Chased by a Gruffalo!

Gruffalo at Alice Holt

The Saturday just gone was a real experience for my little JJ. His dad is a Parkrun devotee and has been a regular at many of our local parks, Guildford, Frimley, Rushmoor and Alice Holt Forest for the past couple of years. We often go and watch him and cheer him on, especially if the run takes him past a nice little playground or cafe :-). The idea is to do a timed 5K run with other like minded people (lots of families, children, even dogs and kids in buggies being pushed around for the ride of their lives!). Its not a competition but a chance to try and push yourself to a personal best each week. The hubster is, quite frankly, obsessed with the whole thing.

So lately JJ has been doing little pretend ‘parkruns’ up and down the corridor at both our house and my mum and dad’s. We have to shout, cheer and clap each time he comes past. He loves it!

Last weekend his dad finally decided to let him have a go himself. His ten year old step sister has done one or two of the runs in Guildford before but JJ, at just 4 (and 9 months) has always been deemed a bit too young up to now. I have to say I was extremely sceptical because he can be quite lazy at times, complaining that his legs hurt when expected to walk for five minutes, etc., but he was extremely keen and got very excited when his dad registered him on the website and printed him off his own little barcode (which they scan to record your time).

The reason that last Saturday was a greenlight for JJ was because his dad (the crazy nut) was working a night shift the night before and didn’t want to miss a parkrun but at the same time knew that he wouldn’t be up to much speedwise, hence giving him the perfect opportunity to run with his little son at his pace. Excitingly Alice Holt was the perfect venue as they were holding a special run featuring the Gruffalo (see above).

In the event the forecast was not good. As we pulled into the car park the heavens opened and the hubster was seriously contemplating giving up and heading home, feeling extremely tired after two hours sleep. The look on JJ’s little face was enough to convince him to brave the weather though – he was so keen and would have been so disappointed!

The rain quickly eased off and we gathered at the cafe to listen to the announcements. Just then a life size Gruffalo appeared behind the speaker which EJ was absolutely thrilled about! And then it was positions please and they were off!

It felt a bit strange just me and EJ heading to the playground alone but soon we were back out watching the runners as the fastest of the bunch began to speed by. The Gruffalo soon appeared and was making us laugh and EJ clap and cheer with his funny antics and comments! The idea was that any child who beat the Gruffalo would get a packet of sweeties!

After about 20 minutes JJ and the hubster appeared and EJ and I clapped and cheered! JJ sensibly decided to call it quits after the first of the two laps which, under the circumstances seemed like a good idea – a run of over a mile for a four year old is no mean feat and we were all very proud of him. Soon after we waved the hubster off for round 2 the heavens really opened with thunder and lightning and a torrential downpour! JJ definitely made the right decision!

Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures as the wet weather had put me off taking my camera and I have had to nick the photo above from another attendee. Instead, just to illustrate, here is a picture of JJ doing a pretend parkrun:



Not My Year Off

Health kick: smoothies, juices and scenic cycle rides

Yesterday I put a little bit of theory into motion. On Monday night I ordered a lot of fruit and veggies and after dropping the kids off in their respective Tuesday places, I went home and broke out the old smoothie making machine. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going for to begin with so I grabbed a left over half avocado, handful of strawberries, handful of blueberries, big bundle of fresh baby spinach leaves and whizzed it all up with some coconut water. I forgot to take a piccie – it looked a bit murky to be honest – but it tasted nice and the avocado really did lend a creaminess to it. Then I thought I’d try one of Katrina’s (aka Mrs Cool Bananas‘) juice recipes. I altered the amounts a bit and used 2 carrots, one orange and a slice of root ginger with some more coconut water. Unfortunately I don’t have a juicer so after I’d whizzed it up I put it through a sieve. It was still a bit bitty though, and I’m not 100% sold on the flavour but maybe I just didn’t get the balance quite right.

Carrot, orange and ginger

Later on I decided that it would be the day that I would finally break out my new bike so I duly dug it out from under a load of crap essential gardening equipment in the shed*, loaded it up into the back of my car and drove it over to Alice Holt Forest in Hampshire. There are lots of cycle routes to choose from there but I found myself on a 20 minute loop, going round twice and only being defeated by one steep hill which I gave up and walked the bike up.

cycle Alice Holt

(Alice Holt cycle trail but not my bikeĀ  – picture from

Later on I made my third smoothie of the day. This time I thought I’d go classic smoothie so I used 1 frozen banana, a handful of blueberries, two nice ripe nectarines and a big dollop of natural yogurt. This one was very sweet and tasty bberry nectarine smoothieut I’m not sure if I should be laying off this kind of thing with all the sweet fruit…

For dinner I made myself a jacket potato with a yummy topping I concocted which involves frying off some leeks and button mushrooms then adding some half fat Philadelphia with garlic and herbs – yum!

* Our shed could be used to teach school children about all the potential hazards you might find around the home, the hightlight being a cannister with some petrol in (for the lawnmower) lying around on a loose bit of carpet in a wooden structure…

Day 2

Back to work. Gloomy, drizzly day. I started the day by munching on a handful of Tyrells delicious sweet and salty popcorn – then I lost all self control and hoovered up about half a pack before actually reading the small print and discovering that this in no way constitutes a diet food! Ah well, its gone now. So, having had the oblig coffee (one small sugar) and banana for ‘early brek’ I then laid off all but decaf tea til lunch when I had a salad of mixed peppery leaves, cherry tomatoes and cucumber with a few slices of plain cold chicken and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. An apple afterwards and I actually felt a lot fuller and more satisfied than I thought I would with no carbs (but that could be something to do with inhaling a tonne of popcorn earlier?).

I am obviously addicted to my little lunchtime jaunt to Costa but today I’ve managed a skinny latte with no sugar (although I countered this with 2 pieces of Lindt dark mint chocolate :-/).

As you can see, I’m not really an all or nothing type person – I hate strict diets – I’d prefer to have a few tempered treats (maybe not the popcorn, but the balsamic dressing which I love and the dark chocolate – a little goes a long way to satisfying my sweet tooth!).

When I got home from work I attempted another smoothie combo – a handful of curly kale, a handful of blueberries, a peeled and cored apple, about a thumb sized piece of peeled and sliced root ginger, a few fresh mint leaves and some coconut water. JJ helped me whizz it up but refused to try it whilst EJ was quite happy to try it but didn’t want too much! It wasn’t too bad but I think it would have been nicer as a juice rather than a smoothie – the pulpiness was a bit offputting!

As today’s exercise I wasn’t sure what I was going to be able to do. The hubster was home and I had wanted to attempt a local cycle ride after putting the munchkins to bed but discovered that he had already committed to a session with our local running club between 7 and 8.30pm so instead I took the bike out earlier and fortunately got the very best of the sunshine whilst hubster was out running later in a torrential thunderstorm! I found a little trail down by the River Blackwater which was actually really quite pretty, a natural wildlife habitat. I came out the other end, through a few local streets and home in 20 minutes flat! I’d also walked ten minutes to my pick up point after work (rather than being picked up right outside the door).

For dinner I cooked a tuna steak by first gently frying off some crushed garlic with a tbsp of balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper, then removing that from the pan and cooking the tuna in the same pan for five minutes on one side and 3-4 minutes on the other. The balsamic dressing then gets poured over the top. I had this with a salad of leaves, plum tomatoes and 1/4 of an avocado and a tbsp of brown rice.

Tuna steak with balsamic dressing

So all in all small steps, and somewhat faltering, but hopefully heading in the right direction.


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