A Walk Around Bodiam Castle

I am enjoying having Mondays off work this summer.  It didn’t matter that I was home late last night as I could have a lie in today so not only do I get to have Monday off but I can maximise Sundays too.

Feeling inspired by my sister Abi, who has just lost 2 stone and looks amazing, I intended to try her regime which involves having a juice for breakfast.  I ran out of time to make it though so had half a mango and some ham instead.mango and ham We were meeting Lucy and Oscar at Bodiam Castle for a long walk so this was the dogs first ride in their new car.  They hopped in enthusiastically and no wonder as they have not been out in a car for about 4 months.  There was plenty of space in the boot for them and there was no lip for them to have to hop over so this was an excellent and dog friendly choice of car.dogs in car We had a lovely walk in the sunshine through the Kent countryside.Bodiam walk 5 We walked along beside the river bank.Bodiam walk 4 We were walking in a large circle around Bodiam Castle which you can just see in the distance here.Bodiam walk 3 At times we had to clamber up and down the bank, hunting for the path which was all good exercise.Bodiam walk 2 I think we walked for about 2 hours.Bodiam walk 1There’s the castle.
Bodiam Castle 21-7-14 I haven’t been here for years and had forgotten how pretty it is.  It’s a real fairy tale castle and should have a Princess living in it.Bodiam Castle I was quite pink/sunburnt by the time we got to the coffee shop and I really enjoyed a cold drink and leisurely chit chat.Harvey and dogs at Bodiam Back at home I had plenty of time to potter about in the garden.  Lara planted these sunflowers when she was home during the Easter holidays.  She actually planted them the day she left to drive back up to Durham which would have been at the end of April. In less than 3 months, while she has revised, taken her finals, graduated and started work, those little seeds have grown in to these huge sunflowers.  They are beginning to flower.Lara's sunflowers The size of them is incredible.Lara with sunflower These purple beans keep on growing.purple beans in colander I had a banana while I cooked supper as I had eaten nothing all day except the mango and ham.banana We had a simple but very delicious supper of monkfish, potatoes from BJ’s garden and beans from our own.monkfish and beans

So I did not quite eat as I intended today but it was healthy and there wasn’t much of it plus I did a long walk.  When I weighed myself tonight I had lost 3 pounds in the last week so I am pleased about that.

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The Bright Side Of Life

Friday may have been hot, hot, hot but Sunday was fun, fun fun!

I made fresh orange juice for breakfast and at Harvey’s request, added some ginger.  In a juice made with 4 oranges (for 2 people) I used about a square inch of fresh ginger.  It is delicious as you get a barely discernible kick of ginger which seems to reduce the sweetness.oranges and ginger Harvey had a double yolk which he was very pleased about.double yolPeas from the garden with bacon, potatoes and egg is a very tasty way to start ones day.
breakfast 20-7-14 I was going up to London for the afternoon with my 3 sisters as we had tickets to see Monty Python.  We decided to make a day of it.Monty Python ticketsSunday was not as hot as it has been recently but we didn’t know that so arranged to meet in the National Portrait Gallery which was conveniently located for us all, interesting to look around and cool inside.  We met in the coffee shop.
NPG cafe Oops!coffee and almond slice Having really enjoyed the BP Portrait of the Year competition and many other exhibits, such as the mould of a head made with 8 pints of frozen blood (truly!) and a video of David Beckham sleeping (required much artistic appraisal) we set off in search of a glass of something cold.  view from NPG roof 2 There is a delightful restaurant and bar at the top of the NPG with lovely views but we didn’t like the only seats available so ventured outside.view from NPG roof Browns on St Martin’s Lane will do nicely.Browns clock The menu didn’t appeal but we enjoyed some vino.we 4 in BrownsA short walk further along brings us to Monmouth Street.  Many of my colleagues have raved about Rossopomodoro but I had never been before so this was the perfect opportunity, particularly since at least 2 of my sisters love Italian food.
RossopomodoroOpposite Timber Yard so I felt quite at home.Timber Yard SundayEveryone should go to Rossopomodoro to enjoy one of their pizzas – they are AMAZING!
Rosopomodoro pizza I had the burrata and it was so divine I could hardly bear to chat as I just wanted to eat.Burrata pizza We had wild broccoli tops and a salad of rocket, tomato and parmesan.  All absolutely stunning.  I can not recommend this place enough.  http://www.rossopomodoro.co.uk/restaurant/covent-garden/Rosso Pomodoro salad Over the road is another favourite place of mine which we just had time to visit – Gudrun Sjoden.In GS 1 Who would have thought buying a tablecloth could be so much fun :-)GS But it was.  The only thing we didn’t manage on Monmouth Street was a coffee.in GS We decided to walk over to Waterloo and catch the tube to the O2.walking over to Embankment Respect.Mandela statue LondonThis was the venue for the last ever (allegedly) Monty Python show.  It was excellent.
The O2

I did have some good photos from inside the arena but managed to delete them instead of upload them but never mind, I have the memories of a wonderful day and most enjoyable evening.  As the Pythons would say, “always look on the bright side of life”.

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Oppressive Heat

Oh my goodness it is hot hot hot.  Humid, hot and sticky.

On Friday morning I was up very early as the upstairs of my house is particularly hot so I went downstairs and opened doors and windows, seeking an elusive draught.  I also wanted to start work early so I could finish early as I had a tennis match planned for 5pm.

I enjoyed a breakfast of muesli with yogurt, banana and strawberries.museli and yogurt

Despite the heat lunch involved some cooking as a lot of the produce ready in my garden needs to be cooked.  The rocket has gone a bit woody and been attacked by black fly so I added it to a stir fry with beans and courgettes I picked.veg in white bowl This was absolutely delicious and I will make it again.  Veggies stir fried with wholewheat noodles and chicken in a mildly spiced satay sauce.stir fry 18-7-14 Garnished with basil which goes really well with it.lunch 18-7-14 I was so hot in the afternoon I had to bail on my tennis match and hopefully we can reschedule or we are out of the local club tournament.

In the evening I went over the road to Marion and Colin’s for an impromptu BBQ which was technically not a BBQ due the wasps who have made a nest in the BBQ!At M and C's garden The men and children played tennis.playing tennis on grass We girlies chatted.Marion and Sarah We had to eat inside due to a splendid storm.  The clouds were fascinating to watch and when the rain came it brought lightning which was extraordinary as it seemed to be all around us.  We had a really good view of it all as we ate our supper.

I completely over ate and drank.  Crisps, cheese and chocolate were devoured along with a Magnum ice -cream and far too much wine and whisky.  I felt very rotten this morning when I woke up!BBQ at M and CsI didn’t manage to eat anything for a very long time.muesli and fruit For lunch I made another stir fry with this lot from the garden; the familiar broad, green and purple beans, courgette and Swiss Chard.veg 19-7-14 I parboiled the beans.beans for parboiling Cooked up with red pepper, onions and Thai basil and served with egg and soy sauce.  Very tasty.stir fried veg and egg Supper was a very simple affair, eaten from the tray in front of the telly with the Little Fella.supper 19-7-14

Another glass of water, an early night and I should be back to normal tomorrow.  Now if the humidity and heat could just reduce slightly, I would be ever so grateful.

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Work and Beach

I worked from home today which I always enjoy as it saves me 3 hours commuting time.  Mind you, on the hottest day of the year so far, there are advantages to an air conditioned office but the huge disadvantage of commuting in this heat completely outweigh that.

After a late night last night I was tired this morning so had a smoothie full of goodies; banana, blackcurrants, coconut water, tahini, chia seeds, spirulina and a blend of protein powders and other superfoods.
smoothie ing 17-7-14 Very acceptable.Smoothie 17-7-14 Check out these awesome French beans.  I think they are worthy of a competition as they are long and nearly straight.  They taste really good too.long beans Green and purple, all from the garden.green and purple veg in steamer I regretted cooking lunch and wished I was just preparing a salad as it was so hot but after missing dinner last night and doing a dog walk before lunch  I was really hungry so I enjoyed this.lunch 17-7-14 Today was hot, hot, hot.  I made myself shut down the computer at 5:30, the little fella and I hopped in the car and headed off to the beach.car and surf board We arrived just after 6pm and I thought there would be more people there as it was still very warm.Camber at 6pm We both enjoyed a swim which was very refreshing.  We were both bitten though and on the way out of the water I saw a jellyfish so wonder if that was what stung us.H at Camber Sands Someone enjoyed that!H at Camber We sat and enjoyed a drink and a snack before heading home.tea and Eat Natural Falafels, humous, boiled potatoes and a mixed salad for dinner.Dinner 17-7-14

A very healthy day with lots of nutritious food and plenty of exercise.  Lots of work too so a well rounded day.

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Vegtastic Again

Going away at the weekend has helped me remember how much I enjoy eating lots of vegetables.  Since I came back, I have eaten very little else, most of which was home grown which is immensely satisfying.

Sunday night; a salad of home grown lettuce, nasturtium flowers, broad beans and peas with new potatoes.  All from the garden except the potatoes.salad Sunday Monday was a day off for me and a last minute change of plan found me in Epsom, location of the famous racecourse.Epsom Grandstand 14-7 But mainly well known for being the hometown of Sally :-).  Sally in EpsomIt is a very long time since I have visited Epsom, a town I visited many times in my youth and it was great to see a traditional market stall in the town centre, selling very reasonably priced fruits, veggies and flowers.Epsom High St I had not had time for breakfast so I enjoyed this salad for lunch.M&S Fuller Longer salad This kept me going until supper time.salad ingredients 14-7 Cauliflower from BJ’s garden.  Lots and lots and lots of cauliflower so I made a cauliflower cheese, took the dogs for a walk and enjoyed it very much when I got back.cauliflower Today I was at work in London.  I had planned to have a juice for breakfast but had so many meetings I couldn’t get out until lunch time.

I met Zoe and Owen for a coffee which we enjoyed sitting on Monmouth Street, outside Scoff and Banter.  I did eat the 2 little biscuits but at least I had an Espresso rather than my usual Latte.Scoff and Banter Espresso Takeaway salad from Pure for lunch.Pure Summer Detox Salad I didn’t like the dressing so will leave that next time.Pure Summer Detox The salad was ok though.Summer Detox As soon as I got home I was out in the garden, enjoying the last of the evening sunshine.  I decided to only eat home grown vegetables for supper so I picked lots of peas.

peas 15-7 This little part of the garden is growing so well.  I collected some nasturtium flowers.garden 15-7 3 the garden 15-7 First picking of the green French beans.green beans 15-7 I have eaten these purple beans before this year.  There are so many growing I picked loads.purple beans 15-7 Lots of broad beans too.broad beans 15-7 The peas and beans have grown so well I am delighted.garden 15-7 2 Note to self – the broad beans need to grow with supports as they have all collapsed.garden 15-7 1 I picked all these; lettuce, nasturtiums, broad beans, green and purple French beans, lots of peas and my first courgette.veg from garden 15-7-14 Having gathered supper, Lara and I took the dogs over the road for a walk.  My target is 5 walks a week.dog walk 15-7-14We have been walking in these woods for years so were very surprised to see this part, which was a free range chicken farm, has been opened up and the chicken sheds dismantled.clearance Lovely evening for ballooning.hot air balloon The sun was so pretty, illuminating parts of the trees.summer sun in trees I did enjoy the walk and London suddenly seemed a very long way away.shhep on sumer evening Back at home we added BJ’s potatoes and cucumber to our supper, cooked the potatoes and beans and ate the rest raw.  One completely 100% home grown dinner, 100 % vegetables/plants.  Well, actually I did add some butter, salt and salad cream but in the main, it was a home grown dinner and it tasted amazing.  Eating home grown and just picked is so fresh and full of flavour, it is definitely worth the time and effort.dinner 15-7-14

This is so much more satisfying than the high fat and high sugar food I have been eating too much of lately.  I hope I continue to remember how much better it tastes and how much better it makes me feel.

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Sarah Raven’s First Perch Hill Summer Feast

Wow, wow and wow !  What an incredible weekend I have just had at Sarah Raven’s first (and hopefully not last) summer feast at her beautiful home and gardens, Perch Hill, near Burwash in Sussex.  I went with my dear friend Michelle and we have spent the last 48 hours eating and drinking, learning how to eat and drink and how to grow veggies with 158 other people who were all passionate about food and gardens.

We stayed in a yurt aka a large bell tent.

Tents in garden Which was comfortably furnished with 2 air beds and duvets, fairy lights up the pole and a vase of fresh flowers.flowers in tentWhat more could we need?
inside our tent This is the view from the greenhouse looking towards the camping fields.  When we arrived the weather was drizzly and it seemed a long way up to the tents with our bags but there was a group of extremely helpful people to carry our bags for us, including Adam Nicholson himself who proved to be very proficient with a wheelbarrow laden down with lots of luggage.Tents in the Meadow

Having dropped off our bags we headed down to the main marquee for the evenings feast.  We sat at tables of 10  and enjoyed getting to know other people with similar interests.Our table We were greeted by our hosts, Sarah Raven and Adam Nicholson, who had managed to hit himself in the head with a sledgehammer while helping get everything ready !AN and SR Friday night’s dinner was selected by none other then Yotam Ottolenghi, one of my very favourite chefs ever.  He is Israeli born and his cooking style is influenced by the countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Armenia, Iran and Syria.  He chatted about the food we were about to eat and then it was time to get stuck in.Yotam Ottolenghi YO menu The roasted aubergines with Feta and preserved lemons were just divine.  Eaten with crusty bread I could have just eaten that for the rest of the evening.  The beetroot puree was much nicer than I expected and I will be looking up the recipe as I have quite a few beetroots my garden to use up.YO starter The main meal is one of the most delicious meals I have had for a long time.  The lamb was so good I think I had at least 3 helpings, I couldn’t stop myself.  Perfectly cooked, it was pink, tender and moist if you chose a middle bit and very well cooked on the outside and full of spicy flavours.  There was also a Tahini dressing which is not in the picture but it was just amazing.  The three salads were excellent too; tomatoes with pomegranate, new potatoes with peas and little eggs (quails?) and mung  and French beans.  It was perfection on a plate.YO dinner Dessert was pureed blackcurrant with cardamom cream, topped with walnut crumble.  Again, the flavours were all quite strong but they worked brilliantly together.  There is no doubt, the man is a culinary genius.Yotam's pud Having eaten plenty we headed off to the large barn where there was a bar and an excellent live band, The South Downs Way, playing country music which fitted the mood and ambience very well indeed.  The two of us were very happy (and full and inebriated) by the time we tottered off to our tent up the hill for the night.

Apologies for the fuzzy picture but it gives an idea of how lovely it was.  Yotam (we all felt we were on first name terms by then) is standing on the far right; he stayed for almost the entire weekend with his partner and baby.Perch Hill barn Friday eve Saturday morning dawned very hazy but not raining.  Due to the miracle of the digestive process, I was able to eat again in the morning and tucked in to some granola with yogurt and cherries, bacon with chilli jam, delicious raspberry jam and a very treacley brown and  delicious roll with butter.  I was clearly not on a diet this weekend!Perch Hill breakfast 2 The main marquee was festooned with colourful lights, bunting and tablecloths and was a very pleasant place to sit, eat, drink and make new friends.perch hil breakfast 1

I enjoyed a little potter about this beautiful place after breakfast.

seed heads on chair I have greenhouse envy!SR's greenhouse This is the other end of the greenhouse, where people sat, chatting and reading.  Yotam is on the right with his family.YO in greenhouse

There was a choice of activities for the morning and we chose to go on Adam’s guided walk around the farm.  We are so glad we did as we discovered what a very lovely man he is.  Such an intelligent man with a real passion for and understanding of the land and the history of this area.  He is a natural raconteur with a brilliant sense of humour.  An absolute pleasure to spend time with.Adam on the walkTime to gather together again in the main marquee.  Look at this extraordinary vase of flowers which is absolutely HUGE. huge vase of flowers There’s our Shelley Belles, chatting away.M chatting We were then treated to a cookery demonstration by Yotam.YO 3 Did I ever tell you that he is one of my favourite chefs?YO 2 He was great.YO 1 He had a very proficient assistant too.Lucinda and YOLucinda from Cocolicious :-)
Lucinda prepping After showing us how to cook 3 dishes Yotam signed books but I already have the ones I wanted so didn’t buy any more.YO book signing Lunch time.  I had a quiche with roasted onions, goat’s cheese and anchovies, with a carrot salad and a green salad.lunch at Perch Hill Absolutely delicious.  Followed by meringue, strawberries and cream which I don’t seem to have a photo of so here’s another one of the yummy lunch.lunch at Perch hill 12-7-14

Now I do confess dear reader, that by now I did need a snooze so I missed Sarah’s talk on growing and making salad’s but sometimes, needs must!

I was awake and in the barn in time for a lesson on making cocktails and I certainly tried a few!

cocktail lesson Sitting in the garden in the early evening with a good cocktail and many interesting people to chat to is a splendid way to pass time.in the garden Big thumbs up for the Negroni.Negroni cocktail

Dinner on Saturday was chosen by Hugh F-W who also gave a cookery demo.Hugh F-W He then went for a stroll while Gill cooked for us.  I bumped in to Hugh and he said hello and that he remembered me.  I suspect he was thinking of someone else but I enjoyed my brief encounter with another of my favourite chefs.Hugh walking in garden Gill is Hugh’s assistant.Gill I wonder if these two learnt anything new!

YO and Adam

dinner menu 12-7-14 The lamb’s liver was delicious.liver on flatbread I think this was roasted onions and nuts on courgette slices.onion and nuts on courgetteLabneh (cream cheese) with raspberries and watercress was pleasant.raspberries and cheese New potatoes and roasted beetroot was ok.potato and beetroot saladStrawberry panzanella was disgusting.  It was just wrong and no one liked it on our table or indeed elsewhere, so far as I could determine.  A huge thumbs down and a big yuck.
strawberry panzanella Served with mackerel and gooseberries which was really good.  The mackerel was cooked very well and went well with the gooseberries.dinner 12-7-14 Hugh did make up for what we considered to be, mediocre meal with dessert which was outstanding and better than Yotam’s.  It was a gooseberry posset (like a thick custard with gooseberries underneath) and lemon verbena shortbread.Possett and shortbread Despite all that food and drink, I made it through the night and woke up to a cloudy last day at Perch Hill.Towards perch Hill I wandered through the vegetable gardens.Perch Hill garden 2 The plants are packed so densely.Perch Hill garden

Through the greenhouse where I admired this lovely display.display in greenhouse Breakfast was similar to yesterdays and we then had question time which was very interesting and entertaining.  Sarah joined too but I took the photo before she took her seat.  This morning our chefs were joined by Valentine Warner.question time Adam remained interesting and amusing.  Michelle and I both wanted to take him home as he made us laugh so much but we thought it may seem a bit rude to Sarah :-)Adam Hugh Yotam Val Warner After a really good Q and A session we went in to the greenhouse to learn how to make headdresses.  We could have learnt how to make bread with the Lighthouse Bakery but opted for some fun with the Flower Appreciation Society instead.Flower Appreciation Society This may be a greenhouse but it has all kinds of interesting things in it.aged terracotta I made quite a simple headdress – they are actually really easy to make.headress This was a frivolous, pretty and fun activity.making head dresses We posed for photos outside amongst the lavendar.Perch Hill lavendar Then back to the main marquee for a cookery demo by Valentine who got in to the headdress spirit :-)Valentine Warner in head dress I sat here, with the summer sunshine on my back, a breeze and a delightful view, feeling very blessed to be part of such an amazing event.Summer breeze in marquee I hope Sarah was happy with it as it truly was superb.Sarah and Curly The final lunch was delicious; lemon chicken, green salad, beansprout salad, couscous and potato and lentil salad.lunch 13-7-14 Followed by a surprising and totally delicious pudding of jelly and ice cream which was paraded in to a round of very well deserved applause.jellies on a plate Have you ever seen such a pretty jelly?jellies and berries Strawberry and rhubarb jelly with basil ice-cream, summer fruits and a biscuit. Fresh and quite sensational.jelly and ice cream Then it was time for good-byes and thank yous to Sarah’s incredible team of workers.Thanks 2 Everyone worked so hard to create a truly magical and very memorable weekend.Thanks 1

Thank you very much to Sarah and Adam for such an amazing weekend.  We are so happy to have been part of it and definitely felt very blissed.

 

 

 

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Some Things I am Liking

Recently, I have had far too much going on which has left me almost demented with tiredness.  Many of the goings on have been fun and lovely things but packing that in alongside working full-time and all the standard living things one has to do has been a bit much.  After next week though, life will be calmer and quieter and I intend to keep it that way for a while.

Here are a few of the things I have liked or found interesting this week.  My favourite thing this week has been the birthday dinner Marion hosted for Jackie but in my haste I forgot my camera and phone so no photos.  It was a wonderful evening with gorgeous girlie company and delicious food.

2 things I found interesting near the office;

1. this yellow car shaped object is to demonstrate how one parked car takes up the space of 10 bicycles.
yellow car shape 2. This black bus outside the office looked a bit sinister to me – I definitely prefer the red ones but it is a very dramatic advert!black busI had a vegan day and ate strawberries, porridge (made with soya milk) and seeds for breakfast.porridge and strawberries A delicious salad for lunch made with lettuce from the garden and mixed vegetables with red kidney beans.salad and roasted veg I really liked this.  Roasted veggies left over from a stir fry and some oven roasted veg with raw tomatoes.  Full of flavour and texture.roasted veggies I worked in my old office beside Borough Market yesterday, in a meeting room on the 7th floor which had a superb view.  This is looking down on the Anchor Pub and over towards the Shard.  Borough Market is under the train tracks.view from RLC 2The nearest bridge is for the trains from London Bridge to Cannon Street and the next bridge along is London Bridge.  View from RLC Today I made the time to go out and enjoy lunch, instead of rushing out, grabbing something and eating at my desk like I usually do.  I went to Timber Yard which I like very much when I can eat in.  I like the eclectic mix of furniture and people in there, the music, the decor and the food and coffee.  The cafe which is annoying when you are in a rush is perfect when you want to chill and relax.lunch 10-7014 I had an egg mayonnaise sandwich, pea and cheese salad, a carrot and coconut cake and a lovely coffee.  Not quite as good as Monmouth but not far off!lunch 10-7-14 I enjoyed reading while I slowly munched.  This is the view up through the floor to the street level part of the cafe, which has glass panels in the floor so you can see some of the people and furnishings relaxing upstairs.looking up in Timber Yard Harvey appears to have gone tribal.H with blue So tired tonight ( I was home late night last night due to working late then joining the team for someone’s leaving drinks) so I had the simplest supper ever – pitta bread, tomato and taramasalata. I expect I had 3 of these pittas.pitta, tara and tom

I am away all weekend again and then on Monday I can focus on losing weight and getting healthy again.  I have negotiated a 4 day working week over the summer and more days working from home so that will give me the time to exercise, eat well and behave myself.

Have a wonderful weekend and I will be back on Sunday night with tales of my weekend away, which I am spending in a yurt and in the esteemed company of Sarah Raven, Hugh F-W and Yotam Ottolenghi !!!!!!  Excited ?  Oh yes, VERY !!!!!!!

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A Conversation With Oscar Wilde

I was up ridiculously early this morning and walking about in the bright early morning sunshine in Central London just after 6:30am today.

London at 6-40am The area opposite the station has lots of homeless people.  They are often seen in their sleeping bags on the steps of the many theatres in this part of London but I have never seen someone sleeping on the Oscar Wilde sculpture before!Oscar Wilde statue When I returned to the same place later today, I found a small and gorgeous boy there, who I took home with me.  He seems to be settling in very well and I think we shall keep him.

Harvey by Oscar Wilde

I did quite well with food today until my mishap.  Blueberry bircher muesli for breakfast from Pure.blueberry bircher Yummy mackerel salad for lunch from Pure.  But then a major blip by eating a cream slice (someone’s birthday cakes at work) and helping the boy finish chocolate on the way home.mackerel salad 7-7-14 Supper was tasty; jacket potato, chicken in a spicy BBQ sauce and lettuce (just picked from the garden) and tomatoes.  No snacking afterwards which is the first time in a while I haven’t done that so that is good.BBQ chicken and salad Another busy evening ensued.  I prepared some courgettes for a courgette, Feta and pine nut salad I am making for tomorrow evening’s party over the road, spent ages watering the garden (please rain overnight), put away an Ocado order, completed my Quarterly VAT return (thanks to hubby for doing it all really) plus standard evening chores.  Now it’s time for bed and apart from eating supper, I haven’t sat and relaxed yet!Courgettes and cheese grater

By the way, Harvey was on a trip to the theatre with his school so I collected him from the theatre rather than making him go all the way back to school before coming home.  I obviously didn’t really bring home a stranger.

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I Tried Sailing

Well, there is life in this salty old sea dog yet.  Not a lot but definitely some.  The plan was to spend the weekend sailing, thanks to the generosity of my sister Holly and husband Richard who treated us to a sailing course so we can accompany them on their boat.  I didn’t last the entire course, partly due to being so tired but mainly to being too big to move around the boat easily.  I really enjoyed what we did so hopefully that will inspire me to lose weight and get fitter so I can sail some more.  I have never sailed before but I do want to learn how to do it.

When I looked back at what I did this week, it is not surprising I was so tired.  On Monday evening I met a friend, Karen, who I worked with many years ago and have been in touch with ever since.  We met at some point in the mid 1980′s.Hay's Galleria We had supper together in Hays Galleria water sculpture at HGThis sculpture was working i.e. the water fountain was working.  It is huge and quite a spectacle.
water statue at HG Hays Galleria is very convenient for me as it is on the South side of the river near London Bridge.  This is the view from Hays Galleria, looking North towards the City.City from Hay's Galleria On Wednesday I enjoyed a concert which Harvey was singing in at Battle Abbey.Battle Abbey hall We were treated to a wonderful variety of performances; 4 different choirs sang and the orchestra played, plus there were many solos or duets.  We heard an accordion duet and a fabulous piece played on an electric cello!  I really enjoyed it, especially seeing Harvey sing so enthusiastically and sit so still between times – for nearly 3 hours!Harvey in concertOn Thursday we were up in Durham for Lara’s graduation and I do work full time so by Friday evening I was too tired to head down to Chichester to stay at sister Holly’s in readiness for our sailing course.  I went down early on Saturday morning instead.

We were learning to sail at Cobnor Activities Trust which is located within Chichester Harbour (http://www.cobnor.com).  It was an excellent course and I recommend them.  We began with some instruction in the classroom and then in a boat on dry land and then we were off.  Out on the water with an instructor.  I was in a boat with 2 of my sisters, Lucy and Abi.

This is what we learnt to sail – a Wayfarer dinghy.
Abi learning to tack

Abi and Holly did really well but I was not so helpful.  This is Holly with Mattius who was the brave instructor that took us out.

Holly and MatteusThe instructors were quite young but very competent and professional.

dry land training Not too mature to manage to resist a selfie!Adrian at Cobnor It was surprisingly tiring on every level.  Learning the names of everything and how to sail was more technical than I expected and then out on the boat, I had no idea you needed to move about so much and today I seem to ache all over.  It was very good fun and if I was fitter and less tired, it would have been brilliant.

We had a picnic lunch beside the water.

lunch time at Cobnor

I did the afternoon’s technical training and then decided to take it easy and abstained from the afternoon sail.The sailing crew The others got back down to the water.  It was very overcast which was a shame but it was warm and the water was very warm – luckily as we did capsize!back on the water There go the different crews on the safety boat which is a large rubber dinghy, which took everyone out to their boats.on the safety raft There go my sisters, in boat number 4.Boat number 4 When we were all back on dry land and changed out of wet suits and waterproofs, we went to the bar at Chichester marina for a drink.drinks at Marina We then walked along the pontoon where Holly and Richard’s boat is moored.Chichester MarinaTa daaaa.  I look forward to going sailing on it one day in the not too distant future.  Thank you both so much for inviting me along.

Holly and her boatSunday morning.  I felt tired and stiff and far too fat so began the day with a green juice, made with 2 apples, 1 lemon, 3 cavolo nero leaves, half a cucumber, 2 carrots, a chunk of ginger and a green pepper.

green juice ings Feel the goodness coming at you through the glass.green juice 6-7-14Curently loving my random flower arrangements.flowers from the garden Also liking muchly the more composed ones.sweet peas in ink pots My favourite little local go to place (Hartley Dyke) is moving so they had a good sale today and I made the most of half price fruits and veggies.  Last night Holly had made us a delicious chicken dish with plums.  It was from Hugh F-W’s 3 Things book and you can find the recipe here, courtesy of The Guardian.  I recommend you make the chicken and plum dish as it was lovely.  http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/07/chicken-plums-soy-recipe-whittingstall

Inspired by Holy’s dish and making the most of some half price chicken, fresh Singapore satay sauce and apricots, I made up a dish, rather successfully.apricots in green colander I did enjoy cooking today as I seem to have been too busy lately to cook properly.veg in the kitchen I made a huge stir fry of red onion, asparagus, leeks, pak choi and broccoli.stir fried veg 6-7-14 Roasted some aubergine and tomatoes.aubergine and tomato

The chicken and apricot satay.  I covered the chicken in the satay sauce and baked in the oven (190 °) for half an hour.  I added the apricots (which were halved and had the stone removed) and cooked for another 15 minutes until the apricots were soft.
chicken and apricot

This was quite delicious.Singapore chicken and veg Slightly spicy, peanutty chicken with sweet apricots, stir fried green veggies and soft from being slow roasted aubergine and tomatoes.  All very flavoursome.Singapore satay chicken

We had lunch at about 4pm so no supper was needed.  I managed to eat healthily today and am hoping to do the same tomorrow.

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The Graduate

I will get back to posting regularly and posting about losing weight and being healthy by eating meals such as this one.  I have not eaten many such healthy meals recently though, unfortunately.

salads and falafel Pretty flowers from my garden!  I will be writing more about my garden soon too, when I have more time to get out in it.  I think my life will be less crazy in about 2 weeks and I can refocus on my health and growing veggies and getting in to a regular exercise habit.flowers from garden Today’s blog is about yesterday when we went up to Durham.  The trains to Durham go from King’s Cross which is a spectacular structure.Kings Cross stationMy train went from platform zero – unusual!
train to Newcastle We were going up to Durham for Lara’s graduation ceremony which was taking place inside Durham Cathedral.

Durham Cathedral

While we parents mingled and enjoyed some bubbles, the bright young things went to collect their robes for the ceremony.

DU robes

Well done to our beautiful daughter for getting an excellent degree from one of the best universities in the country.

Lara with champagne

I really enjoyed the day, helping all these clever young people celebrate the end of not just 3 years of hard work but many years of hard work through school and university and meeting Lara’s friends who I have seen on Facebook but not met before.Lara with Henry and Louisgraduates I didn’t know we couldn’t take photos inside the Cathedral until I had taken one.  Oops.  The ceremony was very well managed and we had screens to help us see the ceremony.Inside the cathedral Then that was it.outside Durham CathedralShe has graduated.

congratulations graduates

The graduate.Lara and gown This was such a relaxed and throughly enjoyable day.Lara and Livvy We queued up for the official photo.official photosI enjoyed meeting Lara’s friends too.Lara and Josie The weather was lovely so we strolled around and admired these ancient buildings.Uni lobrary L at Univ Library Very ancient.Bishop Cosin's library Durham 4 Time to hand the robe back.putting the robe back These are almshouses which are beside the Cathedral.Durham Almshouses Durham 2 Durham 1 I felt extremely proud of my daughter who has worked very hard for her degree and deserved to do well.

I also felt slightly emotional because as a parent, you put so much of your own time in to helping them get through their education, from nursery school, through primary, High School and then University.  All those events you attend; sports days, plays, recitals, concerts, parents evenings, matches, speech days etc.  Then suddenly, that’s it.  All over.  One child, well educated and now independent and off in to the world.  She has made it easy for me and I am excited about the next phase of her life.  As is she.I bagged a Durham degree Time for tea.  We walked through Durham’s charming town centre to a hotel for afternoon tea.Durham centre 3 Durham centre 2 Durham centre 1 Over the bridge to the Marriot.River in Durham Instead of a lunch Lara chose to have an afternoon tea.  I love those too and this was a very good one.  4 types of sandwiches, 3 types of scones and 4 desserts!!! afternoon tea Durham A good opportunity to relax together too, the three of us with afternoon tea and Wimbledon on the telly in the background.Afternoon tea at the Marriott We dropped Lara back at her house on our way to the station.  I think the bright young things had big plans for the evening which did not involve the parents.Outside 14 Flass Street So we left them to it and headed home.Leaving Durham Congratulations to our beautiful and intelligent daughter.Lara the graduate

One down, just the boy to go now!

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