Malteasers reunited

I distinctly remember the first time I met Maltease Kris. I was in the Anchor pub in Cambridge, bonding with some new friends. I’d heard a lot about him already, and I certainly heard him before I saw him. It was definitely ‘start as you mean to go on’, as we proceeded to spend a good chunk of the next three years in various public houses around that small town, rather than devoting ourselves to our studies…. I’d like to say we’re more sensible these days, but I suspect we’re just old. And more inclined to go running.

I’m not sure what took me so long, but I finally visited my favourite Malteaser for the Malta Half Marathon in 2013, with Doddski in tow. This dose of winter sun has become something of a tradition, and missing last year (due to more extensive adventures) made us all the more eager for this year’s jaunt. It’s cheap, it’s usually sunny and, while Kris laments the mildly shambolic organisation of the race itself, we find it nothing short of charming. Various husbands and friends have joined in along the way, whether to run or simply to soak up the mediterranean atmosphere. Oh and to eat the pizza and drink the wine, obvs.

Things didn’t go quite to plan this year, however. Kris had been sending alarming weather predictions all week. We packed our cagoules. And as we approached Malta, the pilot informed us it ‘might be a bit bumpy’ as we landed in the early part of Malta’s worst storm in years. We’d left the UK in the midst of its warmest ever February, and landed in 4 degrees and driving rain in the middle of the Med. The poor little rock was really taking a battering, with angry seas, trees blocking roads and widespread damage to buildings. Not quite what we had in mind and, surprise surprise, the race was cancelled!

TBH, Doddski and I weren’t that disappointed as it did look borderline biblical, and I’m pretty sure the husbands were relieved they didn’t have to go out in it to cheer us over the line. And Kris still held his post-marathon party, including the famous Maltese pastizzi, which was the main thing after all 😉

The weather subsequently cheered up on Monday, so we donned our race t-shirts and went out for a 13.1 mile run, encountering many of the other ‘disappointed’ non-participants. Who were full of smiles and waves, which suggested they were also happy enough with the organisers’ decision. While we didn’t have the usual race-side entertainment from every band in Malta, or the cheers from the uniformed Scouts who staff the drinks stations, it was a pretty good substitute. And we picked up our medals en route, too cool.

The sun came out for Tuesday and Wednesday, so we managed to soak up some rays while enjoying some of Malta’s finer points. I mean the surroundings really (Valletta and the Three Cities really are lovely) but we did indulge ourselves in sunny alfresco drinking and dining as a bonus. It would be rude not to.

And all too quickly it’s over, and we’re back to reality! Lovely muddy parkrun at Killerton for me yesterday, followed by some hills and storm Freya today…. And then it’s the Grizzly A WEEK TODAY. How has that happened?? I definitely don’t feel ready, but you never do, right?!


Aside: I didn’t really eat any cake in Malta (no space after all the pizza) but I did make this rather delicious pudding when my friend Emilie came for dinner last week. Highly recommended. And it contains apples so it must be healthy 🙂




Keep calm and carry on training

I’ll be upfront here. No cake this week. I did have a lovely piece of carrot cake earlier today, made even lovelier by the company of Becca, but I failed to take a photo. Must do better!

Enough about cake (or lack thereof). What about the running?

I had a bit of a setback last week, in the form of a cough. Not ideal at the best of times, and especially worrisome when you’re already on a bare minimum training plan. It was oh so tempting to keep training….but I resisted. Because, as a wise rowing coach once said, ‘you’re no good to anyone if you’re injured’.

It was particularly poor timing because last week was supposed to be my second-biggest week in terms of training load, second only to this week. So that’s gone down the pan somewhat. However, the wise old Husb saved the day by pointing out that a 3 week taper was probably excessive for someone running so (comparatively) little. So I’ve allocated next week as another big(ish) week, and then my feet will largely be UP until the big day.

Far too much nitty gritty I know. I will try to be less running bore from now on.

After testing myself out at parkrun on Saturday (Phoenix Park in Runcorn, what an absolute gem), I was almost confident that I could manage 16 miles with Shazruns today. Mostly because she’d run a mahoosive PB at the Dursley Dozen yesterday, so would be suitably tired. And also because it would be flat, albeit muddy.

Rosie the cat supervises shoelace-tying

Spoiler: I made it! 16.5 miles no less. Devon treated us to a wonderful day so, along with the excellent company, the views kept me suitably distracted.

The muddiness is in no way illustrated by this pic

I’m now firmly on the sofa and looking forward to not being able to move until at least Thursday 😉

Plan D

Today is my friend Super Luce’s birthday. How would she choose to celebrate?

  • Plan A was to race the Trail Events Co. 12K on Dartmoor yesterday. Then it snowed…a lot.
  • Event postponed by one day. Plan B was to race today instead. Then it snowed some more.
  • Event cancelled. Plan C was to do our own thing and run along the coast path near Budleigh Salterton.
  • The ‘footpath’ leading to the coast path was, in fact, a private farm track. Plan D was a slightly amended loop!

While the change of day was a slight inconvenience in that we’d be running with mild hangovers after Saturday night’s birthday dinner, I’m pretty happy that things worked out the way they did. What a glorious day!

East Devon. Not too shabby.

It also fitted in nicely with my training this week. When the race was cancelled, I jumped at the chance to squeeze in a cheeky parkrun. Even though it would push me 5K over my sensible distance tally for the week (I love parkrun too much to pass up this opportunity). But plan D was precisely 5K shorter than plan A, so I’m right on track! It was meant to be 🙂

The icing on the cake* was being reunited with our friend Grimey (find her blog here) who recently returned from a year cycling the Americas. Her running legs seem to be in far better shape than mine were when I started running again! She says it’s the red blood cells from cycling at altitude, so hopefully that’ll wear off soon 😉

Wanda the dog could work on her photo presence

Oh yes, that cake. After the vocal disappointment from many readers at the lack of a cake recipe on my last post, I thought I’d better rectify the situation. I recreated the aforementioned coffee and walnut cake for Luce:

Claudia Winkelman’s favourite, apparently.

If you would like to do the same, here’s how.

For the cake (slightly adapted from this recipe) you will need:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g walnuts, finely ground
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 270ml plant milk (I used soya)
  • 60ml mild oil (I used light olive)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp hot water

Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Mix it all together. Put in lined tins and bake at 150 degrees (fan oven, otherwise 170 degrees) until it’s done. I used two smallish tins and it cooked in 25 mins. The recipe suggests one 16.5cm tin and cooking for 1 hour.

For the icing (from my Mum’s ancient cookbook; I didn’t really like the icing from the cake recipe):

  • 200g icing sugar
  • 40g margarine
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water

Heat all ingredients (except the icing sugar) gently in a pan until the caster sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil then take off the heat. Mix syrup into icing sugar. Chill until completely cool. Fill and ice cake 🙂 Decorate with walnuts, if you like.

Attempt #2 was just as good as attempt #1. This one could become a regular!

By the way, you can follow me on instagram, if that floats your boat. @101adventureswithcake. And twitter, @girlcalledcake (I am yet to tweet, bear with me). Gone are the days when you could have the same username across all platforms, one of the alleged ‘golden rules’ of social media.  I’m clearly late to the party….

Gratuitous pic of the view from Budleigh Salterton, taken by the Husb.

Hello, world!

Oh hi there. I’m not sure if we’ve met. TBH, I’m something of a blogaholic, so maybe we have. After several years of writing on various topics including triathlon, food, and adventuring, it feels like high time I consolidated. Well, mostly. Two of the above three may yet live to fight another day 🙂

A girl on a bike
All the gear and very little idea at Bristol tri in 2015

The Husb and I recently returned from a grown up gap year (aka mid-life crisis) which involved cycling 14000km around various parts of our wonderful world. Read all about it via above link. While that was all well and good (ok ok, flipping amazing) I am a runner at heart. So the current adventure is getting from zero to Grizzly (20 miles of muddy hills, read all about it here) in the princely sum of 4 months.

Man and woman on bikes, surrounded by tropical foliage
Feeling the heat along Malaysia’s back roads

You see, dear reader, I know myself all too well. If I chose a goal involving nice flat tarmac, I would be liable to battering myself towards speediness, no doubt resulting in injury. After 18 months of almost zero running, aiming for a flat 10K would actually be far worse for me than a hilly 20-miler! The Grizzly is probably the most talked about race in our area; the iconic event that everyone’s done or wants to do. I have done it before, but it was a bit of a disaster, so there’s certainly unfinished business to be settled!

Working back from the goal distance, and allowing myself a mileage increase of just 10% per week (based on something some sensible coach once said), I reckoned I could just about do it. Provided I was really sensible, and only aimed to ‘get round’, i.e. with lots of walking. Provided I listened to my body and did all the sensible things like fuelling properly and foam-rolling religiously. Provided I did not try to do a million other things in parallel. Honestly, who is this sensible person? I hardly recognise her.

I’ve run 3(ish) times a week for the last 10 weeks. This week I’ve run over 20 miles, which feels like a satisfying (if arbitrary) milestone. I also did my first long run on proper ‘Grizzly’ terrain, which meant lots of hills and mud along the South-West coast path. And I almost enjoyed it.

While I haven’t found any cake on my runs (disappointing to say the least), I did make this rather fine coffee and walnut extravaganza for my friend’s birthday.

A coffee and walnut cake
Tasted as good as it looked

More soon. Not always about running either 🙂

Note for blog nerds: for the entirety of my blogging ‘career’, I have been cursing the wordpress editor for, quite frankly, making my life unreasonably difficult. This is my first ever post using the ‘iA Writer’ app to draft the post in markdown, and then share to a wordpress draft. Let’s just say that my blood pressure has remained normal, for the first time ever ;). Please do say if you’d like more info, as it’s literally taken me five years to find a decent solution.