5:2 meals Vietnamese Spring Rolls

I’m always on the lookout for different ideas to have for evening meals on a 5:2 down day.  So while I was searching the Asian section in Tesco for miso soup and sushi ginger, my eye was caught by this kit for Vietnamese spring rolls.  They looked fresh and tasty for a summer evening, and the calorie counts were given as 95 for half the packet (3 rolls) – by my reckoning I could eat the lot with a prawn or chicken filling for around 250.


The kit contains rice vermicelli, 6 rice wrappers, and a sachet of peanut dipping sauce.  Ingredients to be added are suggested as shredded lettuce, cucumber strips, prawn, chicken or pork.  Mint leaves or corainder would also work well.


The vermicelli soaks in boiling water for 5 minutes until softened.


Each rice wrpper is dipped in warm water for a few seconds.  Then the filling is piled in the middle, and you do your best to roll into a tight cylinder.  This was the hardest bit, and I would need a bit more practice to make the rolls tighter.


They looked very attractive, but as I hadn’t rolled them tightly enough they were messy to eat – I ended up cutting them in half with a sharp knife, and then blobbing the peanut sauce onto the ends.


It was a substantial meal for well under 300 calories – I’m going to try to locate the rice wrappers on their own, and practice making some better rolls.  Anyone got a good peanut dipping sauce recipe?


NI parkruns: Queens

The Queens parkrun is one of the longest established of Norn Irn’s parkruns.  It is nowhere near the main University building – it’s at its Sports Centre in Finaghy, known as “The Dub”.  The course is 2 laps around the tennis courts and playing fields.  It’s hillier than you’d think, some of the turns are quite sharp, and the terrain changes from car-park asphalt to gravelly path.

Access: Located close to the sign-post House of Sport roundabout, it’s easy to get to this parkrun either from the Outer Ring, or from the M1 via Stockman’s Lane.  There is ample parking, and facilities in the modern building are excellent.

Gear: When I first did this run I’d only just started parkrunning, and I was taking part in an accountants’ charity weekend.  So I got a lovely new T shirt to wear!

not quite on the cover of a magazine...

not quite on the cover of a magazine…

Crowd: As you’d expect, there are a fair few students and academics who regularly run this course, but it’s also popular with Lisburners looking for a change of scenery from Wallace.  Attendance is usually around 60 (at time of writing – it’s increased a fair bit since then!)

Strangely Appropriate Song: Reelin in the Years, by Steely Dan, made me reminisce about times past when I’d attended Queens University……

Time: I’d done this one pretty early in my parkrun career, and came in at 31:15, still chasing the elusive 30 barrier.

Update January 2015:

20150124_101610It’s been quite icy recently, and unfortunately this does lead to parkrun cancellations for safety reasons.  Queens is pretty weather-resilient, though – it’s a busy centre with lots of activities on each Saturday morning, so the staff are really good at gritting the surfaces.  After a Wallace cancellation, I made a quick decision to re-route to Queens, especially since my running mate Minnie hadn’t tried it yet.  It was a bright blue-sky morning, there were over 100 runners, including a few Wallace stable-mates, and we had a pretty enjoyable run.  I found some of the paths a bit narrow – it’s easy to get hemmed in at the start, especially with a dog!  But we managed a very satisfying 25:44, and I got those coveted letters PB after  my name.  The welcome from the regulars and volunteers was lovely, and I’m sure we’ll be back again soon.

List of all the parkruns I’ve completed.

NI parkruns: #18parkruns

Inspired by the recent visit of the Strathclyde parkathoners running all of our courses over one weekend, a group of intrepid local runners decided to give it a go themselves.

An early timetable fitting them into a 24 hour slot was later revised to a more do-able 2-day itinerary (well, many of the parks aren’t actually open during the wee small hours, and the danger factor should not be discounted).  Using modern technology, an event was created on Facebook, Belfast Running Club’s website, and the hashtag #18parkruns was used on Twitter to keep up with their progress.

A hardy core team was aiming to run all 18.  Others were hoping to join as a relay team, or for one day, or for just their local run, or for the final 5 Belfast runs.

I caught up with them at my home parkrun, Wallace in Lisburn.  I was early, and just as well, as so were they.  AND they wanted to run earlier than their planned-for 2 pm start-time, to allow for a more substantial recovery break before heading into the final 5 in the big city.


I’d been undecided as to what I would do – I could have treated it as a normal parkrun, including bringing Mini with me.  But they were probably faster than me.  I could have cycled there, and shown them the course from the bike.  But the forecast was for rain. I wasn’t too sure who else from Wallace was planning to turn up – as it turned out, I was the only one (complete with my traditional bucket of Haribos), so I opted to act as marshall and gave them the outline of the route, kept a tally of how many laps they’d done, and clapped and cheered.


Some of their friends and family arrived while they were part way through, and they either ran along, or joined me on the supporters bench.



The route they took was:

Saturday:  Comber, Bangor, Carrickfergus, Larne, Antrim, Ballymena (Ecos), Portush, Derry & Enniskillen

Sunday: Cookstown (MUSA), Armagh, Craigavon (CityPark), Lisburn (Wallace) & Belfast (Five Parkruns)

Belfast – Queens (Dub), Falls, Waterworks, Victoria Park & Ormeau Park

Thats 90km in total, about 2 full marathons worth!


I must admit, I’m tempted to try the Belfast 5 in one day – that’s just over a half-marathon, although split into 5 separated sections.

Well done Simon, John, Liam and Joanna – a fantastic achievement!

NI parkruns: Ecos

My husband had left a motorbike in to have some work done in Broughshane, near Ballymena.  He was planning to collect it on a Saturday morning, so I jumped at the chance to tag along and do the Ecos parkrun on the way.  Well what do you know – when he called the motorbike repair guy to check that the bike was ready, he said “Don’t come before 11, as I always do the local parkrun!”  Only in Norn Irn, eh?

Ecos dragonfly

Ecos dragonfly


Access: The Ecos centre is visible from the M2, and is well sign-posted from Junction 11.  There’s lots of parking, the centre has toilets, plenty of seats and tables outside to enjoy the post run water/ coffee/ Penguins.  And spectators and travelling paparazzi (ie my husband and his son) have plenty to do playing among the huge metal spider, caterpillar and ladybird sculptures.


Pre-run brief

Route: The course is a sort of looping figure of 8.  It passes some lovely nature reserve, a cool avenue of trees, some bridges, and at one point runs parallel to the motorway.  The paths are quite narrow, which didn’t seem to pose a problem to a guy running with a double buggy AND a dog! The route is well signed along its route, though my heart sank when I passed the 2 km post, and I thought “Is that all I’ve run?”  I’m sure Ballymena kilometres mst be longer than standard ones. They tell me the paths are susceptible to flooding in the winter, but this July morning was bright and sunny.


a leafy pathway

Gear: MapMyRun let me down yet again.  I pressed “start”, didn’t hear its bored intonation of “Begin workout”, so I pressed it again, only to get the message “Workout paused”.  And by then we were off and I didn’t manage to get it going again.  I really must invest in a proper Garmin.

Discussing strategy with Longjohn

Discussing strategy with Longjohn

Crowd: Well, in addition to Longjohn the Harley repair guy, everyone I met was very chatty and welcoming, it really felt like I was part of the wider parkrun family.


running in the sun

Strangely Appropriate Song: As I set off I had McFly’s version of “Don’t stop me know, cos I’m having such a good time…” which summed up my feelings, having just recently got back running after an ankle injury.  And as I neared the finish, I changed the lyrics of “Hey Ho, le nouveau son de Manau” to “In Ecos Ballymena”.


collecting finish token

Time:  I’d been hoping for a sub-30, but without Mini to pull me round, or MapMyRun’s voice feedback, it was a less impressive 31.28.  But hey, there’s more to running than going fast.  I’m just delighted to be running at all.


post-run euphoria

List of all the parkruns I’ve completed.

Deux chiens biens (et des canards, et un cynge….)

Mais je cherche encore pour un kingfisher….roi pecheurs?

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As I took my two pooches for a long perambulate, I found myself wondering how to give them commands in French.  F’rinsitance, if I say “Sit! Stay! Down!” it’s the same sound whether I’m talking to one dog or two.  But if I were to do the same in French, then the imperatives would be different – Asseyez-vous or Assieds-toi. Venez vs viens.  Restez, restes….do the dogs hear and understand the difference?  Or are all dog commands given using the “vous” form?  Curious minds want to know.

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French canine commands aside, we had a lovely walk, and spotted a gorgeous swan, reflected in the still waters, and a group of ducks.

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