the finish as we were munching on cakes and drinking Guinness and coffee (or in my case, water).WDAC runners at Royston half marathon We also took a post race selfie of June, Hayley and I before jumping in the car to head home again.Me, Hayley and June at Royston half marathon

Getting home was an eventful journey as we had been travelling for about half an hour when heavy smoke rose from the bonnet of June’s car!  Luckily we were outside a services so I popped in to ask for a large bottle of water to top up her tank.  It looks like she might have a leak.  We set off once more, only to be stopped be a police line as a fatal car accident had just occurred on the road home.  Eventually we made it back again though!

Accidents are unfortunate, but Babcock Partners LLC can help you find the right attorney to deal with its legal issues.

Have you ever met a celebrity?  I never know what to say!  Or at times I don’t recognise them and end up having full length conversations with them about their children!  (Frankie Dettori!)
Trail or road half marathons.  Which do you prefer?

Parkrun, a 20 miler and a walk to a night at the horses

Yesterday was a very busy day. It all started off with a promise that I would go to Parkrun with Dan a few weeks back.
I also needed to fit in my long run as I’m spending today marshaling in Thetford so I planned on joining a 15 mile long run with Kev and a few others at 10am.
In order to make it back in time for the long run I drove to Kev’s and Dan followed me in his car. I left my car there, hopped into Dan’s car and he drove us through to Northampton. We seemed to hit every red light on the way and arrived in the car park at 8:59am. I grabbed our barcodes and we legged it towards the start line where I could see the runners collecting. The gun went just before we got there and I shouted to Dan to start his watch. Because we had been sprinting across to catch the start of the race we started too quick and it was a struggle to slow right down.
Along the first full long straight I mentioned to Dan that he was going too quick to maintain (8:45mm pace) and I dropped off a little behind him hoping he would do the same although he never heard me as he’d managed to get his headphones in by this point. He was never further than a few metres in front of me though and it wasn’t long before he started to fade so I pulled alongside him. His aim was a sub 30 minute race and I didn’t intend on him missing out on that! We ran alongside each other for most of the race after that, not talking as Dan had his music on. There was another point when I warned him to slow down as he was back up to a 9mm pace. He powered up the slight incline on the course but lost it just after-his breathing was beginning to get a little erratic. I ran just in front of him hoping that that would motivate him to keep up with me and it worked. I let him cross the finish line a nose ahead, us both coming in at 29m 08s – well under Dan’s goal time and a new PB for him! As we ran up towards the finish I could hear the little boy in front us crying to his Dad yet continuing to run strong. He was about nine years old and I meant to congratulate him at the finish but lost him over the line.

Dan Parkrun Splits

 

My placing: 156/212…39/78 female.

With Dan on a high he dropped me off back at Kev’s, where I tried to mentally prepare myself to run another 15 miles.  I was lucky in that during the Parkrun the heaviness in my legs I’d been experiencing the past few days had not really been noticeable and I thought I would have a big issue.

We set off slowly for the long run – there were five of us in the end.  I knew it would be pretty steady, as one of the runners had never run further than a half marathon before, and that was last weekend.

Hayley had picked up my water bottle from where we had hidden it whilst out on our long run last week and brought it with her after washing it out.  I don’t ever wash my water bottle out as I only ever put water in it, so just rinse it after a run.  It tasted very funny from the start and as I got further down the bottle, got stronger tasting – washing up liquid!  Yuk!  It was hot though and I needed the fluid.  I felt pretty empty and necked a gel at mile 6.  Towards the end of the bottle and from about 10 miles though I couldn’t face the water anymore.  It felt like it was burning my mouth.  I am rubbish at running in the heat at the best of times but without a drink my head was playing all sorts of mind games.  At mile 14 I fell apart.  My stomach had cramped up for the last couple of miles – I’m not sure if it was because of the taste of the water – or the lack of it.  I had a look of pain on my face and when Kev asked if I was alright I got rather emotional and we let the others go on ahead whilst he hung back with me and gave me a pep talk.  I felt really stupid.  My training has been awful for the full build up of my marathon and yet I’m still expecting better results.  I need to rethink my aim for London because I want to enjoy the experience.  Anyway, enough of that for this post-more on another day…

bad 15 miler

 

Kev presented us all with cream cakes at the finish and we sat on the decking telling horror stories from bad runs in the sun.  Me with a glass of milk – perfect recovery drink and just what my body was craving!

I returned home to find my Marathon News magazine and confirmation of my race number for London.  22933.  After a brief nose through I had a quick nap before Dan returned from footy.

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Yesterday evening Dan’s football team had organised a ‘Night at the Races’ with pre-filmed horse races on DVD.  We got dressed up and headed down for the first race at 7:30pm.  A two mile walk to the pub, but my legs were glad to not be sat on the couch, but rather to continue moving after their active morning!

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Because the weather had been nice all day and it was still pretty warm I pulled out a maxi dress from the bottom of the cupboard and wore that for the evening.

We were given a list of horses, which the football team had pre-bought and named for a fiver each.  Dan’s horse was called Prince Yam Yam after his Wolverhampton heritage!  Each owner of a winning horse won £10 and anybody could place £1 bets on any race.

Horse races

We won £2 on the first race with Hulk Hogan, and another £3.50 with another horse on race 7, but that was our all for the night.

imageFor race number 9 they put eight football teams up on the board as ‘horses’ and then auctioned off each horse to the highest bidder.  Dan of course won the bidding for the ‘Wolves’ horse.  The jackpot for the final race was £42 but we didn’t see any of that unfortunately!

We had a great night for not very much money spent and the football team managed to raise nearly £400 which was excellent.

Anyone rethinking marathon strategies this close to a marathon?
Has anyone been to a pre-recorded races night before?

 

 

Valentine’s dinner

This year Dan and I decided to stay in for Valentines.  We had a nice meal out a couple of weeks back and with the wedding and house move both coming up in the next six months we’re trying to save as much money as possible!Valentine flowers

(Flowers from the Mr!)

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from the Clip Group to see if I would be interested in sampling some Pidy pastries.  Of course I agreed.  Whenever food is involved, especially food that I can be creative with I’m in!  :)

I had agreed to cook our Valentine’s Dinner, but was at a loss for ideas when I knew it was likely I wouldn’t get home until 6-6:30 and would have to throw something together very quickly.  At the start of last week my parcel arrived containing 12 mini tartlets and 12 Spoonettes.  Perfect…I could use one lot for the starter and one lot for the dessert.

After much debating in my head I decided on a prawn starter, and then after much chat with my Mum, I decided the prawns would be laid in a cheese sauce on the spoonettes.  In the centre of the dish I placed a pot of garlic butter to dip some soft bread into whilst the mains cooked.  Pidy pastry with cheese sauce and prawnsThese went down quite well, although I probably should have squeezed a little lemon juice over the prawns as they tasted a little plain to me.  The spoonettes were great for adding toppings to though and it was easy to spoon the food right up into our mouths!  They had a slight crunchy texture and would have been sturdy enough to hold heavier toppings.  If only Dan was a salad fan I could have decorated this display much nicer!  Some colourful lettuce and cherry tomatoes would have been a great addition to the colourless plate!

Dan’s main meal was very dull and was actually duck, with pancakes and hoisin sauce.  I’m not a fan of duck (might have something to do with the pet ducks my Mum kept when I was a kid!) so Dan was on his own here!  It seems like a bit of a cop-out meal but he was in his element and I was declared ‘the best fiance ever!’  It still amazes me how different our tastes are.

Chinese duck meal

For my main I roasted myself some vegetables…corn, sugar snap peas, carrots, tomatoes and sweet potato.  Topped it with slices of boiled bacon and Wenslydale and cranberry cheese then poured over some tomato pasta sauce.  COULD LIVE ON THIS MEAL FOREVER!!!

My Valentine's meal

I actually made our dessert in the morning before going to work.  I whipped up some chocolate Angel Delight and spooned it into the pastry cases before popping them into the fridge to set during the day.

Pidy pastry

A quick squirt of cream on top before serving and some marshmallows on the plate to decorate and voila!  These were born!

Pidy pastry with angel delight

These were super tasty and wolfed down very quickly.  Dan never really fancies dessert but I always need something sweet just to finish off my meal.  These were just the right size for both of us.

I’ve had a look on the Pidy website and they have lots of other products, such as veggie cups and bouchees.  I also discovered that they had a recipe booklet, but I’d already made my dessert by then!  I’ve downloaded it for ideas for another time though.

Pidy recipes

I love canapés and tapas style dishes.  I’m someone that’s big on variety when I’m eating and I like to try a little of everything going!

[Thanks to food PR and marketing agency CLIP Creative and PR for the samples.  All opinions my own.  :)]

Running wise my week had a few less miles this week.  Monday I ran an easy 5 miles on my own after work, Tuesday I ran 5.4 miles during the speedwork session at club, Wednesday it was a 6 mile trail run, Thursday a 6.6 mile relatively quick run.  Friday – rest day.  Saturday I spent two hours at the gym – mainly on the bike but I broke up the session with 20 minutes of weights – concentrating on my arms.  Then today I ran just over seven miles easy, as I plan on getting my long run in in the morning.  There’s nothing better than a run after having taken two days off…#PostRunHigh!