Good times, Slovenia

All good things must come to an end.

Even holidays with good friends in Slovenia. And Italy. And Austria.

Saturday street market in Ljubljana

Saturday street market in Ljubljana

But not before buying last treats. For me that means stocking up on Slovenian salt. Which seriously rocks (salt joke – gettit!). You know how people go on about how ‘special’ salt tastes really different, not like the usual stuff? I thought it was all a bit of a myth, but you can taste the difference. Use in homemade soups, liberally. Rub a chicken in olive oil, then rub in some of this stuff and your roast chicken will be beyond tasty. And super golden and crispy.

After I’d stocked up on enough salt to see me through the next six months we met up on The Beach (which isn’t a ‘beach’, but is where everyone goes to sun themselves) in Ljubljana’s city centre for final coffee and cake.

Noisette cake in Ljubljana - yum

Noisette cake in Ljubljana – yum

I didn’t need any lunch.

Ah, Slovenia, how we miss you. Good times 🙂

Big smiles at Lake Bled

Ooooh Vienna

Ultravox really ruined Vienna for my generation. For those of us who were too cool for school, Lead singer, John Foxx, was positively heroic. Bone thin, almost divinely pallid, he droned his way through our bleak existence like a Keats, romance for the drum-machine-driven orchestration of our bleak early Eighties teenage years. Ultravox so nearly had it all. But then he left. And then some pencil-moustached whippet from Scotland turned up, fresh from a baseball-themed band called Slik, and it all went horribly wrong. And popular. Which, when you are too cool for school is pretty much the same thing.

Vienna was kept off the UK charts’ number one spot by Joe Dulce with the utterly dreadful Shutuppa Your Face. This annoys Ultravox a lot. They mention it in every retrospective pop rehash for which they do a talking head spot. Like Vienna is Beethoven or something.

Vienna the city, however, is utterly gorgeous and that dirge by Ultravox is an affront to its charisma, its vastness and its architectural grandeur. Its cracks in the pavement, frankly. It’s one of the must beautiful places I’ve ever been. Here’s some buildings and statues:

Belvedere gardens

belvedere gardens

Vienna

fountain, Vienna

And then we went shopping. So much fun. We went to Tiffany’s. Have you ever been? I’m not a jewellery person. I’ve always considered it nice for other people, but not really for me. Books are for me. But Tiffany’s. Goodness. So many diamonds. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s Holly Golightly says that Tiffany’s is the kind of place where nothing bad could happen to you. I don’t know about that but I did come out all relaxed and ‘Ahhhhh’ like they put something in the air vents. I now have a fantasy shopping basket on line with a 1.5k engagement ring in it!MrM had better get working, that’s £21,000 worth of ring 🙂

Shoppng: Tiffany's is on the right here

Shoppng: Tiffany’s is on the right here

Shopping in Vienna

That’s me in the blue

And we went for coffee in a famous Viennese cafe where they make amazing cakes. Those lilies on the cake in front, they are all make from icing sugar. Those guys can bake.

Cakes in Vienna

Cakes in Vienna

And here’s some other random Viennese pix

Tram in Vienna

Vienna skyline from hotel

St Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna

In St Stephen’s Cathedral, the light from the stained glass bathes the cathedral in coloured light

Oooh, and we went to see The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. It’s an amazing picture in real like – seven foot high, four feet wide. I gasped at the sight of it. It’s in the Belvedere. A beautiful place.

At the Belvedere

A cuddle for the Kiss

And then we drive back to Slovenia. A big of a car journey – some five hours, but such an amazing city. We want to go back for at least four days. I want to see the Ferris Wheel from the Third Man, that famous Orson Wells film. And visit some of the other museums and galleries. And not think about Ultravox at all.

Bye bye, my lovely

It’s true. It’s a tragedy. But it’s true.

I must face facts. I must look at the truth and accept what is.

No matter what the pain I have to stop living in denial.

Coffee, my beloved coffee. My ‘if espresso be the food of love, mine’s a double’ coffee, does not mix well with running. See, I’m making excuses for my dearest. To say coffee ‘does not mix well’ with my running is like saying a fox does not mix well with chickens.

On Harry the personal trainer’s advice I’ve stopped drinking a mug of black coffee before my run. Instead I’ve been drinking that flat lucozade sports drink while I’m getting ready.

Can’t say I like it much and I still get a faint wave of nausea after 35 minutes’ running, but nothing like I did.

I’ve tried it on two runs now this week and I had the energy to complete the run without having to stop to repeat Sunday’s fire extinguisher impressions.

And just to be really annoying I find if I try to drink it after my run while I’m getting ready for work it makes me too hot and I’m pouring with sweat again.

Perhaps I’d better ready myself for the second line of that slightly amended Shakespeare quote:

‘If espresso be the food of love, mine’s a double

Give me excess of it, that surfeiting, the appetite may sicken and so die.’

Exits, stage left, slowly, dragging feet, hand against forehead, clutching an empty mug.

The End.

New highs, new lows

Sunday morning: Harry morning.

I meet him in the car park, he opens his car door and in the footwell of the passenger seat are my three (not) best friends, Mr Dumb Bell, Mr Medicine Ball and the dreadful Mr Hells-Kettle Bell.

But thankfully they remained in there, today is to be running based training.

After a 10 minute jog to warm up, that turned out to mean running up and down flights of steps – a la Rocky – 10x, which I can do. Progress! Then using one of those picnic bench tables as a step block and doing squats in between – 10x, which I can also do. More progress?!

Harry pronounces my legs much stronger and then we’re off for a run with me wheezing and Harry waxing lyrical about how fast we’re going as he glances at his smartphone. I know we’re going faster, I can’t breathe comfortably, never mind talk, but this is what I pay him for.

Now the following humiliation is completely my own fault. We’d done some intervals (these went well too) and we’re opposite Chorlton Water Park so I point out a hill that would be good for hill training. So we run up it. It’s a big hill. My arms are pumping, my legs are protesting and we go the top and then I… vomit!

Yes, I’ve now thrown up in front of my personal trainer.

I get waves of nausea quite frequently, about 30 minutes into a run. Harry’s advice; knock the coffee on the head. Acidic, apparently. Pre-exercise I should try that flat lucozade stuff which Harry says has been proven to be effective for people exercising.

I’m certainly willing to give it a go, I’m sick of feeling sick, if you see what I mean.

But, vomiting aside. And having it pointed out to me that I have a forehead dotted with flies stuck to my sweat (sexy, huh?!) today went well. I ran three miles in 35 minutes, including four intervals and a stop to throw up.

My ambition to run faster is an uphill struggle in more ways than one. I’m not making massive strides over night. But I am improving and I am getting faster.