Musings about December…

After my rant about the festivities, I had a wonderful holiday and feel quite refreshed. However, now realise some motivation is required to move forward any projects, etc., planned for this year. Funny how you tell yourself ‘after December, I’ll do this, that and the other’ and now it’s here, finally, one needs to make some decisions about life! Trying not to panic haha.

After the family gathering on the 25th Dec, which was a hoot, we went to Sheffield Park Gardens on Boxing Day and had a saunter around the lakes, decorated Christmas gardens and woodland. We took a picnic lunch, because, and I must plan this better, we had so much food left over. Next year, I must remember to prepare less food. I really didn’t need to bake those lemon cakes, and quite so many mince pies. Do you do this?

When in the car for a coffee break, the heavens opened and it poured with rain, so as it was 1 o’clock, we had our lunch. It was delicious and I’ve decided to start taking picnics more often because it’s so much less hassle than queuing up with the crowds and over paying for something quite ordinary.

We ventured back around the gardens and I concentrated on taking some photos with my new camera, the Nikon D3300 which was great fun. The place is beautiful even in the winter. The trees expose their structural form and reflect over the lakes. Having recently done a photography course, I was rather chuffed with the results and hopefully will improve during 2018.

We explored the 250 acres of parkland which dates back to the 18th century and you find yourself pausing and admiring the view of copses of trees around the hills. It is a wonderful place to explore, reflect and admire the parkland, streams, meadows and woodland. If you haven’t been, I can highly recommend a visit. A relaxing and serene environment where you feel you can get away from it all.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

The next day, I took the borrowed dog, Oscar, for a long walk. It was quite windy and the sky was incredible with an amazing sunset. Really enjoy our walks and I’ve got to know many woodland and field walks in the area.

On Thursday, 28 December, we visited family and enjoyed a trip  to the pub for a couple of beers. I drank a very hoppy Dark Star, Hop Head. The Land of Liberty in Hertfordshire, is a CAMRA pub and always has an exceedingly splendid selection of beers.

On Friday, 29 December we went with my son and girlfriend to see the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. I cooked a beef casserole which was delicious and made a change from turkey. The film was brilliant and wonderfully produced. To be honest, I found it a little long, but I did enjoy it.

“The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda

Mistakes are inevitable. They hurt. They’re hard. But we learn from them. Lift someone up after a misstep with this quote from Yoda.

On Saturday, we met my husband’s brothers for a few beers and a meal in London, Bakers Street. We met up in The Volunteer a pub near Regent’s Park. It seemed funny, because I used to drink there when I worked in the area many years ago. Someone then told me that people don’t drink during the lunchtime anymore. This I find hard to believe. Although, judging by the amount of suits in the pubs during the evening, I assume evening drinking is the new trend? Anyway, the food was good and I tried to have something healthy so opted for a Verdure and then Seabass for my main course. Very pleasant.

On Sunday, we were rather relieved to have ‘a day off’ which is a little ironic as it was New Year’s Eve. We stayed in and enjoyed some beer and watched the BBC drama ‘The Miniaturist’. It is about a new, young wife who is given a doll’s house for a wedding present. The exquisitely made contents, which she mysteriously receives, appear to reflect the Brandt family’s hidden secrets. The drama is majestic and creepy, but quite enticing. The photography of the Amsterdam canal house is extraordinarily clever. In fact, you feel like you are watching a Dutch masterpiece.

We were so pleased not to have to go out, we couldn’t even be bothered to go to our local. Rock and Roll. Strange how we go out all year round, but stay in the one night most people go out!

After all that, although I am against dry January, because it does harm to the pub industry, I do feel I need a break from alcohol and rich food so will focus on feeling better with some exercise and fresh air, etc. More on that in the next blog posts!

So another year over and onwards and upwards. Happy New Year everyone!

Andy xxx

 

Rochester Dickensian Festival, celebrations, musings and updates…

Remembering what Christmas is about…

Christmas, which annoyingly starts earlier and earlier in the UK, is not always about being happy, joyful and full of glitz for many people. It can be a time of childhood memories, sadness and grief. Everyone, has someone they have lost and miss and unfortunately, for me, it seems a time when I remember missing family. Probably, most people feel like this, don’t they? If someone is not embracing Christmas the reasons could be some of the above and not because they are horrible. Unfortunately, the irritating commercialism, which starts after summer, doesn’t help. It is a reflective time and I think we must all remember this and be aware that not everyone is happy and joyful at Christmas all of the time. Personally, I enjoy it when it finally arrives but hate all the stuff before December. Does any of the above resonate with you?

Dickensian Christmas Festival…

Once I spotted the ad for the ‘Dickensian Christmas Festival’ it went in the diary. I’ve been feeling fed up and eager to have a day out. It is a wonderful occasion when folks dress up as Dickensian characters and partake in various activities which starts off with the morning parade.

After the parade the characters wander about amongst the crowds and mingle. Some perform mini plays, magic, readings, dances, singing and photo opportunities. Also, there are various activities aimed at children, such a Punch and Judy. It is a wonderful and great way to immerse oneself in all of these English traditions.

The parade was an exciting affair, led by the Mayor of Medway  and starting in the High Street onwards into the Esplanade and continuing up Castle Hill before finishing on the Boley Hill Stage. A fantastic site which is a brilliant festive occasion for everyone from the surrounding communities.

We enjoyed some delicious mulled wine and a mince pie, then later on, for lunch, we succumbed to a juicy burger. It was great fun to spot all the Dickensian characters and the day flew by.

CAMRA Christmas Meal…

Last Sunday, we had our CAMRA Christmas meal which was a great success. This was partly because the wives turned up and I was able to have a good natter. My only complaint, was that I didn’t like any of the beers because they were all dark, so I had wine. The establishment didn’t have any craft beers either and this surprised me, because even my local has and I think they are missing a trick. Anyway, the food was excellent and delicious and this was followed by a jolly singsong of Christmas carols and a visit by Father Christmas. The Father Christmas was very authentic I must say! After this excitement, the village tree was lit with much fanfare. Another excellent day!

Updates

The presents have now been wrapped, cards delivered so now it is time to concentrate on food. I shall try and locate the Christmas pud which is in a cupboard somewhere and at least two years old! This is the last one of the batch of puddings, so I will have to do some more next year. For the actual day, I will make some mince pies, a chocolate squidgy roll and a cake or two. Busy times!

Yes, you’ve probably guessed it, the fitness thing is not going to plan at the moment. Having said that, it could be worse. I’ve stopped eating rubbish and not drinking too much. Also, I’ve really enjoyed some invigorating walks around the surrounding countryside with the borrowed dog, Oscar.

The gym has been used four or five times a week so I don’t feel too fat but can see the weight is not dropping off either. From January the 2nd it will be all systems go though. I promise.

Promoting the blog – Instagram

My latest social media effort has been with Instagram which is fun particularly as I’m interested in photography. Photos are being posted most days and I am beginning to receive some interest now. It seems better than Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest but I will keep you informed. So do follow me if you are on Instagram.

Enjoy the festivities everyone and thank you for reading my blog, liking and commenting which is much appreciated.

Andyxxx

#Running again and some healthy tips… Update

Pleased to say, that I’m beginning to run on the treadmill again. It is rather exacting and the “random” level has been lowered so the hill climbing isn’t too ridiculous. Also, during the so called run (shuffle), I’m tending to walk a little too. It isn’t a good idea to overdo things.

The funny thing is, moving at a faster pace should be harder, but I find the process is advantageous and oddly relaxing. The same with fast walking. You feel you’ve achieved something and are re-energized afterwards.

Apparently, the best foods to eat after a run are eggs, bacon, toast, yoghurt and fruit. For lunch a chicken sandwich with a side salad or a burger with sweet potato fries. So a selection of healthy fats, lean protein, dairy and fruits are ideal. When over 50 years old, it is recommended to try ‘protein pacing’ and spread out your meals so you eat about every four hours and drink plenty of water. This is good for muscle repair so make sure you get plenty of healthy protein. To be honest, this is good advice because once you start getting really hungry, you start manically stuffing rubbish food and the diet falls apart. If that happens call it a PLUS DAY rather than a bad day, and start again the following day.

I’m pleased to say that it is ok to run before breakfast if you don’t run for more than an hour. This is great because it is the best time to exercise, in my opinion. Going to the gym in the morning is far more successful than in the evening. It’s easy not to bother after work and the energy levels are so much better in the morning.

Anyway, it has been a slow process for me, but the aches and pains have gone, at least for now. As running was on the after Christmas agenda, it is a good result. Well goodish. Still feel that fitness should take a higher priority, but you have to have fun as well, don’t you?

Apparently, a beer or two is OK because it offers fluids, sodium, potassium and carbs although you shouldn’t choose a beer over four per cent alcohol. Well, that’s me in the dog house then. I  drink the craft beers (American IPA) and they are usually high in alcohol. Oh well, I am improving and it is a tricky time of year…

Tonight, I’ve had a lovely salmon stew with spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes, fresh basil and it was rather good, even if I say so myself.

So I’m trying to retain some sort of sensible diet but it is challenging isn’t it? Taking small steps is a good way to get going so I’ve managed to cut out rubbish food, particular processed sugar. It is all about having the right frame of mind and when you are poorly, it is hard. It is great to feel better and hopefully I will stay healthy. Anyway, hope you are all well and looking forward to having some time off at the end of this month for the festivities.

To sum up:

  • Take exercise and build up slowly
  • Morning exercise is best for motivation (in my opinion)
  • Eggs, bacon, toast, yoghurt and fruit are best after exercise. For lunch chicken, beef with salad
  • Have a treat!
  • Check out my previous foody blogs for inspiration
  • If you have a bad day just call it a PLUS DAY and start again, the following day.

Thank you for reading my blog,it is appreciated and don’t forget to follow. 🙂

,  Salmon Stew

 

 

Source: https://www.runnersworld.co.uk/nutrition/10-running-nutrition-questions-get-answered

#London Adventures… Art, Decorations, Curry and Beer…

Enjoyed a busy weekend which included a trip to London and a sunny and cold walk on Sunday. The decision was made. Go to London for a day trip, but what to do?

The website https://www.timeout.com/london is an excellent source of inspiration and I soon spotted an art exhibition that will interest us… Dali Duchamp at the Royal Academy of Arts.

After suffering the train journey which was expensive, late and crowded, a soup and sandwich had to be consumed in Pret. Ok, I’m well aware the skeptical could go on about a marketing ploy, but I love the way they care and don’t waste food at the end of the day. See the pics at the end of this post!

After relaxing with my warming soup and sandwich, we ventured forth to the exhibition which was very interesting and informative on a variety of art movements (Dada, Surrealism, Readymade, The Surrealist Object, Eroticism and Paranoiac-Critical Theory). My only complaint was that it only kept us quiet for about two hours and unlike other exhibitions you pay for, there weren’t any free exhibitions in the same facility. Never mind, it was a magnificent glimpse into the legendary Dali and included paintings, drawings, book illustrations, prints, sculpture, photographs and historical film. You can submerge yourself in their subversive work and satisfy your curiosity about Dali’s friendship with Duchamp.

Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp maintained a bond of mutual admiration despite having different artistic endeavours. Ultimately, it is clear, from this fascinating display of their work, that they shared absurdity and cynicism which subsequently led them to challenge conventional art. Duchamp’s legacy was often hailed as the father of conceptual art and his friendship with Dali, who was flamboyant and dramatic, puzzled Duchamp’s admirers. However, upon examining the juxtaposition of their work, you can see common ground because of their experimental and philosophical associations. Both are quite bizarre but absolutely fascinating. Highly recommended.

Afterwards, we wandered over the road towards Fortnum and Mason to gaze at the glorious, colourful window displays. Then, of course, I could not resist a look around the store. It was packed full of shoppers, mingling amongst the impressive Christmas decorations. Good grief, bit early, isn’t it? Not even December yet. They do this, in case you are wondering, because everybody shops in November now, to miss the crowds (hahaha). If you go up the magnificent staircase, you can visit the cook shop, ladies department and the posh men’s accessories too. Lots and lots of leather. The food hall is downstairs where you can by miniature bananas and other stupid things, normal people don’t want. The glamour and grandeur may be over the top, but it is London and amusing to visit.

Upon arrival at Kings Cross we popped in a pub called The Betjeman Arms for a quick glass of Beavertown IPA. Delicious! We sat outside overlooking the amazing arches of St Pancras. Yes, there was heating, thank goodness and it was a relief to sit down. Next time, we will go to London during the week. What was I thinking?

Next stop, was Kings Cross for the curry. Although not a big curry fan, I had heard about the restaurant, Dishoom, and wanted to visit. The restaurant at Kings Cross, was featured on Tricks of the Restaurant Trade, Channel 4, UK. We arrived at about 4.30 pm and it was packed. There was me thinking the place will be empty! Nobody eats curry at that time, right? Wrong!

It is based on:

“THE OLD IRANI CAFÉS of Bombay have almost all disappeared. Their faded elegance welcomed all: rich businessmen, sweaty taxi-wallas and courting couples. Fans turned slowly. Bentwood chairs were reflected in stained mirrors, next to sepia family portraits. Students had breakfast. Families dined. Lawyers read briefs. Writers found their characters.

Opened early last century by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, there were almost four hundred cafés at their peak in the 1960s. Now, fewer than thirty remain. Their loss is much mourned by Bombayites.”

So the food is traditional curry and encapsulates quality food without fuss. The service was excellent as the waitress skilfully guided us through the menu which was useful because it is quite different from your usual curry establishment. Again, I can recommend this immersive experience. Be warned though, it is very popular. As we left we passed a long queue outside! Everyone must have been freezing.

Overall, a great day out viewing superb art, shopping (although I didn’t buy anything), eating and drinking. Oh, the beer was good too! Dishoom IPA, oh yes.

 

 

Other photos of bits which I found interesting. Good intentions from Pret and art on a building (Kings Cross)…

 

Hearty Lunches

As a lot of people are trying to focus on health and fitness, I’ve devised some nutritious recipes which are healthy and filling…

Breakfast – Fruit and Nut Porridge

So you could have this for breakfast or even lunch. It is really filling and keeps you full until lunch time. Porridge, milk, protein powder (optional), peaches (any fruit) plus a sprinkle of nuts. Delicious. Also, you can make with half milk and half water to cut down on calories and it is surprising how little difference it makes to the taste. A tip is to soak the oats for at least five minutes before you cook. This makes the porridge creamy and substantial.

Simple Omelette

Fry some new potatoes or sweet potatoes and courgettes in a pan with a tiny splash of coconut oil and water. When cooked, throw in three beaten eggs, season and enjoy. This is a good, quick lunch and is incredibly filling. Eggs always fill me up.

Roast Veggie Couscous

Another quick, simple recipe. Roast some vegetables in the oven. Whatever you like. Courgettes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and olives are in this bowl of delight. Make loads of couscous by pouring in a bowl and add the boiling hot water. Mix until soft which takes about a minute or two. My goodness it is quick! Throw in the veggies, some herbs and a little spice if you wish and serve. When I had this at work I served it in an attractive bowl and got some envious looks and comments. Cheap, quick and easy to prepare. I usually box up for about three days.

Spinach Pasta

Another quick one! Boil your penne pasta, cook some spinach and mushrooms. Make the dressing of olive oil, lemon, pepper and herbs and mix all together. I usually box up for about three days and pop in the fridge.

Hope you like my simple recipes which can be prepared in a matter of minutes.

 

Being a foody and losing weight… Tips

Well, the plan is to develop new recipes which fill  up the stomach without getting fat. Yes, the scales in the gym, record my fat content. Oh joy! No starving myself at the last minute, then.

At this time of year, it is easy to over eat and odd how simple it is to eat what you enjoy even though you feel so much better when you eat healthily and can fit into your clothes. Who doesn’t feel so tired when they eat well?

The plan is to consume more couscous, beans. sweet potatoes, swede, carrots with copious amounts of tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and eggs. Eggs are so filling. Porridge is great for breakfast too. A few nuts are ok for a snack. 

My aim is to eat well, but similar to how I normally eat. Just not quite so much beer! Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables which will fill me up, so plenty of fibre and filling nutrients.

Extras like bread and wine will have to be eradicated or at least reduced, which is really hard. Portions need to be controlled and recorded if one can be bothered. Apparently, we are all eating far more than twenty years ago. Portion sizes in restaurants and ready meals have risen exponentially.

“Whether you’re eating at home or in a restaurant, your meal should include a mix of non-starchy veggies (like broccoli, spinach or courgette), lean protein (like chicken, fish, beans or lean red meat), complex carbohydrates (like whole grains, sweet potato or wholewheat pasta) and healthy fat (like olive oil, avocado or nuts).”

Read: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/how-to-eat-healthy-at-a-restaurant#ixzz4z3xE5A31

Ok, you may think, this is a bit boring but actually having these foods on your plate, often provides an interesting meal. For example, sea bass with fresh herbs, mushroom/onion, etc., tomato sauce is delicious rather than a calorie laden creamy, but bland sauce. Often, when I go for a so called healthier option, in a restaurant, I end up really enjoying it and do not feel like a blown up balloon afterwards! Recently, I eat a so called Hong Kong chicken meal with rice and salad. It was rubbish. I’m sure the sauce was ketchup with a bit of vinegar in it. Yuk! The rice was good though with prawns and peas. But it all felt rather insipid and crappy. Sometimes you feel places have not moved with the times and their choices.

Another top tip when cooking at home, is, cook enough to last for two days which saves time too. Today’s shepherd’s pie, will last for two days and will be a filling meal with lots of veggies.

To sum up, try to vary your food. Potatoes, pasta, rice or cous cous with a variety of veggies are all tasty if you add some herbs/spices. If you have some of the dried things in your pantry, you don’t have to think about it too much! Meals with pasta/rice are quick to prepare. Just throw together some ingredients into a pan (mushrooms, peppers, onion, chicken, fish, broccoli) with tomato puree (and even a splash of wine or a tiny bit of cream cheese) and it makes a super, delicious meal. Simple, quick and cheap.

Porridge is great for breakfast with some nuts and fruit. Eggs are filling and good for snacks as are nuts too. Make enough for two (or more days). I’ve been known to cook three casseroles, at a time. All were quick and cheap to prepare. See previous blog: Three Day Stews

Good luck everyone. It is not easy, especially when it is so cold and dark but it is worth the effort and doesn’t take much time.

A day out in #Lewes

This beautiful town isn’t particularly near to where I live, but the journey is well worth it. Lewes has a long winding medieval street running through the centre, with a wonderful array of shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, pubs and a nearby castle.

It is easy to feel the essence of a bygone time as the buildings are beautiful and fascinating to view. The 15th century book shop is quite quirky along with the castle (around 1066) built by William de Warenne. We wandered up to this by climbing up the hill and you are then rewarded with spectacular views.

We went around some of the galleries and pondered over the prices of the pieces on display and decided, on this occasion, that we didn’t like them that much! Maybe I should go back to painting myself.

We stopped for a much needed lunch at Robsons of Lewes. A cafe with many tables and a small, pretty garden. I enjoyed a wonderful grilled halloumi and avocado salad. Then further into town we looked across the River Ouse and frequented the Harvey’s Brewery shop. This has a good selection of not only beers, but many other drinks too! So we bought a fridge :/ magnet. Of course, you can book a tour around the brewery and enjoy a drop of ale afterwards.

The town walk makes a day out if you intersperse the wanderings with a beer, a cup of tea, meal and there are many contemporary art galleries and historic & special interest sites to saunter round. Can highly recommend.