How NOT to Taper for London Marathon

1. Plan to taper in countries where going for a run is NOT the easiest thing to do at allToppadventure I’d also advise weight lifting a 12kg pack regularly

2. Run only once a week in the 3 weeks prior to Marathon day, and make each of those runs less than 5kmRunning in Kotor Morning run around the bay of Kotor was beautiful, but not long enough!

3. Do everything BUT run. Hike to castles, take multiple city walking tours, and cycle until your ass hurts so bad it reminds you why you DON’T cycleHiking to a castle Hiking to Rozafa Castle, 3km outside of Shkoder, Albania 

4. Wear your trainers because otherwise it means you have to carry them in your backpack, or freeze your tootsies off in flip flops. Start worrying about your beloved Adidas Boosts will be worn out by marathon day. Try and walk “lightly” in them, whatever that meansCycling in KotorCycling around the bay of Kotor, Montenegro

5. Get a cold on the plane from NZ to the UK. Recover from it while in Albania (which also means no running in Albania), but pass it on to your significant other…who then kindly gives it back to you FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE MARATHONAlbaniaRozafa Castle, Shkoder, Albania 

6. While we are on the topic of illness, why not throw in a side of “Albania Belly” (you don’t need any more details!) which lasts a good 2 weeksCevapiCevapi – mince meat fingers in bread. A Bosnian delight! 

7. To counteract the carb-deficit you are suffering from “Albania Belly”, concentrate on eating ALL THE BUREK & CEVAPI you possible can while in Bosnia. Develop a suspicious looking Bosnia-Baby-Belly KotorAt the top of the Fortress, Kotor, Montenegro 

8. Passive smoke. A lot. Wherever you can. On public transport. In restaurants. Outside of restaurants. EVERY WHERE. Track in MostarWe found a running track! Mostar, Bosnia

9. Stress about all the things you can’t control – like whether or not your registration pack has turned up at the address you supplied (and won’t know about until you get there on Friday!) Bosnian CoffeeSure, I might wear my Garmin every day, but that doesn’t mean I USE it! 

10. Ignore the fact that you are running a marathon in a few days time completely. Giggle nervously when people ask you why you are going back to London for a weekend. HEAD IN THE SAND!

London Marathon in T-5!

Eat, Drink, Paleo Cookbook – Asian Chicken Cakes

Eat Drink Paleo Cookbook

As a treat for Naturally Leah readers, Irena, the author of the new mouthwatering Eat, Drink, Paleo Cookbook has allowed me to share one of her recipes! When flicking through her gorgeous book, so many recipes took my fancy – but at the end of the day I decided an easy to whip up dinner like Asian Chicken Cakes would be a total winner in my house – so they might be in yours too. This recipe is Whole 30 friendly.


Asian Chicken Cakes

Asian Chicken Cakes
Makes 12–14 cakes

Fragrant and full of oriental, zesty favours, these chicken cakes are like savoury candy. Make as part of an Asian-inspired dinner party or as a main dish with sautéed greens and cucumber salad. 

800g chicken mince
2 eggs
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp Thai basil leaves, chopped
3 tbsp green onion, chopped
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp fsh sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
Zest of 1 lime
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp coconut oil for cooking

To serve
2 medium cucumbers, sliced into ribbons
Handful of Thai basil

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and use your hand to mash and incorporate. Roll into golf ball-sized rounds and fatten slightly. Heat coconut oil to sizzling hot and cook chicken cakes on medium heat for 5–7 minutes on each side. Serve with fresh cucumber, Thai basil and a spicy dipping sauce on the side.

You can use the same recipe for pork and beef mince instead of chicken. Cooked cakes will last for 2–3 days in the fridge and for up to a month in the freezer. They can be added to curry sauces and broken into chunks for Asian omelettes.

Let me know if you end up making these! If you are interested in checking our Irena’s new book – Eat, Drink, Paleo Cookbook – you can buy it online here.

What’s your favourite paleo or Whole 30 recipe? 

Eat Drink Paleo Cookbook

* Please note this post contains affiliate links. This means that I enjoy the product enough to share and recommend it to you. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, it doesn’t impact on you at all – however I receive a small commission which helps support this blog…and me (in case you haven’t noticed, I’m currently an unemployed backpacker). Please see my disclosure & policies page for more info here. 

A TOPP WEDDING: Topp Hens – Round Two!

I’m still hanging out for the official pics and video of our big day (4 weeks as a MRS this Sat – time flies!), but in the meantime let me tell you about my hens weekend in Auckland.

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

I landed in NZ a week earlier than Jase, as I had a few extra things to organise for the wedding…and of course I had my NZ Hen’s Weekend to attend! My mum and I picked up Jase’s mum Barb and sister Laura (who was also my bridesmaid) from the airport on a Friday night, and checked in to an amazing apartment in the city centre. We had a great evening catching up… but no clues were given as to what would be in store the next day. I knew that my three bridesmaids Laura, Aleisha and Natalie had been plotting away for months!

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

With Nat & my mum

The next morning I was instructed to dress in lycra (yus!) and then awaited the arrival of Nat and Aleisha for the first activity. After a tearful reunion (I’d last seen Aleisha over 3 years ago, and Nat nearly 2 years!) I was handed a boarding pass, passport, and itinerary of the day. Themed all around international travel, our first stop was…

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend


The 6 of us headed to a private yoga class, just a few hundred metres away from the apartment. The instructor had decorated the studio to welcome us to India, and made the class very beginner friendly with a mix of flow, relaxation and meditation. It was such a lovely way to start the day, and great to get a little bit of fitness in before what was sure to be a day of decadence!

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

Back at the apartment I was told to freshen up and change into my “day outfit”. While I was changing, the girls transformed the apartment with food, drinks and decor – the next stop was…

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

Barb & Laura whipping up treats in the kitchen 


Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

The travel themed cupcakes were a total highlight, and we all tucked in to tea, coffee and a delicious afternoon tea spread of sandwiches, scones and jam, and other yummy treats.

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

About this time a few more guests arrived – Nat’s mum Kay, and Jase’s Aunties Denise and Wendy (who was unable to make the actual wedding) and my dear friend Kaylee all flew in especially from Wellington!

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

As everyone in the room had missed my 27th, 28th (Natalie was in the UK for this one!), 29th (Barb was in the UK for this one!) and 30th birthday’s… They all sung me happy birthday and I got to blow out some candles too!

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

I was introduced to the “peg game” – if anyone said the words Jason, Wedding, or Dress we were allowed to steal a peg from them. I was TERRIBLE at this – and before long Wendy and Kay had almost all the pegs!

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

Note my one peg… 

The TV was switched on – and Jase’s face filled the screen. The girls had secretly interviewed him (filmed on his iphone in the corridor of his work!) and asked him a bazillion questions. In between each “country” I was asked a set of questions and had to guess what he answered. Sometimes I knew the RIGHT answer, but I also knew what Jase would say (ie. the WRONG answer)… I’m pleased to say I got 99% of them correct!! The ones I missed were the ones where Jase was WAY off….

“What’s the best present you have given Leah?”
Me: My running medal holder…or my framed Paris Marathon bib
Jase: The gift of financial freedom


“What’s Leah’s most prized possession”
Me: My Paris Marathon Medal
Jase: Her tent, she loves camping

True…but can’t say I would run to save my tent if the house was burning down in a fire!

“What’s Leah’s favourite food”
Me: Salmon
Jase: Cheese

I’m lactose intolerant….we don’t even have cheese unless it’s a reaaaally special occasion. WTF?

Overall I was pretty impressed with how many I got right (or guessed that he would get wrong and answered it incorrectly!). It was really cool to have Jase as “part of the day”, and I think everyone learnt a bit more about him too (like he’s the better dancer out of the two of us!) haha.

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

Nat & Laura whipping up more drinks! 


The corks were popped on bottles of bubbles as it was time to head to France! Laura even had themed music for every part of the afternoon.

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

Wendy & Denise enjoying pedicures

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

Mobile beauty therapists arrived at the apartment and set up – each of us was treated to either a massage, manicure or pedicure. After the months of hard marathon training and simply ignoring anything below my ankles, it was lovely to have someone pay attention to my poor feet (I asked them not to look too closely!) and I had my nails painted in a pale pink. The more the bubbles flowed, the worse I got at the peg game too!


Kaylee, my mum and Aleisha


Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

Passports stamped (did I mention we all got stamps for every “country” that we went to?) the tapas and sangria was served! I was blindfolded and wildly swung away at a pinata until it broke – spilling out nailpolishes and girly treats for everyone!

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

These girls were brave, holding up the pinata while I had a weapon in my hands! 

I donned my gorgeous flower crown that I had worn at my UK Hens do in Spain too – I love wearing it but really don’t have many occasions to, so it was awesome to pull it out of my bag!

I was given 30mins to get changed into my “night dress” as it was time to hit the bright lights of…


Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

One of Auckland’s newest and hottest restaurants, Cafe Hanoi, was our destination. Joined by another friend Helen, we were shown through to a private dining room – we were the first ever booking to have used it!

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

The wine flowed, the food was amazing, and finally the plastic penises (I was never going to get away without them!) came out.

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

Us 10 ladies had a great night out, before my weary feet and (still jetlagged) body gave out a bit, and I had to call it a day. I would have loved to kick on for a dance though!

Topp Wedding Hens Weekend

It was honestly one of the most fun days I have had in a long time, the girls did such a wonderful job of organising and thinking of every little detail! While it was a shame that more of my girlfriends couldn’t make it (with it being summer, so many people were already booked up with other weddings/ birthdays etc!) but at the same time – 10 was the perfect number, and it was fabulous to spend some really good quality time with everyone.

Aleisha and Nat are already married, but I now know I have a VERY HARD task ahead of me planning miss Laura’s hens weekend one day in the future!! This day will be hard to top!

Thank you girls for such an awesome day, that was so perfectly ME xxx

What’s the best hens do you have been to? The travel theme was such a great way to tie all the activities together. 

Want more wedding goss? Catch up here with the rest of A TOPP WEDDING posts:

A TOPP WEDDING: The Engagement
A TOPP WEDDING: My Bridesmaids
A TOPP WEDDING: Asking the Bridesmaids
A TOPP WEDDING: The Photographer
A TOPP WEDDING: The Celebrant
A TOPP WEDDING: The Wedding Coordinator 
A TOPP WEDDING: Topp Hens – round one
A TOPP WEDDING: Six Years of Selfies
A TOPP WEDDING: We Got Married! 

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