Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 77

Woah, we’re half way there…!

Yup, four weeks of an eight week term done and dusted. I’m not sure how I feel about that as time is still doing funny things: it simultaneously feels like we’ve been back forever, yet at the same time feels like we’ve only just got underway. The October holidays seem quite far away (I mean they will be in October for goodness sake and that’s aaaaaages!) yet at the same time make me worried that I’m not going to get everything finished that I need to do before then. Some things never change!

Still pretty consistent with my training this week (and MUCH better when it came to fitting in some workouts):

Monday – 4.35 miles + living room workout + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 5 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 4.75 + garden workout + home yoga
Thursday – 4.5 miles + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 7.5 miles

As Monday rolled around once again I realised I was definitely back in the swing of things again with the work routine. I’m even getting used to it being a little darker first thing as I find I quite enjoy being out as it gradually gets lighter. Depending on the weather it can be really pretty, but even when it isn’t it’s really nice to feel like you’re watching the world waking up.

Running-wise this was a nice recovery run to wake my body up then it was off to work.

I had a couple of quick errands on my way home, but there was still enough time for a quick workout before yoga. It was a combination of the resistance band followed by press ups and designed to fatigue my upper body muscles to the point that I was completing far fewer press ups than normal!

It was great to be back (virtually!) in my yoga class again after a couple of weeks off, and the class helped me unwind into the evening so that I was later able to get a good sleep.

Tuesday’s run was a fairly standard 5 miles, but I did think that even though I felt as fresh as it gets on a weekday in term time, there was a slight weariness in my body so I thought I was maybe in need of a slightly lower mileage week. Or work just might be exhausting. Or both!

When I arrived home from work Steve was out with a client so I did a yoga video then settled down to a couple of vlogs while the dinner cooked. The nicest thing, though, was Steve’s suggestion of rounding off our evening with a small glass of wine in the garden. Far too easy to feel like I was on holiday and there was no work the next day, but nice to do while the weather is still good enough.

My original plan for Wednesday had been the latest Together Run, but when I woke up my stomach felt a little “off”. It was ok by the time I was ready to run, but I wanted to be flexible about my route in case running didn’t feel so good, so I held off on listening to the Together Run podcast in case I wasn’t able to do the whole thing. As it turned out, my stomach was absolutely fine and I was able to run down to the river. It was, as forecast, foggy and I wanted to see (not see?) what it looked like. This was what I “saw”:

For comparison, I would normally see this:

And as I found once I ran around, the bridge was still lit but the light just wasn’t making it through the fog.

It actually turned out to be a beautiful day once the fog burned off so when I arrived home I was able to have a workout in the garden. Steve was mixing things up so it was a progressive super set using the ViPR, a kettlebell and the press up bars. Deceptively tough! I noticed the impact on my muscles as I moved to the yoga mat afterwards!

As Thursday rolled around I still kept the mileage slightly lower than usual. Having checked my records after Tuesday’s run, I realised that it was probably time for a cutback week so decided to pull it back a little for another run. That said, I did listen to the Together Run podcast while I did it and enjoyed the usual prompts to check in physically and mentally, take a picture to share and the prompt to consider the idea of community and what it means to us. For me it has to be something around a group bound together through a shared interest/goal. Engaging with that group in some way keeps the community feeling alive. I would consider myself to be part of several communities: a school community, my local community and the parkrun community to name a few.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday was pretty full-on, but a real bright spot in the day was having lunch with a handful of colleagues from other faculties. We used to be part of a book group at work but Covid and the assorted lockdowns and restrictions put paid to that. One of the others suggested getting together to restart the group and since it’s such a small number we think we can do it. It was so nice to see other people from around the school, catch up and discuss our reading. We actually decided to make this “lunch date” a weekly thing now rather than every six or so weeks. We won’t read a book each week, but it’s more about the company and chat so we can talk about how we’re finding our current book choice each time (and no doubt share our woes!). Everyone else was keen to read the book I was reading, so that was our first choice.

I was a bit later home so I really just had time for yoga then settled down to dinner. We watched the first episodes of Only Murders in the Building on Disney+ which I really enjoyed but I don’t think Steve was keen so I’ll be watching the rest by myself.

Once again I was feeling sleepy so had an early night and woke feeling much better on Friday morning. A 4 mile run was in order to kick-start my day.

I’m still trying to read at lunchtime while restrictions mean large groups of staff can’t gather together and on this day was able to read the last bit of my book (the one my colleagues are going to read now) and it was very good. Quite gritty in places but with a sense of hope running through it too.

When I arrived home I found I had TWO deliveries. First, my recent Disney order (I needed the Halloween plushes to complete my seasonal collection):

And moving on a season to Christmas (which I prefer to Halloween anyway!), this:

Well you know how much I love Elf! Fingers crossed we can have a family get together this Christmas and play it.

After that, time for another garden workout, very similar to the one I had on Wednesday, before a yoga video while Steve made the dinner.

It was time for a new box set so we spent our evening watching the first couple of episodes of Clickbait on Netflix. It looks good.

Nothing beats Friday night bedtime and the promise of no alarm clock (although the kitties WILL become furry alarm clocks when it’s time for their breakfast!) and I had a great sleep so I felt refreshed ready for parkrun.

It was actually a pretty exciting parkrun day. You might remember that through much of the parkrun pause I was taking part in weekly scavenger hunts posted in a parkrun-based Facebook group. Those stopped once parkrun returned, but this week, there was a bonus parkrun-specific hunt and I was looking forward to checking off the items:

Sadly nobody wore a skort (let’s face it, the most likely person to do so would be me and the rules say the items can’t belong to you) but I was able to get all the rest. It was fun to have a hunt again and to spot my fellow scavenger hunters among the participants.

Since I had decided to make this a cutback week, I kept the effort level down a bit so was a minute slower than last week, but the beauty of parkrun is that it can be whatever you want/need it to be at any given time.

Once home we watched another episode of Clickbait whilst having our breakfast then after tidying the house up a bit I had a relaxing afternoon with Smokey on my lap while we watched a little tv: I watched the last episode of Behind the Attraction and the second episode of Only Murders in the Building. I was perfectly content!

After a restful afternoon and a good sleep, I woke up feeling much fresher on Sunday morning – even if Smokey wasn’t in the mood to let me have a lie in! I read for a bit then got organised to run. Still keeping the distance down to round off my cutback week so I set off with a rough route and a plan to run 7-8 miles.

My route took me along by the river and I noticed the gate was open at the ramp that leads to the riverbank by the railway bridge so I went down there for a moment to get some pictures from a slightly different angle to normal.

But the main thing I wanted to do was run through the South Inch so I could look in on the swans and see how the cygnets were doing.

As it turned out, the cygnets looked physically fully grown as they were near enough the same size as the adult swans, but both still had their juvenile plumage. I don’t know much about how this works, but I wonder if it will be the growth of winter plumage that causes the darker feathers to come out. Anyone know?

From there I headed home and found I was going to get to my front door at spot on 7.5 miles. Perfect.

I got organised then nipped out on a couple of errands since Steve was out running for longer, then after lunch it was the usual glamour of the weekly food shop and my lateral flow test. The reward for all that was a visit to mum and dad. Mum had more home grown tomatoes for me so they invited us up for a cup of tea and slice of cake. No way am I saying no to that!

I rounded off my week with dinner, tv and bed ready to get the second half of this term underway. Let’s do this!

What does community mean to you?
Do you prefer Halloween or Christmas?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Week 76

Another week done! I’m definitely noticing that school is busy. I mean, it’s ALWAYS busy, but this first term used to feel just a teeny tiny bit lighter. Not so now, with so many things to do and a really packed timetable. What this means is I will need to take care to listen to my body, prioritise sleep where I can and make sure to have some r’n’r at the weekends. So far I’ve been able to keep fitting in the running/workouts/yoga I want to. I wish there was space to work out more frequently, but for now it will do and I’m pleased with how well my body has adjusted to the early morning runs again. Here’s how it looked:

Monday – 4.3 miles + home yoga
Tuesday – 5 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Thursday – 5 miles + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + living room workout
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

Sometimes I wonder where all these Mondays keep coming from! I think Monday morning must be the toughest alarm call of the week, but I got myself up and changed ready for my run. It’s still on the darkish side when I step out the front door at the moment (although only for a few minutes) and I’m really not ready for all the weeks of running in darkness just yet.

My legs felt a little heavy at first, probably after running a bit harder over the weekend, but they soon loosened up and I enjoyed my run. Not sure how I managed to pick up a Strava segment PR on a recovery run though 😳

When I got home from work I was able to sit in the garden for a few minutes to get some air, then it was time for yoga. No class again this week so my own home practice before dinner.

Later, we built the new scratching post platform I had bought for the kitties (the sisal eventually gets destroyed by their claws so at least once a year they need a new one). I think it got the thumbs up from them 😹

Tuesday felt a little chilly first thing. Absolutely still shorts and Tshirt weather, but nevertheless a slightly autumnal nip in the air until the sun was up. It was a fairly standard run ahead of my work day and sadly no opportunity for a workout in the evening as Steve was out. I settled for some yoga instead before dinner.

I opted once again to make Wednesday my weekly Running For Real Together Run, but I was a little pushed for time so couldn’t go for the 60 minute run which would have been my preference and stuck to 45 minutes instead. When I stepped out the door there was a really beautiful sky:

I picked a route which took me uphill and noticed when I reached the highest point that there was a lot of low-lying fog in the valley below – it almost looked like a body of water but it’s most definitely fog/cloud:

And as has become a staple part of this run, I responded to the prompt to take a pictures to share at a certain point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much excitement when I arrived at work to find that The World’s Slowest Computer had been replaced. We had been expecting the roll-out of new teacher PCs and mine was one of the first to be done. It seemed so quick to get started and logged in compared to my old one, plus I can do exciting things like have more than one file open without it crashing. Revolutionary!

It was a busy day, which began with observing a lesson taught by the new teacher I am mentoring this year. I love taking on this role and missed it last year. But by the time I got home I felt like I’d had a pretty long day and I still had to prep a pot of chilli to cook in the slow cooker the following day. I felt pretty sleepy so Steve took me through a quick TRX workout before dinner to wake me up a bit, then I made sure to take things easy for the rest of the evening. We were able to finish watching Hit and Run on Netflix, which I recommend.

On Thursday I wanted to run down to the river as Steve had been getting some lovely photos there in the lower light. Last time I was there it was foggy, so I was pleased to be able to see a different morning scene this time.

It was another long day (we have more lessons on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so it’s not just me thinking those days feel long, they actually are!) but I was cheered when I arrived home to find that the Pandora jewellery I had ordered with my birthday money and vouchers had arrived. It made it feel like I was still keeping the birthday joy going!

By Friday morning I noticed that it seemed particularly dark at the start of my run. Sunset is now towards the end of my running time, so I might have to think about high-viz quite soon.

The work day was packed, so I was mentally ready for a change when I arrived home. It was a bit murky-looking outside, so it was a living room workout with the resistance band and some press ups. I had thought I might do some yoga next, but my sister dropped by to pick up something I had ordered her as an additional birthday gift: a cup cozy. I had been meaning to order from this small shop for a while and spotted something ideal for her. Of course I couldn’t resist a couple for myself at the same time!

For the rest of the evening we watched a bit of TV, but I actually ended up falling asleep towards bedtime – a sure sign of busy work days!

After that I felt ready for parkrun day. After running well the previous week I really didn’t expect to have anything more right now, so I was surprised to realise that the pace I was running at would see me finish in under 24 minutes if I could sustain it. Ever since I began parkrunning in early 2015 my best time each year has been 23:XX (including 2020 when we paused in March) so I was keen to add 2021 to the “streak” (and you know how much I enjoy a st. I had assumed I would need to put a bit of work in with a view to achieving this in the autumn, so was delighted to finish in 23:38.

Goal achieved (and a continuation of my “fastest time of the year streak to boot haha!).

My friend who works on the Disney Cruise Line (I saw her when I was on the Magic) was home and had come to parkrun so it was really nice to get a chance to chat to her for a few minutes too.

The rest of the day was pretty relaxing, mainly spent with a little tv. I was keen to finish watching Lupin but oh my did those final episodes make me miss Paris! It crossed my mind that under different circumstances this would have been a French Trip year and that realisation that I don’t know when I’ll next get to Paris did make me a little sad. I fully support all the restrictions that are in place right now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel a bit fed up with it all.

After a good sleep and an easy start to my Sunday (cups of tea in bed while I read) I was ready to run and headed off to run a loop taking in the woodland park. I felt good on the run again, but didn’t have much time to stop since I knew my parents were going to visit later in the afternoon (I’m still not sure if they were visiting me or the cats 🤔). Still, I enjoyed running through the park then along by the river for my return home.

And just like that, the day was done. I only had time for a quick bath before bed, but knew it had been a good week overall.

How are things with you right now?
What’s’s your current running/fitness goal?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 75

This was the first full teaching week of term and the first real test of how my new timetable would feel. The short answer is exhausting! There just always seems to be so much more to do than there is time for! Although I was able to put in some decent running mileage, you will notice that towards the end of the week the yoga and home workouts tailed off as one or two other things got in the way – something to work on moving forward:

Monday – 4.3 miles + home yoga
Tuesday – 5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 6 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 5 miles
Friday – 4 miles
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

Despite my indulgence in cake and fizz on the previous Sunday, I was up on Monday morning ready to run. I often feel a little sluggish for the first few minutes but after that I felt good and enjoyed my run. I had a rough route in my mind for 4 miles but once again I slightly underestimated!

My work day began with some non-teaching time which let me catch up on a few tasks, then at lunchtime I was given a card and chocolates from my colleagues (we’re still not allowed to gather together for lunch). We had meetings after work so this was a real bright spot in the day!

Because of the meetings I was later getting home and my yoga teacher is having a little break so no class this week, but I still had time for some home practice before dinner. We then started a new box set for the week: Hit and Run on Netflix. Quite an intriguing first episode.

On Tuesday I began with a 5 mile loop. The first mile (uphill!) felt a little sluggish but after that I felt like I loosened up and enjoyed the run. Once at work I had the lovely surprise of another belated birthday gift from a colleague who doesn’t work on Mondays. I do love stretching out the birthday joy!

It turned out to be quite a warm day so when I got home I was able to have my workout in the garden – a combination of press up bars and TRX – then a little yoga before dinner.

Waking up on Wednesday it was pretty foggy so I opted to run down to the river to see what it looked like. The water was flat calm and I could barely see one bridge from the other.

There were also glistening webs running the length of the bridge along the rails – very autumnal even though it still feels like summer!

I had a training course (via Teams) right after work so was home a little later. I had time for my lateral flow test, a quick yoga session and then it was time for dinner. I was definitely ready to sit down and relax!

By Thursday morning I was beginning to notice that it was getting a bit tougher to get up in the morning, but I still got myself out the door in good time for my run. Less foggy this time, but it was still in the air. Just another solid 5 mile run for me, then time to get ready and on my way to work.

Thursdays are probably going to be my hardest days this year as they are chock-a-block with classes, all of them from the junior school and that takes a lot of energy! I had a couple of bits to do at the end of the day, but had promised Steve I wouldn’t be too late as he was going to the football and we needed to eat a bit earlier than usual. Rather disconcertingly, he just laughed at my assertions that I would be home quicker, but I kinda get where he’s coming from. I made a proper effort to not do that “one last quick thing” and headed home in time to catch up on the day and have some food before he headed out. That meant no time for yoga, but a longer evening for me and I used the time to chill out with some tv programmes and vlogs.

That evening to myself was probably just what I needed, but I still kept to an easy pace for my Friday morning run as I knew I had a busy day ahead. Ordinarily I would have headed home for a workout and some yoga to unwind into the weekend, but since it was my sister’s birthday (yes, our birthdays are close together), I called in at mum and dad’s on my way home to drop off her present and catch up with my family for a while. I always end up staying longer than I mean to, so it was pretty much home in time for dinner with no space to fit in any yoga.

There was a fun package waiting for me. The same company I recently ordered a mystery box from ran a “Julymas” promotion in late July. Basically a kind of Christmas in July Secret Santa: you paid £10 to join in and all you knew was that it would be a T-shirt so you chose your size, selected a general colour palette (pastels, neutrals, brights, etc) and wrote a Julymas message. The items were then packaged up and you received yours with a message from someone else. A really nice idea and my T-shirt was perfect for me!

Definitely true!

I was also excited as it was the first day that Cruella was available on Disney+ without the additional fee and Steve had agreed to watch it.

It was FANTASTIC! I’m not normally a villains fan, but love these “backstories” that show how they became evil. In the case of Cruella, I loved the character, I loved the costumes and I loved the soundtrack. An evening well spent and if you haven’t seen it yet then you definitely should.

After the excitement of Friday evening, I was ready to enjoy a Saturday “lie in” followed by parkrun (still so excited we get to do this once again). I left a little later than I meant to so was only in the park a couple of minutes before the briefing, but was impressed that the RD, who is notorious for giving the briefing in verse (it earned him a mention in the Eileen Jones book about parkrun which was published last year!), was able to convey the key messages in super quick time. I thought for sure he would find that tricky!

I have to say, I actually believed I was running a touch slower than the week before, but in the end I was about 3 seconds quicker overall (and dead even on my pacing!) so that’s a 3 week streak of getting a “fastest time this year” email. I suspect that streak may be at an end now, but I’m definitely pleased with that progress in pacing in such a short time – I guess my body is remembering how to parkrun!

However when I finished I realised that my Garmin was close to running out of charge – 1%!!! I guess I should get in the habit of charging it after my run on a Friday to make sure I have plenty of battery for Saturday morning! I didn’t think it would last for my run home so switched to the Strava app to record instead.

 

After the excitement of another parkrun, it was good to have a relaxing afternoon and I think Smokey had been missing having me at home as he got settled on my lap while I watched some tv:

Further excitement came later in the afternoon when a delivery arrived. I just HAD to have this new Disney cushion with cats on it…

…and the kitties laid claim to both the box AND the packing paper inside it. I only managed to get pictures of Smokey, but they kept swapping around every few minutes 😹

On Sunday morning Steve was away sharp since it was the 10k race he organises (and it was actually happening in person this year) so I had a bit of time to myself to read then head off for my own run.

I was feeling really good and my run felt strong, the only issue being I still had auto pause on from parkrun the day before and had forgotten all about it what with the battery dying. Oh well, at least I know how good it felt.

Later in the afternoon I found some time to finish up my book. My reading really slowed down as school returned and I got back into the swing of things, but I didn’t have much left and wanted to see how things resolved. This one was my August book for my challenge of reading a book with each month in the title. It had an interesting premise which I couldn’t think about too deeply or it made my head feel like it was going to explode, but the storyline itself was pretty gripping.

All in all, a busy week but there’s nothing quite like a weekend to restore and reset.

Have you seen any good movies recently?
Autopause on or off when you run?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 74

Back to school! It never ceases to amaze me just what a shock to the system it is, especially after the summer when we get really out of the way of the term time routine. That said, it’s good to start feeling much fresher than when the term ended back in June, and I was determined to keep my mileage up a bit on what I was running back then (although likely a bit less overall on weekdays than during the holidays). At least as far as this first week was concerned, I did manage that:

Monday – 4.1 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 6 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 5 miles + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 9 miles

So it was back to my old friend the 5am alarm on Monday morning. Of course after 7 weeks off I felt pretty well rested so it was ok getting up early (I know that won’t last!) and I had left my kit out to speed things up. Thankfully it’s still light in the mornings and it was set to be a sunny day so it was really nice outside. I actually saw the most lovely rainbow. It was kind of visible in parts, then I could finally see the whole thing arching in front of me later on. The sky can change so quickly at this time of day, but it was just the thing to set me up for the day ahead (an inservice/inset day so lots of meetings!).

The work day was fine. It was nice to see my colleagues and start to get my head around a few things – I even managed to leave by 5! That gave me a bit of time to myself before my yoga class (which definitely felt more necessary after a work day than it did when I was on holiday!).

I did my best to get to bed fairly sharp since I was up early again for the second of our two inset days. I could actually have worked from home for this one, but I thought that might make going in for the first teaching day on Wednesday feel super hard and being in school meant I could get some things done without having classes or meetings to work around.

First, of course, I headed out for a run. Nothing special, just a fairly easy pace while my body gets used to “work mode” again.

When I got home from work the sun was shining so a garden workout was in order – TRX, press up bars and the Core Momentum Trainer this time. Followed by a relaxing yoga session to ease me into my evening.

Waking up on Wednesday I was three days into the return of early starts and had the first teaching day of the school year ahead of me. While I most definitely needed my run to set me up for the day (it was a Running for Real Together Run), I did notice that I was getting a bit more sluggish so continued to keep the pace easy.

As it turned out, a combination of non-teaching time and new first year pupils taking part in induction activities meant that I didn’t actually meet any of my new classes until the afternoon so I had the morning to get some planning and admin done. But being back in the classroom is alway tiring so by the time I got home I was feeling pretty sleepy. My yoga session helped, but I made sure to get to bed sharp!

I did feel better on Thursday morning but saw no need to complicate an already tiring week by adding in drills! Instead I opted for a straightforward 5 mile loop down to the river and around the bridges. It was a bit drizzly but still nice to take in the peace and quiet of the river in the early morning (although not nice enough to tempt me to stop and take photos!).

After a packed day I was so glad to get home and onto my yoga mat. Steve was out at a meeting so post-yoga I had a little time to myself and since my brain felt fried I relaxed with a couple of vlogs until he got back and we could have our dinner. Again, I headed to bed fairly sharp.

Friday was most welcome, but before I could really hit the weekend I had a full teaching day to navigate (the bulk of my non-teaching time is in the early part of the week but with the inset days I didn’t have those so it felt like a super busy week overall!). But before that, a nice out-and-back run to ease me into the day. Nothing special, just some time to myself in a busy day.

I didn’t hang around at the end of the day as I was done in and needed to just summon up the energy to head out and get home. I hoped to have an outdoor workout but there was rain forecast and we had barely stepped out the door when we could feel the raindrops in the air, so it was back to the living room and a workout with the resistance band and some press ups, after which I did some yoga while Steve organised dinner.

I was in need of a relaxing evening so we finished up the tv programme we had been watching this week: The Woods on Netflix. Another excellent Harlan Coben adaptation. After that, to bed as I REALLY needed a good sleep!

And a good sleep I had. According to my tracker app I was basically dead to the world 8.5 hours. I woke up just as Steve was bringing me a cup of tea and it was good to take my time enjoying my tea and reading a bit (my reading time definitely suffered being at work) until it was time to get ready for parkrun. I have to say, it’s still so novel to have parkrun back after so long without it. It looked like it might rain so I donned my cap to keep the rain out of my face, but the parkrun weather fairies did their job and the rain held off until after I was home.

In actual fact it felt quite humid but I was determined to run a bit faster than last week, especially since I knew it was a more auspicious week hormonally for me (changing hormones throughout the month make such a difference!). I positioned myself slightly further forward and set off at a decent lick and hoped to be able to hang on. The upshot? I DID run faster, so another email congratulating me on my fastest time this year. I also came first in my age category which was pretty pleasing. But most pleasing of all was checking my stats to find a Royal Flush Negative Split – it’s been a while since I got to use that phrase!

I arrived home on such a high after having a good run, being cheered to the finish by other parkrunners and chatting to parkrun friends. A valuable reminder of how parkrun is about so much more than running 5k. I honestly hadn’t realised quite how much I missed it.

After being at work all week I made sure to take it easy on Saturday afternoon. I actually ended up finishing the first part of Lupin on Netflix. Steve and I had watched the first episode a while back, which played as dubbed in English, and Steve hadn’t enjoyed it. He didn’t want to watch any more, but I did so changed the settings so it would play in the original French with subtitles and ended up watching the remaining 4 episodes in the first part. I really enjoyed them. I had thought I might go for a bath later on, but my mum sent my sister down with some bits and pieces so we were having a good old blether, after which there didn’t feel like enough time before dinner to have a nice long soak.

Smokey woke me quite sharp on Sunday morning as he wanted his breakfast. And here was me thinking he might give me a lie in for my birthday! Oh well! At least being awake meant I had time to enjoy a cup of tea while I opened up cards and gifts before spending a little time reading my book.

I made sure to head out for my run fairly sharp and dropped the mileage back a little as we wanted to have lunch a bit earlier and get the shopping done so that we could go out for a little treat. I knew that 8.5 miles would be enough to bring me to 40 miles for the week so set off towards the woodland park with that in mind. Somehow my route ended up being 9 miles, but I resisted the temptation to go on to 10 as I really needed to get inside, showered and changed.

We managed to get everything done in good time, including a quick visit from Steve’s brother to drop off a gift from him and his family – beautiful flowers and an bottle of wine from a rather intriguing brand I have not come across before: 19 Crimes. Their range is inspired by the 19 crimes which led to prisoners being deported to Australia in the 1700s (thus becoming colonists), and the label directs you to their website and augmented reality app to learn more. I’ll look into this more when I get a chance as it sounds fascinating.

The treat was to go out for afternoon tea at the farm shop cafe, which is served 2:30-4pm and they are not taking bookings right now, it’s first come first served four everything so we wanted to be there sharp to make sure we got a table. It’s a place I enjoy for their tea and cakes, but have never had afternoon tea there before. It was also my first time sitting in at a cafe again since the pandemic – I’ve pretty much used takeaway or, one one previous occasion, sat outside. It was busy, but the tables were well spaced and we were by a door leading to outside tables so had plenty of ventilation and I felt very safe. As for the afternoon tea, it was DELICIOUS. We’ll definitely have this again!

It would have been lovely to have a glass fizz with it, but I was driving (Steve is waiting on his new car so doesn’t have one right now, which is normally no big deal) so I was driving. I had, however, made sure to get some prosecco when we got the shopping so we indulged in a glass when we got home.

Unsurprisingly, all that food and fizz made me sleepy so I indulged in a little afternoon nap before dinner. And after dinner it was time for birthday cake (baked by Steve!). It was delicious!

I finished out my day with a bath, then Steve and I sat outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air before bed. It felt almost like being on holiday again and it was a shame to head inside. One week of term down, seven more to go…!

Do you enjoy afternoon tea?
How did you celebrate your last birthday?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 73

It was most definitely back to reality with a bump this week as it was the last week of the summer holidays – boo! After the excitement of the previous week it was never going to be up to the same standard, but I know I’m lucky to have that time over the summer to properly recharge so I made sure to enjoy my final week of freedom from work.

Monday – 4.2 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 5.5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 10k + home yoga
Thursday – form drills
Friday – 4.25 miles + home yoga
Saturday – parkrun sandwich (we’re back yippee!)
Sunday – 10 miles

With parkrun set to return this week there was no scavenger hunt to do (those had been something created in one of the parkrun-related Facebook groups I’m in to keep us occupied while parkrun was paused). Although I had only spent a couple of my weekly runs focused on hunting, it still felt a bit odd to be heading out on a Monday morning without a new list of items to find. But speaking of parkrun’s return, Steve had been sorting out the kit ahead of Saturday and we had some of it hanging up on the washing line – so good to see this again!

It was actually kind of drizzly and damp, but I wanted to stop by the pond and see the swan family again. While I was there I spotted a sign on one of the benches (I hadn’t noticed it there before so I think it’s new) encouraging a bit of community spirit and conversation. Such a nice idea. I didn’t want to sit on the actual bench since it was wet, but managed to take a picture anyway.

My main task for the rest of the day was to get my stuff sorted out post-trip. I had dealt with my laundry and put away the things I had taken with me, but I had done a pretty good job of propping up Disney’s finances with my merch purchases, so I had new things to sort through and put away. I also wanted to get my photos and video clips backed up sooner rather than later. My sister and I were going to share these with each other and she was coming round later in the afternoon so I wanted to have the files ready to give to her.

It was fun going through the things I had bought (it always makes me happy when I gain new Disney things!) and going through my pictures. By the time I had done that and chatted to my sister, it was time for yoga so I got myself set up upstairs for the class. It felt like ages since I had done any yoga (almost a week) so I enjoyed getting back to it again.

I had shared my on-deck running from the previous week in a Run Disney Paris group I’m in on Facebook, which had resulted in a really fun discussion with others who had done something similar on cruise ships in the past or who now wanted to do this on their forthcoming cruise. But best of all was receiving this picture which another group member had taken on the running deck of the Magic. It took me a moment as it was so small in the comments as I looked on my phone, but then I spotted that I’m actually in the picture. Really cool!

It was much brighter on Tuesday morning as I headed out for my run. Nothing remarkable this time, but it was good to see sunshine as there was rain forecast. I went out again later in the morning as I needed to pick up a new lamp I had ordered using click and collect then run a couple of errands. I ended up abandoning some of those errands as even with an umbrella I got soaked at the retail park taking a bag of shopping the short distance from the front of a shop to my car. Even when I got home I was reluctant to get out of the car as the rain was THUMPING down and I knew I would get drenched. Thankfully it eased off a little so I was able to make a break for it.

The poor weather continued for the rest of the day, so I stuck to some indoor activities – including a workout which had to be in the living room. We used the resistance band to create mini-circuits of a series of exercises interspersed with press ups. Thank goodness the yoga session on the monthly calendar for that day was a gentle one as my arms would not have thanked me!

I ended the day by finishing up the book I had been reading. A pretty quick read (it’s a YA novel as well) but I do enjoy this series and this one was only published recently.

Wednesday looked a bit grey and overcast again, but I was lucky and it stayed dry for my run. I was listening to this week’s Together Run and enjoying running on a path I probably won’t use so much once I’m back to running early again. I made the most of the opportunity to be out for longer (no pressure to be anywhere!) so covered 10k before heading in to get organised for the day.

Once ready, I headed off to complete the errands I had abandoned the day before – a bit of “back to school” shopping and picking up my free Nero’s coffee before my voucher expired!

My other errand was to take the kitties to the vet for their annual boosters. They were a little heavy last year and I’ve been working hard to help them lose the extra weight to keep them healthy. I wasn’t sure we had made much progress but it turns out we have and the vet was really pleased with them. Sooty is now an ideal weight and Smokey (who had more to lose) has made huge progress and only needs to lose a tiny bit more. Well done kitties!

Since the afternoon was pretty wet and miserable, I decided to watch a movie once we were back home. I watched loads last summer but with better weather at the start of the holidays this year I had prioritised being outside, so had hardly watched anything at all. I opted for Hercules on Disney+ since I had been meaning to rewatch it for ages. I had forgotten what a good movie it is!

When the movie finished it was time for some yoga, then I spent the remainder of my evening (after dinner) reading.

I had picked another fairly short book and since I was so close to finishing, I spent a little longer reading on Thursday morning before heading out for my run.

This is the second of two books in this series (I read the first a couple of years ago) and while it’s a bit different to the Scarpetta novels by Cornwell, it was still a good read. This book actually brought me to 57 books read this year. I know it’s a funny number to mention, but 57 books was my total in 2020, so it puts a bit of perspective on how much more I have been reading this year.

It must have been a day for goals and targets as my run took me past the mileage goal I had set in Strava for this year. I knew I was being a bit conservative when I set it as it’s less than I actually ran in 2020 (but more than my 2020 target had been), but I had no idea how things would unfold this year when I set it. Either way, I have passed 1200 miles this year so far.

The run itself was a set of form drills, once again adding another rep to the set. I feel like adding these in throughout the summer holidays has made a difference to my running so it will be interesting to see how that unfolds as school begins again as the early starts and greater stress on my body definitely has a knock-on effect.

I spent some time in the afternoon with my family (time will be a bit more limited for that once I’m back at work next week) but had to be home fairly sharp since Steve was going to a football match and we needed an early dinner. This confused the kitties who couldn’t understand how come we had eaten but they hadn’t been fed yet! With a long evening stretching ahead of me, I decided to watch a movie, and after my cruise experience last week during which I not only saw Tangled live on stage, but also ate at Rapunzel’s Royal Table, I was most definitely in the mood to watch Tangled!

Friday morning was my last opportunity to have a weekday run on my own terms for a bit – next week it will be back to early pre-work runs, so I read for a bit then got organised to go out. Unfortunately I managed to be out during a rain shower so was pretty wet by the time I got home! I had put a braid in my ponytail so my hair wouldn’t get all knotted if when it rained, but I had tied it too close to the end, the hairtie came out somewhere and by the time the rain came on I no longer had the braid. I’ve fallen foul of this before, so you would think I would have learned from my mistake by now!

I hadn’t made any particular plans for the rest of the day, but I actually ended up doing something a bit different. Steve is now ED at our local parkrun and he wanted to make a video to remind everyone how it worked and highlight some of the changes implemented as part of the Covid framework. At first I though I was going to be on filming duties, but I somehow ended up the “star” of the video. A bit tongue-in-cheek (think the Goofy “How To…” shorts) and I was a bit worried I was going to look a total wally on the internet, but it’s actually ok and has been received fairly well. I’ll be expecting an Oscar nomination 🤣

We were going to go for a cup of tea afterwards but the “parkrun cafe” was closing for the day so instead we stopped on the way home to pick up some doughnuts. They are lemon flavoured and I hadn’t expected the lemon curd filling. Yummy!

In the evening we needed a new boxset to watch and opted for Gone For Good which had just arrived on Netflix. It’s in French (with English subtitles) and is based on a Harlan Coben novel (we’ve enjoyed some other adaptations of his books). It actually reminded me a bit of The Innocent (also based on a Coben novel) but was good.

It was exciting to go to bed and know that we would have parkrun to go to in the morning and I woke up feeling like this:

Steve was RD for the event so he set off before me and I resumed my previous habit of running there. I could feel the fizz of excitement in my tummy (no doubt combined with a degree of nerves around being somewhere with lots of people) and I’m sure my heart rate was far too high for a downhill jog as I made my way there, but from the moment I arrived it felt like we’d never been away – parkrun pals were saying hello to me, some were coming over to comment on the video and I enjoyed seeing people I normally only see at parkrun so haven’t actually seen for 73 weeks!

I knew I wouldn’t be troubling my PB any time soon, but that’s not what the day was about. This was about doing something “normal” again, seeing friends, catching up and boosting mental health – in many ways the run was a bonus. Besides, no matter what time I clocked I would be getting an email congratulating me on my fastest parkrun time this year haha!

We had 310 participants and everything went very smoothly and felt very safe, with everybody respecting each other’s space and following the guidance. I can’t wait for the next one!

Me after too much pre-parkrun Tangled exposure whilst over-excited from the return of parkrun!

Of course since I ran down, I also had to run home and I was still grinning ear to ear all the way up the road. Steve wasn’t too far behind me so we could get on and get our bacon rolls organised before Steve headed out again.

The rest of my day was pretty restful, mainly writing, reading and enjoying a movie (The Holiday – somehow I’d never seen it before and really enjoyed it).

Sunday began with some reading in bed, a treat now reserved for weekends since the school term is beginning. Ideal timing to finish one last holiday read  (another YA choice from the Twisted Tales series).

I ended up heading out to run a little later than normal, but still went for 10 miles. I kind of made my route up as I went along and it turned out to be pretty interesting. First, I ran by this giant inflatable duck outside a car dealership:

And later i spotted there were items laid at the base of this statue.

It’s a statue of Sir Walter Scott and upon closer inspection I discovered that the display was for the occasion of his 250th birthday. I hadn’t expected to learn anything while I was out!

Again, a pretty restful afternoon (once the food shopping was done) then it was time to pack my schoolbag and get ready for the week ahead. It’s always tough to go back to work after a long holiday, but I was reflecting on the past few weeks while I was running and realised that given the current world circumstances, it was a pretty good summer. We had a heatwave which allowed me to have a “back garden holiday”, I had lots of time to read and I even got a short break to a magical place. I need to remember that as I return to school. Covid is still out there and that’s sure to present further challenges as the weeks unfold. At least I feel rested and ready to meet those challenges head on.

Have you ever come across anything interesting or educational during a run?
What has been a summer highlight for you?

Disney Magic At Sea Staycation Cruise Part 3 – Debaraktion Day, Merch And Final Thoughts

Still here? It’s been a bit of an epic one sharing details of my recent Disney Magic At Sea cruise experience, but with so much on offer it’s hard to do it justice otherwise. In this third and final post, I’ll recap our final morning, debarkation arrangements and share the merch I bought (there’s probably a reason the latest Disney earnings call was so positive haha!). If you missed the previous posts you can catch up on part 1 here and part 2 here.

Now let’s go…!

Tipping and Debarkation Arrangements

Tipping is the norm on board and on the final night of the cruise information is delivered to your stateroom to help you organise this. There are envelopes for your stateroom attendant and dining service team, and a standard amount is added to your onboard account to cover this. If you’re happy with it, all you have to do is pop the slips detailing the tip in the relevant envelope and either hand it directly to the recipient or leave it in an appropriate place (your stateroom for your attendant or your breakfast table for your service team). Of course if you’re unhappy with the tip amounts added, you can visit guest services to amend things. Similarly, if you would like to leave cash then you can pop that in the envelope. We Brits aren’t used to tipping so this is a very straightforward way to manage the process, and by sticking to the amounts added to your account, there’s no risk of insulting someone by tipping too low!

You should also tip your server when purchasing drinks, but this can be added to your bill when you sign for the payment on your account. It’s easy to keep track of your spending in the Navigator app.

As for debarkation arrangements, this is all detailed in the app throughout the cruise so you can plan accordingly. You have the option of leaving your suitcase outside your stateroom the night before (luggage labels are delivered to your stateroom alongside the tipping information) so your luggage is transported off the ship for you, or you can do the “express walk off” where you take everything with you. We only had small cases so were happy to do this. You are also given a time to go to one of the dining rooms for your breakfast. Times are staggered to streamline the process and will likely be dictated by the onward travel information you provide when completing online check-in. Our flight wasn’t until late afternoon so our breakfast slot wasn’t until 8:40, meaning we were around 10am before we were ready to leave the ship. You should note, however, that when you leave your stateroom to go for breakfast you should have EVERYTHING with you as you won’t be able to return afterwards – it will be getting cleaned and sanitised already! Our stateroom attendant came to our door to remind us of this and say goodbye shortly before we left.

Also in our stateroom was a form with a survey to give feedback on our cruise. This helps to identify any issues there might have been and hopefully prevent them happening again. We had a fantastic experience so were happy to rate everything very highly and include the names of staff members who had helped to make things magical.

Animator’s Palate

I mentioned rotational dining in part 2 of my recap. Since there are three dining rooms it doesn’t take a genius to work out that on a 2 night cruise there will be one location you don’t get to have dinner in. To mitigate this, that third dining room becomes your final morning breakfast location on a 2 night cruise. For us, it was Animator’s Palate.

This was actually a restaurant I was keen to have dinner in and would actually have preferred to switch this with Lumière’s so that we could enjoy the show in this one (no show at breakfast time). Lumière’s was great, but I was a little disappointed to miss out on the show in Animator’s Palate and breakfast in Lumière’s would still have allowed me to see the stunning space.

This restaurant is themed to Disney animation and was still stunning even without the dinner show.

Our service team was still there for us and, like at dinner, we could order whatever we wanted form the menu and they would bring it to us. We had juice, coffee, a pastry and a cooked breakfast with some toast on the side. I may have let our server keep on refilling my coffee cup to prolong our time left on board! It was good to fill up before hanging around Southampton for a bit as it meant we didn’t need to get any more food while we waited.

Debarkation

When we finally tore ourselves away from the breakfast table, there was nothing for it but to leave the ship (they keep everywhere else closed so there is nothing to distract you from leaving – they need to get everything cleaned and ready for the next set of guests!).

We took our suitcases to the atrium where we scanned out with our key to the world card and soon found ourselves making our way back down the gangway and into the terminal. We hadn’t left British waters so there was no need for our passports to be checked or anything, and since we had our luggage with us we could walk straight out of there. Very simple.

Merchandise

Let’s face it, there was NO WAY I was going on a Disney cruise without buying loads of merch! I actually had a list of things I was looking for, mostly created from my knowledge of the sort of merch Disney makes anyway and then refined once I watched a couple of vlogs from another cruise. I had plenty of space in my suitcase and after doing relatively little for a year (and more!) was in the fortunate position that I had the means to treat myself. There were some disappointments as some items sold out super fast, but all in all I was happy with my purchases. Here’s a look at my haul:

Loungefly: backpack, lanyard/card holder and Christmas ornament.

Face masks. These were not in the packs I got on Shop Disney.

A lanyard and pins.

Spirit Jersey.

Front

Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T-shirts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plushes (Captain Duffy and Captain Minnie – Captain Mickey was sold out so I’m hoping to find him in future 🤞).

And of course, EARS!!

A pretty decent haul of things I tend to collect anyway, but in their Cruise Line versions.

Final Thoughts

Overall it was an absolutely brilliant experience and I’m so glad I did it. I’ve long wanted to go on a Disney cruise and was disappointed I didn’t get the chance while my sister was working her Cruise Line contract, so this experience scratched that itch. Of course it’s also now made me want to go on a longer cruise, with it now being a bucket list item for me to go on a sailing that includes a stop at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. I also, of course, want to cruise with Steve as I know he would love the food options and variety of things to do. It may not be any time soon, but I will be back on the Magic or one of her sisters (Wonder, Dream, Fantasy or, currently being built, Wish) one day. I can highly recommend it.

Oh, for interested, here’s where we went:

And if you’re going on a Magic At Sea cruise this summer, I’d love to hear all about it.

Have a magical day and I’ll “sea” ya real soon!

Disney Magic At Sea Staycation Cruise Part 2 – Day At Sea

In this second part of my Disney Magic at Sea recap, I’ll cover what we got up to during our full day on board (part 1 is here if you missed it). We were certainly spoilt for choice as far as things to do were concerned and there was far more on offer than we we could possibly fit in. We did have some “must do” activities in mind, and used the Navigator app to favourite everything we were interested in. This was handy because it meant that 15 minutes ahead of the start time, we got a notification reminding us of the activity and, more importantly the location – make sure you have notifications on so you get these (mine also went to my Apple Watch, which was really handy).

Join me as I recap our magical day at sea…

Cabanas

We had both made an active start to the morning – my sister to the gym and me to the running deck – so were both in need of some food. We chose not to go to one of the main dining rooms as we had a reservation for brunch later in the morning and didn’t want to be too full, so chose Cabanas instead so we could opt for something lighter, just enough to take the edge off! Under normal circumstances Cabanas would be a buffet, but since buffets aren’t happening right now, it is set up with a number of identical stations, each featuring the exact same selection of food, and you simply tell the member of staff behind the counter what you would like and they serve it for you – if you want to pile your plate high with something, they’ll do that for you, no limits! We were required to wash or sanitise our hands before entering and we were greeted by a member of staff who explained the process, reminded us to wait until the party in front of us was finished before going up, etc.

I opted for a Mickey churro (all food tastes better when it’s Mickey-shaped!) and a chocolate chip pancake. The server seemed surprised when I said that was all I wanted, so I felt obliged to explain that I had a brunch booking so really only wanted a snack!

Drinks were also served to us at the drink station rather than it being self service, and here I went for orange juice and coffee. But not just any old coffee, the Joffrey’s coffee I have come to love in Walt Disney World. The first sip transported me to WDW, it just tasted like Disney parks in the morning!

We didn’t stay long as we wanted to fit in some more bits and pieces before changing for brunch, but the food all looked really great – fruit, cereals, cooked items, baked goods – so on another occasion I would have a decent go and trying lots of different things!

Marvel Morning

Although there were no themed events (Disney cruises in the “olden days” were known for things like Marvel Day at sea, Star Wars Day at sea, Pirate Day, etc) we were told that this particular morning would have a Marvel theme. This meant that the background music playing around the ship was Marvel, there were Marvel characters appearing in the atrium, Disney characters were wearing Marvel-themed clothing and there were Marvel activities like quizzes and animation classes. A brilliant morning for the Marvel fan. Since one of my lockdown projects had been to watch all of the MCU movies (just Black Widow to go now), I was looking forward to this.

The characters began appearing in the atrium not long after 8am and this was the first thing on the activity list for the day. With our stateroom being so near, we were able to see Captain Marvel on our way to breakfast, then later in the morning we saw Black Panther and Thor. These were great interactions, with the characters taking time to talk to guests or, in the case of Black Panther, encourage us to pose with our arms crossed over our chests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We didn’t have time for any of the quizzes or the animation class (I would have liked to do that one) but we did join the queue to meet Disney Pals in the cinema (where we had met Belle shortly after boarding). We were there before this started so were one of the earlier groups in and we got to meet Minnie Mouse and Pluto. Pluto was sporting a bandana with an Avengers motif, while Minnie had a Spider-Man logo on her top. Again, we had a lovely interaction.

I imagine the characters would have changed throughout the morning, but the queue was quite long when we passed again and we didn’t have time to wait.

Youth Activities Open House

The various Youth Activity areas are normally the sole preserve of the youngsters using them, however during the cruise there is also an “open house” to allow other guests to see that part of the ship. Having done my homework (read: I watched some vlogs) before our sailing I knew that Toy Story characters could be found in the Andy’s Room section of the Oceaneer’s Club, so we made sure to pay a visit after breakfast. While we were in Jessie was in attendance at one point there was nobody there getting pictures so we were able to spend a bit of time interacting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next to Andy’s Room there was also the Marvel Superhero Academy and although there were no characters there, it did offer some great photo ops and things to look at. I’d definitely recommend popping in here to see it.

Palo Brunch

Palo is positioned as a “chic, adult-exclusive” location and does have a dress code “to preserve the elegant ambiance”. In practice, this means dressing smartly (so no swimwear, shorts, torn clothing, etc). We had both packed a dress to put on so after Open House we headed back to our stateroom to change then went by the atrium to take some photos on the staircase while we were smartly dressed. Of course since we were inside we still had to have our masks on and my sister couldn’t stop laughing at me in my Mickey/Minnie face (as in their actual face) mask as she thought it was a bit too seamless looking on my face haha!

Palo is an additional charge of $45 per person, but I had heard that this was a must-do and my sister, despite working a contract on the Disney Wonder, had not had a chance to experience it so booking a table had been discussed before we even booked our cruise. If you’re thinking about it, I definitely think it was worth it.

We were greeted on arrival and shown to our table, which was by the window, although unfortunately this was at the part of the day when the weather was at its most iffy so mostly we watched a few brave souls stepping out into the rain and clutching their Minnie ears to prevent them blowing away 😂

The meal does include a mimosa (is that American for Buck’s Fizz?) but any further drinks would have a further cost. It was 11am so we were quite content with our mimosa and some water.

Our server David was superb. He was knowledgeable and attentive, without ever feeling intrusive. Although there is a menu, much like any other dining location on board you can order absolutely anything you want. I went so far as asking if there were any limits or “rules” and he told me not at all, whatever we asked for he would bring. And bring food he did! Again, in normal times there would have been a buffet as part of this experience but now everything is served to the table.

Having already eaten sweet foods for breakfast, I wanted savoury options, but we did also have a bread service and some pastries. By far the easiest choice was dessert – Warm Ameretto Chocolate Fondant, yum! This was David’s recommendation, but we had pretty much already picked that one out when we saw the menu!

We didn’t have any tea or coffee (which would have been an additional charge) as my sister was keen to get a coffee in the Cove Cafe and I was happy to go with that.

Overall a fantastic experience with AMAZING food. The only trouble is managing to eat enough of it!

Afternoon Activities

We did get changed again after Palo (I was on my holidays so regardless of the weather I was wearing shorts…with a jumper haha!) Then we got on with the important business of experiencing as many things as possible.

  • We went shopping (I’ll cover more about merch in part 3 of my recap)
  • We returned to the atrium to see the Disney Princesses – Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Tiana and Ariel
  • We took lots of photos at various locations around the ship
  • We went to a Disney trivia quiz.

Highlights for me were the princesses and the quiz. I really enjoyed the socially distanced character interactions as even with guests spread out, the characters took time to interact with everyone and often there were two or more characters there. I would say that any character interaction will be greatly improved if you can bring something to the experience to further the discussion, so knowing a bit of a character’s story is really helpful. I’m definitely getting better at this as I had some great interactions on board. I also noticed that if you happened to be a small child in a princess dress, you got a REALLY great deal when it came to interactions with the princesses!

The quiz was in the Promenade Lounge and there were 20 multiple choice questions. I think we got 15 right, which wasn’t bad since there were some we had to guess. There was quite a moment when the entertainment staff member read out the answers at the end. We had been asked what season Frozen takes place in (Answer: summer. The whole point is Elsa accidentally freezes summer and Anna needs to find her to reverse her magic and bring back summer. Olaf even sings an entire song about summer). But the answer was read out as winter (apparently the presence of snow made it winter – that’s not how seasons work!) and there was such an outcry from around the room that the poor guy had to give a point for summer AND for winter. I bet he went back later to check his answer sheet afterwards – can’t get anything past a Disney fan!

There was also a surprise at the end of the quiz as Donald and Daisy arrived to pose for photos (top tip: characters will likely turn up at most of these kinds of activities). Each table was brought up in turn to get a photo so that we could maintain a safe distance and not form a crowd.

Taking photos was also good fun as there are a number of places on board that make great photo locations. My suggestions include by the funnels on the top deck, by the statue in the atrium and in the large porthole windows along by the clubs and bars. And of course there are frequently characters in the atrium. As we passed back through there after the quiz we had a great interaction with Rapunzel.

After all that my sister wanted to go for her speciality coffee (one she used to have when she was on the Wonder) but I didn’t want to hang around in the cafe so went for a bit of a wander on my own. I got myself a Minute Maid lemonade (another taste of being in America for me) then an ice cream but that made me a little chilly so I got a Joffrey’s coffee (from the beverage station, so no charge) to warm me up again. By the time I got back my sister was having a lovely catch up with the server in the cafe who had worked with her on the Wonder.

By this point it was time to return to the theatre for our evening show, this one titled Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic. Another excellent show and another one that brought a tear to my eyes as it included songs from a number of my favourite Disney movies and had a heartwarming message. We sat a bit closer to the front this time and enjoyed bubbles and “snow” falling on us at appropriate points in the performance. Honestly if you love Disney music and/or live theatre, absolutely take the chance to see these Broadway-style shows if you’re on board. A very talented cast and there is something for everyone. We also got a bonus surprise before this show started as Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald were brought out on stage to perform a little song and dance. I enjoyed that!

When it was our turn to leave the theatre we headed off to get changed (yes, again. I promise each change was necessary and I actually did wear everything I had with me bar one T-shirt). Out turn-down service had already taken place so there was another towel animal waiting for us, alongside our debarkation information.

On the way past the atrium I spotted Pluto who was doing a brilliant job interacting with guests, then on the way back Captains Mickey and Minnie were there again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before dinner we wanted to go to  one of the lounges where the performer who had played Mother Gothel in Tangled the night before had a half hour slot to sing some classic Disney songs. It turned out she was actually Scottish and her performance was excellent. The venue felt safe as tables were spaced out, numbers were limited and we had to leave a space between parties. All very pleasant.

Lumière’s

In case you didn’t know, Disney cruise ships operate on a rotational dining basis. This means that rather than one main dining room, there are three and you “rotate” from one to the next. You have the same table number and service team each time, but get a different experience in each venue. On a cruise longer than three nights you would repeat one (or more) of the locations.

Lumière’s is, of course, themed to Beauty and the Beast. It is an elegant room reminiscent of a ballroom and while there is no show in this dining room, there is a pianist playing live music. The entrance is just off the atrium so we were treated to seeing the princesses again during our brief wait to enter.

Here the food was again fantastic. I’ll never say no to a bowl of French onion soup, the steak was cooked perfectly and as for that dessert…if you get the chance to have this signature offering of a classic Opera Gateau, you have to do it – your taste buds will thank you!

Evening Entertainment

After dinner we passed back through the atrium where Pluto, Mickey and Minnie were once again greeting guests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were on our way to the piano bar Keys. We wanted to have a drink and enjoy the live music. It felt very classy and the pianist was excellent – in the background yet aware of his audience as when we eventually left at the end of the night he drew us into his performance by switching seamlessly into the Mickey Mouse Club’s “Now it’s time to say goodbye” to wish us goodnight.

We both ordered a glass of fizz (we were on a fairly special trip after all!) and while we hadn’t intended staying as long as we did, we were having a lovely chat with our server Natallja and ended up hanging around. That’s something I’ve heard about the service on Disney ships before, that staff take an interest, engage you in conversation and, in the case of servers, remember your order so they can have it ready for you night after night if that’s what you want. From my experience, I would wholeheartedly agree with this. I wouldn’t normally sit on a bar chatting to my server, but this felt really nice, and you get to learn a bit about someone from a different part of the world.

The piano music from Tim Moss was actually the last thing on the activity list for the day, so we closed it down (and managed first activity to last – go us!). By the time we tumbled into bed it was already past midnight (but unlike Cinderella, I still had both my shoes and there wasn’t a pumpkin to be seen!).

 

We both had a really fantastic day and there were plenty of other things we could have done had there been time. For example, the cinema that had been used for character meets was, later in the day, used to screen movies. Had we wanted to we could have seen Cruella, Black Widow or Jungle Cruise, the latest Disney offerings currently only available for an additional fee on Disney+. On a longer sailing I might have considered it, but was reluctant to use up a couple of hours of precious cruise time to do something I could do at home (albeit without the additional fee). Instead, I wanted to do things that were more unique to the cruise experience.

Either way, once on board you can make your experience whatever you want it to be, whether that’s character meets, other activities or simply relaxing by the pool or eating as much as you can possibly squeeze in! I was really happy with our choices and we never had any “dead” time or time I felt was wasted, I just wished I could stretch the day out to fit in more!

 

Look out for my third (and final) Disney Magic At Sea post where I’ll go into a bit more detail about debarkation, onboard merch and my overall thoughts on the experience.

Disney Magic At Sea Staycation Cruise Part 1 – Pre-Trip Planning and Embarkation Day

If you read my most recent Week In Review post, then you already know that I went on a 2 night “Staycation Cruise” on board the Disney Magic, sailing out of Southampton. Even with just 2 nights there is SO much I can tell you, so thought it best to write separately about my experience. With so much to include, I’ve decided to split this into three parts, each looking at different aspects of the cruise. It should be noted that some of these things may change (some things were already different from the initial sailings) and there was so much more available to do than we could possibly fit in, so my account will barely scrape the surface of all the magical opportunities available on board.

Ready to learn about booking and embarkation day? Let’s go!

Booking and Online Check In

When these UK-only cruises were announced, my sister and I found the idea intriguing. In the absence of any other Disney-related travel opportunities this summer, it sounded like something we could do to get our Disney fix, so we kept an eye out for further details being announced. Unfortunately, when those details were announced we initially believed we would not be able to go due to the requirement to be fully vaccinated (which I totally understood and supported). At that point I hadn’t even had my FIRST dose of the vaccine, and with the gap between vaccines standing at 12 weeks back then, there was no way I would meet that requirement within the summer holidays. However when the gap between doses was later reduced to 8 weeks and I found myself with a blue envelope detailing my second appointment date before the end of term, we looked at it again to see if there were any sailings still available at a price point we were prepared to pay (and a time we could sail!). The 2 night sailing out of Southampton was really our only option as everything else fell within the Scottish school term, and the price was ok – a bit more than I would normally pay for a 2 night trip, but in a climate of “revenge travel” and several cancelled trips from 2020, I was happy to pay.

Booking was very simple online. We initially booked the cheapest stateroom available – Oceanview (so a porthole window) on deck 2. We could have paid a little more to go up one deck, but we really only planned to be in there to sleep so it didn’t seem worth it for us. We could either pay in full or pay a deposit, but we just went ahead and paid in full since it was already late June at the time of booking and full payment had to be made before you could check in online (30 days before sailing).

We were also able to book any paid add on experiences we wanted such as spa treatments, wine tasting or photo packages. The only one we wanted was brunch at Palo, an Italian inspired dining experience, since I had heard this was a “must do” and booking brunch rather than dinner meant we wouldn’t miss out on seeing any of the main dining rooms.

30 days out from our sailing date we were able to begin the online check-in process, again fairly simple, just a little time consuming. We had to upload ID (we used our passports), an up to date photo (which would be attached to our account so our ID could be easily verified at any time), attach a payment method to cover each of us for any onboard purchases and then choose a port arrival time.

This was also the moment at which we could book an arrival time to attend an evening show (at this point, just one show which would be performed, twice, on both evenings to allow as many guests as possible to attend) so as to facilitate reduced capacity in the theatre and social distancing, and my sister wanted to use the onboard gym so was required to book a 45 minute time slot (again, a safety measure to reduce numbers). These were both added to our plans in the Cruise Line Navigator app (a necessity to keep up to date with onboard activities and get reminders of plans). This actually changed a few days before our sailing as restrictions began to ease. Rather than have an arrival time for one show, we were notified that there would now be more performances available to us and we could simply choose which one to go to without booking – even go more than once if we wanted to! Similarly, the need to book a time to use the gym was removed, although other safety measures such as arriving ready to work out remained in place.

Health Requirements

As well as being fully vaccinated, there were some other health requirements to consider. Firstly, we had to upload our proof of full vaccination to the account we set up with the third party Disney was using to manage this. Everyone over 18 needed to provide this proof and anyone under 18 (who did not as yet have the option of the vaccine) needed to take a (paid for) PCR test and upload the result to the same website. Once verified, this generated a QR code which was checked at the port before we could advance any further.

In addition, EVERYONE had to take a rapid antigen (lateral flow) test at the port and have a negative result before being allowed to board (no additional charge for this one). Anyone testing positive (and those in their party) would not be able to board the ship. Throughout term time I had been taking these tests for work and my sister had used them too since her job is customer-facing, so neither of us were too bothered by this. But since we were travelling from Scotland to Southampton, we both took tests at home in the days before leaving, particularly the night before, so we knew we were negative for Covid at that point and were unlikely to get a nasty surprise!

These requirements, in addition to the enhanced measures on board – reduced capacity, social distancing, masks, enhanced cleaning, extensive use of hand sanitiser – made me feel confident that this was a controlled environment (unlike going somewhere at home when you have no idea what the vaccination status of others might be) and I was perfectly comfortable to be on board, much like when we visited Disneyland Paris last summer and felt incredibly safe on Disney property, even at a time when case numbers were rising.

Embarkation

All guests have a designated time to arrive at the port, this prevents everyone arriving at once and streamlines things a little more. We left ourselves plenty of time to get to the port and got there about 15 minutes ahead of our port arrival time. We fully expected to have to wait, but one of the many members of staff on hand told us we were fine to go ahead and drop off our luggage then join the queue to begin the pre-embarkation process.

First, our QR code for our proof of vaccination was checked alongside our booking number. Then we were put in the queue for the lateral flow tests. The queue moved quite quickly and there were loads of cubicles in operation (a whole party would go to a cubicle together).

A member of staff from the third party company guided us through the testing process (in essence what we had been doing at home, but with a couple of tiny differences) then took the tests away to be processed. Meanwhile another member of staff guided us to a waiting area and took us to specific seats (think school assembly hall being filled from the front) so we could wait safely. My sister was the lead name on our booking and had also set up the account with the third party testing company (with profiles for each of us) so the results of the tests were sent directly to her email really quickly.

Negative test results in hand, we were able to move into the next room to show ID and confirm our check in, go through security, then into the departure lounge to wait for our boarding group to be called. They were a couple of groups ahead of us so we maybe had 20 minutes to wait, then were called forward to join the queue to board. Our boarding documents/ID photos were quickly checked, and we were on our way!

At Southampton the ship is right there (I think at some other ports there was a bus to take guests to it) and we walked through a gangway to the ship. The part I was most excited for at this point was being announced on board. They have a member of staff to greet you, check the family name then announce over microphone:

“Disney Magic, please welcome on board the [insert name] family!”

During the announcement, guests move into the main area (known as the atrium) and are guided to a spot to stand (social distancing). Meanwhile the staff, other guests and, most importantly, Captains Mickey and Minnie (who were waiting on the atrium stairs) applaud.

Once a certain number of parties have boarded, a crew member steps forward to welcome everyone and everybody’s favourite mice dance to “Come on Everybody, Get Your Ears On”. I loved that the Disney touch was immediate, so there was no doubt about where we were.

From there, a couple more things have to be done and we were guided the whole way. Come to think of it, from arriving at the port there was quite a lot of being shunted from one thing to the next, but everyone is so lovely that you don’t really notice.

First up, we were taken through to Fathoms, one of the evening entertainment venues, where a member of staff made sure we were all set up with the app so it could be used on board.

Finally, we had to go to our muster station for the modified muster drill. Rather than have everyone gather at a certain time and listen to safety instructions, we had to visit the muster station fairly soon after boarding then use the app to take a photo of the sign there to show we had attended. The safety instructions played as a video within the app and on the stateroom tv.

With all that done, we were able to go to our stateroom. Oh, and when we got our stateroom assignment a week or two before sailing, we realised we had been upgraded from deck 2 to deck 5. I liked that location as the atrium covered decks 3-5 so it was easy to pop over throughout our sailing to see what characters were appearing there to wave and interact with guests.

Every guest gets a “key to the world” card which is basically your room key but is also scanned before any purchases to verify identity (that photo uploaded during the online check in), this also allows crew members to address guests by name, which is a really nice touch. On a cruise with port excursions, this would also be scanned as guests leave and return to the ship The cards are on the wall outside your stateroom when you arrive, and your luggage is delivered there too (I believe cases were being sanitised before being brought on board). Our cases weren’t there immediately, but there was still plenty of time for them to get there and next time we returned to our room they were waiting for us.

Within moments of arriving there was a knock at the door and our stateroom attendant was there to welcome us on board, let us know what he would be doing to look after us and see if we needed anything. Our attendant Gede, much like other crew members we encountered, drew our attention to his name badge and repeated his name during the conversation to ensure we knew who was looking after us. He was appropriately friendly and any time we encountered him in a hallway he would wave and call hello. Another touch I really liked as it made me feel welcome, comfortable and at home on board.

Things To Do

We spent a few minutes looking at the app as we were now able to see the activities available. This was when we noticed that a different show was listed for that evening. This was confirmed later when the Cruise Director made a ship-wide announcement letting us know that they were now able to offer TWO shows (one per evening, performed twice each time) and that we were on the first sailing to have this. For our first evening, we were going to see Tangled. A recording of this was actually released on one of the Disney YouTube channels during lockdown last year and I had enjoyed watching it, so was excited for a live performance. At time of writing, the recording is still available here.

We headed off to explore a bit and almost immediately a member of staff outside the onboard cinema asked us if we would like to meet Belle. Of course we did! She was doing a meet and greet and there was nobody else in there, so I had a great interaction with her. I happened to be feeling mermaid-y (what else would I pick for an at-sea adventure?) and on our way out another member of staff gave me a hint about where I might find Ariel the following day.

From there we headed to the top deck where we took some pictures, grabbed a snack then sat down to listen to the mandatory pre-sailing safety announcement. That done, we headed to the theatre (pausing only to peer in the windows of the not-yet-open merch locations!) for the first performance of Tangled (because we were on the second sitting for dinner – the show times are designed to work around that and those on first sitting would see the second show).

The show was excellent and unsurprisingly I shed a tear or two. I think it was a combination of really relating to Rapunzel in lockdown last year, finally being on board and seeing a live theatrical performance. I’m one of those people who cry at Disney anyway so I knew it was going to happen (if I’m honest, I’d already had a few tearful moments) but I think it was the live aspect that really got me.

On our way out of the theatre the shops were open (although there was a queue to get into each of them) so we decided we had time to go into just one (the one with the shorter queue!) whereupon I made sure to buy a pair of ears – I never feel like I’m truly at Disney until I’ve done that! Had I known how quickly some items were going to sell out, I might have got a couple more things at that point rather than leaving it to the next day, but you live and learn. If you’re going on one of these cruises, my advice is if you see an item you want to buy, don’t wait!

Rapunzel’s Royal Table

Next up, we got changed for dinner. While there is no requirement for formal dress (attire is described as “cruise casual”) I did want to put a dress on, not least because I had been in my other clothes since about 3am!

I loved the theming in the restaurant, with replicas of “wanted” posters from the movie, the sun logo from the Kingdom of Corona and lanterns everywhere. Perfect for the Tangled fan.

Menus for each restaurant were accessed through the app, or there was a QR code on each table to help you if you needed it. The menu looked great and although we opted for a standard three courses, the beauty of all-inclusive cruise food is that you can have whatever you want, for example multiple dishes within one course because you can’t decide or want to try something. I was pretty hungry, but was also feeling rather tired by this point and had probably gone past the stage where I could manage to eat a great deal. A bit of a shame, but I did try something from each course (my starter was particularly delicious, and as for that dessert…yum!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We chose to have soft drinks to accompany our meal (included with the cruise price we already paid) but could have purchases an alcoholic beverage should we have wanted it.

Throughout our meal there were mini shows on a stage in the dining room featuring Rapunzel, Flynn Rider and a couple of ruffians (no doubt regulars at the Snuggly Duckling). Each one was a different short scene, with the final one bringing in the service team to parade through the room with lanterns. I suspect this may be a modified version of a show from pre-Covid times, but it was still good fun. My only quibble would be that while the sound was excellent, the view from our table wasn’t the best.

Freezing The Night Away

There were further activities available in the evening, including quizzes, bars with musical acts and adult only areas (for a quiet drink sans children). We wanted to see the Frozen-inspired show on the top deck, Freezing The Night Away. This had been performed a couple of times already and this was the final one (it was only on for this one night). We knew it was set up to be socially distanced, with each party standing in a marked off area, and with it being later on I wasn’t worried about it being really busy.

We had plenty of time and, realising it was quite cool (we were “at sea” by this point, after all) we quickly nipped back to our stateroom. My sister actually put her pyjamas on, along with a hoody, and I grabbed the spirit jersey I had been wearing when we set off early in the morning and flung it over my dress. Not my finest look, but I was glad of the extra layer!

The show was fun and included all the main characters from Frozen either on deck in front of us or on the “funnel vision” screen. At one point it even “snowed” on us! A great way to round off our day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the show we thought it would probably be best to get some sleep,. We both wanted to be up sharp to really maximise our day at sea, and were already exhausted from a looooooong day. We made our way back to our stateroom for the evening (where our stateroom attendant had already been in for the turndown service which included a chocolate each and a towel animal – love those!).

On the way there I ran into my good friend who works in Youth Activities. I had managed to see her briefly not long after boarding, but we had time for a good chat at this point and a quick picture – we hadn’t seen each other since November 2019 since up until the world stopped, she had been based on one of the other Disney ships and was mostly sailing out of Port Canaveral. It was so good to see her in person (plus Chip and Dale were interacting in the atrium at that point too!).

And so, to bed. Next up, details of what we got up to on our day at sea…

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 72

The arrival of August usually heralds the final countdown to the new school year, but this year it brought a bit of excitement as I was FINALLY going away for a little trip. You might remember that on the very first day of the school holidays I spent some time with my sister making a booking, but I kept the details of what we were planning very much under wraps as any travel right now carries an element of “peril” in terms of the impact Covid might have and we knew that our plans could very easily be derailed. If you happen to follow me on instagram then you might already know what we got up to and I’ll share more in the course of this post. Never fear, the running streak is still very much alive, but being away meant limited workouts and yoga in this particular week – totally worth it!

Monday – 4.5 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 6.5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 1 mile
Thursday – 3.3(ish) miles
Friday – 3.3(ish) miles
Saturday – (not)parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

Before any of the excitement started, I had a couple of days of the normal routine (and a little bit of getting organised). Monday began with some reading in bed then I made sure to check over the weekly scavenger hunt list before heading out for my run. I was keen to get this wrapped up over Monday and Tuesday as I wouldn’t get another chance to hunt until Saturday. I actually got quite a lot of it done on my run and Steve found a couple more items when he was out and about later in the morning.

After my run I had some bits and pieces to do around the house then after lunch I had an appointment. I took the chance while I was out to run a couple of errands in town, pick up my free coffee with my Vitality voucher and fill my car up with petrol. I had planned a few chores around the house in the afternoon, but my sister popped round on her way home from some errands of her own and I was perfectly happy to abandon doing housework in favour of talking to her haha!

By the time we were done I needed to get ready for yoga and get set up on Zoom for the class. Relaxing and grounding as ever. And my day was rounded off nicely by finishing up Behind The Attraction on Disney+. If you enjoyed The Imagineering Story then you should definitely watch this one, especially if you’re a Disney parks fan. I had heard some of the attraction facts and history before, but I enjoy being reminded of them and it was very entertaining (even if it did make me want to get to a Disney park!).

I set my alarm sharp for Tuesday morning as part of a grand plan to make sure I felt tired enough to fall asleep that night ahead of a SUPER early start on Wednesday. I also wanted to give myself plenty of time to do all the things I needed/wanted to before going away – method in my madness!

I did read a bit of my book while enjoying a cup of tea, but was out the door for my run about an hour earlier than has been my holiday habit. I have been doing the Running For Real Together Runs on Wednesdays of late, but decided to listen during this run otherwise I didn’t think I would manage to fit it in. Once again, we began by touching something in the natural world and were also encouraged to do this at the end of our run. I actually ran on a bit to touch a tree since as I came to the end of the podcast the only way I could have touched nature would have been to put my hand into somebody’s garden and that would definitely have been a bit weird!

Next up, getting organised to go away. No matter how long/short a trip, it always takes me longer than I think it will as I make decisions about what I need and check everything off my list. Although I was only going to be away for two nights, I knew I would need clothes for during the day and a change for evening, plus the weather was looking a bit iffy so I needed a couple of options just in case. At least I knew my luggage was being kept secure until I left 😹

I also wanted to take an at-home lateral flow (antigen) test before I set off to make sure that I was testing negative. Taking them twice weekly when school resumes in the middle of the month will continue to be encouraged and I will also want to take tests after my trip so at this point I was basically committing to twice weekly testing again for the foreseeable future – bleurgh!

We took advantage of the dry weather to have a workout in the garden with the good old TRX and press up bars. I could feel my deep core muscles were still weary from the week before, so I guess it must be making a difference. I also had time for some yoga (back indoors) before dinner. We watched a little tv then I made sure to get to bed early so I could try and get some sleep before my middle of the night alarm call!

As it turned out, I had a hard time sleeping. I wasn’t actually nervous about being away from home, but my head was spinning with all the things that were going to happen the following day, so when my alarm went off (ridiculously early) I truly only had been asleep for a couple of hours.

When we went on our miracle trip to Disneyland Paris last August, I ran a mile (around the block) before setting off and although it seems a little crazy, I actually found that it made me feel awake and probably helped me keep on going through the day. This time I did something very similar, running early enough for Strava to designate my activity a “night run” haha!

I was due to pick my sister up at 3:45am (!!) and the first hurdle was discovering that nobody was up. Cue me trying to wake my sister without waking my parents (and I didn’t have a key to their house with me). Thankfully I managed and our departure did not turn into scenes reminiscent of Home Alone 😂

But where were we off to? I hear you ask. Well in the first instance, a very empty Edinburgh airport where we were getting a 6:45am flight to Southampton. Once there, we had a bit of time to kill before boarding the Disney Magic for one of their UK Staycation cruises (please note: I am still irritated by this new usage of “staycation”, which seems to imply that only foreign trips can be considered a holiday/vacation, thus devaluing all my childhood holidays spent in the UK, but this was the official title of these cruises so I feel obliged to use it). We had jumped through all of the hoops we had to in advance with regard to online check-in and health requirements (as you know, i have been super cautious but I was very comfortable with the measures put in place here), and had been following the countdown in the Disney Cruise Line app. It was so satisfying to see it reach zero and thought it was really cure that they used characters in place of the digit!

Our flight was soooooo empty! We flew with Loganair, a regional airline, on a teeny tiny aircraft with about 14 people total (plus one cabin attendant). Their modified in-flight service meant a small carton of water and a caramel wafer (jackpot!) so I’m assuming that in normal times we would have been offered tea/coffee with our biscuit.

Once reunited with our suitcases, we headed into the station (next door to the airport in Southampton) to catch a train into town, a journey of less than 10 minutes. We had been debating whether or not we would need a taxi to the port or whether we would be able to walk (our research suggested it was about 2 miles and we had LOADS of time) but when we stepped out of the station and crossed over the road to join the path for the short walk along to the shopping centre (we needed breakfast!) we spotted this:

Definitely walking then!

Of course it was still fairly early, but the shops were beginning to open so we checked out our options for breakfast. We fancied something filling since we had been up for ages (and an early start ALWAYS makes you really hungry!) but the place we wanted wasn’t opening for a while yet. We decided to wait and found ourselves a place to sit and relax for a while.

We went to a place called Ed’s Diner to eat. It was new to me but my sister had been to one before. Personally, I was sold on the idea of an American-style breakfast so true to form opted for a stack of pancakes, bacon and maple syrup along with a cup of coffee. Perfect!

It was actually really good and I knew that would keep me full until I got on board the ship (where our food was included and I intended to take full advantage!).

Hunger satisfied we set off, luggage in tow, to explore the centre of Southampton a bit. I had no idea what to expect but I really liked it. I got the impression that it was a very historic place, particularly when it came to maritime history, but I also found some Jane Austen references which really interested me. It’s a place I’d love to return to again in future to explore a bit more.

It was quite a warm day and we soon tired of wandering around with our suitcases so we grabbed some drinks and found a nice spot outside to sit and wait until it was time to head for the port. This meant we could take it in turns to go off for a little wander or go back into the shopping centre for the toilets.

When at long last it was time to head for the port, we set off. It was actually a fairly easy walk but my sister’s maps app was a little misleading, causing me to abandon it and try to navigate simply through sight of the ship. It wasn’t perfect (turns out there was only one way to enter the terminal building we wanted so we came up against a rather inconvenient fence at one point) but we were still there in good time.

I’m going to write separately about the cruise itself so I get can into more detail (and share LOADS of photos) but I will include an outline here in case that’s all you’re looking for.

Once at the port we handed over our cases and began making our way through the embarkation process: rapid Covid tests, check in, then a short wait for our boarding group to be called. All in, with a port arrival time of 2pm it took just over an hour to reach the departure lounge and we were on board around 3:25pm. It was only when I saw this that I finally relaxed, knowing we were DEFINITELY doing this!

We made it to our stateroom fairly quickly then headed off to explore the ship a bit.

We were on second sitting for dinner so at 6pm we watched the show, then got changed and freshened up to eat. It was a super long day and by the time we ate dinner, headed out on deck to watch a show there then returned to our stateroom to go to bed, my Apple Watch had recorded 20 hours in which I had stood up and moved around for at least a minute (and 2 I missed – one on the flight and one in the evening show). I had pulled a 22 hour day – no wonder I was exhausted!

Despite the long day, I still woke up before my alarm on the Thursday morning. My understanding was that the best way to maximise the cruise experience was to wake up early and go to bed late. Tiring, but I figured I could manage it for this short space of time.

But first things first: a run. By a quirk of timing (fate? pixie dust?) this was actually day 500 of my run streak. I only realised this after we had booked our trip, but it made me really happy to know that I could mark the occasion in such a special place.

Deck 4 of the ship is designated as a walking/running track and I was excited to take my Minnie-inspired kit on deck to run. I knew the forward progress of the ship would mess up the distance recorded by Strava (I cut down on “stuff” by leaving my Garmin at home and just using the Strava app on my Apple Watch) so I simply decided on 10 laps. I’m pretty certain I did 10, but counting laps is actually quite hard!

I was curious about how it would feel to run on a moving vessel, but I hardly noticed it at all. There were one or two others out using the deck but I mostly had it to myself and it was so peaceful. Probably one of the more unusual places I have ever run!

If you’re interested, my GPS track ended up looking like this. Definitely further and faster than I actually did thanks to the fact we were moving!

While I was running my sister used the gym, then we met up again for a light breakfast (we had a brunch booking later that morning so although we needed to eat something, we didn’t want to be too full). Then our day was mostly spent trying to take in as many activities as we could: character encounters, quiz, shopping, eating, generally exploring the ship and taking photos.

In the evening we once again had a show, dinner (in a different dining room) and we rounded off our day with a drink in the piano bar. It was the sort of place that put me in mind of the bar frequented by Karen in Will and Grace haha!

We managed to stay up so late that it was after midnight before we went to bed, yet once again I was awake before my alarm and ready to head out to the running deck again. We were back in port at Southampton by this point so I knew my GPS would be a bit better in keeping track of the distance, but I pretty much repeated my 10 laps from the morning before.

Turns out my watch still had some bother locking in the GPS, so my identical run looked completely different. It reminds me of Mr Messy haha!

Sadly after that it was time to finalise our packing then head off for breakfast prior to debarkation. A real whirlwind trip but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We actually had a fairly late debark time, probably because the onward travel details we provided showed that our fight back wasn’t until later in the afternoon, so no rush. I did keep letting our servers bring us more food and refill my coffee so as to squeeze out a little longer on board, but eventually we had to leave.

“Sea” ya real soon, Disney!

It was about 10am when we left the ship but we didn’t have to make our way to the airport until around 1pm, so we headed back to the shopping centre where we found a comfortable seat for a while then went for a coffee to pass the time. It was a bit of a pain waiting around, but on the plus side I did complete an experience from last year…

You may remember me doing some “postbox bingo” and I had crossed off all the postbox cyphers available to me. On the way back to the shopping centre from the ship, I spotted a postbox with the Elizabeth II cypher (the one we don’t have in Scotland) so grabbed a picture. Postbox bingo? Completed it! 😂

I arrived home in time for my dinner, whereupon poor Steve was regaled with my tales from the ship, then I needed to get some sleep.

After my adventures at sea Saturday was a real return to reality. I began with a (not)parkrun, but with an air of excitement since this was probably the last (not)parkrun for now. The Scottish Government confirmed our move to “beyond level zero”  from the Monday, thus giving us the final go-ahead for parkrun to return in Scotland. Our home event already had permission in place, so this was the news we were waiting for after 73 Saturdays (73!!!) with no parkrun.

Unsurprisingly, I was pretty tired from my exploits over the previous couple of days, so had a really easy day otherwise, including finishing up my reading from the trip. I do like to theme my reading!

Something fun was opening up a package which had arrived while I was away. I had ordered this mystery box a while back but had been notified that there was a delay because the company wasn’t happy with one of the items. I didn’t mind as this meant they were taking pride in their product and I was happy to wait. I was really pleased with what I got and it was beautifully packaged:

It certainly took the edge off coming home!

Since this fell easily as a cutback week in my mileage, I was happy to keep my Sunday run to 8 miles since I was still feeling tired (I guess a 22 hour day will do that to you!). Having been out at sea I was craving a water view so I opted to run down to the river and follow a route which would take in our parkrun route (I was clearly getting excited about our imminent return!).

I stopped by the noticeboard as I passed back through the park and spotted this, which made me smile.

Other than food shopping (and a lateral flow test – best to make sure after travelling) I had another easy day and finished up the book I had been reading before heading off. Not my usual genre but an interesting idea and I really enjoyed it.

With that, the most exciting week of the entire summer drew to a close. I may have only had a short trip, but it was just what I needed to recharge and feel that Disney magic flowing in my veins once more. If you’d like to read more about my cruise adventure, look out for a separate post soon!

Have you ever been on a cruise or is it something you would like to do?
What’s the most unusual place you have ever run?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 71

Sadly the sunshine was largely absent this week but that didn’t stop me getting on with running, workouts and yoga. Ordinarily I would probably have pulled the mileage back a bit this week, particularly since the previous week actually clocked in at my highest weekly mileage ever (45 miles), but I knew that the following week would definitely have lower mileage due to having some plans that would cut down my available running time, so decided just to go with what I was already doing (so long as I felt fine, which I did). Here’s how it ended up:

Monday – 4 miles + garden workout + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 5.5 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 6.5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Thursday – form drills + home yoga
Friday – 4.5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Saturday – (not)parkrun sandwich
Sunday –  10 miles

The weather wasn’t actually too bad at the beginning of the week and we were able to squeeze a couple of bonus afternoons outside out of the sunshine. As you can see from the photo above, the sun was already out when I went for my run and I noticed that I had recovered really well from my higher mileage and slightly longer run the week/day before. My legs had been a little weary towards the end of my Sunday run but felt fine for this run (during which I was, of course, getting started on the weekly scavenger hunt).

I popped into town to use my Nero’s voucher then enjoyed my lunch outside on the decking before setting up my sun lounger and spending the afternoon finishing up another book. Still on my mission to get up to date with this series.

Later on Steve brought out the TRX and press up bars (I don’t know what else to call those) for a workout in the garden before my yoga class. I toyed with setting up my yoga mat on the decking and using my wireless earphones, but the forecast kept insisting it would rain so I thought I’d best stay inside.

As it turned out, the weather stayed dry so we ate our dinner outside and enjoyed the cooler evening air before bed.

On the Tuesday I was still feeling good on my run and enjoyed going round by the waterfall on my loop.

So little water after the really dry weather, yet it can be quite intense when the weather is really wet.

Once I was ready I headed out as I had a couple of errands then an appointment at the hairdresser. The sun had really faded the colour I had done the last time and there were bits at the front that were practically blonde! I was REALLY needing it done so it would look tidier.

The weather was still ok so again I was able to have lunch outside then read in the garden for the rest of the afternoon (but did go in for my yoga and we had to eat inside as it wasn’t looking so nice anymore). It was looking likely that other than a run, Wednesday would be an “inside” kind of a day 😢

And sadly I was right. I had a fairly soggy run, but I actually didn’t notice too much as I was enjoying my weekly Together Run.

But after that I got on with a few things I needed to do inside until the weather improved later in the afternoon. Smokey took his chance to snooze nearby!

The new Minnie Mouse ears that had arrived a few days previously had a similar pattern to the outfits my nuiMos were wearing and I wanted to do a little photoshoot when the rain cleared (you can tell I had a bit of time on my hands ha!).

It was nice enough to bring the TRX and press up bars into the garden again, but I once more had to go inside for yoga. I much preferred being able to roll out my mat on the decking for outdoor yoga, so I hope I can do that again before the summer ends.

The weather was fairly similar on the Thursday and I was definitely missing the sunshine. At least it was a little cooler for my form drills as I was adding another rep on to the set!

But post-run I was in the house again for much of the day. I did want to clear out some old papers to shred so took the chance to sort that out and get started on the third series of Cobra Kai. Still an amazing revival!

I also found time to finish up another book.

And in the evening we started watching Behind the Attraction on Disney+. I knew I would enjoy it and the first episode was on one of my favourites: The Jungle Cruise.

On the Friday morning I felt like running down to the South Inch (where junior parkrun happens on Sundays) to spend a few moments by the pond. I always love the scenery here:

I was aware of the swans here, but this time I noticed two cygnets as well. The swan family is expanding!

This visit made me feel really calm and ready to get on with my day. Funny how some places can have that effect.

I had fallen a little behind with the Christmas movies podcast I had been listening to (mainly because I hadn’t yet watched a couple of the movies being discussed) so spent the afternoon overhauling a couple of my bookcases (I’ve read so much recently they were needing some attention!) whilst watching the musical Scrooge (the 1970 one with Albert Finney). I don’t think I had ever seen that one before but have meant to for a while and it was good. Reminded me a bit of Oliver in places and I think that was actually deliberate!

We chanced a workout in the garden and I was able to do some work with the TRX, but then it started to rain and was getting heavier so we had to move to the living room to do some core work instead. My abs were making me aware of their presence for a few days afterwards!

The rain meant I was inside once more for yoga and dinner, so we rounded the day off with more Behind the Attraction.

It was still a little drizzly on the Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop me getting out for about 6.5 miles including a (not)parkrun. With it looking more likely that we might be able to get back to parkrun soon, I might not have too many more of those to go. That actually feels a bit strange as it’s been so long now that I’ve established a Saturday morning routine which will get changed up a bit again as parkrun comes back (not that I’m complaining!).

We watched Behind the Attraction while we had our post-run breakfast then with no sign of the sunshine, I followed the same routine I had been before the heatwave started: Disney quiz on YouTube, some episodes of Cobra Kai and then a bath where I watched the other movie I needed to catch up on before listening to the podcast: Serendipity. I’m not sure how I had managed to miss seeing this one before, but it was a fairly classic rom-com and an enjoyable watch.

It was actually a bit nicer later on, so we took a drink out onto the decking and were there until it got dark and we realised it was time to go in to bed!

My Sunday run took me out to the woodland park I like as it had been a few weeks since I had been out that way. Much like my visit to the pond on the Friday, it was really good to run through there and have an awareness of the stream bubbling along beside me.

I stuck to 10 miles, which felt perfect for the day, then had a relaxing afternoon finishing up the final book in the series I had been catching up on. There’s another one due out in the autumn, so I’ll need to wait a bit to catch up with the characters again!

I may have been stuck in for much of the latter part of the week, but it was still a relaxing one, with my visits to the pond and the woodland park being highlights from my runs. Two more weeks of holiday to go and then back to the school routine again. Oh well!

Are there places you find calming that you like to run/walk to?
How has the weather been in your part of the world?