Indian Summer – Creamy curried sweet potato soup

I’m sure that the nature of holidays with children is well documented in the blogosphere.  Probably.  I’m a bit too lazy to actually go and look.  But as with all things online and parenting related I am finding that blogs fall into a few rather predictable patterns.  Many seem to be totally review focussed

* We went to [insert name of random resort] and it was all WONDERFUL (by that they mean free) and the kids had a FANTASTIC time because they had this SUPERB toy to play with that is loads better than ANY OTHER TOY EVER (because it was free) and although on the face of it you might assume that is just as pointless and plasticky as all other toys on the market and in fact that the kids didn’t like it as they hadn’t chosen it and it is not particularly pertinent to their interests, well if you assume that you’d be wrong.  No holiday is complete without one.  It kept the kids amused for at least 5 seconds.  And no, how very dare you suggest that I bribed the kids with haribo to get them to hold up the said (free) toy and smile as if all their teeny tiny Christmasses had come at once.  We all had a wonderful time with our free things and in fact life is wonderful [please PR folk give me more free stuff, more I tell you, I will never ever say a bad word about anything you care to send]*

Or the very very wholesome parenting blogs……..

*We spent the school holidays making spelt muffins and doing yoga together in fields during nature rambles*

Ideas for what to do in the school holidays abound.  Some of them great, some of them naff, some cheap, some stupidly expensive.  I started writing this on the very last day of the school holidays.  It was a strange limbo day as whilst it is officially the start of the school term the teachers feel the need for a day without children in school.  Personally I would have thought that children being there was a pre-requisite for the functionality of a school and that over 5 weeks of annual leave in one chunk would be more than enough to make sure that their classrooms were tidy and that they’d caught up with what they and their colleagues had done over the summer.  I can’t actually think of another job where you come back from holiday and then announce that you’ll come in to the office but won’t actually do the job you’re paid to for another couple of days thank you very much.  Sorry to my teacher friends…….. actually no, I’m not.  I know enough of you to know for a fact that inset days are a right old skive.

So, the school holidays are now officially over.  The teachers finally got their act together and let the kids go back to school and instagram and facebook have been full of shiny photos of children in shiny school uniforms holding up carefully written signs and pronouncing what they would like to be when they are older.  Status updates have veered between the tearful ‘oh I miss my baaaaaaabies, why have they grown up and left meeeeee’ and the ‘thank feck that ordeal of non-stop child entertainment is over and I can lie in a darkened room with a gin & tonic in a can and a family size bar of galaxy’.

Like I’ve said, I started writing a fortnight ago and it was meant to be a reflective piece about how we had spent the halcyon summer holidays.  Of course, real life intervened and husband got a stomach bug, both children got colds, I ran a 10k race (check me out!) and then I promptly got said cold.  So in between wiping snotty noses and using the entire Cheshire supply of dettol around the house there hasn’t been a whole lot of blogging (or indeed anything) time.  In fact the whole summer holiday thing seems like an entirely distant idea that may or may not have actually happened and may or may not have had, on the whole, more ups than downs.

Ups – we survived it, we saw lots of friends, the boys made a summer holiday plan of things they wanted to do and we ticked most things off it, we found lots of free activities to do, we had a lovely week in Norfolk and a wet week in Dorset and a visit to London, I went to Harrods, I drank wine or a suitable alcoholic equivalent every day for 6 weeks.

Downs – the boys learnt how to squabble and irritate each other big time, I was utterly exhausted for the majority of the holiday with what seemed like an inordinately large increase in shopping/cooking/ferrying around, I gave up even attempting to keep the house in any other state than terminally messy by the second week and it still looks like that now, my husband ate the cake I bought in Harrods, I drank wine or a suitable equivalent every day for 6 weeks and have continued this into September.

The dust is now settling, the boys are adjusting to new school routines, I am getting used to the varied schedule and whilst our livers are a little jaded our sniffles and coughs have abated to acceptable levels.  Autumn is as much of a time of new beginnings as Spring I guess.  I’m hoping that I will finally have the time to get cracking with writing my book, really carry on with getting fit and develop lots of healthy and yummy recipes. Who knows, I might even write coherent blog posts!

Naturally the same weather gods who think it’s hilarious to watch families shivering in cagoules and jeans in the drizzle on Bournemouth beach on bank holiday Monday think it’s pretty darn funny to crack open the sunshine once the kids are back in school.  So, although our heads say it’s Autumn and there’s things like conkers, apples and leaves on the ground – it’s also sunny and warm and not really Autumn food weather yet.

But in the interests of a halfway house I’ve cooked this soup for lunch.  It’s warming but still has that curry, exotic, sunny taste.  Hope you like it.  Well they do call this an Indian Summer, right????

Creamy curried sweet potato soup

Ingredients

 

1 onion chopped roughly

500g sweet potato peeled and chopped into medium size chunks

1 carrot peeled and chopped into similar size to sweet potato

100g red lentils

2tbsp of korma paste (I used waitrose own brand)

1.5 litres of hot water

50g creamed coconut (the dried kind that comes in a box) (or you could use a tin of coconut milk and reduce the water amount accordingly)

Salt and pepper to season

 

In a little oil fry off the onion for a few minutes then add the sweet potato and carrot and fry off for another couple of minutes.  Add the curry paste and cook for another minute or so.  Add the hot water, lentils and creamed coconut.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes (until the veg is cooked through)

 

I use a stick blender in the pan to whizz the soup smooth but you can use a food processor or any blender.

 

This makes loads of soup and it’s pretty filling so serves a lot of people.  Leftovers freeze well too.
I served it for the grown ups with a bit or sriracha drizzled on top.  My 3 year old liked it with bug hunks of bread dunked in.IMG_7845.JPG

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Crazy boys and slow cooker rice pudding recipe

My eldest is now 5 and a half. Since he started school in September there are so many things he has learnt to do. He can now dress himself, make choices about food, write more than his own name, follow instructions, play football, make a loom band bracelet, make jokes, chat endlessly, give great hugs, run for hours.

I have written that list in large part to remind myself that actually he’s pretty great – because flipping heck he is driving me INSANE recently. I don’t think that more than half an hour can be spent in his company without one or more of the following occurring. He knocks something or someone or even himself over. He kicks someone, something or even himself. He spills something. He cries. He goes into a vacant trance where you can stand in front of him screaming ‘do you want a biscuit or not?!?!?!? Just. ANSWER. MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE’ with absolutely no discernible effect. He fights with his brother. He comes whining to me about said fight. He speaks in a stupid baby voice saying stupid made up words. He uses the word ‘poo, nappy, goolie, bum, head, smelly’ in any given combination and then cracks up hysterically. He accidentally on purpose throws himself on the ground/walks into the door/ hits himself on the head with a toy.

I’m pretty sure it’s ‘normal’ behaviour for a boy of his age. Through my exhaustive pedagogical research, carried out through play dates with his friends and observations in the play ground I can conclude that yes, other boys of his age are indeed similarly bonkers. Either that or we have a really really bizarre friendship group where all the children are aliens from the Planet Weird.

I’m sure in a few years I’ll look back and think – ahhhhh, do you remember when Corey used to gleefully shout ‘let’s play goolie-bumps’ to Mitch and they commence a very spirited game of running across his bedroom naked with the intention of bashing their goolies against each other? Or what about the time that it took him 30 minutes to take off his pyjamas and at the end of that time his school uniform still only consisted of a polo shirt and one sock? Or what about when he shouted ‘look at my funky moves?’ on holiday and then did a spin to land face down on the concrete with blood gushing from a gashed knee? Actually, even writing them down is bringing a little smile to my face. At the time though I am invariably not smiling. Not smiling at all. Normally I am shouting things like ‘for the love of all that is holy will you just put your bloody uniform on, I have been in to help you ten times now and you will be LATE and EXPELLED and AMOUNT TO NOTHING’. Actually I couldn’t help but smile at their goolie bumps game. Oh I’m so going to love regaling that story to girlfriends they bring home in the future……..

I absolutely hate the fact that when I express concerns to the teachers at school about his ongoing reluctance to read or write they say ‘well he’s a boy isn’t he’. In my opinion that does boys a disservice. Yes, I agree that boys seem to develop different interests to girls from a very young age and learn in different ways – but surely that should be incorporated into the way children are taught at school not just used as an excuse as to why when the little girls are sitting nicely writing a story Corey and his buddies are pretending to whack their heads on the side of the table and then fall over.

He is also going through a mahoosive growth spurt. Actually I think to label it a growth ‘spurt’ is a misnomer as he seems to be on a perpetual growth pattern. Which is only to be expected really as if he stopped growing then that would be massive cause for concern now wouldn’t it. But he is massively tall with long lanky legs. The second tallest in his year group at school. The tallest boy has a dad who looks like a basketball player. Corey clearly didn’t get his height and gazelle like legs from me, more’s the pity.

I have started to notice a massive difference in his behaviour when he’s hungry. He doesn’t actually say he’s hungry but once he’s eaten he seems to start calming down a bit. He is eating massive breakfasts (this morning 2 boiled eggs and 3 slices of toast and a tortilla wrap!) and in the evening he is more than ready for a full cooked meal even though he has a school lunch.

Rice pudding is a favourite of mine and I have enjoyed giving it to my boys ever since they were babies. Now they are older I do use more sugar in the recipe. I think it’s a good energy dense pudding to give them. Making it in the slow cooker is far easier than in the oven. It takes about 3 hours on high (or longer on low) – I do find that contrary to most slow cooker recipes it does need the odd stir now and then so it doesn’t stick to the sides.

Yesterday I made it for us and had some left over double cream in the fridge so added that to the milk. Flipping. Lush. The boys topped theirs with some left over strawberry jam and I went full on OTT pudding with some chopped banana and a dollop of peanut butter. My hubby, pudding purist (or some might say unadventurous) went with it on it’s own. Either way – it’s gorgeous. Hot or cold. As it cools it gets thicker so if you want it the next day then add some more milk and give it a stir.

slow cooker rice pudding

100g short grain/pudding rice (I have made this with risotto rice when I was out of pudding rice and it turns out fine and dandy)

100g caster or granulated sugar

1 litre milk

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Grating of nutmeg on the top (optional but I love the nutmeg taste)

The recipe could not be easier – slop all the ingredients into the slow cooker, cook on high for 3 hours or until the rice is soft and the mixture is sticky and delicious, stir the rice a couple of times in that period if you can. Eat. Add more milk if it’s looking too sticky at the end.

Enjoy!!

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Oreo cupcakes

My eldest got his first ever school report yesterday. It’s been a big adjustment for all of us him starting school. Back in September when he started I couldn’t even walk past the school without crying. I was worried about so many things. I was worried that the teachers wouldn’t ‘get’ him. i was worried that he would not join in with the other children, or take turns, or try new things. It just seemed like the official end of the baby years. My precious boy who only minutes ago, or so it seems, was a tiny newborn was now going to have a whole range of experience out of my control and without me.

I really needn’t have worried. He has loved pretty much every aspect of school. He has made lots of new friends, he likes all his teachers, he eats his school dinner every day, he’s joined the football club where he and other 5 year olds run round like headless chickens in the vague direction of a ball and then kick each other, he has made progress with his writing (slowly) and reading (somewhat reluctantly). Above all – and most importantly – he is HAPPY there.

I think it’s taken me longer, if I’m honest, to adjust to the idea of him as being more independent and grown up. Anyway, I was thrilled to read positive comments in his report and am super proud of him.

I originally posted this recipe a couple of years ago and it has become a firm favourite in our house and has gone down a treat with the various friends I have baked them for. So, I decided to cook them again today as we are heading to a BBQ tomorrow at some friends and I thought they’d be a nice after school treat for the kids too.

I think that cooking with kids needs to involve some jobs that are `theirs`. My boys love to get the baking trays out of the cupboards and then put the cake cases in them. This recipe then requires them to pop a biscuit in the bottom of each case (and eat several in the process) and then bash the hell out of the remaining biscuits (safely esconced in a plastic bag!) which appeals to their destructive little natures.

Recipe

2 packs Oreo cookies and some mini oreos

125 g self-raising flour

125 g unsalted butter or marg (I’ve been using Stork recently)

125 g caster sugar

2 eggs

1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

few tablespoons milk

Butter cream (I used Betty Crocker Vanilla cupcake frosting but you can make your own)

1. First pre-heat oven to 195c

2. Line muffin tin with cases – put one whole Oreo cookie in each one,  I think I made about 16 cakes but it depends how full you like them!

3. Bash up remaining Oreo cookies in a sealed plastic bag using a wooden spoon or rolling pin

4. Put all ingredients (except Oreos) in a food processor or Kitchen Aid and blitz, or use a bowl and an electric hand mixer and then stir in HALF the crushed Oreos.

5.  Spoon a good dollop into each cake case on top of the Oreo cookie

6. Bake in oven for 15-20 mins and cool on wire rack

7. When cool mix most of remaining crumbled Oreos into butter cream/frosting and splodge onto cakes (or pipe in gorgeous decorative manner if you have the skill or patience- it’ll taste the same either way)

Today though – if you look at my pictures closely – I left the buttercream plain and just put a biscuit on top – mainly because I had run out of Oreos)

8. Sprinkle with last few bits of cookie or some mini Oreos if you have them.

9. Eat!

Really easy to make but totally delicious.  I was amazed the first time I baked these that the biscuit base stays so crunchy.

Enjoy!!

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Peanut butter & jelly bars

You know when you see a picture of some food on instagram and then you have dreams about it and just have to make your own version?  No?  You mean you’re not obsessed with food to the same levels I am?  You don’t plan pretty much every meal for the foreseeable future and read cookery books for fun?  Oh OK.  I accept it, I am a food nutter.  Anyway, I saw a friend make these bars and couldn’t start thinking about them.

My boys watch a lot of American films/telly at the moment and are just starting to cotton on to that humourous element which us Brits still have at such moments.  Americans calling things by different names.  Setting aside the ever-hilarious casual usage of ‘fanny’ which as yet doesn’t mean much to my boys (only a matter of time) the boys think it’s ridiculous that they would put ‘jelly’ on toast.  Jelly?  But it’s wobbly and would go everywhere – snarf, snarf, snarf……….

This recipe does not call for jelly my friends, it needs jam.  Of course, I could have just called it peanut butter and jam bars but then it would lose that whole yankee-cool vibe (me, affected much?!).

I am not actually a jam fan.  The band or the fruit spread.  I like making jam but, aside from on a scone with a large amount of clotted cream, I don’t really like eating it that much.  So when I was adapting this recipe I cut down the quantity a bit.  Feel free to add more if you love it although bear in mind that jam bubbles up like a bastard when it is cooked and then welds on to any cooking pan and clings on like the devil itself.  You’ve been warned.

These bars aren’t quite biscuit and they aren’t quite cake.  Somewhere in between.  The first mouthful is a bit salty and you’ll be unsure if you like them, the second mouthful gives the sweet hit and then before you know it you’ll have eaten at least 3.

Peanut butter & Jelly Bars

125g Marg or butter

150g sugar (caster or granulated)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

250g smooth peanut butter

210g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

125g strawberry or raspberry jam

50g salted peanuts crushed in a pestle and mortar or chopped roughly

Pre heat oven to 180c and grease and line with baking parchment a tin.  I use a square one that measures about 21cm x 21cm

I use my kitchenaid for this but of course you can use a food processor or mixer or even by hand.

Cream the butter and sugar in the mixer until golden and fluffy, then add the vanilla, egg and peanut butter – mix together.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined.m

Put 2/3 of the dough into the baking tray and squish down with a fork to cover the bottom.  Dollop the jam with a teaspoon over the top.  I quite like it spread not to evenly so on some mouthfuls you get more jam than others.  Then onto the top of the jam, using a teaspoon again, dollop the remaining dough and then flatten out with a fork.

Top with the peanuts and pop in the oven until golden brown.  This takes 35 to 40 minutes in my oven (which is a fast oven)

Take out and cool before cutting into squares.

I have frozen half of these to prevent myself from eating too many of them in one sitting. Be warned they’re a bit addictive.

Enjoy!

 

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Pulled pork with apple and thyme

Over on my previous blog tamsinsworld I seem to have introduced a lot of my friends to the joy that is pulled pork.  It’s porky, its’s soft, doesn’t require too much chewing, can be dumped in the slow cooker for many many hours and forgotten about, it feeds many hungry mouths and then keeps feeding many hungry mouths in the form of leftovers for days.  What’s not to like?  Well unless you’re a vegetarian.  Or Muslim.  Or Jewish.  In which case, sorry my friends this recipe is not for you.

Incidentally, it’s reasonably bizarre that lots of people seem to mainly stumble accross my blog because of this recipe as for quite a while after having Corey I couldn’t stomach pork at all.  I don’t know what it was but something about the taste of pork reminded me of giving birth.  How weird.  Even bacon was a struggle.  Utterly bonkers and then once I had Mitch it was open season on the pork front again.

The original pulled pork recipe I came up with can be found here – it’s a cracker of a recipe folks.  Spicy, bbq type taste – a sure fire hit with all I have given it to.  Except of course for my own children. They still react to even a smidgen of spice with horrified faces, lots of screams and then whimper ‘you poisoned me mumy’.  So when I cook that one I tend to just give them the side dishes instead.

But as Corey is now finally coming out of his vegetarian phase I have come up with a more kid friendly version.  I originally posted it here – but in case you can’t be bothered to click through the link here is the recipe in all it’s porky yumminess.

Pulled pork with apple and thyme 

3 x apples peeled, cored and chopped

2 x cloves of garlic chopped chunky

1 x onion chopped

fresh thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

250 ml apple juice

zest and juice of half a lemon

1 tbsp white wine or cider vinegar

1.5 kg ish joint of pork shoulder – with ALL the fat and skin trimmed off.  A messy job to cut it all off but I find the end product is way too greasy otherwise.

Put all the apple, onion, garlic, lemon, herbs in the slow cooker then top with the pork joint – add the apple juice and vinegar and top with a bay leaf.  Cook away on a low setting for around 8 hours.

After that take the pork out of the liquid and shred with a couple of forks and put in a covered container to keep warm until ready to eat.

Today I am serving this as a roast dinner so I whack the slow cooker onto high – add about 400 ml boiling water and a few generous spoonfuls of gravy powder (my favourite is bisto best beef) and then stir and use my hand held blender to make it smooth. Really yum gravy.

If I was serving it as a more informal dinner I would have just blitzed it as was (ie not added any extra liquid and just made an apple/onion/pork juice sauce) that would be nice on rolls etc.

I’m hoping that this will leave loads and loads of leftovers as tomorrow I’m making it into fajitas and then the next day a pulled pork and bean chili for us all (without actual chili in the boys’ portions!’)

Enjoy – and have a great Sunday!

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Roasted beetroot and garlic soup

Cooking with beetroot is relatively new to me, but after reading a lot about its health benefits it`s an ingredient I am enjoying getting to grips with. I do have a couple of warnings for you though if, like me, you are a beetroot novice. First off, it stains like a bugger. Combine this with the fact that I am possibly the messiest eater and cooker on the entire planet and I have learnt NEVER to wear pale clothing whilst cooking, eating or even being in the same room as the stain-devil-beetroot and to ALWAYS wear a pinny. I also cut the skins off rather than peel (yes it wastes a teency bit but you can hold it a tad more gingerly so less pink fingers). You could wear rubber gloves but I hate them myself.

Secondly, and I apologise my friends for there is no way to put this politely, beetroot goes right through you with rather colourful results. A couple of years my usually stoic and healthy husband phoned me virtually in tears from whichever godforesaken business park he was working in at the time. `I think there`s something terribly wrong with me` he plaintively wailed `can you find me an emergency doctor?`. After some sympathetic phone support `what the feck are you talking about? You were fine when you left home last night? Man up you nutter` *wife of the year award goes to………* I established that his symptoms were massive internal bleeding. From the you know where. At which point I virtually killed myself laughing. And then reminded him of the beetroot gratin he had eaten for lunch the day before. He then pretended he had an important meeting to go to and hung up on me. He has lived to see another day and eat another beetroot. I can also attest to pale pink wee after beetroot. I`m not showing off. Just preventing you from potentially looking like a right dick at the dr.

Anyway, I made this soup for lunch today and it`s proper lush. Healthy and hearty and that lovely sweet/salty combination which I just can`t get enough of.

Ingredients

About 8 small whole beetroot – now these vary massively in size so use your judgement, mine were a mix of red and golden
Olive oil
6 cloves garlic
Sprigs fresh thyme
1litre chicken or veg stock
2tbsp sherry or white wine
1 chopped onion
2 sticks of finely chopped celery
1tsp fennel seeds
70g red lentils (to thicken soup)
Small amount of feta/chopped chives to garnish

Wash and roughly peel the beetroot and then chop and put on a baking tray – drizzle over about 2tsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter over the garlic cloves whole in their papery skins and the thyme sprigs.

Roast in a preheated oven 180c for 45 minutes. Check after 20 minutes and remove the garlic and toss the beetroot round a bit, put the beetroot back in the oven but the garlic should be done by now so keep it out.

Take the garlic out of its skins and set aside.

Once beetroot is roasted heat 1tsp olive oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion and celery for 5 minutes or until soft.

Add the chicken stock, sherry, lentils, garlic, beetroot, fennel seeds and bring to boil – reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

I like to take my soup off the heat and puree it in the pan with a stick blender. You could do it in a blender in batches though.

Taste and season with salt & pepper. Serve in bowls with a bit of feta crumbled up over the top and maybe some chopped chives.

Enjoy!

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Keep on running

Last summer I started running. For those of you who missed it I blogged my couch-to-5k experience over on my tamsinsworld blog – click here if you want to read all about that.

So, since then I have been continuing in my quest for a less wobbly belly and an overall feeling of fitness.  It was all going really well last summer and into the Autumn.  I was running several times a week and managing 5k routinely.  I had increased in confidence to the point where I no longer minded doing the school run with a red face and in my running gear.  But then WINTER happened.  I’ve always hated rain.  I’m not particularly partial to the cold.  Add cold and wet together and, in my eyes, you have a miserable day right there.  Add running into the equation and no.  Just no.  I tried it a few times – buoyed on by my ‘real’ running friends’ proclamations of ‘oh I love running in the rain, it’s so refreshing, you can go faster’.  Again – No.  Just no.

I hate running in the rain.  I hate the feeling of a squishy foot when I’ve run through a puddle.  It’s horrible having rain run down your face and neck.  I really don’t like that ‘I’m cold because it’s pissing it down and it’s November but I am boiling too because I’ve just run 3 miles’ feeling.  So I made the executive decision that I wasn’t going to run outside in the rain – only run on lovely crisp, sunny, wintery days.  So I did that a few times – until I encountered ICE.  Imagine bambi reincarnated as a sweaty middle aged housewife with tourettes.  Skating around – swearing like a navvy.  Didn’t work for me.

So – overall what I’m telling you is that I am most definitely a fairweather runner.  BUT I haven’t been just sitting on my arse eating maltesers and watching Rizzoli & Isles whilst the boys are at school (well, shhhhhhh, some of the time I have but not ALL of the time).  For Christmas my loving husband bought me personal training sessions.  Now before you go thinking ‘well, that’s a bit rude  – did he write ‘dear fatty bum bum, lose some weight you lazy wench, love your husband’ on the gift tag? ‘ I did actually ASK for the sessions.  I’ve really loved them.  Aside from the seemingly relentless coughs and colds we have all seem to have suffered from this year I have had at least one, sometimes two, sessions a week.  My trainer is mild mannered and friendly but she has really pushed me – but in such a supportive way that I’ve wanted to do it.  Love the sessions – love far less the fact that at the moment for at least half the week I can’t sit on the toilet without wincing and walking up the stairs seems nigh on impossible without tears.  I have lost inches all over and feel generally loads better about my body.

Not a cheap way to get fit but it’s been amazing.

Now the weather has improved I have also gone back to running outside.  I’ve found that the strength training has really helped my stamina and I can run faster for longer.

Lest you think that I’m pounding the streets of Manchester like a younger Paula Radcliffe (with less poohing on the side of the road) I feel that in the interests of full disclosure you should know the following”

1. For me it’s FAST.  Like rocket-speed fast.  Super-sonic.  Crack open the bubbly fast.  For snails it is also FAST.  For anyone who actually can run, I am painfully aware, I am in fact SLOW.  Sod this 10k in under an hour.  That, my friends, is a distant dream.  I am getting faster but I am judging myself against myself.  This time last year the only thing that would have made me run would have been a sudden announcement of a flash sale at John Lewis.  Now I can run over 5 miles NON STOP.  That’s progress people.

2.  Positive mental attitude.  Easier some days than others isn’t it?  I had a dreadful run a few weeks ago where I’d barely done 2k before I felt completely drained.  I carried on and finished my 5k but then came home and wept buckets that I was ‘fat and stupid for thinking I could ever run’.  I also had a run where I was overtaken by some dick of a male runner who whizzed past me so fast, without even saying excuse me, that I nearly fell off the pavement.  Have to admit I pulled a horrible face at his back and flicked him the v’s.  This made me feel a little better until I noticed a load of college kids on the other side of the road who had seen me do it and were pissing themselves laughing.  Down side – I felt like a tit. Up side – I ran a bit faster to get away from the sound of their laughter.  But other runs are GREAT – I overtook a couple of people on a run last week.  Me – overtaking someone.  Never thought that would happen.  And at the end of my fastest to date 5k I got to the end of the drive and actually whooped out loud.  A runner going past at the time gave me a massive cheer!!

3.  Despite it, on the whole, getting easier – there is still a moment in every run – normally after about 3 minutes – when I wonder if I have had a stroke since I last tried running.  It’s as if my legs and hips  have suddenly forgotten how to walk, let alone run, and I stagger along as if I have artificial limbs.  Then I kind of get into my stride.  But I always worry I won’t and I will be left lurching along like my legs don’t belong to me.

4.  I still ache like a bastard after most runs.  I also read that ‘your pace should be one where you can comfortably hold a conversation’.  No.  I cannot converse and run even at my pace.  My chatting pace is ‘sitting on the sofa with a glass of wine’ – when I’m running I can only manage a grimace and nod of the head to on-coming runners.

And – BIG NEWS – I have entered the Manchester 10k which is on 18 May.  TEN KILOMETRES. TEN.  I am bricking it.  I am yet to actually run 10k non-stop.  I’m up to 8.8k currently and am hoping to get at least 2 10k runs under my belt before the big day.  I do have a time in mind which I am aiming for – and for me – that will be a big ask.  Mostly though I will just be so proud of myself for doing it that I will actually sob upon crossing the finishing line.

Wish me luck!!

Oh and please don’t think I’m showing off by blogging about my running *although what else is a blog really except for modern day showing off?* I just want to prove to you all out there that if I can run then so can YOU.  (Please don’t overtake me though as I will swear at your back as you leave me for dust)