Stockholm Day 1

For many years I have wanted to visit Sweden.  After all, what’s not to like from the country that has blessed us all with Abba, Bjorn Borg, Wallander, Stieg Larsson (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Peter Hoeg (Miss Smilla), Pippi Longstocking, the Nobel Prize, Ikea, Saab, Volvo,  H&M, Absolut, Ingmar Bergman and so on.

Harvey and I arrived in Stockholm last night and caught the Arlande Express train in to the city centre.  It was so luxurious I worried we were in First Class.inside Arlande Express It had lovely wooden trim, shutters and the seats were like arm chairs.  It was easy to find the station, buy tickets and board the train.   It only took 20 minutes to arrive in the centre of Stockholm and it was then a 10 minute walk to our hotel.  I would definitely recommend it as a way to get to the City centre from the airport.Arlande Express So far we are very happy with the hotel as it is stylish and comfortable.Scandinavian Design In the evening this area is part of the bar but by day you can enjoy lunch or breakfast here.inside Clarion Hotel Sign Breakfast is included in our room rate so we ate our fill and I had a 3 course breakfast.  Course one was muesli with mango yogurt, fresh melon, pineapple, pink grapefruit and orange with coffee.breakfast part 1 Course 2 was a small sausage, peppers, a potato, scrambled egg, cornichons, sprouts, cucumber, 2 types of herring, beetroot, tuna, smoked salmon, turkey and ham.breakfast part 2 Course 3 was 2 crisp breads, 3 slices of cheese, sprouts, cornichons, beetroot and tuna.  They were very small portions of each  but it added up to one huge breakfast, the intention of which was to keep me going all day.  Which it did !breakfast part 3 Harvey also had multiple courses.H having breakfast Stockhom It was drizzling when we left the hotel so we went shopping for a bit.Iris Hantwerk Scandinavia is renowned for its design and there were so many beautiful shops to look in.  This was one of my favourites.Inside Hartwerk If I had more space in my luggage our blankets at home would have been upgraded for sure.Swedish blankets Moomins.Moomins A huge sweet shop.H in Swedish sweet shopI have been enjoying the language here but I have no idea what most of it means.  A Puffar Jordgubb anyone?
Puffar Jordgubb Chocolate is more my temptation than sweets but I didn’t have anything although Harvey enjoyed a bag of sweets.Swedish chocolate We shopped and pottered about and then ended up in Gamla Stan, the Medieval part of Stockholm.  To get in to Gamla Stan, which is on one of Stockholm’s 14 Islands, you go over a bridge and another small island.

looking at Gamla Stan just inside Gamla Stan At this time of year, Gamla Stan is very peaceful.Gamla Stan 8 We wandered up and down most of the little alleyways.Gamla Stan 7 It was such a charming place.Gamla Stan 6 The only stop we made all day was for a coffee in Grandens Cafe.Grandens Cafe This was our little shop in Gama Stan The sun popped out, briefly.  Very briefly.Gamla Stan building Most of the shops were fairly touristy but there were also many charming ones such as this handmade sandal shop.sandal shop One of the more tasteful touristy shops.Swedish stuff to buy Mainly we enjoyed being outside and looking at the buildings or cobbled streets.metal shutter metal shutters

H on ramp Street in Gamla Stan This is Marten Trotzig’s Grand, the narrowest street in Stockholm and only 90cm across.Marten Trotzigs Grand Osterlanggatan We came to the end of Gamla Stan, admired the views towards the archipelago and then wandered back to the city centre through different streets in Gamla Stan.

We spotted a Troll relaxing along one of the streets.Troll Luckily he was a friendly one!H and the Troll

statue and fountain in Gamla Stan On Osterlanggattan Bredgrand

One of many charming shops; this one sold wonderful fabrics.Hilda fabric shop We walked up to the Royal Palace and this is the view towards the archipelago.  This is such a picturesque city.outside Royal Palace Royal Palace 3 The statues in recesses in the palace walls were very detailed and I thought it was a shame they were so high up it was hard to see them clearly.Royal Palace 2 Royal palace 1Our last stop in Gamla Stan was Sotortorget, the city square.
Gamla Stan 4 Gamla Stan 3

Hard to imagine this quaint little square was once the scene of a gruesome bloodbath; in 1520, 80-90 people were executed here.

Nobelmuseet Stortorget 1 This is the Svenska Akademien which houses an exhibit about the Nobel prize.

Svenska Akademien Gamla Stan 2 We both loved pottering about Gamla Stan and intend to visit it again before we leave.Gamla Stan 1

Rather than risk being caught in what looked like a heavy downpour, we returned to the  city centre and pottered about in and out of shops.Bjorn Borg Stockholm knotted gunThis is Hotorget, a square with a fruit and vegetable market in it.

Hotorget All the stalls sold the same limited range of fresh produce.fruit and veg stall Stockholm Lingonberrieslingonberries Mushrooms.4 mushroom types pumpkins and gourds After a relax in the hotel we went out for an early supper.  We followed one of the recommendations in the guide book and went to Nalen Restaurang because the guide book said it was reasonable price wise  but mainly because it serves classic Swedish food.

It was AMAZING !!!!

We were given a complimentary mini starter of veal sausage on carrot puree and an interesting bread and crispbread selection with 2 butters: one was normal and the other had been fried and then whipped.  The flavour was incredible.Nalen bread basket This was ok.veal sausage This was fantastic.  We shared a starter of traditional Swedish food.   The portions were tiny and when we cut them in half, there was a mouthful of each piece each but it was a fun way to sample a range of food.  There was pickled herring on potato, smoked reindeer with horseradish, prawn mayonnaise on rye bread, a cheese pie with roe and some smoked salmon in a dill sauce (Gravadlax).  We both enjoyed them all.starters at Nalen I was very proud of Harvey because he tried everything and enjoyed it all too.  I doubt many 12 years olds would be so open minded about trying so many new foods.  He was delightful company and he looked very handsome in his new shirt and trousers we bought in the enormous H&M in the centre of Stockholm.Harvey at Nalen Our main was Swedish meatballs with a cream sauce and perfectly smooth mashed potatoes.Swedish meatballs Served with cucumber and lingonberries.  Every mouthful was an absolute pleasure. The setting was cosy and lively but not too loud, the service was informative and friendly and there was actually nothing I could have improved in any way.cucumber and lingonberries Even the bill wasn’t too horrendous although those big numbers always make me panic a bit.  So by no means a bargain but for the quality and the pleasure, it was worth every penny Kroner.Nalen Restaurang bill

So far Stockholm has been delightful and just as interesting and charming as I was expecting.  I should have visited years ago.

Harvey is choosing what we do tomorrow so I am getting our swimming things prepared as a Harvey choice will involve swimming and animals.

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Back To Bankside

One of my food rules is to make sure we include fruits or vegetables with every meal, including breakfast.  This did meet a lot of resistance to begin with and occasionally still does.  But I am winning and usually the plant food is eaten now without comment, as was the case today.  This morning Harvey and Lara had bacon sandwiches with plum and blueberries on the side.

plum and blueberries I declined the bacon sandwich  and went for a smoothie made with a plum, blueberries, 2 bananas and 1 tbsp Tahini, garnished with a fig.  It was very enjoyable.Smoothie bowl I had let Harvey down this weekend.  We were meant to be visiting his God-Father for a long weekend but I have to work tomorrow so we can’t go.  So he chose the day’s activity and we went up to London to The London Dungeon, one of his favourite places.   We all went and it was a fun day out.The London Dungeon After being scared/amused/interested, in equal measure, we strolled along the Southbank.  The London Dungeons are opposite the Houses of Parliament.Westminster from South Bank They are next to the London Eye which is an incredible structure and one you can appreciate from close up.London Eye structure We were out of the London Dungeons by 12:30 so we strolled along SouthBank thinking about where to have lunch.  NT graffitti I rather like this urban area with its graffitti art which was full of skateboarders and scooters.graffiti under NT We didn’t have a SNOG but I liked the look of the pink bus.SNOG pink bus I haven’t strolled along the South Bank  for a long time and I really enjoyed it today.NT Welcome lady statue I took us to Albion which I blogged about several times when I worked in this area earlier this year.

Slimming World was a bit of a distant memory! It was a delicious lunch and worth every calorie!

Albion meats roast pork Albion Albion latte Bettnberg cakeHarvey chose a cookie to take away and it was bigger than his head !
huge cookie At home a pleasant and relaxing evening which involved knitting, tv and a cheeky Amaretto.knitting and Amaretto


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An Autumnal Walk

Harvey and I had a lovely walk in Hemstead Forest this morning, our route taking about an hour.   Having worked non stop from 6 am until 11:30 pm yesterday it was better than usual to be outside in the fresh air.

the fish pond cat slide roof autumn Hemstead in Hemstead X is for wooden cross w is for wood red leaves Hemstead reflection Milton retrieving sticks

I made something different for breakfast.  I had wanted to make Huevos Rancheros but I didn’t quite have the ingredients so I added some onion and a pepper to baked beans and added a poached egg.  I thought it was OK but Harvey raved about it which was very pleasing.

egg beans and pepperWe popped to Hartley Dyke on the way home from the walk to get some provisions for lunch.  The pumpkins were out on display – well we think this was a pumpkin!

H with oblong pumpkin These are cute.small pumpkind I love the bright orange display of pumpkins in Autumn.pumpkins 2014Lunch was very simple but delicious.  I rarely choose to eat pasta and even more rarely ravioli but both of these are so good and they only take 2 or 4 minutes to cook.  Yesterday I had a packet of the fiorelli and it was delicious, just eaten with a little butter and black pepper.  Today I mixed them up and we shared them.

ravioli and fiorelliToday I added a tiny amount of this lovely cheese.  It has a medium-strong but mellow and rich flavour so you don’t need much to get a good cheese flavour.
Winterdale Shaw Served with a simple salad of mixed leaves and a variety of tomatoes.ravioli and salad 1 I was hungry after our walk so I enjoyed this even more than I would have done usually.ravioli and salad Late afternoon I had a snack of some fresh pineapple which was perfectly ripe, sweet and juicy so it was a pleasure to eat.fresh pineapple snack

Supper was a very quick and easy jacket potato with a minced beef, tomato and sweetcorn made up as I went along something plonked on top and served with fresh tomatoes.  I did add a little butter to one half of the potato.  It tasted fine and was quite adequate, all washed down with 2 modest glasses of red wine.

Dinner 25-10-14

I didn’t add up my Slimming World points today.  I am probably over my syn values but not by too much and with a good walk I would hope I am ok today.



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The Soup With Recipe

Today was so busy I hardly had time to eat which is good in one way but can mean I end up grabbing sugary high carb snacks but thanks to taking to work my own breakfast and having ready made soup for supper I did OK today.

I began with an apple cider and honey in hot water which I am really liking nowadays and a bowl of watermelon.  I have enjoyed that watermelon but that was the end of it.watermelon 22-10-14 For lunch I had a mackerel and rice salad from Pure.Big Mack I haven’t had smoked mackerel for ages and I really enjoyed it.mackerel salad 22-10-14 I was feeling very hungry by the time I got to eat this (mid afternoon) so I added some cooked chicken to make sure I didn’t give in to temptation and pop out for latte and cake.chicken and rice salad Back at home I had another bowl of that soup.bean soup and spoon It was really good.bean soup close up Especially with parmesan on top.  I do need to share this recipe with you.bean soup and ParmesanIt took me ages to find the recipe but I got there in the end.  It was in the ‘easy slow cooker’ book.  I struggled to find it because it was not in the soup section as it was a recipe for a hot pot!easy slow cooker

Smoky Bean Hotpot

Ingredients – serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 medium waxy potatoes, cut in to 2 cm dice
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped,
  • 350ml hot vegetable stock
  • 1 x tin of beans ( I used black beans and red kidney beans)
  • salt and pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, heat and add the onion and cook for 4 – 5 minutes
  2. Add the garlic, capers, parsley and paprika and fry for 2 minutes
  3. Add the celery, carrot, potatoes and red pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to coat the vegetables in the flavoured oil
  4. Transfer to the slow cooker and add the stock
  5. Cover with the lid and cook on HIGH for 3 hours until all the vegetables are cooked
  6. Stir in the beans 1 hour before the end of cooking time.

I have not been eating this all week because I have eaten small portions but because I doubled the portion.  We have all really enjoyed this and I will definitely make it again.


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A Life In Pots

I seem to be eating a lot of my food from pots these days!  This is actually quite good as it means I am often taking food to work from home which saves money and puts me in charge of quality control.

grapes and ham

Breakfast was perfect for munching while I worked; ham, watermelon and red grapes.  Watermelon is my current craving.

grapes, ham and watermelon Another ridiculously busy day so I raced down to Pure to grab a bite to eat for I enjoyed this the other day so bought it again.  I really like those little ‘chilli berries’.salmon noodle 1 I didn’t resolve how many syns this has but it really can’t be many as it is not greasy/oily and neither is it very large.salmon noodle I bought a fruit pot too.fruit pot 22-10-14 Supper was ultra easy as all I had to do was reheat some of the bean soup I made the other day.  I added some Parmesan tonight but couldn’t weigh it because the scales seem to have broken.  I washed them the other day after I noticed they looked dirty in a photo and they haven’t worked since!Bean and potato soup

I am too tired to copy out the recipe for this delicious soup but I will share it with you one day as it really is very good indeed.  I certainly plan to make it again.

That is everything I had today except for some more grapes I nibbled while I was pottering about in the kitchen.  A good day, I hope.

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A Reasonable Start

I made a reasonable start to my Slimming World campaign – I lost 4 pounds this week.  I was pleased with that, especially after the pizza and wine last Thursday and the almond cake I ate last night and white chocolate I had today!!  I had been really good the rest of the time though.

I went tropical for breakfast.tropical fruit I brought in from home a pot of chopped mango, papaya and passionfruit topped with coconut yogurt.tropical fruit salad 2 It was delicious.tropical fruit salad 21-10 I also took a salad in from home.salad 21-10-14 2 Quinoa, chickpeas, celery, red and yellow tomatoes, cucumber, sugar snap peas, watermelon and a variety of leaves.  I am getting used to salad without a dressing to save calories but it was a bit boring.salad 21-10-14 So I bought some flavourful chicken to add.M&S chicken tikka This was very good actually, well flavoured.chicken tikka As a little treat to myself for losing weigh, I loved every mouthful of a raspberry and banana ice-cream.raspberry nana ice-cream Made with 1/4 of an avocado, 2 frozen bananas, frozen raspberries, 2 passion fruits, 1 heaped tbsp cashew nut butter and some almond milk to loosen it.  It was divine.raspberry nana ice cream

What a treat.

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Free Food Or Syns?

In general I find Slimming World very easy to follow but there are some things I am finding confusing.  It would help if I had stayed to my first class and I will be asking some questions tomorrow when I go back to be weighed after week 1 – wish me luck!

I copied yesterday’s breakfast and brought a potful in to work of pink grapefruit, ham and watermelon.  The sweet and salty and juicy went really well breakfast 20-10-14 I literally had 12 minutes to grab lunch as I was in non stop meetings from 12 – 4pm but one meeting finished early leaving me just time to buy something.  I went to Pure and bought a small salad and fruit pot.

This small salad was called ‘Singapore Salmon’ and although I had to bolt it down to get to my next meeting, it was delicious.  Salmon, noodles, some greenery and mild spices.  It was really good and I want to have it again.Singapore Salmon 1 This is what I am confused about though.  Pure meals are not on the Slimming World website but you can estimate Syns by typing in the nutritional details.  Pure’s website gives you the nutritional value of foods.  Apparently this little pot, which only had 578.5 calories per portion was 17 syns.   When I look at the ingredients, most of them are free foods i.e. I can eat as many as I want;

Singapore Salmon


Hot-smoked salmon,

sesame ginger noodles,

chilli berries, pickled

ginger, black sesame

seeds and spring onion

with Devil’s dressing

It didn’t seem greasy at all and although I don’t know what was in the dressing, I can’t believe there was more than 1 tbsp oil in there.  So I am puzzled how this had so many syns.  I suspect the answer is that it doesn’t and I have done something wrong in working it out.Singapore Salmon This little fruit pot of mango, pineapple and blackberries was yummy too.fruit pot 20-10-14 2 fruit pot 20-10-14 1 For dinner I stir fried onions with carrots, red kale, sugar snap peas, quinoa, chick peas, parsley and coriander with some turmeric and soy sauce.  A fairly bland and boring supper but it was healthy at least.supper 20-10-14

I had a very busy evening.  Annoyingly I ate a little almond cake I was given by Ocado (home delivered groceries).  Apart from that, it was a really good day for healthy eating.

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Salad and Soup

I was so well behaved today.

IMG_8061 I began with a very pink breakfast!IMG_8062 It was not intentionally pink but I noticed its pinkness when I took the photo.IMG_8063 Watermelon, half a pink grapefruit and and some ham.IMG_8064 With a green tea and a glass of pink grapefruit juice made from one grapefruit.IMG_8065 I was surprised at lunch time when Harvey asked me to make him a chicken caesar salad with croutons.  The croutons were essential, apparently.

I popped to Hartley Dyke to get some provisions, including these lovely tomatoes which I bought to add to our salad. IMG_8067They did not have any raw chicken breasts for me to cook so I bought a ready cooked and smoked breast and some cooked turkey breast too.
IMG_8068 I made a salad with a lovely variety of leaves such as lamb’s lettuce and pea shoots, tomatoes, cucumber and spring onions from the garden.IMG_8070 I had half the chicken breast and one slice of the turkey and drizzled it with a caesar dressing (mayonnaise, Dijon, garlic and lemon juice).IMG_8071 Harvey had his croutons.IMG_8072 I dusted off the slow cooker (quite literally) and put it to good use to make this bean soup.IMG_8075Full of vegetables (onions, potatoes, red pepper, carrots and celery) and beans (black and red kidney) and flavoured with sweet paprika, garlic, capers, parsley and vegetable stock it was delicious.    I did have 2 bowlfuls as apart from a little olive oil, it was all free food i.e. eat as much as you like.

As well as eating so healthily today, I also went on a really good walk for over an hour in the forest.

Today was a very good day.

Today’s diary 19th October 2014

Free Foods

tomatoes (inc tomato purée)
salad, without dressing
potatoes ham
red kidney beans carrots
celery cucumber
lettuce onions
peppers spring onions
garlic grapefruit
melon, all varieties black beans
Healthy Extras

a 250ml semi-skimmed milk
b 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Basic, Grapefruit, canned in juice 2
Total Syns 2



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Wine or Cheese?

What a delightfully sunny and warm day it was today.  Well, it was in Ramsgate and I hope you enjoyed some sunshine too.

I started with hot water with honey and apple cider vinegar.  It is growing on me.cider vinegar and honey water I was going to Ramsgate for the day to get the house ready for the next visitors which meant a very busy and intense 5 house for the turnover.  Luckily I had Lara and Jo Jo to help me today and they were fabulous.

I took food with me so I wasn’t tempted to snack or over eat.  I had 35g oats35 g oats which I mixed with 1 tbsp chia seeds and 150 ml milk.  When it came time to eat it, I had an apple with it.  I also munched my way through 2 other apples during the day.oats and chia in round pot This is one of my favourite rooms in any of the houses that I get to visit.  I like the wide dark wood floorboards , the size and scale of the room but the main attraction is the view.  I do enjoy sitting in that window seat.sitting room 18-10-14 I prefer this aspect when I am looking at the seats full of friends or family.sitting room at Ramsgate This view is lovely and I can sit and watch the boats coming and going or just bobbing about in the water for hours.  Unfortunately we were too busy to sit and relax today but at least I spent a few minutes in here.Ramsgate harbour 18-10-14 Last night, while I was cooking dinner, I prepared our lunch for today.  It was roasted vegetables (carrots, butternut squash, leeks, red onion and red kale) with chickpeas and quinoa.  Not particularly exciting but it tasted good enough, was light and definitely healthy.quinoa and roasted veg While cooking tonight’s dinner, which was pasta and veggies, I deliberated about whether to have wine or cheese with my dinner.  Wine won – a very large 250ml glass full of it :-)red wine 18-10-14 This was a very simple supper but it tasted good.  Wholewheat spaghetti with tomatoes, onions, red kale and spinach with lots of garlic and a little chilli.  It tasted even better with some cheese on.  I wasn’t going to but I couldn’t resist, especially when I saw I had enough syns/calories to have some.spaghetti and veg

Having completed my food diary, I am only over my syns by a half so I am happy with today’s eating.

Today’s  Food Diary 18th October 2014

Free Foods

dried pasta, all types including low carb
tomatoes (inc tomato purée)
quinoa chickpeas
carrots leeks
onions spinach
butternut squash curly kale
chillies garlic
apples apples
Healthy Extras

a 250ml semi-skimmed milk
a 30g Cheddar
b 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
b 35g porridge oats (unflavoured)

Basic, Honey 1
Basic, Honey 1
Raw Health, Organic Chia Seeds 5
Basic, Red wine
Total Syns 15½


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Slimming World and Socialising

There is no denying that Slimming World has very easy to follow diet plans.  There is also no denying that I like going out and eating which makes sticking to the former very challenging!


Two pots of fruit for breakfast2 fruit salad pots A trip to M&S yielded a large ready made and undressed salad and a packet of spicy chicken pieces.M&S salad and chicken The salad was a bit boring without dressing but the chicken was tasty.chicken salad I snacked on grapes all afternoon.grapes 16-10-14 I was out in the evening with Jeremy and Laura and failed to take any photos or stick to my diet.  But I ate a huge pizza (about 40 syns !!!!!) and 3 glasses of wine which have 9 syns each.  It was wonderful to see my friends and I wish I could see them more often but not a good night’s eating!


I had an apple for breakfast, worked hard and then popped out to the local pub, The Milkhouse, for lunch with Simone.

This was beautiful and delicious.Milkhouse starter 17-10-14 It was a butternut carpaccio topped with roasted root vegetables and the purple salad which tasted like cress.  It was really good.butternut capraccio As a main I had breaded plaice with mashed potato.  I left the creamy sauce to save some calories, much as I wanted to eat it.  The plaice and potato tasted very good and were well cooked. The only thing I would have changed was to add some more vegetables.  The company was tip top.Plaice and potato In the evening I made a huge bowl of stir fried vegetables from onion, butternut squash, purple kale, sprouting broccoli and spinach.veggies 17-10-14 Lots and lots of spinach !spinach in sink Plus a slice of ham and half a tin of chick peas.  Gently spiced with a variety of different spices made a very light and tasty supper.Stir fried veggies and ham

I am out all day tomorrow but I have prepared food to take with me so no excuses for not being good tomorrow.

Have a happy evening.

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