Veggie for November: Week 2

On Wednesday I had a wonderful day off!

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I started by making a super smoothie finishing off my frozen red berries, with some cacao powder and quark.  I had a dance class in the morning, and was heading straight to the Chinese supermarket afterwards, so lunch was a snacky mix of cereal bar and cheese.

I stocked up on all sorts of goodies at the supermarket, including various forms of bean curd for protein.

For dinner, there was some leftover cheesey pasta, to which I added some spinach, and topped with a poached agg and a slice of processed cheese.  These tend to accumulate in the fridge and I hate to waste them!

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On Thursday I was having a low calorie day.   I made myself a 100 calorie salad for lunch with 1/3 tin of white kidney beans (they were 15p in BM bargains), with red onion and tomato, and my new fave seasoning, red pepper flakes.

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Dinner was a super spicy stirfry with zero noodles, including strips of carrot, and some rose bean curd.  It was gorgeous, if a little spicy!

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Thursday was also veg box delivery day, so I had fun thinking of the various meals I could make, and puzzling over what to do with a giant turnip.

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Friday, and my lunch was a “bitsa this, bitsa that”, including homemade guacamole and carrot sticks, and some fabulous Iranian dates stuffed with walnut.  I have a glut of carrots at the minute, so I am making myself eat a carrot a day.

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I love Friday evenings spending my time in unhurried cooking, and so I stuck on some old school tunes from The Corrs and Seal, and danced around the kitchen making Jamie Oliver’s Keralan curry.  I wouldn’t normally put pineapple in things, but this was really tasty.  And I made enough to freeze a portion.  Result!

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Saturday morning was another dance class –  I set myself up with a slice of wholemeal toast with cottage cheese and blueberries, and lunch was a cheese and crackers working affair duing a committee meeting.

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I then made a vegan shepeherds pie, using some of my turnip in the topping along with parsnip.  I made half of it totally vegan, to give my sister, but I added cheese and butter to the topping on my half.  Again, there was a portion for the freezer.

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My usual Sunday morning brunch is a boiled egg.  I often do more than one, so that there’s hard boiled eggs ready to go for lunches and snacks – handy portable protein for 80 calories. I usually paint a face on the hard boiled ones to avoid confusion!

For dinner, I tried a Deliciously Ella dish of saute potatoes, wilted kale, tomato and humous.  An unusual mixture, but I would repeat it. There were supposed to be some jarred artichokes as well, which my storecupboard astonishingly lacked.

Monday was another low calorie day.  I’d made a sort of coleslaw with grated turnip and carrot in quark, but I couldn’t manage to eat it –  the first real disaster on this journey.

Dinner was good old eggs again, made into a fritatta with potato and mushroom, and a  few tasty cubes of feta.

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As often happens, the day after a fast day I don’t really feel hungry, counter intuitive as that sounds. So on Tuesday I just had a handful of blueberries with my cup of tea.

Lunch was high protein cottage cheese with tomato, kale and walnut, which was a satisfying mix of textures.

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And there may be no such thing as a free lunch, but I managed to get a free dinner at a new chip shop, by checking in on Facebook at Chipmongers – and they were grrrrrrrrreat!

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Summary: Still on the hunt for veggie haggis, so I can make neeps and tatties to use up my turnip mountain. Still on the hunt for seitan, another protein source.  Still no donations to my fundraising site.  But one happy vegan sister and two handy homemade meals awaiting in the freezer!

Donate here!

Veggie for November: Week 1

 

 

Veggie for November: Week 1

Fundraising page

I’d been intrigued by the fundraising idea of Cancer Research to persuade people to go vegetarian for November.  I’ve been vegetarian at times during in my life, for various reasons including ethical, environmental and health.  I don’t really eat or enjoy much red meat, though I do like my seafood.  I’ve just recently sigend up for a regular veg box delivery from Flavour First, and I was looking for more adventurous ideas for what to do with all the goodies.

My husband, on the other hand,  is a carnivore through and through.  November suited well because it included a weekend where I was away, and a week when he was away, so the amount of dual meal-making would be reduced.

So I didn’t foresee any major issues, and was if I’m honest a bit blase about the challenge.  I wasn’t going to be strict about dairy or eggs.  Let’s see how Week 1 went!

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Day 1 co-incided with one of my planned 5:2 calorie days, and here I ran into my first hurdle.  On 500 calorie days, I love a bit of low calorie protein like prawns or tuna to help me feel satisfied.  I did my usual no breakfast, and for lunch had some potato and leek soup that I had in the freezer.  I had some kale from my last veg box that needed using up, and combined that with mushrooms and an egg for an omelette dinner.  My big saviour today was a jar of balsamic pickled onions, which pack a real satisfying punch.  And I picked up a few tinned pulses at BM Bargains. But I felt tangibly hungry.

Day 2:  I’d made some tasty overnight oats wth some posh yoghurt, apricots, pumpkin seeds and a swirl of mango vinegar (one of my bargain buys from Sawyers –  reduced from £7.99 to £1).  I’d done some Indian veg dishes at the weekend, and used up the leftovers for lunch – lentil dahl, tomato raita and a red onion pickle.  For dinner I used a macaroni cheese ready meal from the freezer – it was OK but I was horrified at the high calorie count…

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Day 3: Off to Perth for the weekend – the RSCDS AGM, where I was looking forward to some great dancing with friends old and new.  I was travelling by bus and boat, so I was limited to the options available en route.  I started with another of my overnight oat dishes, this time with craisins and lime juice, and a swirl of mango vinegar – a fabulous combination.

On board the Stena ship, I paid the £18 to upgrade to Stena Plus, where I had access to lots of acceptable snacks like olives and crisps, nuts and wee buns, and wine.  Sadly the only white wine was my bete noir, sauvignon blanc.  The soup of the day was minestrone, but the member of staff couldn’t tell me if it was vegetarian,  They said they’d find out, but didn’t get back to me.  I went for the veggie burger and sweet potato chips, and it was disappointing.  The texture of the mozarella burger in the brioche bun, with slightly mushy fries, was all rather baby-food-ish.  I don’t like mayo, but the meal came with coleslaw, which I dislike, and some mayo on the burger itself.  I had some time at Glasgow for the change of buses, and I stocked up on cheese sticks and haggis crisps, which I was delighted to find were veggie!  I’m getting good at spotting the important symbol on packaging.  I ate those on the bus, as I had a super-quick turnaround once I got to Perth and headed off dancing!

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Day 4: Saturday is parkrun day, and I usually do this with only a cup of tea (or 2, or 3) in me. I took a cheese stick with me for afterwards.  I found myself at Reids bistro for lunch, where I really enjoyed roast med veg on humous on toasted sourdough.

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I’d researched “vegetarian restaurants in Perth” and headed for Tabla Indian, where I chose 2 of the street food starters, both of which turned out ot be deep fried.  Though the okra and aubergine were lovely,  I had some roti bread with that, which I couldn’t finish, but took in a napkin for later.

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Day 5: Another travel day.   My body has been complaining about the lack of protein, so I stocked up on some nuts for the journey.  On the boat, the choice of veg sandwiches was egg, in a very chunky bloomer, or cheese and mayo, in a granary bread,  I’d have loved the egg in the granary! Back at home, I made buckwheat with mushrooms, chestnuts and tahini.  It was a little bit brown, but very tasty.

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Day 6: Supposed to be a low calorie day, but I was struggling with a sore throat and tiredness. I had some leftover buckwheat for lunch, and tried Linda McCartney sausages for dinner, with crushed potaotes and red onion gravy.

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Day 7: Get some protein in early with poached egg on avocado on toast.  I’d prefer better bread than the cotton-wool white stuff that was in the bread bin – I feel the need for some quality seeded stuff.

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I was meeting my sister for lunch, and we were thrilled to find that Home reatsuarant had a range of vegan dishes (for her) as well as a tempting selection for me.  She had a comfort food sweet potato curry, I had chickpea fritters on tabouleh with a smoky and salty aubergine dip. It was all delicious, and I’ll undoubtedly be back.

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For dinner I finished off my buckwheat along with some edamame/ broad beans/ peas from the freezer, which I swirled in a good dollop of seriously strong spready cheese.

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Summary: I’ve had one encounter with a “eggs aren’t vegetarian – do you mean lacto-ovo-vegetarian?” I’m impressed at my body’s self-awareness and ability to identify what nutrients it needs.  Eating out is often tricky, but occasionally a joy.  And planning ahead is essential.

Funds raised: zero

NI parkruns: Castlewellan

Run number 183, different event 44

Having missed the inaugural of this, NI’s latest addition, a few weeks ago, I was delighted to join them for event #5, and regain my “regionnaire” status #IverunallthenornirnparkrunssoIhave.

Access:

Castlewellan is a charming little town nestling in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is the Mournes.  There are decent roads from Belfast, but you’ll struggle to get here by public transport.  As it takes place in an actual Forest Service Park, there is an entrance fee of £5 per car.  But if you have time to spare, you could visit the arboretum, or find your way through the Peace Maze.

Many people choose to park outside in the town, and walk or jog the 1k to the start, by the lake.

Facilities:

There are well maintained and plentiful toilets,

and a gorgeous wee cafe with a log fire.

The start and finish are at different points, and there didn’t seem to be any organsied place to leave coats and bags.  I tied my backpack to a bench near the start.

Scanning takes place up in the courtyard, where water and protein bars were available.

The lake and park are well used by fishermen, kayakers, dog walkers and mountain bikers.

 

Course:

The course is one lap of the lake, with an additional spur to take the distance up to 5km.  It’s pretty flat with a really gentle hill on the spur, which is a nice gradient for running down again.  The path is narrow at the start, and can a bit congested, though runners are encouraged to start according to their expected finish time.

 

The surface can be a bit uneven, muddy and leaf-strewn, so grippy trail shoes are advised.

 

There are no km markers: the top of the lake is just over 2km, and the turn point on the spur is 2.75.  Don’t believe the marshall where the spur rejoins the lakeside path when he tells you it’s just one more km!

Crowd:

Though this event has just started, numbers have been around 200 every week. I got a shout out in the pre-run briefing!  It’s a part of the country with a strong running fraternity and sorority, and I could only manage 4th in my age category! Only cow cowl present.

Gear:

I was trying out my new Garmin 25, which is nice and light, but so far I can only get it to show me time and distance.  I must experiment and see if it will also show pace.  I was also trying out my new Philips ActionFit wireless headphones.  These are really light, and use a wee clippy magnet to secure them to clothing or bandana.  Even though they have an over ear hook, I find they slip out after a while, but my trusty headband kept them in situ.

I wore my foresty leggings, black 100 top, and Minnie had her matching “100 barkruns” shirt on.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

I’d been reminsicing about visits here when my children were young – my son even reminded me recently that we had all taken part in planting the Peace Maze here, back in 2001.  So it was a boost when one of my “Harry-songs” came on – Fireflies by Owl City.

Time:

Minnie was in great form, and we had an easy trot around in just over 28 minutes.

All my parkruns:

 

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

 

parkrun tourism: Dundalk

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Number 181, number 43 in my quest to reach 50 different events (half Cowell), and most importantly, the final letter in my spelling of DANCER!

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Access:

From my house in Lisburn, this is less than an hour away.  Down the N1/M1, off at Junction 16, turn left at the traffic lights before the Crowne Plaza, and the Dundalk Institute of Technology is on your right.  It is helpfully marked by brown signs all the way in from the motorway.

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Facilities:

On a Saturday, there’s loads of car parking available!  The course starts near the big wind turbine, so head for that and find a spot.

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There are toilets (and indeed changing rooms with showers!) on site.

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Tea is only provided once a month, but there’s a handy service station across the road which has a cafe and shop (and where I bought Minnie a Jumbone afterwards).  Start and finish are close, though not exactly the same spot, and there’s a tree that runners adorn with their bags and belongings. On the finish stretch, you have to tantalisingly pass the actual finish funnel before rounding the turn point.

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Course:

It’s not the most scenic of courses, being 3 laps of the playing fields with a bit added on to start and finish.  But it’s pretty flat – there’s a very small incline on one side of the fields, but you’d barely notice it.

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The surface is mostly tarmac-ish, and it’s quite narrow.  Being a 3 lap course, it’s likely you’ll be lapped by the front runners during lap 2, but will have a nice bit of space on lap 3.  There was good marshalling at every corner, and I made a point of counting the final marshall to keep track of my laps.

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Crowd:

Average numbers are about 100, with a good range of times.  I got chatting to an Irish dancer called Ann before the run, and there was a friendly welcome from all.

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Gear:

I’m having Garmin troubles, so I used MapMyRun as a backup (only to discover later that it hadn’t worked). My headphones are kaput so I was running without music.  Which did allow for a few more conversations – Minnie aways attracts “cheating” comments, and I point out that it’s a free weekly timed run, not a race!  My comedy 150 red shirt was a conversation starter, and as I overtook a couple of youngsters they wondered what happend if the doggie pooped.  I was able to reply that I would stop and pick it up – I always carry at least 2 bags!

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Time:

My running form isn’t the best at the minute, and I was aiming for 29ish, which I acheived.  Considering I had to stop and tie a shoelace even before reaching the turning point for the first time (ie about 50m), that’ll do.

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And the rest:

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This was a super special run for me, as it was the final run in my parkrunDANCER project.

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All my parkruns:

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NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

 

parkrunDANCER

I was inspired by a member of parkrun tourists UK, who had enjoyed an ice cream after each parkrun, often a cornetto.  And who posted photos, often with the hashtag #parkruncornetto.  Even though his mates teased him about this being a “thing”!

And so he decided to run a series of parkruns that would spell out “parkruncornetto”.  And when he had accomplaished this, his mates presented him with a T shirt suitably emblazoned with “#parkruncornetto – it’s a thing!”

Heading into summer 2017, I knew I was visiting Scotland, and the United States.  So I looked at the parkruns I might be able to visit during those trips, as well as some near events that had missing letters of my alphabet.  This gave me Edinburgh,  Crissy Field (in San Fran) and Navan.  With a bit of creative thinking I could see that I could spell, using other locally available letters, DANCER.  I’ve been a dancer all my life, with a core of ballet, but also incorporating tap, salsa, and line dancing, and most recently have thrown my devotion to Sottish Country Dancing, where I’m hoping to become a qualified teacher.

Sooooooo…offf we went. In order to have the word read correctly on event history, they have to be run in reverse order.  So first up was local run Rostrevor!  I’d run it before at Christmas time, but didn’t manage to beat my previous time.  But I did meet a guy who asked “Were you on a double decker bus 30 years ago?” who turned out to be  BBC film maker who interviewed me and Ronan….

Loved Edinburgh, took the slow coach bus down from St Andrews along the Fife coast, just magical.  My E for Emily girl, who I found in the new runners briefing, went on to be second lady!

I found the waiting, the gap bewteen letters, to be enoormously frustrating.  I did a bit of volunteering at my home run, Wallace, but getting out of the routine of Saturday means parkrun was discombobulating.

Off to the States for our super dooper trip that we’d been planning for years, including running Crissy Field parkrun in San Fran.  Which I learned, 2 days before, had been cancelled!  aaargh, but hey ho, and I could re-schedule…..

Back in NI, I’d toyed with running my NENYD at Castleblayney, but a Saturday dancing lunchtime committment and a callout from Carrickferus for a VI guide changed my plans, and I was delighted to accompany Pete putting into practice my Guide Dogs training.

Navan was as planned, and had a realy great time running with them.

I knew I’d be in London to see my son working on Evitia – had originally planned Dulwich but that had to be changed to the only A in London – Ally Pally!

And oh my goodness, the last bit of the jigsaw – D and my nearest one is Dundalk!

Dundalk…Done Dancer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eclipse Trip 4: San Francisco

Thursday

For my final breakfast on board I opt for the signature dish of French Toast, which is rather good.  I spend most of the morning in the Sightseer Lounge, while we glide through canyons and along the Colorado River.  Here, people messing about on the river greet the train in their own special fashion, earning it the nickname “Moon River”.

There’s a 10 minute stop at Reno.  We reckoned that was so that couples who had been together 24/7 from Chicago could get a quickie divorce.   For lunch I tried the veggie burger, which was rather tasty.

We arrived at Emeryville, a transport hub on the edge of  San Fran at 4, and didn’t have to wait too long for the bus transfer.  We alighted at the Financial District drop off point,  and took a  taxi to Bush St, where we were staying at the  Grant Hotel, just north of Union Square.

The room was a decent size, but had a potentially treacherous step up into the bathroom.  Causing me to call out “Step!!!!” anytime R went to the loo in the night.  Our first night’s aimless wandering took us to Chinatown where we enjoyed a rather large meal for 2 special.

The walk home was a bit trickier – whilst the city is still on a grid system, there’s no indication of where the really steep hills are.  But we found that the little Kwik-e-mart on the corner does booze.

Friday

The breakfast in hotel is very spartan. There’s no milk for tea, not even in wee plastic jiggers.  There are pastries and croissants, but no butter or jam.  Or cutlery.

I’d researched the various ho-ho bus options, and chose City Sightseeing, as it included a Sausolito tour across the Golden Gate, and an evening tour. (The other companies were offering guided walking tours, which after last night’s steep hills experience I wasn’t prepared to risk).

On our first circuit on the bus, we learned the reason for Crissy Field cancellation – an alt-right free speech rally, which of course prompted much outraged protest rallies to be arranged.  Trump you’ve gone too far this time, messing with a parkrunner’s tourism plans!  The bridge itself is shrouded in mist, and we learned that this month is known as “Fog-ust”.

At Pier 39 we were delighted to watch the sealions at play, and checked various transport details at the visitor centre.  Trams and buses $2.75, payable to driver, cable cars $7.  A MUNI pass is good if you’re there for a few days, but we’d already gone for a 2 day bus pass.  I had lunch of traditional clam chowder served  in a sourdough bowl overlooking the bay.

In the evening, we’d booked the “Alcataz by night” tour – these sell out months in advance, so it’s worth booking online beforehand.  There is no booze allowed to be sold on the boat out, and none on the island.  It is chilling, in every sense.  The island is cool and foggy, and the cells suitably spine-tingly.  We had an audio guided tour narrated by former inmates and warders, and learnt of the various escape attempts.

R had a hot dog on the boat home, while I was ready for a glass of vino, and I got some humous from the Kwik-e-mart for supper.

Saturday

No parkun, boooooooo!

We treated ourselves to a fantastic brunch in the little diner on the next corner.

We got back on our City Sightseeing Tour, which was a bit detoured by all the protest and counter-protest shenanigans, and to our dismay find that it isn’t doing the Sausolito Tour.

They could’ve said earlier!  And I should’ve read the reviews on Trip Advisor.  We got off instead at Golden Gate park in the midst of a marijuana festival.  We weren’t too clear where the boarding point is, as these bus tours aren’t allowed to have anything useful like signs, but we made it back to hotel.  We took tram back  to fishermans wharf, where we intended to take the night tour, only to find that we’d missed the last one.  Again, I’m appalled by the lack of communication.  We took the tram back to the hotel, and I had a really lovely sushi roll in the place next to the hotel.

Sunday

We’d booked a hire car from the place across the road from the hotel.  Not just any old hire car, a Ford Mustang convertible, which we’d had visions of driving down Highway 1 in by the ocean, warm breezes in our hair.  After the compulsory argument with the  Sat nav  we escaped the city’s gravitational pull, and got onto Highway 1.  Sadly, Fog-ust extends down the coast, and we saw precious little in the way of surf or beaches, nor could we put the roof of the car down.

We stopped at Half Moon Bay for brunch, where I had Califormia Bendict.  This means it had avocado in it.  On to Santa Cruz, where R was meeting a biking chum, who he’d only ever previously engaged with online.

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We came back to the city via the Big Basin redwoods which are stunning, though the  teeny winding roads were a bit hairy.  Having successfully returned the car before closing time, we had a fabulous  dinner in Del Populo of eggplant salad and pizza, chatting to UK tourists sitting beside us.

Monday

Crissy Field is not the easiest place to get to, so we took an Uber to get there so I could do a freedom parkrun.

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It’s always hard running solo,  and I had to conjure up imaginary cheering marshalls.  There were still some chalk markings visible,  left by counter proterstors.

It’s compulsory to take a cable car ride, but these can be hard to actually board as they are always full.

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Most people queue at the end points and no-one gets off, so it’s pointless waiting at any other stop.

At Fisherman’s Wharf we had lunch at Cioppino’s – scampi aurora and a free cup of clam chowder.   We enjoyed a potter around the Musee Mechanique, where I got a mechanical fortune teller to tell me my fate.  I have have set myself rather a high goal, apparently, which I will surely reach!

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I took a quick visit to the Giardhelli chocolate shop.  We took the  cable car back down Powell, and opted for dinner at the pizza place across the road.  These served very odd antipasto, and an even odder carafe of wine which was only a fiver.

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Tuesday

On our last day, we had brunch at Lori’s Diner, which was really cute, with a vintage car as part of the décor.  R bid farewell to the super-duper Apple store, and we took a taxi out to the airport.  Our tickets said Terminal TI, which we read as “one” but really it was “I for International”.  Aer Lingus were as efficient and pleasant as I’ve always found them to be, and we had a hassle free journey home, even managing some sleep on the plane.

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I would go back to San Fran: as a bridge aficionado, it was disappointing not to see the Golden Gate, and of course I shall have to do Crissy Field properly!

Even Tony Bennett left his heart here.

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parkrun tourism: Ally Pally

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Event number 42 (for all you Hitchhiker fans), parkrun number number 180 (said in darts commentator voice) and putting the A in DANCER.

Access:

There’s plenty of parking in and around Alexandra Palace.  I walked from a lovely Air BnB nearby, and the W3 bus goes through the grounds.  There’s a nearby railway station, and the closest tube station is Wood Green.

Facilities:

There are loos in the ice rink and in the Phoenix cafe.  We enjoyed coffee and sausage rolls afterwards in the Palm Court bit of the main bulding, but there’s some refreshements available at the ice rink also.

Course:

It’s 2 big laps with a start and finish section.  Start and finish are in the same place, so you can leave bags and belongings there.  The terrain is very varied, from tarmac, to gravel, to grass, and a steep muddy incline!  Not the easiest, but the views over London are just spectacular.

Crowd:

I was impressed at the number of young people here – a confident young man effectively delivered the first timers briefing, there were lots of teenage marshalls giving cheering support along the way, and I was in awe of young Georgia in her white 10 shirt, sharing motivational chat with her Mum all the way round, and managing a brilliant sprint finish. I got chatting afterwards to a 250 shirter called Liberty, who was really friendly, and there was a warm welcome from the RD and team. Numbers are usually in the 200s.

Gear:

I always travel in my second best trainers, and these were a good choice for the sometimes slippery surface.  My Garmin worked OK, but its clippy lead has disintegrated.  My headphones worked for half the yodelling song from Eurovision 2016, but then refused to behave at all. I wore my apricot Wallace top.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

No headphones so no shuffle.  But my earworm was a country song called “What Ifs”, and I distracted myself by trying to remember all the lyrics.

Time:

Tough course, no Minnie, no music, and I stopped to take photos en route.  So 36 something. Bleurgh, it can only improve. I did manage my signature skip-change step over the finish line.

Sticky letter:

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I’ve been trying to get someone appropriate to stick each letter of DANCER as I run them, and what better than an actual p’feshnil dancer to do the honours!  Jemima also took plenty of great action photos for me.

And the rest….:

I was in town to see Evita, which my son is working on, and what a rare pleasure to have both my children in the same room!

And I finished my Saturday with a bit of dancing at the RSCDS London Branch dance, where it was lovely to catch up with old friends, and make some new ones.

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All my parkruns:

all the parkruns I’ve completed