The Three Kings

The only spot I could find free to workout at the gym yesterday was under the stairs. Religated to the broom cupboard! The cliché January full gym. I’ll let them off as they were regulars getting their fix before the place shut early. One reason why I choose to be a member of my old gym is that it’s open all year round. The 25th, 26th December, 1st, 6th January it’s open until 2pm. The December dates it was vertically empty, so it was a surprise to find it so busy.

Busy or not, I had to enough space to frog jump squat, spiderman press ups with slides for a twist and scurry out to the suspension trainer. I got there a little late, had to condense my circuit andI felt better than my usually hour. Which is good as I’ve been wanting to switch up my circuit’s format for a while and needed that push! It’s easy to get stuck in rut. I change them every two weeks, however the format’s the same. Challenge 2 of the New Year! Challenge 1, scheduling, I want to be that morning person! Challenge 3, Energize (which I keep very quiet encase it’s gets swept into the broom cupboard.). 21 days it takes for something to become habit. I’ve got some long 21 days coming up.

In the UK we don’t celebrate the 6th January or Kings Day. Here it’s their Christmas and they celebrate like it no other! Any Spanish kid will tell you that Papa Noel might visit, but the Kings are the ones that bring Christmas presents. And they do it in style! About 4.30pm on the 5th they arrive by boat in Port Vell before making their way around 6pm through Barcelona until Placa Espana. If  you ever get the opportunity to visit the city in winter time, it’s the perfect time to visit. (Bonus, the sales start on the 7th!). The parade lasts about 2 hours, beginning with a bedtime story of the Three Kings.

Snowflakes on roller skates bring Winter, Jack Frost and the North Star before the Kings post system. Kids post their Kings or Father Christmas letters into lit up fishing nets. Lots of kids were on step ladders so they could see the magic, waving their letters before dropping them in. The tale continues to the sorting office, toy factory and present delivery before the Three Kings arrive each with their own entourage. And if you’ve been bad all year, the coal train!

Lastly and the one all kids (and adults) love, the sweet/candy floats. Canons are used to spray sweets into the crowds. It’s free fall, happy chaos diving to pick up what you can. Only way to describe it, raining ticker tape and sweets! It really is a magical time. Image being a small kid, watching the Three Kings arrive and waking up the next morning to presents! Costumes, floats and the dancing changes every year, so you never know what to expect.

I tried to keep photos at a minimum, but it was impossible!

Now I’m tasked with taking down the tree. I’m always sad taking it down, leaving at the Christmas Tree recycling point. At least it doesn’t look so sad as being left out with the bins with odd pieces of tinsel. It also marks my official start to the New Year. 21 days, I’ve got you!

Do you like it when the gym is busy or empty? I prefer empty to half busy as I don’t have to move every five minutes to set up else where. But I like the energy of a full gym! How often to you switch up your training?



The Magic of Christmas Eve

The tree is up! Some elf decorated it the other night *cough* that’ll be me. However it doesn’t feel like Christmas. For me, Christmas is a time of year when it’s cold, it gets dark around 4pm and the sun might shine. Celebrating festivities in an adopted country never feels quite the same. For starters, Christmas cake in Spain is a panattoni not a fruit cake laced with brandy. The sun shines, it’s warmer, gyms and cinemas are open. Traditions morph into some sort of festive hybrid. There’s magic but it’s a different sparkle.

My Christmas Eve magic started with a 30 minute Yogaglo flow followed by a cold 8km run along and on the beaches. Icy toes and fingers for the first 5 minutes until my central heating system kicked in and then toasty fingers and toes. The cold season’s arrived. It’s always a great feeling beating the cold running! Just avoid wearing cotton. It doesn’t wick away sweat easily leaving you damp and cold. Just like our apartment. In my family nearly every Christmas the water heater blew so much my Dad kept a stock of spare elements. Our AC bust and the earliest someone can come out is Monday. Luckily we have a portable radiator. Some traditions never die!

Christmas Eve RunIMG_1122

However you celebrate the holidays, I wish you a great time! Enjoy the treats. Enjoy the magic! Stop and take a moment in from the crazy, even if you’re working (I never minded working over Christmas. The atmosphere was always relaxed). Paul and I cycling back last night, stopped off along the beaches to look up at the stars. Most places had closed early and hardly anyone was about. Everything seemed so calm, the sea, the traffic and the stars twinkling. All that was missing was snow.

Happy Christmas! I’m off to the gym!



Weekend Favourites

I’d be happy if the cold is more like today than last week. It’s been so wet and chilly that it sunk deep into your bones. I’ll take cold, crisp, sunny, days and cold, moonlit, starry, cloudless nights over rain and grey any day. You know where you are them. It’s cold, washing dries quicker, sun’s out, people happier.

Friday I took part of my run onto the beach to spice things up. I try to vary my running routes or switch them up to keep things fresh. The same route, like the same workout, can get tiresome. You get bored, things start to plateaux. I’m definitely incorporating more sand running in my routes. I miss trail running and it’s the next best thing I have to trails around here!

7.5km along and on the beaches. Stadium steps three rounds!

Anyways, this weeks Weekends Favourites:

‘Tis The Season For Festive NapkinsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

December and January, napkins around here get a little more cheerful. Normally it’s the oh so glamourous kitchen roll napkins (and if you didn’t use it or it’s not too dirty, use it next time). Christmas is different as these napkins were too irresistible not to get.

H&M Running Gloves

It’s no secret I love my Lululemon leggings! To ‘offset’ the cost, my gym tops are regular tanks and I’m always on the look out for cheaper just as effective workout gear. Sometimes it works out, other times you’re better off buying the original (Lululemon leggings). Now the winter running season has begun, running gloves are a must. These were about €9.99, lightweight, wicked sweat away and kept my hands more importantly my finger tips warm when I took them out for a spin this week. The touchscreen finger pads worked a dream. No cold fingers removing gloves to operate my phone! There’s also a pocket on the left back hand to store keys and the white poker dots are reflective.

Long Sleeved Lightweight JumpersOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Until I discovered qulited coats, I’ve never really enjoyed dressing for winter. What ever outfit I chose seemed to be ruined by a hoodie over the top, then my wool coat. I felt like an American Football player. In the UK for many years, quilted coats were something only tourists (particularly Italians!) wore. We stuck with our wool coats, though quilted coats are rapidly gaining popularity. Wool coats are chic, but are no way nearly as warm as qulited or duvet coats as I call them. I kept up with my wool coats until France when I made the switch and became ‘European’. I purchased my first duvet coat! One small change, one big step! I could embrace winter style! I’m convert as long as the filling is polyester not down or feather. They’re so warm, no additional hoodies or big jumpers required. Maybe this section should be intitled My Love of Quilted Coats, but I’m enjoying wearing lightweight jumpers this season. Layering up without bulking up!

Tops: Cream: Forever 21, Striped Florence and Florence (Tesco)

Local (Lleida) Lavender HoneyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Normally I’m in charge of buying honey and stick with Mil Flores. Paul when I was away a few weeks ago picked lavender by ‘mistake’. Thinking it was the usual one, when I got back said he asked if it’s the usual honey as it’s tastes delicious! Alarm bells starting ringing when I saw the purple label. Purple usually implies lavender. Paul will run a mile from lavender! I know better than to buy anything even washing detergent that has even the slightest hint of lavender. A quick google search revealed espigol is lavender in Catalan. But it’s okay as it doesn’t taste of lavender. It’s not too sweet, not too sour, light tasting, but packs a punch! There’s already a second jar in the cupboard, as you know it doesn’t taste of lavender.

Dog Snow Maze

What do you do when when snowed in and need to dig yourself out to walk the dog? Built a dog snow maze!

AJ and D

Just because!

Hope you’re having a great weekend! What’s been making you smile this week?