Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 85

Ah the seasonal shift from Halloween to Christmas. Days are getting shorter, the sparkle of Strictly is in full swing and I’m starting to eye my festive running attire! Ok, so there are still a few weeks to go yet, but right now I’m in need of something to look forward to as work is feeling pretty tiring. The good news is that my hip issue seems to be gone and I’m back in the swing of my usual running distances again. Here’s my week:

Monday – 4 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 4.5 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Thursday – 4.2 miles
Friday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

After successfully running a little further each morning the week before (in comparison to the two previous weeks to that) I felt happy to up things a little bit again this week, starting with my usual 4 mile easy run on the Monday morning. With the clocks changing it was still dark (I had hoped I might just sneak a little hint of daylight at the end) and the weather is definitely getting cooler. Still in shorts, but a lightweight long sleeved top rather than a T-shirt was much better. Oh, and I ran through town where I noticed that the Christmas lights are going up now – hurrah! Of course there was still plenty of Halloween decor too, including at the Sir Walter Scott statue.

Basically, we were here:

I had a couple of things to sort out at the end of the day so only had a short time to myself when I got home from work before settling down for my yoga class. After having a week off the class the previous week it was very welcome.

If anything, the Tuesday morning actually felt a bit cooler. I still had one more Together Run to catch up with (plus this week’s episode) so that was my company for the run. Tina was talking about how this is “our” weekly run together, albeit in a remote format, and I was reflecting on how nice it has been to have TWO runs with her in the week while I caught up!

Steve was heading out to a client when I arrived home so I got changed and organised then did a really relaxing yoga video (I was feeling pretty tired!). I even had time for a little tidying up afterwards before it was time to eat.

As it turned out, my grand plan to return to more “normal” mileage this week hit a speed bump: I was REALLY tired. It was just one of those weeks where there was lots of stuff going on that was mentally taxing and I was feeling the impact of it. This meant that I woke up on Wednesday morning still feeling really tired so I gave myself slightly longer to rest, which had the knock-on effect of reducing the time I had available to run. 4 miles rather than my planned 5 it was. At least the sky was beautiful:

I don’t think I ever really shook off the tiredness through the entire day so headed home reasonably sharp since I wasn’t achieving anything at my desk. Steve took me through a workout with the resistance band, then I did some yoga as normal before relaxing for the evening and making sure to get an early night.

At least I had a bit of cheer when my Disney Halloween sale order arrived. It may have been after Halloween, but I saved more than I paid, so worthwhile picking up a couple of items I had my eye on while I had that chance.

I did feel better on Thursday morning, but to make sure I still got up a little later and knocked around a quarter mile off my running route by running by the river (rather than looping around the bridges). This still let me see my favourite view but without making me late.

But for various reasons I was feeling pretty fed up when I arrived home and when Steve headed out to a client he instructed me to put my feet up and relax. So I got changed, made a cup of tea and caught up on a tv programme. It was really nice to stop and just be still for a while.

On the plus side, this arrived:

And Steve conducted another sticky toffee pudding experiment. He’s determined to hit on the PERFECT combination of sponge and sauce!

This “night off” was clearly exactly the right thing to do as I felt so much better on Friday morning: my mind felt less tired and my body felt stronger on my run. For the first time in days I felt good on my run and ready for the day ahead.

I needed to stay at work a little later so there was only time for a very quick workout when I got home. Steve made sure to still work me hard with a variety of press ups so my poor arms and abs were really feeling it! Thankfully Adriene had my back with a restful yoga video to follow it.

We spent the evening catching up on a couple of tv programmes then I spotted a Facebook post announcing that the Disneyland Paris fireworks (which have not yet returned since the Covid park closures) had been added to Disney+. Having spent the evening listening to back garden firework displays for Bonfire Night, it was good to watch what I would consider a “proper” display – co-ordinated to music and so on. It might not be my beloved Happily Ever After display from Walt Disney World, but still enjoyable to watch.

After a good sleep we were awoken by Smokey when the appointed hour for his breakfast arrived (honestly, how to pets know how to tell the time???). Steve went to feed the kitties and came back with a cup of tea for me so I enjoyed that whilst reading in bed for a bit before it was ready to get changed for parkrun. The forecast suggested some rain and I could hear a pretty strong wind outside so dressed for rain and adjusted my expectations to account for the wind.

I got a little held up at the start of the run but once I had some space was able to stretch my legs a bit and pass some people. I ended up only a few seconds slower than the week before, which feels fairly consistent (and that week we were on our all paved alternative course) at a time of year where the weather really starts to affect times. I’m happy with that. I’m most happy, however, with the fact that we had a photographer and for once I was actually paying attention and got a reasonable picture rather than a gurning mess 😂

There was also a really lovely parkrun moment. When the team was setting up, a couple approached them to find out what was happening. It turned out they were visiting from Salt Lake City and they asked if they could help out. To be clear, these were not parkrunners. They had never taken part in an event before and I’m not sure if they were even aware of parkrun. But nevertheless they donned the pink volunteer vests and helped out at the finish. It was so nice to come into the finish funnel and hear a friendly, enthusiastic American voice telling me, “good job!” and noticing that I was still smiling. I know they won’t see this, but thank you to that couple for joining us. One of the really lovely things about parkrun is how it connects people together in new ways.

With my token scanned I actually went over to help out with a bit of scanning myself as we were running on a minimal number of volunteers this time. I tend to finish at the time when the numbers build up a bit, so a few minutes of scanning helps to keep things moving quickly. I like to do this as it means I can run and also find a useful way to help out.

Steve was also scanning and when we were done he got set up to take a photo. After all those times he ducked into my post-workout selfie, it was my turn to infiltrate 😂

The rest of Saturday was restful. I watched some tv, had a bath and enjoyed another week of Strictly Come Dancing.

Sunday began in suitably relaxing fashion with some reading in bed (I’ve been struggling for reading time during the work week so appreciate this time at the weekend) before getting ready to run.

Yet again, I wasn’t entirely sure how far I would go but figured I could go to at least 8 miles (I’ve still been building up again after that niggly hip issue a couple of weeks ago). I headed out of town and had a lovely time visiting a pond I was aware of but had never stopped at before. There were so many ducks and a family of swans.

I then ran through the woodland park and noticed the autumn leaves carpeting the ground.

In the afternoon I had an eye test booked so Steve went for a coffee while I was there and I went round to meet him and pick up my free coffee with my Vitality voucher. Our route back to the car took us by the river just as it was getting dark and the bridge lights were coming on, and we both liked seeing it at this time of day.

And with that, the week was done. I got organised for the working week, had a bath and got to bed to try and get a good rest.

Halloween or Christmas?
Where are you enjoying running just now?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 84

And just like that, the October break was over and we were back to school. With everything the past couple of years has thrown at us it never feels like any break is long enough right now (and I say that knowing how fortunate we are in the amount of holiday time we have) and I know there is a busy term ahead. I’m going to have to work hard to continue fitting in my workouts and evening yoga as the temptation will be there to come home and do nothing else. Things started reasonably well:

Monday – 3.5 miles + home yoga
Tuesday – 4.5 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Thursday – 4.5 miles + home yoga
Friday – 4 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10k

Unsurprisingly, the early alarm call was a bit of a shock to the system but I had remembered to lay my kit out the night before to make it easier to get out the door quickly. I knew I wanted to have a more “normal” week of running, but also didn’t want to launch right back into a 40 mile week after a couple of lower mileage weeks (and minor hip issue) so made a plan to keep each run just slightly shorter than previous weeks. For this day, 3.5 miles was perfect and everything felt good.

Work was fine and it was good to catch up with my colleagues. Still a lot ahead this term though. When I arrived home Steve was heading out to see a client so I got myself sorted out and did a little yoga before catching up on a couple of things.

Funnily enough, returning to work meant I slept well that night and actually felt reasonably fresh on the Tuesday morning. What with my time away then taking it easy on my hip, I had fallen behind with my Together Run podcast episodes so wanted to catch up a bit. I’m really noticing how dark it is in the morning now, but in this episode we focused on gratitude and I realised that I am grateful to be able to get out and run each morning. I may feel a little differently when the weather really begins to bite, but right now I’m still out there in shorts and T-shirt most of the time.

It was a fairly busy day (aren’t they all?) and Steve was just heading out to see a client when I arrived home. I got organised and enjoyed a yoga video before getting dinner organised.

On Wednesday morning it was actually fairly mild for the time of year. I got dressed in my shorts and T-shirt and headed out to cover 5 miles. I must admit, I didn’t feel like there was much in the way of available pace in my legs, but I know from experience that this is pretty typical of returning to early runs after a break so I’m not too bothered by it. It’s more important to me to get the mental health benefits of running right now rather than being able to run fast and having a couple of weeks of lower mileage is making me appreciate being able to run a bit further/longer again.

Somehow I got caught up in a task at work and ended up leaving a bit later than I had meant to. It was a pretty miserable evening, but Steve was ready to “brighten” things up with a workout using the resistance band. I’m very much aware that I’ve not had so many workouts lately and there were points when my poor arm muscles were burning (I’m talking to you, triceps!). I made sure that my yoga video afterwards was not one that would involve too much weight bearing through my weary arms!

When I went to bed on Wednesday night I had expected a dry morning, but waking up on Thursday it soon became apparent that this had changed. I quickly grabbed my hat and gilet to add to my kit before heading off into the rain for another Together Run. I had planned to run down to the river to loop around the bridges and although I didn’t expect the greatest view, I stuck to my plan and was pleasantly surprised to find a reasonable view after all.

From there, I was flung into what is always my busiest work day of the week and there were one or two additional challenges this week which caused me to wonder if it was a full moon! Thankfully I was able to get away fairly sharp to get back for an appointment, but I was definitely pleased to hit my yoga mat for a quick practice when I got home. Even better, Steve experimented with a new approach to sticky toffee pudding. It’s my favourite dessert so I was more than happy to do some extensive taste testing haha!

I also had to pull together a last-minute outfit for Halloween dress up day at school the following day. It’s been planned since before the holidays, but there hadn’t been much chat about it amongst the staff until the Thursday and a few of us decided to at least give a nod to it in our Friday outfits. Funnily enough, I was fairly quickly able to rustle up a Disney-inspired number 😂

But before that, the small matter of a Friday morning run. The weather was better but with a chance of rain and I was glad I opted for my hat when there was a brief shower right when I set off. By the end of the run it felt like something had clicked into place and that “back to early running” sluggishness wasn’t so noticeable. Shame it waited until the end of the last early run of the week!

And then time to don my outfit and head to school. I quite enjoyed wearing it and everyone knew EXACTLY who I was!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anything involving non-uniform tends to cause a bit of restlessness in pupils so it was an interesting day, but once home there was another workout on the cards with the resistance band and some push ups on my weary arms. Then a little yoga before settling down for a relaxing evening catching up with some tv.

The Saturday was, of course, parkrun day. There had been a lot of rain so I was mulling over which shoes would be best when Steve let me know that there was some flooding on the course (ironically, the section that caused us to be on the alternative course prior to the Covid pause while the council conducted some drainage works was absolutely fine – the flooding was elsewhere in a low-lying section) so we were using our alternative course of two and a bit laps around the park.

But before setting off I finished up my book. This was one I was reading as part of the little social book group I’m in at work (inspired by Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club books I’m now referring to us as “The Thursday Book and Cake Club”!). I can highly recommend this one. It was written as a kind of chronicle of the 20th Century, but through the medium of fictional journals. The main character, who in many ways is not all that likeable, particularly in his youth, encounters so many important figures from the century – Iain Fleming, Pablo Picasso, Virginia Woolf and the Duke & Duchess of Windsor to name a few – that it is a fascinating read. Many parts are set abroad, including my beloved Paris, and all of this conspired to make me really love this book If you haven’t read it, add it to your list now!

And then, to parkrun. I probably ran down a little too quickly as I left slightly later than planned and definitely felt it during the run. Being on a completely paved route does tend to make me try to go a bit faster as there’s no grass or mud to slow things down and I was happy to come in around 24:13. Numbers were down, no doubt because of the poor weather and a lot of people would have assumed we would be running our normal route which includes a grass section, but that’s probably just as well when we were contained within the main park and more likely to meet other park users.

After my morning efforts I was glad of an easy afternoon, bath and evening of Strictly – what an A-MA-ZING Halloween special!

On Sunday morning the weather was pretty miserable again. I headed out for my run with no real plan of how much I wanted to do, but it soon became apparent that it was going to be about how long I was prepared to be soaking wet (and have cold hands). I was distracted by some things I had to do in the afternoon and just couldn’t get my head into the run. Perhaps if the weather had been nicer it would have made a difference, but I ended up deciding to finish after 10k. I was soaked through and pleased to find that Steve had left my dressing gown hanging on a hook by the front door so I could get out of my wet kit as soon as I got inside. You could have wrung it out and I think I was drier coming out of the shower than when I went in!

Once dried and fed we headed out to the car showroom. My current agreement was due to end soon and I needed to make arrangements for the next step – leaving it would be an expensive mistake as they would take a sizeable final payment from me! There’s a huge delay on new cars right now but I have a new one ordered, the payment schedule sorted out so I don’t have an unpleasant surprise and my current car booked in for its service/MOT since the delay means I’m hanging on to it about 6 months longer than planned. I hate having things like this taking up big chunks of my weekend, but I’m glad it’s all sorted now as it was stressing me out a bit.

After that (and getting the food shop done) I was able to relax a bit. I found a fun Disney filter on Instagram which made you look like one of the singing busts in The Haunted Mansion so gave it a go. Basically it was further confirmation (as if I needed it) of how much I look like my dad 😂

I was pleased to get to my bed that night after a busy day. I’m getting the sneaky suspicion that the next few weeks as we head towards Christmas could get pretty hectic!

If you had a Halloween costume this year, what was it?
Is the changing weather affecting your running?

Back To The Magic!

Last year my sister and I were fortunate amidst a sea of cancelled plans to be able to take one of our planned trips to Disneyland Paris, and when sharing details of the trip I included the above image. Little was I to know at that time that we would have another extended period of Lockdown in Scotland (including a return to working from home and the new skill of teaching live lessons online) that would put paid to much in the way of advance planning for 2021. The bite-sized Disney fix of the Magic at Sea cruise (you can read about that here, here and here) certainly helped me to feel better, but it also whetted my appetite for a more sustained dose of pixie dust. With the rules around travel and testing easing a little bit, we were able to make a pretty last-minute decision to visit Disneyland Paris for a few days at the beginning of my October break from school. As it turns out, it was just what I needed and the sentiment in the above picture remains very much true!

I mentioned a few trip highlights in a recent Week in Review post, but I wanted to take the time to share some more of the details – including the Covid-related measures in place at the time of my trip – and share some photos. If you love Disney then this is the post for you (and if not, I won’t hold it against you if you skip this one!)

At the time of writing only fully vaccinated travellers are allowed to enter France, so our vaccination status was checked at the airport before boarding our flight. It was also checked at passport control once we landed in France. To be honest, it was the removal of the need for a test before returning home and the strict rules around vaccination status that made me feel comfortable to take this trip. We both downloaded the French app Tous Anti Covid, which we were able to use with our NHS Scotland QR code from our vaccination records. Although we could have used paper copies (and no doubt our Scottish Covid Status app) this made everything much easier once in France as the vaccination status was verified at the security check points to enter Disney, at our hotel and at the airport again before boarding our flight back, so having it readily available on our phones meant much less rummaging around for papers.  Entry to so many places in France (including public transport, so there were spot checks on the TGV) required a Pass Sanitaire (Health Pass), which basically means you have a QR code proving full vaccination (or, in the case of those not old enough to have been fully vaccinated, proof of a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old). This meant I felt comfortable being around lots of people – more so than at work since I knew that everybody had a valid Health Pass, had a mask on and a degree of social distancing was still in operation. (You can read more about the current health and safety measures at Disneyland Paris here.)

Beyond the Health Pass, capacity at the Disney parks is still reduced so a reservation continues to be required in addition to your park ticket. My sister still has the world’s longest-lasting Annual Pass (time was added on to make up for the periods of park closure) so she had booked her slots and reserved Privilege Tickets for me. These are 1 day, 2 park tickets at a significantly reduced rate which are associated with an Annual Pass and must be collected and paid for on the day they are reserved for. It meant a brief queue each day to get my tickets, but it was worth it for the price and the fact that it also allowed me to join my sister in entering the parks early for Extra Magic Hours. I will get an Annual Pass of my own when the time is right since that was my plan in 2020, but with such a late decision to go the Privilege Tickets were the best option this time.

We were through the turnstiles and in the main park around midday, which was about what we expected. With the early start and travelling we hadn’t really eaten so knew we should make our way towards our chosen lunch venue (Cafe Hyperion in Discoveryland), but also knew that it might take a bit of time as we would inevitably take lots of photos along the way (and something about seeing the castle and hearing that Main Street music always means I need to pause for a little Disney cry!). Basically we needed food, but we also needed a moment to take in the surroundings of this special place which was all decked out for Halloween.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we made it over to Cafe Hyperion (a big enough space that we could feel comfortable eating indoors) we found that each restaurant had a QR code to scan which added that location to our Tous Anti Covid app – a but like scanning in/out of venues at home for Test and Trace. If you aren’t using the app, I believe you can simply right down your details much as you would here. Menus were also available via QR code, displayed inside and were in the Disneyland Paris app. We both opted for the Wickedly Delicious Menu (a burger with red cabbage pickles, rocket, tomato and a barbecue sauce all served on a darker bun, fries, a drink and a Wickedly Sweet Apple dessert – an apple mousse with stewed apple filling). It was pretty good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also noticed that each table had a large pump bottle of hand sanitiser on it, and we found this to be true of everywhere we ate during our trip (there were still sanitiser stations around each attraction too). And interestingly, the disposable cutlery has been changed from plastic to wooden in a bid to reduce single use plastics.

Stomachs satisfied, we headed off to see how many attractions we could fit in, starting with nearby Mickey’s Philharmagic. I love this 4D show anyway, but a new scene has recently been added which features Coco and I was keen to see it. The colours were so vibrant and I really liked it. I wish we could have found time to fit in a second viewing. Next time!

We also checked off Buzz Lightyear (“broken” gun for me as usual 😂), Snow White, It’s a Small World, Le Pays de Contes de Fées, Casey Jr, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

On our travels we managed to see one of the cavalcades and I was really pleased that it was the one with the fire-breathing Maleficent dragon.

And we visited some of the selfie spots – the Princess Pavilion (currently a photo op with the red throne), the villains by the castle stage and we spotted Mr Smee as we came out of Pirates of the Caribbean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But by far the best was Jack Skellington who was meeting guests over by the Phantom Manor. Such an amazing interaction with him – “horrible” to meet you too, Jack!

Throughout our trip we also used the Photopass service (my sister added that to her AP) which is still being done in a contactless fashion with guests setting their pass on a stand to be scanned. The difference this year is that at designated outdoor photo spots you may now remove your mask once in position for your photo (and distanced from others) so you will see me maskless in some outdoor photos (although usually I had to be reminded by cast members that this was ok to do!). The Photopass also allowed us to claim our ride photos. Last year if anyone in the picture was maskless then nobody was allowed it, but this year they were digitally adding masks to those who had removed them (tut tut!), so those of us sticking to the rules didn’t miss out on photos. We knew there were a number of Photopass Magic Shots for Halloween so made sure to get all the ones that were available during our visit.

For dinner we went to one of my sister’s favourite spots, Fuente del Oro in Frontierland, where we got a beef burrito, drink and some churros with Nutella. Yum!

It was then time to ride Phantom Manor (the Disneyland Paris version of the Haunted Mansion from the American parks) which is one of my favourites. And since I was wearing my Haunted Mansion ears (yes, I brought a couple of pairs from home this time!) I needed a quick photoshoot outside of the manor afterwards.

By this time we were ready to have a look in the shops on Main Street, say goodnight to Mickey and Minnie who were above us on the train station and head off to find the free shuttle bus to our hotel.

We made sure to arrive early on the Tuesday in order to take advantage of the Extra Magic early entry we had. Our plan for the day was to begin in the Walt Disney Studios then hop on over to the main park later in the day, but there was no early entry to WDS at the time. Instead, we enjoyed seeing the characters greeting us in the main park, headed over to the selfie spot with Max (Goofy’s son) and made sure to ride Big Thunder Mountain while it was quiet (the queues for that one can stay stubbornly long later in the day).

After that, it was time to go over to the Studios and this meant a second greeting of the day, this time from Mickey Mouse.

Attraction-wise we prioritised our favourites – Ratatouille and Tower of Terror. We also went on the new Cars Road Trip ride, went to a drawing class in the Art of Animation building and took photos with the villains and some of the Toy Story stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were also a couple of fun new Toy Story murals which make for some great photos.

By this time we were about ready to head back to the main park, so we got a Photopass picture (which they made look “old time-y”, had a quick snack break (a Halloween cookie) then switched park.

We had a reservation for something to eat later in the afternoon, but there was plenty of time for some attractions before that. We began with a trip around the park on the Railroad since we hadn’t managed to fit it in on our previous trip and prior to that it was closed for a while. This gave some interesting views of the park and I would enjoy doing it again. We also went to a couple of selfie spots, first with the Star Wars characters (my sister had a BB-8 themed outfit on and the reaction of the Stormtroopers was amazing!) and then with Eeyore who happened to be right outside the restaurant we were heading to for dinner.

Our reservation was at Plaza Gardens which would ordinarily be a buffet, but when we visited it was a fixed price three course meal. We were greeted at the door to check in for contact tracing, then moved forward to pay for our meal, order our drinks (included in the price since we chose soft drinks) and wait to be seated. Again, the menu was in the app but we were also given a paper copy which we could take with us or it would be disposed of later. I’m glad we saved ours since the restaurant has since reverted to a buffet so we have a souvenir that captures that time when things were different.

We opted for the selection of starters to share. For the main course I chose the Halloween offering which was pork with a pumpkin stuffing, slightly spicy sauce and served with crispy sweet potato gnocchi. (there was supposed to also be mushrooms, but our reservations was right at the end of service for the day and they had run out). Again, we went with the shared dessert selection which was very photogenic (and delicious!).

It wasn’t quite park closing time when we finished, so we took a walk over to Pirates of the Caribbean. Looking at the wait times we thought we would have enough time to ride that then nip over to Phantom Manor – basically two favourites to round off the day. But it was not to be.

During our ride on Pirates the boats did get a little backed up. This happens sometimes so we weren’t too concerned, but after we had completed the actual ride and were just waiting for our boat to enter the unloading dock, everything stopped and the lights came on. This was when we realised something was definitely wrong. We’re fairly certain they tried the ride equivalent of switching it off, giving it a minute and restarting, but to no avail. Everyone on the ride was going to have to be rescued!

I’m not going to lie, as someone who knows the Disney parks well and has experienced a lot of the rides before, getting rescued from a ride has been on my wish list of experiences for a while now. In some respects it was quite good – we had completed the ride, it was the end of the day so the delay wasn’t really cutting into our park time (it was probably only about half an hour all in from when we got stopped to when we exited the show building) and we were perfectly comfortable passing the time chatting to the group seated in front of us.

I’ll not go too much into the details of the rescue in case anyone doesn’t want to know much of what happens behind the scenes, but it involved a cast member in waders (we were in a boat ride after all, therefore there was water) and the use of a long pole to reach one of the rescue docks which lead into an emergency exit. These docks are well disguised throughout the ride so under normal ride operations you don’t really notice them. We emerged from the building in a backstage area and were directed back into the park by waiting cast members. We then made our way back to Main Street (too late for Phantom Manor now) and out into the Disney Village for a little shopping before heading back to the hotel for the evening. Of course we had been updating family back home throughout our experience so they were all interested to hear more about what had happened.

Our final day in the parks together began in a very similar fashion – greeted by the characters on our way in, a selfie spot (this time with Stitch – love him!) and another ride on Big Thunder Mountain while the wait was short. It is another favourite attraction after all.

Our main aim for the day was to visit as many of the character selfie spots as we could as well as any rides we hadn’t yet been on and repeating a few favourites. The rides we went on included Phantom Manor, Hyperspace Mountain (I’m not a massive fan of rollercoasters with inversions, but the Star Wars theming is so cool!), Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear and Pirates of the Caribbean (this time without incident 😂).

We also had great success with meeting characters: The Queen of Hearts, King Louie, Mickey & Minnie (dressed for a fiesta), Chip ‘n’ Dale (twice!), Tigger, Mickey & Pluto (in their Halloween garb), Jack Skellington (because he had been so good the previous time) and Goofy. Although these were socially distanced meets, all were excellent and I really enjoyed the interactions with these characters who all did such a good job of making it feel like that distance wasn’t there.

Along the way we stopped for one of my favourite snacks  – a Mickey waffle with Nutella and bottle of Tropico. I just love these! It’s fast becoming one of my rules (alongside wearing Minnie ears) to have a Mickey-shaped food at least once on every trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also had time to take some photos around the park, starting in Frontierland with it’s Coco-inspired decor for Halloween.

And we got the remaining Halloween Photopass Magic Shots we wanted:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also had a stroke of luck whilst waiting to see Chip ‘n’ Dale in Fantasyland. The characters left and a cast member let us know that it was only for a few minutes as the Princess cavalcade was about to come through – and the cavalcades come out precisely where we were standing in our roped off queue so we were in the perfect spot to see it!

We ate in the early evening at another of our favourite quick service locations, Hakuna Matata. It’s got plenty of seating so we were able to remain well away from other parties while we ate. I chose a meal deal of beef meatballs in a tomato sauce served with rice, another Tropico and a mini Magnum ice cream. I may also have helped my sister to finish her sweet corn fries 😳

By this point in the day we were ready to finish up the last of our shopping and head out. But another stroke of luck occurred whilst we were in the Emporium on Main Street. I had been lamenting the fact that we had not caught the other Halloween cavalcade, Illusion Manor, but as we browsed the store we heard music from outside on Main Street. My sister nipped out to see what was happening and came back to beckon me out, exclaiming that there was a huuuuge float coming along the street. I set down the items I had picked up and dashed out in time to catch the very cavalcade I had hoped to see! I couldn’t believe my luck that I saw it right as my time in the park was coming to an end – perfect timing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately the items I had set down were still waiting when we went back inside a moment later (and it appeared we were not the only ones who had ditched stuff to run outside!) so we were able to make our purchases and begin heading back to the hotel. As usual, I had a few new bits and pieces to get packed in my bag!

Yet again this was a fantastic trip. For me, Disney continues to be a place of fantasy and escapism, thus fulfilling Walt’s original vision for the parks, and I need it more than ever these days.. The real world continues to be a difficult place, but once in that magical bubble it’s easy to forget these things and focus on fun. Some aspects were a little different to last time – the Health Pass, for example – but in the main the safety measures in place were very similar: hand sanitiser, the wearing of face masks (I saw this being enforced by cast members), and reminders about social distancing. I did notice that many people were less vigilant about social distancing in attraction queues, but there was always enough room that I could take responsibility for myself and leave some space in front. I’m sure other guests would have given me more space if I had asked, but in all honesty the Health Pass made me feel much more confident than last time about having people a little closer. In actual fact, the week after we were there the French regulations eased enough that social distancing is no longer required in the same way, and the distancing markers are now being removed around the parks, so I guess we were there in the final week that it was still part of the measures. For similar reasons, I was also more comfortable with indoor dining this time, but did make sure to choose a table reasonably far from others – baby steps!

If you have a trip planned (or are thinking of booking) then I can still recommend going just now. Things are changing all the time and as they do, more and more of the “old” ways can return. An example would be that we now have dates for the return of parades and fireworks for the first time since the parks closed in March 2020 and I can’t wait to see them. I would definitely recommend that you do your homework in order to have a stress-free trip: watch vlogs, join relevant Facebook groups to chat to others about their recent experiences and, above all, keep a close eye on relevant government advice around travel, testing and any admin you need to do such as the current Sworn Statement to enter France and Passenger Locator Form to return to the UK. None of these things are difficult, but I can vouch for the fact that they can cause a little anxiety when dealing with them for the first time – I lost count of the number of times we checked and double-checked that we had done everything! I think some of these measures will be around for a while yet, so we just need to get used to that being part of our planning alongside having a valid passport, EHIC/GHIC and insurance if we want to travel. In time it will just be part of the routine.

Who knows how things will go with Covid over the winter, but I’m really hoping to get back to DLP in the first half of 2022. I’ve got to have something to dream about, right? I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that I can see my favourite Mouse again real soon.

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 83

The second week of my October break and a chance to rest, recharge and catch up on a few tasks at home. It was also a week that ended up with a bit of excitement as I finally felt confident enough to go to a couple of venues I haven’t been to since before Covid. Still taking those baby steps back to normality!

Monday – 1.25 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 2.5 miles + living room workout + home yoga
Wednesday – 3.25 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 4 miles + home yoga
Friday – 3.2 miles + home yoga
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 8.5 miles

I began my week as Captain Sensible. With my hip playing up a bit after a couple of miles on my Sunday run, I restricted myself to just 1 mile (well, a mile and a quarter) on Monday. The hip was fine and I felt like I could have gone on, but my decision was to listen to my body when it was whispering at me rather than being forced to listen when it was shouting. That said, keeping moving definitely helps, so once I was ready I headed out on some errands in town. I had to take the car since it was POURING but I still walked around plenty. The reward for this was treating myself to a new Pandora charm that had just been released. After visiting Disneyland Paris during the Halloween season it’s a lovely reminder of the trip (and really cute).

Of course before running I also took advantage of it being a day off to have a cup of tea in bed and finish off my book. I had chosen this one to be reading while I was away at Disneyland Paris as I like to theme my reading a little while I’m travelling. I enjoyed this one. I liked the idea of visiting all the Disney parks worldwide, and although some of the Disney history included wasn’t new to me, I could still see that the writer was taking his research seriously and can see it being useful to a reader not quite so immersed in Disney history as I am.

In the afternoon I took things a little easier and Smokey and I (yes, he was still desperate for cuddles) watched a couple of things on Disney+. First, the new animated Descendants short Descendants: The Royal Wedding (I really enjoyed these live action movies last year, but get why this one was animated). It was good to catch up with the characters. Then we continued our Halloween viewing with Hocus Pocus. The previous week in Disneyland Paris my sister wore some Sanderson Sisters clothing and it got a lot of attention from cast members!

Later in the afternoon I wanted to move a bit again so headed out for a walk with Steve before settling down for my yoga class.

On Tuesday morning my hip had improved further so I wanted to run just a little further. Not often you can casually double your mileage, but this time I went for 2.5 miles. I wanted to be confident that my hip was ok with this (it was) before going any further since it didn’t take long for it to flare up on my Sunday run.

After that, I made Tuesday my day of sorting out the things I had bought in DLP and doing a little bit of admin. I also took some time to watch the final episodes of Only Murders in the Building. Definitely a recommendation from me and I can’t wait for season 2.

Mail-wise, I received my parkrun 25 run T-shirt. I may be closer to 250 than 25, but with the new milestone tees being available now, the completionist in me needed to add this one to the collection.

After a successful Tuesday run I was ready to go for a half hour on Wednesday (and thus around 5k). Again, no issue with my hip so the work I’ve been doing to loosen it off is definitely working. It was the right decision to back off a bit and build my mileage slowly to make sure I didn’t overload the tight muscle. Running a little further also gave me a good reason to go by the waterfall and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere for a moment.

I had a few more tasks to take care of around the house, then decided to watch another Halloween movie. I know this one is generally considered a bit silly, but it’s based on one of my favourite Disney park attractions and I’m fairly certain I’ve only seen it once (long ago) so wanted to have a reminder of it. It’s not the best, but passed an afternoon while I completed a couple of other tasks on my laptop and I’m sure I noticed more nods to the attraction than I would have done in the past.

I needed to move a bit again so headed out on a walk with Steve. We had some glass containers that needed to be recycled so we took those and went via a nearby recycling point as part of our walk. Then once home it was time for some yoga before dinner.

With the progress I was making with my hip I was happy to go to 4 miles for my Thursday run. Again, no problems. I was really happy that despite going a little further each day, the tight muscle was also feeling better and better each day, confirming that I was taking the right course of action.

Post-run I got organised then had to put together a batch of chilli for the slow cooker. We actually had a couple of portions still in the freezer, but we’re eating this once a week right now so I realised my life would be much easier if I could make another batch while I was still on holiday rather than early in the new term. This meant a day of smelling the aroma of chilli filling the air.

After that I settled down to catch up with a couple of vlogs, have lunch and have the excitement of a delivery from Shop Disney. Yes, I did just go to Disneyland Paris, but these were items I had my eye on which were not available to me there, so I took advantage of a couple of offers to get my order in.

I also watched another movie. This time one which was released last year but I didn’t get around to watching. A bit silly (a fairly standard Adam Sandler offering) but it was ok as a one-off. Smokey was just content that I was sitting still for a bit again!

This was my last day of the holidays that was more or less all at home as we had plans for the Friday morning which meant getting an earlier start for my morning run, Not as early as a work day, but earlier than I prefer for holidays! I had time for about 5k before grabbing a shower and getting on the road to…Ikea!!!

We’ve been needing to head down there for a while to get a few bits and pieces but when it first reopened it always looked so busy and I was reluctant to go on a weekend when it would be even busier. A Friday morning, arriving in time for the store opening, seemed much better. We were there a little ahead of when they open up the restaurant so we could be among the first to get inside and have a cooked breakfast to fortify us for a trip around the warehouse.

Obviously we came home with a few additional items to what was on our list, but is it really a trip to Ikea if you don’t?

I didn’t need any lunch when we arrived home, but I did have a couple of other more local errands so I headed out on those and then Steve came to meet me so we could go for a coffee. I even sat in for my coffee at Nero’s this time (it was pretty quiet upstairs so I felt I had plenty of space).

Once home, I got on with the main task I had after the Ikea jaunt: framing loads of pictures I want to put up. Honestly, who knew it could take so long, especially with two overly inquisitive kitties trying to get involved 😹

After all that I was glad of a quiet evening in front of the tv before heading to bed.

Since my hip felt so much better I was happy for my run to be my usual parkrun sandwich (but with the proviso that I wouldn’t run hard at parkrun – no faster than an 8 minute mile which would put me about 90 seconds slower overall than last week).

I’m pleased to report that I behaved myself and kept the pace in check (8:05 average). My hip was fine and even after stopping for a while post run (it was a bit busy so I jumped on to do some barcode scanning with the volunteer app) it was fine for the run home and that was the point I really started to feel it last week. Looks like it’s going to be ok.

I had planned a quiet afternoon at home, but my sister had let me know that I could accompany her to the current play at the theatre (she works there so gets a couple of comp tickets) and that the Saturday matinee would be a socially distanced performance. I knew it would be quiet so that seemed like a good time to go to the theatre. When I went to the concert hall a few weeks ago I knew the air was being changed frequently but didn’t think the same would be true of the theatre, a much older building. A quiet and socially distanced show felt right for me. I was still double masked though as it makes me feel more comfortable in these situations right now.

The play was a new version of Don Juan, written by one of the actors who performed in the production of The Importance of Being Earnest which I saw shortly before we went into Lockdown last year (thus connecting the last show I saw pre-Covid with the first I returned to). It’s a comic version with a Scottish setting and was really good. If you’re in the area you should check it out.

Once home I had time to enjoy a cup of tea then it was time to get changed again to head back out. Yes, another outing!

My dad had a milestone birthday earlier this year but since we were in Lockdown we weren’t able to do anything to mark the occasion. With things opening up (and all of us feeling a little more confident in going places) we were going for a family meal as a late celebration. The venue was a place we all like and my parents have been in a few times since they reopened. Mum had previously sent me pictures of how the interior had been adapted to the current circumstances, and the fact that they had incorporated decorative screens between the tables meant it felt appropriately safe even whilst busy on a Saturday evening.

We actually all made fairly similar menu choices after dad recommended a couple of things: pan-fried scallops on black pudding, topped with prosciutto with a kiwi & lime sauce to start, then a main course of fillet steak and peppercorn sauce served with fries and rocket salad.

It was all delicious and the steak was cooked so beautifully that the knife went through it like butter.

We had a lovely evening, but it did mean being up later then normal and on top of a fairly busy couple of days – I’m just not used to this any more haha!

As a result of being up later we did take things a bit easier on Sunday morning. I was in no hurry to get out for my run and wanted to enjoy the last chance to have a leisurely start to my day before the new term. I read in bed and enjoyed a cup of tea, then got organised to head out. In all honesty I had no idea how far I was going to run, but felt confident I had left the hip issue behind me. I checked my mileage for the week and settled on 8.5 miles to bring me to 30 for the week. A bit less than usual, but worth it to get the hip issue in check.

It actually felt a bit strange to run further again after a couple of weeks of shorter distances. That coupled with a later night (and some wine!) meant it didn’t feel like my greatest run ever, but it really cleared the cobwebs and made me feel more confident to go into a more “normal” week of running in the days ahead.

I had thought maybe the afternoon would be more relaxing (and a chance to catch up with Strictly!) but after getting the shopping we nipped up to mum and dad’s to collect a couple of things and dad was quite keen on us staying for a cup of tea. It was nice to sit and chat, but I was cutting it fine to see Strictly before the results (spoiler: I managed).

I wrapped up the day with a nice bath and got my things ready for the first day of the new term. And so the regular routine resumes…

Have you returned to any more venues/activities recently?
How is your running going?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 82

Holidays at last! And not only that, but I went away on an actual break in another country!

When the rules around needing a PCR test to return to the UK from abroad changed, it made my sister and I feel much less cautious about taking a trip (previously we had been worried about testing positive whilst away and what that would entail) so just two weeks before the end of term we made a fairly last minute booking to go to Disneyland Paris. I’ll write separately about the details (and many MANY photos) of our trip, so will stick to a brief outline here and how I kept my run streak going whilst travelling.

Monday – 1 mile
Tuesday – 1 mile
Wednesday – 1 mile
Thursday – 1 mile
Friday – 4 miles + Hatha yoga (recording from Zoom)
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 4.5 miles

In order to maximise our time, we opted for an early flight on the Monday morning. We were going to get the TGV from the airport to Disneyland, put our bags (we had those little cabin-sized cases as we were travelling hand baggage only) into the guest storage and be in the park by about midday. And so just like when we took our trip last August, I invoked my “exceptional circumstances” streak rule which meant running a few laps around the block outside my house in the middle of the night to clock up a mile. I had everything packed bar a couple of things I would need first thing, my clothes and running kit laid out so it was easy to get out of bed and run. It may seem an odd thing to do, but that early mile definitely makes me feel much more alert through the rest of what becomes a very long day.

The airport was unfortunately rather stressful. We had checked in online but for some reason nobody was getting a seat allocation and had to still go to the check-in desk at the airport. We joined the queue at 4:40am (for a 6:10am flight) but the queue was incredibly slow. I have NEVER had to wait so long, particularly given we weren’t checking in any bags and it was 5:30am before we were done. We went directly to security where we were met with another huge queue and to be honest I was convinced we were going to miss the flight (and had no idea what we were supposed to do in that situation). Thankfully by the time it was my turn I was able to get through without any additional checks, but along the way I lost sight of my sister. I had put my phone and Apple Watch in my bag (to avoid setting off the sensors) so decided just to start heading for the gate. As it turns out, she had ended up behind me but made the exact same decision, so when I reached the gate (of course one of the far away ones) and called her, she was right behind me and by some miracle we were still able to board. Ironically we then sat at the gate for ages (they were still loading the checked bags for all the people who had been stuck in that check in queue with us) so we had a chance to settle down. Not the most auspicious start, but at least we were on our flight. Phew!

Despite a couple of further queues to contend with at passport control and to get my park ticket (I was using the reduced price “Privilege Tickets” my sister gets with her annual pass) we still made it into the main Disneyland park around midday as planned.

We took some photos and meandered our way towards Cafe Hyperion for lunch (our original plan was to grab a quick breakfast at the airport but with all the queuing all we had eaten was a snack bar each since my sister had the foresight to pack a couple). We then spent our afternoon going on some of our favourite rides, getting some photos with characters and doing a little shopping before getting the shuttle bus to our hotel (a bit of a scrum since we went at park closing time, but you live and learn).

Since I was using the Privilege Tickets this time (which have to be collected and paid for on the day you are using them) this meant I also had the benefit of the early park entry that comes with the Annual Pass. We had breakfast included with our hotel and knew we needed to be on the first shuttle bus in the morning in order to maximise our time, so I worked out that unless I wanted to get up as if it was a work day, the best thing to do would be to stick to a mile each morning.

On the Tuesday morning I wanted to try and explore the grounds of the hotel a bit. We were staying at the Dream Castle – one of the partner hotels – using the voucher we got when our booking for May 2020 (when we were supposed to go for the inaugural Princess Run Weekend) was cancelled. I could tell from looking out our bedroom window that there were beautiful grounds and a nearby lake, but it was just too dark to explore the way I wanted to. In the end the bulk of my run ended up being in the car park while I attempted to find a lit path around the back. Still, with views like this it’s safe to say there are worse car parks to run around!

I did, however, get a chance to appreciate the views from our bedroom before we headed off for the day. Quite the change from the usual brick wall/car park view!

We had planned to begin our day in the Walt Disney Studios, but they did not have the early entry option so instead we went into the main park, took some photos, rode one of our favourite rides (which always has a long queue) then switched park.

Again, we were checking off favourites, trying some new attractions and going to some character meets. When we were planning the trip we had hoped to book a table for our evening meal but hadn’t been able to get anything. My sister was checking on the DLP app and found something for a late lunch/early dinner that day so we just had a snack around lunchtime then after checking out a couple of our favourite shops we hopped back over to the main park again. This meant a few more rides and character photos before our meal.

We ate at Plaza Gardens which in pre-Covid times operated as a buffet but at the time of our visit was a fixed price three course meal. The highlights for me were definitely the starter and dessert!

After eating we still had some park time, then headed into the Disney Village to go to the shops before heading back to the hotel (much quieter on the bus this time).

On the Wednesday I took my run out onto the main street. Our hotel was the middle one of a strip of 5, so I simply turned left and the end of the road was conveniently half a mile away so a simple out and back gave me my mile for the morning.

And after breakfast I had a moment to nip out onto the patio in the reception area to grab a couple of pictures. What a beautiful sunrise!

Again it was straight to the shuttle, off to get my ticket then into the main park. Since we had been on the majority of the rides we wanted to do, this day was all about repeating some favourites and prioritising some of the character meet and greets we still wanted to do.

Mickey posed for me!

We actually ended up leaving around an hour before park closing as we wanted to get organised for our journey home the following day (packing and filling out our Passenger Locator Forms online) plus our hotel had a pool so we had packed our swimsuits to make sure we could have a dip.

In the end we found the pool to be fairly small. It had a little slide and was packed with noisy children so it wasn’t really possible to swim. HOWEVER we found out that we also had access to the steam room and sauna so passed a very pleasant evening in those. I stuck to the sauna and was pretty comfortable using it since everyone in the hotel had to have a Pass Sanitaire (the French Health Pass which proves you are fully vaccinated/have a negative PCR less than 72 hours old). It was quite a nice way to spend the final evening of our trip.

Although we were leaving on the Thursday, our flight wasn’t until 3:20pm so we didn’t have to get the TGV until just before 1pm. This meant my sister was able to go into the parks for the morning, but I didn’t feel the need to buy a further ticket (even at the significantly reduced rate of the Privilege Ticket) just for a short time. But since we still wanted to be on the first shuttle (with our bags to put into guest storage again) it was still just a mile for me, this time heading in the opposite direction along the street. Once again the end of the road was conveniently half a mile.

Once at the parks, we separated. I wanted to go and check out the revamped Hotel New York which now features The Art of Marvel and just recently reopened. If you’re a Marvel fan, you DEFINITELY need to go and have a look – it’s stunning!

I also spent €15 to go up in the Panoramagique balloon as the weather was really clear and bright so I knew I would get amazing views.

By the time I had done that and wandered around the Village a bit, it was time to meet my sister, get our bags and grab a quick snack before heading for the airport (and thankfully the airport was a far smoother experience this time!).

I actually arrived home around the same time I would if I had been at work and I can tell you the kitties were VERY pleased to see me home. Honestly, you’d think they had been abandoned (despite being at home, with each other and Steve the whole time) the way they carried on!

My day 2 PCR test had beaten me there, but before settling down for my dinner I wanted to quickly use one of my lateral flow kits to make sure I wasn’t going to get any surprises. It was negative.

It was a fairly quiet evening unpacking a bit and catching up with Steve (who is becoming very adept at avoiding seeing my copious holiday snaps haha!) then heading to bed fairly sharp. Going straight from an exhausting term into a few days at Disney is really quite tiring – but totally worth it!

It was good to take my time on the Friday morning with a little longer in bed, some time spent reading and then a run. The 4 miles I did actually doubled my mileage thus far for the week 😂

And when I got home I found that the medal for my Halloween-themed virtual run had arrived:

I had to have it since it’s inspired by a great movie.

I also took my PCR test and got it all packaged up to send off. It was to be done on or before the Saturday, but I just wanted to get it sorted out so I would know I had taken care of everything related to my trip. I then had a quiet day at home, mostly with Smokey plastered to my lap.

And since I wasn’t going anywhere I decided to watch a movie. After a couple of amazing meet and greets with Jack Skellington, this one seemed appropriate.

I then persuaded Smokey to move so I could do some yoga. I had missed my Monday evening class, but since we pay for a block, my teacher had offered me the choice of either joining another of her classes or being sent a recording of the Wednesday morning yoga class. I opted for the recording and it was good to have that to look forward to.

My sister had moved her PT session with Steve from Tuesday to Friday to work around out trip, so this meant we had a takeaway for dinner – quite a rarity for us these days. It was nice to have a treat and catch up on some tv.

Saturday morning meant a little reading in bed again before getting organised for parkrun. I wasn’t sure how my body would respond after a week of much lower mileage but lots of time on my feet. As it turned out, my legs wanted to move and I ended up with my fastest time of the year by 4 seconds. I’ll take that!

Further joy shortly after arriving home when the results of my day 2 PCR test came back: negative as expected. Still a relief though!

Later in the day I decided to catch up with another recent movie release. I had been keen to watch this one since completing my viewing of the previous MCU titles but knew that the holidays would be the best time. I enjoyed it.

Of course, Smokey was all in for another afternoon of cuddles 😻

I rounded my day out with a bath followed by Strictly Come Dancing. Perfect!

Sunday, however, did not go so well running-wise. In the last week of term a muscle around my right hip was a little tight for a day or two, but I was able to resolve the issue and it didn’t bother me at all while I was away. Unfortunately it flared up a bit again on Saturday and although I had done some work on it and it felt fine as I set off on my run, after a couple of miles it started to shout at me a bit so I cut things short to head home. Frustrating, but I also knew it was something I would be able to address fairly easily so long as I was sensible. Steve did some work with me to identify the right course of action and aside form the usual Sunday chores, I had a fairly restful day. Turns out, the combined forces of a school term and several long theme park days had left me pretty tired. Thank goodness for another week off before the new term!

Seen any good movie recently?
Do you try to run when you travel or do you prefer to take a break?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 80

This was an interesting week for me. The October break was inching nearer (not quite quickly enough!), I had Disney on the brain as I was following all the news coming out of Walt Disney World for the 50th anniversary, and I really started to notice the changing season as some chillier days came along. Here’s how my fitness activities looked:

Monday – 4.1 miles + Hatha yoga via Zoom
Tuesday – 5 miles + home yoga
Wednesday – 5 miles + home yoga
Thursday – 4.5 miles + home yoga
Friday – 4.1 miles + living room  home yoga
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

The week began with a pouring wet Monday morning. As if Mondays weren’t miserable enough! Fortunately I realised in time so had my hat and a rainy day top on, but there’s no staying dry on a day like this. After a start like that, yoga from home that evening was definitely appealing.

The good news was that conditions were much better on the Tuesday. I actually noticed that despite the creeping end-of-term tiredness, I still felt strong while I was running. A bit strange, but I guess it’s my mind that’s feeling tired rather than my body.

Some real excitement at work as my new PC was joined by a nifty new monitor. Now I have the complete set!

On the Wednesday I headed out with the latest Together Run lined up to listen to. The skies were clear so it was pretty chilly and I needed a long sleeved top and my gloves! But in return I got the most beautiful views at the river.

During the course of the day I managed to finish my book. This is the sequel to the previous book I read. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it – sometimes it’s clear a writer is trying a bit too hard to capitalise on a success – but I thought it worked well as it kept some of the same characters and introduced a few new ones. Worth a go if you enjoy the first one.

When I got home I had to swing into action to get some chilli prepped ready for the slow cooker the following day, then time for some yoga to help me unwind.

I awoke on Thursday to find it was once again pouring. This led to me making the error of not wearing my gloves as I thought they would just get soaked, but by the time I got home my hands were so cold they had gone numb and my fine motor skills were pretty questionable!

I had an appointment after work so was away reasonably quickly then managed to fill my car up. This was at the height of the petrol “shortage” and I was a little worried about having to wait ages for the petrol I normally get (and needed), but as it turned out the petrol station was quiet. A couple of pumps were off, but I had no problem filling up. Phew!

The Friday morning was still a little drizzly, but far far better than the day before. This was the day Walt Disney World marked 5 years since opening and I was excited to catch up with vlogs from those fortunate enough to be there on the first official day of the celebrations. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t be too much longer before I can book a trip to Florida again 🤞

The Saturday was parkrun’s 17th birthday and I enjoyed my run except for one thing: spitting. To be honest, I think spitting is pretty gross at the best of times but with an airborne virus it’s downright inconsiderate and is clearly highlighted as a “no” on the parkrun Covid framework. Sadly I found myself running near to a couple of others who kept on spitting and eventually got so fed up of it that I resorted to using my “teacher voice” to give them a bit of a row (or as much of a row as I could manage whilst running fairly hard!). Normally I wouldn’t be likely to do something like this whilst running, but it was really bothering me so I felt it needed done.

In the afternoon I headed out again as the friend whose parkrun fundraiser I had participated in the week before was getting married and I wanted to go down to the venue to see her going in wearing her proper wedding dress (as opposed to the one she ran in the previous week!). It was so nice to see lots of others turn out to see her as well and she looked amazing.

Steve didn’t mind waiting to see her and her new husband come out again, but we knew we had about half an hour so I took the big step (for me) of sitting inside a cafe. I had planned to claim my free coffee from Vitality and get it to take away as usual, but it was pretty damp so I agreed to sit in for the first time since the pandemic began. We got seats completely out of the way and clear of anybody else and I actually only had my mask off long enough to eat the caramel shortbread Steve treated me to (I knew my coffee wouldn’t cool quickly enough so still got it in a takeaway cup to take with me). Just another baby step towards normality.

We actually timed things pretty well so were able to see the bride and groom coming back out of the venue and pose for some photos before heading off to celebrate. At this point we headed home and my sister popped round for a bit to sort out a few odds and ends.

On the Sunday I once more headed for the woodland park for my run, but didn’t stop for any pictures this time. I was feeling strong again and was enjoying powering through my run. I was on a mission to have a pretty big tidy and get the house dusted and vacuumed, so cutting out lots of stops really helped. I also wanted to change my bedding to this seasonal new option I had ordered:

With everything done I could relax a bit and get ready for the final week of term.

Would you have spoken up to the spitters?
How are you feeling about going to cafes and other public places now?

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 77

Woah, we’re half way there…!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For comparison, I would normally see this:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 75

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Definitely true!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week In Review – The Corona Chronicles Part 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!