October 31, 2013

Brussles - Exploloring all the awesome.

Brussels is AWESOME.
We spent a lot of time walking around.  The streets all have cute little touristy restaurants that are nice to walk by but probably less nice to eat at
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We instead found a place (okay, it's super high on trip advisor and came up when i googled "What to eat in brussels") that serves fresh fishy things at standing tables.
I ordered the fish soup and the Croquettes.  I have no idea what a Croquette is but I ate one anyways and I still don't know what it is
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The fish soup was super tasty! I could have ordered a lot more but also wanted to save room for waffles and/or fries.  It was a hard life!
We saw the famous Manniken Pis.  It is a peeing boy statue.  This city is odd.
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One day we visited the Atomium  It was built for a worlds fair but now it is a tourist attraction.  Why don't they have worlds fairs anymore? they made such awesome stuff!
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I was exercising my right to bare arms. I pretended it was summer.  Actually it was very cold.
The inside of the atomium had a place that looked like space mountain
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But sadly there were no roller coasters.
View from inside the Atomium!
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Ooh the future is so cool! Also we explored Brussels at night.  How pretty is this!!!
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We saw this statue of a Lion too.  He looked very melancholy. Why so melancholy Mr. Lion? is it because you are made of bronze?
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I tried to take pictures of my lovely mom but she does not like photos.  So instead I have made a collage specially for her:
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Traveling with my mom is super fun.  Traveling in Belgium is super fun. I would recommend everyone get the chance to travel with my mom in Belgium.  Except you can't, because she's MY mom, and your mom is probably less cool but you're stuck with her. Sorry.
MMM Belgium Beer!
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October 30, 2013

Brussels to Bruges - a 1 day ADVENTURE!

Guess what Y'all! I'm in Belgium! Belgium is amazing because it s full of Old things and beer and chocolate and french fries (or Belgium fries!) and pretty buildings and medieval stuff. Belgium is my favourite European country if Wales doesn't count as European.
I'm here with my mom and we are being tourists.  On our first day we bought a Waffle and ate it all!
We ate the waffle in the shape of the dog, and then we took a picture of the dog-waffle with a dog.  Yum!

One day we took the train to Bruges.  We found an online fare for only £10 return, which was a mega bargain for the 1 hour train.
In Bruges we took a canal boat tour and did not get rained on.  It was a good use of 6 Euros!
We also went to a lace museum and saw how lace is made.  It is made from string, and made by old ladies, and probably mostly made by machines these days because this little hand made doylie is like 60 Euros.
We saw lots of old buildings and churches, and new buildings made to look like old buildings.  Brugge is awesome because it got all bombed in WWII and then they built it to look super old as if nothing happened.  I like being deceived by brickwork!
We went to the top of a hill to look at the town and also at a windmill.  Then I took photos of my mom doing Drake hands, but she was way more dramatic than Drake hands, because that is how she rolls!
Then we ate more waffles.  nom nom waffle.  This was actually the 4th best waffle that we ate so it was not very good, but it was very sugary.
This church was cool.  All the churches were cool.  One of the churches had the blood of Jesus Christ in a vial in the church.  That is a good church!
We passed this bike shop that used a bike chain to look the doors.
Unfortunately it was closed.  there were loads of pretty bikes and I think my N+1 bike will be a single speed commuter bike with fancy 2 toned wheels.  yes.

Tomorrow I'm headed back to the UK.  Bruges was fun and Brussels has been great and I will share more pictures of old buildings and yummy food soon! We were here for 4 days and ate 4 waffles so that is certainly a success! 

October 24, 2013

The Brewer Half's Half Brewed Reviews - Beacons Orange

So RachelInWales is away, leaving me home alone. What do I do to entertain myself? Write a beer review, of course! (with a helping hand from some more beer).

(Actually that's as far as I got that night, I just ended up drinking beer...)

This review is actually taken from some semi-drunken scrawlings on my phone, and I've finally got around to tidying them up.

I was in my local Wetherspoons, about to tuck into one of their good selection of real ales when I spotted "Orange Beacons", a 4.3% wheat beer by Beacons Brewery with real orange. I was worried that this would be another overpoweringly fruit flavoured beer, but for some reason decided to buy it anyway. I was very glad I did. In fact, I was so impressed, I immediately started writing this review.

It poured a very clear, light golden pint. The aroma was of orange (not surprisingly), noble hops, and a slight sourness. Hm...this could be good.

The taste is a balance of wheat, hop, and orange flavours. There is a very gentle sourness (which is a fine thing in a beer of this style), and sweet light maltiness. This is a good wheat beer in its own right, with a sympathetic addition of orange. The best bit about the orange flavour is that it is not overpowering and artificial, but has a great depth of flavour. It is well balanced with hop bitterness, leaving a lingering bittersweet flavour.

Extremely refreshing, with a depth of flavour to cut through. I recommend you find a pint and try it! Best on a hot summer's day, although you probably won't find one of those in the near future.

1 Week in Belarus!

So I've had a busy month... well I've had a busy 3 months... and I didn't get to tell you about some of my adventures!

One adventure was my trip to Belarus.  Belarus is near Russia, and it seems a lot like Russia, and when you go to the embassy to get your visa you sit in a little basement room full of mirrors with one table in the middle and it's a bit odd.

Belarus was very flat, and when I drove anywhere I could see for miles.

There were loads of massive buildings
There were cool soviet happy statues
One time we went for a walk and I saw this singing group, possibly from Belarus X-Factor?


 There was a market on the weekend with lots of things fro sale, including these steins, but also including the wooden mace. Do you think I could get that through customs?
In the morning I went for a run in the flat park.  I went for 2 runs actually, one at about 2 miles (which my GPS didn't like and called 10 miles, but I'm pretty sure I didn't do 2.5 minute miles for 25 minutes).  I also did 3.5 miles.  This was all before the Cardiff half and was basically my only training, so that wasn't super clever.  I ran to this big monument, but then I took a photo of it at night, just to be confusing:
Food in Belarus was okay but strange.  I'm not sure I'm super excited to go back but i'm very glad I got to see what's there!

October 14, 2013

Adventures in Mid Wales. Actually North Wales (MTB Machynlleth, Dogellau & Llanidloes)

Last week I had the week off work, so Brewer half and I decided to take an adventure to mid Wales for some biking and camping.  Our first stop was a visit to the most chaotically awesome brewery we have seen - the Waen Brewery.  Llanidloes is about 2 hours north of Cardiff and Brewer half saw his dream brewery and excitedly talked beer with the lovely Sue and Mr Waen.
Waen do such lovely beers, we enjoyed a few pints of festival gold at the local (YUM!) before heading up to camp near Machynlleth.

Machynlleth is a basically unpronounceable Welsh town, but it has some mountain biking and is in the bottom of Snowdonia mountain range AND our campsite looked like this
I know, it is mental.  There were no other campers there (probably because it is October in Wales) so we had the whole site to ourselves. To make it more awesome, there was a rainbow!
On Thursday we went mountain biking, but I didn't take any photos.  We did the Mach 2 trail.  It was pretty but not very technical, and most of the time I thought we were lost.

We drove past this view.  Mid wales is stunning!
Then we drove past this lake! I use editing software on the photo, but still it is pretty!
 On Friday we went biking at Coed y Brenin.

Of course I love Y Wal and Afan Argoed most of all, but Coed y Brenin was amazing.  We did a 20 mile route which was long and difficult and tiring and also scenic and fast and exciting.  The descents were incredible and I really want to go back.

Also all the routes start with cool entrance ways, like this one. But this route was black/severe.  We'll have to do it next time
 It was an awesome mid-Wales adventure!

October 8, 2013

Race Report - Cymmer Triathlon (Standard Distance)

In July I entered the Cymmer Tri. Cymmer Tri is an off road triathlon near Afan Argoed, my favorite mountain biking destination. 

Cymmer Tri is a 600 meter pool swim, 20.8k mountain bike, and 6k run.  The novice distance (which I did last year) is half that.

Triathlon is awesome because it is entirely faff.  

Faff is a very British word that is described as: 

"To dither, futz, waste time, be ineffectual, "I spent the day faffing about in my room". Mainly found in Scotland and the north of England, but also popular in South Wales"

How much faff is Triathlon?  First there is the epic packing of the car:
The key to  boy-packing is that even though you have a whole car to pack you should always make your girlfriend sit on all her things in the front seat
Then you get to the race and you set up your "transition" which takes ages and involves putting baby powder in your shoes and race numbers on your shirt
It also involved strapping candy bars to your bicycle with tape and nom-ing jelly babies (if you're the Brewer half)
As always, I am the sensible one with a tri-bag, which is a little snack bag on the front of my bike which I normally fill with jelly-babies and fig rolls (or jelly beans and Fig Newtowns for my American readers [my dad])
The bag is awesome because when you desperately need snacks they are right there for snacking!  I also like eating bite-sized pieces of things so couldn't be messing around with unwrapping a candy-bar on a ride.  I even pre-cut my fig-rolls into fig-bites.

Then you have your transition basket. All cool people have transition baskets, to carry around all the transition things to and from transition. 
And then you do a triathlon!  I had seeded myself a bit too high in the swim which was annoying because most of the people started the swim before me (they start the swimmers slowest to fastest) and by the time I got in I felt like I was behind.  

Actually my swim position was 30th out of 50; I was 40th in the pool so I had ranked myself 10 places too high. Whoops.

My transition took me 1 minute and then I went out on the Bike - I was right behind Brewer half for a while but then he steamed up the mountain and I was left grinding away. It was an annoying climb.  I made up some time on the descent but was still 42nd overall for the bike.

And finally, the run.  Running is the worst.  I was very tired, and I really thought I was last.  I was almost positive I was last.  I finished the run in what I thought was last, 33 minutes and in 45th place.

Overall I was 44 out of 50. But if you include everyone who did not finish, and those who did not start, I was 44 out of THE ENTIRE WORLD so that's pretty awesome!

After triathlon the faff starts again - you do everything in reverse, pack it all down, load the car, and head back home with you triathlon basket and a medal.  
It's a good sport!

October 7, 2013

Cardif 1/2 Marathon 2013 - Race Report (my first half marathon!)

In December I decided to sign up for the Cardiff half, knowing that it was ages away and I had loads of time to train.  Brewer Half and MTB ben also debated signing up, and we 3 all had different approaches to training.

I downloaded a training guide and started following some running bloggers

Brewer half joined a running club and started running with his running friends

MTB Ben ran as far and as fast as he could, then did the same the next day, then did the same the third day when he heard a pop in his knee and decided running was stupid.

So Brewer half and I entered the half, and 10 months later it was yesterday.

I had not done much training.  I ran about 3 miles once a week for a month before the race. August I did 41 miles in the whole month... September I did 15.

I was not prepared at all, and found myself googling "how to run a half marathon with no training" the day before the race.

Either way, we go to the start line at 8am and Brewer half got a coffee
We got into the pens at 8:30 (I was yellow: 2hr+, Brewer was Green: 1hr 45+)
I couldn't really hear the starting gun but as we headed out there were loads of people so I wasn't tempted to go too fast and kept a steady pace.

There were lots of stations along the route with music and water and energy drinks, and tons of people out cheering which made everything way more fun.

At around mile 6 I started to feel bad and I had a side cramp and I was thinking about what a stupid idea it is to run a 1/2 marathon with no training but then I found a power station and got a gel and saw a camera and everything was okay again.
Raceface is not prettyface!

I took little sips of water and poweraid at all the stations but tried not to drink too much. I felt pretty good, and even managed to smile at the 12.5 mile camera!
I crossed the line at 2hr 45 minutes but my chip time (because it took a while to get to the start) was 2hr 33 minutes, which is a dang fine result!

After the half my legs hurt a lot so I put frozen peas on them.  

Then I ate everything.
Mission Burrito opened this weekend in Cardiff! I think it's because the first time I had Mission burrito was after hungover-ly watching the Bath Half and dreaming of doing a 1/2 then eating a Burrito - and so a lifelong (er, 6 month) dream was realized when they opened a restaurant just for me!  Thanks guys!

Then my cake tummy was still empty so we went to Pettigrew Tea Rooms for cake.  Chocolate Almond cake yes please!

Cardiff half was super well organized and well marshaled.  Cardiff is a great city for running and there were no boring parts on the route - I think I liked the parts around Cathays best because all the streets were closed. the barrage and bay were gorgeous, weather was great - I couldn't have asked for more and I'm already looking forward to my next half! (Santa to Sea in California....?)

What an awesome day!
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