Thursday, 14 November 2013

Zealous Kit Review

Thank you Zealous for these super pretty costumes to wear
Well first impressions were obviously good as the costume designs are just beautiful. There are loads of other lovely designs available too. I especially like the Winter 2013 range.

The Zealous costumes are so so comfortable, not just on first wear but also at the end of a long swim session. I've now been wearing the costumes for 5 months and they are STILL just as comfortable as they were when they were brand new! For me this is a great (and novel) finding as pretty much all previous costumes I’ve owned have rubbed under my arms.

The Zealous costumes fit perfectly. The body is the right length and the chest is the right width. Again this was also a brilliant finding for me as I’ve often had trouble finding costumes which fit properly.

After 5 months of wear, swimming 6 times a week, every week, I can confirm that Zealous costumes are built to last! The costumes have not lost any of their colour or elasticity. It's fantastic to finally find a range of costumes which do actually live up to their chlorine resistant claims.

All in all, these Zealous costumes are the very best I’ve ever owned and I would thoroughly recommend them!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Apricot & Almond Loaf and White Chocolate & Cranberry Flapjacks

Apricot & Almond Loaf

In my first attempt at apricot and almond loaf, I was disappointed that it didn’t taste very almond-y so this time I tried to ramp up the flavour by adding ground almonds to the mixture and stirring in whole blanched almonds (instead of flaked almonds). The whole blanched almonds were a good addition- it’s nice to come across a big chunk of almond in your bread, but overall it still didn’t have a strong almond flavour. Perhaps I need to add some almond essence too. Anyway, it still tastes good and it goes particularly well with a smothering of cherry jam on top.

400g brown flour
1½ tsp sugar
25g Meridian Safflower Oil
1 tsp salt
50g ground almonds
280ml water
1 tsp yeast
100g dried apricots
50g blanched almonds

White Chocolate & Cranberry Flapjacks

I’ve also made white chocolate and cranberry flapjacks before and they worked fine. Probably the main reason I haven’t made them again until now is that every time I buy some chocolate chips for baking with, I usually end up eating them before they make it into the mixing bowl! With a bit more discipline this time- I think these chocolate chips lasted a whole two weeks in the cupboard without being eaten (although I was away for one of those weeks) I finally managed to do some baking with them. Again they turned out well, although is it possible to go wrong with white chocolate and cranberries?

2 eggs
100ml milk
3 tablespoons golden syrup
300g porridge oats
100g dried cranberries
100g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix together the wet ingredients. Stir in the dry ingredients. Pour into a lined baking tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

albaRosa Circuit Races, York

albaRosa Girls After Race 1

More bike racing at the York circuit, this time two races in one day, each 40 minutes plus five laps with an hour in between races. This turned out to be just enough time to do a cool down, change into dry clothes, eat some porridge and drink some hot chocolate, before it was back out into the rain for round two. 

Race 1 Chase Group

I came 3rd in both races to Brit Tate and Iona Sewell, GB Cycles and collected enough points to earn my Cat 2 licence. I was disappointed that I wasn’t in a position to challenge for a win, but earlier this year I wouldn’t have even considered entering a bike race, so to have now done seven races and not finished lower than 3rd, I think I have to be happy with that.

Race 2 Chase
There are great reports from the day here and here.
Thank you to everyone involved in organising the day and well done to all who competed, especially my albaRosa team mates!

Thanks to James and Jamie for the photos.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Mixed Berry Muffins

With plenty of frozen berries in the freezer and fancying a change from flap-jacks, I made a batch of Mixed Berry Muffins. The recipe was adapted from one in my ‘Cupcakes & Cookies’ book. The muffins were nice and soft and the bursts of juice and sugar from the blueberries and raspberries were delicious. An ideal mid morning or afternoon snack.

200g whole-wheat self-raising flour
135g white self-raising flour
110g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten lightly
50ml Meridian Safflower Oil
250ml milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
100g frozen blueberries
100g frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Fill a muffin/cupcake tin with 12 muffin cases. Mix together all the ingredients. Stir in the frozen berries. Spoon mixture into muffin cases and bake for 35mins. Allow to stand in tray for a few minutes before placing on wire cooling rack.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Another Tuesday, Another Bike Race

This week my legs felt OK on my warm up, but as soon as the race started they didn't feel great. Strangely this meant that I actually enjoyed the race more than the previous couple because it hurt more, so I felt like it was a good training session. Starting as a second group of six we worked quite well together to catch the first group of six who had set off 45 seconds earlier. After passing them, with only one girl jumping groups, the pace slowed and was fairly constant for the remainder of the race. I attacked once but didn’t get a huge gap and so didn’t commit 100%. Again it came down to a sprint finish in which I finished 3rd to Iona Sewell and Brit Tate both of GB Cycles. I really need to improve my sprint finishes! Well done to the other albaRosa girls, Danica and Alison-who had done a time trial earlier in the day! Now that is a good way to make it hurt.

Results here

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Dishforth Bike Race and Semerwater Swim

Semerwater, Raydale, North Yorkshire
Last weekend ended up being a weekend of racing for me. On Saturday I competed in a women’s 40min bike race at Dishforth, North Yorkshire and on Sunday I took part in a 1.5km open water swim at Semerwater, also in North Yorkshire.

The bike race was pretty uneventful. The course at Dishforth is flat, wide and without any tight bends. There were a couple of attacks, but no one got away. There were also a couple of primes on laps 2 and 3 but the prizes weren’t attractive enough to encourage everyone to go for them. There were 25 women in the race, the largest field I’ve raced against so far and the group stayed together for the whole 40mins/5 laps. So the race came down to a sprint finish on the final lap in which I finished 2nd to Iona Sewell of GB Cycles. Well done to the other albaRosa girls who competed: Vicky Clark who set the pace for most of the race; Lindsay for getting stuck in despite miscounting the laps; and Claire who enjoyed her first ever bike race. Personally, I felt a bit underwhelmed at the finish, neither disappointed nor satisfied. In hindsight I think I should have tried to attack a few times to make the race a bit more interesting. Next time…

On Sunday, I enjoyed the open water swim much more than the bike race. The course was either 1 lap (1.5km) or 2 laps (3km) of Semerwater. I signed up for the 1.5km option. There was a mass start of 75 swimmers, but with a very wide range of abilities there was no fighting at the start. I had a good start and got to the first buoy in 2nd place. I then passed the man who was leading quite early on and held the lead to the finish. There were a few ducks which crossed my path at one point but apart from that the only event of note was my disastrous exit from the water where I stood up, fell backwards and then resorted to crawling over the slippery rocks to get to the finish. Not the most elegant way to finish a race. I then watched my friends come in, in 3rd and 7th positions in their first ever open water swim! A leisurely lunch in Bainbridge followed by a hilly cycle back to Otley was a good way to fill the rest of the day.

Dishforth race report and results.

Semerwater race results.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Just get on with it.

This week three albaRosa girls, Emily, Danica and myself, travelled to York for another evening of bike racing. Danica and I did an easy 35min ride as a warm up, during which my legs were not enjoying any kind of incline and I thought ‘I’m not sure it’s really a good idea to be doing a bike race tonight’… Anyway, this thought was quickly overridden with ‘It’s a training race and I wouldn’t miss training just because my legs are tired so just get on with it’.

Arriving in York, the sky looked ominous with a big black cloud threatening to soak us, but luckily the wind was blowing the right way and we avoided any rain. Fourteen girls lined up on the start line, the biggest field yet, and we were set off in two groups. There was a front group of eight including Emily and Danica and a back group of six of which I was part of. We worked OK together to catch the front group but as we passed them, two girls managed to jump groups increasing our group to eight. Most girls continued to take turns at the front but a few just sat at the back. For the remainder of the race I tried to stay near the front of the group so I could cover any breaks, there were a few attacks but no one got away. Coming into the final hairpin I went to the front so I didn’t lose any time on the bend. Then coming into the finishing straight, two girls (Iona and Brit) came past me on the outside. Unfortunately my tired legs couldn’t respond this week so I had to settle for 3rd. Well done to Emily, who has improved so much each week and Danica in her first ever circuit race.

I think my next bike race will be at Dishforth on the 10th August where hopefully Lindsay, Vicky and I can work together can work together to finish near the front for albaRosa! In the mean time, perhaps not quite as catchy as Nike’s slogan, but the message works for me: ‘Just get on with it’.

Friday, 26 July 2013

York Sport Cycle Circuit Race, 2nd attempt

After enjoying my first bike race last week and spending all week thinking about race tactics and possible race scenarios, I decided to have another go this week.

When race day came round, unfortunately the weather in Leeds took a turn for the worse and it was raining on and off all day. I’ve done plenty of chain-gangs in the rain so I wasn’t worried about the conditions, but I was concerned that no one else would turn up. I shouldn’t have doubted my competitors though, as although there were fewer riders than last week, eight women turned up to race including albaRosa team mates Lindsay and Emily.

This week we were set off in two groups, a five and then a three. After winning last week, I was in the second group. The first job was to catch the first five women and working reasonably well as a group of three we managed catch and pass them. The next thing to think about was watching the lap numbers count down from 10 laps to go. One of the girls attacked a couple of times, so I started to be a bit more cautious, watching out in case she tried again. As the pace was slower than last week I felt very comfortable and thought about breaking away myself. In the end though, I decided to wait for the last lap. Going into the final hairpin I went hard, coming out I saw I had a big gap so I kept going to the finish to take my second bike race win. Well done to Lindsay and Emily who both enjoyed the race and felt more confident than last week despite the wet weather. Also well done to all the albaRosa guys, it was great to watch the men’s race- that was so much faster than the women’s and see lots of pink and black albaRosa zipping past.

So, time to get out cycling and think about next week’s tactics!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

First Bike Race, First Bike Win

albaRosa girls: still smiling after our first bike race

Inspired by watching the Tour de France and encouraged by albaRosa team mates especially Club Captain Jamie Tweddell, I decided to have a go at a bike race. 

On Tuesday evening I travelled to York for the women’s only race at York Sport Cycle Circuit. Six other albaRosa girls were also competing for the first time so it was great to chat to each other before the start, try to work out the rules and reassure each other. The race was 40 minutes long on a 1km circuit with a count down from 10 laps to go based on a calculation of our lap speed. We were allowed 15 minutes to warm up on the circuit and practice the corners before the race. First impressions were: ‘that hairpin is quite tight’ and ‘the back straight is quite windy’. Soon enough we were lined up on the start line. As first timers we were given a head start, with two groups of three riders setting off at intervals after us. 

We set off quite steadily, so I made sure I got to the front before the first hairpin so I could get round it safely. Along the back straight Vicky Clark, also racing for albaRosa, came past quite strongly so I got on her wheel and this was where I stayed for most of the race. Vicky is an amazing rider and was so strong. I had to work hard to keep up and so wasn’t really able to help her out much but I did go to the front when I could to give Vicky a bit of a rest. 

Coming into the final third of the race we started to catch the riders who had set off last and were the only riders we hadn’t yet lapped. When we caught them we sat at the back for a lap until they signalled for us to go through. Coming out of the next hairpin they tried to get away but couldn't drop us. On the next lap Vicky went to the front and as we were coming out of the hairpin I noticed we had a bit of a gap so I went to the front to try to establish a break. It worked. When I started to tire, Vicky came through again and powered us round the last few laps extending our lead over the rest of the field. Coming into the finishing straight I was a bit cheeky and decided to sprint for the line, finishing just ahead of Vicky.

Speaking to all the albaRosa girls at the end of the race it seemed that everyone had enjoyed themselves and would be coming back again next week! I don’t think Vicky and I will get a head start again, but hopefully we can still win from the back. Well done to all the albaRosa girls for a successful first bike race and thanks very much to all the albaRosa guys for persuading us to have a go as I don’t think any of us would have been there otherwise!

Report & results here

p.s Thanks very much to James for the photos.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Almond Butter Cookies

Thanks to Meridian, I am now addicted to their almond butter and after eating it on toast, rice cakes, pitta bread and crackers, I started to experiment with baking with it too. The best recipe I have come up with so far is for almond butter cookies. Actually they taste a bit like digestive biscuits, but nicer. But I think they could be improved further by adding some flaked almonds to create a different texture. Anyway, here is the recipe as it stands;

70g Meridian almond butter
70g brown sugar
1 egg
200g plain flour (100g wholemeal/100g white)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Small amount of milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Beat together the Meridian almond butter, sugar and egg. Stir in the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Add enough milk to turn the mixture into dough. Roll heaped dessert spoons of the mixture into balls. Place on a baking tray 5cm apart and flatten with a fork. Bake for about 12 minutes. Cool on trays.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Meridian Malt Loaf

First attempt at home-made malt loaf

Firstly, thanks to Meridian for sending me lots of tasty products to try. I’ve been a fan of their peanut butter (with no added sugar or salt!) for a while so was keen to test out other products in their range.

This malt loaf recipe is adapted from one I found online and includes Meridian Barley Malt Extract. Barley malt extract is a natural sweetener and is found in healthy muesli options such as the ‘no added sugar’ version of Alpen. This recipe does use extra sugar, but there’s no added fat and I used wholemeal flour instead of white flour so overall, it’s pretty healthy.

175g    Meridian Barley Malt Extract
85g      dark muscovado sugar
300g    mixed dried fruit
150ml  tea
2         eggs
250g    plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp    baking powder
½ tsp   bicarbonate of soda

This recipe is really simple: preheat the oven to 130°C; mix together all the ingredients in the order above; pour into a lined loaf tin; bake for 50mins. The malt loaf tastes good by itself or with a bit of jam on it. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

My Moroccan Adventure

Well that was an experience and not one I’d like to repeat in the near future.
On Thursday I travelled to Tangier, Morocco to compete in the Larache ITU Sprint Triathlon African Cup on Saturday my first international triathlon. The general theme of the weekend was waiting: waiting for my transfer to the hotel (2.5 hours); waiting for my bike (12 hours); waiting for accreditation (1 hour); waiting for race briefing (1 hour); waiting for race start (1.5 hours); waiting for my bag (30 mins); waiting for my transfer to the airport (50 mins) and finally, waiting for my flight home (6 hours). It seems the Moroccan minute is quite different to a UK minute.

Anyhow, eventually my bike did turn up, at 23.15 the night before the race. And when the race finally started, it was a great course- nice warm sea to swim in, a few waves, hilly bike and hilly run. I came 11th out of 16 finishers. I was disappointed with my result but it wasn’t a complete disaster, I learnt a lot that I’ll take into future races. Other positives of the trip were: a cafe selling ideal pre-race pasta; friendly locals (sometimes a bit too friendly); and a bit of sunshine (unfortunate tan lines to prove it)! 

Three weeks now until my next race, Blenheim Triathlon, on the 9th June. It was one of my favourite triathlons last year, so I'm looking forward to doing it again.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Pendle Tri

Pendle triathlon on Sunday was my first UK triathlon of 2013. The weather forecast was terrible, 7°C, heavy rain and strong winds. Luckily this turned out to be inaccurate and it was really more like light rain and moderate winds. Even so, I laid out my bike jersey and gloves in transition- after Skipton, Wetherby and London triathlons last year I didn’t want to do another triathlon where I couldn’t feel my hands and feet.

The swim was a 750m pool swim, a bit unusual as normally sprint distance tri pool swims are only 400m but it suited me, as normally in an age group triathlon the swim ends up being my strongest discipline. There was a bit of a run up to transition, round the building, up a hill and round another building and my transition took a bit longer than normal as I put on my helmet, bike jersey, race belt and gloves!

Onto the bike and I was so glad to have my extra layers on, especially for the down-hills. The bike course was good, two laps of a hilly loop with marshals all the way around. I’m always reassured to see marshals in a non-drafting race as it makes it much fairer for everyone, discouraging some people from drafting. It was also reassuring to know I was going the right way.

The run course was also nice and very well marshalled. It was more like a cross country race than a normal triathlon run though as we ran through fields, over stiles, up hills, along farm tracks and along a canal towpath. The last kilometre felt much longer than a kilometre, so I was happy to see the finish line and collect my finisher’s Mars bar!

After a warm down jog, shower and change the presentations took place. I was 1st woman and 5th overall in 1.13.50, a time I was quite pleased with given the nature of the course. I was disappointed however that the men and women were given different prizes. Only the 1st woman won a prize while the top 3 men got prizes and only the 1st man and 1st local man won large shields.

Overall this was a great triathlon though, very well organised with interesting bike and run courses, especially if you like the hills!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series: Sussex '10km'

Trying not to get stuck in the mud

On the 23rd March, along with a few friends (all past members of Durham University Athletics Club), I took part in the Sussex Coastal Trail Series ‘10km’. Well, it was called a 10km, but according to my Garmin it was 12.6km and I don't think I went too far off course!

Staying in a cottage in Rye for the weekend we decided to do something a bit active and enter a nearby race. Caroline, Lorna and I entered the '10km' while Andy was a bit braver and entered the half marathon. The race location, near Beachy Head, actually took us quite a while to get to travelling along the windy country roads. But we arrived just in time to register, hear half of the race briefing and do a quick warm up jog. Thanks to Lorna for taking my clothes back to the tent so I could get a good position on the start line! 

The course was great, very pretty scenery out along the coast, good running through some fields inland and then out and back along the coast in the opposite direction. I imagine it would look even nicer in the sunshine too!

I went into the lead after about 100m and managed to stay out in front all the way around. I was able to follow the route OK looking out for the red and white tape. The only negative was that when I reached the final checkpoint (where runners had to place an orienteering style chip into a dock before continuing) the marshal wasn’t ready for me. She didn’t have the docking station ready and she didn’t know which way to direct me home! I lost a bit of time here which was a bit frustrating as I could see a couple of men starting to catch me. Luckily I managed to get away before they caught me and held them off all the way to the finish line. It was quite a nice feeling to have beaten all the men. It was also great to find out that Andy had also won- in the half marathon.

On the way home
Following a warm down along the beach we enjoyed tea and scones at a wee cafĂ© down the road. We then headed back to the event for the prize giving. Unfortunately, just before the prizes were given out, Andy found out that he’d been disqualified for not carrying the correct equipment!

Past DUAC members: Caroline, Lorna, Seonaid & Andy
All in all though, we enjoyed the event and would love to go back to the area, especially when the sun’s shining. Interestingly, speaking to my parents later on I found out that Beachy Head was one of their favourite places to run when they lived in Eastbourne when I was a baby, so a nice coincidence that I had the chance to revisit.
Prize giving

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Trigirl Kit Review

Thank you to Trigirl for the lovely kit to take on my NZ adventure

Enjoying the evening sun after Nelson Sea Swim
I wore the one piece trisuit for the Nelson Sea Swims I took part in. It fitted perfectly and was very comfortable, the material felt really nice and it didn’t rub under my arms, as many swimming costumes do. The extra grip around the legs stopped it from riding up, even when putting my wetsuit on. The tri suit also looks great and the style is very flattering.

I wore the two piece tri top and shorts for running and cycling training. Again the kit fitted perfectly and was very comfortable. I enjoyed looking a lot smarter than normal for training, wearing matching kit for a change!
One of my favourite rides-out to Kina Peninsula
I wore the little cycling gloves every time I went cycling, so pretty much every day. They were great at providing grip on the handlebars, protection from the sun and preventing blisters. They were also very ‘handy’ when I fell off my bike on some gravel, protecting my hands completely from any damage. Unfortunately I ended up with quite a few cuts and bruises on my legs though!

All in all, I thought the Trigirl kit was lovely and would recommend it to all women looking for new tri kit for 2013. Now it would just be nice if all this snow would disappear so I can wear it all again in the UK!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Training and Racing, Kiwi style

Recently I spent 3 weeks in New Zealand. It’s an ideal place for triathlon training with warm weather, quiet roads and fantastic scenery. Whilst we were there, I also took part in a few small races: the Nelson Sea Swim Series; the Nelson Team Triathlon; and the Wellington 3-9-3 triathlon.

Nelson Sea Swims

Martin, Seonaid & Jamie at Nelson Sea Swim
28.02.13          2nd woman, 10th overall
7.03.13            1st woman, 4th overall
14.03.13          2nd woman, 6th overall

Results here

The Port Nelson sea swims are held weekly throughout the NZ summer. They are brilliant events- really good fun and great open water swim practice. There’s a relaxed and friendly atmosphere yet the swims are very well organised. Each week there are two courses to choose from, a short swim (200-500m) or a long swim (1-1.5km). The courses are different each week depending on the conditions and the courses are drawn up on a white board at the start for swimmers to work out where they have to go. There’s a short race briefing for further clarification and then without further a do, the races start. There are kayaks out and about should anyone get into trouble and there are kind volunteers at the finish to help you over the slippery rocks and onto dry land. Before and after the race everyone was really friendly and happy to chat away, discuss tactics and share stories of poor navigation decisions!

Nelson Team Triathlon

Team Tri-nations: Jamie, Seonaid & Allysa
2.03.13                        1st woman, 5th team (Seonaid, Allysa, Jamie)

Results here

As with the sea swims this was another friendly event with a great atmosphere before, during and after the race. In teams of 3, each team member had to complete a super sprint distance triathlon (300m swim, 9km bike, 3km run), so nice and short and even better, it was draft legal! The swim was a short lap of the marina from a pontoon start. The bike was 3 laps up and down the road. It was pretty windy, but fine if you got a good draft ;). The run was then 2 laps of a shorter loop with good crowd support each lap and on the finishing chute. We finished 5th team in the ‘mates’ category and were the first team to contain 2 women. I also found out later on that I had the fastest split by a woman. There were no prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc, but there were loads of spot prizes and our team won a LOT of crisps!

Wellington 3-9-3 Triathlon

Flick winning the Elite Women's race
9.03.13                        1st woman

Results here

The atmosphere at Wellington was a bit more serious as the Olympic distance triathlon was the Standard Distance Age Group National Champs and there were elite races on too. I was only doing the super sprint distance though, so could get on with my race and then enjoy watching the elites afterwards. The swim started at one point and finished 300m further down the coastline. The bike was one 9km loop out and back along the coast. It was very flat (surprising for Wellington) but quite windy and sadly it was no drafting this time. The run was again out and back but finishing in the same finishing chute as the Olympic distance race had and the elites would later on. I was first woman after the swim, second after the bike and ran back into first again on the run. We stuck around after the race to watch the Elite Women’s race and cheer fellow Leeds  triathlete Flick on to victory! Yay, well done Flick! After trying to win some more spot prizes (in particular the car!) but with no such luck, we headed out into Wellington for a celebratory dinner.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Easy Peasy Chocolate Fudge Cake

THE best type of cake there is. I never pass up an opportunity for chocolate fudge cake- if it’s on the menu, nothing else stands a chance. Best served hot with vanilla ice cream. This recipe comes from Delia’s ‘Chocolate’ cookery book and is very easy and fairly invincible.

175g self raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
175g butter
175g light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 rounded tablespoon cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Weigh out the flour. Remove 1 rounded tablespoon flour and add 1 rounded tablespoon cocoa powder. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Pour into a greased cake tin and bake on the middle shelf for 30mins. Leave to cool on wire rack before icing or dusting with cocoa powder.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Super Sweet Treats

…for people with super sweet teeth. Perfect for refuelling after a long bike ride…or just a long day.

60g butter
60g brown sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
200g porridge oats
Icing sugar
Hot water
Hundreds and Thousands

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Stir the butter, sugar and syrup together over a low heat until the sugar melts. Leave to cool for 15mins. Stir into the beaten egg. Add the oats and stir. Pour into a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 15mins. Mix together a small bowl of sifted icing sugar with 2 tablespoons of hot water to form a smooth paste. Spread over the cooled flapjacks and sprinkle on the Hundreds and Thousands. Let icing set before cutting into small squares. Enjoy!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Crunchy Muesli Cookies

The recipe for these cookies came from a cookbook called ‘Cupcakes & Cookies’ which I was given as a leaving present from my friends in Liverpool. I made a few alterations to the recipe mainly due to what I had in the cupboard but the next time I make them, I’ll do the same again as they turned out delicious. To make them look a bit neater though, I would chop the dried fruit and nuts up into smaller pieces.  

90g rolled oats
150g wholewheat plain flour
125g caster sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
35g sultanas
55g chopped dried apricots
70g chopped hazelnuts
125g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Combine all dry ingredients. Melt butter and golden syrup. Pour into dry ingredients and mix. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls, flatten slightly with hands and place on baking tray 5cm apart. Bake for 20mins, cool cookies on tray.

Oh and this is the first time I've used my beautiful new cake stand which was a Christmas present, thanks Jamie.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Auld Lang Syne

On the 31st December 2012, four Old Girls and four Old Boys from Durham University Cross Country Club travelled to Penistone Hill Country Park (near Haworth in West Yorkshire) for the Auld Lang Syne Fell Race.

The race has become a bit of a tradition for some of the DUCCC Old Boys and Girls and even as one of the ‘younger’ ones I’ve now done Auld Lang Syne five times. The general protocol is: do the fell race in terrible weather conditions; go to the pub where Olivia (superstar fell runner) wins lots of prizes; go back to house/hostel for New Year’s Eve party and eat/drink all the prizes. It works quite well.

The race itself is a pretty straight forward up the hill and back down again affair. According to the race website it covers 9.6km with 300m of climbing. This year the weather didn’t disappoint and it was cold (though not as cold as previous years), wet (the wettest one I’ve done) and windy. In spite of the weather, most of us had a good run. Olivia was, as usual, the star performer coming in 2nd woman only 10 seconds behind the 1st woman and 13th in the race overall! Another great result was team gold for Durham University Old Girls for which we won lots of chocolate and the unusual prize of a set of flashing teeth each?! 
Tom and Niall were also fairly high up the field and the descents suited Adam the mountain goat. Jamie was still recovering from multiple injuries (most recently an elephant ankle) and Aiveen and Claire were recovering/still suffering from the winter lurgy. My aims had been to improve on previous year’s positions and to not get injured. I was successful on both counts improving from my previous best of 172nd to 54th and reaching the finish line with all limbs and joints in tact.

The race was particularly popular this year and sold out in less than 24 hours, probably due to the presence of one of those famous triathlon brothers!
A few of our group didn’t get a place, but despite this loyal Old Boy Phillip Charles Sanger travelled up from ‘daan saath’ to come to watch and even wore his Durham vest in support. Conversely, living in nearby Leeds, Marcus McSmithicus stayed in bed. Nevertheless, even with our reduced turnout we brought home an impressive haul of edible and drinkable prizes from the pub to supplement our New Year’s Eve party nicely. Happy New Year!

Olivia showing the boys how it's done

 Tom chasing his wife

Niall, a Dosser in disguise

Stirky in his element on the moors

Me trying to make up a few places on the road

The Fox nearing the finish line

Thumbs up if you like running Jamie

Claire enjoying splashing around in the mud