Tag Archives: bedford

Edinburgh and beyond … things I have done today

2 Oct

Things I have done today:

  • sat a promotion exam
  • run 2.5 miles

I’m trying to take on board some feedback I got from a couple of different people this week, but which was along the same lines:  stop being so hard on yourself and actually acknowledge that you’re doing quite well.  That doesn’t come easily to me, like a lot of us, I’m probably my own worse critic (and bearing in mind some of the criticism I’ve received from others, that’s a hell of thing to be able to claim).  But I’m going to take a bit of a deep breath and whilst doing one of the exercises the physio gave me – I’m going to give myself a pat on the back.  (I will be doing this whilst sitting down and then rotating to one side whilst keeping hips still in order to stretch my back at the same time, fyi.)  I’ve lost 17lbs.   17lbs – that’s actually pretty good.  That would be a fairly hefty baby (apparently), its bigger than a puppy.   I couldn’t run 10k carrying a puppy – that’s perspective!!

I studied for an exam and sat it, not because anyone encouraged me, in fact the opposite, noone has pushed me to do this.  This might be a bad thing and might be a reflection that people think I can’t do it, but noone has taken me under their wing and started pushing me to build a portfolio and all the other blah that is known to happen in my chosen profession.  I did it because I wanted to.  I had to build in the time and still run my house, on my own, while I did it.  That might not be much compared to what some other people have to cope with on a daily basis.  But so what – I did it.  The actual result is fairly irrelevant, I gave it a shot.

Right, now the praise-fest is over, back to basics.  2nd run of this week completed.  Although I was only supposed to be doing a mile to build slowly, that was really never going to happen.  I did keep things slow though, averaging a 12.16 minute mile for 2.56 miles.   Combined walking and gentle jog, warming up with 10 minutes gentle jog then 30 second walk followed by 2.5minute jog, finishing with 9 minute jog.  Took 31 minutes to do 2.5 miles, which is about the pace I was doing a slow 5k, but considering I haven’t run in a dog’s age, not too shabby.  I’d been advised to look at my form and try to relax my back as I run.  I admit I’m a bit confused as to what that means.  I’ve run on and off for about 30 years and have just tended to stick one foot in front of the other and keep going, without putting a huge amount of thought behind it.  So I’m not sure which bits I’m doing right and which bits I’m doing wrong.  So today, I tried to let my arms hang loose so that my shoulders and back weren’t so hunched up.  I’ve always run with clenched fists and sort of punched my arms forward, which when I stand and do it, I can feel is very tensing.  So instead, I left my hands unclenched and open.  I did wonder, as I ran past part of the hospital, whether medical aid would be sent out for me as during the walk parts I took the opportunity to try and shake out my arms and shoulders  to relax them – so there was some rather odd arm waving and shaking going on.  Think some sort of Baptist Church revival sermon and that might give an idea of what I looked like.   On good note – legs felt fine, no problems in legs or feet (which is where past problems have been), which is very positive.  Back does feel a bit tight – but I did spend couple of hours hunched over an exam paper so that could just as easily be responsible.   But to go back to the original point – I went out and ran, even though it was raining, even though I’d already been out and walked some distance with the dog (and got a headbutt into the bargain!), even though I hadn’t had any tea.  No excuses – got out there and hit the pavements.

Food wise – quite proud of fact that I ran right on past the chip shop and didn’t even bat an eyelid.  Got in and didn’t grab junk food, instead I poached fish, roasted butternut squash and made fish pie topped with mashed cauliflower and squash.  Which is what I’m not going to head off to eat.

Overall – a good day.  I’ve stuck a photo below of a poster that I saw advertised ages and ages ago.  I think its meant for a child’s room, but the sentiment holds true whatever your age.

Dream, Imagine and Aspire to be just who you are.

There are dragons to slay

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Edinburgh and beyond

29 Sep

I’m supposed to be revising, especially as the exam is in just over 2 days time.  Even sent the dog off to spend the weekend with the ex so that I could focus on cramming.  Which means I’ve been to the hairdressers, watched Poirot, been for a run and am now updating blog.   My ability to distract myself from what I actually should be focussing on is fairly astounding.  I even washed the floors in the week (admittedly between mock exams, but still).

So where am I right now?  Well – clearly as I mentioned the exam and revision, I am taking steps to achieve forward movement in my career.  However, I’m not totally confident that I’ve done enough.  I can make all the excuses about not having time:  get home from work, walk dog, make dinner, realise its gone 8 o’clock, hardly time to get the books out.  Weekends have to clean the house, shop etc etc etc, blah, blah, blah.  Ultimately though, I could have found time.  I could have got up earlier.  But I didn’t.  I chose not to, whether consciously or subconsciously.  On Tuesday I’ll know how that works out.  However, I’m not stressing on it.  It will be what it will be.  If I don’t pass, so be it, I enjoy the job I do now, I work with a great team and I’m looking forward to starting work with a new boss from next week so lots of challenges and opportunities coming up.  If I do pass, fantastic stuff …. just got to then wait for a board and who knows when that will be.  So really, no change on what I’d be doing anyway.

Weight wise – Dukan has been a success.  Slow, but successful.  I didn’t get the massive weight loss that some people have reported.  But, again, I’m not stressing on it.  I can only run my own race.  I’ve been losing around 1-2lb a week and since 21 July have lost 17lb.  More importantly, I feel more comfortable in my clothes.  I can throw on jeans and tshirt and feel like I look ok.  I’ve dropped a trouser size in my work trousers and will soon need to order a smaller size again.  I’ve got 21lb to go, but I feel like I can do it.  I’ve got used to the way of eating and I have the cravings under control. I won’t say I’ve mastered them, more like I’ve shoved them into the back of the attic like a mad old aunty (to clarify, I think I read that in a book or saw it in a film, I have never locked an aunty or any other family member in an attic).

Running – hmmm, since the 10k Race for Life some time back I haven’t run.  In fact I ended up with such a bad back I resorted to going to the doctors (I hate going to the doctors) who then referred me to a physio.  Physio’s advice was no running until my back had been sorted out.   A few weeks of stretching exercises (ably assisted by the dog, who thinks the moment you lie on the floor its play time.  Have you tried to do back stretches and core strengthening with a 29kg dog trying to climb on you and lick your face, it ain’t easy.  You never see that in a celeb dvd do you, no you don’t.) and a bit of massaging from the physio (brought to a rapid halt on one session when whatever it was she was doing made me throw up!) and I’ve been given clearance to run again.  This was on the proviso of  ‘Taking It Easy’ and ‘Building Up Slowly’.  That was on Monday.  On Thursday I entered Edinburgh marathon.  Ok, I know that doesn’t sound like Taking It Easy and Building Up Slowly.  But in my defence, the run isn’t until May, so that’s loads of time to Build Up Slowly.  I’d been waiting for VLM results (Virgin London Marathon for the non-runners, its not some new underwear malfunction like a worse form of VPL).  Part of me was thinking I hope I don’t get it as I really don’t want to run a marathon.  But something weird happened as I waited for the letter or the pack and I started to make back up plans.  By the time the postman knocked at the door and Elvis delivered the news, I’d already looked Edinburgh up online.  That there was a code included in the rejection pack to get a guaranteed place seemed sort of like fate.  Next thing I knew, the application was in.  So 26 May, I will be doing my 26.2 in Scotland.  That in itself is fine, but somehow my mind which really doesn’t understand how to not go over the top and stick to a balance level, decided that isn’t enough.  So my aims for the next two years now include:

short term : back up to 10k fitness by end of November (Reindeer run!)

medium term : Edinburgh marathon

long term : a 30 mile run

then that’s it.  I can tick them off my list, know that I’ve achieved it and then just stick to running nothing further than 10 miles BUT and this is the big thing, sustaining that running, so that each week I’m running at least 4 times a week.  Forever.

In the interests of Taking It Easy and Building Up Slowly, I went out for a trial run tonight.  Plan was one mile of 2 minutes run/30 seconds walk all at a very low pace.  Somehow  I ended up doing 1.72 miles, as I was so busy counting that I couldn’t hear the micoach telling me the distances.  The micoach updates on 2 minute points, so after the first 2 min check point I had to keep counting and doing maths in my head, which meant talking out loud to myself because I can’t do maths in my head.  Either I’m going to have to build up fairly quickly or go back to remedial maths classes.  I averaged 12.05 minute miles, so managed the  fairly slow bit.  Legs felt fine, but I’ve realised that I do tense my back up as I run and I can feel a tight band across it even though I’ve stretched out when I got back.  I’m telling myself that isn’t an excuse to book a massage on the alternate days to running and that instead I should find out what it is about my running style that’s making me do that and build my core up properly.  The massage bit sounds nicer though.

In other news – still not dating, coming up for one year since found out husband was cheating and kicked him out.  Part of me thinks I should be back out there and looking for someone new.  Other bit of me really can’t face the whole idea of trying to meet someone new, risking being rejected, risking being hurt again.  Safer to just stay in my own little bubble.  But who knows, friends coming to stay next weekend and we’re hitting the town.  Ok, we’re hitting Bedford and that really isn’t all that great.  BUT a new pub has opened up, its supposed to be good and I’ve been assured there were men there who looked like they were single, so who knows, maybe next week things will change.

For now, though:  I’ve an exam to take and a marathon to prepare for, so lets get out there and get on with it!

This photo has nothing at all to do with the blog, I just really liked it – its my dog when he met up with some other Slovakian Rough Haired Pointers and then they bumped into a Weimaraner puppy!

Cake, cake, glorious cake

17 Oct

It has been pointed out to me that I’ve been a bit remiss with updating on my blog.  So my apologies if anyone has suffered any cake withdrawal symptoms or has been aimlessly wandering the streets of Bedford, confused and dazed as to the best place to go for cake and coffee.   My only excuse, or excuses as they are two-fold – are that I was put to work at home for the last days of my recuperation and now have a beautifully painted dining room.  And that sentence gives a clue to the other bit … I’ve had to go back to work.  After 8 weeks off, that was a bit of a shocker.  Words need to be had as so far the only coffee has been instant.  I do now have my coffee machine there, so this will be fired up soon (in theory I was on 4 hour days and there was only me in the office so didn’t seem worth making a whole pot, but the 2nd person has returned from hols so I think he’ll help out).  In terms of cakes, I did try to do my bit today with a bake sale in aid of 100 marathons in 100 weeks ( http://www.raceto100.co.uk – see the link at side of this blog ). *

bake sale

Modesty, however, prevents me from giving a review of the crumbly, rich chocolate brownies; light and fluffy red velvet cupcakes or even the perfectly risen and evenly baked orange, almond and yogurt cake.  Instead, I will ask anyone who purchased one of the cakes and who is reading this, to feel free to add comments.  Message to a certain person who put in a plea for delivery … if there are any left, I’m at the big house tomorrow afternoon for a meeting and will bring some along!

Anyhow, I digress.  Those poor souls are still wandering aimlessly like cake-zombies (ooooh, little reminder – The Walking Dead starts on Friday in UK, cannot wait.)   The Review.   Today I’m going to tell you about the place that has almost become my second home.  When I die I wish my ashes to be sprinkled there (although there is probably some health and safety reason why that can’t happen, but you get the impression).

Fancies (on Facebook as Homebaked Desserts), Roff Avenue in Bedford.  In terms of geography, Fancies is a little too close for comfort to some of the less attractive parts of Bedford.  The street itself isn’t too bad – and is handily on the route to and from Bedford parkrun, making it a very useful place for a post-race recovery drink and carb re-load.  But there is a cut through to The Land of The Doomed.  The Doomed, however,  seem not to travel far from their doorsteps or maybe they are just drawn to the cafe by the bus station (where you can drink instant coffee surrounded by the aroma of, well, pee – and I’m not sure if its human or animal and I really don’t want to dwell).  All I can say is, when you enter Fancies you enter a world of old-style tea shop.  The cakes are served on a selection of unmatched, old fashioned plates that wouldn’t be out of place on your grannie’s tea table.  Quaint, chic and so, so pretty.  If I didn’t know I wanted to go back there, I’d be swiping those plates into my handbag (and by handbag I mean the special suitcase handbag I’d take in specially to do this).

Reading material:   Local newspapers, Elle Decor (had me doing some aspirational shopping which was ill-advised in the midst of decorating the house) and a handful of my magazine cast offs.  Also, The Times – which is handy as I mainly read it for Caitlin Moran’s columns, but I often forget to buy it, but this means I have an excuse to pop into Fancies to see if they have the day before’s paper when I’ve forgotten to buy it just so I can catch up.

Customers:  I’ve done some great eavesdropping in here!!  I’ve been in a few times on my own, mornings are best – you get the ladies who, not so much lunch, as ‘drop kids at the local private schools and sit and gossip’ and ‘drop kids at the local private schools and sit and plan charity events with a level of organisation generals going to war would be proud of’.   I do think I may have dropped off during one conversation though, as one minute I was hearing about someone who’d sold their house, moved out of Bedford into nearby village, hated it so moved back – to the same house they’d sold, but had then decided again they didn’t like it and wanted to move back to the village.  Somehow I think I warped out here, as next they were saying someone had been snatched by pirates and taken off to be slaves.  I hope this was a film they’d seen or book they’d read, as I’m not liking the idea that somewhere between Bedford and Bromham there are pirates roaming with a side deal in slave trade.

Seating:   No matching, regular sized tables here – its all a mish-mash of sizes and types of table with a jumble of different chairs.  If I can get a suitcase-handbag big enough, the large wooden dining table is coming with me.  The seating is all inside, but chatting to the lovely lady who works there (and I believe owns the shop), they are hoping to have outside seating in the back garden next year.

Coffee:   I tend to go for the latte – for those who prefer their coffee not on the strong side, this is the place to go.  I could do with it a bit stronger, but you know, the rest of the place is so perfect, I don’t actually care.   The cup size is perfect, not so small it runs out and not so large I feel daunted.   They also do rather delicious smoothies and the most dazzling array of teas – but I haven’t brought myself to try the tea as it just seems wrong (and Tea would spoil the alliteration of my blog heading).

Savoury:  it used to just be croissant with melted cheese and tomato, but this has expanded to bagels with cheese and onion marmalade.   I can heartily recommend either.   They take a little while to be served, and they always warn you of this, but its because they are warmed properly so you get a crisp, foil wrapped croissant, with melty cheese and flakey pastry.  Not a microwaved squidge of pastry that manages to be both hard on the bottom but soggy on the top.   Its well worth waiting for and the wait really isn’t that long as why would you want to rush away?  The only disappointment I’ve had is the cheese scone (though I admit I may have been spoiled by The Cheese Kitchen scone).  When I tried it, the scone was too crumbly so when I tried to butter it, I ended up with crumbs that I had to try and squish together with the onion marmalade (sticky, tasty, could eat it by the spoon).

Cake:   What can I say?   Oh.  My.  Oh.  My.  Oh.  My.  You enter to an plethora of cakes of every type and size displayed on the counter under old fashioned covers.  Trying to choose takes me longer than it took to pick a house.  This has been further complicated by the recent introduction of chiller cabinet – which meant Banoffee Cheesecake.  I may have developed diabetes just looking at that cheesecake.  Clearly if I was going to get diabetes just looking at it, I may as well try it and be hung for a lamb as a sheep (note:  no lambs or sheep were harmed in the making of this blog).  It was devine, but sweet, sweet, sweet!    They have ginger cake, with chunks of preserved ginger on top – sticky and moist and so gingery you think it should be singing in Girls Aloud and looking pale.  The fig and chocolate chip cake – never heard of this before, glad I tried it.  Intriguing, moist, not too sweet.  But the cake I judge by:  carrot cake.  This is how carrot cake should be.  There are nuts, there are bits of fruit, there are bits of carrot you can see and there’s a topping that melts in the mouth.  The cake is moist but not soggy, firm but not dry.  I shouldn’t have to describe it, you should be heading there NOW and trying some.  If you don’t like it, I’ll eat my hat.  Well, I won’t actually – but I’ll eat your carrot cake for you.

Overall impression:  Really? you need to ask?

Not sure why I haven’t got a photo of the carrot cake or the fig and chocolate chip cake, I think I eat it too quickly.  Instead – coffee, croissant and smoothie.  Aka – bliss!.

a blissful morning

* http://www.raceto100.co.uk   please take a look, there’s a link at the side of this blog:  Simon Buckden running 100 marathons in 100 weeks to raise money for Help for Heroes and raise awareness of PTSD

Coffee and Cheese

21 Sep

For those who have heard me rave about various cafes, this choice of first place to review may be a little surprising.  Especially as the venue’s name would not suggest cake.  Perhaps that is with good reason.

Not sure why I felt the urge for a cheese scone, but there it was.  It may have been the memory of the one I ate at the weekend or maybe it was the lingering odour of Ed’s fart (for anyone who doesn’t know, Ed is a dog.  not my husband.  though my husband’s farts are worse).  So using the excuse of needing to get a Halti head collar for Ed (glad I specified he was my dog and not my husband or that would have taken this blog down a whole new line) and deciding I’d go to the pet shop in Castle Road rather than traipse across town to the retail park, a cafe trip could easily be built in.

Castle Road is one of the nice bits of Bedford.  For the record, there are only two nice bits of Bedford – Castle Road and Embankment.  They run parallel to each other so its probably not a coincidence.  Its the sort of place that makes you think you are in a posh suburb of London, which doesn’t necessarily make it sound good to some people, but to me, it is.  It has everything I want – numerous cafes, Spanish food, Italian Deli (ridiculously cheap and gives great hints on Limoncello), reclaim shop, art shop and an old book shop.  Haven’t actually been in the book shop but I like that its there.  To give a further clue of the sort of place it is, it also has a shop called ‘country pursuits’, which is where I was going to get the Halti.

But first the important stuff – coffee and cheese scone.  Which leads to …. the review:

The Cheese Kitchen (http://www.thecheesekitchen.co.uk/) is half cafe/half shop, selling as the name would suggest a huge variety of cheese.  I could also have bought chilli jam (nearly did as misread the price tag as £1.35 but it was actually £3.35, no jam should be over £3.00); wine; triangle shaped oat cakes or giant olives from a huge wooden bowl on the counter.

Reading material:  Independent and 220 Triathlon magazine – I could comment on this odd choice, but all I can think is that having gorged on the scones a normal person would need to do something fairly extreme to burn the calories.  I’d brought my own paper and magazine (another odd thing – in the shop across the road, most of the papers were hidden by a copy of the Daily Mail over each pile of Sun, Times, Express etc.  Is this some new marketing ploy on the part of the DM or a special protest by a local resident?)

Seating: the majority of seating is outside.  Which makes it dog friendly – in fact when we popped in at the weekend there was no space outside as it appears Cheese Kitchen is the preferred stopping point for labrador and retriever owners (Country Pursuits seems to know its market).  As it was a little chilly and threatening rain, I opted for the bench seats in the window, which does give the option of people watching and make you feel like a kid as the seats are really high and you can swing your legs (or you can if you are only 5′ 4″, taller people may struggle with this, I feel sorry for them.  Swinging your legs while on a high seat is right up there with swirling round when you where a sticky out skirt and pretending to be a pony when you run and noone is looking.)

Coffee:  large is giant.  So giant that it took all of the scone, a long wait while a couple of people were served and then a slice of cake to finish it.  I went for latte (flat white hasn’t made it to Castle Road yet).  mid strength, very hot, good flavour.  A perfectly acceptable coffee though nothing spectacular.

Savoury:  the Cheese Scone (I’m using capital letters as it deserves it).  today they warmed it and buttered it for me, at the weekend I had it cold so I’ve tried both ways.  Either is good:  warm it was slightly chewy but easy to devour in high speed; cold the flavour of the cheesy top made the mouth burn in that ‘really good cheddar and possibly hint of mustard’ sort of way.

Cake:  this was the downfall.  I wanted the rhubarb crumble cake slice, but was too late.  Instead I went for carrot cake – so disappointing was it that I didn’t even finish it.  The cake was too damp, it looked like a sponge rather than having the ‘mixed up’ texture carrot cake usually has.  Weirdly it had no nuts in it.  I know that they are probably catering to the ‘tick list’ of Castle Road children (private school, dance lessons, Kumon maths, musical instrument, food allergy) but no nuts, in a carrot cake?  frankly, that is nuts.  Worse, the topping was sweet and cloying.  Cream cheese frosting needs a slight sharp hint to it, this was like sugar cream clinging to my teeth.

Overall impression:  worth the visit for the scone, but if you want something sweet and cake-like, I’d try elsewhere.  Disappointingly, the main reason for my visit to the area was for a halti but Country Pursuits was closed so I still had to traipse over to the retail park.  But at least I had the scone.

For the record – Ed hates the Halti.