Rants and raves #39

**Disclaimer: I’m going to apologise in advance, this selection of rants and raves may be even more ranty than usual. Sometimes when life isn’t great, it’s good to write things down and to have a good old rant. It’s just unfortunately that I seem to find communicating with people on the internet easier than talking to my own family. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Hundreds of far less negative running blogs are available**

Good morning, I hope that whoever reads this blogging masterpiece is having an awesome week. My week hasn’t been great, but hopefully by the time this is published I’ll be heading down to Wallingford to spend some time with my old team.

Rave: The running community

Apologies for starting with a repeat rave, but over the last couple of months I’ve really appreciated the support of the running community. I’ve received supportive comments on here, on Instagram and on Twitter; you know who you are so “thank-you” xx

Volunteering at parkrun has become an important part of my weekend routine. For a couple of hours each Saturday morning I get to forget about the shit that is going on in my life. This is going to sound cheesy, but I’m guaranteed to leave parkrun with a smile on my face. Supporting others enables me to briefly escape from my problems.

Running community

When parkrunners thank me for volunteering, I find myself thanking them for getting out of bed on a Saturday morning and taking part. At the end of the day, without these runners, joggers and walkers, there wouldn’t be a parkrun!

Rant: Virgin Media

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I sent a few slightly grumpy tweets to Virgin Media. I also spent hours on hold waiting to talk to so-called ‘technical experts’ and lost count of the number of times I checked the service status page. Virgin Media


This page regularly told porkie pies and stated that there weren’t any faults when there were. I may be wrong, but I suspect this is a way of avoiding compensating customers for a loss of service. A quick Google search on my phone – it’s a good job I have a generous data allowance – made me realise that a lot of people were having similar issues.

After five days of intermittent unusable broadband and TV – guess who wasn’t able to watch much of the Ashes! – the temporary fault was finally fixed. I actually bumped into an engineer and was informed that the junction box on my road had been impacted by the recent lightening. Virgin Media were aware of this the morning after it happened so I’ve no idea why they weren’t just upfront with people from the start.

Fingers crossed everything seems to be working now. I’m counting down the days until my £135/month contract comes to an end and I can switch to something a little cheaper.

Rave: I’m famous…sort of!

Have you heard of Blogosphere Magazine? I’ll let you into a secret, I hadn’t until I received an email from the Commissioning editor of the magazine asking if they could share this post in their next issue. I said yes and was then asked to answer a few questions about my blog.issue21_Cover


I don’t want to sound too braggy, but seeing my waffle in print does feel quite satisfying. It’s just a shame I wrote so much, Blogosphere Magazine didn’t manage to squeeze in one of my high quality, iphone photos.

Rant: The M&S Little Shop promotion

I spent a couple of mostly enjoyable festive periods working for M&S as a Christmas temp. I got to learn about Plan A and the environmental ambitions of the company, and spent a lot of time preparing boxes and other packaging for recycling. I wouldn’t work for my current employer – the clue is in the name of the organisation – if I didn’t care about the environment.

The majority of people now seem to have ‘woken-up’ to the fact that climate change is real and that we need to act now. The issue of plastics in the environment is a hot topic and a lot of companies are doing their best to cut down on single-use plastic.M&S Collectables


So, I’m sure you can imagine I wasn’t overly impressed when I popped into my local M&S Food Hall to buy something for dinner, and was asked by a lovely lady at the checkout if anyone in my family was taking part in the Little Shop promotion. I said I didn’t know what this promotion was, and was pointed in the direction of a huge display I’d somehow not noticed on my way into the store. I didn’t expect to see a display of 25 small plastic toy models of random food products.

I’ve no idea who in M&S thought that running this promotion would be a good idea. Judging by what I’ve seen on social media, the vast majority of people agree with me. And yes, I haven’t just complained on here, I used some of my ‘contacts’ in M&S to send in a complaint email.

Rave: Events that allow race number transfers

I suspect that most runners have entered and subsequently ‘DNS’ a race due to injury, illness, hangovers etc. I’ve lost count of the number of races I’ve DNS and I’m more than a little reluctant to work out how much money I’ve wasted this year. Most races don’t allow race transfers and I don’t like the idea of unofficially swapping numbers. This means that in several oversubscribed races, my place has gone unused.Race entry


I understand that smaller races simply don’t have the resources to operate a waiting list and official system of transferring numbers. I understand that the larger events, I’m talking London Marathon size, allow for people not making it to the start line and over allocate places in the ballot. I’m also guilty of not reading the T&C’s and small print when I enter a race.

Opps, this rave has turned into a bit of a rant, sorry. Earlier this year I entered what I thought would be an amazing final marathon; Snowdonia Marathon Eryri. I knew that I probably wouldn’t make it to the start of the marathon, but ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’.

I finally gave up on my marathon dream a month ago. Thanks to the race organisers operating an official entry transfer system, I was able to transfer my number to a different runner who had missed out when entries originally opened. I also got my entry fee back. Let’s hope that more race organisers start to do the same.

Rant: Out of control dogs

This may well be another repeat rant but after another dog-related incident in Sutton Park, I feel the need to have a written rant.

Please picture this scenario… you are walking across a field when you spot a couple walking two dogs. The dogs look and sound a bit what I’d describe as ‘scary’ but you don’t worry because they are both on leads. You are also at least 150m away from the dogs and walking away from them. A couple of moments later you become aware of a barking noise and realise that one of the dogs is running straight towards you, growling and acting aggressively. The owners call the dogs name but it takes no notice and starts circling you and then jumping up at you. You are wearing running shorts rather than trousers so this is quite painful.



I found myself in this situation on Saturday. I was walking back from parkrun minding my own business and I found myself ‘wearing’ a dog on my leg. Awesome! Luckily, I had my phone with me so I not only recorded what was happening, I also took photos of the owners and made a note of their car details. When I got home, I filled in the relevant form on Birmingham City Council’s website.

I doubt very much that anything will happen but I’ve reached the stage I’m reluctant to walk through my local park. I know other runners, walkers and dog walkers have encountered similar incidents. While I’m lucky the dog didn’t puncture my skin, the next person might not be so lucky or may even be a small child.

And finally, a bonus music rave as I know how much people love my rather random taste in music…

Rave: 80s freestyle music

Let me introduce you to this amazing 1980s freestyle mix.

As for this masterpiece of music, I spent most of the day listening to it while I was working.

I’ve said it before, but I sometimes wish that I could travel back in time to the 1980s. I could listen to cheesy music all day.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of rants and raves, then as always “thank-you”. I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel much better now that I’ve shared my grumbles with you.

Do you find yourself avoiding certain running routes because of dogs? I’m getting to the stage I don’t even want to walk through certain areas of Sutton Park.

Do you have a favourite type of music? I play the violin and oboe so grew up listening to and playing classical music. I now love all sorts of music; classical, trance, dance, 80’s cheese, rock. You name it, I’ll probably listen to it.


A spot of soggy barcode scanning, a slightly unflattering video and the most amazing Sunday lunch

Good morning and as always, I hope that everyone who reads this had an awesome weekend. It’s just a shame the weather caused so many problems. I’m feeling far too chirpy for a Monday morning as I’m on annual leave. I’m looking forward to not having to get up at 05:30 every day. I’m aware that I’m repeating myself but I’m also looking forward to spending a couple of days in Wallingford.

So, what did I get up to during the weekend? Did I run? Did I avoid the local pubs? Did I avoid the rain? Did I do anything productive or did I sit around watching the TV?

Once again, I need to add a disclaimer here. If you want to read about an action-packed weekend, this probably isn’t the blog for you. If you want to read about active travel, this definitely isn’t the blog for you. If you want an insight into the life of a 40-year-old Brummie who enjoys quiet and predictable weekends and good food, this may be the blog for you.

I was woken by the sound of rain hitting my bedroom window on Saturday morning. Great news from a hydrological perspective, we most definitely needed the rain. Not such great news from a parkrun volunteering perspective. I’m ashamed to admit that I lay in bed for a couple of minutes and seriously considered giving parkrun a miss.CowsI didn’t and once I’d successfully navigated my way past the Sutton Park cows, I had an enjoyable run – well it is mainly downhill – towards the location of the start of parkrun near Banners Gate.Run to parkrunI was handed a high-viz vest and barcode scanner and as the drizzle had turned into rain, joined some of the other volunteers underneath the gazebo. I got chatting to a more experienced barcode scanner and after hearing a few horror stories decided to use the Virtual Volunteer app.

I don’t think there were any finish area related issues and I really enjoyed barcode scanning. I had a slightly embarrassing moment when the first finisher’s barcode wouldn’t scan. Luckily the number checker was standing right next to me and was able to make a note of the first finisher’s details. One runner accidentally handed me a £20 note rather than his barcode, I joked that he didn’t need to pay me. Another runner expected me to scan the barcode she’d attached to one of her trainers, my temperamental right knee didn’t appreciate having to kneel down.

The app seemed to scan the majority of the barcodes I was handed and my phone coped with the rain. The results export process was straightforward, I’m a bit of a technophobe and I didn’t have any issues. Just a word of warning, the app was quite what I’d call ‘battery intensive’. I’d make sure your phone is fully charged before you use it for barcode scanning.

I got home, had a shower and made a start on my Saturday chores. First set of chores completed, I checked out the Sutton Park parkrun Farcebook page and saw that the photos had been uploaded. I think it’s safe to say that the photographer captured my best side, my back is clearly more photogenic than my front! 

[Photos: Peter Heafield]

The remainder of my Saturday seemed to consist of several power naps, some much-needed food shopping, a trip to the Post Office, some food prep and a couple of episodes of Holby City. I wasn’t feeling quite right, so I went to bed at a sensible time.

Fortunately, I felt a million times better when I woke up yesterday after a solid 12 hours’ sleep. I had a date I didn’t want to cancel, Sunday lunch at the School House in Weeford. I suspect that I wasn’t actually unwell, I just needed to recharge my batteries. I briefly thought about heading out for a run, saw that it was still raining and changed my mind. I didn’t fancy getting soaked to the skin two days in a row.

After breakfast, I went through my usual seeing ‘what’s causing outrage on the Internet today’ routine. A lot of people appeared to be getting their knickers in a bit of a twist over the cancellation of the bike section of Outlaw 2019. Rather ironic considering these people weren’t actually taking part in Outlaw!

I then noticed that a video of the finish area had been added to the Sutton Park parkrun Farcebook page. I discovered that my legs and bum feature for slightly too long for my liking.A bum shotI guess that’s definitely the end of my running shorts and skorts modelling contract. I’m just relieved I was wearing Capri leggings and not running shorts!

At lunchtime, following a quick reunion with the family cats, I headed across to the School House in Weeford with mum and Colin as I’d offered to treat them to Sunday lunch. Although this was slightly more expensive than my usual Sunday lunch option of salad, I knew that the food would taste amazing. 

I had a bit of a blogger photo taking fail here as due to some extreme parental pressure, I wasn’t able to take photos of all the food. Both the crayfish salad starter and the roast sirloin of English beef tasted amazing. Mum made me chuckle as she told me she’d cut back on the amount of meat she eats. She said she was thinking about cutting meat out of her diet. She then proceeded to order roast lamb with all the trimmings. I did my usual trick of wanting what the person on the table next to us had ordered. I’ve got no idea what it was but it looked amazing.

The rest of the day was a bit of a washout, it was very much a case of rain stopped play. The original plan of picking strawberries was replaced with an hour or so watching an old film. Old film complete, mum dropped me back home and I spent what was left of the weekend completing a couple of chores.

I did warn people that this blog wouldn’t be very exciting 😉

Did you have a good weekend? I hope that the rain didn’t ruin your weekend plans.

Has a race photographer ever captured an unflattering photo or video of you? I can’t believe I didn’t even notice that the camera was positioned underneath the gazebo.

Rants and raves #38

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after spending two hours without any internet connection, not ideal when I’m meant to be working from home. Huge thanks for the heads-up Virgin Media.  As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Hundreds of far less negative running blogs are available**

Happy Friday, I hope that everyone is managing to survive the warmer than average weather. I’m on annual leave from 15:00 today so I’m feeling incredibly chirpy.

Rave: Flexible working

My organisation gets criticised quite a lot, however, depending on your job role, flexible working is actively encouraged. For example, a few of my colleagues have term-time only contracts. This is clearly an amazing option if you have children, unfortunately, I’m not sure I’d be able to blag myself a term-time only contract.tc10


My new line manager supports flexible working, it’s a case of whatever works best for people. Last week, I let my line manager know that I was struggling to adapt to the not-quite-so-hot-desk policy in my new office. I’m now allowed to work from home a couple of times a week. I actually get more done when I’m not in the office as I can’t really distract myself.

 Rant: The behaviour of some people on trains

Apologies for another repeat rant but now I’m spending what feels like a large proportion of my working week on trains, I have more to rant about. I catch the 0620 train every morning because it is reasonably empty. Most of my fellow passengers are like me, half-asleep and quiet. My main issue with the 0620 train is the heating, 99.9 per cent of the time the heaters under the seats are blowing out hot air. This isn’t ideal in the summer. The trains are too old to have aircon, so it’s a matter of opening the windows and sweating it out.Train etiquette


While the morning trains are generally empty, the train back home can be a bit of a nightmare. I’ll ignore the people who sit with their feet on the opposite seat, people who leave their litter behind and people who play their music at such a volume the rest of the carriage get to ‘enjoy’ it. This is now unfortunately the norm, even the train staff don’t react to what was once classed as antisocial behaviour.

I find it harder to tolerate passengers who sit in a rush-hour train carriage smoking weed. This has happened a few times, luckily the British Transport Police tend to act when you report it. I mean, if you travel on trains it’s impossible to avoid the ‘See it. Say It. Sorted’ announcements. I’m also finding it increasingly difficult to tolerate manspreaders.Subway-Sun-NYC-1953


Earlier this month, I asked one persistent manspreader to stop invading my personal space. I’d said that I’d had enough of feeling claustrophobic, and that I was starting to feel nauseous. Mr Manspreader took offence at what I said and proceeded to move seats. I felt sorry for the Business Man he then proceeded to squeeze into a corner for two hours.

Rave: Mack Horton and Duncan Scott

I wish more athletes had the balls to stand up to drug cheats. In my opinion, once a cheat, always a cheat. I’ve no idea why convicted drugs cheats are allowed to return, they should be banned for life. The actions of Mack Horton and Duncan Scott may have landed them both in hot water with FINA but I suspect they have the support of the majority of sports fans.

Thank-you Mack Horton

Thank-you Duncan Scott

It’s good to see athletes standing up to drugs cheats 🙂

Rant: What I’m calling ‘blog plagiarism’

I can’t remember the exact expression, but I think it’s something along the lines of “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

I’m not sure what to make of someone publishing a couple of my recent posts on this site. I mean some amazing bloggers have been targeted so I guess I should feel quite flattered but I don’t. At the end of the day it’s blatant what I’m calling blog plagiarism.

The only thing that we all have in common is that we all feature in Vuelio’s most recent top 10 UK running blogs.

Rave: Volunteering at parkrun

Another repeat rave but I’ve now volunteered at my local parkrun 10 times. I want to earn my purple parkrun t-shirt by the end of the year. A couple of weeks ago I decided to pull on my big girl pants and had a go at timekeeping. I think it must have gone reasonably well as people didn’t end up with times of 59:59.Time keeping

Dont mess this upI’ve handed out finish tokens, encouraged runners at the bottom of the ‘Hill of Doom’, have written an event report and have generally loved supporting people. I’m now enjoying volunteering more than running. Tomorrow, I’m having a go at barcode scanning. If the scanner doesn’t work – I’ve heard they aren’t great when it’s sunny – I’ll use the new parkrun App.

Rant: Twitter

I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but I’m not a fan of the ‘new’ Twitter. The expression if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it springs to mind.

Rave: TK Maxx yellow sticker sale

Running tops for £4? Yes please. Running shorts for £5? Yes please. It’s that time of the year again, TK Maxx are currently running their yellow sticker sale. I didn’t know this was a thing until earlier this year when I found loads of running bargains.

Apparently, a couple of times a year, items with red clearance sale stickers on them are given yellow stickers. Anything with a yellow sticker will be marked down until it is 20p, the lowest mark down amount. A lady in my local TK Maxx said the yellow sticker sale ends next weekend. I may pop in after parkrun.

Rave: Trying new things

Since leaving Wallingford, I’ve been trying to step outside of my huge comfort zone on a more regular basis. On Monday, I met up with my running buddy Ellen and we attended a running club organised by a local Pilates studio. The idea was to complete a 30 minute run followed by a 30 minute Pilates session described as benefiting runners.PilatesThe reality was a hilly 30 minute run in Sutton Park at a far faster pace than I’m used to. I swear that my eyeballs were sweating after the run. The 30 minute Pilates session turned out to be a 30 minute torture session with foam rollers. I discovered that I’m possibly the least flexible person in Sutton Coldfield, that I’m unfit, that I have no core strength and that I need to find myself a beginners’ Pilates class. The research is ongoing.

Rave: St Ives Harbour webcam

And finally, as I’m feeling generous a sort of bonus rave. Finances and circumstances – I’m skint, single and all my friends are having family holidays this year – mean that the nearest I’ll be getting to a holiday this summer is a couple of days in Wallingford-on-Thames next week. I’ve shared this website before, but I love this webcam which lets me sort of pretend I’m in St Ives.St Ives Harbour webcamAspects Holidays now have webcams at a range of seaside locations including Bude, St Michael’s Mount and Mevagissey.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of rants and raves, then a massive “thank-you”. I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel much better now that I’ve shared my grumbles with you.

Does your organisation allow you to work from home? I would like to hope that a lot of organisations allow their staff to occasionally work from home. I get that this only really works if you have an office-based role!

Have you ever attended a class that wasn’t quite what you were expecting? The content of the Pilates class most definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.

A run in with a dog, a spot of ‘Jeffing’ and Human Food Organic Daily Nutrition Bars review

Good morning, I can’t believe that it’s Monday morning again. I’m feeling quite chirpy this morning as this time next week I’ll be on annual leave. I’m counting down the hours; I need a lie-in and a break from trains. I’m also looking forward to spending a couple of days back in Wallingford.

As I’ve not done a weekend update for a couple of weeks, I thought that I’d share what I got up to during the weekend. I feel I need to add a disclaimer here; if you want to read about an action-packed weekend, this isn’t the blog for you. My weekend was mundane with a couple of not so mundane moments.

My weekend started at a reasonable time as I worked from home on Friday. Much as I miss working in Wallingford, I don’t miss the three hour journey home on a Friday afternoon. I switched off my work laptop at 15:00, put it away and was instantly able to switch into weekend mode.

Friday evening was productive but quite dull, I know I’ve said this before but I’ve no idea how people head into Birmingham for a drinking session on a Friday night. I always feel far too tired. After a spot of housework – I’ve no idea how one person can generate three loads of washing – I sat down and watched a couple of episodes of Holby City. Much as I hate feeling like I’m wasting the weekend, sometimes it’s good just to sit down and to chill out.  

On Saturday, I woke up well before my weekend alarm at 05:30 and as I felt like I’d had plenty of sleep, decided to get up. I somehow managed to faff around until I needed to set off for parkrun at 07:30. Who turned up the humidity? I quickly realised that I’d worn one too many layers, luckily for me it rained for a few minutes.Sutton ParkI encountered my first dog and owner by Little Bracebridge Pool. The owner was friendly, and the dog was well behaved. I encountered my second dog and owner near the Jamboree Stone. This dog was completely out of control. One minute it was running around the cows grazing in the park causing them to run, I had no idea cows were so speedy. The next, it was baring its teeth at me. I like dogs, but I honestly thought I was going to get bitten. The owner made no attempt to put the dog on a lead until I pulled out my phone and started recording what was happening. It’s a shame the actions of a small number of dog owners ruin Sutton Park for everyone else. Dog attacks are an almost weekly event.

I was so wound up, I decided to run to the start of parkrun. I ran my fastest mile for 12 months. Every cloud and all of that.

I reached the start area at 08:30, collected a high-viz vest and the finish tokens and then spent an enjoyable 20 minutes catching up with the regular volunteers. Although it’s a shame the same few people seem to volunteer every week, it’s also quite good as you get to know everyone. I also got to spend some time chatting to Ellen who had come along to hand out flyers for the 10k her running club organises.

Holding on to the finish tokens 🙂Start with Ellen

[Photo: Peter Heafield]

I don’t think there were too many finish area related issues this week. The first finisher was so speedy we had only just finished setting up the finish area. I think he was a couple of minutes ahead of the next finisher, amazing. Two more speedy runners from my old running club completely bypassed the finish funnel and then demanded finish tokens.

I like to think that I was reasonably supportive in my role as finish token support 🙂Token support

[Photo: Peter Heafield]

The results were online before midday, so I don’t think this caused too many issues. I’m not sure what can be done to make the finish look more obvious, 99.999 per cent of people seem to be able to work out where to go!

I’ve now volunteered 10 times and I’ve decided that as my right knee can’t cope with the Sutton Park parkrun course, I’m going to do my best to volunteer 25 times before the end of the year. Next week, I’m having a go at barcode scanning. I may or may not be trying to collect more of these badges.Collecitng badgesIt reminds me that I used to be slightly obsessed with collecting badges when I was in the Brownies. Brown Owl used to have to remind me on an almost weekly basis that Brownies was about making friendships and not collecting badges.

The rest of my Saturday was somewhat mundane. Ellen kindly dropped me home, so I was able to watch Wolves beat Manchester City. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a poor set of penalties, even I could have saved some of them. I do love Wolves’ new away kit; I’m meant to be saving money, so I need to resist the temptation.

Once the football had finished, I’d run out of excuses, I needed to make a start on some adulting tasks. I like to think that vacuuming counts as exercise. See, I warned you that this blog wasn’t very exciting. Housework complete. I had a go at making this pasta bake recipe. I was reminded that although I’m not very good at preparing food, I’m world-class at making a mess when I’m in the kitchen.

I’m not sure what I did wrong, but the finished product looked nothing like the photo on the website. I ended up treating(?) myself to a takeaway.

Yesterday morning, I automatically woke up at 06:00 so decided to head out for a run while it was reasonably cool outside. I struggled to complete a four-mile ‘Jeffing’ session and spent the entire time wishing I was as fit as I was a year ago. I love Strava but I need to avoid overanalysing all the stats it provides. I know I was faster 12 months ago and that I ran the same four-mile route faster, I think that there needs to be some sort of ‘coming back from injury’ setting.

This blog is rapidly turning into an essay so I’ll summarise the rest of Sunday in five words; gardening, writing, reading, napping and relaxing.

And finally, I’ve got a short product review for you. I hope that you find it interesting.

Human Food Organic Daily Nutrition Bars review

Human Food logo

Now like most bloggers, I love being sent food to review. I sometimes wish that I’d started a food rather than a running blog. So, when I received a press release with the heading – Would you like to review the most nutritionally dense organic food in the world? – I responded saying that I’d love to write a quick review.

Unfortunately, when I checked out the allergen advice I discovered that Human Food Organic Daily Nutrition bars are made in a factory that handles nuts, sesame seeds, milk, soya and cereal containing gluten. I quickly realised that thanks to my nut allergy, I wouldn’t be able test them out myself. Luckily, it didn’t take me too long to find a willing volunteer!

A quick introduction to Human Food Organic Daily Nutrition bars

As I’d not come across the Human Food brand before, I thought I’d include a bit of information about the brand here.Human Food x 3So, why is it called Human Food?

“Human Food contains no artificial flavours or sweeteners, no added sugar, and no synthetic nutrients. It contains only organic whole-foods and whole-food extracts which have always been part of the human diet. Also, Human Food has been made specifically to support a plant-based diet, making it easy to live in a healthy, sustainable and humane way”.

 Human Food describes itself as “the world’s first organic Daily Nutrition Bar made specifically to support a plant-based diet, but that’s good for anybody”.

According to the website, Human Food is a combination of 20 organic whole foods and whole food extracts, selected and balanced for optimal taste and bio-availability. Each bar contains essential nutrients that can be difficult to obtain from a plant-based diet, plus whole daily amounts of functional ingredients.

Human Food information


All three bars have been developed to have a smooth, non-specific, delicious taste.

The review process

I’m not in a position to provide a lot of detail here as I didn’t get to sample the three Human Food Organic Daily Nutrition bars myself. I’m pretty much sure that it was straightforward and went something like unwrap packaging packet, eat bar and repeat.

The Verdict

As, thanks to my nut allergy, I didn’t get to test the three bars myself, I’ve decided to share the feedback my friend gave to me.

The Green bar

 According to the Human Food site, the Green bar has a subtle, just-detectable flavour of Spirulina. My friend said that he had never heard of Spirulina so he went away and did a spot of Googling. To be completely honest, neither had I, so I had to do the same.

To say that my friend wasn’t very keen on the green bar is probably a bit of an understatement. Apparently the green bar had a “strong liquorice taste” and was “so chewy it was quite difficult to eat”. My friend didn’t manage to finish the green bar and so awarded it 3/10, things could only get better!

The Yellow bar

According to the Human Food site, the Yellow bar has a just-noticeable spiciness from Turmeric. I know my friend isn’t a huge fan of spicy food so I hoped that the spiciness from the Turmeric really was just noticeable.

My friend loved the yellow bar and I received some incredibly positive feedback. Evidently the yellow bar “tasted great” and was “easy to chew”. I was actually asked why I’d only sent my friend one yellow bar to test, the verdict was more yellow bars please. Anyway, my friend awarded the yellow bar an impressive 9/10.

The Red bar

 And finally, the red bar, which according to the Human Food site, has a slightly more fruity flavour from Goji Berries. I know my friend is a fan of Goji Berries so I was reasonably confident this bar would do well in the taste and texture tests.

I was correct; my friend enjoyed the red bar “not as much as the yellow bar as it was fruity but not quite fruity enough”. I guess you can’t please everyone. My friend awarded the red bar 8/10 and asked for more bars to review.

So thanks again to Human Food for sending me a trial box of Human Food Organic Daily Nutrition bars to review. I’m just sorry I wasn’t able to review the bars myself. For more information on Human Food please visit their website or check out the FAQs. Human Food organic daily nutrition bars are available from Human Food and start at £9.90 for a taster pack.

What did you get up to during the weekend? Did you run? Did you go anywhere exciting? I hope that everyone who reads this at least had a relaxing weekend.

 Have you ever got really excited about trying something only to discover that you can’t actually eat it? I think I’m going to have to accept that the vast majority of healthy energy/nutrition bars will contain nuts.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a trial box of Human Food Organic Daily Nutrition bars for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always, all of the slightly unprofessional looking photographs are my own. As my friend forgot to take any photographs, the photographs showing what the three bars look like are from the Human Food website **

Race Report: Shenstone Fun Run

Good morning and Happy Tuesday, I’m so pleased it’s not Monday. Yesterday, when I spotted a single magpie during my walk to the train station, I should have gone back to bed. Hopefully, my new job will start to improve ASAP. Anyway, enough moaning and groaning and back to the point of this blog; my first race review since the Royal Parks Half back in October.LogoBefore I launch into a review of the Shenstone Fun Run, I need to rewind back to Saturday evening. Let’s just say a two-hour shopping session – sorry feet – and three pints of beer – sorry head – weren’t the best pre-race preparation. I doubt this pre-race routine will ever feature in Runner’s World et al.Shenstone Fun RunWhen my alarm woke me on Sunday, my head felt a little fuzzy and I was thirsty. A couple of cups of tea and pint of water didn’t do much to alleviate the thirst, not a good sign before a 10k. My pre-race routine went something like; drink tea, nervous wee, make myself eat some Weetabix, shower, get dressed, productive loo visit, drink more tea, another nervous wee, struggle to pin race number to t-shirt, pack bag, have bonus nervous wee and then leave the house. By the time I left the house, I was feeling a lot better and was looking forward to the prospect of taking part in an organised event for the first time this year. The weather was pretty much perfect and my right knee felt completely niggle-free.

I met my running buddy Ellen at the train station, we got on a train and four minutes later reached Shenstone. Quite possibly the most straight-forward I’ve ever had to an event. We walked the short distance to the Race HQ, Ellen collected her number, dropped our bags and then realised we had a lot of time to kill before the start of the run. After spending a bit time chatting and avoiding the drizzle, we decided to track down some loos. Although there was a ladies loo inside Race HQ, there was an impressive queue of female runners waiting, so we decided to have a look around the centre of Shenstone.Waiting to startI spent a lot of time in Shenstone up to the age of 16 because my grandparents lived there. I suspect I bored Ellen to tears with my “that used to be an HSBC”, “that used to be a greengrocers”, “that used to be a chemists” type observations. Even the library had changed; what used to be the children’s books section was now a cafe area with an amazing selection of homemade cakes. We both decided that a cake would make the perfect post-run reward and told the library volunteers we would definitely be back later. As an added bonus, the library had loos with no queues so we both made the most of the facilities.SelfieThe 10k was scheduled to start at 11:00 so at 10:50 we both joined the back of the pack so to speak. After a quick warm-up, we were sent on our way. The 10k route had changed as was advertised as flat and fast so I was a little surprised to find myself running up several short but quite steep hills in the first mile. We headed out of Shenstone past my grandparents’ old house and into the countryside. It took me less than 15 minutes to be reminded of my complete loss of fitness and my fragile right knee. I was struggling to run at Ellen’s pace so slowed down to what was almost a walk. Sorry Ellen!

By the third mile, I felt shattered. I’m not sure if it was the humidity, my lack of food the previous evening, my lack of training or a combination of the three but I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other. I was also struggling a little mentally and started to just want the 10k fun(?) run to end. I’m pretty sure that had the course allowed me to, I would have called it a day there and then.

The second three miles were what I’d describe as undulating. It suddenly seemed to get warm and I was grateful the organisers had provided several water stations. After a quick consultation with Ellen we switched to a strategy of running for four minutes and then walking for a minute. Walking after 5k didn’t make me feel very good about myself but I had to do something to make sure that I actually finished and made it back to Shenstone.

After an hour or so of ‘running’ my temperamental right knee decided to remind me that it didn’t appreciate me running downhill; it was pain-free on the numerous small uphill sections, but very painful on the downhill sections. Awesome, thanks knee! I was not a happy bunny at this stage. Running past a collapsed runner who was receiving treatment gave me the kick up the arse and reality check I so desperately needed. Although I didn’t suddenly turn into Little Miss Happy, I was reminded that I’m lucky to be able to run and that my knee issue was likely to be a temporary setback rather than a long-term injury.

Shenstone Fun Run[Photo: Shenstone Fun Run]

We eventually – sorry again Ellen – reached the bridge next to Shenstone train station, ran past ‘Rocket Ron’ who had his camera with him but wasn’t actually taking any photos. Slightly strange but I suspect he wasn’t one of the official race photographers and was only taking photos of members of his running club. We both ‘sprinted’ towards the finish line, posed for the official photographer, collected our medals and some water and then spotted some of Ellen’s club mates. While Ellen caught up with her club mates, I popped into the medical tent to ask for an icepack for my knee.

MedalI guess it should be a case of what goes on in the medical tent, stays in the medical tent. However, I wasn’t very impressed with the rudeness of a runner who hobbled in for treatment, I’m going to call this person Runner x. Runner x had injured her ankle before the 10k – I remember seeing her sprawled on the floor – but decided to run anyway. I know that I’m not one to judge, but why would you attempt to run a 10k on a damaged ankle? Anyway, Runner x was incredibly rude to the St John Ambulance person treating her. Apparently, the ice packs weren’t cold enough and the lady treating her was useless. I was quite relieved when another runner came in seeking treatment for a nosebleed and I was able to escape from the medical tent.

And then, once we had collected our bags, it was time for the highlight of the morning, tea and homemade cake. Luckily, the library was still open and there were plenty of cake options. I played it safe and asked for a slice of sponge cake and a cup of breakfast tea. As we didn’t want to ruin everyone else’s tea and cake enjoyment, we decided to sit outside. The homemade cake tasted amazing and I regretted not buying a second slice to take home with me. Tea and cake consumption completed, we hobbled the short distance to Shenstone station and a short train journey later were back in Four Oaks.

Tea and cake

This isn’t a food blog so I’ll stop talking about cake now.

Would I recommend the Shenstone Fun Run?

Yes, I would, but I think the organisers need to consider bringing the start time forward an hour to 10:00. The fun run would also benefit from a few more loo options at the start; the queues were some of the longest I’ve seen. I personally preferred the old, slightly longer than 10k route but that is just my personal opinion.

And finally, the positives which most definitely outweighed the negatives. The organisation was pretty much flawless; I entered well in advance so my number was posted to me. Ellen had to collect her number on the day; this took less than a minute. The organisers provided a secure baggage area, this was well organised and there was no chance of people’s bags getting mixed up. Although I personally didn’t like the new course, feedback from other runners was positive. Every single race volunteer I was out on the course was incredibly supportive, the cowbells and music were definitely impossible to ignore and gave me a much-needed boost. The run was chip timed so results were available the second we crossed the finish line.

Race ratings:

  • Cost: 5/10 (£20 but a proportion of this went to local charities)
  • Course: 5/10
  • Medal: 9/10
  • Race t-shirt: n/a
  • Goody bag: 2/10

Overcoming a slightly irrational fear and a run in Sutton Park

As always, I hope that everyone who reads this blog had a great weekend. I really must come up with a different introduction for my Monday morning blogs.

For once, I had an interesting weekend, however, I have a feeling I tried to fit too much in. I also failed to catch up on some much-needed sleep. Thanks to the early morning bedroom window bird choir and my ‘wonky’ internal alarm clock, I was wide-awake at 05:30 on Saturday morning. By 07:00 I was making the most of the lack of sunshine and was washing my friend’s car.

Following my slightly too early for a Saturday morning car washing session, after several years of avoidance, I had my first experience of parkrun timekeeping. To say that I felt a little concerned when I was handed a stopwatch is a huge understatement. I’m a massive over-thinker and I was concerned that I’d make a mistake and for the first time in the history of Sutton Park parkrun, everyone would end up with a time of 59:59. I know that parkrun is free and this wouldn’t have mattered, but I’m a runner and I know how disappointed I’d have been with an inaccurate time. Rob did his best to calm me down…Sutton Park parkrun

[Photo: Peter Heafield]

With the exception of a couple of runners who pretended they were part of parkrun but were just park runners, I don’t think there were too many major mistakes. Having said that, I don’t think I’ll be asked to be a timekeeper again 😉

The rest of my Saturday was thankfully more what I’d describe as mundane and included several hours in the garden. One of my Four Oaks friends has been having a tough time recently, so I treated them to lunch in Mere Green. I’m sure you can predict where we ate and what I ordered. One day I’ll be brave and will eat at a different restaurant and will order something different. I think I’d used up all my ‘brave’ points at parkrun. 

Early on Saturday evening, I headed into Birmingham as I wanted to see if TK Maxx had any shoes trainers suitable for work. I’d also heard some rumours about a possible yellow sticker sale. I didn’t find anything suitable for work but somehow found myself buying a running top, running vest, cotton t-shirt, pair of Crocs, mud shampoo, two bars of fancy soap, SiS tube of effervescent tablets, and sports bra. Not a bad selection of goodies for less than £60.

I do love the randomness of TK Maxx. And yes, I’m looking forward to wearing the Crocs around the house, I don’t think I’d get away with wearing them in the office 😦 Shopping failOn Sunday morning I did something I hadn’t done for far too long; I met up with Ellen and headed into Sutton Park for a morning run. It wasn’t fast and it definitely wasn’t pretty. As we are both returning from injury, we decided to run the uphill sections and to recover on some of the flat and downhill sections. This approach seemed to work quite well and we got to the end of our four-mile ‘run’ feeling niggle-free.Sutton Park selfieSunday afternoon looked something like this; shower, lunch, emails, some blogmin, a nap, some gardening, a lot of ironing, TV, dinner, more emails, food prep, work prep and an early night. Not very exciting!

I unfortunately completely failed to tick off quite a few items on my weekend ‘things to do list’ so I’m going to need to have a productive week.

Is there a parkrun volunteering role you’ve avoided? I don’t think I’ll be rushing to have a second go at timekeeping.

What is the best thing you’ve purchased in a TK Maxx? I think the 2XU tri suit I purchased for £2.00 is the best thing I’ve purchased in TK Maxx, it’s just a shame I’ve no idea where it is.

Healthier eating and drinking update and BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug review

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend; my weekend was a little gloomy at times as I said a final farewell to Wallingford.

As it’s a few weeks since I published my wake-up call post I thought I’d share a progress report on my healthier eating and drinking.

If you’ve been following my Juneathon updates you will have noticed that pubs and restaurants have featured quite heavily. I made the decision to enjoy my final week living and working in Wallingford. I didn’t want to turn down any opportunities; I may not get to visit some of these pubs and restaurants again.The Wallingford dietSo, although my attempts at improving my diet have clearly been a bit of a fail, I have been making a real effort to increase my fluid intake. And by fluid I mean water and not just Diet Coke, beer and red wine! I’m going to review a water jug with a difference I’ve been testing. I hope that you all enjoy reading the review and find it useful.

BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug review

As a hydrologist and runner, when I received an email entitled ‘Magnesium Mineralized Water’ I opened it as I to be completely honest, I wondered what the point of mineralized water was. The email was from the PR coordinator for BWT UK; Europe’s number 1 water technology company and asked if I’d be interested in testing and reviewing a BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug and filter. As always, I did a spot of research before saying yes.

Rather embarrassingly for a hydrologist, I only had a vague idea of how much water or other fluids I should be drinking a day. When I was researching the recommended fluid intake for overweight females aged 40, I found quite a lot of conflicting information. Some sites recommended six glasses of fluid a day, some 10 glasses a day – I’m not sure my bladder would cope – and some 6-8 glasses a day.

I opted to go with the NHS recommendation:

Your body needs water or other fluids to work properly and to avoid dehydration. That’s why it’s important to drink enough fluids. In climates such as the UK’s, we should drink about 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day to stop us getting dehydrated.  In hotter climates, the body needs more than this. We also get some fluid from the food we eat.

I decided to aim for around eight glasses which I believe equates to around 2 litres of water a day. I think it’s safe to say that when the BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water jug arrived in the post and I started using it, I instantly increased my daily water (and magnesium) intake. Rather conveniently, the jug holds 2.7 litres of water, so I knew that if I worked my way through most of the jug I would meet my daily water target.

Before I attempt to describe the jug and the review process, I thought I’d share a bit more information about magnesium.

Why is Magnesium so important to athletes?

People who actively take part in sports or physical exercises on a daily basis often have a greater need for minerals and magnesium is essential for normal muscle function. For every litre you sweat you lose approximately 36 mg of magnesium – a mineral that we can often be deficient in.BWT bannerBWT provide a wealth of information about the importance of magnesium and a whole range of tips for the optimum supply of magnesium on their website here so I won’t repeat them.

The BWT Penguin 2.7l Magnesium Mineralized Water Filter Jug

I’m not sure I can write an essay about a water jug and filter and all of the information is available on BWT’s website, so I’ll stick to sharing what I think are the key points.BWT penguin water filter jugAccording to BWT’s website, all of their Magnesium Mineralized water filters use patent protected magnesium technology which exchanges calcium ions for magnesium ions. This reduces the pH level more than other water filters, creating magnesium-enriched water which tastes delicious and improves the flavour of the drinks and meals prepared using it.

Main features of the Penguin 2.7l water jug include:

  • Easy control LDC display which provides a visual reminder of when to change the filter
  • Designed so that it fits inside most standard fridge doors
  • Easy to fill with no need to remove the lid
  • Dishwasher safe (with the exception of the lid)
  • Cartridges last 28 days (or 120 litres)
  • Total capacity of 2.7 litres (filtered water capacity of 1.5 litres)

The review process

The review process was straightforward as the water jug and filter came with a detailed, fully illustrated instruction manual. As I didn’t want to cause any issues with the filtering system, I made sure that I followed the instructions in the manual before using the water jug for the first time.BWT Penguin jug pouringAlthough it took me a while to clean the various components of the water filtering system, the instructions were reasonably easy-to-follow. The only slight problem I encountered was trying to work out if the water jug I’d been sent was a Model A or Model B. Fortunately, with the aid of Google I sussed it out in the end and I was up and running so to speak.

The Verdict

I’ve owned a few water filter jugs, and the BWT jug was definitely one of the easiest to set up. It also fits inside the door of my fridge which meant that I could enjoy chilled water.

I love the fact that by using filtered tap water I’m cutting down on my use of disposable plastic water bottles. In the past, I’ve been guilty of popping into the local shop and buying the cheapest bottle of water I could find. Although I always recycled my plastic water bottles, I could have made more effort to reduce my plastic use. I’ve been using the filtered water to fill up my reusable water bottle; this bottle travels with me to and from the office and whenever I travel anywhere. I’m pretty sure that once I get back into some sort of running routine, I’ll be using water from the BWT water jug to dilute my hydration tablets.

So, would I recommend the BWT Magnesium Mineralized Water Filter Jug? Yes, I think one of the biggest positives is that the magnesium-enriched water didn’t actually taste of anything. Had the filtered water tasted what I call chemically, I can pretty much guarantee that I would have gone back to buying bottled water.

The full range of BWT Magnesium Mineralised Water jugs and filters are available from BWT with prices starting at £19.99.

**Full disclosure: BWT sent me a 2.7 litre penguin Magnesium Mineralized Water jug and filter in return for an honest review. The infographics and some of the photographs in this review were taken from BWT’s website. As always all opinions are my own**