Return to River Cottage

At the start of September, I returned to one of my favourite places: River Cottage.

This time round, my sister and I were there for the River Cottage 10th Anniversary Bash and Book Launch – Phew! What a long name, but what a fantastic day. This particular event at River Cottage HQ was to celebrate 10 brilliant years of River Cottage, and to launch the latest cook book that brings together all those years of hard work and culinary expertise.

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One of the greatest draws to this event had to have been the attendance of the fabulous man himself, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. After an hour or so of exploring the Cottage, nibbling on tasty treats and nursing an almost palpable excitement, he appeared.

It was fantastic to watch and listen as he introduced each member of the team who had also contributed to the production of the enormous River Cottage A-Z Guide. He spoke about the book, their hard work and continual efforts.

While we waited for our chance to speak to the team directly, we explored the grounds and tasted the treats. Everywhere we went, we were shown such beauty from the West Country.

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Admiring the freshly picked flowers.

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The Cottage cat, snoozing amidst the excitement.

I was ecstatic to see my jam-making idol again, Pam “The Jam” Corbin. And to meet the gentlemanly head chef, Gill Meller, was also a treat. It was a fantastic opportunity to pick up tips, share excitement and celebrate the years of River Cottage.

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Meeting my culinary idol, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

 

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My sister and I nabbing a quick selfie with Gill Meller.

We had so much delicious and freshly cooked foods to eat, of course. As we continued to explore the Cottage grounds, stations were set up in different corners and enticed you in with such heavenly smells. The chefs themselves stood and prepared a feast before your eyes!

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Divine foods.

Staying until the very last moments, we caught the tractor back up and out of River Cottage. With us in the tractor sat John, Pam and Hugh – I was so nervous with excitement I could barely remember how to form a serious sentence. Everyone was so lovely, so welcoming and I was very sad but content to watch the lights of River Cottage fade away.

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Taking with me my signed copies of their books, and renewed enthusiasm for exploring recipes, I knew I would absolutely be returning again next year.

 

xxx

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Marathon Training: Trying not to trip up

Two consecutive injuries can ruin any training plan. After two weeks devoid of proper running I am extremely worried about the race in under  seven weeks time. Adding to my fears is the car journey I took yesterday afternoon. Let’s just say that 26.2 miles is a VERY long distance.

I may have reached a peak of 10.5miles before my first injury but I am now back down the same level I was at the start of training.

Is there any way I can run a marathon in October?

Marathon Training: Facing the Sun

I learnt an important lesson yesterday about when it is sensible to train – that is, NOT in this heat!

The temperatures have soared recently, reaching a humid 31C at one particular measurement. Whilst this has made for some excellent beach weather, it is absolutely awful for any form of training or exercise. The sun was beating down relentlessly, my eyes scrunched up behind my glasses, feet slowly cooking in my trainers.

Usually I like to take Dexter with me as I run around the park. But on this day, he was laying panting in the cool shade.

“It’s far too hot to make you run, Dexter.”

Dexter - hot and bothered!

Dexter – hot and bothered!

Now, I should have thought then that if it were too hot for Dexter to be outside, then surely it would be too hot for me also. Unfortunately this did not occur to me at the time.

I set off for a long jog under the baking sun, through the beautiful park. One lap around – roughly 3 miles – and I found myself extremely thirsty, sweaty, tired, nauseous and struggling to breath.

I stopped and sat beneath a tree, trying to push away the dizziness. As a pharmacy student, I recognised the symptoms of heat exhaustion and after sitting and cooling down for 10 minutes I slowly walked back home to drink a few pints of water.

It was stupid. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious but can be sensibly avoided. From this point onward, all of my training sessions throughout the summer will take place in the early hours of the morning or in the cool late evening. This includes the additional strength building exercises and interval training. There’s a time and place to push yourself, and it is not in the sun!

Push ups, anyone?

Push ups, anyone?

Marathon Training

Day 1

Although I have on occasion tried running, a lap around the park or maybe a quick jog up the road, I had never considered that I would one day begin training to run a marathon. Even 1 mile seemed too far in my mind, let alone over 26! But just a short while ago I stood on a station platform, my train delayed, and I was distracted by a new advertisement – the Chelmsford Marathon 2015. I don’t live in Chelmsford. I don’t play sports. Running? Blurgh.

And yet…

The idea planted itself firmly in my thoughts. For the entire train journey, throughout my jobs of the day, and when I returned home much later, I wondered. The date of the marathon would mark a year on from when I had been very ill in hospital. I realised then how health, indeed life, should not be taken for granted. They can both so easily be shattered without warning, reason or fairness. I had thought these things before but I hadn’t really known the feeling. That was when I decided to go for it. The marathon would be a strange anniversary of an epiphany.

I downloaded the training plan they sent for beginners and started with the first run. The personal trainer’s online advice was to be able to run for 30 continuous minutes, rather than focus on any distance. I’m quite competitive with myself and decided I would push myself as far as I could go, which turned out to be 4.4miles in 40 minutes.

It may not sound much, but it was VERY difficult. My side was in a stitch for most of the run and my lungs felt like they were bleeding. The hardest part wasn’t the physical challenge, but the psychological walls I had to break down. Or at least, start to break down some of them.

After my first real run today, I feel tired and just a little bit proud. I am ready for the challenge.