Thursday, 30 July 2015

Week 6 completed

On Sunday morning or was a relief that Week Six Day One seemed to be a step down.  I needed to run for five minutes,  walk,  run for eight minutes,  walk and run for five minutes.

I didn't really understand this because it didn't seem to be continuing the progression but I was grateful nonetheless.

Week Six Day Two had two ten minute runs with a walk between. I took a wrong turn and ended up on an uneven bramble-festooned path and could run properly (not that any of my running is proper). Anyway because I didn't feel I'd given it my best shot I did this session twice with a day in between.

Week Six Day Three had me running for 22 minutes.  This is the longest I have ever run in my life.  It's slow.  I'm not sure how slow because the app I use to calculate average speed includes my warm up walk and cool down walk.  If I were to guess I'd say between eight and nine minutes per kilometre, perhaps closer to eight.

But,  against all of my predictions, it is getting easier.  My legs ache but I'm not gasping for breath as I was when I started.

I think the thing that works for me at this stage is that I'm not trying to be an athlete.  I really am just trying to get to the end.  If the app tells me to run for 22 minutes then that is what I will try to do.  I will plod with one foot in front of the other, hobbling my way to achievement.

My body's ability to cope has surprised me.  My improvement has surprised me. I honestly thought I would fail and I had expected to quit by now.

I don't enjoy the exercise but I do enjoy being surprised by my body and I get a kick from the achievement.

I use the time to think about to do lists,  pay attention to the music of I'm running alone, or catch up with whoever is running with me.  I enjoy the countryside and it feels good to bed outside.  I think about what I'm going to tell you in this blog.

What I don't like is dogs. If I see a dog I'll change direction to get away from it.  I don't like dogs smearing their snot or saliva on my legs and I don't appreciate a dog bashing against my legs and almost knocking me over. 

Some owners seem to think that because I'm in the vicinity of their animal I am up for any kind of canine interaction.  I'm not.  I will actively try and avoid it.

The other thing I'm aware of is my smugness.  I am sharing my progress because whilst it's lame to others it's impressive to me.  I also recognise the accusation of smugness.  Having been a non-runner seeing other people posting the progress from their fitness apps I have viewed others as I am now being viewed.

I won't post from a fitness app because my distance and speed achievements are laughable. I think the smugness accusation is valid and comes from the fact that I've been "good".

I think the accusation would also be leveled at someone sharing weight loss achievements.

I'll take the label though and continue.  I want to know how far I can go and I want to know if I can get faster.

Friday, 24 July 2015

I have never run so far

Week five started with jogging for five minutes, walking for three, jogging for five, walking for three and jogging for five.

I had expected all the week five sessions to be the same which is why session two came as a shock: jog for eight minutes, walk for five, jog for eight.

I survived, just, and then session three really knocked me for six: jog for 20 minutes.  Wait, what, jog for twenty minutes?

The thing that shocked me more than the leap from five to eight to 20 minutes within the space of days, was the fact that my legs, lungs and heart didn’t let me down.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Week Four done, just

Week four has been challenging.  It has two three minute runs and two five minute runs.  It’s the five minute ones that I struggle with.

My boy is the best coach ever and when he sees me flagging he’s full of enthusiastic and motivational words.  When we pass the halfway point he proffers a high five and whenever he can find an achievement in anything he does.  When I’m struggling with the distance to go he tells me not to worry about that but to think about how far I’ve come.

I’ve told him he should offer his personal training services for financial reward because he has a natural talent for it.  I’m not sure how well I’d do with out my pocket motivator by my side.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Fun, easy, chocolatey, party celebration cake

I found this recipe and it’s an easy customisable party or celebration cake.

NewImage

This has become the staple birthday cake for our children, excepting the number cakes made by their Grandma.

The first thing to do is to pop the kettle on.  Cake making should always be accompanied with either a tea or a coffee.

When the kettle’s boiled, make your beverage of choice and also blend 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons of water.

While you’re drinking your tea or coffee the cocoa and water can be cooling down.

This is an eight inch cake and can comfortably be cut into 12 generous pieces.

Ingredients

  • 175g baking margarine
I find margarine choices confusing but this is good for baking cakes:
 
NewImage
  • 175g sugar, caster or granulated
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa, blended with 2-3 tablespoons of hot water and cooled (see above)

Icing

  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 5-6 tablespoons milk
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Smarties, Matchmakers, chocolate buttons or Maltesers (or anything else that takes your fancy)

Method

  • Make a tea or coffee as described above and mix the cocoa and hot water at the same time.
  • Preheat the oven to 150 °C (fan oven).
  • Grease and line two round 20cm / 8 inch cake tins.
  • Place all the cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until well mixed (2-3 minutes).
  • Split the mixture between your prepared tins.
  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  • Turn out and cool on a wire tray.

For the icing:

  • Place all icing ingredients together in a bowl and beat together until smooth.
  • Sandwich cakes together with some of the icing and spread remaining icing over the cake including the sides
  • Slathering icing is best done carefully with a palette knife
  • Stick your chosen confectionery onto the icing.  Things that work well are Matchmakers vertically around the edge with Maltesers or Smarties on the top.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3

There’s nothing in Ian Dury’s lyrics that is an exact fit here but “A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it” is the closest.
Some Saturdays I have helped marshal at the Brentwood Parkrun.  If you can, I’d recommend you do too.  Reasons to do it:
  • It gets you out of bed
  • It gets you out into the countryside
  • It gets you a little bit of exercise
  • You meet some lovely (kind, generous and fit) people
  • You spend thirty minutes cheering people on, and making others cheer up reflects back into your own mood.
  • For a small investment of time and energy you are contributing to other people’s wellbeing and your own.
  • It’s a great way to start a Saturday
If you want to get involved then find out more here: http://www.parkrun.org.uk/brentwood/futureroster/
If you just like a bit of Ian Dury, here you are:

Week three and thoughts turn to drink

I did the week three routine four times and today did my first week four routine.

Week three was a bit of a shock to the system and on hot days was very tough.

The upside is that I have found many more sloe berry picking opportunities with many bushes already laden with fruit.

Ethan and Hannah are both excellent exercise companions but different; Ethan is considerate and motivational and Hannah’s conversation helps me lose track of time which is good when I’m willing the clock to tick faster.

Three minutes is a bloody long time when you’re hot, sweaty and gasping for breath with aching legs.  Five minutes is even longer.

I coped with the first week four session today because Ethan was with me and it wasn’t overly hot.  Let’s see how the rest of the week pans out.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Chocolate raspberry pavlova

Oh the irony of trying to get to grips with running and blogging about it and interspersing it with blogs of calorie-filled delights like a chocolate raspberry pavlova.

This is delicious.  And easy.  All of which makes it a winner in my book.  Maybe I should write a book.

This is a Nigella recipe.  I don’t think I’ve gone wrong with a Nigella.  I find her a little frustrating though because I like oodles of detail in a recipe and I think this is an area where she can be deficient.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

For meringue

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar (I used the latter)
  • 50g dark choc finely chopped (I just used dark choice chips)

For the topping 

  • 500ml double or whipping cream (I used whipping)
  • 500g fresh raspberries
  • 3 tbsp dark chocolate in curls or coarsely grated - I used a crumbled mini Cadbury Twirl but you could also use 
  • a crumbled Flake

Method

  • Before you pop the meringue in the oven the oven needs to be at fan 160C.
  • Beat egg whites until satiny peaks form.  I took this to mean solidly silky peaks.
  • Add the sugar a spoon at a time whilst beating and stop when peaks are stiff and shiny.
  • Add chopped chocolate, vinegar and sieved cocoa.  Fold until combined.
  • Pop a piece of baking parchment onto a baking tray and draw around a plate or similar to add a 9” circle to the baking parchment.
  • Turn the baking parchment drawn circle facing down and elegantly plonk the meringue mixture onto your circle.  Gently try and create a 9” circle using your drawn guide and try and make the top flat ish.
  • Bung in oven and reduce oven temperature to 140C.  Leave for about an hour and a quarter.  When cooked the edge should be crispy but the centre should feel a tad squidgy.  Turn the oven off at this point, slightly open the oven door but leave your gorgeous meringue in the oven until it is completely cooled.
  • Once your meringue is made you can store it in an airtight container for a week before using or you can freeze for longer.  If you do freeze it you can use it straight from the freezer (and this is what I did).
  • When you are ready to load up your pav then whip cream until thick but soft.  Nigella insists you put your meringue on the serving plate with the bottom uppermost.  I think this is daft, but you do whatever makes you happy.  Plop the cream atop your meringue and then scatter raspberries with gay abandon.  Crush/crumble/chop your chocolate and sprinkle over the top.
  • Consume with passion.

This is what my meringue looked like before its adornments.  I made it a bit bigger than the nine inches which was a mistake because it grew in the oven - worth bearing in mind.

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Friday, 3 July 2015

Week two and I'm still alive

The continuation of my running regime.
I wasn’t sure I was ready for week two so my first foray into week two was a repeat of the week one routine.
So on Sunday I did what I’d done in the previous week.  And then on Monday I looked and saw that week two didn’t look that bad, so I gave it a go.  I survived.
On Tuesday I did a week two session too.  Wednesday and Thursday were a bit tricky so Friday saw my final week two attempt and because I started week two with a repeat of the week one session I ended up doing four sessions in a week.
I have discovered that Hannah can walk faster than I can run….Whatever.
Music whilst exercising is good although going from this:


to this:


is weird.

And I can look tall and skinny if I view my shadow when the sun is low:

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Friday, 26 June 2015

Just a phase I'm going through

Last weekend I decided it was pathetic that I couldn’t run five kilometres.

I don’t want to compete and I don’t want to be a good runner, but I don’t want to be pathetic.

I have tried running before, and not in a half-hearted way either.  It didn’t work and I became disillusioned, fed up, and full of pathos.

This time I’m older, so it’ll be harder, but I’ll have technology on my side.  I don’t have any bionic limbs or fabulous compression clothing to improve circulation but I do have an app.  It’s an app that is similar to many that have taken lazy lumps from “Couch to 5K”.

I’m less than a week in, so how was it?

Well my first outing was with my children and I enjoyed their company but my running looked like the running of someone twice my age.  There was post run aching too, but the whole thing was manageable.

My second outing was an inning.  I ran and walked around the house unwilling to be seen in public.  This was tolerable and the running was less lame.

My third outing followed the same route as the first and my running was more effective because I needed to add a loop to be able to schedule the interspersed walking and running perfectly timing my return to base at the end of the 30 minutes.  It was a warm morning and I was horribly hot and sweaty when I got back home.  It was all doable though.

My concern is that week two doubles the length go the running bits.  I think that sounds like a bit too much for me and I might repeat week one.  I’m not training for any particular event so I might as well work at a comfortable pace rather than risk trying too much too soon and failing.

Do I feel better?  Not physically better but I do feel virtuous.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Choreography

There are times when my life is choreographed to the minutes; things happen one after the other making the best use of my time.

This morning I’d taken some ingredients out of the freezer ready to cook a quick meal this evening.

The minute I got in from work I started cooking and made a chicken pie and bunged it in the oven.  My hints about making mummy a cup of tea fell on deaf ears.

I checked where Hannah was and realised I could just collect her from the station while the pie was in the oven.  I set the timer on the oven so that it would turn off preventing the pie from burning.  After collecting Hannah and her friend, dropping her friend off and getting home I served up and we ate.  No cup of tea was forthcoming here either.

I needed Dave to get home because I wanted his car to go to Astrid’s house.  I was collecting a wardrobe and needed the estate.  Dave knew this but wasn’t home at the time I would normally expect.  I popped the kettle on because nobody else was going to make me a cup of tea.  I also put a bread mix in the bread maker. 

And then Dave turned up and he was home at a time which meant I would be late getting to Astrid.  

He drank my untouched tea while I got in the car with Ethan to collect the wardrobe.  Dave lamely offered help and I resisted the urge to say “Maybe try to be a bit more considerate of other people’s commitments.”  I wasn’t late by much but I don’t like letting people down and I try to keep promises.

My time is precious. I don’t appreciate being messed around.  

Friday, 19 June 2015

Sometimes

I'm typing this as a form of therapy. Nobody's recommended I do this, I'm just trying out in the hopes that it works.

I am at home today and have just been overwhelmed with sadness and I don't know why.

It reminds me of the feelings I had when I had post natal depression and that scares me. I don't want to go anywhere near that place again.

I've tried to analyse why I'm feeling this way because it's actually quite unusual for me. I am, despite appearances to the contrary, an optimist.

I've been baking this morning which usually makes me happy, but not today.

I'm just so very sad today. I want to call mum for a chat but I can't, she's not here.

So for all of you who hate those people who smile for no reason, rest assured they can have their bad days.

I don't know what's up. But this isn't me.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Just a thought

I’ve watched the last couple of episodes of Born Naughty on Channel 4.  The premise is parents whose children are exhibiting unwanted behaviours.  The programme brings together experts to analyse the children and parents to determine whether the child is undiagnosed with perhaps autism or a psychological disorder, or whether the parents just need a bit of help to do the job of parenting a little better.

There have been lots of programmes covering the task of parenting and often the general response of the great viewing public is to criticise the parents.

My conclusion is somewhat different.  I think all of these shows demonstrate that parents need help and support.

There is very little guidance for parents.  You have the child and that’s it.  A few visits to a doctor with a smattering of early trips to see a health visitor and it stops.

The focus, as the child grows up, seems to be the child.  I recognise the child is important but the parent needs to know how to support their child.  Parenting is all too often inherited.  If your parents didn’t have to deal with anything out of the ordinary then you’ll never have seen how to deal with a psychological diagnosis or the news that your child is on the autistic spectrum.  If you’ve never seen it then who’s going to show you what to do and how to deal with it?

I wonder whether the offer of no strings support for parents who’d just like to know how to get their child to eat more vegetables or stop getting into fights at school or whatever, would make everyone happier and probably stop some issues from building and becoming bigger, more expensive issues to manage.

Just a thought.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Smoked Haddock Chowder Recipe

I made this today and it’s delicious which is why I’m sharing the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 25g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 400g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 725ml fish stock (I used vegetable stock)
  • 200g natural uncooked smoked haddock, skinned and flaked
  • 75ml single cream
  • cayenne pepper - I used about half a teaspoon

Garnish if required:

  • 1 egg, hard boiled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps finely chopped fresh parsley

Method

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan, add three-quarters of the onion and 225g of the potato, then cook gently for 5 minutes, without browning
  • Add the stock, cover, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender
  • Blend until smooth and return to the pan
  • Add the remaining vegetables, cover, then simmer gently for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender
  • Remove from the heat, add the fish, stir in the cream and add cayenne to taste.
  • Reheat gently for 5 minutes, then serve with garnish, if required.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Yellow Split Pea and Bacon Soup

I’ve been working my way through a soup recipe book.  It has a recipe for every day of the year.  I’m not cooking every recipe but February 4th is “the best yet” according to my progeny.  And February 4th happens to be Yellow Split Pea and Bacon.  It doesn’t sound very inspiring, except the bacon bit.  Everyone loves bacon.

It’s such a simple recipe, and very tasty, so I thought it was worth sharing.

Ingredients

  • 170g yellow split peas
  • 1 potato, diced
  • half an onion, diced
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 375ml vegetable stock
  • 40g celeriac
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch turmeric
  • 500g cooked, smoked bacon, diced

Method

  • In a large saucepan place 100g of the yellow split peas and all of the other ingredients except the bacon.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Remove the bay leaf and blend until smooth
  • Add the remaining yellow split peas and bacon and cook gently for another 20 minutes, or until the peas have softened.
  • Enjoy.

Can be frozen and defrosted/reheated

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Feminism should die

I recently read and shared a Spectator article about the isolation of Sweden’s “feminist foreign minister”.  She’d been outspoken about the subjugation of women in Saudi Arabia.

It’s been sitting uncomfortably with me.

The political isolation is wrong, but the way she was described also seemed wrong even though the article was supportive.

She was described as a feminist because she wants women to have fair treatment in Saudi Arabia; isn’t that what every fair-minded individual would want?  

Does that mean that the norm is that everyone is a feminist? 

I’ve decided that feminism is a redundant term.  It’s definition is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes.  What reasonable person wouldn’t advocate women’s right to equality?  Those who wouldn’t want this are the misogynists.

If feminist beliefs are the norm then perhaps the term is no longer needed.  So instead of the general population, feminists and misogynists, we should just have everyone and misogynists.  And ideally we wouldn’t have the misogynists.

Does this make sense?  Can we get rid of the term feminism?