Thursday, April 2, 2020

Chloe Likes To Eat: Socially Distant Chef

I’ve always liked to cook. I grew up around food with parents in hospitality and I’m fortunate that my Dad (a Master Chef of Great Britain) has always been giving in passing me advice and indulging my interest. Whilst I’ve had a lot of time on my hands since losing my job in January, it’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve been able to unpack boxes of my kitchen kit and ingredients, some of which have been sealed since we moved out of our home of 4 years back in March 2019. Yeah, I know. Renovation work went on a bit….

So imagine a person whose happy place is the kitchen, suddenly finds herself with a mostly functioning kitchen at a time when there’s a lockdown and no job to go to…. The kitchen is my happy place…

I’m not posting any recipe posts for now- the landscape of food and recipe posts has changed a fair bit since I last did anything like that but I am sharing a few things that I’ve been making and eating…. Call it a quarantine food diary if you will…

Seed and nut granola
I LOVE pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, when roasted, the nuttiness and the crunch combined is everything, there’s also some chopped cashews in here as I found some in storage that were a little soft. Teamed with natural yoghurt and some rhubarb I stewed down in the slow cooker with honey, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Glorious.


The return of PIZZA.
I haven’t made a decent pizza since March last year as the oven in the existing kitchen here was gas and older than me, not conducive to the thin, crisp bake I am fond. But now I have a shiny new oven, which has a high heat setting for precisely this purpose. I’m back in the game. Well, for as far as I can stretch my last tub of tomato sauce in the freezer. I don’t envisage being able to get tinned tomatoes will be that easy somehow.


The best snack in the world. Ever.
Banana bread with dark chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts, toasted and smothered in peanut butter with a side of sliced apple.


Lunches in the garden- EVERYTHING on toast.
Mushrooms cooked with garlic and olive oil and topped with goats cheese on one side, hummus, spinach and sriracha on the other. Bonus points for being able to eat it in the garden!

And there have been a few drinks concoctions on the go too…

A personal favourite is frozen raspberries in tonic water or sparkling water. SO GOOD. Also nice with a heavy slug of vodka added… Complete in this instance with my RunDisney cup to have a video catch-up with my RunDisney partner in crime.


I also jumped on the Dalgona coffee bandwagon too, and discovered it sort of works with the fine powdered strong Americano type instant coffee, although it doesn’t seem to whip up as thickly as some of the pictures I’ve seen, but I quite like it with a bit of viscosity to flavour the milk underneath as I wouldn’t often drink a very milky heavy coffee. My favourite version is to top the coffee onto creamed coconut blended with cold water and a touch of ice.



Thursday, March 19, 2020

Real Feels

I started and have mostly drafted a post that is all about things you can do that might be beneficial or enjoyable if you’re stuck at home more than usual in the current circumstances. Tips you’ve probably already seen circulated around the internet a lot lately, a bit like those tips for working from home also doing the rounds. But as the situation from a health, economic and personal perspective has become steadily more uncertain, I couldn’t bring myself to post something that is such a poor representation of my own circumstance. Narcissistic? Maybe. But I’ve always used my blog as a bit of a personal outlet, and since I can only document from my perspective, that’s what you’re getting, so here’s a few things I’ve noticed, learned and am taking comfort in right now…


You might have all the time in the world, but you still might not want to do one of a hundred different productive things. So far today I’ve put off:
Mopping the floor
Going for a run of any kind
Tidying my wardrobe
I’ve been stuck at home a lot of the time since 3rd January, because I was made redundant. Between trying to eek out my last pay packet and also needing to deal with a whole load of house renovation stuff, I had a routine. I took a couple of free courses, I had a plan and structure to my week and I feel like I’ve suddenly take a huge backward step, right back to square one trying to find my way through this constantly changing situation.

'Productive' or something

Even if you’re not engaging with panic buying (please only take what you need), then it’s entirely possible to feel a bit freaked out by it all. I find myself wondering if I will be able to purchase food I actually need when I do come to need something. I’m painfully aware that there are people who rely on items being available to them to survive because of their financial situation and I’m so incredibly fortunate that if I can’t get something, it’s not the end of the world for me, but I find myself wondering how long it will be before you can go to get groceries and be confident you’ll be able to pick up a sensible shop for your family as opposed to whatever is left, if anything at all.

I have a new found appreciation (and by that I mean horror) for how much money I spend even though I’ve been on a strict budget since losing my job. A lot of that is transport- I’ve not been as committed to my bike between storms and ‘not feeling like it’ in the late winter, and one coffee a week still adds up, and I’m also noticing that as a household, that we really should do our grocery shopping less often because those smaller shops are adding the hell up. Too soon to mention silver linings?

I take comfort in the known. I think this is most people, but for me, it’s familiar tv (rewatch a zillion and 4 of Spooks currently underway), it’s cooking things I love and sometimes that’s marmite on toast. It’s wearing my favourite 2 jumpers on rotation for reasons I can’t quite explain. And it's drinking my favourite squash hot or cold.

The underlying fear of what might be coming has also helped me to appreciate small things. The question as to whether we will be eligible for mortgage relief or if I will be able to find a job this side of Christmas is cut through by the simple joy of being able to hang laundry outside again or finding a scented candle that smells exactly like sugared nuts and reminds me so vividly of a summer night in London with Tom a few years back.

Eating a variety of coloured foods is good for us. We all know that a variety of fruit and vegetables is a solid start on healthy eating. But if it feels like your world as well as the world is falling apart, then feel free to make those colours up with Midget Gems and debate whether bread and cheese constitute two different colours rather than 50 shades of beige. Give yourself some time and space and embark back upon a routine. And don’t be guilted or shamed by all those people who are doing 3 virtual workouts and a yoga session each day, moving your body is great, but it might not be right for you, right now. Go for the Grey’s Anatomy series catch-up or go forth and finish your book or whatever.


Life for lots of people has been turned upside down- self isolation, jobs and businesses on the brink of extinction or already lost, and we have no idea what the next few weeks hold. The above are just a few of the personal moments of my own. If it seems superficial, that’s cool. They’re just one part of a snap-shot, and all I want to do is say to you:

If it feels like everything is imploding in on you right now, it’s ok to feel like that right now, however you are affected.

If you don’t want to be constructive and ‘use your time’ right now, that’s cool. You’ll work out what is productive and constructive for you when you’re ready.

If you need to reach out to your friends or your family but you don’t know or can’t put into words why you feel like you need them, tell them that so they can continue to be there for you. You don’t need a reason, it’s what we do for those that we love.

Above all else, remember to adhere to the most recent guidelines on social distancing and self-isolation. If you need groceries, take only what you need and if you are able to help your family and neighbours, please do so.


Thursday, February 13, 2020

My (training) Diary

Sometimes I have to take a step back look at just what happened to me and my life(style) over the last ten years, because I started drafting this post ‘right now my training routine is…’. It’s a whole other post to talk about how much sport, movement and exercise has not so much changed my life (although it has), but changed with my life.


I’m currently unemployed (you can read more about that little surprise right here…), and I’m also project managing what is pretty much the final phase of our current house renovation project(s), and whilst that might seem irrelevant, my daily routine is hugely impactful on how I choose to move my body and engage with exercise.

No regular commute means less cycling because at the moment riding my bike albeit a joyful way, is a way of getting around. But no long days or overrunning meetings mean I’m limited in excuses to miss Monday and Wednesday evening sessions with Adidas Runners. Trying to prevent a current niggle turning into a full blown injury means a return to the gym, and there’s a lot to be said for the lack of other people in a gym in the middle of the day.

So what does that a current week of my training look like…

Monday night is the regular slot for the Adidas Runners signature sessions- bring on the intervals, the hills, the tough sessions that I would struggle to do on my own, in a space where everyone is welcome and we all work as hard as we need to.
This running session is always the most intense of the week and it’s the one that helps me build a bit of extra power and speed. It doesn’t do any harm that it’s also a chance to catch friends.

Credit: The Midnight Club

TUESDAY is all about the gym
Operation strong core and injury prevention is ON. I got lucky with a deal at the Gym Group (there are 3 within a 2 mile cycle of home…) making it £9.50 for a month. A typical workout looks a bit like this:
Warm up with a quick run on the treadmill to get my heart rate going
A round of body weight squats, glute bridges and shoulder openers and roll outs to get everything engaged and active.
6 x goblet squat
6 x deadlift
6 x dumbell lunges (each side)
(3 rounds)
6 x dumbell shoulder press
6 x bent over row
(3 rounds)
And a cheeky core finisher of russian twists, plank shoulder taps, deadbugs and v-sits

WEDNESDAY is ladies night…
For a little over a year, Wednesday has been my night to run with the Adidas Runners ladies. I went along at a time when I was struggling to find a good fit for me and my running and I’ve rarely looked back. These days I’m privileged enough to not just catch a couple of hours with some of the most incredible women I know, but also to support those runs as a crew runner and make sure everyone who comes along is welcomed and looked after. Epic.


THURSDAY & FRIDAY rest and stretch and repeat
Depending on what else is going on with the house or other meetings and projects I’m looking at, the second gym session of the week happens on either Thursday or Friday and I’m making a concerted effort to spend more quality time with my foam roller and stretching on the other day. Because having a lovely, but very pointy person dig her elbow into your glutes and tell you your muscles feel like bricks, and paying £40 for the joy is a keen reminder to MAKE time to work on mobility and stretching.

Runners NOT running!

SATURDAY is no longer about sleeping in
I’m not sure when voluntarily getting out of bed to travel into central London to go for a run became a thing I did on the weekend. Saturdays used to be about coffee in bed, brunch and slow starts. And I wouldn’t change it. Do I still groan when my alarm goes off on Saturday morning? Yes I do. Do I always leave feeling on top of the world and surrounded by powerhouse women? YES I DO! Saturdays can be anything from hill training to a steadier, slightly longer run. I’m not training for distance in 2020, so the Long Runs (yes, those capitals belong there!) of this time last year are not a factor at the moment. Oh, and brunch is still a thing. It just happens with my girls when we’re done running instead of in bed.


And decorating. Sunday is a day where I don’t tend to do any conventional ‘exercise’. Since we’re *STILL* in the midst of house reno hell, Sundays tend to be about whatever needs doing and just right now, it’s all about painting. I’m kind of fed up of having paint on my eyelashes or in my hair and have I ever told you how much I hate cutting in?!

I could keep writing about why I train even though I’m not training for anything and I’m certainly no *athlete*, but that’s a whole new post, or even a series. What I will say about training, exercise, sport or whatever you want to call your dose of movement, is make time for it. Prioritising moving my body for the sake of moving has given me a sense of self worth in a time where I previously wouldn’t have had the tools to hold myself up. Movement is powerful, own your power.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

You're Fired...

My name is Chloe, and I am unemployed…

Yeah, those are still tricky words for me. I normally quite like the month of January, it’s kind of like opening the fresh pages of a notebook, but unfortunately for me, I returned to work after the break and was made redundant due to a lack of investment funding. Happy New Year and all that…


My first thought was job hunting- finding a new role to get stuck into and minimising the amount time left empty on my (now newly brushed up) CV, getting in touch with recruiters and other connections who might be able to help. What I hadn’t reckoned with, is the rollercoaster of things that would spring to mind as the first days turned into a few weeks.

So here’s a few things I’ve learned- the good, the tricky and things that might help if you’re also navigating time between jobs for whatever reason.

Not all redundancy comes with pay….
If you are still in a probationary period as I was, the company are unlikely to be obliged to pay you for any more than the actual days worked and any accrued holiday. It took me a while to work out why people might think I was glad to have been let go from my job, until I realised that most people assume that all redundancies come with a big payout and lots of paid time off.

There are a million things you could use all this new found time for…
But you might not want to do any one of them.
And that’s ok.

But it is good to have an action plan…
A wise person once said to me of another set of life issues ‘treat it like a training plan’. In that moment, I wondered why I’d never made the connection between the joy I take in laying out and scheduling a training plan for running, and how I approach most things in my life. And so it is that my planner doesn’t, at first glance, look any different to when I was working full time. It might not be planning meetings or reports filling my time as it once was, but allocating time to not just job searches, but keeping active, keeping in touch with friends, researching new opportunities and also getting some ahead on some of the house renovation jobs that have been taking up for more of the weekend than I’d like.
Ticking things off and keeping some semblance of routine to the days and weeks helps me maintain a sense of direction and purpose, and stops me dwelling too hard on less positive times.


Self-care comes in many forms…
And for me it was creating a financial plan as well as an action plan. It might not be quite the IG-friendly image of pretty candles in a glorious bathroom (this makes me laugh a bit because my bathroom dates to 1979… no… really…) but instead it might be a case of combing through regular outgoings to see if any need trimming, re-activating a Monzo account and setting up regular payment from my main account to it, to keep a closer eye on those £5.60 a time travel charges. You can’t read a book whilst riding a bike, but cycling to/from zone 1 doesn't cost £5.60. Feeling in control of my finances whilst facing some uncertainty has been a key factor in maintaining a positive outlook at a tricky time.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch…
But there are lots of options when it comes to keeping active for free. If classes are your thing then organisations like Our Parks offer free classes in local parks, Let’s Ride by British Cycling (which includes the Breeze network for women’s only) offers free bike rides all over the country with qualified Ride Leaders, British Athletics have a number of beginner initiatives for runners and if you are based in London, there are a number of free run clubs as well as promotions on trial classes- I’ve been running with Adidas Runners London for over a year which is free, gives me a reason to leave the house and to see friends and has introduced me to other opportunities like classes and events along the way.


2020 hasn’t started in the blaze of glory I had hoped, it’s true. It hasn’t been easy, but another wise person also reminded me that time is a gift. I’ve been able to book appointments that are normally minor scheduling miracles and often end up overdue (dental check-up, I’m looking at you….), I’ve been able to see and support friends I wouldn’t normally be able to around my office hours, and to get creative with problem solving and the opportunities in the world.

I’ve never been known for my happy sunshine smiley positivity, but I have come to appreciate over the last couple of years the power of finding silver linings and finding solutions. It’s helped me overcome a whole host of challenges, and made sure I’ve not pushed away those people I’m lucky enough to be supported by.