Tag Archive: life

RECIPE: Haggis Cannelloni

Two weeks ago on the 25th of January it was a very special day; not only was it Burns‘ night, but it was also the birthday of my darling betrothed. With the confluence of these two great annual events came the opportunity to showcase my dazzling culinary skills and create a delicious birthday meal for Kynon. Both of us love Haggis (I stick with the vegetarian option of course), so I decided to make a Haggis based dish with an unusual twist and decided to make Haggis Cannelloni.

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My Mum first made this dish for me years ago, and inspired by it I have since experimented with haggis as a mince substitute on a couple of occasions, creating haggis lasagne and haggis tacos. It’s really quite a simple recipe but it just takes a little time to prepare the various components before assembling the dish for baking. It can be incredibly healthy as well (depending on how much cheese you put on the top), and can be made vegan by exchanging the ricotta for a vegan soft-cheese substitute.

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Vegetarian Haggis is made with lentils, grains and beans so is a great protein-packed food for vegetarian athletes. Lots of spinach also adds a nutritional punch as well.
This recipe will give you 4 hearty servings, or you could stretch it a bit further if you’re serving with accompaniments such as bread and and salad.

Haggis Cannelloni by Rhona Mitchell

Prep time: 20 mins, bake time: 40 mins

Ingredients
250g vegetarian haggis
Box of dry cannelloni
150g fresh baby spinach
40g fresh basil (chopped finely)
150g mushrooms (chopped finely)
2 cloves garlic (crushed and chopped finely)
125g ricotta cheese
Large jar of tomato pasta sauce (I used 660g Lloyd Grossman Tomato and Basil)
Bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
1tsp olive oil

Method
1. Set your over to pre-heat to 200C. Cook your haggis as per the packet instructions and set aside in a bowl to cool.

20130125_1752512. Finely chop basil, garlic and mushrooms

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3. Heat the oil in a large wok and saute the garlic, mushrooms, basil and spinach until the spinach is completely wilted.

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4. Add the sauteed vegetables and ricotta cheese to your bowl of haggis and mix thoroughly.

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5. Blanch cannelloni in salted water and set aside out of the water to cool.

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6. Fill the cannelloni with haggis mixture using a blunt knife – push the mixture to the middle first of all then stuff each end til they are full.

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7. Place filled cannelloni in a greased baking dish. Fill as many as you like – just make sure you have enough tomato sauce to cover them! I did two layers.

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8. Cover the cannelloni in sauce, making sure no pasta edges are peeking out.

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9. Bake in your pre-heated oven for 25 minutes, then add your shredded mozzarella and cook until brown and bubbly – probably about another 15 minutes.

Leave to cool for a few minutes after taking it out of the oven, then serve and enjoy with lots of wine and bread!

Climbing the Learning Curve

So it turns out that despite obsessing religiously over my D33 training plan the last few weeks, I had completely the wrong mid-week running distances in my head and have really jumbled up this week. As noted here I ought to have covered the following:

However I seemed to think it was a good idea to hop from 6 and 9, to 8 and 10? I ran a fairly speedy (in the context of this training) 8 on Wednesday in 1hr 15m but last night began suffering some shin pain and stomach complaints and only completed 5.5. This is the second mid-week mid-distance run I’ve cut short in as many weeks so I’m a bit annoyed about that. It didn’t seem worth it to push through pain when I’ve got so much to do at the weekend though. I know in the bigger picture 4.5miles lost isn’t going to affect my performance in the race in five weeks but these mid-week mid-distance runs are pretty important mentally for me to complete and to miss two in a row is bad behaviour.

Next week will get a little shake up as well as some miles will be redistributed, on Tuesday I’m doing an Open Graded track session with some friends from Fetch where there will be timed Mile, 100m, 200m and 400m events, and on Wednesday I’m journeying to Stonehaven for a 10kish run around the town with Kynon. I WILL complete that 10 miles on Thursday though – no excuses!

I’ve also decided to not run the RAF Kinloss – Lossiemouth Half on Sunday the 19th. Much as I’m gagging to do a race right now, I’ve deduced that I can’t justify the entry fee and petrol money for a race just for fun. My car is due its MOT this month which never fails to completely clean out both my current account and credit card every year so I need every penny I can keep a hold of. However that means I can take part in the latest official Aberdeen Fetch Mile on the Sunday before heading out to cover the remaining balance of miles to make up my 13/13 back to back. It will be interesting to compare how my legs peform in a mile on Tuesday night when fresh, and Sunday morning when fatigued.

I had canvassed readers on my last post and Facebook for requests for topics to talk about regarding my experiences as a beginner ultra-runner and got no response, however there a few notable differences between this and marathon training which have interested me enough to write about them on here. Back at the end of July I wrote that which remains my most popular post to date – 10 Things No-one Tells You About Marathon Training. It contains nothing groundbreaking to experienced runners and marathoners but I’m sure the picture of my gnarly feet will always remain shock-worthy to all. In the eight weeks of training which followed that post and the 26.2 miles they culminated in I learned a whole lot more; about myself, myself as a runner, what it means to hit rock bottom in a race, and learning the hard way that despite all the training, positive thinking and encouragement in the world; the only thing that will make you a better distance runner is experience.

I read a post earlier this week by a blogger who I recently discovered who has become a fast favourite – Eat, Drink, and Run. It’s an incredibly well-written and balanced response to a somewhat inflammatory blog article about running called “Why Jogging is terrible“. I’m not going in to my own thoughts on the blog as I can’t be arsed wading into the argument (by his standards I am a jogger and I am terrible so there’s little point) and besides anything I could try and say has already been covered far more succinctly by Shelby. One of her own points jumped out at me:

“But then I read the paragraph again, and it actually kind of speaks to something that’s been a concern of mine in the running community for several years, especially as the popularity of 13.1 and 26.2 has skyrocketed: namely, the bucket list would-be marathoner who gets off the couch and decides to become a distance runner and – surprise! – gets injured.

Again: everyone has their goals and their reasons. But distance running is no joke. It requires a great deal of work to properly build up to, and a great deal of training and commitment to execute safely. And even then, experienced runners who do everything right get injured all the time.”

I suppose I am 100% guilty of this – 10 months ago I decided I wanted to run a marathon and went and signed up for it, put the work in and promptly got injured on D-Day. I was surprised at the bumpy road to recovery (although in comparison to some friends I’ve had an easy ride) and frustrated that my body didn’t bounce back like many other runners I know.

Now please note; I’m not claiming that 3 months down the line I’m anything further than an ants footstep along the proverbial runners road of experience, but in training for this ultramarathon I am already noticing huge differences in the way I feel and recover before, during and after my runs. My body has already gone through these lo-o-o-ng runs and hours on the road before and muscle memory seems to be serving its purpose. Perhaps it’s also the confidence in knowing that I’ve covered these distances before and that running 18 miles is not going to kill me, and in fact with the right fuel and weather it can actually be quite pleasant.

What has surprised me the most is my recovery times. During marathon training I would run, say, 17 miles on a Sunday and then be rendered incapable of walking due to stiffness the following day. A fortnight ago when I ran 21.5 miles however, even sleeping on a friends floor that night the next day I was up and about with no pain at all. Sure I could feel in my muscles that I’d had a hard effort the day before, but I could have easily gone for a recovery run that day had the weather not been 100% awful and I was a bit hungover and surviving on 4 hours sleep. This increased recovery speed has allowed me to execute successful back-to-back runs each weekend and has given me so much more confidence that I am ready to tackle the ultra distance safely.

I’m sure that by some more experienced runners standards I’m not ready for it – Hell, I’m sure some people are giving me the side-eye for signing up for an ultra so soon after a somewhat shoddy first marathon. On the other hand I trust my experienced friends; Mike, for example,  is about as no nonsense as they come and I’m confident that if he thought I was not capable of this he’d let me know. Just like after the marathon, I’m sure in the months to come I will have some marvellous 20/20 hindsight on how I could have done things a bit better or differently with regards to this race but that’s what a learning curve is all about.

Now, for posterities’ sake I’ll do a brief comparison of the things I was thinking about in that July post and how things are going now…

1 – Your feet are toast
No more surprises here. I’ll spare you a picture for comparison as well, but since my feet have been taking a battering for the last 6 months they are a lot tougher than they were last July. Instead of blistering and falling off, toenails (where present) are thick and warped. I have lovely callouses protecting areas which are more prone to rubbing and the ends of my toes are like rubber. Toenail count: Four!
I have also switched from wearing compression socks to compression calf sleeves, which I think has reduced impact on my toenails  as there’s more room in my shoes. I now swear by my 2XU Compression Calf Sleeves – I love them and wear them for hours after each long run for recovery.

2 – Hunger
I’m not as hungry as I expected, or maybe I’m just used to it and fuel without thinking about it now. The day after a long run I always need a big breakfast (porridge with peanut butter usually), but in general hunger is a lot less of an issue. I eat smartly and often, and still swear by pizzageddon the night before a long run.

3 – Pain
See lengthly statement above on recovery. Sure it’s not all unicorns and rainbows but I’m certainly doing a lot less complaining…maybe I’m just tougher now, or maybe my muscles are stronger. There will always be that first movement of getting yourself out of bed on a morning and moving your joints for the first time; I doubt that ever gets easier.

4 – Weight Gain
I think I’m actually losing weight this time around. I am certainly becoming leaner in some places but I’m not seeing the increase on the scales that I did last summer. Again I think this is down to experience – I know what my body needs to keep ticking over during this training and high-mileage is no excuse for eating whatever you want.

5 – GI issues
What issues? Knowledge is power and as long as you retain what your learned the first time you trained for an endurance event you should be A-OK. I’ll leave this here.

6 – I have a husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/best friend???
Well being a single girl these days, this is no longer an issue for me – right now running is my boyfriend. To be fair I’m pretty much all running all the time right now which works just fine for me, although I have to be honest and say I’ve been guilty of neglecting my non-running friends in 2012. I get home from work and my run/the gym around 7.30/8pm most nights and all I want to do is put on my PJs, put my feet up and turn on the TV. If I can muster the energy to make more than a protein shake for dinner that’s a good day! My flatmate Scott is used to me turning down offers of going to the pub over some quality recovery time on the couch, although we are planning an epic flat warming party for the weekend after the D33 – hopefully I’ll have some friends left to invite ;)

7 – You will want to sleep all the time
In my own experiences this only seems to occur when you increase weekly mileage initially. After your body adjusts to what’s going on it starts to adapt but there was definitely a 10 day period in January when you could not keep me awake for love nor money.

8 – Once upon a time, you had a social life
See #6.
Addendum – I went out with some friends for the first time this year last Friday to a nice bar. I was freaking out as I had nothing nice to wear as I haven’t bought any new ‘going out’ clothes for months. I was annoyed at the prospect of wearing heels and constricting clothing all night instead of lycra and trainers (or pyjamas and slippers…). My dressing table was littered with tubes of deep heat, ibuprofen, empty GU sachets, and body glide instead of nail polish, lipstick, hairspray and necklaces. I moved house in December and I had to rummage around in the back of my wardrobe in my stack of as-yet-unpacked-because-deemed-unnecessary boxes to find a nice matching handbag to go with my outfit. Somehow I managed to pull myself together to make it out in a dress and heels to celebrate Claire’s birthday:

…and then was up to do the first 13 miles of a back-to-back weekender 6 hours after getting home. There’s a balance to be found here somewhere but I guess I’ll address that after the race.

9 – Learn to do your own washing
Well I don’t think my flatmate has any interest in washing my sweaty kit so that says it all. I have bought some nice new shiney, girly kit though which I’m looking forward to racing in at the Arbroath Footers Smokies Ladies 10 Mile Race in March (after appropriate test runs of course) including this cute Nike Skirt:

10. You WILL find out what you are made of… and you might not like it
I found that out last October in the Loch Ness Marathon of Pain. I know after that, I can do anything. 33 miles will be a breeze ;)

 

Buggy lugs

Ugh, I’m SICK. With the creation of my training plan I did not factor in the fact that I might catch some filthy bug which would knock my on my ass.  On Saturday I woke up with that tell-tale funny feeling in the back of my throat that something wasn’t right, but I headed out for my long run in the lashing rain and wind anyway. Afterwards I felt really woozy but I figured that was just because I’d run so far and got on with the rest of my day. I was a little hungover on Sunday after watching the rugby and hitting a friends birthday party the night before and my throat was acting up AND I was coughing. Monday? Yep, sick. Stuffed up nose, green gunge, cotton wool head, nausea; the works. I kept perky for a wonderful Valentines dinner with Badger but I knew by the end of the evening I wouldn’t be going to work the next day :(

So Tuesday was spent on the couch and Wednesday I came back to work and struggled to the gym determined to bust the bug out of my system, but I bonked on the treadmill after 2 miles and did weights instead. I felt better for it last night but today I’ve been struggling. My ears are all funny and I’ve had a three day headache…hill intervals weren’t happening when I got home from work. It’s not a cold, it’s not flu – it must be some gross virus. Unfortunately working at a University leaves you exposed to constant streams of varying bugs so you never know what’s around the corner. I hate feeling like this though – I’d rather have 3 days of sickness and diahorrea than a week of feeling gross.

I’m a little concerned about losing out on training, but not too much. Much better to stay in and get better than compromise my immune system by running outside when ill. I’m also spurred on by my AWESOME run on Saturday. I mentioned running far? Well…

That’s 7.5miles you see there! Seven and a half! I’ve never run so far in my life, I was so pleased – every step was a new record! I took it very easy at roughly 9m30s pace throughout and hit 10k at 1hr and 30s. As mentioned above the weather was atrocious, and down at the beach it was even worse – a strong wind which carried me along running one way along the beach front, but was a huge struggle to run into going the other way. Horizontal rain as well so I was COMPLETELY soaked. There were a few other runners out but hardly any compared to your average Saturday afternoon – we exchanged knowing looks; relieved that we weren’t the only person to be crazy enough to run in that weather.

I could have gone for longer when I got home, and I wanted to – that’s the frustrating thing, but I didn’t want to risk injury. At least I know whatever I’m doing, I’m doing the right thing for long distance runs. If I was to run a half marathon at that pace I’d finish in 2hrs and 5minutes; which is only 5 minutes more than my goal time… I’ve begun looking for a half marathon earlier in the summer, and even begun entertaining the idea of running a marathon in the Autumn… Loch Ness perhaps? Or maybe I should become more familiar with the half marathon distance throughout the latter half of this year and be ready to run a full at the start of next year? Hmmm. Ideally I’d like a half to be my go-to distance; 10k is actually a really fast run if you’re trying to do well and I prefer to go slower for longer (I guess that’s my inner ultra marathoner speaking :P).

Speaking of 10k’s however – my home run, the City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k, opened on Monday and I was the 29th person to register and the 10th woman. Let’s hope those are the results on the day eh!? I’m REALLY looking forward to this race; it’s held down by the beach which is where I run all the time so I know the course inside out and I’m looking forward to showing what 8 months of training can do to my PR – I’m hoping for around 48 minutes which would knock 6m 47s off my current 10k PR, but of course I may PR at at RunGarioch 10k next month. I’m excited for that too – I’m bored of 5k races, I’m itching to do something more challenging!

Doom, gloom and everything in between.

So yet another week has gone by with zero progress made and virtually no running at all – another proud achievement over here at RedWine towers that I’m delighted to share with you all. So what are the excuses this week? After a successful five mile jaunt down the beach on Tuesday night which included 4x400m sprints, I was ready for my scheduled ‘cross training’ for the week – i.e Body Sculpt class, but since it doesn’t start ’til 6.45pm I came home after work and the couch ate me. Thursday’s planned work out of 3miles of hill repeats went out the window when 80mph winds and rain battered the North of Scotland so I skipped it and went to #themeet140 earlier than planned. Friday – I’d had a huge girls night out planned for months so a workout was never on the cards. Saturday – Long run planned; was too hungover to move and went to a friends to watch the rugby instead. Sunday; I should have done a long run but failed to leave the house all day for the pure pleasure of relaxing in peace and quiet with my partner for the first time in a week. Bad runner! Runner’s don’t get to relax – if they’re not at work or other commitments then they should be RUNNING. Right…?

So here we are a week further into the year and if I were on track to run 1000 miles this year, in 5 weeks I would have run 96.15 miles by now – instead I’ve hit 35. Smashing.  Since the start of the year I’ve been concentrating on eating the healthiest I can, cutting out booze, and doing more exercise than ever before in order to lose weight so I can go faster – 5 weeks later and I’ve put ON 2kg and my measurements are the same. 5 weeks into the year and I’ve already had a flare up of my old knee problems and am suffering from shint splits for the first time in my life. Or is could be a stress fracture – we don’t know yet.

As the wind batters Aberdeen and the snow continues to pelt down today my motivation is at a major low, dragged down further by my failing body and escalating weight. Dear readers – please offer some words of encouragement and remind me why I am bothering to put myself through this voluntarily, when clearly all I’m best at for now is sitting on my couch with a beer.

I wish there more hours in the day; or more days in the week – I feel like to actually accomplish what I want to do I have to make huge sacrifices in my social, personal or professional life. I can’t change my professional life – this is only a hobby after all and I’m required to work all day and late into the evenings at concerts. If I have to miss an evening work out because of an event, then I should reschedule it to an early morning session before work. But then getting up hours before the crack of dawn to go and run on a treadmill requires an early night the night before which isn’t always possible due to work commitments or other occasions, and then as a result I’m dead and in bed by 9.30pm later that day. So do I change my personal life? It’s funny that now Badger and I live together we seem to see each other even less than usual what with his late nights working, my late nights working and everything else in between. The opportunity to spend a few hours together on the couch watching a movie on a Sunday afternoon with the cats is precious ‘us time’ and has to take priority over a long run for now or else we may as well be ships passing in the night the way our lives go.  So I suppose that means sacrificing my social life – missing my friends birthdays? Skipping book club with my girl friends? Missing out on the growing twitter social scene in Aberdeen?

I guess something has to go if I want this to happen, and I want it SO BADLY. Over the next few months I’ll be working long hours at work; the only way I can see this happening is if I can get myself out running before work – either at the gym or outside once it gets lighter. The concept of this is ridiculous -anyone who knows me will testify that I only see 5.30am if I’ve been up all night from the night before. I guess sooner or later I’ll need to start making these kind of tough choices however.

Anyway – tonight is gliding, then power yoga. Perhaps I’ll be able to blast a quick mile afterwards as well for the sake of it to keep the mileage racking up.  Apologies for the gloomy post, but this journey was never going to be an easy one.

January round up

I feel I’ve been lacking on motivation somewhat this week. It’s been a really busy week at work and the last time I ran was doing speed intervals on Tuesday! I’ve had to work on a project at home every night this week as well as fitting in training. I missed my planned hill training session on Thursday as I had dinner plans with my Mum and I needed a rest day after 4 days of workouts on the trot, and instead of rescheduling it to Friday after work, I came home and slept for two hours. I guess I needed the rest but I still felt bad for skipping it. On Saturday I had more work to do and spent all morning in the bedroom with the laptop and two cats asleep around me until I broke to go for a walk along the beach with Badger…before I knew it it was time to go out for dinner to celebrate a colleagues 65th birthday – no time for a long run on Saturday then. Saturday night turned into Sunday morning and champagne at the Casino at 5am and your so far faithfully abstainful Red Wine Runner falling spectacularly off her tee-total wagon and straight back into old habits. Waking up at 1pm with a stinking headache, heralded only a trip to the cinema in terms of physical achievement; topped off with a greasy Chinese for dinner.

Way to go. I was supposed to wait until the 4th of February til I drank again but they don’t call me Red Wine Runner for nothing. So that was a whole weekend of running scrapped and now on Monday morning I feel fatigued and lethargic as a result.

Back to the gym tonight then – gliding class and then Yoga. Maybe I can push in a couple of miles on the treadmill as well? My running total for the month is 29 miles. To be on target for running 1000 miles this year I should have run 83.3 miles, or 2.74 miles a day. Not a stellar start to the year really, I didn’t even get half way there.

My other goal for the year of course is to run a race every month. I don’t have one currently scheduled for March but I think I will register for the RunGarioch 10k, which is on the 20th of March. I just got paid today so I should do it before I forget. This will push me to get ready for a 10k race before I go to Austin on the 28th of March. I’m obviously planning to run while I’m in Texas, but since I’m on holiday there may be more leverage for training runs to go out the window… I need to put some pressure on myself I think and a 10k at the end of March will allow me to gauge how my progress has come on and see how much work I need to do for Baker Hughes in May (which is the one race I already have a PR on and am training to beat it!)

I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in myself. I can’t honestly say I’ve really tried hard enough to meet my monthly goal mileage and my only excuse is my own lethargy. And a possible stress fracture I suppose. Here’s to a better February. The days are getting lighter bit by bit making running outside that little bit easier. Onwards and upwards.

#themeet140

Welcome to the annual meeting of the people who annually meet”

A favourite comfort film of mine is the 2005 comedy, Elizabethtown. Starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, it’s an awful, cheesy comedy with an unfathomable storyline and therefore well deserving of its place amongst my shelf of ‘guilty secret’ chick flick DVDs.  However, the above quote is a line from the film which sprang to mind the very first time I attended a meeting of #themeet140.

#themeet140 was an idea crafted in early 2010 by two social media moguls, @markofrespect and @Chris_Hall1 who wanted to take the social side of Twitter out of the internet and into real life. Twitter, a platform which links humans and enables them to interact swiftly and easily, quickly becomes a little redundant if we don’t take these interactions away from the computer make something positive of them; be it for business gain, professional networking or just plain meeting some new friends to drink beer with. And so #themeet140 was born…

There have been #meet140 ‘tweetups’ in London, Cheltenham and Glasgow, but it wasn’t until July 2010 that #themeet140 landed in Aberdeen. Since then there have been five hugely successful meets all held at Musa, a boutique restaurant/art gallery/music venue and purveyor of a fine locally sourced menu paired with Brewdog Ales.

So what kind of people go to #themeet140? Who are these people behind the tiny avatars that you see every day putting their name to tiny snippets of information of 140 characters in length? I remember trying to explain it to my Mother, who, although not entirely tech-phobic, comes from a generation of people whose lives have not been touched by the social medium of the internet and still maintain a certain level of distrust of the notion that people ‘from the internet’ are totally normal and perhaps worth meeting.

Standing upstairs in Musa on Thursday night, I surveyed the roomful of people who 5 months ago I wouldn’t have known from Adam. Not only that, but because we’re such an incredible cross-section of the population, our paths would have probably never crossed down the line either. IT consultants, teachers, sound engineers, cyclists, secretaries, web designers, game developers, students, shop workers, artists, accountants, photographers. Teenagers, 20somethings, 30somethings, 40somethings and then some. All people whose lives had not yet brought them together until they entered the room, attached a badge with their twitter username on their jumpers and started talking to one another.

At the start of this year I made a New Years’ Resolution that I was determined to keep – I wanted to meet some new people and make some new friends. I’ve been back in Aberdeen for three years now and from starting right from scratch I’ve made many dear friends who mean the world to me, but this year I had an urge to get a bit more out of my city and expand my horizons a little. Since then I’ve made a bit more of an effort to connect with some people my age at work, I met a friend from Livejournal for the first time in real life – through her I have met a whole swathe of fabulous ladies, and of course – I started going to #themeet140.

When I think about it, there’s not really anything that links us all together – a shared interest as it were. We just all seem to like meeting people for the sake of it – we truly are the monthly meeting of people who meet! Perhaps as tweeters who talk about our lives in an open forum, assuming that someone somewhere is listening, we all have a little something in common in that regard. But without exception I have found the crowd who frequent ‘the meet’ (as it’s now called in our household) are a colourful rainbow of outgoing, creative, welcoming and ambitious people who I count myself lucky to know.

L-R @badgerarc, @michJbarclay, @leanneef, @Hollyjunesmith, @rhinomittens

Our theme this month, was Christmas Jumpers! I think mine fell a little on the side of Scrooge what with the skulls and all but it was good for a last minute purchase from Tesco.

For the first time I think I can place a green tick against this year’s New Years’ Resolution! In the year to come I look forward to getting to know my new friends a little better and continue to meet some more. I always leave the evening with a sense of warmth and my faith in humanity restored – in a world where social interaction can seem at times increasingly more stunted and awkward it’s a real pleasure to remember that sometimes the easiest way to move forward is just to go back to the beginning and start talking.