Pub run, 3 observations and a parkrun tourist

So, in the order of my title…

Pub run.
On Thursday night I had planned to run out for 6-7 miles with the club but after a phone call asking for yet more details about our house for the sale (details we have already specified at least three times!), and a traffic jam meaning that Dan had been driving in the hot weather for well over two hours, he wasn’t feeling too jolly, so I cheered him up by suggesting a run to the new pub that has recently opened in the next village to us.  We got our running gear on, packed a £10 note int0 our pockets and took an easy 5k jaunt off-road until we reached the beer garden where we sat back and enjoyed our well-earned pints!  Having not yet had any tea we decided it was probably best to walk the return journey.  I’m not sure a 5k run in the heat, followed by a sit down in the sun and filling my belly with alcohol was the best recipe for a return run home!

Three observations.
The week before half term HMI were in school to observe how the school was getting on.  One of my lessons was observed, although only through the panel in the door looking into the room (bizarrely?!)  Then, the first week back after half term as part of a departmental review I was observed once more.  This time teaching a year 8 lesson where I was graded as ‘good with outstanding features’.  The lesson had gone really well so I was happy with the result.  I hadn’t made any special arrangements for the lesson, it was purely what I would have taught to that class anyway so I feel happy that a good with outstanding is what I am capable of delivering day to day.
On Monday just gone I was observed for a third time.  This time it was my appraisal observation.  Once more I was graded as good with outstanding features.  This obviously called for a celebration.  Some people may celebrate with cake, or wine.  I celebrated by booking in to the Grim Reaper 70m.  Yep, that’s right, – I’m back for take two this July.  Watch this space!!!

Grim Reaper 70 entry

A parkrun tourist.
This morning Dan and I headed over to test out the Corby parkrun route.  All parkruns are about 30 minutes away from where we live, but as the other runners from my club tend to head to Northampton, that has been where we have headed in the past.  This morning Dan and I fancied a change.  Northampton is great – a fast, flat course, but insanely busy and often with more than 300 runners showing up.  Time for a change.

I’d heard good things about Corby parkrun.  Primarily that it was offroad and a little hilly.  My favourite combination!Corby parkrun touristThe weather was a little wet, but still warm.  Somehow the rain was very cold though, so when we arrived super early at the start, Dan and I sheltered under the pavillion until it was time to head to the start line.  We were given a good run down of the course in the briefing.  The run began in the middle of the park and the parkrun was to be two and a half laps before finishing just 200m from the start line.  Runners didn’t seem to be closing in at the start and so I wished Dan luck and pushed forward to nearer the front of the queue of runners.  There were less than 100 runners there in total (91).

I shot off when the run started, gaining a few places immediately.  Unlike Northampton I didn’t have to fight for a place on the path.  I ran single file the entire way (unless I was overtaking).  My heart rate jumped straight up and was in the 190s.  I had aimed to run a steady 165-170bpm race, not knowing the course or quite what to expect.  I knocked my pace back a bit and let a few runners overtake me until it settled into a rhythm again.

Mile 1: 8:33

Once we reached the top of the field we circled to the left and ran along a path which had several roots growing through with tarmac broken in several places.  Some runners ran on the grass, but the grass was wet and freshly cut so I decided to stick to the paths where possible throughout the course – especially during the turns.  As we reached the bottom of the park I can remember thinking ‘fairly easy, just two more laps to go!’  We were directed to the right of some trees and into an open field.  I passed a couple of runners here and as we reached the end, looked up to see a sharp climb onto the pavement above us.  ‘Ah, so that’s why it’s classed as hilly!’  I used my arms to power me up.  Then we turned into some woods and climbed another, only slightly less hilly, climb before heading back out onto the grass.  Those hills were well concealed from the start!  Then through another section of trees and along a lovely short downhill where I let my legs pick up the speed and carry me both times I came through.  Back past the top end of the course and along the broken pavement once more.

Mile 2: 9:14

As I reached the bottom of the field for the second time I heard the front runner coming up behind me, turning off through the middle of the park just before he reached me.  I shouted out ‘Well done’ from the sidelines as I continued on my last lap.

There was a young child infront of me.  About 7-8 years old.  He ran a great race, pushing on as we reached the bottom of the field once more to collect some water before finding his place in the pack again.  I overtook him before ploughing up the steep hill for the second time and didn’t see him again until I cheered him on through the finish.

Mile 3: 9:02

My watch beeped at three miles with what looked like a fair way still to go but I decided to push it from the beep, other than the tight turn on the wet grass to head towards the finish.  I was breathing hard, but still feeling comfortable.  I think I’m getting the hang of this pacing malarkey now!  As soon as I finished, I grabbed my token before ducking out of the funnel to head back and cheer Dan through the finish.

Nubbin (0.19m): 7:44 pace

Dan was actually not long after me and he put in a fabulous sprint finish to cross the line in 29:33.  I’d finished not long before in 28:17.  Position: 56/91.  Gender position: 7/29.  Category position: 1/4.  First in my age category!  :)

As we got our barcodes scanned we could collect a funsized chocolate.  I went for the mars bar.

Mars bar at parkrunAfter parkrun, Dan and I both showered and changed before heading out to the cinema for Jurassic World.  I’m rubbish at reviewing films  without giving anything away, but I thought it was very good.  Definitely worth a watch.  Loved that there were several references made to the original film as well.

Now, I sit binge-watching Orange is the New Black with Dan and madly refreshing the South Downs Way 100 tracker page, as two of our guys from club are running.

How are you spending your Saturday evening?
Have you been a parkrun tourist before?

Burning bridges

Monday night was a night for slobbing and recovering from the madness of the weekend.  Often, I find it’s my head that needs to recover after events rather than my legs!

Tuesday night I went for a walk and having watched the first two Jurassic Park films over the past couple of weeks, Dan and I sat through Jurassic Park III whilst getting on with some work, so that we were all prepared to go and see the fourth film at the cinema later this week.
For anyone thinking of having a Jurassic Park marathon film session and doing the same over the next couple of weeks I suggest stopping after number two.  The third film was rubbish!  A couple of points during the movie Dan and I exchanged glances and weren’t sure if we were going to continue…It was so cheesy and the effects were awful, despite being made eight years later than the first film!  I have much higher hopes for film number four.

Yesterday I had a long day at work.  Wednesdays are always long days.  I arrive in school a little after 7am but don’t start teaching until 8:45am so tend to spend the morning marking and planning.  On Wednesdays I have two of my three allocated planning hours – one either side of lunch, so I actually finish teaching by 12:05pm.  Dan doesn’t pick me up until 5pm so by the time I leave work I often feel incredibly fed up of spending hours on end sitting in front a computer marking and filing.  Yesterday it seemed like I had a million jobs to get through, including writing 150 year 10 reports and I never made an actual to-do-list, which always ends up stressing me out as everything I need to do ends up becoming a tangled mess in my mind.

I wasn’t in the best of moods when I returned from school, and my stress levels were rather high so I made the decision to head out on the club trail run from the Embankment in Wellingborough.  There were twenty-one of us altogether and it had been advertised as an easy run for those still recovering from the ultra at the weekend or gearing up to run the South Downs Way this coming weekend.

It was a nice easy out and back route along the river dodging the horses along the way.  On the return route one of our runners spotted that the bridge seemed to be smoking.  The bridge in question was blocked from the public route – with access only from the private farm the other side of the river.  Two of our guys quickly climbed the edge and we formed a line passing along runners’ bottles of water which we filled up from the river.  We rang the fire brigade and stayed until the bridge was only smouldering, but a bit of adventure for the night!Wellingborough Embankment club trail runStandard trail group photo (with a different bridge in the background!)

Have you ever had to call the emergency services out whilst on a run?!

Moving stress

Two weeks ago I rang our solicitors to establish that we would be moving on the 29th May (this coming Friday).  I asked them if I could book the Friday beforehand (22nd May) off from work as my entitled ‘moving day’ to give me a chance to pack and get organised and they agreed that the move would be going ahead and that it would make sense to have that day off.

Last week was incredibly busy for me.  On the Tuesday evening I was sent details of the Northamptonshire Track & Field events and asked to turn them into a programme ready for printing at 9am the following morning.  I was sent the last of the details at 11pm, and was up until 3:30am copying and pasting, adding details and clarifying what information should go where on the 48 page booklet.  Back up again for work at the slightly-later-than-normal time of 6am the following day.  When I returned home that night I curled straight up in bed and slept for three hours until 9pm, when I woke up, made us some tea and promptly fell straight back asleep again!

Northamptonshire Track and Field programme

On the Thursday our school had Ofsted in, who were focusing on marking and feedback, so all boxes of children’s folders (all 512 of them!) had to perfect.  Part of one of my year 8 lessons was observed from the doorway but no interaction with my class was made.  Preliminary feedback about the school from the visit has been positive and we are now waiting for the full report.

So, I was knackered by the time it came to Friday morning.  It wasn’t until then that I realised I hadn’t yet heard anymore from the solicitors regarding our move, and we were due to move in just seven days time now.  I gave them a call.

Me: “Hi there, we are due to move on Friday, but I haven’t heard any details yet, so I am just checking that everything is still OK.”
Them: “Erm, let me just go and grab your file.” [Long wait] “If you want to move on Friday, then we really need to apply for the money today as there is a bank holiday before then and the money usually takes four days to process.”
Me: “OK, well, is that a problem?  We have always had 29th May down as our moving day.”
Them: “Have you signed the paperwork for that date?”
Me: “Yes, yes we have.”
Them: “OK, let me just check…the other party don’t seem to have signed their paperwork yet for the sale of their house.”
Me: “Why not?!”
Them: “I’m not sure.  I’ll try phoning now quickly, as we really will need to apply for the money very shortly if the sale is to go ahead next week.”

[Calls back]

Them: “I’ve just discovered that they have not yet received their mortgage offer.”
Me: “What?!  But we’ve had this process going for two months now.  Has it been refused?  What happens next?  Why was I told that the moving date was OK for next week?”
Them: I shall chase it up and find out what is happening and get back to you.

[I waited until 3pm.  There was no call back so I rang back.  There was no answer.  I rang again.  This time I got a different lady on the phone.]

Me: “Hi there, please may I speak to ****?”
Them: “I’m afraid she finished work about half an hour ago and won’t be back in now until next Wednesday.”
Me: “OK, then I need to speak to [boss] quite urgently please.”
Boss: “Hi there, how may I help?”
Me: We were told that we were OK to move house this coming Friday, but  on speaking to **** she tells me the other party haven’t received their mortgage offer yet?!”

The conversation went on for some time.  I also nipped down to the estate agents who we are buying the house from, as they are only 500m from our current house and spoke to them extensively about what the hold up was.  Apparently they are waiting for some information regarding a pension.  Something which should be as simple as printing it off and sticking it in the post – and there has been more than eight weeks for them to do this in.

Because of all this drama happening late on Friday afternoon, with the next working day not until today, four days later, all we could do was continue with our plans for the week – travel back to my parents’ on the Saturday with Bella to leave her in Norfolk, and spend the best part of Monday finishing off boxing up our house ready for the potential move on Friday.  Dan and I are actually going away to Manchester today until Thursday as we received Foo Fighters tickets for Christmas and are in desperate need for a break.  We shall call the solicitors from our travels and establish if, when we return from our holiday on Thursday evening we need to start on a mad clean of the house, or if instead, we will need to start unpacking bits of crockery and work clothes ready for the week ahead.

Next weekend could either be spent decorating our new house, or it could be spent sat in the midst of piles of boxes eating takeaways as we’ve eaten up all of our cupboard food ready for the move!

Moving house boxes progress(The current state of our dining room!)

We were initially told that the other party needed to move by June 9th, and I will not be allowed any more time off work  to move as I have already had my allocated day.  I finish school at 3pm so one of the potential options involves me rushing home from work and us moving in an afternoon, after having already spent a full day at work, but I don’t want to think too much about it yet until we have spoken to the solicitors today.

I was rather stressed out by the time Dan returned home from work on Friday.  He gave me the car so that I could drive over to run the Blisworth 5 and luckily, getting my PB there helped me to forget all about the house moving drama we had been having all day.

The following morning we headed, with cat, over to my parents’ house for the weekend.   My Mum’s garden is looking very pretty at the moment.

Mum's pretty flowersIt was my friend Amanda’s 30th birthday whilst we were back so for part of the celebrations we headed over to Holkham Hall open air cinema where they were playing Top Gun.  As we arrived we were told of a competition for the best picture on entry, where the winners would get to watch the film from a double bed, complete with duvet and food on call.

Holkham Hall outdoor cinema Top GunWe gave it our best shot!

The cinema experience was good.  Dan and I have been to several outdoor cinemas now though, and this was by far the most expensive.  £13.50 each!  I’m pretty sure that we only paid £6 for the last one we went to.

Whilst we were back, my Dad also decided to bake us a cake.  We’d not been back to Norfolk since February so he hasn’t baked in a while now and had trouble remembering the recipe.  He threw the recipe book at me for me to check his measurements as he was pouring them into the bowl.
Dad: “I’ve used 800g of self raising flour.”
Me: “The recipe calls for 400g.”
Dad: “OK, well we’ll just double everything then.”
Me: “OK, well the recipe calls for one egg.”
Dad: “I’ve put five in so I’ve already doubled that.”
Me: “Five eggs is not double of one!…Why are you putting a tablespoon of baking powder in?…the recipe doesn’t call for any at all!”
Dad: “OK, cocoa powder…you quite like chocolate, we’ll tip a lot of this in.” [Pours directly from tin into the bowl.]

Dad's cake experiment

Haha!  I was a little nervous about how it would turn out, but it was actually not too bad.  Dan and I both had a slice with us in our picnic at Holkham Hall anyway!

I’d better go and get showered and ready for our Manchester adventure now.
Any suggestions of places to visit in Manchester whilst we are there?
Are you a tip-it-in-and-hope baker?!

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?