Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Park Run number two.

Last week I wrote about my family tempting me to take part in the Park Run in Bodmin at Lanhydrock house. This week with the family gone and frost on the ground outside I dragged myself out of bed into the freezing conditions to do another 5km run.

Park run is really good because it's free and hosted through volunteers but the best bit is the support on the website. Online you have a constant score board and stats on your event as well as loads of other events and you can see for yourself if your times and fitness is improving.

The first week after not running for a very long time I achieved a time of 35:48 yet this week I have already set a new PB of 33:38. I would like to keep attending park run each week to get fitter during the winter months until I return back to surfing in the summer which will take priority over running but for now I want to set myself a personal challenge of running the whole course and not walking up the big hill towards the end of the course and getting under 30 minutes to complete the course.

Bodmin Park Run
Image from http://www.parkrun.org.uk/lanhydrock/photos/

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas comes early in the photobrook house

When I was in my early twenties I made the decision to move over 300 miles away from the family home, to sunny Cornwall leaving my family in Essex. So when it comes around to Christmas I find it hard to see my family, getting time off work to make the journey back to Essex, for my family to get the time off to make the journey to Cornwall and then there's fitting in my partners family as well, it all becomes a challenge fitting everyone in.

This year my family from Essex decided to make an early Christmas visit to us and celebrate Christmas early. The first weekend in December my family made the journey down to Cornwall whilst we prepared the Christmas decorations, gifts and food to create Christmas just a few weeks early.
christmas table and decorations

With the table prepared and the family enjoying an afternoon glass of wine it was time for me and the boyfriend to rise to the challenge of creating a full roast Christmas dinner for eight people, 
The key to a good roast dinner is having a well timed schedule. Starting with the meat and working backwards from when we wanted to eat we worked out the the huge joint of pork would need three hours to cook. So at 4pm with the joint laced in huge amounts of sea salt it was into the oven whilst operation peeling veg commenced. With my boyfriend, my sister and my mum on hand we had spuds, carrots, parsnips and swede sitting happily in pans of water ready for their appearance in the schedule. 

With a christmas roast dinner it's all about the trimmings and even though we were having pork we had to have a giant sharing yorkshire pudding and cauliflower cheese thrown in for good measure, not to forget pigs in blankets, onion gravy and homemade apple and cinnamon sauce. Whilst the pork cooked for the first hour the veggies were prepared and the onion gravy and festive apple sauce made. This is the easiest recipe and so much nicer than apple sauce from a jar so I thought I would share the recipe below.

Christmas Apple Sauce Recipe

 2 cooking apples - peeled, cored, and chopped into chunks
 1/2 a cup of granulated sugar
 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
 2 tablespoons water

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the apples, sugar, cinnamon and water. On a medium heat dissolve sugar, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the apples are soft and have turned into a thick sauce. It's really that simple and tastes amazing!!

With an hour to go the roast veggies went in, the pork came out to rest and the yorkshire goes in. 
Pork for Christmas
With tummies rumbling and the wine flowing we were all delighted when the sharing yorkshire pudding came out and we could start dishing up after our military operation of preparing the perfect pre Christmas dinner. 
Giant Yorkshire pudding

Family Christmas

The family have now gone back to Essex and the house feels rather quiet but we still have the comfort of lots of left over food and wine from the visit to keep us fed and watered.

Do you have a favourite festive recipe? Do you make something challenging only at Christmas? I'd love to hear about your favourite festive recipes and your perfect additions to any roast dinner in the comments below.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Park Run in Cornwall

When I was at school I was keen on running, I used to train at the melbourne athletics stadium in Chelmsford and compete in 800 and 1500metre races for the county. I also used to heavily compete in cross country running for my school. But once I moved to Cornwall my surfing took over and so did my cycling and I barely used to go out running at all.

When some of my family started doing Park Run in Essex I was intrigued by the event, each week I would see pictures on their facebook pages and times and new PB's and at the back of my mind thought maybe this could be good fun?

When the family came to visit this weekend they wanted to keep up with their Park Runs and not miss a week so decided to attend the organised Park Run in Cornwall as tourist runners. I thought when better to give this a go than with some of my family. I was already thinking that I would be slow and that I wasn't particularly fit and I would certainly struggle against my family who run every week.

Arriving to Lanhydrock and having read the course is down hill to the river then back up hill to the finish I was slightly nervous to say the least when I saw just how steep the valley was. I haven't been running in years so thought I would start off gently at my own pace and just try to enjoy my first run. Within seconds all the runners had disappeared off into the distance and I was left at the back of the group trailing along behind.

At the end of each Park Run you are able to achieve a time for your circuit and was pleasantly surprised that my first ever 5km run with absolutely no prior training I managed to achieve a time of 35 minutes and 48 seconds. Admittedly I was only 4 people off being the last to complete the course and the other runners in front of me were serious runners completing the course in 16 minutes but for my first one I was pleased.

Once my legs stop aching I'll decide if I am brave enough to run the course again without the support of my family by my side and try to improve on my time and get fitter by taking part in the free Park Run events.

For those that haven't heard of Park Run here's some more details. There are over 300 locations across the UK where you can take part in timed 5km runs. Anything from 50 to 500 runners often take place in each race and all races are put on by local volunteers and are completely free to enter. If your not running one week you can volunteer as a race marshall and support the events in other ways. For more information visit http://www.parkrun.org.uk/ 

Padstow Christmas Foodie Festival

For anyone that reads my blog on a regular occasion or for those who have dropped by for the first time will quickly see I have a passion for food. Eating it, baking it, and sharing food with good friends and family. The Padstow Christmas festival is an extremely popular weekend festival celebrating many of the top chefs in the country including some home grown favourites like Rick Stein.

I took the day of work on Friday and headed over to the festival in the morning. Anyone that knows Padstow will know that it is only a small fishing village peppered with a few shops mainly art galleries and clothes shops but it is beautiful but you would struggle to spend more than a few hours in the town. However this weekend it's hard to leave! Arriving at the festival in the morning and close enough to lunch to warrant sampling many different foods, beers, ciders, wines and even speciality gins we spent a good few hours just in the main food hall. Their were many demonstrations going on but it was impossible to get into some of them and even the ones that were ticketed you needed to queue before hand to get your tickets and I did miss out on seeing a few favourite chefs that I had wanted to see.
Fresh fish at the padstow Christmas festival

Padstow Christmas festival

Outside of the food demonstrations and market we had the bustling town to explore but the weather was nothing short of bitter! We walked a way along the camel trail and the icy breeze coming off the water was unbearable. There's only one thing to do in Cornwall in weather like this, wrap up warm, take a brisk stroll and head to the pub and at this time of the year mulled cider and muller wine are flowing well in most of the pubs.

After a sit down a warm up and a drink it was time to head back out into the cold and this time for a spot of music. The Grenaways are a local band from the Polzeath area and were playing in the late afternoon so decided to stop and take a listen and they were amazing. The guys showed what talented and dedicated musicians they are struggling to play instruments with frozen fingers, and ice cold winds but they pulled in a good crowd of people and filled the harbour with their folk/blues sounds.
The Grenaways playing padstow christmas festival

The Grenaways playing padstow christmas festival The Grenaways playing padstow christmas festival
After seeing the bands full set we had become quite numb so back inside for another pint and a warm up, before venturing back outside for the fireworks. By the early evening the harbour town had really started to fill up, there were people selling mistletoe and twinkly lights to the children and families were pouring onto the streets to watch the firework display. After a failed countdown attempt and the ferry to Rock causing a delay the fireworks went of with a bang and were a perfect end to our evening. After spending several hours at the festival and eating and drinking more than my body weight in food it was off home for a well earned cup of tea and time to put my feet up.

Padstow Christmas lights

Fireworks in Cornwall

Padstow fireworks

Having visited Newquay last weekend for the Christmas light switch on and Padstow this weekend for the Christmas festival it would be rude not to make the annual pilgrimage to Mousehole to see their spectacular Christmas lights as well.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Newquay Christmas Beer Festival and Light Swtich on

Last weekend saw the start of Christmas in Cornwall with the Newquay Christmas light switch on with a lantern parade, a visit from santa and his reindeer, a firework display plus a beer and music festival thrown in for good measure.

I arrived into town just as santa was passing through with his sleigh followed behind by two very cute and very small young reindeer. As the children from local schools arrived with their home made lanterns parading through the town with the sounds of a marching band the Christmas spirit was really in the air.

After the procession through the town and with the streets bustling it was time to move down to the harbour to watch the fireworks.
Christmas in Newquay - CornwallChristmas in Newquay - Cornwall

Friday night was finished with the wonderful Wille and the Bandits playing in the marque and made for a great evening in Newquay with the beer festival lasting right through the weekend until the sunday evening.
Fireworks in Newquay

In Cornwall Christmas and lantern parades are extremely popular from the smallest of children from the village schools to the university students from Truro and Falmouth putting on a show stopping event in Truro. The Truro City of lights is a grand affair and the signal of the start of Christmas in Cornwall but it is always worth visiting the smaller towns and harbours in and around Cornwall for more lovely festive lantern parades.