Runs, snow, dodging tidal waves and wild animal sightings

My blog has been down this past week or so as it is being moved over to new servers- I actually got a new address for it too, but that will be sorted out later. Hopefully it should all be up and working fine now though.

January running has been going well. My next race isn’t until the end of February (the Brighton half) and whereas last year I was going for a time, this year, it’s just for fun. I have no distance goals for each month, so it’s just been great to head out and go as far as I fancy. I discovered a new path near me (well, not really- more like I knew it was there and finally got around to running it) and ended up in some woods. It had to be an out and back run, but I think I can work it into some sort of loop.

Just me and the squirrels- lovely.

I had a run after work one day, and got to try out my new running chest light thing (I have no idea what it is called)- as you can see I was very excited by it! The pavements near here are poorly lit (loads of big trees between the lamp posts and the pavements) and they are very lumpy from the roots, so it is hard to run in the evenings. That is one thing I miss about Hatfield, as we lived right by the business park and the pavements there were new and very well lit (and also always gritted in the ice and snow).

It showed up the frosty patches of pavement really well- hurrah!

It also meant I could read this sign- it is actually quite sad because the cat is ill and they think it’s hiding in a bush or something, but the title made me chuckle as I read it in my head with a huge amount of exasperation. Come on Timmy, you’ve done this before, sort it out…

I was a tail runner at Panshanger parkrun last Saturday- you tend to end up walking (which is fine) so I had wrapped up warm, in my brand new white jacket. It was only when I was chatting to the RD and he commented on the mud, that I thought maybe it wasn’t such a good idea!

Luckily the high viz jacket covered it, and although it was super muddy and slippery in places (and at one point when retrieving a sign I got caught by brambles and nearly fell down a bank) the jacket made it through!

I do love tail running- this time I spoke to a lady for a bit (she thought she would be at the back with me but then overtook some others), but then the other people at the back were all talking to each other, so I ended up chatting to each marshal as they finished. You also get more time to enjoy the lovely scenery, although it was a bit grey and overcast.

On Sunday morning last week, I tried out another new route- this is an old railway line that runs from Welwyn to Hertford. I have seen on Strava that some people run to parkrun this way, but I can’t quite work out how to get there (parkrun is by the lakes just above where it says Hertingfordbury, so it’s a bit of a way from the route)- where I popped up on the map is where some little country roads are, and I think I need to run along those. Exploring for another day. It was so muddy along there though- I really should have worn my trail shoes. 10 miles done though, so that was good.

One of the old platforms along the old railway line. There’s a car park on it now and it seems a lot of people were leaving their cars and then running or cycling along it.

Filthy shoes!

On Thursday the forecast was for snow around rush hour, so our head sent the staff home as soon as the children had left. The traffic was awful, but I got home around 4.30, so I went out on a run as it wasn’t snowing at that point (just raining). Of course it then started when I was out so it turned into one of those sort of manic runs where you are grinning and laughing at the craziness of running in the snow and slush, treading in icy puddles and not being able to see because the snow coats your glasses and gets in your eyes.

It was mostly fun, although one bit of the road always floods (I had forgotten this) and so I had to stand there and wait for there to be a gap in the traffic before running along the pavement as fast as I could to avoid being soaked by a wall of water as a car drove past.

By the time I got home there was quite a covering on the cars and grass, but the roads were all fine. The next morning I had to spent at least 10 minutes chipping away at the ice on my car though- basically the snow had melted a little, slid down the windscreen, and then frozen overnight, so there was a good inch of solid ice around the wipers. I ended up cutting my thumb somehow, and didn’t even notice because my hands were numb.

This weekend was a parkrun on Saturday with my dad (we went to Ellenbrook, which is full of people from my club- after the first small loop you run past the finish area so all the token scanners etc. give you a big cheer- we now get “go on Maria, go on Maria’s dad”- I think they know his name but just like to cheer him on like that now!). It was very icy- all the puddles were solid, and the rutted ground had frozen so we both ran cautiously as we were worried about twisting an ankle or something. 28.54 for my 92nd parkrun.

On Sunday I went along the old railway line again, this time in trail shoes. It was raining gently when I left, and as it was cold I wore my waterproof jacket. The rain got heavier and then I found out that it is no longer waterproof.

I did see a pheasant though, and it was a bit spooky as on my way to Ellenbrook one had flown out in front of me and then flown across the motorway, and I was just thinking about that when this one ran out across the path.

You might be able to see the silhouette of the pheasant- I was too slow getting my phone out.

I also had to race past the big puddle again (took photos while waiting for a gap in the traffic)- you can see the water has gone all over the pavement just from cars splashing it.

Urgh- soggy wet socks to add to all the other wet clothes. I think I might need to clean my trail shoes now too.

Onto other things:

Baking. I have had a bit of a lapse recently, but over the last couple of weekends I have had some time to get on with it. I made these stollen loaves, and they were so good (we took one around to Andy’s parents and it went down a treat). The recipe says to put a sausage shape of marzipan in the middle, but I decided to roll it flat and then roll it (sort of like a swiss roll) as then you get a swirl (and more bites contain marzipan which is a win for me). I also topped them with an egg wash and then some flaked almonds, as I love it when they are nutty.

You can sort of see it here (can’t turn it back from being upside-down).

To take to work (everyone is on a new year health kick) I made these chocolate chia cookies as I was given the Deliciously Ella cookbook last year for Christmas, and although we have had some of the savoury things from there, I’ve not tried any sweet things yet. Hopefully they will be well received.

Yoga– after a break over the holidays it was back on this week and it was just what I needed. It was a lovely gentle class, to ease us back in, although I was still aching from it this morning!

Wildlife– On Saturday afternoon (about 2pm) we were just having a bit of lunch before walking into town, and out of the corner of my eye I saw something in our garden. When I looked, it was a fox climbing over the 6ft fence by our patio doors.

As it disappeared, a second fox came and tried to jump over. It couldn’t manage it, so it went off to the back of our garden. A little while later, the first one jumper back over the fence and wandered about a bit and jumped over a different fence, and then as I was trying to take some pictures the second one appeared again. They were both¬†wandering around without a care it seemed.

It is so unusual to see foxes during the day like this. I hope they managed to find each other again. What was even stranger was that as we were running around Ellenbrook that morning, as I dodged the “water feature” I was thinking that years ago I saw a fox there, in the middle of the day, when I was on a run (although I didn’t mention it as we were running single file at that point). Weird.

Do you see much wildlife where you live? I have seen deer on occasion, especially around Hatfield House, but mainly it is just birds. We have a few robins that come into our garden which I love to see. Did you have much bad weather this week? The worst thing here was that our work car park has a big dip in the middle, and so overnight the snow had slid into it, and then frozen, so it was basically like an ice rink (our caretaker was off sick last week)- I had to hold on to the side of my car to get to the end of it, and then basically slide across it to get to the edge- not fun! After we had located the grit, all the staff went out to sort out the paths, and by home-time it was fine. They cancelled the junior parkrun today because they found ice under the mud, but most of my run seemed fine (there was the odd icy patch here and there).

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