Post Comment Love 19 - 21 January 2018

Hello there and welcome to another Friday and another #PoCoLo and already I'm wondering how we're over halfway through January.  I've a feeling this year is going to whizz by just as the more recent ones have, but as I can't do much to stop that - just eek!  If you were here last week, it was great to see you, if you're new here this week then you're equally as welcome. 

Work has once again been busy and i've not managed to meet my leave on time ambition but I am making the most of my walk to work, thanks to some snazzy new trainers.  I'm also pleased to see the back of the grey, damp weather and while now there's colder blue skied days, I think on balance I prefer them. Not the wind quite so much though, I hope you didn't experience fences blown down - I don't think we have, and if we have I haven't spotted it yet. 

If I'm honest I was half expecting the cover on our patio table to have escaped, but it was still there this morning so that was a pleasant surprise.  I think it'll need securing this weekend though.

My photo seems much more calm and serene than the weather has been doesn't it? It's another from the beautiful garden, Compton Acres in Poole - I will share more from our visit there last March at some point, and you'll see just what I mean about it being beautiful.

Relaxing among the greenery at Compton Acres

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A mixed year on the plot

If you've been following my "year in review" posts you'll know that they've been full of things I've enjoyed, and this one is no different, but it's also been a year of challenges. We knew when we took on our overgrown plot that it wouldn't be easy, but I don't think either of us realised quite how hard it would be either.

That said, it's still been rewarding, just a little bit more back breaking and soul destroying than we'd hoped for. And eating produce you've grown yourself makes your back ache just a little bit less, although in my case that wasn't helped by my "allotment tan" that gap between my shorts and my t-shirt, ouch!  (It's still brown now!)

But 2018 is a new year, and once again I'm already itching to thumb those seed catalogues and start planning where we'll plant things this year. And I'm determined that this year I'll make that cutting patch...

My allotment year in 2017 was a shorter year, in fact not a year at all as my posts only cover April to November, so there's another lesson for me and that's to get out there digging earlier this year.

If anything I think these two first two photos from my post in April checking in with the plot were to be indicative of our growing year - the celeriac above ground looked to be doing well, but below was just a mass of roots without the lovely celeriac bulb. We'll try again - hopefully with more success - I'm sure.

APRIL: IT LOOKS LIKE CELERIAC

APRIL: IT LOOKS LIKE CELERIAC

...NOT QUITE SO MUCH NOW THOUGH!

...NOT QUITE SO MUCH NOW THOUGH!

But I'm grateful for one thing for our first visit last year, and that's one of my favourite photos of the year - yes the one with the lichen, and yes I still liken my lichen a lot!

APRIL: I STILL LIKEN MY LICHEN

APRIL: I STILL LIKEN MY LICHEN

Later that month I had potatoes chitting everywhere. Almost every surface was covered with them and it felt like the potatoes had taken over the asylum, and that's still true today.  We're still eating potatoes we harvested in autumn last year - I told you there was a lot!  And that gives me a dilemma, as it's apparent we're not big potato eaters so I should grow less, but then they've done wonders for our soil, so we'll be growing them again.

...perhaps I should look for a different solution, it would most definitely be easier to start eating more potatoes!

APRIL: POTATOES CHITTING EVERYWHERE

APRIL: POTATOES CHITTING EVERYWHERE

By May my broad beans were planted out and our plot was looking semi-respectable again, and the battle of the onions lay ahead of us.  We took a new approach to the weeds too and rather than dig them up, decided to try blocking them out with soil in a raised bed.

MAY: BROAD BEANS AND A WEED FREE PATH  (IGNORE THE REST OF THE WEEDS!)

MAY: BROAD BEANS AND A WEED FREE PATH  (IGNORE THE REST OF THE WEEDS!)

The next month or so saw me wage that battle with the foxes over the onions. I'd like to call it a truce, but I think in reality they won and my onions never really recovered. It's the second year I've had no luck with onions so I'm going to give them a miss for a bit and hope that when we try again the foxes have forgotten, or moved on.

JULY: PROTECTING MY ONIONS TO NO AVAIL

JULY: PROTECTING MY ONIONS TO NO AVAIL

We did have a bumper crop of strawberries, and later raspberries and later still apples and it's these small wins that made having the plot so worthwhile.  Especially so with the strawberries as they were off plants I'd moved over from our garden - most of them free plants too from the runners, and you know how much I like free plants. And strawberries!

JULY: PLENTIFUL STRAWBERRIES

JULY: PLENTIFUL STRAWBERRIES

The plot next to ours continues to inspire me, but there's also an element of envy too. I know how much effort our small progress has taken, and at times I think ours will never be quite as together as this, but I also know that having it right next door gives us something to aim for. I suspect our neighbouring plot owner looks at ours hoping we'd hurry up and get it sorted, but I'm sure they also know just how much effort that will take.

JULY: NOT MY PLOT (OBVS)

JULY: NOT MY PLOT (OBVS)

In August we were back on the plot and making good progress, although there were notable losses - pumpkins, tomatoes and cucumbers, I'm looking at you, but once again we did have some beautiful sunflowers.

AUGUST: PLENTY OF BEAUTIFUL SUNFLOWERS STILL TO COME

AUGUST: PLENTY OF BEAUTIFUL SUNFLOWERS STILL TO COME

In September we were overrun with red and green bounty and feasted on borlotti beans and rhubarb - not together and all was good with the world. Our biggest harvest was later this year than the previous year, but it was much needed and our energy and enthusiasm was renewed. Phew.

SEPTEMBER'S RED AND GREEN BOUNTY

SEPTEMBER'S RED AND GREEN BOUNTY

But that wasn't the last of our harvests, we still had the potatoes to come.  In the end that took us two attempts, and I think we've still got some in the ground (mental note: need to check on these soon) and as I said earlier in the post, we're still working our way through the almost 10kg of potatoes. 

ALMOST 10KG OF POTATOES, WHICH IS A LOT OF POTATOES...

ALMOST 10KG OF POTATOES, WHICH IS A LOT OF POTATOES...

TINY SUNFLOWERS ON A VERY THICK STEM

TINY SUNFLOWERS ON A VERY THICK STEM

So thankfully there were highs in our allotment year, but there were also lows too, and lows that were lower than I'd expected to feel and I seriously questioned if we should keep our plot. There is still so much to do, but we have a plan to bring a new section of it into fruition this year, and I'm hopeful that won't be quite as bad as we hope. The section in question has been covered with tarpaulin since we took over the plot so at least there isn't the grass (above ground) to dig through.

Wish us luck - we're going to need it - and I'll keep you updated with how we get on.

Walking comfortably on my commute

It's funny how sometimes life can throw up happy coincidences isn't it?  That happened for me towards the end of last year.  A friend got in touch to ask if I could help out one of my old teams as they were short. Now it's been a while since I played Korfball (or Netball to be honest) and my fitness levels are lower than they once were, but for once this wasn't uppermost in my mind. My first thought was if I had any trainers I could wear, and then I caught myself as not only was it ridiculous that I was considering playing (see fitness levels admission above), but of course I would have trainers, wouldn't I?

It turns out I did, my old much-used netball trainers had made way after almost walking themselves to the bin, but I still had my very underused running trainers, I was sure. Somewhere.  But then that happy coincidence happened as Vionic shoes and offered me a pair of trainers to review, or sneakers as they call them on their site.

You'll remember that MOH picked them up from the Post Office for me before Christmas, and took some convincing that there were trainers in the box as it was so light. And it's true, they are light - even lighter than my underused running shoes, but they're comfortable and I love how they don't look like trainers, as while these are from the active range I'd earmarked them for use on my walking commute.

IT WAS PURE COINCIDENCE THAT I MANAGED TO MATCH MY VIONIC TRAINERS TO MY OUTFIT

IT WAS PURE COINCIDENCE THAT I MANAGED TO MATCH MY VIONIC TRAINERS TO MY OUTFIT

I chose the Sierra active trainers, in Navy. It seems the Navy is no longer available but there are black (charcoal), a white and black, a dark purple pink and pink to choose from. I liked the detail when I saw them on the website, and in real life I liked it just as much.
A close up of the detail on my Sierra active trainers from Vionic
 
I'M NOT APOLOGISING FOR THE MUD - IT'S MUDDY OUT THERE AND I'VE BEEN MAKING GOOD USE OF THESE!

I'M NOT APOLOGISING FOR THE MUD - IT'S MUDDY OUT THERE AND I'VE BEEN MAKING GOOD USE OF THESE!

Vionic shoes have been designed with technology to support our natural alignment to reduce discomfort, and this, they say makes them a good choice for people who suffer from plantar fasciitis (heel pain) or those looking for extra support as it improves posture and reduces pain in the knees, back and neck. 

Many netballers will know the knee pain that playing a sport they love can bring - I do too - and that's why with an almost half-hour walk each way, I'm keen to have good shoes for that. It really does make a difference.  I've found these extremely comfortable and apart from the day that it really chucked it down (when I opted for boots - not wellies, although they would also have been a good choice) I've worn these every day I've been back at work, and at weekends too.  The colour and design helps, I'm not usually a trainers at the weekend kind of girl, unless there's sport involved.

I DO LIKE THE 'KNIT EFFECT' DETAIL

I DO LIKE THE 'KNIT EFFECT' DETAIL

Walking though is one of the easiest forms of exercise, since I've been walking to work - and around the offices - I regularly clock up over 10,000 steps each day, which as apparently we spend "up to 60% of our waking hours in a sedentary state" I'm pleased to be able to make a small change.  

I've noticed a difference too, not immediately of course, but over time. I'm walking more quickly, getting less out of breath walking back up the hill, but it's when I'm cycling that I notice the difference the most. And while I still don't fly up the hills (sadly) my leg strength is much increased, and I get further up the hills before I need to stop for a break!

What I'm finding myself doing now is challenging myself further, we've all done that "race" against others haven't we? You know, where you choose a person in front of you and walk to catch them up - of course they don't know, so no whooping as you reach them please, they'd rightly give you a strange look.  I've done that, tell me you have too, but it's not much fun when they don't know is it?

Pink laces on my Vionic trainers are certainly eye catching - but I wouldn't swap them

I realised today that another way to stretch myself is to lengthen my stride. It's amazing how stretching out a little bit uses other muscles, and so that's my challenge for the next few weeks or so and it'll be interesting to see what improvements that brings. 

I've seen a few Nordic walkers out in Greenwich Park, sticks and all - I'm not about to join them - but I can see the advantages of combining it with an upper body workout.  My handbag acts as part of that, but mostly that's just a workout for my left shoulder...

TRAINERS TOP 

TRAINERS TOP 

AND BOTTOM

AND BOTTOM

And if you're stuck trying to work out how to get 10,000 steps into your day, remember:

  • it burns around 400 calories, more the faster you go
  • It's approximately 5 miles and
  • generally it only takes around 10 minutes to walk a 1000 steps, and you don't need to do the 10,000 steps in one go.

What tips do you have to get to your 10,000 steps a day?

 

* This is a collaborative post and I received these shoes for the purposes of this review. All views and opinions are my own.

PoCoLo