Thursday, 31 March 2011

Contrasts #1 - Police vs. British Triathlon

Given that I (in my in-shock and adrenaline-fuelled state) refused an ambulance, the Police didn't attend the scene of my accident yesterday.  In hindsight, on two counts, that was Bad.  Bad because it -was- a serious accident - I'd been hit by and went over the bonnet of a car, dammit - and Bad because the Police weren't notified like they're supposed to be.  This also means I didn't get the driver's details.  So, I called the Police information line and was told to go to my local station to fill in the paperwork.  The Police at the local station pretty much told me not to bother filling in the forms as it most likely won't get followed up without the details of the driver, though as there is CCTV coverage of most of that road there's a slim chance something might come of it.  The impression I got there was "if someone bothers to look through the footage".  I did fill in the form and I did hand it in.  Let's see what happens there.

Our renewed membership British Triathlon (BTF) packs came in the post today and I was flicking through the handbook which reminded me that I -am- insured on training rides (which every single trip into town and back again -is- for me) and that I should report the accident to them.  So I gave them a call.  And the nice guy on the phone took all of my details and said I'd get forms in the post from the insurance company within 24 hours.  He wasn't fazed at all by the lack of driver details.  While I was out going to the GP later in the day (about an hour later) I got a call from the BTF solicitors for a chat through the details of the accident.  As I was just heading in to the surgery I asked them to call back in half an hour.  When I got home a couple of hours later, no call.  But then, my phone had been being rubbish; not letting me send (or receive it turns out) SMSs and it turns out not receive calls either.  An hour after I got home, I got two voicemails - one not for me and one from the solicitor calling  back exactly 35 minutes after the original call - and an SMS.

So.  Score two for BTF and zero for the Police so far.  BTF gave a crap, the Police didn't.  BTF bothered to talk to me, sounded like they cared, called me back and progressed my call.  The Police didn't.  I know the Police see a lot worse than the accident I had, but they didn't even bother to find out how bad it was or wasn't and made me feel like my situation was trivial, unimportant and wouldn't actually be attended to.

By the way, the GP was absolutely great, really sympathetic and nice and prescribed me some better painkillers and some muscle relaxants to help my neck and shoulders recover better.  And advised me to continue with the ice/heat treatment, relax and take it easy and chill out with pizza, wine and a film on the sofa.

Next up; Boots vs. Superdrug for First Aid supplies.  Which do you think would be better?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Not very articulate at the moment

I've added a little diagram to try to explain the picture a bit better.  Thing is, the cycle lane on the A24 is almost as wide as a bus lane at that point and cyclists get to go at a fair old whack on it while there's nothing parked in it. As in, it's totally normal to be travelling at 20+kph on that bit of road and not stop at every single side road to check if anyone wants to turn in to it.

It shouldn't be that a cyclist travelling on a main road has to behave differently from other traffic; we shouldn't have to stop at or slow right down at each side road that joins in case someone turns into or out of it onto the main road.  Bicycles are road traffic.  Bicycles have the same rights and the same rules as cars on the road.  It makes me angry when I see cyclists going through red traffic lights because it erodes the cause that all road users have to be treated equally and obey the rules equally.  It makes me angry when motorised vehicle road users think that bicycles (and horses in some cases) have no right to be on the road, should get out of the way of everything else and give way to everyone else and should never be anywhere other than in the gutter.

Right now, I'm too tired to be properly angry.  I need to rest up, treat my neck, shoulders and knees properly and wait to see how my bike is.

Trashed bike (probably) and helmet

On my way in to work this morning, I was about 12 minutes into my ride, maybe 15 and was flying up CS7 alongside the traffic jam of cars.  I was just at the junction of Oldridge Road and Balham High Road with a large van stationary just in front to the right of me, when a car going the other way suddenly appeared across the front of me, turning right into Oldridge Road.  I was doing about 25kph, maybe a bit more; the car was probably doing around 10kph.  I only found out about it when my front wheel was taken out by the front of the car and a second or so later I felt myself land and the back of my head hit the road.

[Yellow box is me on my bicycle travelling North in the massively wide cycle lane.  Purple boxes are stationary cars trying to go North.  Red box is large, stationary van trying to go North.  Blue box is blue car going South, turning right at the same time as I'm passing the side road.]

I screamed.  For the first time in my entire life, I screamed.  Twice.  Maybe three times.  My eyes were shut and I didn't dare open them.  There were people around me asking me to open my eyes, so I did.  I could hear a female voice saying "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.  Is she OK?" over and over.  My knees hurt, my head felt a bit funny and I didn't want to move.  They were all asking me was I OK, then one guy seemed to have some medical training and asked me my name, looked at my eyes, checked my grip, spine, hips and shoulders and then decided it was OK to get me moved.  I was keen to get out of the way of the traffic, but people kept telling me not to worry about it.

My bike was moved for me, I have no idea where it ended up first of all; I think it went over the car.  The car that hit me was behind me, so I must have gone right over the bonnet.  My shoes unclipped totally from the pedals pretty much immediately the impact happened, which is a relief.  With all the adrenaline bubbling about, I told everyone I was fine and totally intended to carry on in to work and that no, I didn't need any of the three ambulances that had been called for me.  No really, I'm fine.  The guy who checked my back and brain were mostly OK advised me to get me bike checked out before riding it again in case the headset was damaged which I thought, mm I'll do that on the way home tonight.

The woman that hit me took me for a cup of tea and I really did intend just to get on my bike and carry on in to work.  As we got up to leave the cafe, I looked down at my right knee and saw two huge lumps on it as well as the graze.  The woman was advising me to go home and have a hot bath, which was sounding more and more inviting by the minute.  My neck was starting to get sore and my jaw hurt as I opened it, so I thought I'll just check my bike in to the bike shop over the road for a check-over and head to a walk-in clinic to get myself checked over.

As I walked my bike to wait for the bike shop to open, I noticed something catching every revolution of the wheels.  So I lifted up the back and spun the back wheel - tiiiiiiiny bit wobbly but not catching on the brakes.  Did the same with the front... not so good.  Bent.  And looking at the right side of the front forks for the first time, I saw that they were broken.  Feeling a bit sick and headachey by this point I decided to go to St. Georges A&E to get properly checked out.

Then the shock finally started to wear off a bit and I was in floods of tears all the way to the hospital.  Snotty and sniffling, tears streaking down my cheeks.  By this point I couldn't turn my head to check for traffic coming in roads to the right of me, so had to turn my whole body to do that.

I locked my bike up outside the hospital and went in to A&E to register.  Only to get totally told off by the triage nurse for not coming in an ambulance, bumped to the front of the queue and told I was being treated as 'trauma' as I -should- have come in an ambulance especially given I went over the bonnet of the car.  I'm terrible.  I don't like making a fuss.  I don't like going to the doctor unless something is pretty much hanging off.  I really need to get over that.  That said, while I was in A & E waiting to be seen by a doctor, I heard a call come in for another accident - 20 minutes away in the ambulance; pedestrian vs. cyclist at 30mph.  Brain bleeding, BP very high, other internal injuries, suspected probably won't survive the ambulance journey.  I don't know if that was the pedestrian or the cyclist, but I'd suspect the pedestrian at that speed.  I didn't find out in the end.

At this point, I felt very lucky.

The doctor came and... long story short, my BP and heart rate were very high (I still had my heart rate monitor on and it didn't drop below 100 even after sitting down for 20 minutes).  Spine, hips, shoulders and brain checked out OK.  Knees and calves just badly bruised, scraped and a bit lumpy.  Neck and jaw minor injuries that would need ice packs for a few days and Ibuprofen to treat.  No work for at least 2 days, no gym or cycling for 2 weeks.  Immediate treatment with diclofenac (and some bread and butter and tea to help make it easier on the stomach) and 2 hours observation before being discharged with a letter sent to my GP detailing the injuries.

Home now and my bike is in for  a safety check with a definite broken front fork, very likely needing replacement front wheel, maybe replacement back wheel (might be fixable, might not).  They're going to check the frame to see if/how much it is bent and the brakes, gears, crank etc.  It's going to be a toss up whether it's a write-off or not, but given the cost of the safety check, replacement front fork, replacement front wheel, replacement or trueing of rear wheel and labour as a definite cost to fix it up safe to ride... it's sailing close to the original cost of the bike anyway.  If it is going to cost loads to fix it up, I'll get the pedals and a few other bits off it and scrap the rest.

Annoyingly, my camera is out of battery and I'm too tired/sore to go find the charger, so here's a list of the injuries:-
  • Left knee - bruised on top and both sides, grazed on the top and left side
  • Left calf - large bruise 
  • Right knee - tangerine-sized lump on the left with a graze, egg-sized lump on top with a graze, large scrape down the right side of the calf behind the knee
  • Left side of jaw - sore to open
  • Left side of back of neck, very very sore
  • Bottom of neck, both sides and spreading out across the back of my shoulders - very very sore
  • Right side of back of head - bruised/sore
My bicycle helmet - bent plastic and compressed polystyrene at the middle on the back and cracked polystyrene right through on the back, left side (where it hit the road).  That has to be replaced.  Anybody that ever tells me that people shouldn't wear cycling helmets will get an unpleasant response from me.  I always thought it's better to wear one than not and now... well, given how hard my head hit the road I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be sitting here back at home by now if I hadn't been wearing a helmet.  I'm pretty sure I would have been in an ambulance earlier and not telling people I was fine.  I'm pretty sure I'd have more than a slightly sore bit on the back of my head.

Bicycle - front fork cracked right through (not fixable), front wheel buckled (not fixable), back wheel a bit bent (may be fixable), frame and crank etc. being checked out.

I need to go and find Ibuprofen now.  And sort out more ice for the rest of the day.  Everything aches.  My neck and shoulders hurt a lot unless I slouch in a bad way and I'm feeling washed out and tired.  I've already eaten 4 slices of bread (two in the hospital with butter on and two toasted with Marmite when I got home) 'cause I'm starving hungry but I don't care what I eat today as long as I do eat.   I want to nap, but that's a bad idea unsupervised at the moment, so I'll try not to do that for at least a few more hours if not normal bed-time.

Time to count my blessings and drink tea with kittens cuddled up.

Cycle Superhighways - maybe not all that bad really

Last week, I went to The Vitality Show and decided that the best way to get there would be by bicycle. This meant a cycle in to The City in the morning, to work, then head West at around lunch time to Earls Court, then from Earls Court home again afterwards. Around 45km of cycling spread across the beautiful, sunny day.

You may remember I've been a bit cynical about the CS7 Super Highway of late, but my opinion may well be swinging back the other way again after the experiences of 24th March.

Holborn Viaduct is nowhere near as bad as people say, but in general the route West across London was pretty horrid in places. The road too narrow to be able to effectively filter through traffic never mind cycle freely in your own road space without White Van Man, BMW/Audi/Mercedes twat man, or London Bus Driver trying to tell you in no uncertain terms that you don't deserve that road space, usually by squeezing out, cutting across your line of travel or simply honking their horn at you WHEN THERE'S ACTUALLY NOTHING TO BE GAINED BY BEING IN FRONT OF YOU! *fume*

Some of the back roads are quiet, but a massive detour, with higher chance of getting lost , making the overall journey longer and there are still idiots who speed and honk at you. And the road surface in general is pretty damned awful. Pot holes, uneven manhole and drain covers, subsided and undulating concrete where the structure under the tarmac simply isn't coping with the physical weight of the traffic (Putney Bridge, oh god!)... it's all well and good the government saying that general policy is to leave road surfaces a bit rubbish in cities to encourage people not to speed in motorised vehicles, but what about the rest of us, eh?

So, while CS7 isn't as protected as it could be, it's hugely better than there not being any provision at all. The experience of cycling through town away from it brought that message clearly home to me.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Aw nuts!

That there Tefal ActiFry I was trying out... broke. Nothing to do with usage or cleaning of it, it fell off the worktop, I think the cable got tangled in something I was moving around behind it. It went flying onto the floor, the back of the casing smashed to bits, the fan blades inside at the back got sproinged and a cable came off relating to the motor.

So. It's now off to the tip to meet it's resting place. Not entirely impressed with smashed appliances all over the kitchen floor, it's a right old waste, but thankfully it wasn't the most used or favourite one. Hey ho.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Hot prawn pots - Weight Watchers Pro Points recipe

I finally got a chance to try one of the recipes from the 'Seriously Satisfying' Weight Watchers (Pro Points) recipe book!  Don't get me wrong, it's not because it was a laborious or time-consuming recipe that I hadn't tried it yet - it was quick and easy - it's just been so mentally difficult to get beyond cooking tried and tested stuff or, worse still, just ordering takeaway.  We've got into a horrible habit of eating takeaway around once or twice a week now, plus going out for food maybe once as well.  It's purely because we're both so busy at work that we're mentally and physically drained by the time it comes to making evening meal decisions.  This has to change because it's a downwards spiral of not being strong enough to deal with thinking about cooking, eating out, feeling worse and giving up, ending up eating out more, blah blah...

So, last night, while the boys had a relatively righteous pizza dinner after their afternoon's exercise of going for a recce of the cycle and run routes for the sprint triathlon in a few weeks time, I didn't give in and order any!  I was strong(ish) and headed for the Weight Watchers recipe books to get on with it.

I'd been hankering for prawns for a while, so settled on the 'Hot Prawn Pots' recipe...

8 Pro Points per serving:-
  • Low fat cooking spray (I substituted Berio Light Olive Oil spray)
  • 15g low fat spread (I substituted Coconut Oil)
  • 15g plain flour
  • 150ml skimmed milk
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon (I'd recommend an unwaxed one or a very well washed one)
  • 1tbsp fresh, chopped parsley (I didn't have any)
  • 60g peeled cooked prawns
  • 25g sweetcorn
  • 15g bread, diced
  • salt and black pepper to taste
The recipe says you need 1 10cm/4" diameter ramekin.  What I cooked didn't fit in one of those, it fitted in 2x ramekins (maybe mine are a bit small, but they're not half the size!).  In any case, grease the ramekins with your cooking spray and get ready to pre-heat your grill.

Dice the bread into pretty small chunks.  15g works out at about 1/4 slice of bread, so you can dice the lot and freeze the bits you don't use for another day.

Melt your spread in a warm pan.

Add the flour to the melted spread.

Mix thoroughly to a thick paste and cook for a minute before removing from the heat.

Gradually add the milk to the paste, stirring thoroughly each time, smaller amounts at first so you don't get any lumps, then you can add gradually greater amounts as it thins out more.  If you do end up with lumps early on, you can put the pan back on a low heat and let the mix thicken up a bit more - stirring all the time - and the mix will end up more consistent again, then you can take it off the heat  and carry on adding the milk again.

Once all the milk is mixed in, put the pan back on the heat and heat slowlyish back to just bubbling, stirring all the time until thickened.  It will look glossy, silky and a bit like custard only less yellow.

Now you can add the rest of the ingredients; first the lemon zest.

Then sweetcorn (if it was frozen, make sure it's defrosted before adding it).

Prawns (same applied to these).

Stir it all together and heat through thoroughly; add seasoning to taste.  Pre-heat your grill while you're doing this part.  Once the mixture is heated through, pour into the ramekin(s) and top with the diced bread.  Spray your cooking spray lightly over the top and place under the grill to toast the topping.

Remove from the grill, serve and enjoy!

I think these would be great little starters at a dinner party - they're light, tasty and pretty quick to make.  The fresh lemon zest and cooked-from-scratch roux make them all the nicer!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Omega-oils-tastic salad!

Went a bit nuts with the Omega fatty acids with this dinner...


Omega-tastic salad; serves 1 (easily scales up) - (763kcals - 42g protein, 45g carbs, 46g fat, 2.3 fruit and veg)
  • Mixed oriental leaves (Abel and Cole) - a good handful (40g)
  • Smoked salmon trimmings - half a pack (60g)
  • Red salad potatoes (Abel and Cole) - a decent portion (175g)
  • Red onions (Abel and Cole) - quarter of a small one, finely chopped (25g)
  • Jerusalem Artichokes (Abel and Cole) - a couple of small ones (40g)
  • Food Doctor Omega seeds - 1 heaped tbsp (25g)
  • Mixed bean sprouts (Abel and Cole) - a couple of heaped tbsp (25g)
  • Free range eggs (Abel and Cole) - 2, hardish boiled
  • Extra Virgin olive oil - a good couple of lugs (10ml)
  • Fresh lemon juice - juice half a lemon
  • Mayonnaise - a good heaped tbsp (30g)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Cut into bite-sized chunks the potatoes and artichokes (hopefully some are small enough to leave hole).
  2. Boil the potatoes and artichokes to firm, but cooked.  Drain and set aside to cool a little.
  3. Boil the eggs, drain and set aside to cool a little before peeling the shells.
  4. Finely chop the onion.
  5. Put the mayonnaise and half the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the onion and mix.
  6. Add the warm potatoes and artichokes to the mix and the heat of the potatoes will help the dressing mix to coat them well.
  7. Lay the salad leaves in a wide bowl.  Sprinkle the bean sprouts and seeds on top.  Add the salmon trimmings to cover about 50% of the surface, mostly in the middle of the bowl.
  8. Drizzle the olive oil over the surface and the rest of the lemon juice and season with black pepper.
  9. Cut the eggs in half and arrange around the edges.
  10. Spoon the potatoey mix onto the centre of the bowl and season again with black pepper.
  11. Serve immediately.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Fun with Geoff

Injured and not really feeling up for it, I pootled gently to the gym on my bike and had a little, gentle warm up on the cross-trainer until my session was due to start. And Geoff was keen to make sure my knee was OK with everything we did today so asked straight off the bat if rowing was going to be fine, then he did this to me...
  • 4x500m row; 02:10, 02:05, 02:00 and 01:55
  • 3x10 pull ups (no rest); wide over, narrow under, side (45kg assist)
  • 3x5 pull ups (no rest); wide over, narrow under, side (40kg assist)
  • 2x10 dips (40kg assist)
  • 1x5 dips (35kg assist)
  • 3x20 bar-bell core rotations*- bare bar, bar with 2.5kg, bar with 5kg
  • 2x20 bar-bell core rotations* - elbow locked in and bar with 5kg
  • 2x20 one-arm presses with bar-bell*- bar with 5kg
  • 3x10 cleans; bare Olympic bar, bar with 5kg, bar with 10kg
  • 3x10 jerks; bare Olympic bar, bar with 5kg, bar with 10kg
  • 3x10 quick drops; bare Olympic bar, bar with 5kg, bar with 10kg#
  • 1x20 fast presses; bare Olympic bar
* - one end of the bar on the floor, pivoting on that.
# - I didn't manage the 10kg ones as I had a mental block on jumping about with a bar with weights on it behind my neck

And it was good and I felt great. It wasn't the routine Geoff had originally planned, but it was fun nonetheless and kept the impact and stress off my duff knee. A nice little pootle home in the sun to watch some cycling and then the boat race.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Vitality Show

I think I rather missed the point.  It was pink and girly, but a bit on the shabby side.  I didn't get around to going to the POM demos and none of the talks that were on while I was there inspired me.  Annoyingly Dame Kelly Holmes was due to speak about 2 hours after I'd left.  That might have been one worth hearing.  Maybe I should have upgraded to a VIP experience thingy, but quite frankly they looked a bit expensive.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why Nintendo Cats 'n' Dogs were there...

(though I did have a go on the 3DS and was pretty impressed with the 3D effect - it's like those random dot stereograms, but without the effort, and it's an actual picture not dots, and you can adjust the shift to your eyes)

I would like to say thanks to Weight Watchers for the tickets; to be honest, their stand was great, the staff really friendly and helpful and more than happy to feed people lots of their quite nice blueberry muffins.  They were one of the few exhibitors who really should have been at the show and did it well.

I listened to Rosemary Conley trolling out the same old "we were more active in the 1950s.  we used to walk to the shops 4-5 times a week... blah blah...".  The thing is we have moved on and quite frankly I'd rather be doing something more productive or enjoyable than my grandmother was doing at my age.  I managed a good 3-4 minutes of Rosemary before I got fed up and walked off.

Wandering around to get a bit of a feel for the show, I ended up in the spirituality section and freaked out a tiny bit 'cause it was all so very crystal-waving and aura reading.  I get that some people like that stuff, but dammit I'm a scientist/engineer by training and I don't get on with it at all.  So I speeded out of there and over to the 'taste' section to find a load of great products, like '9 Bar' who were doing an offer of a mixed box of 16 bars for only £7.  I wanted to take some home for Mr TOTKat, but they didn't take cash so I had to find a cash machine and save some space in my rucksack for later.

Given that it was way after 14:30 and breakfast was a loooong time ago (and yes, OK, I'd had a couple of plums, a pear, some seeds and a banana since breakfast but...) I really had to eat at this point.  Luckily there is a Crussh in the exhibition centre.  One tuna and bean salad with a strawberry cooler (extra ginger please!) while I watched some dance and I felt a heck of a lot more human.

Back to the 'taste' section and I was happy pottering about, checking out the stands and tasting bits and bobs like the new Nairns 'Oaty Bakes' (the cheesey ones were a bit like Doritos Cheese and I wasn't that keen, the caramelised onion ones were nice so I got a couple of little bags given to me to take away).

And some 'low fat' cheese from these guys, which was interesting but as rucksack space was at a premium I decided against it.

I came across a new range of fruit bars from Tropical Wholefoods - 4 flavours of fruit bars that are really rather tasty, so I bought one of each to take home.  They do loads of other products but these really grabbed me.  I sort of liked the Nakd bars, but these are much nicer in my opinion as they're not trying to be anything else, they're just smooshed fruit.

Then I had a quick look in the 'fitness and yoga' section to find I accidentally subscribed to 'Women's Running' and watched a bit of yoga.

To be honest, the fitness section was pretty disappointing on the whole.  Aside from the lady at the Women's Running stand, who knew her stuff and got my points about not pandering to wussy fluffiness and the fact that women's  physiological differences mean that they can injure in different ways from men due to running, the fitness area was mostly yoga and gentle things.  I'd really love to have seen a serious training shop there (though I did see some Fitness First branded people about the show, I didn't find their stand) but it just doesn't seem to exist in the UK in the same way as the US.

Back to the 'pampering' section near the entrance of the hall and, well, seeing as I was hoiking a large rucksack about I didn't want to stop to have a massage and didn't feel like paying for a manicure or similar would be great idea if I was then going to ruin it cycling home (I don't cycle daintily at all).  It was all a bit focussed on making money rather then show-casing products, although some poor himbo was being exploited by the self-tanning shop:-

....which was a pleasant diversion for a few minutes, but given the general meh-ness of it all... well.  Meh.

Almost to spite Ms Conley and her low fat crap, I headed back to a stand in the 'taste' section...

And got me a blimmin' great venison and mushroom sausage in a bun.  Then put far too much English mustard on it and had a real hard time eating it.

A quick trip back to the 9 Bar stand to pick up a pack to take home and with a runny nose and a -really- heavy rucksack it was time to head home before I made any other rash decisions to try to cram any more in there (I weighed it when I got home - 10.5 kg :o)) and cycled home.

I'll be running a competition to win some of the goodies here, so check back later and see what the goody packs look like.  I also have a few voucher codes which I'll put in a separate post for you all to use.

Recovery seems to be going well

Five portions of fruit and veg (well, OK, fruit) already today, and all before 09:30!  (fruit compote on my yoghurt this morning, then two plums, a pear and a banana after cycling in)

Two days of almost complete rest, lots of ice and Ibuprofen and  my knee seems to be doing really very well.  So, rather than commute by tube (and consequently end up running up and down escalators 'cause I'm crap at standing still on them) I got on my bike to work this morning.  Veeeeery nice ride, apart from the extra new potholes that have appeared in the last week and the two cycle route closures meant I had to get off and walk a couple of times too, but it wasn't so bad overall.  My knee is feeling pretty good now, but I'll stay off the running for a while still and carry on with the Ibuprofen at least for today.

And it is a gorgeous day and I'm off to The Vitality Show later except I forgot my camera this morning, so I may have to resort to using my old iPhone camera...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Mmmyoggit! (Greek of course!)

You might remember a while back I tried some new TOTAL snacking yoghurts.  Well, I've finally got around to trying all of the flavours now and I can say that they are all pretty blimmin' nice, but my favourite by far is the Tropical Fruits one.

These new yoghurts are 0% fat Greek (of course!) and the available flavours are Blueberry, Strawberry, Tropical Fruits and Honey.

The Honey one suffers from being  A. yoghurt and needing to be in the fridge but B. having honey which pretty much solidifies if you do that so you need to leave it out for a bit before trying to eat it otherwise you just end up with a hard lump of honey with a thin covering of yoghurt on it and it just won't mix in.

The strawberry one is just far too sweet for my taste, but Mr TOTKat quite likes it.  I really like the blueberry one, but far and away the winner for both of us is Tropical Fruits.  Generally, I'd be happier if there was less sweetening added to the compote part because they're a touch on the sickly side for me, but given that the flavouring enhancers are natural - i.e. honey or sugar, I'm less concerned than I would be if it were aspartame or similar.  I am a bit of an anti-sugar freak, but given how little (non-fruit based, i.e. unrefined and actually in something that it's supposed to be in from the start) sugar I actually eat I'm relatively happy to eat these, plus they're higher in protein than 'normal' yoghurts as they're Greek.  Swings and roundabouts really.

I'd like to see a couple more flavours in the range - black cherry (my top favourite flavour of  fruit-flavoured yoghurt) and maybe rhubarb or mandarin orange and I'd like to see less added sugar.  That said, I still think it's going to be handy to keep a pot or two in the fridge at work for those times I cycle in and had something else before I left the house and need a top-up when I get in to the office.  Definitely more convenient than keeping a large pot of plain yoghurt and a tub of compote, in an already crowded work fridge, and not really getting through them and ending up throwing some away.  And I'm all about the not wasting food (I really can't believe how much most people throw away; utterly shocking to me).

One more free Vitality Show ticket for Thursday

I have two tickets for tomorrow's show and I'm going.  First person to comment on this post (who wants to go and can get there on Thursday) gets the second ticket and I'll meet you there!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Curry for one (or two) - it's quick!

Curry from scratch does not need to take ages.  It tastes fabulous, you don't need jars of paste or sauce and you know exactly what you've put in it...

First, make sure you have cooked base protein.  In this case some Abel and Cole cubed buffalo, onion, tomato and courgette:-

Mr TOTKat cooked this in a batch a while ago.  Sweat a chopped onion, add 500g cubed buffalo (or beef or lamb), once browned, add the chopped tomato (a couple of large ones) and (a couple of medium) courgette and cook the meat through.  Divide up into (4) portions and chill/freeze.

You could use pretty much any meat or poultry, fish won't work so well but you could try some chunky white fish.  Big, meaty Portobello mushrooms, chick peas, butter beans or tofu can be used in place of the meat.  As it's not a creamy curry, nuts would probably not be very nice.  Veg could be lots of different things; courgettes, peppers, onion, cauliflower, tomatoes, aubergine, squashes, sweet potato, carrot... probably not cabbage or any softish leafy vegetables though pak choi or chard may work, it's worth a try. I can't imagine swede or parsnip would work so well though.

Then you need to make your paste (this makes enough for 2 people and you can keep it in the fridge for a day or three in a sealed container.
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 red chilli
  • a chunk of ginger to taste
  • 2 tsps light oil
Roughly chop the onion.

Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan, then crush in a pestle and mortar with some salt crystals until you have a fineish powder.

Roughly chop the chilli and put all the paste ingredients into a container and blend into a paste with a hand blender.

Heat the paste in a non-stick pan.

I decided to add some extra tomato; chopped up a couple and blended them to a smoothish paste.  Then added that to the curry paste.  Cook for a little while and add slugs of water if it starts to get too thick or stick.

Add the pre-cooked meat and veg, add a little water if needed and make sure the whole thing is heated thorougly.

Serve and eat with rice, toasted pitta, curried potato or just by itself.  (By itself, 455kcals, 62g protein, 28.5g carbs, 11.5g fat, 7g fibre and 6.2 portions of fruit and veg - 600kcals with a toasted wholemeal pitta bread).

Start to finish, that took about 35 minutes including 10 minutes preparation time.

My trainer is an actual star!

I finally got around to looking up my personal trainer on the Internets... and it turns out that he's ranked world #2 for 400m in the 50-59 category.  I mean, I knew he was good, but... cor!

And he's utterly utterly ripped...

So, what better inspiration on a day where I'm eating a ton of Ibuprofen, using ice-packs and keeping off my legs, to sign up for ANOTHER RACE!  Hah!

Yes, I just signed up for Run To The Beat which falls right at the end of the race calendar.  A half marathon, sponsored by Nike, with loads of music...

Monday, 21 March 2011

First race of the year

First race of the year - Clapham Common 10K Series Race #1.  With a scheduled start for the race of 10:05, registration opening at 08:45, we decided the time to set off from home was... 08:45.  So we set an alarm for 07:30 to give us plenty of time to have a shower, breakfast, tea, second breakfast and get there in good time to register and queue for the loos before the 10K race start.

I had a bowl of Dorset Cereals - Tasty Toasted Spelt with semi-skimmed milk and then a slice of toasted home-made malt loaf with peanut butter just before we left the house.  It wasn't too cold on the way to Clapham Common, but cool enough for a nice run so that boded well for a good race for me (I really don't like the heat!).

When we got there, Chris was already registered, quaffing a hot coffee (wise move as it was a bit nippy) and a bit amused to have race number "4".  We faffed a bit then registered and... hah!... ended up with race numbers "5" and "6". 

Yes, it was cold enough to need gloves!

No, we didn't decide to be colour co-ordinated, it just happened that way, OK!

Having dropped our bags off, the final runner (Ibrahim) we were going to meet up with was spotted queueing for registration and the competitiveness got off to a rollocking start.

Group warmup was, as ever at these events, a bit annoying.  Static stretching is not a good idea before running and it really peeves me that the organised warm up staff still encourage people to do it.  *grouch*  Anyhoo... the 2km kiddies had run their race and looked like they'd had fun with a couple of them clocking up times only just over 10 minutes.  The 5km race guys gathered around the start for their 5 minute head-start to do 1 lap while those of us doing 10km waited a bit longer to start our 2 convoluted and wiggly laps of the park.  10am came and went and then we were off!  Mr TOTKat was just in front of me and pulled ahead quite early on, to be swiftly followed by Ibrahim who overtook me around the 1km mark.

Just around the 1.5km mark I passed a couple of girls encouraging each other on, then at the 2km mark someone had obviously fallen over and was being consoled at the side of the track.  All props to the organisers for going around the course and not only marking it clearly with tape, cones and signs but they'd sprayed orange fluorescent paint on any trip hazards like pot holes, tree roots and the odd manhole cover with a raised or dropped edge.  The course is a mixed surface course between mostly paved and grass with a little bit of gravel towards the end of the laps.  There are a couple of little undulating grassy bits, one of which was really quite muddy.

Towards the end of the first lap, around the 4km mark my left knee started to hurt a bit.  I thought I'd run through it and see if it went away.

It didn't.

Through muttering about people slowing down where the course narrowed to pinch points and the odd person running, walking and being over-taken and then running again and overtaking the "proper runners" back again, I gritted my teeth and kept on through the increasing pain levels.  There was no way I was going to have my first DNF.  No.  Way.

Crossing the finish line for the first time (end of the first lap), I checked my watch.  It was 27:00.  Dead.  This was Not Good.  My target was to get a 10km time in the 55 minute range.  Given a usually faster first 5km than second, it wasn't looking good at all for a 55:xx finish time, especially with my knee talking to me quite loudly already.  The race entertainer/encourager on the PA gave me a shout out as I crossed the line "nice low race number there, well done Kate!" so I gave them a wave and a smile.

Around 6km I realised I'd slowed down a bit as a few people I'd just overtaken had overtaken me back.  Checking my watch my heart rate had dropped a good 6bpm which, at that point in a race, means I'm well off pace.  So I wound up the pace again and ploughed on, my knee getting more and more painful.

Somewhere around 7km I was at the point of vocalising a little on each strike of my left foot.  With the constant thought of "run your own race", "run your own race" I was running through calculations of what my finish time might be if I managed a 6minutes/km pace.  8km came and went and my focus was more and more on finishing, keeping the pace high enough to have a semi-respectable time but low enough not to run the risk of having to pull up before the end.  I then couldn't remember if there was a 9km marker or not, convinced myself that there wasn't one and almost cried when it came as I thought I was closer to the finish than that when it did.  Rounding the final corner, a guy to the left of me groaned loudly, so I said "you can say that again!".  Roughly 100m to go and I tried to lift the pace for the last little bit but there wasn't much I could do with my knee on fire.  With about 20m to go, Chris passed me!  I swore.  Loudly.  Twice.  And threw myself over the line.  Stopped my watch and dared to look at the time.  54:27!!!  Well under target and with a knee that had been increasingly painful for most of the race!

Mr TOTKat and Ibrahim were waiting for us, but only by a couple of minutes...

Me, Mr TOTKat, Chris and Ibrahim

Great race.  Really enjoyed it despite the painful knee.  Really enjoyed the pub burger and chips with a lovely 3.4% ale (Adnams Lighthouse) at The Avalon just down the road from the common.

Today, however, my knee still hurts.  Just walking.  So I'm on rest, ice and ibuprofen for a day or two.  On the up side, the official timing results give me a time of 54:22 which is even better than I thought.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

We have a winner!

My competition in partnership with Weight Watchers to win tickets to the Vitality Show has been won! The entrants were written down in order that they were received and each assigned a number in order, then the random number generator used to pick a number for the winner:-

Congratulations go to Bronagh, hope you enjoy the day and the goody bag (which will arrive after the show finishes)!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Red Nose Day?

Blimey, I hope I get to go home at a reasonable hour today. I've successfuly managed to avoid going to the gym despite temptation, but mostly due to the fact that it's still mentally busy at work. (I just had to explain to a supplier on the phone that we're not doing anything for Red Nose Day because we have utterly no sense of humour at the moment).  Really excited about Sunday's race now... first one of the year.

Oh, and don't forget to get your entries in for my Weight Watchers Vitality Show competition to win tickets and a goody bag!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Brave or silly

My calves are in paaaaaaaain still!  From Saturday's session with Geoff!  I can't work out what exactly killed them, but Oh Boy!  So the really clever thing to do, quite clearly, was to cycle to work and back yesterday and have a fun session in the gym today doing some of the things from Saturday's session (with no harness, no Bulgarian bags and a much smaller gym during the week, it cramps the style somewhat with some of the more flamboyant things Geoff gets me doing).

Tell you what, my shoulders look silly in the mirror when I'm doing those kettlebell squats.  And I managed to do 10, 8, 7 nose-to-floor pressups on my feet rather than knees :o)  I'm pretty sure those "Perfect Pushup" handle things are why I couldn't do them on Saturday.

Monday, 14 March 2011

FREE Vitality Show Tickets!

Don't forget to enter my Weight Watchers competition before friday; you could win free tickets to The Vitality Show 2011 and a bag of health and beauty goodies! (also details on how to get reduced rate tickets if you don't win).

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Anyone would think I worked for them...

Abel and Cole.  Like.  Seriously.

We just had a glorious Saturday evening meal, all from Abel and Cole and all gorgeous, tasty and fabulously good ingredients.  Lamb loin chops with "Hosanna Hey Sanna Pommes Anna" potatoes and braised fennel.  Recipes by Abel and Cole.  (524kcals per person, 34.2g protein, 19.5g carbs, 32.9g fat, 2.4 portions fruit and veg - all based on 2 people sharing)

  • 200-250g largeish salad potatoes
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
  • salt and pepper
Pre-heat your oven to 200C.  Using a potato peeler, finely slice the potatoes

Finely chop the rosemary

Slightly overlapping on each layer, layer the slices of potato with a sprinkle of herbs, seasoning and oil between each layer, in a ramekin per person

When the final layer is complete, press down firmly and cover with greaseproof paper

Bake in the over for 20 minutes, then remove the greaseproof paper and cook for the final 10-15 minutes uncovered.

While the potatoes are in the oven...
  • 20g or so of butter (a good knob)
  • 1 bulb of fennel, trimmed and sliced into 1/2" thick slices
  • chicken stock
Melt the butter in a pan or over-proof dish that can go on direct heat

Saute the fennel slices in the melted butter (I did these one slice at a time in a small Le Creuset pot, then added them all back in after the initial searing in butter)

Cook for around 5 minutes in the butter with a lid on and then add the chicken stock.  Braise for a further 20-25 minutes on a medium to low heat until the fennel is tender.

Then, while all that is bubbling away...
  • 4 lamb loin chops (around 425-475g total)
  • seasoning (salt, pepper and any left over chopped rosemary)

Pre-heat a griddle or frying pan then add the lamb chops and cook until they feel about the same as the consistency of the heel of your left hand between finger and thumb of your right hand whilst your left thumb is pressed against your left middle or ring finger(*).  This should take about 5 minutes each side.

By this point, everything should have cooked so you can serve it all, having tossed the fennel in the stock one more time.

And it will be GLORIOUS!

* - I can't get hold of the original "how to cook perfect steak" page on Abel and Cole, so here's an image of the cached version to explain this...