Saturday, February 26, 2011

Monday Night Running Club

A couple of weeks ago I decided to take on a bit of a challenge and signed up for a 10K charity run- Race for Life to raise money for cancer. I have several friends who's have been affected by cancer either directly or through family members and if I can raise a bit of money and awareness while getting fitter and healthier then thats the least I can do.

For those of you know me you all know that I am not the fittest person alive and the thought of running for any distance is something I am not familiar with. I thought training for this run will be a good chance for me to get fitter, see more of London while I train in different areas and basically just have a bit of fun. Its not until the end of July so i have a good six months to train myself up, stay fit and work on my running time.

As my housemate Sam is also training for a charity run in May so we decided to do a bit of training together. The other girls in the flat Siobhan and Jules decided to come too so we scheduled in regular runs on a Monday night which is a good motivator and a good start to the week.

The first time we went we ran (with a few walking breaks) 3.5k and the second week we ran 3.8k. Which is a pretty good effort for the first couple of weeks. Sammy and I have also done a few other runs in the morning and i've hit the gym and did a 5k run there. So far the training is going pretty well but I will keep you updated as I go along and of course closer to the time there will be a shameless plug for donations! Also if I tell everyone about it there is no way I can back out!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Well I know its been a little while since I've posted anything but thats because my laptop is out of action and my Mummy is in town! So we have been off being busy running around London and fitting HEAPS of stuff in for her visit. We have done the usual touristy sort of things - checking out the markets, introducing her to the local pub, meeting all my friends, catching up with rellies for dinners and going to a theatre show. I've even been very lucky to get a couple of home cooked Mum meals including her famous (and DELICIOUS) lasagne. One of the highlights of her trip has been our weekend getaway to Porto, Portugal.

London really is the gateway to Europe with cheap fares popping up quite often. As it is winter and not peak tourist season me and mum got three nights in Porto on the cheap. We flew out on Friday afternoon and arrived to torrential rain which wasn't a good start to our trip. Nevertheless we managed to find our way to our hotel and get sorted out. We asked the lady at the front desk what we should eat and where should we go so we set off on a mission to find something Portugese and yummy. I am a little ashamed to say that we ended up at Maccas. I know... i know... its awful! But in our defence we looked around at a restaurant which was waaaayyyy to out of our price range and looked at another one that had homeless men going through the bins out the front. Which you know... is a put of a put off. So after a delayed flight, torrential rain and grumbly tummies we opted for the cheap an easy option.

The next day thankfully was clear and sunny so we were up bright and early to explore the city. We grabbed a hop-on-hop-off bus tour deal and jumped on the first bus of the day. We had an hour and a half tour of all the historical sites around Porto. It was a really good way to see the city as Porto is full of hills which makes it hard to do on foot. We saw heaps of different types of architecture and some beautiful old buildings and lots of cute brightly coloured or tiled houses with their washing hanging out the window. The bus tour took us along the beach front which was thrashing with waves and along the river and across several of Portos bridges. It really is a stunning setting and we were very lucky to have such good weather after the downpour of the day before.

The bus tour dropped us off at the south side of the river and we jumped aboard a river cruise that too us along the river so we could check out the scenery and head under the bridges. It was pretty chilly cruising along the river but was probably one of my highlights.

Porto is famous for making Port so it was only fitting we headed to a winery for a tour and taste testing. There are heaps of wineries on the south side of the river and if you were a connoisseur I could imagine you could spend the whole day wandering from one to the other sampling many different types. The one we went to was called Calem and was founded before Australia was discovered. So when they have been making Port for a zillion years you sort of expect it to be pretty good. The tour was great - short and sweet and we got to see the huge oak barrels they use and pictures of the district they plant their grapes in. At the end of the tour we got to taste two different types of port. Now I didn't know that they made white port (to be honest this was my first time drinking port EVER so what I knew about Port was very little) so I was pretty keen to try that. It was really sweet and thick - almost like a syrup and they suggested serving it in summer with tonic, lime and mint. I totally want to try that out! We also got to try a tawny Port which is your sort of standard port but as it was only midday it was a bit too much for me and I passed mine on to Mum. I would also like to proudly add that these taste tests were my first alcoholic beverages in over 3 weeks which is definitely a record for London and probably the past five years.

After the winery we wandered across the bridge to the other side of the river that was filled with lots of little shops and cafes and sat and had lunch. We tried the local bear (Super Bock - very tasty) and some weird bean things that I expected to be soft but instead were hard and salty. Still it wasn't so bad and good to taste a local specialty.

That afternoon we spent the time on another bus loop that showed the castles but it was so er... thrilling that I fell asleep on the bus. So it after that little snooze we got off and had a bit of a relax at the hotel before going out to dinner. We finally found a restaurant that had been recommended by the hotel which was tucked away up a side street. It looked a bit dodgy from the outside - all fluorescent lighting and locals standing at the benches waiting for their food almost like a take away. We snuck past and headed up stairs to a restaurant that was actually really nice. We tried the most Portuguese meal I could think of - chicken and chips. While it was really good - it was nothing like Nando's!

The next day we had a bit of a sleep in before heading out for a walk around the city. We wandered up the hill (by the way all of Porto is hilly) to the cathedral to get a good view of the city and check out one of their landmarks. After that we wandered down closer to the river to check out the Church of San Francisco. We looked through the museum and catacombs (ewwwww) before walking through the church. I wasn't able to take photos but I sort of wish I could as it was beautiful inside. It had wooden carving that had been painted with gold and it was so pretty.

By this time we were sick of wandering up and down these hills and it had begun pouring with rain so we decided to jump on the tram out to the seaside. We couldn't see much out the windows but I was pretty chuffed with the ride because it was so cute!! I love trams! Out at the seaside we too refuge at a coffee shop until a break in the rain before we had a wander along the esplanade. We caught the train back to the city and wandered up back up to near where we were staying in the city centre.

Before heading back to the room for the day we went to another church and walked up a tower. It was pretty tiring as we had been walking up and down hills all day but it was worth it for the view once we go to the top. Porto is such a pretty city with so many different things to look at. Different types of architecture, eclectic little houses, interesting people and everyones washing hanging out their windows.

That night we tried another different type of food - STEAK! It was delicious and by far my favourite meal I had in Porto. It came with rice and beans and spinach and was just perfection!

We got home Monday evening after a great weekend away to more rainy cold weather and I decided that I am ready for Spring and hanging out for Summer. The day in the sun we got in Porto was just a taste of what is to come! Since then Mum has done a Jamie Oliver cooking class and visiting family friends and I have been resting up after a hectic 10 days. Its now the weekend and I am sad to say Mum is off tomorrow. I can already tell I'm going to be a sad little girl but it has been great having her here. Luckily for me she isn't the last of my visitors for the year or my last trip for the year so I have lots to keep me busy!