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My review of the year – January to March 2015

End of yet another year, time passes quickly when you’re having fun. 2015 has been quite a year again. Here’s what I’ve been up to. 
January

Another year up and running and the first weekend, we finished our first round of the Wainwrights. It was a gorgeous day and were overwhelmed by all who turned up to help us celebrate joining the 214 club. The hill was Melbreak. I love how it stands looking down majestically at one of my favourite pubs The Kirkstile inn. A great day in the hills followed by beer in the Kirkstile.    

 Having purchased a proper camera, my friend Mark came up to do a photo workshop with me. It was great learning to use my camera and how to compose shots.  Though the weather was a tad blowy. A great day and if you ever fancy doing one give him a try 

http://www.wastwaterphotography.co.uk/workshops/course-details/

   
 It was then time to escape the terrible weather for a week in Egypt. A hot date with a sun lounger. It was so nice to feel the sun on my skin. Though I’m pleased Dave didn’t swap me for a camel or 2!    

 

Back home and time to be brave and join a running club. I joined Helm Hill running club. Though slow, everyone made me feel so welcome and I must go back. The speed sessions definitely make me a better runner!   

February 

More running and was literally getting into my stride. A few niggles but with the help of regular sports massages from The Body rehab were sorted. 

An overdue trip up to Glasgow to see my best friend and family. Holly though 11 1/2 now still gives me lots of cuddles and pray it lasts a bit longer. 

   
   

Pennington southern branch came up for half term. They stay at the most amazing holiday home on the shores of Ullswater. Nice to go and gate crash and play tourist. I completely love my nieces and are growing up far too quickly. A fell fix up Birkhouse Moor to Red Tarn. Lots of snow and was nice to be in the hills again.    

 Having completed the Wainwrights, I joined the Wainwright society to get my certificate. A friend said get it framed properly rather than buy a frame. So that’s what I did.   

Work wise was busy and especially as it was the annual lakes hospitality show. A perfect opportunity to showcase our new company branding. Oh and grab a selfie with our local MP Tim.    

 I was very pleased that Trail magazine included our final wainwright pic in their March edition. Fame at last!   

A last minute treat of afternoon tea at the rather wonderful Gilpin Lodge hotel.   

  

March

First race this year was The Haweswater Half marathon. I think I had every weather on that run. I was incredibly grateful that my lovely friends Stu and Paula came down to support me. 2:10 was my time which with the state my head was in I was pleased with that.     

More beer and the Hawkshead Spring beer festival. My old school friend Richard came up to stay.    

 A trip to London to see Jake. I love London and just recently we have tried to do a tourist thing. This time it was Kensington place. Such a fabulous place. Was a hard day as was Mother’s Day, I’m very lucky to have my lovely stepsons who prove to me you don’t have to give birth to have a special bond. A nice lunch out and of course cocktails before saying goodbye to Jake and head north.    

   
Last thing this month was the Easter Bunny ball. A fundraiser organised my friends Andrew and Fiona. Was an amazing evening with lots of laughs and lots of money raised.

  

    
   
  
To be continued…..

 

Swede Daulphinoise 

I like to do interesting things with vegetables to make them a bit more interesting. This was super easy to make and was delicious. 

Ingredients 

50g can anchovy in oil

2 tbsp of the oil from the anchovies

1 onion, thinly sliced

large sprig thyme, leaves picked

2 large swede

1 tsp dried chilli flakes 

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 

300ml pot double cream

3 tbsp fresh breadcrumb

2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Method 

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Drain the anchovies but reserve 2 tbsp of the oil and heat it in a frying pan, then cook the onion for 10 mins until softened. Chop the anchovies and half the thyme, and stir them through the onion.

Peel the swedes, then quarter and slice. In a large bowl, toss the swedes with the onion, two-thirds of the cream, garlic, chilli flakes and some cracked black pepper. Tip the swedes into a baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 mins.

Remove the dish from the oven, remove the foil, press down with a fish slice, then drizzle with the rest of the cream. Scatter over the breadcrumbs and Parmesan, then bake for about 1 hr more, until golden and the swedes are tender. Scatter with the remaining thyme.

Resolutions 

Yet another year draws to an end, 2015 has been yet another busy one and I find myself being more reflective than usual. I sometimes want to press the pause button as time passes so quickly. It has been quite a year and quite a tough one personally. For those who read my blogs, you will have seen my post on dealing with depression.https://adventuresofcumbrianblondie.co.uk/2015/09/09/behind-every-smile/
It has been hard and is an ongoing battle. Counselling has finished and now the tough work begins. It is not easy and what has been nice, is the level of support of strangers saying how my story echoed theirs. So with resolutions in mind how did this years go….  Continue reading Resolutions 

Spiced duck and date tagine

When I’m busy, I love quick, easy and tasty foods. A bit of browning of meat and some light chopping and let the slow cooker do the work! 

Ingredients 

2 tsp sunflower oil

6 duck legs, skin removed

1 large onion

2 garlic cloves

1 red chilli, deseeded

thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp coriander

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

2 preserved lemons, halved, pulp and pith scooped out and discarded

200g dates

400ml passata

100g blanched almonds, very roughly chopped

mint leaves, to serve

couscous, to serve

Method 

Heat the slow cooker on Low. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the duck legs in batches until golden. When all the legs are done place in the slow cooker. While you’re browning the duck, put the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger, spices and preserved lemon in a food processor and blitz to a chunky paste. Tip the paste into the hot pan and cook for 5 mins to soften. Meanwhile, add half the dates to the processor with 200ml water, and blitz until smooth. Cut the remaining dates into chunky pieces. Tip the onion paste and all the dates into the slow cooker, add the passata, season, stir, cover with the lid and cook for 5 hrs (or up to7 hours)

Scatter the almonds into the tagine and stir. Serve with couscous, scattered with mint leaves.

Do something everyday that scares you! 

Those of you who read my blogs, see that I’m an adventure girl and some of the tasks on my 40 at 40 list are testament to that. I had a meeting at the Kendal wall and noticed they had recently installed an indoor Via Ferrata. Ang showed me it after our meeting and said the following Sunday they were having an open day. It looked interesting so said we would come down and have a go. 

Having done Go Ape and the Honister Via Feratta I was familiar with the concept. There were 7 of us doing it. A safety meeting, harnesses distributed and we were ready. I was impressed with the new clipping on equipment. You would always have one clip attached even if you tried not to, as with a newly designed safety feature it wouldn’t let you have both off at the same time. 

A few practices attaching the clips onto the practice line, we were off. 

  
The first bit was fine climbing up the ladders getting used to moving and clipping the clips on and off. All was going ok until one of the group got vertigo and had to come back down. I realise why as I felt the same when I got there too. Luckily Dave and I were last to set off so Steph our instructor came up to guide me across. I was feeling a little more confident. The course zig zagged around the wall and then there is the fun bit of the zip wire! 

  
Ok ready to tackle the next bit. 

  
Steph went ahead through the cave section. Once I was in it was very restrictive as you can imagine a cave would be. I started to panic and couldn’t get through. But Steph was there on hand again talking me through and sent a rope down to help me out. Dave was behind me encouraging me to stay calm. The relief when I could quite literally see the light at the end of the tunnel was immense.

  
  
The next section, you had the crawl out of a window and find yourself at the top of the climbing wall! Which is a long way up! A few more ladders across the wall and it was onto a pendulum swing. Having to throw yourself off and then run back and forth across the wall to build up momentum to get across. By this time we had caught up the rest of the group and we’re waiting on a platform to do the final bit. 

   
 

Just a small matter of a 20m drop with 6m of freefall to do before I could say I’d completed the course. My turn to go and I said I can’t do it. My fight or flight panic set in. It’s not natural to step off into the unknown. Steph said ” you done everything else, you wouldn’t be standing here if you hadn’t” so buoyed up with her encouragement I stepped off the platform. Oh my god what a rush of adranellin. I landed very un glamorously and was picked up by 2 guys who had done the skyline with us. They were experienced climbers and said they found it challenging too, so I didn’t feel so pathetic for my panics! 

http://youtu.be/qJFKZROKPVc
http://youtu.be/YUoXWw3EHf8
A massive thank you to Steph, she was so patient and calming and I couldn’t have completed it without her gentle encouragement. The Skyline is a brilliant addition to the climbing wall. If you get chance give it a go.  

Always a good thing to do something that’s a challenge and scares you just a little bit. You don’t have to be a climber, just able and a sense of adventure. Thank you Steph! 

  
http://www.kendalwall.co.uk/instruction-overview/via-ferrata/

Well earnt bling

“Pain is temporary, finishing is forever” this phrase was going through my head like a mantra as I was running in the London marathon on Sunday 26th April. 

People said to me “Gina this is your fourth marathon, you should be used to this”. I think naivety is the best prep for marathon running, you have no idea of what lies ahead. 

There is no atmosphere like London, the crowds carry you through and high five you when you’re feeling broken. I’ve not run in any other city so I don’t have anything to compare it to. The London marathon has a special pull which is why I have entered it again for next year. 

Marathon training is hard but rewarding work. People look at me and think I’m joking when I say I run marathons. I’m not stick thin and I have boobs but that doesn’t stop me from getting out there and running. As someone said if you get your trainers on and run, you are a runner!

This time when I’ve been training, my inner demons have nearly taken control. That little voice in your head telling you, you’re not good enough and what the hell do you think you’re doing trying to run a marathon. It’s disabilitating and on quite a few training runs I’ve been on the verge of tears. A few deep breaths and a few drops of rescue remedy I’ve managed to get through. Being under stress has that effect on you. Luckily I’m seeking help to try and get this under control and asking for help is ok. 

I ran the marathon dressed as Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman first made her appearance back in 2003 when I ran my first marathon. It was a dare and never one to give in, I did it dressed as my favourite superhero. It’s a great costume to run in, as I’ve got older I realise there’s not much to it!! Thank goodness for the cape to hide my modesty. 

  
Thought I’d better have a try on before it was packed for the trip south. 

As soon as I entered Excel to get my running number the nerves and excitement started. Though I nearly didn’t get my number as I’d forgotten to bring my photo ID.  A few security checks and it was deemed I was me and one number given. 

   
     

Number collected it was across London to my in laws to relax and carb load! 

Nerves was in force when I woke up on the day of the marathon, trying to force porridge and toast down. My start was in Greenwich in the red zone. The weather was cold which was perfect running conditions. I did get some glances at my costume as I made the way across London with Dave to the start. I think I had several nervous wees. It was so cold and took solace in a nearby cafe until I had to make my way to the start.

As soon as I made the way to the start, my nerves calmed and I felt excited to be running in the London marathon again. A few pics and a reassuring hug and it was time to say goodbye to Dave, next time I  would see him would be around mile 12 our first rendezvous. 

   
   

Then we were off, it is such a huge feeling when you cross the line. I was soon into my stride and the first few miles passed quickly. First 10 k covered and was feeling good. In my head kept thinking about my first meeting with my family at mile 12. I think I ran mile 11-12 the quickest! Its very hard to spot people as the volume of support is huge. But I remembered from the map where they said they would be standing.  I just beamed and ran over to them when I spotted them.  It’s such a boost seeing them. A mouthful of fudge a few hugs and off I went. 

 Nearly halfway there and was doing ok time wise. There is no feeling like running over Tower bridge and hearing the wall of cheers. A special memory which will last with me forever. 

The next few miles were hard, but seeing Matthew and Amanda at 30k mark kept me going. Again the relief at seeing a friendly face is overwhelming. A sweaty hug (me not them) mintcake and off I went. I love the poster Matthew made! 

  
      

Refuelled off I went, next aim was to get to mile 24 when my Team Pennington support crew would be. For me this is where it gets really tough, tiredness kicked in and your body feels as if it’s running on empty. It’s a case of just putting one front in front of the other and letting the miles tick by. 

When you get to mile 21, you can start to see the iconic landmarks we all know and love. As the miles ticked by, I was relieved to think I was nearly there. Just pass mile 24 I saw my family, utter emotion passed over me as I was broken but nearly there. Lots of hugs, encouragement and the next time I will see them will be at the finish. 

  
I’m not sure how I got through the latter stages, the crowds were amazing and lots of high fives. I could see Big Ben and then Buckingham Palace and knew I was nearly home. The last half a mile feels so long, the grandstand and finish came into sight. I was nearly there. A massive sense of achievement washed over me. My time was 4:53 which was a little slower than I wanted but still pleased. My well earnt bling hanging on my neck as I made my way through to meet my family. When I checked my endomondo I’d actually run 27:15 miles! On the course there are blue lines painted on the road which is the exact measurement of the marathon. I obviously ran outside the lines!! 

I saw Jake and Millie first as Dave and the rest of my family had got stuck trying to get across to the finish. 

  
More bling for my collection, trying to stretch and not seize up. A rather undignified change and was off for an early dinner. But the sickness bug I had on Friday and a sore throat made the thought of a celebratory drink not high on my agenda. So I toasted my marathon success with a diet coke! 

  

My body was starting to stiffen up as I made my way back across London to my in laws. The hot bath never felt so good. Early night was definitely in order. 

The support for the Brathay charity I was running for, has been immense. I have managed to raise £3700 which will make a huge difference to these young people’s lives. I am going to visit the charity to see where the money goes in a few weeks time. My temporary pain is so worth it for the good it’s going to benefit them.

 http://www.brathay.org.uk/

I finally got my celebratory fizz! 

   

Would I run another marathon?? Yes of course I will. Just need to focus on getting quicker 😉

If you still want to sponsor me you still can at http://www.justgiving.com/Gina-Pennington2