Back in April I went on my (first ever!) girls holiday to Warsaw in Poland. I had never been to Poland before so was particularly excited to experience a new country. Read on about what I experienced below:

Where I stayed

My friend booked an airbnb. It was a cute place and perfect for what we needed even though the beds scared me as they were so high! The flat was in a building that had been around since the war (which is rare for Warsaw) and had a catholic shrine in the middle of the courtyard, which wasn’t surprising since it is a Catholic country but I had never seen before. It was my first time I stayed in a airbnb place and have booked an airbnb place for my second trip to Poland in July!

Where I ate

Nocny Market

Nocny Market Neon Sign

Nocny Market

This was a cute food market located west of Warsaw. It was a bit out of the way and is located down a rather dodgy road but when you get there it just feels like you are at a food market that all the locals go too. There was a variety of food from burgers to indian to greek. Oddly enough there was a barbers and a tattooist if you fancy a trim or something more permeant to remind you of your stay…

Stara Kamienica

This restaurant is so cute! It had a saxophone player there! This posh restaurant had a variety of polish and european cuisine at a very reasonable price.

What I did

Gestapo Headquarters in Poland

We managed to pack quite a lot in a short amount of time. We visited the Gestapo Headquarters. This building is very imposing from the outside. It is a very small museum which inside consisted of all the individual cells that prisoners were kept in and you could read all of their engravings on the wall. Accompanying this there were interactive displays educating you on the impact the Nazi’s had on Warsaw. It was very informative and certainly worth a visit.

Pastel buildings in Warsaw Old Town

Old Town in Warsaw is another place you must visit whilst you are there. Old Town is an UNESCO World Heritage site and had been completely gutted during World War 2 and had been restored to as close as the area looked like between the 13th and 20th century.

Mały Powstaniec

We just got a free map which showed us all the places and statues that you needed to see and had a wonder around. We also went to Lazienki Park which is the largest park in Warsaw. It is so beautiful and I couldn’t help but take lots and lots of photos of the palace and the amphitheater.

Palace Gardens in Poland

Finally, I couldn’t forget the bar crawl in Warsaw, for 60 zolty you got 2 cocktails or beers, a free shot and entry into pubs and bars. I am so glad we did it just because it saves having to google all the individual bars yourself, it was also a great chance to meet some new people. It reminded me of my times at Uni!

Have you ever been to Poland? Do you have any recommendations for Krakow? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Blue vintage caravan selling cocktails

I went along to the Birmingham Seasonal markets in Brum today. It was located in Digbeth at The Bond Company. I had been to the winter market before and although it was very cold I had an amazing indian fish and chips and spiced apple drink. Part of the reason I went to the summer one was the Original Patty Men was going to be there and I heard good things about them so I was eager to try one.

What venders were there?

If you have been around the street food markets in Brum then you will recognise the vendors, as well as the O.P.M there was Bournville Waffle Company, Pietanic, The Middle Feast, Buddah Belly, Leave it to Esme, Low ‘n’ Slow, The Jabbywocky and Banh Cuon. There was also The Little Gin Company and The Bus Bar Company.

In addition to this there was an arts and crafts and food market indoors. Lots of vendors selling cakes and postcards which is always a great addition as you can take something away!  The vendors included: Peel and Stone ,BAKE, Pip’s Hot Sauce, Jam Vs Custard, Sarah’s Feisty Flavours, Buzzards valley, Barrel & Bone, Baladee, and The May Bakery.

The crafts included: Sarah Ray, Known as Unknown, Kimberley Simone, Dotmoth studio, Stained and Fused Glass Art, Curate, Hannah Stevens Illustration, Automaton Ceramics, Lily & Giraffe, How Brave is the Wren, Rolling Roses, Upsydaisy Craft, Tatie Lou, Kitty & Min, Lulu In Stitches, PrettyPolitical, CraftyBun Studio, The Peaky Squirrel

What did I eat?

Original Patty Men Burger

I had a strawberry and lime cider and Original Patty Men cheese burger. This will be an unpopular opinion but the cheeseburger was ok. I really did not understand what the hype is about. They do have a restaurant which I have been told I need to try so I am willing to give it another go. I also had shared a brownie from Bake which I have had before and was lush. Overall, it really was worth going for the £2 entry as there was so much on offer.

People at the Birmingham Summer Seasonal Food Market

 

 

Shake That Ting Milkshake Shack

When my mate told me that Digbeth Dining Club was coming to Codsall, I knew I had to go. Digbeth Dining Club is popular in Birmingham for its amazing street food as well as music and entertainment. I have been into my street food festivals recently so couldn’t wait to see what it was about.

What food was there?

There was a small selection of vans ranging from waffles to milkshakes, Nepalese, burgers, indian, hot dogs, Caribbean. They have lots of different vendors go each time and this time they had: Shake That Ting, Bournville Waffle Company, Esmies, Baked in Brick, Manlia Munchies, The Middle Feast, Handmade Pizza Co and Frank.

Image of a BBQ cooking on a mini

Image of a Burrito

I decided to go for this chicken tikka burrito where the meat and the wrap was cooked in an old mini. I also went for the waffle at the waffle van, it was ok but I don’t think it was anything special for £4.50. Finally I had this amazing chocolate milkshake the from the Shake That Ting shack. Normally with chocolate milkshakes they have to be good enough to beat McDonalds. I usually find that with milkshakes they can be too watery as they bulk it out with a lot of ice. However that milkshake was thick with ice cream and cream and chocolate syrup – it was worth the money. All the vendors seemed really reasonable in price normally round the £4-£8 mark.

Frank the corndog stall

Chocolate Milkshake in hand

Would you recommend?

The Codsall version was lovely and it has made me want to visit the Digbeth one so yes I would recommend.

 

Image of Rebecca Merchant at the Manchester 10k with her partner James Perkins both holding up medals

I ran the Manchester 10k yesterday which was organised by Great Run the organisers famous for the Great North Run. It was my first organised 10k and although I wasn’t building it up to be anything special, it was quite poignant since the the attack at the Manchester Arena on the Monday. On social media everyone was encouraged to wear yellow ribbons and plenty of people wore yellow and bees and wasn’t going to let a terrorist attack stop us.

The 10k they put people in waves white, blue, green, orange and pink. Waves were allocated by the how long you think it would take you to run the race. I was put in the pink ‘wave’ which was the last wave to go as I put down a time of 1hour 20 minutes.

Rebecca Merchant at the start line of the Manchester 10k

I hadn’t done as much training as I could have done, I do have a baseline of fitness however with the circuit training that I do and the Parkrun’s. I did however run a 10k twice before the event, I had never run one before and I did not want to go into it blind. My two practice runs didn’t put me off but it made me aware of the distance I was facing. If I hadn’t had run those before hand I would have still ran the 10k but would have had a bit of a shock!

It is important to make sure you have fuelled beforehand and keep yourself hydrated. There were two water stops on my way round the 10k and I made the most of them and drank it rather than throwing the water over me. The water is going to be better inside you then out! Another thing I learnt is that there warm-ups are pants! I had better warm-ups at the Race for Life events and they are only 5k. I wish I had warmed up properly beforehand as I really felt stiff the next day.

Rebecca Merchant at the start of the Manchester 10k

I asked on Twitter beforehand if we could bring headphones and we could which I was really glad about because music really keeps me going. Although it is worth pulling the headphones out right at the end to soak up the atmosphere. At every opportunity I waved and put my thumb up at the police and first aiders – many police officers came from different areas Nottingham, Derby, Wales and South Yorkshire were drafted in to protect us so thank you to them. At the end I loving it and was waving at the crowd and was encouraging the crowd to cheer for me.

Key points to take away:

  • Fuel and hydrate up before the event.
  • Keep some paracetamol on you incase you get a headache.
  • Find somewhere to warm up properly.
  • Take some protein straight away  after the event.
  • Practice beforehand at least go to the Parkrun’s or short runs but at least run a 10k beforehand so you get an idea of the distance.
  • Wear shorts not leggings – you will just get hot. I also wear vests rather than shirts.
  • Make sure your trainers are in good condition.
  • Finally enjoy it, make the crowd cheer for you. thank the people waving you and making the day possible!

 

Rebecca Merchant with her Go Tri medal

A post I can now finally write, I completed a triathlon today! I never thought I would say this. I COMPLETED a triathlon! I never had an interest in completing in a triathlon before but when my friend asked me to join her for the one in Stoke, I thought ‘why not’. So…

How did I find it?

It was hard! When I parked up, I was quietly confident that I would be able to do it. Purely because I do a 5k run most weeks on parkrun, I had practiced swimming ten lengths at my local pool and I do quite a bit of cycling so didn’t think it would be too rough. The instructions were clear on where I had to go and the race marshall’s explained everything really well. The triathlon started with the swim. The swimming I went quite hard in. When I got out of the pool to do the bike ride, wearing the TriSuit I felt so exposed it felt like I was running naked. Soon I was off cycling, cycling took me down the A34 which was quite busy!  Luckily for me it was a sunny day which was drying the TriSuit nicely.

After dumping my bike I finished with the run. That part was the worst for me, my legs felt like jelly as they had gone from being used to pedalling to suddenly having to run! At this point each directional marker was a marker for me to aim to pass. I felt my breathing feel really heavy. I remember at one point I was thinking ‘do a triathlon, I said, it will be fun, I said‘. I also remember that feeling when I ran down the hill to find out I had to do a second lap. Awful! I was so determined to get that finisher’s medal and that feeling when I got it just cancelled out all of the pain.

Did I train for the triathlon?

Yes I did! Although it was a beginners triathlon, I didn’t want to go into it completely blind. I attended as many parkrun’s as possible for the running and the week before I managed to get a free week’s gym membership at my local leisure centre. So I used the pool there all of the time to test myself on the lengths. Funnily enough although I would say cycling is my strongest sport, I didn’t do much cycling leading up to the race. However, I was constantly attending circuit training at G-Force in Stafford so I was constantly being active.

What did I wear?

This part was the part I was most nervous about. After spending a bargain £12 on entry, I didn’t want to spend £30 on a TriSuit. I emailed Gold Events who were hosting the Stoke-on-Trent triathlon and they said that you could wear a swimsuit. The thought of running in my swimsuit did not appeal to me, so I got on ebay and got a cheap suit for £20. I chucked on a long armed cycling jersey and just used my usual trainers.

Would you do another one?

I would! Gold Events are running three in the Stoke-on-Trent area and if you attend all three you get a special shirt which is what I would quite like to aim for. I would also like to train a bit more and see if I can improve on my time.

Rebecca with her bike and medal at Go Tri in Stoke

How do I get involved?

Go Tri is approved by Triathlon England and its ethos is for the triathlon to be accessible for all. See all events by accessing there website here.