parkrun tourism: York

parkrun 196, and 45th different event.

On my parkrun adventures, one of the targets that keep you going (100 Tshirt to 250 is AT LEAST 3 years….) is grabbing letters of the alphabet.  Now, there’s no X anywhere (surely an opportunity for somewhere, but meanwhile St Andrews, as in cross, will suffice…) and Z is a foreign trip to Poland or South Africa.

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The Norn Irn parkruns do have some of the lesser spotted letters – there’s a Q at Queens, a V at Valley, and 2 Ws at Waterworks and my home run Wallace.  But I’m still lacking a G, J, K, (all of which I can get on the  island of Ireland, albeit with difficulty), and the U and Y, of which there are very few.  So when I saw a chance to get a Y at York, I absolutley jumped at it!

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Access:

Located at York Racecourse, this is a pretty easy to get to run.  I was staying in an Air BnB, and had booked a taxi, not wanting to risk missing the start, but my son, who was working in the city for the week, just walked there from his digs, and in fact we walked back into town together, which took about 20 minutes.  There’s plenty of car parking near the main racecourse entrance, and also some at the start of the parkrun, which is at the far side of the track. I saw a few people arrive by bike, and there are some bus options described on the parkrun page.

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From Belfast, I flew to Manchester, which was cheaper than Leeds, and took a train from there, about 90 minutes.

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Facilities:

I’m not sure about loos or showers, but Poppy’s Coffee van was doing good business after the run with a range of delicious sounding hot chocolates and lattes.

 

IMG_2735 - CopyFor leaving your jacket etc beofre the run, many opted for the time honoured “hang it on a fence” tradition, and one of the volunteers had a basket at the start line to collect any discarded coats and belongings.

Course:

People tend to congregate at the finish line, before heading to the start, at the far side of the track.

You can cross the grass, which can be wet and puddly, or take the slightly longer route on the tarmac path which forms the parkrun route.

The first timers briefing at the start was warm and freindly and assured first timers that this was the best day of their lives!  The course is 1 and 1/2 circuits, and is dead flat.

IMG_2748I could be critical and say it’s a bit boring, you definitely have to dig deep and “just keep running!”, and I’d wished I’d brought some headphones so I could have some music or a podcast.

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Crowd:

This used to attract 700-800 ish runners each week until the recently started Heslington event at the University.  Perversely, I was staying on Heslington Road, and this would have been a closer course, but, letter Y!  There were just over 500 runners when I visited, and a couple of fellow cow-cowls said hi.  My son didn’t have any running gear with him, but opted to walk along with the tail walker.

 

IMG_2757It’s a dead flat all tarmac course, so very accessible for buggies and wheelchairs.  I saw a couple of doggies (Hi Maggie!) and a blind-guide running pair, and I was in the tailwind of a lesser spotted 100 parkrun jacket most of the way.  There were some pacers, and some “walk a minute run a minute” guides as well.

IMG_2741 - CopyIt’s also very fast – there were 3 sub-17 times on my visit, and the course record is an astonishing 14:37.

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The funnel gets quite muddy after all that.

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Gear:

My Garmin behaved, I could’ve done with music, and my shoes were…well, I always travel in my second best trainers.  That way, if I need to ditch some weight before the return leg it won’t break my heart.  And when I dug out my Karrimors to travel in, I realised I’d last worn them at the Castlewellan Cracker, and they were still carrying a muddy sheen…

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Time:

I haven’t run for at least 3 weeks, but honestly, a time of 37 minutes on this flat course is tut-worthy. I usually do a Scottish skip-change-step over the finish line, but as I was at a racecourse I opted for a Miranda-style gallop instead.

And the rest:

I loved my visit to York – walking on the walls, queuing to get into one of the Harry Pottter shops that are now taking over the Shambles,

 

IMG_2767giggling at the plastic dinosaur in the nativity display at York Minster, going to the Cilla show at the Grand Opera House,

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bacon butties at the Dyl cafe in one of the old buidlings on a bridge,

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a Yorkypud wrap,

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and seeing Tim Peake’s capsule at the Railway Museum.

 

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All My parkruns:

 

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Spirulina pancake

IMG_2700I’d bought some powdered spirulina when I was “veggie for November”, but never got round to using it. Since then, I’ve been trying to find a palatable way of including it in my diet, but have struggled with its gloopy texture and vivid black green colour.

Added to a shake or smoothie it’s OK, but only cos it’s a small amount that I can choke down.
I’d tried it in porridge and took one mouthful before throwing it away.
But I’ve found an easy and acceptable way to eat it – mix it with egg and make a flat crepe.

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Ingredients – 1 medium free range egg, 1 tsp spirulina powder, and 1 heaped tsp milled chia seeds. These are all big protein hitters, so the resulting dish has 111 calories, 10g protein and 4g carbs.

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Whisk the egg well to make it as frothy as possible, before stirring in the spirulina and chia. Spray a flat pan with 2 squirts of 1 cal oil, and pour in the green batter. Let it cook on one side before gently flipping over to cook the other side. It’s fairly solid so you don’t need to worry about it breaking. I had it cut into triangles with some humous.

I’d definitely make a few of these at the weekend and use them for breakfast or even as a wrap for lunch They’d even come in handy on low calorie days.

Veggie for November: the final week (and a bit)

First things first, and why I’m doing this, the fundraising link!

https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/lindas-veg-pledge-7

 

So, into the final week and a bit.

Thursday – breakfast toast with almond butter and banana

Lunch leftover shephereds pie – note to self, plastic Chinese takeaway cartons are not microwave proof!

Veg box delivered – did a stir fry for dinner.

Friday – used the other half banana and some kale in a smoothie for breakfast.

Lunch was some broccoli blue cheese soup from the freezer

Dinner -a vegan pad thai recipe which was gorgeous, and I will be doing this again!

Saturday

Pre parkrun toast and cottage cheese.

Lunch was cheese and crackers

Dinner was sausage mash and onion gravy (Linda McCartney bangers for me);  Love my red onion gravy.

Sunday – had a lazy relaxed morning, and made myself a fry up with potato bread using the leftover mash.

Found a meal that we could both eat for dinner -mushroom ravioli with a tomato and roast pepper sauce, with garlic cheesy bread.

Monday: I wasn’t feeling too good, and managed a boiled egg and some dry toast, but spent most of the day in bed.

Tuesday – I explored the options in Boots, and was sdaly disppointed – cheese or egg sandwiches, or a veg sushi snack.  I did get excited at the idea of a higedy pie roll with feta and red pepper.  It was rather dry and claggy – a bit better when microwaved. But not something I’d be rushing to eat again.

I still had tofu to use up, so replaced it for mozarella in a caprese salad – with fresh basil, this was rather good!

You say tomato, I say tofu, crazy, caprese, let’s eat the whole thing up!

Wednesday – I’d bought some quorn cocktail sausages, so I’m using them up.  Had a couple for breakfast, and a couple more in a salad lunch.

I was at a party in the evening, and I have to say the veggie options were slim pickings.  The only sandwiches I could eat were egg (thank goodness with no raw onion).  Though the desserts are where it’s at for veggies!

 

Thursday – last day of the month!

I treated myself to lunch at Yo Sushi,and I struggled to get round the veg menu, having to get help from the staff. Too much mayo and deep fried–ness in the mix.

Final Thoughts:

This really wasn’t a hardship.  But it took some planning.  Cooking for myself, bringing my own lunches – great options.  Relying on what’s available in supermarkets and when travelling – limited and poor nutritional choices.

I’m keen to bring more veggie dishes into our repertoire.  My dyed in the wool carnivore husband may take some convincing, however….

Veggie for November: Week 3

Veggie for November: Week 2

Veggie for November: Week 1

 

 

 

Veggie for November: Week 3

I can feel I’m getting into a bit of a swing here – I know what works for me at home, and I’m tuning in to the letter V on dishes advertised on menus and cookbooks.

Wednesday:

This was a low calorie day.  I had a veg ploughmans for lunch ( carrot sticks, mini babybel, pickle and a tomato), and a stirfry for dinner with zero calorie noodles.

Thursday:

Blueberry and chia seed oveernight oats. Lunch with Mum and Dad and sis at Howard Street – had the goast cheese croquettes with salad.  I was staying in town to go to my running club’s evening at Pure Running (where I bought some new trainers) and then on to Dundela Scottish Dance Class, so dinner was kind of …crisps and a cereal bar en route.

Friday:

Breakfast – blueberry and chia smoothie.

Snacky lunch of Boots sushi, Holland and Barrat meat free pepperoni, crisps and apple.

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Dinner was a Jamie dish of roasted cauliflower with pineapple, chickpeas and almonds, with a mango chutney and yoghurt dip. This was really good, and I wll be doing this again!

Saturday:

After parkrun I had some toast and marmalade. The afternoon included a sandwich and bun extravaganza at Portadown Scottish Dance class’s 60th anniversary do! Dinner was a tapas affair with cheese croquettes, saute potatoes, and a bean and kale dish.

Sunday:

It was finally dry enough to do some gardening, after which I tucked into boiled egg and soldiers. Late lucnh was a goats cheese pizza, and supper of baked camembert and harissa parsnips.

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Monday:

A low calorie day.  Lunch was a rather tasty “Look What We Found” soup of sweet potato and coconut. Dinner after running training was a few rye crackers with cottage cheese.

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Tuesday:

After laughing my way through “Carry On Nigella” last night, I was inspired to do a sort of pasta dish with a sauce made with tomatoes and quark.

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Huge thank yous to Emma and Beth, who have got the fundraising off to a start!

Veggie for November: Week 2

Veggie for November: Week 1

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