Knockbracken Reservoir parkrun

My 287th run at my 73rd different location, in order to reclaim legionnaire status. Also Toby’s first barkrun!

Getting There

At around 8 miles from my house, this was a pretty close NENDY. It takes place at the Go Hydro activity centre south of Belfast, near Carryduff. (What Three Words admits.lung.target)

Facilities

There’s plenty of parking, several loo blocks and also a number of catering trucks and spots. If that’s your thing there’s also a McDonalds and a KFC just before the entrance to the site.

Course

It’s 3 and a bit laps round the reservoir, and is flat apart from one Hill of Doom. Slower runners will be overtaken by the faster ones on lap 2, so keep aware of who’s behind you, but they will have the 3rd lap to themselves. There is some traffic and golf buggies around, so again, keep your eyes and ears open.

There are lovely views over Belfast, and lots of wee (and some not so wee) flappy winged things by the water. I saw but failed to capture a teensy blue butterfly.

Crowd

I was there at event number 6, when there were 137, about average turnout. This still being The Great Pause, there were a number of familiar faces travelling from the south, and a good turnout from local club Lough Mossketeers. It was Toby’s first outing to a parkrun, and he behaved himself impeccably, allowing himself to be patted and fussed over without barking, and he didn’t pee up a marshall’s leg or similar. There were a couple of other dogs running as well, and a pram or 2.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle

I was actually a bit nervous at the start line, I haven’t run a parkrun in well over a year. I even had that bad dream last night where I was at a parkrun but had forgotten my barcode. But the Hamilton soundtrack told me to Summon all the courage I require, and to Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.

Time

Toby may have behaved sociably, but he hasn’t got Minnie’s ability to pull me along – in fact sometimes it was the other way round! And I did stop now and then to take photos so 38 minutes it was.

Full list

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

And while you’re here…..https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LindaHarleyGillespie

Hillsborough Forest parkrun

Throughout the UK parkrun has been paused during the Covid 19 pandemic, but they have recently recommenced in Northern Ireland (end of June 2021). And with the restart came a new event, set in the gorgeous surroundings of Hillsborough forest park.

Getting There

The forest is well-signposted from the village itself. It’s a popular spot, so the car park can get very busy – runners are asked to park considerately on the right hand side (what three words: interest.pointed.horseshoe). The main walk in the forest goes around the lake, but this is also very heavily used, so the parkrun route is on the far side of the lake, towards the playpark. Keep an eye out for the parkrun pop up flag! (what three words: volunteered.bump.sharpened) Hillsborough itself is just off the main A1 road.

Facilities

There are toilets in the village car park by the church, or in the playpark, which opens at 9. There is a coffee cart which opens around 10 in the car park, as well as a number of cafes in the town. Other options are the Sainsburys or M&S at Sprucefield, the latter having a particularly fine foodhall.

Route

It’s a 2 lap course, all on wide forest paths. The route is a sort of figure of 8 shape, with one large loop and one small one. There is a short section where runners will be going in both directions, so keep left there. The hill up to the back gate is a bit of a slog, but otherwise it’s pretty flat. (Emma made me edit this to say that it feels hillier when you’re running!) Running in a forest is always a pleasure, the air is so fresh and inspiring.

Runners

With parkrun not yet back in the rest of Ireland, it’s no surprise that this attracts visitors from far and wide. At event number 2 I chatted to people I had met before in Dublin, as well as visitors all the way from Tralee. NI regionnaires will also be looking to tick this one off the list. 115 attended the inaugural, with over 150 at event 2.

Time

I was timekeeper at event 1, and was tail walker at event 2, where my time was 53 minutes. (Hey, at least I’m making it easy for myself to go back and grab a PB!). It was my 100th time volunteering (come on new t shirt!) so I was able to add it to my events done. The course record is 16 minutes.

Covid stuff

To enable parkrun to restart safely, there are a few new procedures. The brief is VERY brief indeed (dogs under 11 on a short arm….), and timing and scanning is done via the virtual volunteer app. Sconning cannot be done from a barcode on your phone, sorry! Finish tokens will be deposited into a container and quarantined for a few days. No high fiving or spitting, faster runners start at the front, and try to keep social distancing.

All my parkruns

And while you’re here, do you fancy sponsoring me for the London Marathon? It’ll be my first one and I would be ever so grateful for your support 🙂

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/linda-harley6?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=linda-harley6&utm_campaign=pfp-tweet&utm_term=07b803adb4774068abeeacb8981721de

Fast 800-4-1 week 5

A week’s worth of meal ideas for those following the Fast 800 plan (low calorie, low carb, high protein) but are making meals for one.

Note: I don’t eat meat, but I do eat fish, dairy and eggs. But lots of the ideas are vegetarian. I’ll refer to the recipe book if relevant.

Day 1:

I was in transit, which is actually reasonably easy to fast on, as there is a limited choice of suitable options!

Breakfast – iced latte while sightseeing

Lunch – avo on sourdough from Pret at the airport, with a tub of mixed nuts from Tesco

Dinner – 2 egg omelette when I got home, with a selection of veg and cheese from the fridge (green pepper, mushrooms and cheese)

Day 2:

Breakfast – cayenne and rosemary nuts and seeds, emergency stash in my desk drawer (170 calories)

Lunch – this was a grab and go affair. I headed for the M&S deli/tapas section and picked up some spiced prawns, grilled calamari, and a bag of florette crispy salad leaves. I had half the seafood on the salad (200 calories)

Dinner – I turned the rest of the seafood into a sauce with a good dash of Big Tom spicy tomato juice, and served with butternut squash “boodles” as a sort of seafood linguine. (200 calories)

Day 3:

Breakfast – overnight oats with chia seeds and blueberries (225 calories)

Lunch – I’ve been trying out veggie sheets, which i had to buy online. Softened, they make great wraps, so i chopped up some of my florette salad and boodles, added some anchovies for protein, made little summer rolls and made a dipping sauce with protein meant butter. (220 calories)

Dinner – Nasi goreng with prawns, peanuts and cauliflower rice (354 calories) The recipe in the red book p 129 serves 2, but this is an easy one to halve the ingredients.

Day 4:

Breakfast – 60g cottage cheese with raspberries and blueberries (100 calories)

Lunch – florette salad with prawns, radish and tomato, and a sachet of miso soup (140 calories)

Dinner – Boodles with homemade bolognaise sauce that I had in the freezer, parmesan cheese to up the protein (400 calories)

Day 5:

Breakfast – same as day 4, plus a glass of Big Tom (200 calories)

Lunch – out on a road trip today! Chose a veggie quiche and didn’t eat the crust (180 calories), and had an iced latter en route (80 calories)

Dinner – Swedish carrot with cod (Red p118, 279 calories), with some steamed mixed green veg (55 calories). The recipe is easy to adapt for one, although such a small amount of carrot can be hard to puree, and mine was a bit too sloppy. But it was tasty, the gingery carrot was sweet but not overly so.

Day 6:

Breakfast – fried egg, mushrooms and vegetarian black pudding (200 calories) with a slice of sourdough toast (100 calories) as a weekend treat

Lunch – carrot and coriander soup (blue p 58, 134 calories) This is a bit low in protein so I added a blob of greek yoghurt (40 calories) and some pumpkin seeds(60 calories), which sank to the bottom! I made 4 portions, froze 2 and will have the other for lunch in the next few days.

Dinner – broccoli and paneer (blue p 182, 345 calories). The recipe serves 3, which is slightly odd, but it’s simple enough to adapt for 1. I don’t like hot tomatoes, so I sub those for mushrooms, and I had some leftover nandos peri-peri rub, so I used that instead of curry powder. Had tomato salad on the side.

Day 7

Breakfast – overnight oats with added chia seeds

Lunch – out for lunch, chose a tomato a and mozzarella salad from the starters.

Dinner – I bought a celeriac at the weekend. One of the tricky things about doing this for one is using up all the veg, and certainly a whole celeriac looks a little daunting! But it keeps well, and I will be making various things from it. Tonight was the famous celeriac fries, done for the first time in the air fryer, and served with plant chef herby bangers, sauerkraut and mushy peas. (400 calories)

Links to previous weeks menus:

Fast 800-4-1: Week 1

Fast800-4-1 week 2

F800-4-1 week 3

Fast 800-4-1 week 4

Eurovision 2021 by theme

Right. I have listened to all the 2021 songs, downloaded the album to have while running, and have watched all the videos. I’ve grouped (most of) them by the common themes I’ve identified below. These of course are based on the video, the official staging might well be different. The bracket (1) indicates they are in the (tough!) first semi-final, (2) is the second, while an (A) indicates automatic qualification to the final.

  1. French language

There are 3 songs in this category, 2 are sung completely in French, one just has a French title. But isn’t it interesting that these 3 are also the bookies top 3 (at time of writing)!

France (A)– Edith Piaf channelling, with delightful rolling Rs, a speeding up final verse, passionate delivery from a stunning looking woman with an amazing voice.  A fast waltz, with Hushabye Mountain hints. Voila!

Switzerland  (2) – sung in French, but with a softer accent than the France entry,  Tout l’univers delivers a haunting tune, with goose-pimply use of falsetto.  The video is a literal car crash, if not a metaphorical one.  But if the staging is just sad-man-at-a-piano it might not have a great impact.  But the song does build, and is not the same throughout.  It also hits the “spooky!” category (see later), and – always a good feature – a nod to The Beatles.

Malta (1) – Big girl with a funky sax. It’s just the title Je Me Casse, that’s in French, the rest is in English.  Though there is a very funny misheard line – Ladies if you feel like farting tonight, it’s all right.

2. Technicolour

First up is Australia (1).  They joined the contest in 2015, and have been serious contenders every year, Dani Im and Sound of Silence being very much the song that would’ve won under a different voting system.  They’ve consistently sent great songs….but this year I think with Montaigne (Cranberries soundalike in big boots) they will struggle to get to the final.  Technicolor is a bit wooden and stomp,  it doesn’t really hit any emotional buttons or be striking musically.  Sorry!

San Marino (2) – technicolour hair, singer is trying to find her inner Beyonce with Adenalina

Croatia (1)  – One of several Lady Gaga-likes,  with rainbow hair and teddies Tik Tok (bit of Croatian in one verse)

3. Pink Suits

Again, this is just based on the vids, and the final staging may well be different.  But here we have:

Israel  (1) – hairography, pink trouser suit, few shrill high notes that only dogs can hear, matchy matchy outifts, Set Me Free would be at home at a gay nightclub, always a good sign.

Serbia (2) – very fast! Identikit outfits , me love you long time, pink suit, Loco Loco

Sweden  (1) – pink suit, catchy Voices

4. Kids TV inspired

Germany (A)– kids TV “I’m mad, me” zany colourful ukulele playing, tune for I Don’t Feel Hate clearly takes its musical inspirations from Baby Shark

Bulgaria (2) – Growing Up is Getting Old – children’s nursery rhyme, music box

5. Lady Gaga wannabe

Moldova (2)  – Lady Gaga wannabe, the soft porn video is trashy, overly sexualised, and feels very out of place set against the many other “be yourself, believe in yourself, self worth” numbers this year.  Dancing ice cream cones, Sugar

Greece (2) – up tempo Last Dance, good running soundtrack, but reminiscent of a tampax advert with a white trouser wearing singer leaps onto a flying horse

see also Croatia and Cyprus

6. Religious connections

There are two songs titled Amen!

Austria (2)  – Chinese James Bond theme song  with Amen

Slovenia (1)  – more gospel.  More Amen.  Looks like Britney, sounds like Aretha

Czechia (2)– dreadlocks Bruno Mars thinks that “Omaga” will not offend anyone who might have been offended by “Oh My God”.  Dreadful lyrics: there ain’t no apocalypse, long as you’re here on my lips

Cyprus (1) – Lady Gaga inspired, sounds like Roxette, hint of nursery rhyme, the ethereal looking Elena with El Diablo

Norway (1) – really literal staging with the wings, chains, and surrounding demons, Fallen Angel is a slow bit of a dirge, I wouldn’t care if I never heard this again.  (it reminds me of something but can’t quite place it?)

7. Matching coloured outfits

Iceland  (2) – Dadi again, though not as catchy as Think About Things.  Matching outfits, bad dad-dance routine

Lithuania (1) – matching yellow suits, the Roop with Discoteque.  Mad dancing

Poland (2)  – afternoon quiz show theme tune, with a hint of Knight Rider, the Ride has a Bucks Fizz feel, matchy suits

Azerbaijan (1)  – hair, ethnic wind instrument Mata Hari, matchy matchy outfits

8. Other-worldy bad dream horror movie vibe (spooky!)

Albania (2) – Karma, folk instruments, big busty blonde, dark thriller with twins in a dream

Belgium (1)  – Hooverphonic with The Wrong Place, slow, murder mystery corpse bride feel, odd chord sequence

9. Rawk

We all loved Lordi, but can a rock number succeed at Eurovision?

Finland (2)  – Evanescence /Green Day/Limp Biskit Dark Side

Italy (A)– another rock number (Is ziti not a type of pasta?)

10. 3/4 time

Gerogia (2) – beard and bald, slow waltz You

Romania (1)– Loreen lookalike with a 6/8 waltz-time self-help pep talk surrounded by contempo-waft.

11. And the rest!

Denmark (2)– proper old skool in Danish, dad dancing

Estonia (2) – Lucky One, very slow and moody

Ireland (1) – another good running song, with a hint of Oirish tin whistle, Maps is a self affirmative hug-in-a-song.  Wiwiblogs love it, other fans worry that it wont make it out of the tough first semi.

Latvia  (2) Big Girls R Us, Moon is Rising, Greatest Showman, bit slow and ponderous, ostinato uh-aah is annoying

North Macedonia (1)– Andrew Lloyd Weber number Here I stand; big key change and a big finish, which adds to the musical theatre vibe.

Portugal (2) – nasal voice, white hat, simply red Black Mamba, Love is On My Side.  I don’t like this song, but I’ve heard their acoustic version of Fuego so I have great respect for their musicianship

Russia (1) – Shouting. Bazouki.  Off-the-beat ethnic drumming.  A Very admirable singer, and a positive message don’t be afraid to be yourself, but oh it’s so shouty and noisy!  Lil bit of politics creeping in (say it aint so!), and there’s no such thing as bad publicity

Spain (A)  – voy a quederma, boy band looks, otherwise forgettable

The Netherlands  (A)– Ladysmith Black mambasa, African inspired– Birth of a new age

Ukraine (1) – I hated it the first time I heard it, but it has really grown on me.  Love the gradual speeding up. Ethnic nose flute playing merged with techno, and the group is another accomplished combo who I’ve seen do Dancing Lasha Tumbai with aplomb.  Shum, indeed.

UK  (A) –  Embers from James Newman, upbeat summer top down car tune with brass band backing

Overall:

This is a great year’s songs, there are very few I really dislike.  A few growers, which won’t do well as many voters only get to see them once or twice.  I’d be happy for any of the 3 French bookies choice to win, but I also have a soft spot for Ukraine, Ireland, and Greece.

 

The One With The Travelling 60th Tee – Part 2

The first recipient of the Quatrain-tee 60th shirt was my cousin David.

The first recipient of the Quaran-tee was my cousin David. he and I save a keen interest in all things scientific and agronomical, and can often be found in the same part of the world when there’s a solar eclipse.

He’s also a bit of a karaoke king, so he chose to perform the very appropriate “When I’m 64” to get the Travelling Tee off to a rousing start. 10 bonus performance points!

It has now been passed on to Helen – let’s see what magic she manages with it!

Low carb wraps

I found these in my local supermarket, and have used them for my lunches this week.

Following a low carb diet, I usually avoid the bread/bagel/wrap based lunches, but when I spotted these at 100 calories each, 4g carbs and 12g protein I just had to try them. The main ingredient is pea protein, so they are an easy way to get some more protein content.

Filling 1:

Cream cheese, smoked salmon, chopped green onions (scallions)

These held together really well, and the scallions added a bit of crunch to what might otherwise be a bit soft texture wise.

Filling 2:

Cottage cheese, roast red pepper, basil, and marmite.

Smearing a good teaspoon of marmite over the base before adding the toppings is a tasty way to add flavour, and the roast red pepper was a good alternative to tomato.

Filling 3:

Ricotta, roast broccoli, artichokes, plenty of salt and pepper

Ricotta can be a bit bland and chalky, so next time I’d add some jalapeños give it more of a kick. Good way to use up leftover veggies.

Overall verdict:

The wraps are lovely and soft, easy to roll and don’t disintegrate like some other low carb alternatives. I accompanied each wrap with a mini salad of either tomatoes and celery, kimchi, sugar snaps and cucumber. I will definitely be making these part of my usual meal planning.

The One With The Travelling 60th Tee – part 1

Well, this started with my cousin’s 60th birthday. Which happened to be in March 2021. The UK was still in the throes of Coronavirus restrictions, so his party was held over Zoom. I thought it would be amusing to get him a special T shirt to wear, and I duly found and ordered one off t’internet.

Except it didn’t arrive in time for the actual do 😦 So what to do? Keep it give it to someone else? Give it to D anyway as a souvenir? As I ran the options passed him we came up with a more brilliant idea – I would pass it to him, he would pass it on to someone else having their 60th in the near future, who in turn would pass it on…..you get the picture. Bit like those bottle bags which continually get passed from giver to recipient, or the theory about there only being one box of After Eights. All being well it might arrive back with me for my 60th in October. When hopefully we won’t be in lockdown or quarantine any more and I can have a proper party. Yay!

The rules – such as they are- take a photo wearing the T, send it to me, and I’ll do a blog entry on who’s wearing it, where, and what shenanigans it got up to. And who’s next. We did consider awarding bonus points for Most Interesting Stain, but that just sounds like asking for trouble with a capital T. hashtag60Tee

I got some takeaway coffees and we did a doorstep handover. Good luck, lil Tee shirt, travel safe!

While you’re here, if you’d like to make a donation to my marathon fundraising please click the link below. And let’s get everyone smiling.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Linda-Harley6?utm_source=Sharethis&utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=Linda-Harley6&utm_campaign=pfp-email&utm_term=6712ef4f37c8474abddc1546696e9878.

Celeriac base pizza

Low carb pizza based on the Blood Sugar Diet recipe book

This is one of those rare recipes that is actually given for one person, so it’s great for the solo dieter!

For the base, grate 80g celeriac. Mix with 2 tablespoons cream cheese, and a small amount of cheddar (I find the matchbox sized individual mature cheddar things are the perfect size). Stir in a beaten egg, and season with salt, pepper, and a good shake of Italian seasoning (or oregano)

making the pizza base

Spoon onto a greaseproof lined baking sheet, and bake at 200 degrees for 20-30 mins, keep an eye on to male sure it goes nice and gold without burning at the edges.

base after 25 minutes

Now go mad with your toppings! This can be a great one to use up odds and ends in the fridge. I had pasta sauce, anchovies, jarred mushrooms, cherry toms, capers, a little tapenade, some blue cheese getting past its best, and some parmesan.

Toppings from storecupbard odds and ends

Bake for another 10 mins or so – again, keep an eye on to make sure the cheese is melted, but the edges not too burned. Calories will depend on toppings, but around 350, with 25g carb from the celeriac, and 20g protein from the cheese and egg.

The final pizza!

Enjoy!

Cheese and greens mini muffins

These were adapted from the cheese and spinach mini muffins in the Fast 800 blue “easy” book, but I had no spinach. I did however have a bag of kale that I’d put in the freezer a while back, so I was interested to see how that worked out. I defrosted it a bit before using, but the act of freezing does break down similar green veggies, so this sort of recipe is great for using them.

Main ingredients – a tin of butterbeans and 3 eggs. Blend in a food processor. with salt and pepper. I was using my nutribullet, and sometimes it can be a bit fussy if the ingredients are too dry. But I was amazed by how quickly these 2 pulsed together to form a batter. I will definitely be exploring other options along these lines in future.

Next add 50g spinach or kale, and 75g grated strong cheese, and 4 spring onions (scallions, green onions, chopped). I didn’t think all of this would fit, so I kept back some cheese to sprinkle on top of the muffins to give a crispy finish.

I spritzed a low cal spray into each section of my muffin tin, and used my red scoop to portion out even amounts. This device came with a tub of porridge oats, but I find it really useful in making this sort of muffin frittata thingy.

Recipe says 12, I managed to only get 11.

Bake at 180 (fan) for around 30 mins, turn the oven off and let them cool before turning out. They are super tasty, and have a satisfyingly dense but moist texture. One or two for a late breakfast, or with a salad for lunch, they keep for a few days in the fridge, or can be frozen. I plugged the ingredients into MyFitnessPal, and the calories came out at 90 per piece, 9g carbs and 6g protein.

Fast 800-4-1 week 4

A week of main meals suitable for those following a fast 800 (low calorie, low carb) approach, but cooking mainly for one person. Recipes from the Fast 800 series unless otherwise stated.

Mon: Roast veg with cumin and goats cheese (easy p177). This was very tasty and straightforward, although the recipe at one point refers to “all the vegetables” when it really means “except the tomatoes”. You’re now going to tell me that tomatoes are technically a fruit, aren’t you. Meat-eating husband had his as a side, and it worked well as that. If I do this again I’d make more and have leftovers for lunch.

Goats cheese cumin veg

Tues: Mushroom omelette. A quick go to for the solo cook. Served with green veg on the side.

Wed: Prawn courgetti. (Easy p118) I had to change my plans at the last minute as husband wanted some too, and he’s not a fan of courgettes.

Thurs: Broccoli and paneer (easy p 182)

The recipe book gives this as serves 3, which always looks odd! Anyway, easy to adapt for one person, using 80g paneer. Following the recipe I fried the paneer cubes in oil first, but they were very spluttery, and I hope I haven’t ruined the frock I was wearing by having blobs of hot oil splashed on it, and my hands. Very simple list of ingredients, usually things I would have around.

simple uncomplicated ingredients

Fri: Indian feast. I tried the broccoli dish again, but dry fried the paneer first, which was much less splattery. I swapped the tomatoes for mushrooms, as I’m not a fan of scalding hot toms that burn the roof of your mouth. I adapted a Joe Wicks thai curry recipe using up aubergine and mushroom with red thai paste and coconut milk, served it with some shredded cabbage done in the microwave, a blob of yoghurt and some lime pickle. A sprinkle of cashews for added protein and crunch.

Brocoli paneer, thai aubergine mushroom, shredded cabbage, yoghurt, lime pickle

Sat: Tuna stuffed peppers. (Easy p84) One pepper, one can of tuna, there’s a little bit of stuffing left over, depends on the size of your peppers. It was very salty with a lot of anchovies and capers in it, and again, those hot scalding cherry toms….

Tuna stuffed pepper

Sun: Cauliflower cheese and veggie sosig, celeriac chips. Linda McCartney’s veggie sausages are very tasty, and come in around 100 calories and 10g protein each, which is a good ratio to aim for. The cauliflower and broccoli cheese was from the BSD recipe books, and wasn’t that exciting, though I do like the addition of chopped jalapeños! It heated up well for lunch next day. The celeriac chips were not really crispy enough, other people say they do take a long time in the oven. I have lots of celeriac left, but I’m planning pizza bases and Spanish omelettes for next week.