Happy Easter!

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I decided to make the most of the long Easter weekend and venture up to London for the day (ok, we hopped on the fast train to Waterloo and got there in 35 minutes). We had originally planned to skate around Hyde Park, but as the forecast predicted rain for the afternoon (which never materialised, besides a light 30-second shower) the skate shop couldn’t let us rent any skates from them. Whilst my boyfriend has his own, short of buying a pair on the spot (I decided £140 was a bit steep for an impulse buy) skating was out for me!

We briefly considered renting a Boris Bike (the ugly Barclays bikes) but as we headed over to Hyde Park, the very light snow turned to heavy sleet, and we ducked into the Underground, instead.

We ended up in South Kensington, at the Natural History Museum. It was free to get in, and just big enough to spend the afternoon there, so we queued up. Luckily, it didn’t take too long to get in, despite the crowds of tourists – though it was quite busy once we got inside! After standing around in the cold, the first thing we did was head to the cafe for a hot drink – and were luckily enough to nab a table almost immediately. The drinks were really tasty, and given that we were at a tourist spot in central London, the prices were really reasonable!

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The Natural History Museum building is absolutely stunning!

The first area we checked out was the Blue Zone – i.e. loads of really awesome huuuge mammals, and skeletons of various ancestors (including a huge rhino-like mammal with two huge horns!) I was surprised at just how much there was to see, given it was free to get in. It took us quite a while to get round, but it worked out nicely as by the time we queued up to see the Dinosaurs Gallery, the waiting time had gone right down. We both agreed that this was the BEST bit:

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Dinosaur skeletons, fossils, and an animatronic T-Rex – awesome!

Of course, we couldn’t go home without taking a dinosaur with us – though this little guy wasn’t quite as fierce as the ones in the gallery!

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Teeny little cuddly T-Rex!

We stayed until closing, and then hopped back on the Underground and headed over to Oxford Circus and Carnaby Street. If you find yourself in the area, you have to check out Cha Cha Moon – they do the most amazing noodle dishes ever. This time, we started with prawn dumplings (sooo good) served with chilli and garlic sauce, and then I had the wonton soup. After the dumplings (which were pretty rich) the soup was quite light, and really hit the spot. The restaurant itself is really cool, with low atmospheric lighting and rows of wooden benches. Highly recommended!

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Dumplings and wonton soup at Cha Cha Moon

As for Easter, I’ve somehow found myself with no chocolate today !! (I know, something’s wrong with the world). Luckily, we picked up some M&S hot cross buns yesterday. We had apple and cinnamon ones last night, which have always been my favourite, but this year there’s a new flavour to try – Belgian chocolate and orange:

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A little taste of Easter!

They may not be Easter eggs, but they’ll do for now. I guess I’ll just have to eat extra chocolate tomorrow!

Happy Easter, everyone 🙂

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Lean, mean commuting machine!

Today I picked up my new bike, and it’s gooorgeous! I didn’t appreciate just how slim and light a hybrid bike would be, and I’m really impressed!

My lean, mean, commuting machine!

Of course I went out and bought the usual accessories, too. I found a decent helmet and a bike lock (which weighs nearly as much as the bike .. or felt like it, anyway!) I also invested in a reflective sticker sheet – by that, I mean the stickers haven’t been pre-cut, so you get to cut out custom shapes. I added a strip to each side of the helmet – you can see one on the left-hand side in the picture above.

Whilst I tried to be sensible, and just buy the essentials at a price that wasn’t too high, a little something caught my eye and I had to get it:

Flourescent, reflective smiley face stickers !!

Aren’t they awesome!? I just need to figure out where to stick them. I’m thinking helmet, so far, but that doesn’t seem very creative! I’ll have to experiment ..

I had no idea there were so many awesome accessories I could get for my bike! It’s a good thing I got it in the sale, because I can see myself spending lots of money over the next few weeks. Self control, I have not.

Pain and Suffering

Today, I stumbled across a brand new 10k/10mile race, and I’m not sure what to think of it. On one hand, it looks quite .. well, not fun, but maybe satisfyingly challenging!? And my stubborn, competitive side is trying to make me focus on how awesome it would feel to cross the finish line. On the other hand, the name seems pretty apt, and I think you’d have to be nuts to even consider it.

Maybe I’m just nuts.

The 10k race is The Suffering, and the 10 mile version is the Pain and Suffering. Whilst by the names alone, neither of these sound worth going anywhere near, part of me is half considering it. Realistically,  reading through the obstacles, I’d probably get a mile in and want to go home! 

The legendary Rockingham Castle holds host to its first bout of Suffering in June 2013. The grounds boast vicious terrain, including hills, valleys, mud, water, and nettles, natural and definitely unnatural obstacles including the Land Rover Experience course, The Gauntlets and The Killing Zone guaranteed to make the soul despair.’
When put like that .. yeah, I probably wouldn’t last ten minutes. But imagine if I did! Whilst tough runs can be physically and mentally draining and make you feel like curling up in a ball and never moving again, getting through those sorts of experiences is SO rewarding. My 16-miler was the worst (sporting) experience of my life, but I felt almost hyper once I had showered and curled up on the sofa in a big slouchy jumper with a mug of hot chocolate and a satisfying ache to .. well .. my entire body.
But this one does look excruciating!

Check out a ‘taste’ of the obstacles:

  • The Press: Straight off the bat we get you on your knees, crawling through the mud. A little audience participation here as your friends, family and total strangers pelt you with wet sponges in an area designed to make you an easy target.
  • The HolHollHollow: The first of our water obstacles.
  • The Tunnel: A modest bridge you would normally be encouraged to pass over. Where would be the stinking mud in that. Mind out above you though because there might well be some gunge coming your way.
  • The Training Gauntlet: this figure of 8 in a deep set bowl is here to test you. Visibility might be an issue. Don’t expect to be able to move freely.
  • Valley Run: Steep muddy banks are the name of the game here. Try to stay upright as we send you darting in and out. Watch your footing this is not the time or place for speed.
  • Engineered Suffering: We are not unveiling these obstacles just yet. These are our flagship obstacles. Designed and constructed by engineers who also compete. You will not be able to prepare for these.
  • The Gauntlet: We’re entering 4×4 territory now; this is a ¼ mile of hell. Steep banks litter the landscape, it’s uneven under foot. It’s slippery, water logged and we’re going to chuck in a few nasty surprises. How’s your arm strength, fancy picking up something large and uncomfortable. Now you have to take this over, through, under everything this section throws at you. If you get to the end and you don’t have it, we’ll send you back to the beginning.
  • The Ford: This is the second of our water tests. speed may be your enemy here.
  • The Field Traverse: Barbed wire lines this narrow stretch. Don’t expect to be able to move quickly here.
  • The Nets: This isn’t your everyday set of cargo nets. You’re the meat in the sandwich and the nets are the bread. There’s no quick way through this little beast.
  • The Ponds: Water obstacle number 3. You are going in! Beware though it’s not just water here, there will be a special little something here to make it a little more challenging ;)
  • If you run around Rockingham you’ll know about Rockingham Hill. Many an over confident runner has fallen foul. Of course this isn’t all we’re going to ask you to do. Oh, and you’ll have to repeat this little stretch, on the bright side you get a lovely view of the castle. On the down side your hyperventilating may spoil the ambience.
  • The Assault course: We couldn’t leave this out, tyre runs, A-Frames, cargo nets, crawl tunnels, we will of course have a special little something in there for you too.
  • An obstacle race wouldn’t be an obstacle race if it didn’t have a big wall, but or a sequence of killer walls.
  • The finish: You’ll be the happiest person alive when / if you make it to the finish and we’ll have your goody bag waiting for you. Get your photo taken before getting changed, don’t worry all the photos are free; just like us on Facebook and we’ll send them over to you.

.. Yeeeah, maybe not!

And the cycling begins!

I received an awesome email this afternoon:

We’ve got some exciting news about your order: Your bike is being assembled!


That’s right – I will soon be the owner of this awesome speed machine:

I’m way more excited than I probably should be .. Cycling, wooo !!

My new job is currently a 1-hour commute – only 1 stop on the train, but there’s a long walk to and from the station. However, I worked out that it’s just 6 miles from home to my office – which means I can cycle there in under half the time it takes me to travel there at the moment! 

And as an added bonus, whilst I was too impatient to wait 3 months to get the bike through the ‘ride to work’ scheme – i.e., discounted – the sale price of the bike is actually less than I would have paid for 3 months of train tickets (yes, for just one stop .. which is costing me £6.40 a day. With my railcard, which theoretically offers 1/3 off the cost of train tickets, it would cost me £12. SouthWestTrains, I will never understand you).

I’m excited to add some regular, non-negotiable cross-training to my schedule each week, especially given the problems I’ve been having with my knees lately, thanks to the last few uber-long training runs.

Now I just need to stop slacking on the running, and I might just survive Brighton Marathon next month!