last weekend i was up in the lake district with my family for a mini holiday visiting my sister and brother-in-law. for those who are not familiar with the lake district it is one of the few areas in the uk, in addition to parts of scotland and wales, with a range of mountains and as the name of the area suggests, lots of lakes.
i decided to take full advantage of my time there by not only bringing my bike but also my running shoes and in particular my trail shoes so i could do some proper off road running. my brother-in-law took myself and his friend out on what was to be my first ever trail run to include running up and over a mini fell.
as mentioned previously in my book review of feet in the clouds the word fell comes from the old norse word fjall meaning mountain. so essentially fell running is mountain running for which the uk has a deep and great tradition. for an fascinating history of fell running in the uk i would certainly point anyone to the book feet in the clouds.
my sister is currently working for one of the families that feature heavily in this book. their name is the blands and a number of them became very successful fell runners. they own a running store business, where my sister works, in kendal and she has helped me to set up an interview with matt bland who runs the store. if it comes off it will feature here in the next few weeks.
back to my little excursion and as can be seen from the above image of my brooks cascadia trail shoes our run up and over a fell and through the valley to kentmere and back was a very muddy affair but at the same time a hell of a lot of fun. the fell came at the beginning of the route with a sharpish rise before a quick and slippery descent into the valley. the remainder of the run was a mixture of undulating trails, fields and roads. it was the hardest test yet for my trail shoes and further to my previous review of the shoes i can now say with confidence that they past with flying colours. they gripped very well on the steepest descents as well as managing to keep the water out as i pushed on through muddy puddles and fields.
above is a map and details of the route we ran. if anyone is interested in a taste of what fell running has to offer, including spectacular views aplenty, and they are staying in the south lake district area then i can recommend this route.
here is a nice little documentary produced by itv all about some key moments in the history of the tour de france. i think it was screened here in the uk prior to the start of this year's tour. it certainly makes for ideal viewing especially for those in need of a fix of pro cycling as well as for those, like me, in the northern hemisphere who may also be in need of a touch of bright french summer sun.
cyclist scouts travelling along an extremely muddy road. none of them are actually riding their bicycles, they walk alongside them. all the men are wearing steel helmets and are fully armed and equipped. the countryside they are travelling through has been ravaged by warfare.
when i first saw finnish photos and war movies showing their soldiers in world war II moving to battle on bicycles i thought it was very strange. later i conclude that it was a very efficient way to move through the forests typical of the landscape of finland. to my surprise recently, i have discover that they still use bicycles today!
it has been way too long since my last food nutrition post, especially since the subject of food is one of my favourites, (i should start a dedicated food blog) plus as we all know good nutrition is a vital component for maintaining and/or improving athletic performance.
with this in mind let me regale you with a house speciality of mine, the humble but ever so tasty and healthy fish cake. over the years friends have had the pleasure of tasting my homemade fish cakes and i am sure most of them said they tasted good, or at least they did to my face! the ingredients and method of cooking have changed and developed as time has gone on. i like to think i have fine tuned them up to my current version which hopefully has the best taste and consistency to date (my wife can vouch for this).
as you can see from the above photo i like to serve fish cakes with salad and avocado which all goes together particularly well, plus in terms of balanced diet this plate is providing pretty much everything we need since it has good amounts of protein, carbohydrate, fat and vitamins.
ingredients (serves 2)
1 tin of sardines in water
3 medium sized potatoes
1 medium sized onion
75 grams grated cheese (cheddar or parmesan)
handful of fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons thai sweet dipping sauce
finely chop the onion and gently fry in extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil until golden brown.
while the onions fry peel and chop the potatoes into smallish chunks and boil until cooked (ready to mash).
put all ingredients in a large bowl - fried onions, boiled potato, sardines, water drained off (including bones, don’t worry), grated cheese and thai sweet dipping sauce, then mash it all up with a potato masher until the ingredients are well mashed and mixed together.
it is then time to get your hands messy. take a handful of the mixture and shape into a round patty, passing from hand to hand, until the cake is formed. you should be able to make around six cakes from the above quantities.
place the cakes on a tray and leave to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes but ideally an hour. this is important since cooking the cakes immediately will leave you with extremely crumbly fish cakes, whereas leaving them to sit first followed by cooking will give a more solid consistency to the fish cakes. it took me years to figure this bit out.
once the fish cakes have sat for at least 30 minutes shallow fry them in extra virgin oil or rapeseed oil at a medium high heat so they sizzle. after 4/5 minutes carefully turn/flip each fish cake over and fry the other side for a further 4/5 minutes, until both sides are brown and crispy. i usually fry them in two batches leaving the first batch to rest on kitchen paper while i fry the second batch. if you have a big enough frying pan maybe all six can be cooked at the same time which would be the ideal.
once all the fish cakes have been cooked serve immediately. bon appétit!