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?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 70

Hurrah! The weather improved again for this particular week so I was able to return to my sun lounger a fair bit. I didn’t read quite as much as the week before, but it was still good to get out first thing for my run, spend a relaxing day reading and soaking up the sun, then take my yoga mat outside. I could definitely get used to this!

Monday – 4.4 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 5.5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 10k + home yoga
Thursday – form drills + garden workout
Friday – 4.5 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Saturday – (not)parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 12.5 miles

Obviously my Monday run meant getting started with the weekly scavenger hunts I do. I got a little carried away with tracking a couple of things down and ended up running a tiny bit further than I planned. I felt good and was having fun so I could easily have stayed out there longer!

Although the weather had improved, I was unfortunately confined to indoor activities for the bulk of the day as we were FINALLY getting our decking laid in the back garden. We set the wheels in motion for this at the very start of May, but with shortages of materials and so many people getting work done right now (great for the contractors!) we had to wait a little longer than normal until we could get the work done.

Here’s a “before” picture of the space:

The frame for the decking was ready quite quickly, but preparing/levelling the ground and cutting the timber for the decking itself took up the bulk of the day.

Meanwhile I took care of some bits and pieces inside then went out for a walk before my yoga class (still on Zoom) as I was really needing some fresh air after a day mainly inside.

For my Tuesday run I went for a bit of an explore. I was aware of some roadworks on a route I often take and while I thought the pavements would be available, it wouldn’t be the most pleasant to run through. I wasn’t sure precisely where the road closure would be so decided just to make a decision about my route when I got to the area. But once there, I remembered about a lovely path that runs behind the houses. I explored it a bit when we first moved into our house, but don’t really use if for running since I prefer to be in more populated areas when I’m out early. This was the ideal chance to try it out.

I really enjoyed the path and found that it actually added about a quarter mile to my route by the time I rejoined the road I would normally take. I suspect I will use it more often now (but not when it’s early/dark).

While the work on the decking was finished off, I headed off into town on some errands, which included picking up a table to match our outdoor furniture so that we could enjoy eating on the finished decking. By the time I got back, it was done!

While I made my lunch, Steve took the new folding table out of the box and set it up beside the chairs and side table so I could have my lunch outside. It was so good to just sit out there without having to mess around with a tray or balancing things on my lap.

And since the weather was good, I got my sun lounger out, set it up on the decking and enjoyed an afternoon finishing up my book, having a cheeky nap and enjoying an ice cream cone.

Reading-wise, I was carrying on with my goal of catching up on the Scarpetta novels and this was the next one in the series.

We took the TRX into the garden for my workout, then I set myself up for a yoga session on the decking. Another thing that felt really good.

We even enjoyed our dinner outside. Eating on the decking really made it feel like a summer holiday.

The Wednesday morning was a bit overcast, but that made no difference as far as my run was concerned. I ended up running 10k whilst enjoying the latest Running for Real Together Run. This one began with the suggestion that we “touch nature”. I was right at my front door so put my hand into the grass for that immediate connection.

And then took a photograph of my surroundings later on:

The remainder of the day was very much the same as the previous day as the sun had returned: lunch outside, sun lounger, yoga, dinner outside. I’ll admit I could have done with the house being a bit cooler overnight (UK houses are designed to keep the heat IN and we don’t have AC so the best we can do is a fan) but I was loving being outside in the warm sunshine.

On the Thursday morning I headed out for another set of form drills, adding another rep to the session, It was humid, but I still enjoyed it.

After that, I spent the bulk of the day with my family. It was mum’s birthday so I walked up to deliver a card and gift, thinking I would maybe be there until lunchtime, but ended up staying quite a long time. Dad made us Arnold Palmers (iced tea with still lemonade, a staple when we are in Florida) then mum asked if I was staying for lunch. She was making a big salad which included lettuce and radish she had not yet picked from her flourishing garden, so I stayed and we sat out on mum and dad’s decking for a family meal. Another really lovely way to spend time.

By the time I went home there was really only time for one activity – workout or yoga – and I opted for a workout using the TRX in the garden before we ate our dinner on our own decking.

I was already having another day that felt holiday-esque, but there was further excitement when I got back from mum and dad’s to find my order from the Disney sale had arrived. My sister had actually ordered very shortly after me and hers had arrived first thing. I think hers was loaded up with the morning deliveries and mine was on the afternoon run! Steve had set the box on top of an old box the cats like to play in and it had immediately been claimed by Sooty!

It was actually after dinner before I was allowed access and could unpack my order:

As for the empty box, first it was inspected by both cats:

Then Sooty decided to settle down in it:

While Smokey, inexplicably, decided he wanted to lie on the paper packaging 🤷🏻‍♀️

Order unpacked, I finished up another book (the next in the Scarpetta series).

We stepped outside for some fresh air before bed and I was able to get a picture of the finished (for now) garden with all the solar lights on. It made me so happy to see it like this after waiting for so long. What I wanted was a space that is easy to use to go out and sit, which wasn’t the case before and I’m really pleased with it.

On the Friday morning I wasn’t sure where I wanted to run to, then Steve came in and told me the water level on the river was really low so I decided to go down there and see for myself (as soon as I removed Smokey from my shoe – anyone would think he didn’t want me to leave 😹)

The section on the left of the photo with all the stones running under the first arch is usually all underwater but at this point you could actually walk under that archway (Steve went back down later in the day and did so).

I went further along to the other side of the bridge where there are markings in the stone to indicate the height of flood waters in the past. In the picture below I’ve marked the height of the famous 1993 flood which was a big factor in the flood defences we have now. When you see how low the water level was as I stood there, it was strange to think about how high it has been in the past!

The morning remained overcast so I did some bits and pieces inside then headed out to read in the garden when the sun put in an appearance. I was able to have a workout with the TRX in the garden later on, but both yoga and dinner were inside this time (although we did take our Friday night beer out onto the decking later on as the weather improved a bit again).

And not to be outdone in the photo stakes by her brother, Sooty attempted to squeeze herself into the world’s smallest box. Seriously, cats are so weird sometimes!

The Saturday was another really relaxing day. Of course I started with a run, sandwiching a (not)parkrun into a warm up and cool down which added up to 6.5 miles. I was really pleased with the (not)parkrun section as I ended up with the fastest time I’ve recorded since March – clearly being better rested and including some form drills has made a difference! This was also the day that parkrun restarted in England and while we wait for confirmation of a restart date here in Scotland, it felt a lot better to know that I ran well on that particular day when I was a little envious of all those who were able to go to a parkrun again.

With the sun back we were able to have our post-run breakfast outside then spend the afternoon outside again, including having our dinner. I had come back from mum and dad’s on the Thursday with some rhubarb and normally Steve turns that into a rhubarb crumble, but it really wasn’t crumble weather. Instead, he experimented with making a rhubarb fool and it was delicious! Food just tastes so much better outside in the sunshine.

For my Sunday run I was in the mood for something different again. Steve described a route to me that would take me out to a newly developed “village” outside of town. It involved running via paths I was vaguely aware of but hadn’t used before, then after a loop around the new area I rejoined the riverside path for my return.

It was good to do something different as I can be bad for sticking to very similar routes. I’ll probably use variations of this one more often now.

It being Sunday, we had to head out for our weekly food shop but the weather remained good so we spent the rest of the afternoon outside on our sun loungers reading (and dined al fresco once more). After being stuck inside while the decking was built, I was really enjoying being a “proper grown up” with a deck and patio furniture haha! I even finished up another book while I was out there.

And with that, we wrapped up our week. It was looking like that was the last of the sunshine for a bit, but it was a great couple of weeks having a “back garden holiday” and I was feeling refreshed and rested as a result. Hoping for some more sunshine before school starts again in August 🤞.

What’s your favourite way to spend a hot sunny day?
When was the last time you tried running somewhere new to you?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 69

As you can see from my pictures, this was the week when the summer weather began to put in a proper appearance and I embarked on what can only be described as a “back garden holiday”. That basically meant that most days began with a run then by the afternoon I was firmly planted on my sun lounger in the back garden, ploughing through books and napping. I learned that I have long been mistaken in my belief that my tendency to snooze on my sun lounger when I would go to Florida (in what I now term “the olden days”)  was due to the time difference. Turns out it’s just good old-fashioned teacher exhaustion! I guess my body needs the chance to recharge in the sun. Maybe I’m solar powered… 🤔

Only a couple of workouts this week, but I loved running in the mornings when I could already tell it was going to be warm, and I particularly loved taking my yoga mat into the garden in the early evening for my home practice. Here’s how it looked overall:

Monday – 4 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 5 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 6 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Thursday – form drills + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + garden workout + home yoga
Saturday – (not)parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

The Monday began fairly overcast, but it was humid for my run which, as is now my habit, mainly consisted of scavenger hunting. Post-run I did have to nip out on a couple of errands so took the chance to pick up a free coffee with my Vitality points and I took it down to the river to enjoy.

Luckily the afternoon was a bit brighter (or, more specifically, bright enough) so I sat outside and basically read an entire book. This is a YA novel and while it appears to spoil the ending in the title, is a really enjoyable (and emotional!) read. I can highly recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had my Hatha yoga class in the evening which just added to the relaxation, then a fairly early night ahead of a change to routine on Tuesday.

That change was a super early alarm call. Steve had a flight voucher from a cancelled trip last year that he wanted to use, so he decided to go to London for the day to see his nephew. He’s currently car-less as he’s waiting for his new one to be ready, so I drove him to the airport and was back home before it was time for the kitties to have their breakfast!

I decided to have a cup of tea then take advantage of the early start to get out for my run super sharp. I was glad I made that decision as even pre-8am I could feel how warm the air was and was excited for a nice day reading in the garden.

I actually had another coffee voucher to use, so took a walk into town and even though it was still fairly early in the day, it felt much later to me after my early start so I chose the salted caramel and pistachio frappe crème again to kickstart my back garden holiday.

I was ROASTING when I got home and even though it was only about 10:30am, I got changed and set myself up to spend the rest of the day on my sun lounger. Basically, I was there for the bulk of the day (mainly napping) until a big cloud came over late afternoon when I went inside to tidy up a bit.

No chance of a workout without Steve, but I still did some yoga, had my dinner and watched a bit of tv until it was time to head back to the airport to pick him up again. He basically got the first flight down and last flight back, which gave him plenty of time to enjoy catching up with his nephew and some walking around parts of London he likes. He hadn’t eaten much since lunch so we treated ourselves to some chips on the way home then both of us were in need of an early night after such an early start!

The Wednesday was much more civilised, with some reading in bed before another humid run. This was the day I picked for my Together Run. As a reminder, this is a weekly episode of the Running for Real podcast which is a kind of community run, rather than an interview. I really love the format of it and find myself naturally responding to cues and participating in any segments such as strides that are included. It has become commonplace for there to be an instruction to take a photo at a given point so we can share our scenery and feel a bit more like we are all together. Such a great idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I actually needed to nip into town again and Steve was meeting a client so we got a coffee together afterwards and took it up to the seating area where the old dilapidated church used to be.

Then it was back home to my lounger to soak up some sun and finish another book. I’ve read some mixed reviews of this one but personally I really enjoyed this one and found the main cast of characters hilarious!

Later we took the TRX into the garden for a workout, then I collected my yoga mat for some outdoor yoga. Basically a day almost entirely outdoors until it was time to go in for dinner. Since eating outside wasn’t really convenient at this point, we made sure to head out for a walk again later on as we were just too warm inside and wanted to be outside. Getting some air before bed was ideal.

On the Thursday it was another form drills session, despite how warm it was! This was my second set of form drills at this point. My intention had been to do this once a week whilst off work, but I skipped them the previous week since it was so close to when I had my vaccine. With that in mind, I just added one rep to the set I had done two weeks before. The heat certainly added a challenge, but that just made it all the more satisfying to complete the set and feel strong.

My sister had asked me to help her a bit more with the photo digitising project, so not wanting to miss out on good weather I opted to go up in the morning and head home at lunchtime. That meant I could have my lunch in the garden then spend the afternoon on my sun lounger again (told you I was basically having a back garden holiday!). Not a cloud in the sky and I polished off another book – definitely a holiday/beach read and the sort of thing best enjoyed on a sun lounger somewhere warm. On this occasion, the back garden was good enough!

Like the previous day, this one culminated in garden yoga, dinner back inside then a walk with Steve before bed. Funny how we so easily drop into habits and routines!

The Friday was once again warm (I was loving it!) so I began with a rather toasty run before basically having another outside day. I had my coffee in the garden, ate my lunch in the garden, did my evening yoga in the garden, and between all of that divided my time between reading another book and napping. My book of the day was this one which I ordered after enjoying The Guest List the week before. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like it as much since it took a similar approach in the narrative style, but once again I was gripped in trying to figure out which of the characters met their end and which of the others was responsible. Another good one for a “holiday” type read.

Since it was so nice, we headed back into the garden after dinner to enjoy our Friday evening beer as the sun set. So nice.

The Saturday, of course, meant a (not)parkrun. It was pretty toasty but I still wanted to sandwich my (not)parkrun between a warm up and cool down so I could clock 10k for the day.

Since it was so nice we probably had our most outdoorsy day yet. Pretty much as soon as I was changed from my run I was back in the garden for my bacon roll, and I was out there for the rest of the day including lunch and dinner (which involved the use of a tray so we could stay outside and eat!).

For those keeping track, I finished my FIFTH book of the week!! I started reading this series in the late 90s, but fell behind some time ago so this marked the start of my new project to catch up and get up to date with the adventures of Dr Scarpetta. It felt really good to reconnect with familiar characters. The sort of book you could probably read as a standalone, but which works far better if you’ve read the preceding ones.

Having enjoyed our dinner al fresco, we rounded off our day with a glass of wine in the garden until the light began to disappear. So perfect.

And finally it was Sunday. The sun was taking a bit of a break for the day but it was still warm despite the clouds. Having enjoyed my run along the riverside to see the murals the previous Sunday, I decided to repeat the route. Pleasingly I ended up running a bit faster since it was much less humid and I enjoyed following the river for a bit again.

Since the sun was in hiding, we were inside for the rest of the day (after getting our food shopping) so we took the chance to finish up the tv programme we had been watching (Lie With Me – it was very good) while Smokey curled up on my lap. I think he was miffed that I had been outside so much and away from him! Then when I had my evening bath I watched the series finale of Loki. Wow! I’ve seen some people online say they enjoyed it more than WandaVision and I can totally see why. I think WandaVision might just edge it for me still since I loved the themed episodes, but I’m already looking forward to the second series of Loki which has now been confirmed.

So there you go. A week that mostly consisted of running, reading and generally being outside enjoying the sunshine. I had my fingers firmly crossed that the sun would return.

How do you feel about running in warm weather?
Do you enjoy relaxing in the sun or would you rather be active?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 68

This was the second full week of the holidays and I had most definitely engaged holiday mode! It used to take me a bit longer to settle into being away from work and not having lots going on, moving at a million miles an hour all the time, but this time I found it very easy to get into a more relaxed headspace. As you can see, the streak continued (with slightly altered distances), yoga continued and I managed to fit in a couple of workouts:

Monday – 4 miles + living room workout + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 5.5 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 4 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + home yoga
Saturday – (not)parkrun + SUP yoga
Sunday – 10 miles

The week began with some fairly miserable weather. It was disappointing not to have sunshine, but I didn’t mind having an easy day. I began by finishing up my book. I picked this one as my July choice for “reading the months of the year” and although I’ve not previously read anything by this author, I enjoyed it and will probably try some others at some point.

The indulgence of a cooked breakfast the day before meant I felt a little sluggish for my run, but Monday is always a recovery run so it didn’t really matter. I was getting started with my scavenger hunt and with no pressure to do anything else, even a rainy run felt really good.

Since I was confined to quarters by the rain, I took the chance to tidy up some bits and pieces around the house then had a relaxing afternoon watching Cobra Kai – so much so, that I got “Netflix shamed” with the still watching? message. Oops!

To counteract that, I had a workout in the living room before doing some yoga, then later in the evening Steve and I headed out for a quick walk to get some fresh air. We ended up being followed by a particularly infamous cat from our area – he’s some boy who gets up to all sorts! Apologies for the blurry picture – I was taking it quickly as I walked.

I had hoped for improved weather on the Tuesday but sadly it wasn’t to be. I read in bed for a bit then headed out to run. I had chosen the latest Together Run podcast from Running for Real and was also in the mood to switch up my route a bit so I headed off with a rough idea of where I might go, but to be honest I was just seeing where my feet took me. I ended up running by the harbour and it was not at its most “fragrant” on this occasion!

Post-run I did a little tidying up and at one point realised I couldn’t find Smokey. It happens from time to time as one or other of the kitties finds a new hiding spot (there’s no way for them to get out of the house) and I eventually tracked him down:

For clarity, this shoe box is behind a chair in a spare room and is still occupied by a pair of shoes, but he was determined to try and squeeze in. Cats are so weird sometimes 😹

After lunch I had a Very Important Appointment: my second Covid vaccine.

It was so good to know that I was fully vaccinated (or would be a few days later) and even better that it was sooner than expected after the gap between doses was reduced from 12 weeks to 8. Compared to the first dose, i had almost no side effects. I did feel tired that night (at a level I just would not have noticed during term time but was aware of it because I was off and therefore better rested) and deliberately kept my running pace easy for the next couple of days to make sure and not overtax my body. Other than that, just the standard sore arm at the vaccination site for a couple of days. Nothing unusual there since that’s the same as I get when I have a flu jab.

Steve was going into town to get a coffee and I decided to join him. I had the car since I had a couple of errands planned as well, so I got parked and went to meet him.

I still prefer takeaway to sitting in, but seconds after taking this the heavens opened and we experienced the sort of rain I would normally expect in Florida at this time of year. If you’ve ever visited the Sunshine State in the summer, you know exactly what I mean. We took shelter under the doorway of the shop you can see in the background and waited it out until things eased. Eventually, we decided it was time to make a break for it. Steve had his bike and I was on foot (without an umbrella – doh!) and I hadn’t gone far before the rain returned at full force. I was quite a sight by the time I got back to the car!

I decided to abandon my errands until another day and just got home to change.

The rest of the day was pretty chilled. I didn’t want a workout while my arm was sore, so stuck to a little light yoga and an evening in front of the tv. Smokey was pretty interested in watching the football!

Having had my vaccine I made sure to take things pretty easy on the Wednesday: I read for a bit in bed then had a short run at an easy pace. Similar to my first dose, I don’t think my body would have responded well to any more effort but that was fine. I then made it a tv day. First, I caught up on a couple of episodes of Loki (which I really enjoyed) then finished the second series of Cobra Kai (which had quite the dramatic ending!).After that I read for a bit but that actually made me feel sleepy (perhaps a further effect of the vaccine; perhaps my continued recovery from the school year) so I had a short nap and felt much better afterwards. No workout again as my arm was still sore, but I did do some yoga and had a relaxing evening watching football again. I suspect that quiet, easy day was just what I needed – and apparently the kitties needed it too. I found Smokey getting up close and personal with my Minnie Mouse cushion and it looks like she’s whispering in his ear!

After a restful day I was ready to be a bit more productive on the Thursday. First, I finished up my book. I do like a thriller and I liked the narrative style of this one as you know from the start that a body has been found but the narrators and time points shift so it’s only right at the end that you know which character has been killed, who by and why (and almost every character has motive/opportunity).

I kept the pace easy for my run as not only was I conscious of my recent vaccine, it was also quite humid and that makes running feel much tougher. I stopped to look at some decorated stones I haven’t looked at in a while and noticed one I don’t remember seeing before which made me smile:

After lunch I took care of those errands I had abandoned after my soaking on the Tuesday, and since I had a voucher for a free coffee to use up, I nipped into town to grab a drink. I actually decided to try one of their more frozen-style drinks and it was really good. This was the salted caramel and pistachio frappe creme and will likely be my drink of the summer!

Meanwhile, Smokey worked on his audition for the “cats and books calendar” (a real calendar – I got the 2021 version in a secret Santa gift!).

My arm was feeling much better so I had a workout with the resistance band and some press ups before doing my usual yoga session. Then it was an evening of tv and a bit more reading.

The Friday morning was still humid but I noticed that I felt MUCH better on my run so there must have been a minor effect of the vaccine at play in the previous couple of days. I then spent some time sorting out a few odds and ends around the house while catching up on some podcasts.

After lunch I got on with something a little different. Since last year I have been keen to go back to some of our old photos from family holidays to Florida. We’re talking about trips in the 90s (which I still think was fairly recently haha!), so before digital photography. I had a few pictures from the basic film cameras I had (often blurry/covered with my thumb or in serious need of some zooming in to make sense!) but I knew that my parents had loads of photos. My sister also wanted to go through and digitise all my parents’ photo albums (to keep the images safe and backed up) so I went to spend the afternoon with her and help form a kind of production line as it involved removing photos from albums, keeping them in order while we scanned them and then returning them to the right spot. Working together we got loads done and it was such fun looking back at photos I haven’t looked at in ages and remembering the moments.

I arrived home in time for dinner. We had fancied having steak for a change and Steve made chips to go with it – delicious!

I was up early again on the Saturday to fit in a quick (not)parkrun before a SUP yoga session. It was kind of soggy so I was glad not to be running any more than 5k. I actually kept my cap on for the SUP session. I had a wetsuit so wasn’t bothered about getting wet, but I knew I would appreciate keeping the rain off my face. As it turned out, we were lucky and it stayed dry for our session.

Sadly the weather didn’t improve so I was inside for the afternoon. I worked on a playlist I wanted to change, did the weekly Disney quiz I like on YouTube then watched Arthur Christmas so I could listen to the Christmas movie podcast episode discussing it. I actually hadn’t seen it before and really enjoyed it.

After that I needed some air so took a walk before heading off for a bath. Meanwhile Steve worked on dinner, He always makes pizza on a Saturday night and back when he was a pizza chef one of his favourites was a bolognese pizza. He doesn’t often make it now but for some reason we had both thought of it and fancied having one. It was yummy!

For my Sunday run I was keen to go somewhere a bit different. Steve had shown me photos of some new murals on the supports of the bridge taking the A9 over the river. I knew I could see them by running out the riverside path, so decided to run an out-and-back course (unusual for me as I usually prefer a loop). I shared some of the murals on social media, but there are 16 in total and getting all of them involved crossing over the footbridge so I would be able to see them all:

My favourites are the ones of birds and animals. So impressive up close so I’m glad I decided to head out that way, especially since it was super humid and running by the river felt very warm.

Of course we had to head out to get our food shopping, but the rest of the day was nice and relaxed so I finished up another book. This one dealt with some quite disturbing subjects, but was balanced with some beautiful descriptions of scenery.

And for a final check-in with how the kitties spent their time, I found them cuddled up together (despite it being pretty warm). It was like a two-headed cat!

Then just like that, another week drew to a close. An exciting one since I now had both doses of the vaccine and while I will continue to be cautious, it’s good to know I have more protection against the virus.

If you’ve had the vaccine, how did your body react?
Have you explored anywhere new recently?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 67

Carrying on with my blog catchup, this was the first full week of my summer holidays and I made sure to use it as a chance to really recover from the demands of the year. That said, I also took advantage of the opportunity to stretch my midweek run distances a tiny bit since I was under no pressure to be anywhere. I do enjoy just heading out the door and running around knowing it doesn’t really matter how long I am! No workouts this week, but plenty of yoga.

Monday – 4.1 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 5 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 6 miles + home yoga
Thursday – form drills + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + home yoga
Saturday – (not)parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

It being the first Monday of the holidays (no alarm!) I made sure to have a fairly easy day to ensure my mind and body were getting the message to slow down and relax. First I finished up my book in bed. Absolutely loved this one and its heartwarming story:

My run included the weekly scavenger hunt and I really enjoyed having the time and space to simply run around going to places I thought I might find items, without worrying about being home late. I just felt so much better (and freer!) and took a side trip to see this view:

For much of the rest of the day I pottered around, finished watching The Crown (hurry up and get the next series ready!), started another book and had a walk with Steve before my evening yoga class. So good to hit the mat without that lingering tiredness from a busy work day. Smokey also enjoyed the chance to relax and snooze on my lap – in his happy place!

I began Tuesday reading a bit of my book before heading off for my run. Again I wanted to do something a little different so spent some time in the gardens by the river enjoying some of the scenery. I have run by here often during the school term but not had time to stop and take it all in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also spotted this. Not sure if it should make me laugh or be slightly concerned I’m about to be chases by dinos 😂

Once I was ready I took a walk into town to meet Steve and pick up a takeaway coffee (not ready to sit in yet!). We went to sit somewhere different I had been keen to see. This old church building has been closed for over 30 years and had become derelict. It needed work to make it safe and the result maintains the exterior of the listed building whilst opening up a lovely space for outdoor performances/art installations or simply a nice place to sit and chat (or have a coffee!). We enjoyed our coffees there and it was great to see a number of people passing through to check it out as it had only opened up recently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch I spent the afternoon reading in the garden and finished up another book. This one is a classic “summer holiday read” being a fast-paced thriller. The sort of thing best suited to a sun lounger somewhere warm, but for 2021 the back garden will do!

Meanwhile, the kitties were no doubt starting to feel a little warm so went off to nap in peace. I found Smokey like this 😹

The Wednesday weather was also looking good so after a gentle start (reading my book in bed) and a run that felt pretty darn good after a few restful days, I did a little tidying up around the house then installed myself on my sun lounger for the afternoon to read and nap. It was so nice that when it came to yoga time I got myself all set up in the garden (ignore the “wilderness” behind me, this is the area we’re going to dig up to put in some decking so Steve hasn’t been cutting the grass there!).

For my Thursday run I decided it was time to re-introduce some form drills to my routine. I had kind of known for a while that I was in need of this as I felt like I was shuffling around a bit, but it was the last thing I wanted to do as the school year drew to a close. To get started, Steve suggested 4x500m drills with 40 seconds recovery, so after reminding myself of how to set this up on my watch, I headed out.

It was sunny and it actually felt good to be doing some drills again as part of my run. But with my main activity for the day done, it was time to get my sun cream on and hit the sun lounger to finish up another book in the sunshine. This one was pretty powerful and I definitely recommend it.

It was nice enough for me to set myself up in the garden again for my yoga (still experimenting with the best positioning for my mat).

We had been spending our evenings continuing to watch episodes of Long Way Up and this was no exception, however this was also the day that fireworks returned to the US Disney parks and I finished my day by watching a recording of the cast preview of the fireworks in the Magic Kingdom in Florida. Fairly unsurprisingly, it made me emotional watching the reaction of those present. Disney tears again for me!

When it came to my Friday run, something weird happened with my watch. For some reason, it decided to add a random quarter mile so when it bleeped for my first mile, I had only run about 3/4 of a mile. After that each mile was accurate, but it did make it look like I had been remarkably speedy at the start!

I spent the rest of the morning pottering around the house listening to podcasts and reading vlogs, then it was another afternoon spent reading in the garden. I did, however, go for a walk later on as I felt like I needed to stretch my legs a bit and I included a path I haven’t been on recently. I had forgotten this structure that I assume has something to do with the burn (small stream for my non-Scottish readers) that runs through here.

It was nice enough for yoga in the garden then, although at this point I had a sneaking suspicion the good weather was about to change. At least I got a solid few days of enjoying being out in the sun.

Our day ended with another evening of watching the football, then off to bed.

On the Saturday I was back to my usual (not)parkrun sandwich and it was a pretty humid morning. Sadly the humidity was not accompanied by sunshine so it was an indoors kind of day doing a Disney quiz on YouTube, getting started on series 2 of Cobra Kai (love it!) and finishing up yet another book. Another good read set in a small town in the post-war years and heavily influenced by the author’s childhood reading.

For the Sunday morning we had something a little different planned, Of course, we were still going for a run (so humid I needed my shower to help me dry off!), but rather than our usual soup for lunch, we wanted to give a nod to what we might have done had we been able to travel to the US this summer. Why? Because this was a special day for my American friends:

Ok, Independence Day. I even wore an appropriately themed top for my run:

Had we been able to have our “normal” trip, we would likely have gone somewhere like Ihop for a cooked breakfast, so we decided to make our own (with a Scottish twist – black pudding and baked beans, plus the sausages from the butcher were Irn Bru and chilli flavoured. Sounds weird but they were really good!).

It was VERY filling and having “only” run 8 miles I couldn’t finish mine, but I’m glad we took the chance to have something that we don’t usually have.

To be honest, feeling really full meant that neither of us wanted to do much else. We got our food shopping done then spent the afternoon in a fairly lazy fashion watching tv, reading and having a nap. Sometimes it’s just what the body needs.

And with that, the first week of my holidays drew to a close. I may not have done much of note, but taking the chance to recharge was the best thing I could do for my mind and body at this point, and I was grateful that the sun came out for some of those days since I really do think that helps me to recharge.

Do you include speedwork and/or hill sessions in your weekly routine?
Do you often have a cooked breakfast?