Notorious – Bluebells, climbing, photography and a pub that refused to open its front door…

Wondering what to write for my next blog and saw today’s word prompt. Bluebells are notorious during May, in England. They grow in Spring, around now, and remind me of my childhood. My sister and I used to go out into the woods at the bottom of our garden and pick them. You are not allowed to do that now due to environmental stipulations and quite right too.

 

A wild, beautiful blue carpet of bluebells brings a diverse splendour to our woodlands and made a recent family walk quite uplifting. I was invited for a four mile walk and found the loveliness of the scenery quite unexpected and invigorating.  The ancient woodlands were swathed in blue and wonderful to experience. My daughter, tried out her new camera and I used my exceedingly good phone camera. We had a wonderful time admiring the scenery, playing about with photography and of course, climbing over gates and stiles plus a good natter.

The walk surrounding Groombridge, Kent was delightful and staggeringly magnificent. Groombridge Place is a great family place to visit if you enjoy wandering around gardens admiring the cultivated plants. They have a grand selection of different gardens and a forest. My favourite garden area is The Secret Garden because it reminds me of my favourite book from childhood, The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett first published as a book in 1911. A great piece of children’s literature. Another memory. Funny how these small life experiences take you back!

The forest has an incredible area for youngsters which includes two tree houses linked together with rope bridges and a central viewing tower. Also many levels with decking and platforms sheltered under sail roofs. All inspired by the TV series Crusoe with some original props.

 

We all enjoyed the walk and decided to go walking more often. I have a birthday coming up and decided a new camera may be prudent. I’ve always fancied pursuing photography as a hobby and feel the time is right. The clearer photography will be good for my blog, any future outings and this year’s travel plans. It may even encourage more walks, etc. and improve my health and fitness. We live in hope. 😉

After climbing a flipping long hill at the end of the walk (and it was very flipping long), we popped into the local pub to imbibe in some refreshment. Unfortunately, we had started the walk early and arrived, gasping, half an hour before the place opened. We  sat in the pub garden and chatted rather than move on and waste time finding another suitable, local establishment. Who else has done that? Can’t have a table for half an hour or so, gone away to locate somewhere else because you are desperate for something to eat, only to realise that you might as well  have waited and been patient because other places are booked up and ridiculously busy!

 

We sat and waited and waited. Went to the front door. Other waiting people disappeared and reappeared in the pub, happily supping their pints. The front door was still locked. Just deciding to move and find the mysterious portal that actually got you into the pub, and DA DAAAAaaa, a man appeared sheepishly admitting they had forgot to open the door. Never been so pleased to order a pint, I can tell you.

 

I was treated to a yummy pub lunch which consisted of a duck and hoisin sauce wrap.  This gave me an idea for future lunches without bread. Devoured in no time and I had earned it after climbing that steep, long hill, I can tell you.

 

Hope you are having a fabulous day and do feel free to comment about your favourite activities. Oh, and any information on photography is very welcome. 

Any follows are gratefully received, as well.

Bye for now,

Andy x

 

Twitter: @mishmashmedia_

Margate – Small hotels, posh food, micro pubs and a sunset…

I recently had a couple of days in Thanet to enjoy some sea air and sunshine. The weather was ok, and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting first Margate (overnight), and then Broadstairs. Although I prefer Broadstairs, I wanted to see how Margate was looking these days. I’d heard about the resurgence of micropubs, the cafe culture, the art gallery showcasing new and funky pieces juxtaposed with Turner’s seascapes, the retro shops and vibrant vibe of the Old Town. I was, therefore, fascinated to view the cultural renaissance for myself.

Unfortunately, The Sands Hotel was booked so stayed in a grand looking ‘boutique hotel’ on the sea front. The bedrooms online looked glorious. However, when I arrived, I quickly realized that ‘boutique hotel’ meant small, with smaller bedrooms and ridiculously small sinks and bathrooms to match. It looked so flipping splendid online and I was a bit disappointed, but not really surprised. They always make everything look amazing and glamorous online, don’t they?

Anyway, I enjoyed the micropubs and thought Margate Old Town was rather nice with a selection of cafes, pubs and obligatory gift shops. Enjoyed a couple of beers in the Life Boat micropub after a jolly good breakfast in the corner café. Looked in the gift shops (didn’t buy anything) and wandered to the harbour/beach area to enjoy a small libation in the Harbour Arms and enjoyed the views in the sunshine.


Margate has a very pleasant ambience, but could still do with some improving. Why can’t business owners pick up the litter in front of their premises? Particularly important if they are eateries! However, it has certainly retained some charm and the people are very friendly. The Turner Contemporary was fun to visit, although taking only a few minutes to see everything. The art wasn’t particularly impressive, but it was amusing and free admission is always welcome.

Unfortunately, many of the restaurants closed at 5pm and it was difficult to find somewhere interesting to eat. Eventually, a table was reserved for 7.15pm in The Sands Hotel which is a glamorous and luxurious residence. Why not treat oneself to a posh meal? When the waiter asked for an email address my husband told him, if you wanted to contact us, we will be next door in Fez, another micropub. He laughed and agreed it was a great place to go to.

Fez is amazing and by far my favourite pub. It is quirky, friendly, has delicious beers and quirky décor. We walked in and it was packed with people drinking, laughing, singing, and dancing to the blues band located in the corner. A lady asked me if I would like to sit down as there was a seat free. Later on she told me she had properties in Margate and there are a lot of investors coming to the area. She bought her first property when only twenty three years old while working “in the City”. We chatted for some time and it was great fun and interesting to find out about what was going on in the area.

As we talked, she confirmed what I had suspected about Margate. It is slowly relinquishing its reputation as a rundown seaside town and gaining credentials as an arty destination. If you want to visit you can catch a train from St. Pancras and the journey takes about 90 minutes. Also, once there, they have a fab bus service called the Thanet Loop so you can visit Broadstairs and Ramsgate too.
The meal in The Sands Hotel was delicious and we had a beautiful view of the evening’s sunset. I had salmon, guinea fowl a superb lemon pudding. Oh, how spoilt I felt.
After the meal, I went back to the pub next door to Fez, where they were playing 50s records on an ancient gramophone player. People were dancing and having a roaring time. Fantastic.

The next day we succumbed to our under cooked eggs for breakfast ‘scrape the snotty bit off’ and headed off to Broadstairs. We experienced more micro pubs, a lovely lunch and then a slow drive home. A great mini break.

Thanks for visiting my blog and don’t forget to follow. 😀

Twitter: @mishmashmedia_

Exercise can be contagious – new study finds..

During my Easter run, I decided to make countryside runs a habit. This is because I find them enjoyable, insightful and, most importantly uplifting. When I was young, and struggling to run half a mile, I would have laughed at this. Now instead of clubbing to the sounds of Donna Summer, I run with her dulcet sounds, as I pound the roads of the English countryside. Times have changed. The last thing I expected to be doing, is running.

One thing I’ve noticed is, if I’m honest, I prefer to run alone. In fact, any exercise really needs to be done alone. If you are in the gym, chatting, you are not working hard enough. Ok, I can’t work out and chat because I’m too puffed out haha.

Maybe I will participate in the park run again and enter into the competitive side of running. This element is possibly the best way to improve as you are competing against your own time as well as everybody else.

A recent study indicates that if you run with others you will run slightly faster (0.3 km). Running as part of a group will slightly improve your time. However, women tend to be influenced by other women. This may be because you may expect a man to run faster so you do not feel compelled to compete. I tend to expect males to pass me.

Scientists have found that a runner’s peers influence him or her to run more. Not all influence is equal and individuals are more likely to be influenced by less active ones. Men are influenced by both men and women. Yes, I can imagine!

So, perhaps I should join the local running club. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-exercise-contagious-friends-20170418-story.html

Mushroom Risotto

This is a delicious quick lunch which uses up the old mushrooms you may have lying about.

Chop the mushrooms, onions, garlic, bacon (if want to include) and get a litre of chicken/veggie stock ready plus 200g of risotto rice.

Throw the chopped bits into a pan with a splash of oil and cook. After a few minutes throw in the rice and add liquid. You may want to add peas and or spinach or whatever you jolly well like. Leave for a few minutes to simmer. Add Parmesan cheese and enjoy.

Tip: This could be boxed up for tomorrow’s lunch too.

Bacon

Mushrooms

Onion

Garlic

1 litre of Chicken/Veggie stock

200 grams Risotto rice

Peas or spinach, etc.

Seasoning and mixed herbs

Easter prep, gym, cooking and a flat tyre…

Had a good week. Was invited to a family meal 🥘 . It was a lovingly home cooked Spanish tapas and absolutely delicious. We had bruschetta (as photo), meat balls, tortilla, olives, veggies, canary potatoes, prawns and manchego cheese. The pud was homemade brownie with ice cream and was absolutely amazing. The beer was Punk IPA by BrewDog which is my all time favourite beer, at the moment. Must say, tapas is a great way to entertain because you can pick what you like which, in my case, is most of it. Oops.

Been to the gym three times and been on a couple of walks. Tried to go on about 1200 calories and some days have been ok but others, as above, not great. However, feel more in control as not stuffing chocs and biscuits so feel a lot better. With Easter Sunday looming this is my main aim. Upwards and onwards. Really aiming to start properly after Easter.

On Saturday, did the booze and bits top up shopping and discovered a flat tyre when we returned to our car. Luckily, handy husband was with me and put the spare tyre on. This seemed to fascinate the local shopping population. Looked a fairly simple operation but I probably wouldn’t have the strength for the nuts. We then had to rush to the tyre shop and the man insisted I stayed in the car, like lady muck, while he jacked the car up! So I carried on nonchalantly writing this blog post! All part of life’s rich tapestry! Can you change a tyre?

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I’m looking forward to a jolly family day of roast lamb and all the trimmings including homemade Yorkshire puddings, chocolate pudding and cake. Then I’m back on the running, gym and healthy diet routine. I promise.

The obligatory Easter chocolate cake is a simple affair…

8oz marg

8oz caster sugar

8oz self raising flour

4 eggs

Chocolate drops

Splash of treacle and or milk (makes it fudgy and yummy)

2 oz Chocolate powder

Mix together and put into two 8 inch tins.

Icing is 2oz butter with around 3oz icing sugar and 1oz chocolate powder. Mix with a tiny drop of boiling water. To be honest, you don’t have to be too careful about measurements for the icing.

Enjoy and have a wonderful Easter.

Please don’t forget to press the FOLLOW button. 😉

Health and Fitness Update and Plan

So I have to confess that I’ve put on a few pounds during the last few weeks. Concentrated on exercise but think I’ve become tired of dieting and staying at 1200 calories a day. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?

Recently, I’ve started to eat too many sweets, biscuits and so on but pleased to report that I found the experience quite bad, after months of being good. I felt exhausted and listless and to be honest, quite uncomfortable. The gym personal training session, this morning confirmed my fears and I’ve put over half a stone back on. However, recently I have stopped eating sweets and realise I need to eat more healthy stuff which will be easier now spring has finally appeared.

My plan is this:

Weigh daily

Record what I eat and drink daily

More vegetables and fruit

Healthier options

Exercise

Drink more water

I recently listened to a podcast about overeating and found the ideas interesting.

  • Affirmations in the evening (when it gets hard).
  • Tell yourself you WILL NOT OVER EAT, JUST FOR TODAY (worry about tomorrow.. the next day) Love this!
  • Just have one type of bad food, if you have to.  Studies show if you binge eat, you will buy a variety of foods (sweets, chocolate, ice cream). If you stick to one option, you won’t eat so much, which makes sense to me. *

 

* Source: Podcast – Primal Potential, Mastering Fat Loss, Strategies to stop binge eating (on Spotify)

 

 

Flowers, blossom, bored cows plus reasons to walk…

Last week, I went on another country walk with the local walking group. This was to encourage me to get some exercise, enjoy a guided countryside jaunt and be sociable (shock/horror). Unfortunately, I had to pass my friend’s house and was fearful her dog, little Oscar, may spot me as I walked passed. Think I got away with it! He wasn’t invited on the walk because I thought it may prove too exacting. I was right. It was exacting for me. As we strolled through the woods, the chap leading the walk said we were going to do a circular walk around the village. We live in a large village.

As we confidently strolled up the hills it was easy to succumb to the temptation of slowing down but since going to the gym I tend to climb faster than my walking pace.  Well, you want to get there, don’t you?

Unfortunately, this meant waiting for the leader’s wife. Couldn’t help wondering why her husband, the leader, didn’t pick an easier route bearing in mind his wife’s state of health. Anyway, two hours in, I was thinking we were nearly home and then arrived at the local private posh school, located among fields and trees and realised, to my horror, that we had at least a mile or so to go. Everybody slowed down, which in my view, makes it tiring. I ended up chatting sympathetically to the leader’s wife as she struggled up the umpteenth hill. Tried to take her mind of it by talking about her son and his family. Guess it helped a bit and luckily the others stopped to wait while they chatted to a dog walker and an impatient dog who kept yapping and obviously wanted to get on. The dog owner extolled the virtues of keeping a dog on a lead even in woodland but I thought he was bonkers. Oscar would hate it and loves to chase everything in sight with absolutely no success.

Anyway, it was, despite wondering if the walk was ever going to end, quite uplifting. The sun was out, as were the first signs of spring with the odd bluebell in bloom, about six weeks ahead of time. We stopped to photograph the lambs, bored, sleepy cows, blossom and wild flowers. Felt quite healthy by the time I arrived home, which is always a good thing and I’m pleased to see that there are plenty of benefits to walking (see below) but I drink and eat too much as well. Don’t we all?

The walk was quite arduous and six miles long. The leader’s wife looked quite worn out by the end of it so I hope her husband made her a cup of tea when home. We enjoyed tea, although I would have stopped for a beer if there had been a pub on the way home. I didn’t get an invitation to go out for one that evening either, as we were so worn out.

Why I walk

To be active, lose weight and become healthier *lives in hope*

The walk needs to be fast and it is a fun challenge to stride quickly up hills

Great to see heritage trails, woodlands, animals, wild plants orchards, etc

Helps the 10,000 steps a day target

 

A study found the following benefits of walking which had sound enough reasons, particularly the last one…

“We may never avoid becoming completely old, but we may delay the time we become old. We may look younger when we’re 70 and may live into our nineties. Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an antidepressant, it improves cognitive function, and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.” (1)

Research indicates if you walk for two minutes every hour, you may increase lifespan by 33 per cent! You should walk 10,000 steps everyday according to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

Enjoy walking and enjoy the grumpy dogs, bored cows and beautiful countryside too.

(1) Source: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/09/11/daily-walk-benefits.aspx