Bristol + Bath Marathon

Bristol + Bath Marathon

On Sunday it was the first ever Bristol + Bath Marathon. We’d had that extra hour in bed (sorry to anyone with small children!) but still had to leave home at 7.30am. This was Dave’s 5th marathon and his training had been brilliant (as usual) so he had no worries. Just a little apprehension about the course which looked pretty hilly on paper! No problems getting to the start near Queen’s Square in Bristol. The weather was pretty chilly at 5°C but the forecast was for a sunny day so starting in shorts was ok as it was going to warm up (easy for me to say – I had on 4 layers and a hat). Families and runners were milling about awaiting the start and there was a nice calm atmosphere.

I had already decided that I would watch the start of the race and then drive across to Bath to see the finish. I said my goodbyes, relieved Dave of his last layer of warm clothing and made my way to the one mile mark where I met son#2 who had managed to drag himself from his bed to support dad. We clapped through all 6,500 runners and encouraged them with the knowledge that there were only 25.2 miles to go.

At the one mile mark - Bristol to Bath Marathon

 

This is a very interesting marathon – apparently the only one in the UK to take in two cities. We could’ve watched the runners come past again just a little further up the road, but that would’ve meant waiting around for an hour or so and I wanted to pop across to Bath to see the leaders cross the finish line. Avoiding all the closed roads (I went via the M4,A46) I parked up at Lansdown Park and Ride and took the £2.60 return option into Bath city centre. It was nice that I didn’t have to rush so I could take in a few of the sights. Stewards and volunteers for the marathon were still preparing the road closures and getting set for the race to pass through. I settled myself at the final stretch – a fabulous setting just down the road from the Royal Crescent, and waited for first wave to arrive. 

The finish line - Bristol to Bath Marathon

 

The crowd were a nice mix of family and friends of runners and Bath locals who had just come out to get involved and have a cheer or wave a flag. The sun was shining and it really was quite pleasant. I imagine the scenario would not have been the same had the weather from Saturday (pouring rain) had continued into Sunday.

The winner of the race arrived at 2 hours 31 minutes – that is amazing – and he didn’t even look like he had worked very hard – a natural runner obviously! My hands started to ache from clapping but I always try to clap as much as possible – these runners have earned a good round of applause. I was tracking Dave on Find Friends so I knew when he would be appearing onto the finishing stretch. He managed the race in 3 hours 49 mins and 10 secs – pretty brilliant if you ask me. After some recovery stretching and a quick hamstring massage courtesy of the missus we made our way back to the bus stop, continuing to clap and encourage the continuous flow of runners (or by this time for many, hobblers and limpers) on our way. Dave’s opinion was that the race was well organised and a good event (especially with the sun shining) but the course had quite a number of really brutal hills – which would not have been nice for any first timers, even fairly steep ascents in the last few hundred metres (now that’s really cruel) and this would put him off doing it in the future unless the organisers modified the route slightly. 

The park and ride bus back up to Lansdown seemed to take forever to come but on the plus side the driver was obviously in a celebratory mood as he did not charge the runners that were getting on – a nice gesture to recognise the effort and dedication of those who had run the 26.2 miles.

Post race coffee break!

Lots of apples, lots of cake

Lots of apples, lots of cake

I have been given a lot of apples recently by family, friends and neighbours as the crop this year has been fantastic.  I even salvaged a few from my own small tree. Having made apple crumble, apple cake and Eve’s pudding I was keen to do something that didn’t involve peeling – it is so time consuming and I’m sure removes a lot of the goodness. So I searched on Google and found many recipes – called ‘Grandma’s unpeeled apple cake’ or ‘Grandma’s one bowl apple cake’ – each one slightly different. I’m not sure if one grandma invented these recipes or just a generic grandma – however as I was following one of the recipes with my laptop open in the kitchen – I though what a million miles away this scenario was from the one that the ‘grandma’ had been in originally! And as I’m soon to become a grandma, I thought I would make the recipe a new family tradition!!
The cake was great by the way, especially with custard or vanilla ice cream, or both! You don’t even notice that the apples aren’t peeled. If you’d like to try it, here is my slightly modified version with UK units added.

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EASY NO-PEEL APPLE CAKE
4 cups (approx 450g) cored and diced, unpeeled apples
2 cups sugar (approx 400g – I used 350g as trying to cut down!)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (approx 110ml – I used rapeseed oil)
2 cups (approx 250g) plain flour, sifted
2 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
optional 1/2 cup of raisins/sultanas and nuts if you like

Sieve together the flour, cinnamon and bicarb and mix. In a separate large bowl stir together the apples, eggs, sugar, vanilla, oil – then add the flour mix. Add raisins and nuts if you are using. Pour into a greased and floured tin – a traybake tin is ideal, or two smaller round tins – though any tin will do. Bake at 170°C (350°F) for approx 45-50 minutes. (Since first writing this post I have made the recipe many times – each time reducing the amount of sugar. I have made it with 250g most recently and it was still delicious. I think it depends on how sweet or otherwise your apples are.)

Cool slightly, cut a slice, eat!

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A slightly stressful Saturday

A slightly stressful Saturday

Quite a stressful Saturday morning last weekend – well 5 minutes of stress anyway. It was the morning that tickets went on sale for Nibley Music Festival http://www.nibleyfestival.co.uk – this is a great little music festival that takes place a few miles from my home. Tickets usually sell out really quickly so I had to be on the ball.
The beauty of this festival that it is small (less than 5000 people) yet they manage to book some fantastic music acts. This year I was keen to get tickets as they have Scouting for Girls and Land of the Giants playing – two fun favourites of mine.
Tickets went on sale at 9am, so I was up at 8.10am – made sure all the computers were on, the wifi was working and that I knew my PayPal password! I had a Mac, a MacBook, a PC and my iPhone all fired up and ready.
My pulse increased to 104bpm in anticipation, and then at 9am I clicked on the ‘buy tickets’ link and waited what seemed like an eternity. The first piece of technology to get me to the ticket page was my trusty PC! I wasn’t expecting that as it’s usually so slow that I am yelling at it. My iPhone came a quick second! After a couple of false starts when I failed to tick the terms and conditions box, I managed to secure my tickets by 9.04am.
Now I can relax and I am really looking forward to July 4th – lets hope it’s a beautiful sunny day for this Cotswold music extravaganza and it will be great to have my whole family back at home and sharing the day!

 

 

 

Almond Butter – how do you like yours?

Almond Butter – how do you like yours?

Several years ago I read about the benefits of eating almonds – they didn’t really feature in our lives at that time so I decided to try and incorporate them into our daily routine. We added almond butter to our daily porridge ritual and there has been no going back.
Dave likes his almonds to be roasted before they are made into butter – he likes to swirl it into his porridge to give a lovely roasted almond flavour to his breakfast. On the other hand – I like my almonds to be ground in their raw state – no roasting necessary and made into a more solid ‘butter’ which I can slice up over my porridge – delicious!

Porridge, almond butter and banana

I make the almond butter in my Vita-Mix – an extremely powerful piece of equipment. Just throw the almonds in and blend to the consistency that you require. To make the roasted version all you need to do is pop the almonds onto a baking tray and roast for approximately 9 mins at 170C fan, allow to cool and then blitz to a gooey paste. There is no need to add any salt or oil.

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Almond butter

My his ‘n’ hers versions of almond butter

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Roasted almond butter

 If you are going to keep this for a long time, it should be stored in the fridge. We get through a jar in approximately a week and being sealed, we have no problems keeping ours out of the fridge.

I have also made almond, brazil and cashew butter in the same way (ABC). Its best not to roast the brazils and cashews before blending – well that’s my taste -I find the roasted flavours a bit overpowering. This makes a ‘complete protein’ butter and amazing if you’re building those muscles!

ABC butter

Have you tried making nut butter? How do you like yours?

Sunday run 3

Sunday run 3

Thought I would have a nice warm sunny run this morning after yesterday’s beautiful weather. The temperature was up to 9°C so I decided that I would dispense with one item from my winter running wardrobe. I chose the gloves! This turned out to be the right choice. Just as I left the house it started to rain, just a light drizzle, but very wet nonetheless. I had decided to try an old route which I thought was 6.2 miles, a particularly undulating challenge, mostly on quiet country roads.
The run was considerably wetter than I had hoped, and I was glad that I had worn my jacket and woolly hat – my hands, thankfully were not cold.
One of the most unnerving aspects of this particular run, especially it seems, on Sunday mornings, is the fact that the route goes past several large fields within which are a group of shotgun wielding locals. You can never see them, but boy can you hear them. I always imagine I might be a nice fluorescent yellow moving target, and if one of them was having a particularly bad morning, they might take it out on me! Madness I know but your thoughts do tend to wander when running – the constant boom of the shotguns made me run just that little bit faster!
As it turned out, my 6.2 mile run was actually 6.8 miles.
Now that’s more calories for cake later…….
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Sunday run 2

Sunday run 2

So I’m back up to 6 miles.  I’m very happy! I have been struggling with a problem well known to runners – piriformis pain, and this led to many weeks without being able to run in 2014. I have been working hard with my prescribed treatment of stretching and rolling and have been seeing my chiropractor on a regular basis. I’m sure many people would have just given up running by now, but that wasn’t an option for me. Running is key to my health, fitness and good state of mind. It also means I can eat what I like (within reason). It was very important to me to get back to the 6 mile run as the 10k is my favourite race distance.

Whenever I go for a run I appreciate how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful part of the world, and how I can just run straight from my front door and very soon be in the peace and quiet of the countryside. Don’t get me wrong, I also love to be in the city, but there’s a time and a place for everything. Oh…. and the time for porridge  is most definitely after a run.

Victorian letter box spotted on my run today. 100+ years old and still in use.
Victorian letter box spotted on my run today. 100+ years old and still in use.
Cotswold Countryside
Cotswold Countryside
Porridge, brown sugar, milled linseed, almond butter, almond milk and banana. Delicious!
Porridge, brown sugar, milled linseed, almond butter, almond milk and banana. Delicious!

Sunday run 1

I managed 5.47 miles on my run today. Had an afternoon run which is highly unusual for me (that’s because I had a lie-in this morning until 09.30 then had to eat my porridge as I was hungry!)
I’m well on my way to fitness for the Bristol 10K in May. Dave ran for 3 hours this morning – well on his way to fitness for the Paris Marathon in April!! 🙂
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Woolly hat

it was windy and wet and I needed a hat!
it was windy and wet and I needed a hat!

Today I bought a woolly hat. It was for boys aged 4-8 years old. I wore it!! 🙂
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