OFFA’S DYKE PATH – PART 3 Kington to Llanmynech

Offa’s Dyke Path

I’m walking, in stages, Offa’s Dyke Path on the England / Wales Border. A 177 mile National Trail named after the Offa’s Dyke which is a great frontier earthwork built by Offa, King of Mercia from 757 to 796 A.D  http://offasdyke.org.uk/

Offa's Dyke Path Stone
Offa’s stone dated 757 AD

Part 3 was over 50 miles hiking in 4 days, including The Switchback; 14 miles of undulating walking, one of the toughest days walking I’ve done. Part 1 and 2 of this walk can be found here http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/offas-dyke-path-part-1/   and  http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/walkoffasdykepart2/

Thursday 13th July Kington – Knighton

I woke early on 13th July to be at the appointed meeting place at 8am. Rufus and I were all packed for our 4 days walk of the middle section of the Offa’s Dyke Path. The weather looked like great walking weather, temperatures down to under 20c in comparison to the recent hot weeks and little or no rain forecast.

We arrived in Kington and managed to start the days hike to Knighton at 11am. 13.5 miles with 2 or 3 good climbs reaching 400m at the highest point, beginning (the highest 18 hole course in England) and ending over golf courses. For the first time the Dyke was much in evidence!

We alighted in Knighton and spent a delightful night at The George & Dragon; very comfortable with great food and beer.

Offa's Dyke Path view to the Black mountains
The first time climb out of Knighton looking across to the Black Mountains

Friday 14th July – Knighton to Mellington Hall

Another good 14 miles but this day incorporated The Switchback, a series of steep undulations – WOW possibly the hardest days walking I’ve ever done – I hate downhill’s this was really tough on my toes. I believe they are now bruised and toenails will be lost, in the making of this blog post no other animals were harmed! In fact Rufus relish’s a good days walk, does 3 to 4 times the miles we do, despite being the oldest in the pack at over 70! (10 years old in doggy terms)

Montgomery from Offa's Dyke Path
Looking down on Montgomery

Again today afforded the best Dyke walking, much of it atop the Dyke itself through rolling woods and farmland with no breaks in the uphill’s and downhill’s.

Offa's Dyke Path half way point
Yay – we’re halfway! But today is a toughie Knighton to Mellington Hall; The Switchback

The best view came at the Cwm-Sinaham (406m) pop over to my Instagram to see a 360 degree video (https://www.instagram.com/jenafitlife/?hl=en). Although the highest point on the Dyke itself was Llanfair Hill (432m) just a little further along the path. We’ve already done the highest point on the trail in the Black Mountains, Hatterrall Ridge (703m) ((Part 2 of my Offa’s Dyke Path walk).

This day ended at the beautiful Mellington Hall where I had a bath, BLISS! (bath’s being a B & B rarity, but so welcome after a hard days walk).  Great beer and Fish & Chips were consumed followed by an early night…….well that was the plan but the boy’s got locked out of their room (broken lock) and were popping in and out of my room whilst the drama ensued and a Man with Ladder came to the rescue.

Mellington Hall on Offa's Dyke Path
Mellington Hall – upmarket B & B for a night

Saturday 15th July – Mellington Hall to Buttington Cross

Mellington Hall on Offa's Dyke Path
Rufus checking out of Mellington Hall

A shorter, much flatter day, 13 miles with just one serious climb to Beacon Ring. This meant a steep climb downhill to Buttington where on advice from Andy (Andy’s Twitter account), who recently walked the entire path raising funds for Midland Air Ambulance , we headed for The Green Dragon, a pint and a phone call for a taxi to our B&B; Severn Farm in Welshpool.

The best B&B yet, wonderful hosts Joyce and Alun were so welcoming and immediately booked a table for us at a restaurant in town and offered to take us back to the trail in the morning. Service 🙂

Sunday 16th July – Welshpool to Llanmynech

Our last day, it’s all over so quickly but my bruised feet (due to adding gel insoles to my boots and then not having enough room for my toes – BIG MISTAKE) were not unhappy about this. Our 10 miles to Llanmynech were flat, canal paths and riverside. My twitcher pals were convinced they’d spot a Kingfisher today (check out the list of birds which were spotted at the bottom of this post).

Breidden Hills - Offa's Dyke Path
Breidden Hills, quarrying underway. The boys are down by the river looking for an elusive Kingfisher!

After some towpath walking the path goes along the top of the Tir-y-mynach Embankment following the course of the River Severn, from here you view the Breidden Hills which are in part industrialised with quarrying. The route continues along the abandoned Montgomery Canal it was a very pleasant walk and along this stretch were swans nesting.

Montgomery Canal / Offa's Dyke Path swans
Swans and cygnets on the Montgomery Canal stretch of Offa’s Dyke Path approaching Llanmynech

Apart from water and an apple we had no refreshments and were very disappointed to find The Golden Lion at Four Crosses was shut. So onward to Llanmynech where everywhere had stopped serving food 🙁 a pint and a packet of peanuts were lunch and dinner! Here we awaited our taxi to return us to Kington and the car for the trip back home – happy, dry, tired but accomplished.

Have you walked this route?

Thanks for reading.

 

Jen x

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

Read my post on avoiding blisters! Which I managed to mess up on this walk 🙁

How I deal with my blisters from long walks

Birds spotted on the Kington to Llanmynech stretch July 13th – 16th 2017
Different birds from the previous stretch are marked *

Wheatear
Yellow Hammer
Chiff Chaff
Black Bird
Song thrush *
Goldfinch
Sky Lark
Swallow
Housemartin *
Swift *
Wren
House Sparrow *
Dunnock
Long tailed tit
Coal tit
Great tit
Blue tit
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail *
Nuthatch
Stonechat
Starling *
Robin
Green Woodpecker *
Spotted Woodpecker

Buzzard
Kestrel
Peregrine
Red Kite

Wood Pigeon
Magpie

Carrion Crow *
Jackdaw *
Rook *
Raven

Pheasant
Red legged Partridge *

Mute Swan and cygnets *
Heron
Moorhen *
Mallard *

Cormorant *

4 Pillars for Good Health

I believe there are four pillars for good health. We all know that regular exercise will help us to have a healthier heart, reduce health risks and help our mobility (have a read of my Functional Fitness blog) but doing it is another matter. However there are three other things which are equally important, in my opinion, to good health and a happier life. They are what we eat, what we think and quality sleep.

Good Health Pillar 1 – Let’s start with what we eat.

Understanding the value of what we put into our bodies (nutritionally) might influence what we do eat. I’m not a Dietitian or Nutritionist but there is lots of advice and information “out there”, and it doesn’t have to be complicated, cool or the latest fad or super food.  Take a look at these websites     http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/healthy-eating/Pages/Healthyeating.aspx  and http://nicsnutrition.com/about-me/

You may be better placed spending your time looking in to this than paying out for something like Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Aloe C9 Cleanse, Joe Wicks (The Body Coach),  Lighter Life or the like.  These may help with support and motivation (see my thoughts on mindset below) but really developing your understanding of the basics of a good diet will give you lifelong sustainable skills not short term restrictive plans.

You have to look at what you are nourishing your body with as a long term life change; rebel against the modern society of quick fixes – they don’t exist and only send you into a spiral of despair when the results don’t come or are not sustained. Only YOU can lift yourself out of this cycle and YOU CAN. Take responsibility. Take control.

pillars of good health -food
Preparing coleslaw!

You need to develop a new and good relationship with food, it is not a crutch for your emotional state (if anything it fuels that cycle). Food is the fuel that makes our brilliant bodies work properly. It is the petrol for our car, and our car is the very top model, the very best, most exquisite, a fantastic feat of engineering – we should and will be very proud of it. But we need to look after it, putting the right fuel in will go a long way to getting it to run in Formula 1 condition.

Discovering what good food is and beginning to understand the detrimental effects foods can have on your body. Like those containing too much sugar or processed foods containing many additives (chemicals) to make them taste good or keep longer. You can then change the balance and variety of foods you consume, this will have amazing results on your well-being. Just give it a go! 

Good food is not an expensive or time consuming option. Aldi and other supermarkets sell fabulous products at great prices, and nutritious meals can be put together in minutes. Look here for inspiration; https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/15-minute-meal

 

pillars of good health - food
Eggs – a great food!

Good Health Pillar 2 – Mindset

I know it is a “chicken & egg” situation, I believe having the right mindset is imperative to getting your head around eating well. You will find that as your body adjusts to this new fuel you will feel energised and motivated perhaps to tweak your foods even more or get out for a walk, swim or cycle. One will support the other and you will gradually feel happier, healthier and motivated to carry on this journey.

You need to be committed to make changes – whatever your motivation

  • health scares; breathlessness, racing heart, joint pains
  • aesthetic reason “nothing fits” , I’m not going to buy the next size up
  • social reasons; you want to join friends on that hiking/cycling/beach holiday
  • family reasons; I can’t play with the grandchildren or help my ageing parents

The reason will be personal to you, the solution will be personal to you and the resolution yours alone.

Good Health Pillars

I have written blogs previously on mindset and sleep, and often write about fitness and will be writing more about these pillars of health shortly, so sign up to get notified of my new blog posts – pop your email address in the box at the top right of the page. I promise I won’t be sending spam or selling my email list!

Do you have any advice on food choices?

Thanks for reading.

 

Jen x

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

Read more about sleep and health here; http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/tiredness-and-fatigue/Pages/lack-of-sleep-health-risks.aspx

SIgn up for Julia Buckley’s online gym here http://azalejma.juliabfit.hop.clickbank.net

This post contains an affiliate link.

I was feeling sorry for myself, do you ever feel a little down?

There I was walking Rufus on a glorious Monday morning (there’s the rub 🙁 ) feeling a little sorry for myself. Why? The sun was out and warm, at 8.15! I was in the countryside with my best friend (my dog), the cattle had said hello – all my favourite things.  A good day lay ahead, I’m my own boss, I was planning to include a workout, a trip to the gym with my youngest daughter and a catch up chat with my sister before her holiday.

Good Mooorning - feeling sorry for myself
The cattle say Good Moooorning!

So why was I feeling sorry for myself? Well before my walk I’d scrolled through my Instagram feed and viewed gorgeous blue seas and beaches, hen parties with lots of friends and pic’s of couples kissing……it made me feel a little lonesome, and perhaps a little sad.
Do you ever feel like this?

It’s at times like these that I have to shake myself, perhaps remind myself why I’m here (in this situation), how I got here * and what that really means to me**.  I’m not going to say this is easy to do but it brings me perspective and makes me count my blessings not my inadequacies or losses. It’s at times like these I have to “force” myself into a happier space.

** So what does it mean to me: freedom, control, choice, independence…… I may not be able to control all the circumstances life throws at me but I can control and choose how I experience them.

So my advice is:

  • Don’t dwell on the past; the should’ve been or could’ve been
  • What is, what is; live it or make plans to change it
  • Perhaps pick on an uplifting mantra for times like this, and when your thoughts stray use it
  • Build a brighter future and when I analyse what that really means to me ….. It is actually where I am and what I am currently working on and building. I’ve had it all (the multiple friends, the kissing) and it’s probably only the sea that I’m missing in this moment!

I believe the bottom line is I can choose how I’m feeling on the whole. Sometimes I need to remind myself to choose happiness and to be positive.

Rufus as I'm feeling sorry for myself
Rufus waiting as I jotted my “feeling sorry for myself” thoughts!

 

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” Henry Miller

Do you have any tips or tricks for picking yourself up out of a bad time?

* Check out these blog posts to read about my new life and link further to how that came about  http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/calmer-waters-part-1/ and http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/calmer-water-part-2/

Read more about making changes in your life here https://www.jenafitlife.com/make-a-change/

 

Thanks for reading.

Jen x

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

Do you know what Functional Fitness is?

What is functional fitness?

Functional fitness means to me being able to handle real-life physically, be that digging the garden, changing the bed sheets or walking the dog or whatever your regular activities are.

Walking the dog!

As we get older it’s easy to get less mobile as joints stiffen up, aches & pains manifest themselves and moving gets more difficult. BUT it is for these reasons that it is really important to keep moving, to ensure you can get up off the floor or lift your grandchildren (or children) out of the highchair or car seat.

Whatever age you are, are you functionally fit?

Can you climb the stairs without gasping for breath? Can you get yourself in and out of a chair? Can you get into the bath? Or carry your shopping into the house? The list goes on ………

If the answer to any of these questions is NO, then its time to take some action. It’s not too late to address your functional fitness – start slowly; walk a little every day, join a class – Pilates is great. Get advice at your Doctors and have a look here at the NHS website for lots of health and fitness advice.

You may be attending a gym and able to lift weights or pull weights but does that translate to functional fitness? The gym machine workout isolates muscle groups, it doesn’t teach muscle groups to work together as they are required to do in real life activities. A good starting point might not be the gym machines but doing exercises in which you have to control and balance your own body weight.

Workout at home  – no-one can see you or judge you.

You can gain confidence, mobility and doing bodyweight exercises will help your functional fitness. Join an online gym, I have been working out at home with this great online gym for a few years now, it is second to none. There are many FREE workouts but for only £6.50 per month you can access 4 and 12 week training programmes, over 200.workouts and a supportive online community. Bargain!

Being fitter will result in so many health benefits, you may be surprised to hear that your mental health and sleep are very likely to improve. What’s not to love about doing some physical exercise on a daily basis?

Functional fitness is important for your independence and long term health. Regular strengthening exercises and using the right technique can make the world of difference and give you the freedom you deserve, so take action NOW.

functional fitness
Bringing the 20kg chick food in

 

Let me know; Are you Functionally Fit?

More information

MIND.org Fitness & Mental Health

mentalhealth.org Fitness & Mental Health

webmd.com working-out-for-real-life-functions

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Jen

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

Read my blog on Fitness Challenges here

 

My walking break in the Peak District

I have just returned from a 4 day walking break in the Peak District.; A fabulous area of the UK and less than an hour and a half “up the road”.

I have always been a keen walker. My former husband and I holidayed a lot in the Lake District in our twenties pre children – wow over 30 years ago! There was a middle time in my life; when the girls were growing up, that long and difficult walks took a backseat, with only the occasional foray perhaps but nothing serious. More recently with my last partner and my dog, Rufus, I have completed Wainwrights Coast to Coast walk and The Cotswold Way. I am currently walking Offa’s Dyke Path in 4-day break sections.

Day 1

Back to the Peak District, I set off on Thursday morning with the Cocker Spaniel, Rufus and my mate Kate heading for Ilam and the B&B ran by the sister of Kate’s work colleague. What a stroke of luck a beautiful location, very comfortable accommodation and brilliant service Garden Farm, Ilam (https://www.gardenfarmpeakdistrict.co.uk/ ). Thanks Debbie!  Rufus was made very welcome and is currently starring on the Garden Farm Facebook page! Rufus made friends in the customary way (bottom sniffing) with the resident black Labradors – Diesel and Marley.

walking in the peak district
The biggest honeysuckle I’ve ever seen at the Garden Farm B&B – beautiful perfume

On arriving, after I’d prepared my feet for walking (see this post) we headed off with a picnic to explore the locality. The first walk of our walking break in the Peak District was a 6 mile walk down into Ilam (via the National Trust loo’s!) and onward to follow the Manifold River towards Thorpe and back again, with a picnic stop half way.

walking in the peak district
Stock Grazing
Please close and fasten the gate
The sign on this gate!

 

We rounded this off with a pot of tea and a Biscuiteer courtesy of Kate. A birthday gift from her work colleagues (thank you).

Biscuiteers

After a rest and a read we headed for the local hostelry The Izaak Newton Hotel for a welcome pint and a good dinner – burger for me and a tomato hash concoction for Kate, all very tasty. Rufus was made very welcome and was given a bowl of iced water.

Day 2

walking in the peak district
Kate and Rufus at Ilam Cross – ready for Dovedale

A good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast set us up for our planned 12 mile walk. We’d decided to walk up Dove Dale past the stepping stones before the weekend hoards arrived!  We were there before 10am and very few walkers were around. Hence I was able to film Kate and Rufus crossing the River Dove (see Instagram @jenafitlife)

walking in the peak district
Crossing Dovedale stepping stones

From here we carried on up the River Dove to Milldale where we partook of a coffee from Polly’s Cottage and watched the ducks on the river before continuing on up river to just beyond Iron Tors where we crossed the river and climbed the steady route up Gipsy Banks to reach the limestone plateau of fields across to Alstonefield.

walking in the peak district
Ilam Rock -Dove Dale
walking in the peak district
Rufus exploring the Dove dale caves

Here at The George we had a pint but we were not tempted by the menu – designed for diners not walkers!  We then headed south via Stanshope and Castern to eventually come into Ilam Park. The weather had deteriorated and we got rather damp, but it was dry enough to sit in the NT Ilam tea garden ( www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ilam-park-dovedale-and-the-white-peak)  and have a good pot of tea and a slice of Derbyshire tea loaf.

walking in the peak district
View from the Ilam Park tea garden

More tea, a bath and some reading prior to heading out for food, having not booked anywhere we ended up back at The Izaak Walton! Red wine, Caulliflower, chick pea and spinach curry for me and Fish & Chips for Kate. Delicious!

Day 3

The weather looked more promising on Saturday, our planned route had no hostelry’s for refreshment. Debbie our host kindly provided a flask of coffee and we had apples and snacks too.  We had another 12 mile circular route from Parwich planned, taking in some of the Tissington Trail and the High Peak Trail. These are both old industrial railway lines now given over to walkers and cyclists. The route culminated in skirting the working Ballidon Quarry and back to Parwich. We hadn’t realised how bright and warm the day had been until we saw the white lines at my ankle/sock/leg boundary!

Saturday night we’d booked in to eat at The Okeover Arms, Mappleton.  A varied menu and good ales, free wifi connected me to the outer world briefly. Did I say we’d had little or no phone or internet reception throughout the trip?  I had a great pint of Okeover Ale to wash down my Steak pie, proper walker’s food! I followed this up with a Strawberry pavlova.  This day led to a sound nights sleep.

walking in the peak district
Okeover Ale

Day 4

Sunday dawned, packing ensued and our last hearty B& B breakfast. Today our plan was to drive to Hartington and walk 6 miles along Beresford Dale into Wolfscote Dale following the River Dove almost to where we’d left it to climb Gipsy Banks earlier in the weekend. We then left the river bed to come back along Biggin Dale to the country lanes that led back to Hartington, a sandwich and a coffee.

walking in the peak district
A mixed Chicken run en route back to Hartington

This brought our break to an end, just the hour and a half drive back to Leicestershire, internet and phone reception!

I would really recommend a walking break in the Peak District. We barely scratched the surface and will definitely be back.

Have you read my blog post on Fitness Challenges? Walking features in it!

Where are you favourite walking routes?

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Jen

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

 

 

Fitness Challenges – What are your’s?

People are seeking ever increasing fitness challenges, what are your’s? 5k, Marathon? Triathlon? Heavier weights? Mud runs/ OCR?

It may be to lose weight, walk around the park, build a booty, improve your health outcomes, Whatever your fitness challenges are they are your personal challenges or goals.

Running

I’ve done a couple of half marathons…..with about 25 years between them! The first when the girls were under 5 and time was tight. The second whilst supporting my eldest daughter in her C25k, followed by her half marathon training and later she did the London Marathon…….the latter definitely not my bag, so time consuming….not to mention the pain. I supported her with this one by taking her drinks when she was doing a long run, running out to meet her and running the last couple of miles back with her and giving her massages!

The second half marathon was not really a planned goal, it was however a challenge!  As I said I was running with Alice as she trained for her first half marathon. After running 12 miles with her I questioned why I didn’t do my second half marathon. Unfortunately I couldn’t get into the one she was doing so we both booked onto one for about 3 weeks after. It was a glorious day and a lovely run which I managed in a very respectable 2 hours 4 mins, not bad for a 53 year old with dodgy knees. Shame I didn’t break the 2 hour mark tho’ cos I don’t plan to run another one!

Fitness challenges running
Half Marathon 2hrs 4mins

Wolf Run

A couple of years ago I did the Wolf Run, now that was great fun, very, very muddy and one to do with friends as you need to push and pull each other up and over obstacles. Woods…..Obstacles…..Lakes….Fields: a 10k run with tough natural and man-made obstacles, actually not a lot of running, lots of trying to stay on two feet in the mud, climbing, swimming and crawling! Definitely a fabulous fitness challenge!

fitness challenges wolf run
Wolf Run – just washed off crossing the river!

Walking

Walking is now my thing: Coast to Coast, ( in 3 sections), Cotswold Way and now Offa’s Dyke Path piecemeal. These walks are fitness challenges, completing good mileage to reach your overnight stop, on Offa’s Dyke we are carrying our luggage including 3 days worth of dog food! and climbing over 100 floors – the health app on my phone recorded 105 floors, over 30,000 steps and 19km covered on one day 🙂

 

Fitness Challenges walks
Offs’s Dyke Path – the end of Hatterrall Ridge

Online Gym

Generally my fitness challenges are almost daily, personal and in the front room …..my workout space! 

Julia Buckleys online gym programmes have a mix of HIIT, weights, weighted HIIT, flexibility work and cardio. Great for doing in your own time and space, no one watching, fabulous workouts and excellent programmes done for you!! Fantastic camaraderie and support on the website too.

fitness challenges online gym
Post workout – online gym
Training in my front room!

Your Fitness Challenge

Don’t be intimidated by the guys that want to do ultra runs/massive cycling mileage/ strong people events ( delete/ insert as appropriate) if you struggle to jog to the end of your road.   It is your fitness journey, your life, have fitness challenges that will change you. You’ll be rewarded by health benefits, oh and great satisfaction.

Let me know what your current fitness challenges are in the comments below.

Thanks for reading

 

Jen x

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

Read about the further challenge from long walks here ….Blisters!    https://www.jenafitlife.com/2017/05/30/blisters-when-walking/

Further blogs on running:

Running – Most of us have done it

Running – How To Get Going

This post contains an affiliate link

Blogtacular – Blogging Conference

Getting there

I spent a beautiful sunny Saturday in June at a Blogging Conference in London! It was very colourful, bright and cheery both in terms of the decor, the people and the presentations….oh and the food! It was indeed more than a Conference.

Blog Conference
Arriving at Blogtacular

When I booked on to the event I hadn’t realised there was a pre conference event on the Friday; a photowalk followed by a party at West Elm. This looked great fun but logistics (trains already booked and a dog!) meant I couldn’t make it.

I live a 50 minute train trip (and a 20 minute car journey) from Euston and a Virgin Rail offer enabled my to travel for £8 return…..YES £8 crazy! I had an early start as the Conference kicked off at 8.30 with Breakfast (you can see the day’s schedule here). My plan was to arrive at 9ish and partake in second breakfast – I am a hobbit and I can’t leave home without breakfast :).

Conference travel
Waiting for my bargain Virgin Train!

The Conference – morning session

Blogtacular Conference
Kat Molesworth welcoming us to Blogtacular

Things really got started at 9.40, after I’d consumed several Beurre d’Isigny pain au chocolate and pain au raisin, washed down with a bucket of coffee, with an inspiring keynote speech from Natalie Lue . The message promoted Blogging for yourself, doing it because you want to, not copying or comparing but LOVING IT.

Following a short coffee break a choice of 4 workshops were available, each with enough space not to be turned away disappointed. I had met a lovely lady (Jo) at this point. We were going to different workshops, this meant when we met later we were able to feedback and share our workshop experiences. This added great value to the Conference overall.

I attended the Foundations of Marketing workshop led by Kayte Ferris ( http://www.simpleandseason.com/) . I have some marketing knowledge and was interested to get a bloggers view, not only does Kayte blog but she is a Marketing Consultant and Coach. The session was useful. Kayte made me think I needed to look more specifically at who I expect or want my audience to be and to develop a “Buyer Persona”. From this analysis you can develop your stories and how to communicate them. Lots of food for thought and work to be done. Talking this through with my new friend Jo and others in the lunch break started the process!

Conference workshop
Kayte Ferris Marketing Workshop

Lunch was spectacular, I chose roasted salmon pea risotto, lemon butter and pea shoots accompanied with a variety of salads. It was very well organised and plentiful. No hassle, no queuing and plenty of time to chat or peruse the market.

The Conference – afternoon session

Next I chose to go to the Working with Brands workshop presented by Lucy Nicholls (http://www.shinythoughts.net/hello/ ). Lucy has worked for ASOS and now Boden as a Social Media Content Producer. Being a Blogger herself Lucy knows a lot about Influencer Marketing. The packed presentation was comprehensive and a little bit “on the horizon” for me but one can dream! Again it made me realise a scatter-gun approach to my blog was not ideal and identifying my audience is paramount.

Jo had been to the Finding your Niche workshop and came away with a useful handout. Needless to say I stole a copy, a useful tool to help my post conference work.

A short break before the last workshop of the day. Jo and I had selected the same one, the Creative Business Masterclass. Three lovely ladies with successful creative online shops talked us through the importance of Community, Collaboration and Balance for you and your business. They were very lively and at times haphazard. This wasn’t the best session or presentation, the slides were illegible as they were too pale and the lighting in the room couldn’t be adjusted well enough to improve this. There is always a kernel of something valuable tho’ and we did come away with a list of great websites for tools and resources.

The Conference – the finale

The final break and a cup of tea was much needed, along with a smidgen of cake, all fueled up for the final keynote speaker Emma Gannon. Emma was great, very entertaining presenting the changes in blogging from 2010 to 2016 , making predictions for 2017 and championing playing to your strengths:
Ideas first, Platform second.

Blogtacular Conference Emma Gannon
Emma Gannon Keynote Speaker at Blogtacular

The Conference was rounded off by Kat Molesworth, co-founder and director of Blogtacular (http://blogtacular.com/team-blogtacular/) and a group photo. I pretty much missed the latter as a dash to the loo pre tube and train journey was a priority! Sorry Kat 🙁

Conference photo
Just too late for the Group photo!

In conclusion

Blogtacular promised to be “more than an event, it’s the catalyst to transform your career.   You will leave with the tools, ideas and inspiration to achieve your goals plus the network of contemporaries who’ll help you get there”.
I think it lived up to this. The Conference has helped me to really consider my audience and given me some tools and advice on how to go about this. It sent me away with lots to think about, lots of resources to research and lots of places to look for inspiration.

Have you been to Blogtacular?

Would you recommend any other Blogger events?

 

Thanks for reading

 

Jen x

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram jenafitlife

Conference goody bag
The morning after! Tea in bed and my Blogtacular goody bag!

You can read the Blogtacular write up in their blog here  http://blogtacular.com/blog/

Do you want to make a change?

The Beech Tree

Do you want to make a change in your life? Do you cling to old habits and ways? Perhaps now is the time to take some action.

I’ve been watching Spring unfurl in my new environment and have posted on Instagram numerous pictures of blossom’s, flower’s and tree’s.
I was particularly taken by this one small beech tree on my daily morning dog walk.

Rufus on his daily morning walk.

When all the other tree’s were bursting into life this small tree was doggedly hanging onto last years leaves. Even when Storm Doris had ran rampant across the countryside these dead leaves did not budge.

Beech no change
Hanging onto last years leaves

It made me think how we can hang on to “stuff” that is no longer of any use to us. It may have had a valuable place and a necessary use but that no longer applies or is relevant to today just like last year’s leaves. Is it time to let go of some old habits, redundant activities or friendships?

Beginning to change
Letting go!

Like the beech tree letting new life in, starting again and relishing a fresh start may be the BEST thing for you too. Do it NOW, embrace Spring and like the Beech Tree really begin to flourish, feel proud of your revived outlook and elevated approach to life!  The new buds seemed to miraculously dismiss the redundant leaves, getting rid of them in a way Storm Doris couldn’t!

new growth/change
Let new life in 🙂

The process of change doesn’t happen overnight for anybody (or the beech tree)
It takes:

But you have to get started, set the wheels in motion and keep moving forward. You have to believe in yourself  and your ability to achieve. Change can and will happen be patient, but be consistent.

 

   The Beech Tree in full bloom!

Let me know what you’re going to change in your life.

Good luck.

Thanks for reading.

 

Jen x

Further reading on the changes I’ve been dealing with in 2017
http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/calmer-waters-part-1/
http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/calmer-water-part-2/
http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/work-update-variety-jobs/

Twitter @jenafitlife

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How I deal with my blisters from long walks

Do you suffer from blisters when on a long walk or any walk for that matter? I have had my walking boots for about 5 years and wear them regularly. However when I go on a walking holiday and put in up to 20 miles I usually can expect to get sore feet and blisters 🙁

Walking boots
My trusted walking boots

Over the years I have developed a system of plasters and “padding” to try to prevent this, to no avail. I have lost toenails in the process too. I’ve had blisters on the balls of my feet, where the nail meets the toe, on the heels and on the toes. My boots are not ill fitting, they are comfortable (until a blister forms) and I wear two pairs of socks.

Historically I applied blister plasters, other plasters after the event. Now I have a blister strategy!

My Blister Strategy

When walking the Cotswold Way last Spring I applied this fantastic fleecy padding along my toes and this did a great job at protecting this bit of my feet. Sadly it was then that I got blisters under the ball of my foot, sort at the big toe joint. Some of these issues are due to my feet changing shape as a result of bunions, which in themselves are not painful and do not cause me any other issue……………….oh apart from choice of shoes, mainly from an aesthetic viewpoint.

I further enhanced my foot preparations with the purchase of these life-changing or at least foot/blister changing “Gel Ball of Foot Cushions [which] absorb shock, reduce friction and redistribute pressure with each step while taking up little space in the shoe”] http://www.superdrug.com/Superdrug/Superdrug-Toe-Loop-Ball-Of-Ft-Cushion-X2/p/536303 wearing these alongside the fleecy padding (which you can cut to size) on the toes revolutionised my feet experience on the most recent leg of the Offa’s Dyke Path (http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/walkoffasdykepart2/) . When we walked over 50 miles in 4 days,including 17 miles on the first day and I was blister free. RESULT 🙂

blister prevention
Gel shock absorbers!

My Blister/First Aid Walking Kit

This picture shows the stuff I carry with me when walking;

  • plasters, blisters and normal
  • fleecy padding (cut to size)
  • anti-histamine
  • tick tweezers
  • antiseptic wipes
blister kit
My Blister/First Aid kit

and generally for the end of the day

  • paracetomol
  • ibuprofen
  • ibuprofen gel
Blister/ ache aid
Post walk medication!

Not a Walker?

Take a read of my blog post Do you walk regularly? to find out why walking is good for your health and how I get my walking in!

Thanks for reading

 

Jen x

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National Walking Month – Do you walk regularly?

May is National Walking Month, here you can find out more about why walking is good for your health and how I get my walking in!

Dog walk
Regular dog walk fun!

Do you get in 10,000 steps a day? Should you? Is that the recommendation?

Walking is a great way to get fitter, lose weight and begin to take charge of your health. It is simple, needs no equipment and can be done anywhere.

Most people are able to walk, it is a low-impact exercise – easy and free! It is shown that walking can have very valuable health benefits:
– reduces your risk of heart disease
– reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
– helps with weight loss
– exercise improves your mood
– improves your sleep
– it is energising
and getting outside will boost your vitamin D
(Source http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/09/11/daily-walk-benefits.aspx )

Interested in doing more walking? The advice is simple comfortable clothes and shoes and take some water if it’s hot or you’re out for a long time. Try to make walking part of your daily routines – the school run, walk to work or the shops, take the stairs, go for a stroll after dinner, in your lunch break or when you get home from work. For more advice and suggestions take a look here http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx

So 10,000 steps? We are advised to do at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity such as fast walking every week (as well as strength exercises on two days a week) . 10,000 steps equates to about 5 miles, and will generally include 30 minutes of moderately intense walking thus meeting the suggested healthy activity.

If you are interested in improving your health outcomes and grabbing some of these great health benefits, the NHS websites offer some good advice. Programmes like WalkActive offer scientifically effective walking techniques to ensure correct postural alignment. If you’d like to progress to running the Couch to 5k programme starts with a good walk!

I found getting a dog meant I easily walk my 10,000 steps and it certainly means I keep fit and healthy, although this option obviously comes with other obligations and responsibilities. I have explored some of these here http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/get-a-dog/ .

stick walk
Rufus always likes a stick on his walk!

I love to take walking holidays, with friends and my dog! We have together walked the Coast to Coast, a 192-mile unofficial and mostly unsignposted long-distance footpath in Northern England, from St Bee’s to Robin Hoods Bay. You can read a little about that here on the Good Dog Guide website https://www.thegooddogguide.com/blog/a-big-dog-walk/.

C2C Walk
On the Coast to Coast Walk

We have also walked the Cotswold Way, a 102-mile long-distance footpath, running along the Cotswold Edge escarpment of the Cotswold Hills. Currently we are walking Offa’s Dyke Path, following the English/Welsh border for 177 miles alongside the 8th Century Offa’s Dyke. We have walked from Chepstow to Kington and have the next stage planned for July! Read about this adventure here http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/walkoffasdykepart2/

OD Walk
Walking Offa’s Dyke

I’m not suggesting you need to start planning epic walking holidays, it is a great way to see our beautiful country, but adding more walks into your life is a fabulous way to get fitter and healthier. Why not give it a go!

Let me know about your walking experience.

 

Thanks for reading

 

Jen x