I went for an early morning walk today and took some pictures while it was still quiet & the snow was fresh and crisp. Ordinary landscapes become transformed with a dusting of snow but with several inches of snow the local park becomes a landscape reminisce of Narnia; a magical wilderness with nothing but the crunching sound of snow beneath your feet & the sound of birds rustling in the trees above your head. Here are some of the pictures I took; I hope you like them.
Ever revisited a place where you used to live a long time ago? What motivates you to undertake on such a visit? What do you hope it will achieve? Will it up to your expectations?
These were the questions racing through my mind a few days ago when I was deliberating whether to visit a place I last lived in 12 years ago. I don’t know why I felt the urge to visit there. My Dad said is was ‘A Quest for Past Happiness’. But I don’t recall being particularly happy there for the most part of it. I was 20 and decided to move to a village in the New Forest for a year’s work placement, at the time a 5 hour train journey away from my then boyfriend. But although I found it difficult, I have some really happy memories of the place and of the time. Of snatched weekends of happiness when he’d arrive on the train/bus/ferry for a few days at a time before he’d have to return (to a soundtrack of tears and Classic Rock!) back to his studies at University. When he visited we’d explore the New Forest together and everything seemed more colorful, more vivid and really beautiful.
We’ve long since broken up (we ended up together for several years) but I fondly remember all the lovely places we visited there and wanted to see if remained as magical as I remembered.
Some aspects inevitably were a mild disappointment. One of my all time favorite shops had long since closed down thus leaving a void in my nostalgia. I soften the blow with a long walk by the sea from Lymington towards Milford-on-Sea armed only with a lidded cup of tea and a Cornish pasty. Some things never deteriorate or diminish; it’s still one of the most dreamily beautiful stretches of coastline in the UK and was exactly how I remembered it. I ate my pasty whilst staring out to sea. Two runners ran past me and smiled, reminding me of the one of the things I love so much nowadays: my running. I was now wishing I’d bought my trainers this time round!
I carried on walking and passing familiar places until my feet ached but I kept smiling; I was glad I came back to see this place again.
I next returned to the village where I lived for a year. Hythe is mainly accessible from Southampton by ferry and (interesting fact) is home of the World’s oldest pier train. Previous days were spent watching this train go up and down the pier, a gentle chug chug chug as it delivered commuters to the small passenger ferry every 30 minutes which then departed onward to Southampton.
In the distance across the massive expanse of water massive cruise liners were busy being boarded, ready to set sail on their epic voyages around the world. It’s a remarkable place to sit and watch the world go by. You feel almost at the edge of the Earth with a flurry of activity barely visible by eye but on closer inspection being epic in proportions. Massive container ships passing by of all shapes and sizes, delivering and receiving orders of astronomical proportions. The expanse of water is so large however that it makes these ships look like mere toys, bobbing up and down for our entertainment rather than serving a critical purpose.
I watched the ships in the Solent for a little while with an ice cream and then began the walk back to my car. During which I thought about the days I felt utterly alone here but also the days where I was happier than I’d ever been.
During the walk, a familiar couple passed me on the road, smiling as they passed. They were my former neighbours in the block of flats In which I used to live. They didn’t remember me but I got a warm glow of familiarity.
There are pieces of home everywhere if you choose to look for them.
On the last day of my travels in Japan, I jumped on a train from Kyoto Station to the nearby city of Osaka (a 30 minute train ride) not knowing what to expect. Reality was setting in: I was going back home and most of my travel companions were already homeward bound so I needed to feel like I was still ‘travelling’ just a little bit longer before my flight that evening.
My guidebook pointed out a cool shopping district a stones throw from Shinsaibashi Station that goes by the name of ‘Amerikamura’, or American Village. The district has been in existence since the 1970s, initiated by the large amount of US clothing and general Americana memorabilia imported for the expats based there (hence the name). It has been referred to as the ‘Harajuku’ of Kyoto due to the large alternative scene based here, where fashionable teenagers flock to in order to show off their latest outfits. Signs outside various stores advertise ‘Gothic Lolita Fashion’.
‘What is Gothic Lolita Fashion’, you may be wondering? Well, it is a particular style which basically involves wearing the frilliest, girliest dresses you can possible think of. And in predominantly black. Think Gothic Japanese Little Bo Peep or Little Red Riding Hood. Lace, bows, frills and more frills, this is clothing originating from the Victorian Era, but with an cooler edge to it. There is nothing seedy about it, the look originated from women simply not wanting feel like they have to wear skimpy clothes in order to attract the opposite sex. And because it’s fun to wear. The clothing is very modest (petticoats are essential garb) and most of the girls wearing look like they’ve escaped from a Disney Film.
Osaka is also home to a very large number of 1970s era vintage fashion shops, a great selection of bars and restaurants and what looks like a thriving music scene (I was only there for a day trip but saw lots of advertisements scattered around the shops).
So, back to the purpose of this article; the Alice On Wednesday concept store. I was wandering past a queue of excited teenagers being policed by an elderly, rather angry looking security guard. Two english speaking tourists asked if I wanted their spare tickets for the 2pm time slot to join said queue.
‘Sure, Ok!’ (I was feeling spontaneous)
(Thought a minute) ‘Er…so what is the ticket for exactly?’
‘It’s an Alice in Wonderland concept store. We read about it on the internet, they’re supposed to be the new thing.’
‘Ah, Ok. Thanks!’
I was still none the wiser to what a concept store was exactly, so I decided out of curiosity to return to the queue at 2pm and see what was at the front of it. Because when has there not been anything worth seeing at the front of a long queue? Unless your waiting for a bus. Or buying stamps. Or going to the bank. OK, maybe there are exceptions to this statement. Nonetheless I was joining that queue.
So after buying a large quantity of slogan T-shirts, knocking over several precariously balanced bicycles outside of a cafe (they weren’t looking where I was walking!) and a rather delicious meal in a Spanish themed noodle bar ( I don’t get it either) I headed back to The Queue to see what the fuss was about.
The security man had since become more bad tempered, was shouting in Japanese and waiving some tickets for later time slots (the earliest was 6pm). I took a closer look at the entrance to the store. ‘Alice on Wednesday’ has three fairytale-esque potential entrances and excited teenagers appeared to exiting the smallest door (about 4 foot in height) in dribs and drabs. They must be the 1.30pm time slot. I took my spot at the back of queue of about 10 excited teenagers taking selfies.
‘Do you speak English?’ An Australian tourist has sheepishly approached me in the queue.
‘What’s at the front of this queue?’
‘I don’t know’.
More youngsters leave the store laden with large themed shopping bags and I eventually get to the front of the The Queue. My time to enter the Wonderland has finally come…
The small, modest entrance immediately opens up into ‘The Red Queen’s Room’ which is a gothic themed room painted bright red with a black and white chequered floor. A ceiling adorned with glistening chandeliers, floor to ceiling mirrors and a long dining table which stretches from one end of the room to the other. Floor to ceiling antique bookcases line the walls. And located in every possible nook, cranny and crevice is gifts and memorabilia associated with The Lewis Carol story. Watches, hair slides, necklaces, cushions, playing cards, you name it’s here. An everything in here has a sparkly, almost magical appearance (it must be the lighting); all of it screams ‘Buy Me’. And buy they do; another large queue of teenagers starts form at the checkout.
Moving on into the second from ‘The White Queen’s Room’ is bulging at the seams with sweets and random themed food items for sale. Giant lolly pops, jars of wonderful looking sweets and glass bottles containing mysterious concoctions with ‘Drink Me’ labels on the front. My personal favourites were the themed ‘recipe boxes’ which contained ingredients to make a small selection of meals.
Emblazoned on the front of one of them was the following: ‘Alice made this Thai Green Curry for the White Rabbit. Do you want to try?’
A stretch too far? Certainly. Did I want to buy and try that curry? Of course I did!
Alice On Wednesday: A new, rather unique concept in shopping.
Well A BIG HELLO To Everyone! And a special hello to the patient individuals who are still following my blog after all this time! It’s been a while. Unfortunately I was cursed with a massive writers block that I felt could only be remedied by a bit of a break and a few holidays here and there. So I went and booked myself on a trip to Japan, didn’t I?! It’s been on my bucket list for years so carpe diem and all that, I just booked it over Christmas and set off last month for a rather fast paced tour of this fascinating country…
‘Japan Express’ is a 9 day group trip you can book through Intrepid Travel and I added a few days before and a week after to do some solo travelling (including my first hostel experience at the age of 31!). In 9 days you can sample the key highlights of Japan; starting at the mad metropolis that is Tokyo, heading north to beautiful Nikko, then finally taking the bullet train across to Kyoto to be bathed in culture and Japanese tradition.
So this morning, with it being Good Friday over in the UK, I was till sat in my dressing gown at 11am (don’t judge me!) and suddently became inspired to update my blog. Not in detail about my holiday (I think my friends are going to start avoiding me soon if I keep up with that!), but because I felt the need to share with you one of the weirdest yet coolest things I saw when I was out there. No it wasn’t the Golden Pavillion. Nor was it the Geisha Girls. Or even the Sushi. Yet, it’s stayed with me and become one of my new obesssions.
Gashapon. Yes, Gashapon. Japanese Toy Vending machines to you and I. Please bear with me a moment whilst I elaborate further. Now, who remembers from their childhoods those machines you put small change into and they spurted out a rubbish toy? Well in Japan, they have become a rather incredible thing, a National Obsession. The toys themselves aren’t rubbish, they’re not only rather well made but deeply, deeply funny. Hundreds of these machines can be found everywhere, each containing a series of bizarre collectable yet deeply unnecessary objects that you feel compelled to possess. They don’t make any sense, but by the end of my trip I found myself piling Japanese yen into these magical machines and bartering with locals to swap duplicate toys with me. Here’s how they work: you simply put your coins in the machines, twist the wheel untill a little egg pops out containing a random toy from the collection stipulated on the front of the machine.
It’s had to put into words the level of weirdness I saw being marketed as collectable items. The mere existance confirmed that the Japanese have a wicked sense of humour, possibly better than us Brits! Some are collectable figurines from Anime or Manga so fans of these would be in seventh heaven. But I wasn’t interested in those. I was interested in the random, the disturbing and the hilarious. So Part One of my ‘Tokyo Rose’ Blog will bring to you today’s Top 5 Weird Gashapon Toys of Japan.
So let’s kick off with what started this voyage of discovery with Cats on Sushi. Yes, Cats, that look a bit upset, on Sushi. A series of five collectable figures at only 400 Japanese Yen each (about £2 UK pounds).
Next comes Dogs…In Bread! A series of collectable dogs, trapped against their will in different types of baked goods. Only 200 Japanese Yen.
Fancy a romantic night in with your Smartphone? Then indulge it with it’s very own velour dressing gown, complete with hood. Only 300 yen. Crack open the bubbly and get prepare to indulge! Let’s not make this any weirder than it already is.
Next up: don’t you just find it utterly adorable when a dog llifts it’s leg to relieve itself? Well, now someone has captured this special moment in a series of collectable figures for your viewing pleasure!
Ever wanted to see what historical statues would look like without their nostrils. Then you’re in luck, for only 200 Japanese yen you can possess your own unique take on history.
Speechless? I know the feeling. But the more I saw them, the more I wanted to possess them all! My suitcase ws bulging with these little eggs of joy on my way back home.
That’s all for now, mainly because I’m hungry now. But please like and share if you’ve enjoyed my post, if not for me then for the Cats On Sushi, they’ve been through enough.
Did you leave the house this morning under the cover of darkness, scrape an inch thick layer of ice from your car (last used on or around the 19th December) and begin that trudge to work on desperately quiet roads?
Did you see a warm glow emitting from the houses of your neighbours, inside blissfully unaware of your imminent commute and probably not yet even surfacing from under their duvets? Did you attempt to head to the shops for a quick lunch but had to turn back as you were overrun with smug shoppers, still on their holidays with days to kill and wandering at a snail’s pace around Marks & Spencers?
Then A Big Welcome to you my friends! You are in good company. Read on and I will attempt to get you through this difficult period of the year, using a powerful combination of bitter experience and some rather amateur attempts at positive mentality.
Yes, this is my top tips for Working Over Christmas or a being a WOC (apologies for rubbish acronym but I couldn’t help myself being back in the workplace an’ all) from a WOC Veteran of 3 years (and counting…)
1. Ease yourself back in to your pre-Christmas food regime
Now, just because you’re back in ‘work mode’ with respect to attendance and actually having to do work, this does not mean you can’t reward yourself with the odd indulgent snack throughout the day to take the edge off the post holiday blues. It’s still far too early to be starting any New Years Heath Kicks. Save that for when ‘the others’ have come back. Treat yourself to a giant pastry (like me this morning) or even a mince pie (erm, also me) and at least your digestive system can still feel like it’s still on holiday.
2. Snack Attack!
You know the tonne of snacks and general Christmas treats everyone brought in just before they left for the holidays? They’re still here. And guess what? No one is going to want to touch them when they get back after they’ve had a fortnight of chocolate selection boxes and cakes. Do them a favour and remove the temptation before they get back and complain about them.
3. Ever Chaired a Meeting but never been senior enough to do so? Now’s your chance!
Now, since nobody is around, use the opportunity to make some important decisions around here. You have the rare opportunity to simultaniously be the Chair, minute taker AND core attendee of your very own meeting! Now don’t let the power go to your head!…
4. Perfect that ‘post holiday’ conversation
You know the one…
‘Did you have a good Christmas?’
‘Yeah, it was good thanks, what about you?’
‘Yeah really enjoyed it thanks, it was a bit quiet but it was nice to have a break’ etc etc BLAH BLAH BLAH
Use the additional week to your advantge and enchance that post Christmas exchange of words. Rehearse some Christmas holiday stories that will astound, entertain and perhaps even concern your colleagues. If you’re short of ideas, simply steal a plot from a recent soap opera storyline and (as long as your colleague doesn’t actually watch said soap) have fun watching your colleagues awkward reponse.
‘Do you have a good Christmas?’
‘No, not really actually.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, this might sound a bit far fetched, but I found out on Christmas Day that my sister is actully my Mother.’ (REMEMBER TO KEEP A STRAIGHT FACE AT THIS POINT)
‘Oh right…um, I don’t know what to say’. And from this moment henceforth, no one else will dare to ask you how your Christmas holiday was. (You’re Welcome WOCs!)
5. Last but not least, the quiet…oh the peace and quiet
This week, my office is down from 30 to erm, 3. And this means the office is practically deserted. No, I’m not suggesting doing anything untoward here, because after all you have professional standards to maintain. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t introduce just a leeeetle bit of fun to break up the long days of loneliness. For example, haven’t you always wanted to sing Celine Dion ‘My Heart Will Go On’ at the top of your voice in the open plan office, or wear a Mullet wig and feather boa whilst sat working at your desk. For no other reason than you can. And it would be mildly amusing.
Now my fellow WOCs, if you have managed to get this far in this article, I’d love to hear from you in my comments section…what silly thing have you introduced to bring a teeny tiny of joy to your working day whilst everyone is still shoving down the last remnants of the turkey and watching the third repeat of the Miranda Christmas special on the TV. The Fools.
I hope this article helps get you though this difficult period. And please, follow me if you’d like to read more from me. I’m fairly new at this Blogging malarky, so would really appreciate your likes and or ‘feedback’…or what I like to refer to as a sh*it sandwich; a slice of negativity in between two big thick slices of positivity!
And last but not least, I wish you a very Happy 2015!
Something you should probably know about me is I do a LOT of running. I started a few years ago, not for your usual weight loss reasons, but to improve my mood. After a difficult start, it ended up having a phenomenally positive effect on my life and significantly reduced my stress levels. If I’m in a bad mood, I’ll decide to go for a run thus completely forgetting what I was in a bad mood about in the first place!
The thing about runners however that can really irritate non runners is that they can become quite evangelical about running. Google ‘inspiration running quotes’ and you will see what I mean. I’ve selected a few here for your viewing pleasure (or annoyance depending on how inactive you have been of late!):
Here’s my personal favourite for when I’m having a ‘slow’ day:
So when my friend Sharon suggested I sign up for the Loftus Poultry run just before Christmas because it would be ‘fun’, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. You see, I sign up for races probably every few weeks as they always have a really good atmosphere and having something to aim for keeps you motivated to keep training.
And I knew at this one there would be Christmas fancy dress.
You will see from my previous running post that there are some ‘unusual’ costumes which can appear at these events. Jesus was my personal favourite this year. Other than the Santa hat worn at my previous race, I haven’t worn a costume as such for a race before so thought I’d give it a go; it is Christmas after all! So ‘Mary Christmas’ was born. I customised my existing lady santa costume with the following:
1. Present bows
2. Christmas Gift Tags
3. Plastic cake decorations that I’d found in a cake tin 5 minutes before I set off which I’d sewn into the skirt, my personal favourites were Mr Reindeer and Mr Robin.
I drove to pick up Sharon from the main road and found her stood in full Santa costume complete with beard. We got some funny looks on the drive there!
Loftus Poultry run (http://www.poultryrun.info) has been going for over 30 years now and attracts both serious and comedy runners purely out to enjoy the day. On this occasion, I was in the latter category. The race has got it’s name because the main prizes consist of Poultry from a local butcher; when I arrived I saw a series of chickens and turkeys being loaded onto the a table for afterwards (don’t worry, they’re already dead!).
So after having a quick catch up with my running friends (we are rather a sociable bunch!) we all set off from Loftus leisure centre for the 8 mile mainly uphill slog which is a loop around the surrounding villages. It was a very tough race. I spent the first two miles trying to keep pace with a man who was playing Christmas music from his phone (it can be surprisingly motivating!) and was keeping up with the main crowd until about mile 5. The I hit massive wall. Thoughts going through my mind consisted of:
‘Why is it so windy?!’
‘Where has everyone gone?!’
‘This is NOT fun!’
‘I wonder if I’ll win best costume?’
On this occasion (and this happens some times in races) I just lost all motivation to continue and just started walking. This is highly unusual for me, but I always refer to the quotation below in rare circumstances such as this:
Towards the end as I ran through the housing estate behind the leisure centre, some little girls were stood on the window sill in their bedroom and were cheering me on to finish and shouted ‘Merry Christmas!’. It’s moments like this that keep you going to the finish and I was spurred on to start running again (albeit slowly).
‘Merry Christmas, Mary Christmas!’ Shouted the crowds as I did a last sprint towards the finish line.
‘Never AGAIN!’ I said through gritted teeth to Sharon as I ran through it.
As always however, once I’d had my post race cup of tea, I was feeling rather euphoric and very quickly changed my mind about the whole experience,
‘Now I know what to expect from the course, I’ll definitely do it again next year!’
I didn’t win best costume in the end; there wasn’t a best costume prize but were instead giving bottles of wine away to those who finished in fancy dress. They’d run out of wine by the time I showed up!
This is a great article, made me remember the reason we need to remember think about our audience when communicating ANYTHING! People always tend to see doing this as a hindrance because of the additional thought it entails but if people cannot understand what you’re telling them you may as well not have bothered in the first place!
So Thursday night I frantically had to design a calendar for my Brother’s girlfriend. It all started when I asked him what she would like for Christmas…
‘Does she like music?’
‘Does she want a travelling photo album for her travelling pictures?’ (They met whilst travelling)’
‘She already has loads of albums from travelling.’
‘What about a canvas?’
‘I’m going to end up putting it up aren’t I?!’
Buying presents is tough.
…’But she’d like a calendar with pictures of the cats.’ (They have two gorgeous cats called Tilly and Pip)
‘OK. Can you send me the pictures?’
‘Yeah…I’ll set up an album on Facebook and give you access, I’m not having all my friends thinking I’m a weird cat man.’
(5 minutes later)
‘Greg! I cannot see the photos!’
‘What?! Yes you can!’
And so on, we ended up arguing over whether I could see the photos that I clearly couldn’t, he refused to make the album public (even for 5 minutes while I downloaded the pictures!) and the situation resulted in him giving me the username and password to his Facebook account. The temptation to post humorous status updates was beyond strong but I resisted as you’re never to old to get a ‘Grandad’ from your sibling at Christmas. A ‘Grandad’ is when you get punched so hard in the pressure point in your leg, you walk like someone over 80 years old for up to 30 minutes afterwards. Once, my brother gave me over 10 consecutive granddads on a bus in Devon, just for fun. He’s lucky he’s getting a present to be perfectly honest with you.
So I eventully, obtained these photos, and I understand why people would think he was a weird cat person. A selection of what I can only describe as provocative cat poses were in now in my posession. Different lighting, cats with their claws flirtatiously pawing at the camera. They were brilliant and I now have enough blackmail material to take me to at least 2016. I’ve made some an arty sepia, I’ve cropped, switched and photoshopped snowballs and starts onto the December photo.
‘Greg, I’ve done the calender, and it is STUNNING.’ I messaged him afterwards. He, ahem, I mean his girlfriend will be so pleased to receive it on Christmas Day 🙂
So tonight I went for dinner at a lovely restaurant near my house called ‘The Waiting Room’ in Eaglescliffe. It vegetarian, but don’t let that put you off; it’s been voted one of the best restaurants in the UK (and that’s including the ones that have meat!) and I’ve been going regularly for years.
It’s name (I assume) comes from the fact its over the road from Eaglescliffe train station. Either that or people just enjoy loitering in there without buying any food, but that wouldn’t be a particularly good business model so I’m going with the former. One of the reasons I bought a house close by was so I can easily hop on a direct train back to AFormerLondonGirl HQ to visit the parental unit and then hop back up quickly enough when I need my space again.
Helen had the spinach and feta pancake, Katie the lasagne with sesame potatoes (yum!) and i had the goats cheese roulade (double yum!). I (as per usual) was the only one with room for dessert so had the usual..
‘Sticky toffee pudding please, with LOTS of custard!’
I have no shame.
They also have cool events on a Sunday night called ‘Waiting for Sunday’ and they have anything from bands, to comedians and it’s usually quite eclectic which I love. One year I saw a brilliant band called The LoveSick Cowboys and because it was Halloween me and my friend went along as zombie cowgirls.
If you are ever in the Teesside area for any reason, you must visit this restaurant, you won’t regret it.
So, to follow on from my tipping dilemma as discussed in my previous blog, I mentioned this to my friends Katie and Helen at dinner and asked for their opinions on the matter.
‘What, you tip at beauty salons?!’ says Katie,
‘Of course, it’s the same as hairdressers isn’t it…except the hair is erm, elsewhere!’.
‘Well no one tips me to to my job!’ (Katie is an accountant).
So there we have it folks.
I know for a FACT that my window cleaners avoided me last month so I would have to see them to give them a tip this month. The truth is, they are so suspicious looking, I continue to pay them (even though I’m not even sure they are fully cleaning my windows) just to prevent them from potentially burgling my house when I’m at work. Yes that’s right, I’m paying my window cleaners protection money.
So we had a wonderful evening, we laughed a lot, ate loads of lovely food and have agreed to head out together over Christmas to have a few drinks, have a dance and attempt to meet some eligible batchelors. Due to my ongoing social awkwardness this is highly unlikely…but one can but try!
I’m off to bed as I’m tired after that epic dessert!
So following on from getting new hair Friday, I treated myself to a discount massage on Saturday lunchtime then had a lazy afternoon half watching old Christmas films whilst doing my bi-annual filing of my paperwork aka opening several months of bills and immediately throwing them out. My question for beauty salon etiquette; how much do you tip if you’ve received the treatment at a reduced price?! Do you scale down the tip to match the percentage final cost?! Ruminating over issues like this prevent me from fully relaxing during said treatments hence why I tent to put off going! So my afternoon included sorting out all of my old photos and inevitably coming across those of my ex-fiance. I remember that beyond the face-pulling/cheeky grins lies the corrupt mind of a sociopath – BEWARE! I reminded myself in case I feel tempted to contact him again. I went to a friend of a friends house party in the evening but only had a couple of drinks as I was running the next day. My friend had a drunk close collision with an antler light fitting and I decided to put Bruno Mars ‘Uptown Funk’ on repeat as I feel it’s the only song worth listening to, well this week anyway.
Those who weren’t feeling socially awkward dance to it with me, one guy decided he would only NOT feel awkward dancing if he was wearing a Bruno Mars-esque fedora. We made it happen. I ate cheese straight from the packet. Put it on some Doritos. My diet has sunk to a new low.
I awoke the next day and went to my 5km trail race in the grounds of a mansion opposite where I live. Preston Park was built in the 19th century in Stockton-on-Tees (Cleveland, North East England) and houses a replica Victorian Street. It only costs £1 to get in and you can return as many times as you like during the year; it’s an absolute bargain. It also houses a fantastic painting called ‘The Dice Players’ by a French artist called Georges de La Tour which was painted in the 1600s, a few years before the artists death. It’s one of the most beautiful paintings I’ve ever seen and I love visiting it. The way the artist has captured the faces of those playing the dice game is truly magical, I always ask myself ‘is that how they actually looked back then?!’ for some reason. I feel so privileged to live opposite such an amazing place. There was around 250 people doing the race, I wore my Santa hat to try and be a bit festive about it. However, the clear winner of best Christmas costume so far was someone who decided to roll up wearing nothing but sandals and two strategically placed tea towels, and you could only see his race number when he lifted up the front tea towel. I was calling him Jesus but my atheist friend told me off and said I was mistaken as he was clearly Joseph! My question back to him was HOW DOES HE EVEN KNOW THAT! He ran carrying a cuddly sheep. What a legend. Anyway returned home after a good gossip with my friend Sharon whilst we ran additional 5km (we are clearly mad) and spent the rest of the day relaxing with the sunday papers…bliss 🙂 To conclude: a fun packed weekend! Bye for now, Claire