5 and 2: zumba and trout

I was delighted this week to get in touch again with my zumba class – thanks to the magic power of Facebook. Since finishing the half-marathon last month I’ve been running less, so I’ve been looking for different ways to keep active.  I love anything even vaguely dance-related, and it’s hard to do zumba without a smile on your face.

My Monday fast this week went well, and I’d found a tub of Tom-Yum soup in the freezer which I used for my evening meal.

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I still have to battle my sweet tooth, but I’ve found these cereal bars are nicely chewy for only 75 calories and a few grams of sugar.  The Tesco caramel one is my favourite.

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Wednesday was a non-fast day, and the supermarket were selling 2 trout fillets for £4.  I had one wrapped in foil with a few sliced mushrooms and some Greek basil.  And the other for my Thursday fast meal – I cooked it in a bowl with a plate over the top in the microwave – I added a few slices of lemon and a splash of white wine.  I served it with some asparagus spears, also done in the microwave, and a sort of tartare sauce made with fromage frais, capers and finely chopped pickled onions.  It was absolutely delicious!  I’m glad I’ve been reminded about trout – half the calories of salmon, much less fat, and the same amount of protein.

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All in all, a good week!

5and2: summer meals

Like many others on this way of eating, the warm summer weather has been great for encouraging the eating of salads. and getting out in the fresh air for some exercise. Having had some disruption due to holidays and the like, I got back into the swing of 2 fast days this week – and couldn’t quite believe how easy they felt!

I’ve got into the habit now of pushing through the fast morning on just black coffees, Bovril and flavoured teas.  On Tuesday I had a miso soup for lunch – I really enjoy these, just the right level of savoury saltiness, and quite satisfying.  For dinner, I made a microwave omelette with one egg, 2 egg whites, some sliced mushrooms and leftover roast chicken pieces.  I served it on a bed of salad leaves and a dollop of hot sauce.  Actually, the hot sauce wasn’t necessary…

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On Thursday I had an unavoidable lunch date with a friend (she was lending me a costume for a fancy dress party on Friday night).  We met at IKEA, where I chose the gravad lax, but didn’t eat the dressing, and added some simple side salad items – tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, pickles.  It’s nice not to feel restricted, and be able to find SOMETHING to eat while being a lady-who-lunches.  Dinner was a simple salad plate – pastrami, mushrooms and cucumber, with some roast red peppers from a jar.  I followed this with a couple of tablespoons of cottage cheese mixed with 10 raspberries – very tasty indeed!

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I made myself a cooling drink of water infused with cucumber, Greek basil and lime, and swanned around in a maxi dress pretending I looked sophisticated 😉

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I had no headaches, no insurmountable hunger pangs – I do still feel quite tired on fast day evenings, but I sleep really well, which is a blessing in this heat.

Running gadgets

One of my best buds when I was training for the half-marathon was my iPod shuffle. Tiny little silver matchbox, with a huge capacity for storing music, able to skip, pause, and control volume from the control on the lead. I’d had it for years – only replaced the headphones for the first time about 4 weeks ago.  And they no longer make this model – the newer shuffle is a small square shape which has all its controls actually on eh device, not the leads.

I would carry it with me in a little black velvet bag.  I usually took it when travelling, or even on daily commutes if going by train.  So I took it with me to Paris last month.  And now I can’t find it.  It may well turn up in some forgotten corner of a suitcase, but meanwhile I’m using the music on my iPhone.  To do this more comfortably, I bought some new bits and bobs.

Flexible Arm-holder/ reflective armband

glossyboxjuly 012Unless you want to run carrying your phone in your hand, some sort of holder is essential.  I was previously using a pocket that clipped around my waist, but it was awkward to get the phone in and out, and consequently not great for making any adjustment en route.  I chose the black stretchy version as it would be easier to keep clean than the white leather one.  It was £7.99 in TKMaxx.  It’s hard to get the fit just right – my arm muscles aren’t very bulky, and the holder is inclined to slide down the arm and under my triceps after a while.  I also had to make an additional hole for the headphone socket on my iPhone 4.   But it’s pretty simple to operate through the plastic screen, which will speed up the time it takes me to get my music running, find MapMyRun and press Start, which usually costs me a few seconds at the start of Park Runs. And feeding the wires out the side of my top rather than down my front seems to prevent some tugging and pulling.   It also has a reflective strip, which isn’t so important in this sunshine, but will be a bonus on gloomy winter mornings.  I’d give it 3/5 for looks, and the same for performance.

Sharper Image Ear-clip Headphones

I loved the look of these, with the very sleek green/gold and black.  I was seduced by the word “sport” on the packaging, and intrigued by the shape, promising a better fit in my darned odd-shaped ears. At £5.99 from TKMaxx, they were worth a trial.

glossyboxjuly 010 I found it surprisingly easy to get these to fit snugly into my ears, and I admired them in the mirror before setting out on a run.  Sadly, about 2 miles in, they were slipping out of place, and I spent the rest of my run fiddling and adjusting them.  So, 5/5 for looks, but only 2/5 for performance.

Gummy Plus headphones, in white

As my husband pointed out, these were the only items on the rail in the shop with security tags, and indication that they must be attractive to shoplifters.  I’d also seen them recommended on MyFitnessPal and other running forums.  At £9.99 they weren’t the cheapest headphones by any means, but I liked the fact that they came with different sizes of ear-bud covers.  On a hot morning run, they stayed in place brilliantly with the smallest covers on, and they have the same pause/ next track functionality that I find essential. 3/5 for looks – boring white headphones – but 4.5/5 for performance.


Running in warm weather, this is one  bit of kit I wont leave home without.  It’s very easy to wipe sweaty brows and upper lips while moving, and it also has a handy hidden inner for keys/poo bags/ emergency jelly beans.

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Coconut Water

This claims to be a great rehydrator, as well as containing essential electrolytes.  It’s quite pricey, but tastes good, not too sweet, and only 25 calories for a 330 ml carton.  I would buy this again, especially if the hot weather looks set to continue.

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Sadly, I managed to get badly sunburned at the weekend sitting in a friend’s garden.  I HAD put sun cream on the back of my neck, but obviously couldn’t reach down far enough (obvious now….).  So I now take no chances, and make sure I have  factor 50 slathered over my bare shoulders.

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What are your best tips for running in the heat?  And what are your favourite gadgets?

Glossybox July 2013

I was starting to get a bit concerned that my July box had gone astray, but apparently it’s always the middle of the month before they’re despatched. And an email confirming despatch is sent, which I like.

This month’s box is a bright turquoise, decorated with coral and starfish, and promised to contain some holiday must-haves.

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What was inside:

  • Alterna Haircare Bamboo Style Boho Waves Mist
  • Essie nails
  • Pout Paint lip gloss
  • Coola organic SPF 20 moisturiser.
  • Anatomicals Spray Misty For Me facial spritz.

So what did I think?

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The hair mist smells rather lovely, and gives a gentle tousled appearance without being too sticky or stiff.  I’m rather glad this was in my box, as I’ve mislaid the John Freida one I liked from the June box, and this is a handy handbag size.

Coola tinted moisturiser.  Always handy to have a face cream with an SPF, especially in the lovely sunshine we’ve been having lately! This smells a little like fake tanning lotion, but the coverage is good, and it is absorbed well into my skin.

Essie nails – not sure I’d ever use these, might be passed to daughter straight away.  My nails are very short and tend to split easily, and my fingers are rather short and stubby, so I try not to attract attention to them.

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Pout Paint in Peachy Keen and Minx.  I’m a lip balm queen.  I have countless tins and tubes on my desk at work, at home, in my handbag, in my travel bag, beside my bed.  So I was looking forward to trying these fun bright colours.  A little goes a very long way – seriously a pin-head sized blob is sufficient.  The colours were very odd – extremely bright, almost cartoon-ish.  Which is handy as I’m going to a fancy dress party as Daphne from Scooby Doo – the Minx shade is a lilac colour which will match the outfit.  The Peachy Keen was VERY orange, and made my teeth look yellow.  The texture was really sticky and unpleasant, and when on the lips, it took on a chalky dull appearance.  Disappointing.

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Facial spritz.  Possibly my favourite item in this month’s box, for the corny name if nothing else!  The blurb in the leaflet suggests that it would be good on flights: I dare say it would but I’m not sure how you’d get a liquid into your hand luggage!

So a bit of a wacky selection, but a couple have made their way into my handbag already.

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DLP – non park days

Tickets for Disneyland Paris (DLP) are expensive, and it’s possible you may have one or two days when you want something else to do. If you’re lucky, your hotel might have a pool, but if you fancy going a bit further afield, the 2 best options are a trip into Paris itself, and a visit to the Val d’Europe shopping centre.

A Day in Paris

Travelling into the capital is fairly easy – the train station beside the park is on the RER A4 (red)  line which goes straight there.  Queues for the manned ticket desks can be quite long, but the automatic ticket machines are pretty straightforward and can be used in English.  You’ll need an RER ticket (about 9 euros each way), and it can be worth getting a carnet of 10 metro tickets to use when you’re in town (13.30 for 10).

64QXlNhTlD2HyfwmNQtqs4Ai8oft6DvsgFa66rOjC6M,xaFx7USxzhlGr-HEnypugAzTWU84QqhDBNN1G3-ltag,zq9P1neIF8UuYI3o8stBPXCzmqfNbxm-Y8j8KTPB3ss,bp3fqyPrWgKaYOMjs_dtDr1wIxcjLSicfAlXcimHHUk  Prepare yourself as you would for any big city notorious for pickpockets – keep your bags and valuables close to you, and watch out for strangers approaching you. Get off at Charles de Gaulle l’Etoile, and follow the brown signs to surface right in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

nPdTKfT7ZwQ3X4bofJSobmPt_5GzQ5ZEes5iSosi12M,Xz2e6BIqaQGvB0Rabn6_qsFvHemvrc6t_NeJaGh7wA4,aHygXRfJLiwfwNmC-JrNDbpHZclrFx2AGGpkuP_47MI,RkZlOT9L8a1GIeVbm7qyjrkUzXDFTJmqbjncsq-g0HQMarvel at the traffic whizzing about the world’s most famous roundabout, with some animal-like herding instincts telling them when to stop and go.  From there, take the metro line 6 down to Bir-Hakeim, for a great view of the Eiffel Tower as you cross the river.  Find a street side table for an al fresco  sit down over a beer or coffee, and admire the passing Parisians.

PRwEB-v39xBNnAPiTaky6KDYyXCl_naD01wJvJroBic,PG-GkF9PXvZErwvIvLKcrw4R1L8E9yZea4w_ODndgjc  Stroll along the river bank, unless you want to actually go up the tower.  I normally like hop-on-hop-off buses in new cities, but they’re very expensive in Paris (31 for one day).  A nicer alternative is the http://www.batobus.com, which for 15 euros allows you to hop on and off at 8 of the most popular stopping points, while giving you the classic views from the Seine. (Insert in-seine joke here).  Lm1YwaY9dxHmXo_17D8OIYJXW2BP51kCDddl1vUVaTU,_lmTTejFfO36GigAa_gX47y_50oxFv91p8E99HRbE0k

Get off at Notre-Dame, and walk around the detailed gothic magnificence.  At the back of the cathedral, cross the bridge to the Ile St Louis, and seek out Berthillon, one of the finest ice cream vendors on the planet.  Enjoy your glace while strolling the quieter streets in this district.QXXeNjsgCRf5GtW0bzRGdxN54x4H7nRr39OysO0cI3Y

crez6_3jc1DyVw5LmjZXusv4XU1woi5LPpfesGlLgr8,8OZPAmNUmHw35fzZNprAEz5qmYx6n9BG9pgWjEh1Ams  Free toilets are available beside the Hotel de Ville.  Warning: the Metro isn’t great for people with mobility issues, and the train doors don’t give you much time to get on and off.

Val d’Europe

This enormous shopping centre http://www.valdeurope.fr/ was constructed at the same time as DLP, in order to cater for the people who’d be working in and around the parks and hotels.  It is HUGE.  Nicely done out with glass coverings and a spacious feel to it.  There are all the usual shops you’d expect, including a massive Auchan supermarket, and Apple store, Sephora, and Gap.VztaIb_E75bNRjJ-Len5Y5_JplNba8O_1WGxn1P7gzQ,CHwLx0WB6pfE6TNLtVHAAYsKdGDXlR8Vne9rh_O7Pfs

There is also a designer village next door, with many high end shops like Jimmy Choo and Armani.  Your hotel might give you a discount card for 10% off, as will a Disney Shareholder card, but the shops might not accept these if the goods are already reduced.  But on our trip we managed to get a free coffee and bun from Starbucks.  My favourite shop here was the Parisian fragrance experts Annick Goutal, which has some intriguing and unusual scents , many of which are gender-neutral.

dlp wardrobe 001A bottle costs about 60.  The shopping centre also has a terasse of eateries, ranging from McDonalds (with an automatic computer ordering system), to a Lebanese place.  The Pasta Pizza restaurant does a good Menu Presto for 10 euro, comprising a plate of pasta and a drink.  They’ll also serve olives and bread at no extra charge.  And on top of all that, or rather underneath, there’s an aquarium in below the ground.


Most hotels offer a shuttle service to the centre (5 euros return each), or you could go by train (one stop from the DLP station).

DisneylandParis – what to wear

It’s the same problem every year – I need a capsule wardrobe to take on holiday that will allow for a number of eventualities, unpredictable weather, be comfortable enough and also smart enough, and that will fit in my suitcase without pushing the weight over allowed limits.

For holidays involving theme parks, I always start with footwear.  Fashionistas will recoil in horror, but experience has taught me that Crocs are the best option.  They are comfortable enough to be on your feet all day without causing blisters, they will survive splashy log flume rides, they are light and squishy enough to fit in your suitcase – I’ve even swum at Discovery Cove with mine hooked over my wrists.

Blue crocs, checked short-sleevd shirt (Craghoppers), denim cropped trousers, lightweight green jumper (Warehouse)

Blue crocs, checked short-sleeved shirt (Craghoppers), denim cropped trousers, lightweight green jumper (Warehouse)

A good alternative are FitFlops.  I’m not convinced that wearing these will give me legs like Cameron Diaz, but they are certainly a practical comfortable option.  They come in a wide variety of styles and colours, and the chunkier sole gives more support than the standard flip-flop.  I always wear Craghoppers trousers to travel in – their zippy security pockets are very well designed, the lightweight ones are easy to wash and dry quickly, and the ones with zip-off bottoms convert to shorts or crops.

Blue crocs, checked short-sleevd shirt (Craghoppers), black cotton cropped trousers, lightweight green jumper (Warehouse)

Black FitFlops with coral toe-post, black cotton vest, stone lightweight trousers with security pockets and zip-off bottoms (Craghoppers), Mickey sweatshirt, floppy sun-hat.

A pair of wedge sliders in a metallic shade is a good choice for smarter evening wear, and works well with more casual outfits as well.

Bronze wedges, cream top with beaded neckline, black sleeveless shirt, grey crops.

Bronze wedges, cream top with beaded neckline, black sleeveless shirt, grey crops.

I love my Timberland thongs – the dark brown leather is lovely and soft, but there’s not much protection against inclement weather.  I wasn’t sure about a white linen jacket, but it was very useful indeed – light and summery, didn’t crease too badly, and smartened up any outfit.

Brown leather thongs (Timberland), cream linen crops, green striped short sleeved shirt, white linen jacket

Brown leather thongs (Timberland), cream linen crops, green striped short sleeved shirt, white linen jacket

The weather in Paris is unpredictable – it’s best to prepare for all conditions, so that’s a light waterproof jacket, sun cream, and a floppy sunhat to protect against the rays when stuck in a long queue.  I loved my lightweight cardigan in truffle, with shimmery apricot inserts.  A basic colour scheme is useful if outfits are going to mix-and-match, and a light scarf containing the main colours in the capsule wardrobe pulls everything together.

Flat black sandals, tribal print tank, watermelon vest, truffle/ apricot cardi, scarf in apricot with blue/ brown/ cream pattern.

Flat black sandals, tribal print tank, watermelon vest, truffle/ apricot cardi, scarf in apricot with blue/ brown/ cream pattern.


And finally, remember to pack any medication you will need.  Pharmacies are few and far between, and won’t sell many of the items you can buy in a UK chemist, so pack plenty of painkillers, Diocalm and rehydration salts, plasters and tea-bags (well, they’re a medical necessity for me!)