Acadia National Park

So after waking up to beautiful sunshine we headed out on the drive to Acadia National Park, which is on the Atlantic coast. We arrived to early to check in to our hotel, so went to the visitors centre to find out what to do.  After looking around and buying a pass (this was different to every other National Park we had been to, in that there were no entrance gates, you just bought the ticket at the centre) we headed to the Lake House.

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We were going to have lunch (what? On holiday?) but the queue was huge, so we opted to walk around the lake first. It was a 3 mile loop and was just beautiful.

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I saw a few red squirrels too, but of course they hid when I took a photo!

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Such a wonderful place for a walk.

By the time we got back the queue was gone so we opted for food. They did a hummus and veggie wrap (hooray) and proper fresh lemonade- I had blueberry lemonade (I wanted blueberry iced tea but they had run out).

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They also sold these things called “popovers”- they would have them warmed with jam and tea as a sort of afternoon tea. Well, we had to try them- they turned out to be like yorkshire puddings! A bit strange, but nice to try. After checking in to our hotel we drove back to the park to watch the sunset.

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The next day we drove to the coastal section of the park- it was always really misty by the sea. This was Thunder Hole- the sea crashes in and out and makes a loud booming sound. The path was closed off for safety reasons but of course there are always some people who feel it does not apply to them…

2014-07-30 15.57.26Then we headed inland for some hikes. We picked up a little hiking book in the shop, as at the other National Parks we were always given a free newspaper that had maps of walks, but this one didn’t. We wanted them more for the rating (one walk contained a section of vertical rock where you pulled yourself up iron rungs drilled into the cliff- no thanks!). In the end we combined a few walks as the trails met in different places.

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We were up high at this point but could see the clouds covering the sea below.

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We saw loads of blueberries growing.

2014-07-30 17.24.12And ended up walking to another lake, where the mist came in pretty quickly. We sat for a bit and had a banana (holiday lunch).

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Then we walked/hiked back (we don’t go on the extreme hikes, but the terrain was steep and involved a lot of climbing over boulders and things) and walked along the sea shore for a bit.

2014-07-30 18.51.23In the evening we walked to the town (Bar Harbor) for a wander around- it was so pretty.

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We found an amazing place to eat- the Side Street Cafe. I had so much choice, it was amazing! And the best part of the menu was that they did a build your own sandwich (and offered gluten free bread) so pretty much any diet would be catered for. We shared guacamole and corn chips to start, and then I had a sandwich with hummus, tomato, spinach and avocado. The best combination!

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To top it off we found a great bakery, The Pink Pastry Shop. It was a bit chilly that evening (the mist came in to the town while we were eating) and this place did a chai latte and offered almond milk! I was very excited. Of course I was also swayed by the baked goods, so I got a pumpkin whoopie pie, and Andy had a peanut butter cupcake. The drink kept me warm on the walk back, and we had the desserts a little later.

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The next day we went to a different part of the park to see another lighthouse. Again, nice but not really what I was expecting. Then we drove along the coast for another walk to see the pink granite “cliffs”- really the part of the beach you walk on.

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The mist was really rolling in, and although we had planned a walk on this side, we headed back to the other part as we didn’t think there was much point in walking up for ages if we couldn’t see anything.

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So we walked up to the top of this hill to look down on the lake (the first one we walked around)- stunning views.

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We saw Bubble Rock, which is a huge boulder that was deposited during the ice age. It looks as if it will roll off the edge.

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Then we saw some of the sea in the sunlight! Very pretty indeed.

For dinner we walked back to the Sidestreet Cafe- I had a black bean wrap (again, delicious) and we were persuaded by the waitress to share a dessert.

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This was a Fluffernutter sundae. Basically a grilled peanut butter and fluff sandwich, topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce. It had to be tried!

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The weather was lovely that evening so we spent some more time wandering around the town and enjoying the views.

Acadia National Park was a lovely place to visit. It had a different feel to the other National Parks we had been to- it was much smaller, and being so close to a town meant it had a relaxed vibe about it. It did have plenty of hardcore day hikers, but it also had people who were there to sit on a boat all day and go out for ice cream in the evening.

Do you like trying new foods on holiday?

Treat your feet

Now, when you are running it is really important to look after your feet. Luckily I don’t normally get blisters but sometimes I find a blister on my little toe (or I lose my little toenail- the last time I lost one was doing the Bath Half and since then I read that it can take toenails 2 years to properly regrow! Oops. I just cover it up with nail polish). I do have some foot lotion but only tend to use it when I remember (or when I have a bit more time)I was recently sent some foot goodies from the folks at Scholl so my feet are very happy at the moment!

2014-08-13 19.52.34They sent me some party feet heel cushions, some invisible gel cushions and some velvet smooth intense serum.

Now, I am not much of a party animal. I am more of an in-my-pajamas-by-9.30pm sort, and I don’t wear heels, but I do like wearing pumps which are not the best for your feet either.  So I decided to put the heel cushions into a pair of pumps to see how they would do.

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I treated these as if they were some shoe insoles and was pleased with the result. I walked all around town for about an hour and a half (I was meeting some friends for afternoon tea, and two of us turned up 90 minutes early!)- and my feet felt fine. They slot into the heel area really easily, and did provide more cushioning than the soles of the pumps provide on their own. I have actually left them in my shoes for a few days now and they have been fine. It does say on the packet that both the heel and ball cushions are re-usable, and you can hand wash them, which is pretty good too. Having never used anything like this before I was quite impressed.

When looking at the lotion at first I was a bit worried, as it says on the box that it contains green caviar. Being a vegetarian I try to avoid any animal products but I don’t always remember to check the ingredients (I remember being shocked when I found a hand cream, Dove I think, that contained gelatin), but this was splashed on the front of the box. However some googling revealed that it is in fact some sort of seaweed, so perfectly vegetarian.

The serum is lovely- not greasy and it absorbed really quickly- I like to put my socks on soon so I hate having to wait for a lotion to sink in. I only needed a small blob (that is some specific lingo for you right there) so even though the bottle is small (30ml) it will last me a while.

Having something like this just reminds me to be careful of my feet in general. I think we can take them for granted, your feet carry you around all day, so spending a few minutes rubbing on some lotion is surely worthwhile.

Do you look after your feet? Do you wear heels? 

* I was sent these products in return for an honest review which included some links. All opinions are my own.


New England

Hey, I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend. Another part of the holiday recap here.

So, after a day in Montreal we got a bus down to the USA. We crossed the border 4 times during this trip, and going into the USA was not a good experience. Our bus was late, but then it was in the queue for the border for 2 hours before we even got off the bus to be interrogated by the officials. Anyway, I think we ended up being about 3 hours late by the time we picked up our hire car, but there was still enough time for a touristy visit.

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We could not go to Vermont without going to Ben and Jerry’s world! We did the tour (it was something like $4 each so not bad)- it was quite interesting although the factory only goes in the week, and this was a weekend, so some of it was a video instead. Then had a free sample (which was pretty big- Andy’s had an entire oreo biscuit in it!).

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On the exit of the tour they had posters for the top 10 flavours, so of course I had to have a picture by my favourite! Then we joined the queue to buy an ice cream. We shared two scoops- one hazelnut one and one peanut butter/caramel one. They were good, but we had eaten breakfast very early (7am), been on the bus for hours, and this was around 4pm, so both of us decided that we should have had a smaller size- it was a bit too sweet.

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They even have a flavour graveyard there…

Anyway, then we drove to our B&B which was just gorgeous. It was in New Hampshire (Jackson), and by the time we had driven there it was the evening. Trip Advisor to the rescue- there was a pub within walking distance (The Red Fox Bar and Grill)- they did the most amazing salad with roasted pear, nuts and goats cheese- I was sold!

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On the drive to the mountains- a lovely view across the valley but huge clouds…

The weather was more overcast the next day. We headed out to the White Mountains National Forest, but got caught in a torrential downpour (when even the wipers on the fastest speed could not clear the rain)- we did have raincoats but we would have been soaked in seconds. We went to a visitor information centre to find out about the Old Man of the Mountain (the profile of a face on the side of a cliff that collapsed in 2003- there is now a memorial there, and do not under any circumstanced make light of the situation because the locals are very cut up about it- you could get memorial t-shirts and everything…). There was a walk to view it, but it was still pouring so we headed to another section of the park for a lovely walk to a waterfall (Flume Gorge).

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We even saw a bear cave- run!

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After a couple of hours we headed back to the car, and as the rain was coming our way again headed to some outlet shops.

In the evening we went to the Red Fox again- they had a brick oven for pizzas so we shared a veggie pizza and the grilled pear salad.

The following day we had breakfast at the B&B (which was fantastic- every day they had available fresh fruit, home-made granola, little home-made pastries, juices, teas etc, and then they had a menu for their cooked items- some sort of pancakes and some sort of French toast were on offer every day. One day I had French toast with bananas and pecans and one day spiced apple pancakes. Delicious.)  Anyway, back to the trip. It was raining again (hard) so we popped to some other outlet shops- I got some bargainous Gap jeans for about £18, and some Lindt chocolates.

Then we drove to Freeport in Maine. It was a really pretty town, with some outlet shops but also some quirky places too. After a few hours wandering around (and a Starbucks “lunch”- we don’t tend to have lunch on holiday- we each had a drink and shared a piece of pumpkin bread as we were hungry) we drove out to see the lighthouse at Rockland. You had to walk along a breakwater for about a mile, and it was really misty, so pretty spooky. We kept hearing fog horns but could not see the ships!

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It was pretty, but not like the sort of lighthouse I imagined! Walking back was strange too as we could not see the mainland because of all the mist. We still had a bit of driving after that (a couple of hours) so by the time we reached the town we were starving. We saw a Friendly’s diner and so that decision was made. They did do a veggie burger, but they also did tomato soup with a grilled cheese, and I fancied the soup so went for that with a side salad.

As we finished our meal the lights flickered and huge crashes of thunder rumbled about- we had to sprint to the car and were drenched! The storm was crazy- lightning every 10 seconds or so, and such heavy rain. The sat-nav took us straight to the hotel, and luckily we could park under cover to unload the car.

The next day we woke to glorious sunshine, and luckily those were our only really rainy days. I don’t mind a bit of rain and of course we pack raincoats, but some of that rain was so heavy we would have been soaked in seconds which is never fun. And of course the views are not quite as stunning!

Do you have lunch on holiday? We tend to have breakfast and then a snack like a cereal bar or banana, and then dinner.

Does rain stop play on your holiday, or do you carry on regardless?


Handbag snacks

I love to have a snack in my bag “just in case”. I love fruit as a snack (or carrot sticks and hummus) but if I don’t have it the same day that sort of thing goes bad/ gets squashed very quickly, and of course some things have to be refrigerated. I was clearing out my school bag this week and found several clif bars, a pulsin’ bar and a mini packet of dried mango. But at least they can go back in my drawer and will be fine another day.

I was very happy when I was offered a box of Nakd bars to review on the blog. They make the perfect handbag snack. In case you have been living in a cloud, nakd bars are a blend of dried fruits, nuts and natural flavours “smooshed” together. The cocoa mint one (my favourite) contains dates, cashews, raisins, cocoa and natural flavour. 

2014-08-11 11.41.19I love nakd bars. My local Sainsbury’s used to stock the apple pie bars in boxes of 4, and that used to be my treat as I loved the apple/cinnamon flavour, and when they started doing the gluten free cocoa ones I was completely sold. I have used their website quite a bit (and sometimes the nakd pixie even includes a little extra sample)- delivery is free and they so sampler boxes so you can try all the flavours.

As I mentioned before, the cocoa mint one of my favourite, but a close second is the gingerbread (made with dates, almonds, pecans, ginger, cloves & cinnamon )- spicy! I like their smaller size, and I often have one in my bag as an after school snack- they are good with a cup of tea. When I was marathon training (all those years ago) nakd bars were one of the few foods I found I could eat whilst running too.

Because of the ingredients they are not super high in protein (around about 3g per bar) but they also sell Trek Protein Bars which are similar to the nakd bars but with added soya protein crispies. We always used to take some of the Peanut and Oat ones on holiday, as they made a great hiking snack.

They do come up with new flavours all the time- the latest once being their Protein Crunch bars (5.5g protein per little bar), so I thought I would give them some more ideas:

Cocoa gingerbread

Cocoa cherry

Sour cherry

Peanut butter

Chocolate peanut butter

Almond/ cocoa almond (I am imaging a delicious marzipan flavour here)

Spiced chai/ vanilla chai


What flavour would you like them to make next?

* I was sent these for free and was asked to include a link to the site, all opinions are my own

Holding back

Hey peeps

A break from the holiday recaps this evening!

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I had to re-jig the magnets on our fridge to fit these on!

Since getting back from holiday I have not had a proper routine- after landing Friday morning I was off out on Friday night and then away for a Hen do Saturday-Sunday, getting home at about 9pm on Sunday (after popping in to see Andy’s family).

I was looking forward to a run. I took my running bits with me, just in case I fancied one, and mainly because I used my trail shoes and capris for walks, so I had most of the kit already. But then I usually get annoyed if I pack something and don’t use it, plus when we stayed in Quebec we were right by a beautiful park, so it seemed rude not to.

But the day before we came home I had my little hip niggle again. I think I am going to see another physio because I am not sure why it keeps coming back but I think it is to do with when I get stiff and sit awkwardly- it came on this time after a 3 hour bus journey, and was worse after I got off the plane. So although over the weekend it got better I wanted to be careful.

Anyway, on Monday morning as soon as I woke up I headed out- I only wanted to go for 3 miles and took it really easy. I didn’t look at my Garmin at all (which is lucky because it still takes ages to find the signal these days) and just kept a steady pace.  My calves were really stiff, probably due to a long car journey on Sunday, so lots of stretching when I got home.

And then:

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Of course it had to be pancakes! I told Andy I was having a Saturday- he had to work but seeing as in the summer I can do my work as and when, I decided to have some “me” time. I used coconut flour, plus a little normal flour, egg and almond milk, but they are still slightly dry in texture, although some maple syrup sorted that out. I think that once this box of coconut flour runs out, I won’t replace it as I am not a huge fan.

I pottered around at home doing some work and some jobs including clearing out the rest of my drawers and our wardrobe- the drawers now shut, amazing!

To help with the jet lag we went on a walk on Monday evening, just a couple of miles after dinner but it was good to have some fresh air.

On Tuesday I had to power-walk to the post office (we were expecting a delivery but Andy had some training at home which meant he couldn’t answer the door at a specific time so I had to be back for that), and I did a massive clean to follow on from the de-cluttering of Monday. Very satisfying. Another walk was needed post-dinner (I feel like I could fall asleep at around 6pm, and then get a second wind and am wide awake at 11) but we had to cut it short as there were huge clouds looming.

Today I saw my parents, met up with some friends, and then went to Sweatshop. I was really pleased because although my hip has been fine (when doing work I have been careful to get up frequently and move about) I don’t want it to go bad again, so I didn’t want to go crazy. The guy made us do some dynamic moves to warm up, which I really should do before every run, but we did all feel like idiots doing it on the lawn in front of the gym. But then we ran along an old railway line (now a cycle/ footpath) and then back through the fields, and it was gorgeous. I sometimes try to keep the speedier runners in sight, but knew it would be no good for me, so I was sensible, controlled, and finished feeling strong.

I got home to find that I had 15 minutes to go before Bake Off, and with Andy out it meant I could have control of the TV. But I just popped on the athletics to see what was going on, and realised that the 10,000m was going on- so in the end I opted to watch the last half of that before my shower (jumping up and down during the final lap!!) – I shall have to watch Bake Off on i-player instead.

Are you good at holding back or do you always get tempted? I was talking to my Dad about this today- he had to stop running in January as he injured his knee, and has only just been able to start again. He loved doing parkruns but was saying he won’t go at the moment as he knows he would get carried away and be too tempted to try and speed up too much.