Tub on the Run


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Blogtacular 2016: My weekend in London

You go to a blogging conference, come away with a load of ideas and things you’d like to try, and… You don’t blog for over a week. Well done me! Being totally honest, I think I have suffered a little bit from overwhelm and analysis paralysis. It was a lot to take in! Anyway, after just over a week, I thought I’d just run through the day. I’ll do another post on my thoughts if I go next year as this post if already a long one.

I was lucky enough to gain a place on the much coveted Blogtacular photowalk which was taking place on the Friday before the main conference on the Saturday, so I travelled to London by train on the Friday morning. Matt very kindly dropped me off at the station.

Train Station

I arrived in Waterloo around lunchtime. I hopped onto the Jubilee Line to Canada Water and then made my way up to the Overground to catch the train to Shoreditch High Street, where the Blogtacular Photowalk East started from.

Blogtacular 2016 Photowalk Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Kat Molesworth-14

Photo Credit: Mollie Makes

It really wasn’t hard to spot the Blogtacular crowd – I think we may have been the brightest dressed people on a slightly grey day in east London. I was pretty nervous and probably didn’t come across all that brilliantly, but I got chatting to the lovely Julia from Just Creative Julia, and not long after 2pm, we were all heading off the main drag and around the streets of Shoreditch.

Shoreditch Photowalk

By the time we arrived at Old Street station, I was beginning to flag. I hadn’t eaten much and think the nervous energy was beginning to wear off. After stopping for a peppermint tea at Eat and chatting some more with Julia and Rachel from Sew Happy Sew Healthy, we parted ways and I headed to my hotel via Pret a Manger for a tuna salad dinner. I’d booked the Hub by Premier Inn at Tower Bridge. It was a great choice! Don’t get me wrong, there was hardly enough room to swing a cat, but I knew that in advance and was actually really impressed with the room. The bed was super comfy, there were movies on the TV (some good choices too – I opted for 13 Hours and started, but didn’t finish, Everest). I managed some yoga too in a bid to calm my brain down a bit.

Blogtacular were holding a party at West Elm on Tottenham Court Road, but a combination of social overwhelm and distance saw me opt for a walk along the Thames with my camera.

Tower Bridge

On Saturday morning, having slept pretty well (thanks air-con!), I struggled out of bed, packed myself up and headed up to 200 Aldersgate, which may be the most amazing venue I have ever been to for a conference. The space is so lovely and light.

Blogtacular 2016

Photo Credit: Mollie Makes

Over breakfast, I chatted to some really friendly people, and then wandered over to Mollie Makes, where the lovely ladies tried to get me to do their flat lay challenge (which I didn’t accept at the time) and waited for the opening key-note speech.

Blogtacular 2016

Photo Credit: Mollie Makes

Lisa Congdon was the opening key-note, and I don’t think I could have heard anything so well-timed in my life. She talked about not doing all the things, being vulnerable and genuine, and not wearing your busy-ness as a medal. After working 50 to 60 hour weeks for the last two months, this was just what I needed to hear. I will write another post on this one, as I definitely have more thoughts on this.

Blogtacular 2016

Photo Credit: Mollie Makes

After a quick tea break, it was workshop time. It was quite hard to choose which workshops to attend, but I decided to go to the writing workshop being led by Kirsty Smith from Eeh Bah Mum who was absolutely brilliant! The key message? Don’t be afraid to be a little bit shit – it gives you something to work on! I took a lot of notes in this workshop, and definitely picked up some great tips for defeating writer’s block.

Blogtacular 2016

Photo Credit: Mollie Makes

After the workshop was lunch. I was on my best Whole 100 behaviour, so I didn’t get to sample a huge amount, but the salmon and salad that I did eat was very tasty, and the rest of it looked delicious. During lunch, I also accepted the Mollie Makes flat lay challenge. Given this was the first time I’d ever attempted a flat lay, I think the ladies were a little more generous with their time than two minutes (and also kindly lent me their iPhone as my phone went on strike).

Mollie Makes Flat Lay Challenge

Unfortunately, a last-minute loo stop meant that the next workshop I wanted to go to (Phoneography with Sara Tasker from Me and Orla) was full so I ended up in the Microsoft talk. Another well deserved tea break and then it was time for the last workshop. Photography is something I really would like to get better at, so I chose Laura La Monaca’s food styling and photography workshop.

Blogtacular 2016

Photo Credit: Mollie Makes

I swear I learnt more in those 90 minutes with Laura than I have from reading all the stuff on my Pinterest board. The way she explained things like aperture and ISO just made sense (finally!). I really enjoyed this session and took pages of notes. It’s really inspired me to put my camera into manual and properly learn it. If you ever get the chance to listen to Laura speak about photography, go! She’s so passionate about it and with her beautiful Sicilian accent, she’s wonderful to listen to.

The closing speech was given by Enid Hwang – Pinterest’s Community Manager and employee #6. Enid’s speech was funny, humbling and engaging, and I think most attendees are trying to incorporate the phrase “utter bilge” into their everyday lives. She was the perfect “up” to the end of the day.

Blogtacular 2016

Photo Credit: Mollie Makes

Once the final photo had been taken and the goody bags handed out, I hotfooted it back to Waterloo to catch my train home. The goody bags are brilliant, and definitely inspire me to get my craft game on again.

I was very glad to see my bed that night!


A big thank you to Mollie Makes and Blogtacular for the professional photos – knowing we’d have these definitely took the pressure off of trying to listen, note take and photograph everything.


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Off to Blogtacular I go!

It’s now five more sleeps until I set off on my own to London. I’ve always gone with other people in the past, so I’m quite looking forward to attempting to navigate my way around the City. Why am I going to London?

Going-to-Blogtacular-2016

I am going to Blogtacular! Back when I was still blogging at Tub on the Run, I promised myself a couple of things – the first was that one day I would get my own domain name and go self hosted (tick!). The second was that I would go to a blogging conference. A couple of years ago, I had planned to go to an event called Cybher. I read everything and anything I could get my hands on about this conference, and after doing my research, I bought a ticket. Sadly, it wasn’t to be as the conference was cancelled. I think (from bad memory) that Blogtacular was born that same year (2014).

Why didn’t I go to Blogtacular instead? I think it was because I wanted to read reviews of it first. It isn’t the cheapest activity when you add in the travel, hotel, food and tickets, so I wanted to know that I was going to be getting my money’s worth. I did go to the South West Blog Social that year, which was organised by Jodie from a la Jode, and enjoyed myself, even if there wasn’t anyone from my niche at the time. I didn’t book up last year, as we were moving house and any extra funds were spent on that.

This year though, I decided to bite the bullet and booked my Blogtacular ticket, having read as much as I could. The verdict, according to the research I’d done? Absolutely, unquestioningly good value for money.

Since I bought my ticket, I’ve been joining in on the weekly Twitter chats as and when I can, and if the topic is relevant to me. I’ve learned a lot already. As this will be my first “big” blogging conference, I thought I’d best introduce myself!

Beyond the Sofa goes to Blogtacular

 

I am Steph, office bod by day, crazy cat lady and blogger by night. I live in Devon with my husband Matt and two rescue cats (Tank and Timo). I’ve been blogging since 2013, initially to document my running and weight loss efforts, though eventually got a bit lost with it when I a) started to put weight on again, and b) stopped running.

What do I want to get out of Blogtacular? Well, I’d like to learn about how to improve my writing and will also be trying to pick up any and all tips about how not to hit the awful writer’s block (or crack through it if I find myself there!). Aesthetically, I would like to improve my photography and site design, so I am going to be keeping my ears open for any tips I can take away on these points too. Other than that, I am just looking forward to meeting some new people.

What am I doing at Blogtacular? I’m very lucky to have gained a place in the photowalk lottery, so I’m heading up to London on Friday to take part in the photowalk with Laura and Jess. I am down to go to the West Elm party too, but I might leave that a little early so I can get an early night for what promises to be a long and interesting day on the Saturday (I’ll play it by ear). On the Saturday, I am (at the moment) planning on going to the Developing Content Ideas with Kirsty Smith from Eeh Bah Mum, then either Why Content is King is Modern Media with Ella Williamson and Andrew Trotman, or Phoneography with Sara Tasker from Me and Orla. For the last workshop, I’m hoping to do either the Writing Workshop with Laura Jane Williams or the Food and Travel Photography workshop with Laura La Monaca.

Anything I’m nervous about? I get a touch of anxiety about travelling to timetables (it’s the “will I get there on time? Will I get lost?”). I’m coming up by train from Exeter to Waterloo. I know I’ll be fine once I’m on the Tube and have found the photowalk location (google maps at the ready!). I’m also a bit nervous about meeting new people. I’ll be absolutely fine, I have no doubt, it’s just the thought of not knowing anyone. My last thing is to do with being able to eat in line with my Whole 100. I’m not too concerned though, as I understand that there are lots of options when it comes to the catering (plus unlimited tea and coffee! Woo!). Worst case scenario is that I nip out to Pret around the corner as they’ll definitely have things I can eat. That will be my plan for dinner on the Friday and Saturday.

If you’re going to Blogtacular, please say hi! If you’re not, have you been to a blogging conference? Any tips to share for making the most out of the experience?


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A lot of love for the bank holiday

Despite the onset of some grumpiness, courtesy of my Whole 100, I’ve had a lovely weekend. It’s been a good mix of relaxed and active!

Saturday

I needed to get some bits and bobs from Exeter, which turned into a hunt for new jeans, handbag and some stationery. I’d hoped that Exeter was going to be really quiet with the Radio 1 Big Weekend being held at Powderham nearby, but it was heaving! We have a new person joining our team this week, so I needed to pop into WH Smith’s and Paperchase to get a couple of things. I also returned the work trousers that I didn’t like, and Matt and I stopped off at Byron Burger for some lunch.

Byron Burger Cheeseburger

I had a bit of food envy while we were here. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my chicken, but it wasn’t the same. Matt had a burger of some sort with an Oreo milkshake, which just brought back memories of the amazing Reese’s peanut butter milkshake I’d had there last time we visited. So good! Apple juice just isn’t the same!

Byron Burger Reeses Peanut Butter Milkshake

In the afternoon, we put the rugby on for the Exeter Chiefs v Saracens final. We would love to have gone, but to be honest, that amount of travelling this weekend didn’t float my boat! The rest of the day was spent chilling out.

Sunday

I had my full attack of the grumps today, for literally no reason. After getting my grumpy bum in the car, we actually had a very pleasant day wandering around the track and enjoying the sunshine. Matt got to play with his camera, though mine had to stay in the car as I’d forgot to charge the battery (so annoying!).

Castle Combe Winners

It was a great day of racing, and it was nice to get out and about. We stopped at Matt’s nan’s on the way home as she has very kindly given us some of her old gardening things that she no longer needs. We’re pretty well kitted out for the garden now in terms of equipment. After arriving home, we collapsed onto the sofas. Who knew so much sunshine could wear you out!

Castle Combe - Quarry

Monday

I’d hoped to get up early today. I felt like I had 101 things to do and needed to get done. I ended up dragging my weary carcass out of bed at 9:30am, which was about two hours later than I had wanted to get up. Oh well! After making some breakfast, I headed down to Home Bargains (love that place! So much stuff you never knew you might need!) for some extra tupperware tub things and clothes pegs. Mission accomplished, I came home to find Matt had made a start on the garden and was cutting down the grass that was coming over from our neighbours’ garden. I strimmed the worst of the height of the grass, and then mowed it. I am not sure how many poor snails were lost in my efforts (the little buggers always seemed to be where I wanted to stand), though once the grass was cut back, I definitely saved a fair few.

Several loads of washing and hanging out on the line later, it was time to start batch cooking. I cannot tell you how little I was looking forward to doing this. It worked out okay though, as three of the meals I want to make need to be marinated for a day, and the others I don’t have all the ingredients for. Matt was happy, as I’d made him a lasagne (the old Slimming World one we used to do).

Did you have a nice weekend? What were your highlights?


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Killerton Classic Car Show 2016

The alternative title for this post was “A risk of getting a tan this year”. When we lived in the flat, I used to get so miserable that going outdoors was just not going to happen. Between not feeling comfortable in my own body, the humidity of living in the middle of a seaside town to the ridiculous amount of tourists lazily dawdling through the town, I didn’t enjoy summers there. This year though, with the bonus of a garden, I’m really enjoying getting out and about more (and surprise, surprise, my mood is better for it!).

Saturday

I got home really late (for me) from my friend’s leaving do, flopping in to bed at around 1:30am. I’d had a great night out though, despite not drinking at all. After sleeping in a bit, I put a couple of loads of washing on, cleaned the kitchen thoroughly and had a coffee. I’d bought a couple of jars of Little’s instant coffee a couple of months ago, and also got a packet of ground chocolate caramel infused coffee. I don’t own a cafetière, but I wanted a proper coffee so improvised and used my tea pot and strainer. It worked!

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Happy days! As I was sorting myself out, Matt popped down to Cullompton Farmer’s Market and bought some sausages from Moonbeams Farm for breakfast. I then popped out to get some bacon (also Moonbeams), picked up some wild garlic bread for Matt from Bread of Devon and some venison for a casserole from Garlandhayes Farm. I haven’t cooked with venison before, so I am going to the oracle that is Pinterest later to work out what I can make.

For the rest of the day, we popped up to Matt’s family as we had some stuff to drop off for him mum. While we were there, we picked up some gardening tools which had been offered to us. A nice evening in followed, and we watched The Hateful Eight (very bizarre – a typical Tarantino film).

Sunday

Hasn’t it been glorious today! Matt had spotted that Killerton House was hosting a classic car show this weekend, so we thought we’d pop on over (make the most of our National Trust membership!). After I’d hung the washing out, made another coffee and pottered, we jumped in the car and headed to Killerton.

Killerton House - Classic - London Transport Bus

I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest. Often, we find these types of events quite underwhelming, but actually this was really good!

Killerton Classic Car Show 2016

We wandered around the fields with hundred of classics, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at various cars. For us, classics have always been old cars, things from the 1940s until the 1970s. Classic car owners are also “classics” themselves if you catch my drift. As we were walking along, we came across a Maestro.

Killerton Classic Car Show Rally Maestro

I’d be lying if there wasn’t a bit of a horrifying realisation that Matt and I grew up with some cars that are now considered classics. How on earth has that happened?! I remember the red Maestro that we had as a family when I was little (though it wasn’t in as good nick as this one). Then we came across a Rover Metro. Dad had a Metro in the mid-90s which was his driving school car. I’ve turned into one of those people who says “I remember when MG Fs were cool”.

Killerton Classic MG Bear

There were some really great cars on display, and it was interesting to read about various exhibit’s restoration processes and owner history. What really struck me was how loved these cars all were – the amount of time, money and love that goes into them is so evident.

Killerton Classic 2016

I really enjoyed wandering around. There was a craft section too, but I wasn’t too interested as it was mostly jewellery or things for children.

When we got home, we nipped into the garden to discuss the next steps that we need to make to reclaim the borders, get things tidy and start planting things and making it our own. We agreed the grass desperately needs mowing (mower to be bought next week) and the borders rotivating and neatening. Then we can work out what can go where.

I suspect I have some sunburn now, despite slapping on the sunscreen. It’s been a really nice, relaxed weekend though.

Have you had a nice weekend? What did you get up to?


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Easter weekend

Hurrah for long bank holiday weekends (and the two four day weeks!). Despite having a week off earlier in March, this long weekend has landed at the right time.

We didn’t have much in the way of plans for this weekend, though I had a list that I wanted to work through (half completed, so that’s something!). It has just been nice to have a little bit of downtime, though unfortunately work impeded on it a little bit – never mind!

Friday

Matt and I needed to head in to Exeter do run some errands and pick up a couple of things. It was an absolutely gorgeous day – the first real spring-like weather that I think we’ve had this year. Normally, when the weather is nice, rather than eat in a restaurant, we like to get something to eat outside and sit on Cathedral’s green. Lots of people had the same idea, and it was tough to find somewhere to park for a bit!

Exeter Cathedral

After we’d finished, it seemed a shame to head straight home and retreat indoors. Instead, we headed to Killerton for a wander around. We’ve been meaning to stop by and have a wander around since we renewed our National Trust membership in February, but hadn’t quite got to it.

Rather than head into the house, we walked around the gardens with our cameras. The flowers in the walled garden aren’t quite out yet, but there are a lot of other pretty things to look at. I was trying to get a picture of some pretty blue flowers (I’m not at all green fingered, and literally know about 5 different types of plants – the rest are referred to by colour), and then fell into a mole hole and rolled my ankle. Well done me. Not to be deterred, we took it a little slower but kept going and eventually came across the chapel, which isn’t too far from the parkrun start line.

Killerton Gardens

We used to visit Killerton a lot as a family when my sister and I were little, but I don’t remember ever going in to the chapel. It was wonderfully quiet (outside was reasonably noisy, owing to the egg hunt), and the sunlight shone through the stained glass window, making a beautiful pattern on the wall near the altar. It really was stunning.

Killerton Chapel

After admiring the light show for a bit, we wandered back to the car and headed home. I don’t know what it is about the fresh air, but when we got home, we crashed on the sofa. We’ve resolved to go back soon to go for a proper walk in one of the forests, around the old parkrun route, or one of the many other walks (and probably should do the house too!).

Saturday

True to the forecast, the weather turned really grim and grey (and wet!), so we’d tried to make sure that Saturday was a more of an indoor day. It started with a trip to our local butchers and greengrocers. The butcher very kindly de-boned and skinned the chicken thighs for me (I am complete pants at doing this myself) while Matt got the veggies sorted. This is probably a silly thing to say, but I am constantly surprised by how nice people are where we live now. We returned home and I set to work in the kitchen.

Easter batch cook

Many hours later, we have 14 dinners of:

I’ve not tried the pork meatloaf (looks strange, but smells amazing), Spanish chicken or the mustard lamb before (and obviously a Jamie Oliver “15 minutes” is a normal human’s “30 minutes”). I am pleased though – it was a long time on my feet, but totally worth it. Plus, we were treated to a pretty gorgeous sunset as I came to the end of my cooking.

Sunset

Sunday

My sister has come home for the Easter break, so I headed down to Mum and Dad’s for the day. My sister cooked an amazing curry (a Slimming World one I think), and we had a really relaxed afternoon, just catching up and putting the world to rights and making a fuss to this little loon.

Little Loon

Dad went out as he plays in a band and they were playing down a pub, and Matt stayed home to do some tidying up.

It was definitely a case of donning the flippers to get home. The amount of standing water on the roads was absolutely crazy, but I made it home safe and sound.

Monday

I headed back to my parents’ house today, while Matt sat in the queue on the M5, attempting to get to his parents’ house (the traffic was pretty awful from what I gather). Mum, Dad, my sister, gran and I had lunch at the local garden centre, before Mum and I toddled off so I could try and show her the type of flower that I would like in our garden (it’s a small, blue flower, and lives in a rockery type environment). We couldn’t find it. Pudding was courtesy of Orange Elephant. I am sure I said this on my old blog, but if you are ever in the area, head over to Orange Elephant at Lower Brenton near Kenn for the best ice cream you will ever have. The lambs have not long arrived too – what’s not to love – lambs and good ice cream!

Lambs

Anyway, the delayed Sunday blues have kicked in quite hard, and I’m aiming for an early(ish) night as I have a very long day ahead of me tomorrow.

What did you get up to this weekend?


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A good weekend

Back in October, I had a week off. It was lovely. I got the chance to catch up on a load of things, but importantly, it was also the week that the rugby unions released their Six Nations tickets. I tried to join two online queues – the English queue, and the Welsh queue, trying to get tickets for either Wales v Scotland at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, or England v Wales in at Twickenham. I wanted a Welsh match, as Matt is a staunch Welsh supporter, having decided that he was an adopted Welshman when he studied at Cardiff University. I, on the otherhand, am happy to support any and everyone.

An hour and a half later, I had successfully bought two Wales v Scotland tickets. I tried to book up a hotel at the same time, but that was where my luck ran out. Not a massive problem, we decided, as we would just catch the train in.

Yesterday, we set off at just gone 8am, drove to Worle, and caught the bus replacement to Bristol Temple Meads to head to Cardiff. I honestly don’t think I have seen so many kilts in one place before. The platform started to get quite crowded with a mix of scarlet and tartan, all very good natured and friendly. The trains were absolutely rammed, but we’d managed to find a relatively quiet carriage and settled in for the ride.

Arriving at Cardiff, the atmosphere ramped up tenfold. We’d been in the city on a match day before, but this was something else entirely. When I lived in Sheffield and Chesterfield, I ended up out and about when the local derbies were on, and it felt intimidating. I freely admit, I don’t get the lure of football at all, never have. I don’t really like catching the train back from Exeter when there is something on at St James’ Park, as again, it just doesn’t feel as good natured. Cardiff was completely different. Scottish and Welsh (or supporters thereof) walked hand in hand or side by side down the main streets, and there was a real buzz.

Cardiff Streets

As Matt and I had arrived so early (kick off wasn’t until 4:50pm), we headed to the WRU shop so Matt could pick up a new shirt. Shirt bought, it was time for lunch. Last time we were in Cardiff, we saw loads of places that we wanted to stop at, one of which was Red Hot World Buffet (Matt’s choice, mine would have been one of the steak houses). It was a good idea – our non-paleo meal of the week could be literally any cuisine we fancied. It was an interesting lunch. I decided to start with some salad stuff and sushi, which was pretty good. For mains, I visited Tex Mex, Indian and Chinese. It was okay. Nothing to blow you away. I had a pudding course too, which was fruit and some small (bite sized) pieces of tiramisu, chocolate peanut cheesecake thing and a mango-y cake-y thing. The whole thing was just “okay”. There was nothing wrong with it, I just didn’t really enjoy it. I ate a bit too much (which is silly, as it was probably less than half of what I would previously have eaten, and I wouldn’t have touched the salad). I was definitely glad to get out and walk shortly after lunch. Matt felt similarly, though didn’t have the salad and went for two rounds of different cuisines.

After lunch, I bought a back up SD card, having left mine at home in my laptop (plonker!), and then we headed back towards the stadium to check where our gate was. We still had a couple of hours to kill, so took a walk in Bute Park.

Bute Park Collage

There were quite a lot of dogs being walked, and I decided that humans could definitely learn a thing or two from spaniels. Now, from experience, I know spaniels are the craziest. Blue smartie crazy. So it came as no surprise that this cocker spaniel raced around at a million miles an hour, checking everything out. He looked so happy to just “be”. Puddles? Great! Mud? Brilliant! Humans? Epic! Squirrels? Totally! Life? Amazing! Despite appearing completely scatterbrained, he was also trained (I’m a strong believer that you should invest the time to train a dog well if you’re going to make the commitment to have one). The quietest of calls from his owner, and he was at heel. When asked to sit, it was immediate.

Spaniel

Eventually they headed off in a different direction to us and we carried on up past the fitness trail. It was a really nice walk, despite the chill. I can’t remember when, by my UP3 buzzed to say I had hit my steps target, and by the end of the walk I had clocked up around 13,500 steps. I was pleased about that, as I had decided not to do my Fitness Blender workout on Friday. I was also pleased I’d managed so far, as I had bought some new boots on Friday. My trusty Merrells had started to get a hole in the back of them and I would have cut my heel up something awful if I had worn them. I was in two minds as to whether to try and break in new boots for so long – I like to live dangerously…

We started to head back and got to our gate at about 3:05pm, then waited for the gate to open at 3:20pm. After a bag search and a small queue, we were in just after 3:20pm. Our seats were up in the gods. I don’t think my legs were quite ready for the number of steps we had to climb. It was definitely worth it though – the view was great!

Principality Stadium

The pre-match entertainment got underway, the roof closed (thankfully – it was freezing!) then the anthems were sung, and the match started. I really enjoyed it and sang and chanted my way through with both the Welsh and Scottish supporters. I’ve had Bread of Heaven and Flower of Scotland stuck in my head ever since.

After the match, we headed back to the station via a long (voluntary) detour and hopped on the train back to Bristol. The replacement bus service was still in effect. This was definitely the longest bit of the day. Anyway, we arrived back home at 11pm and hotfooted it to bed. My last look at my UP3 step count was 20,882, which I think is my record since wearing the UP.

UP3 Steps 13 Feb

Today has been mostly about recovering from yesterday with some pottering around the house. I ended up with a blister on my toe, so I haven’t wanted to put shoes on today. It has been a really great weekend though – I haven’t had such fun in a long time. October will see me sat at the computer waiting in a virtual queue for Wales v England or Wales v Ireland tickets next year. In the meantime, we’ll be back at Millennium Stadium for Judgement Day in April.

Have you had a good weekend? Do you watch the rugby?


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Whole 30 Days 22 to 24: Up, up and away

Since my last post, my Whole 30 goodness has really started to come in to its own (at last!). A couple of irritating breakouts aside, the summary is – I’m feeling great! For me, ignoring the grumps and grottiness from earlier in my Whole 30, this is what it’s all about.

Day 22

Breakfast: Didn’t have any

Lunch: Prawn stir fry

Tea: Chicken in tomato sauce with sweet potato

How I’m feeling: I feel really good! I had the day off today by myself as I was owed holiday from last year. I had quite a relaxed start, made a cup of tea but didn’t really feel like having any breakfast. Despite being technically on holiday, I had some work that I needed to do so cracked on with that, interspersed with doing the washing. By lunchtime I was quite hungry so I made prawn stir fry which was really lovely. It did use the last of my cashew butter though (sad times). I definitely want to cook something with chillies in it soon as I am missing some heat in my food.

Prawn Stir Fry

As I came towards the end of my work and the laundry pile, I remembered that Matt said he needed some chopped tomatoes and passata for the sauce for tea, so I decided to go out for a walk. Instead of heading straight to Tesco, I went the long way, before deciding the go past Tesco and walk to the bottom of town to Aldi. I bloody love Aldi. I’d not really shopped there before December but I’m a convert. I don’t think you can taste the difference either!

Leat Walk

I got home and set about doing some washing up, clearing the surfaces down and also sorting out the cat litter (the joys!). All in all, it’s been a good day. I’ve had plenty of energy (so I haven’t spent the whole day sat on my bum as I probably would have done two weeks ago) and I’ve been quite productive. When Matt came home, we had tea and settled in to watch Legend.

Day 23

Breakfast: Two poached eggs and some thick cut ham

Lunch: Chicken in tomato sauce with veggie couscous

Tea: Steak with sweet potatoes, onion and carrot noodles

How I’m feeling: My lack of planning is getting the better of my breakfast. I ended up eating from the canteen this morning. It’s been another pretty good day. I’ve had a good level of energy, my skin is beginning to clear a bit after a breakout last week and I’m doing well on the concentration front. I’ve also had more ideas for blog posts than I have had for ages, which I think is a combination of Whole 30 concentration and focus courtesy of my new Life Planner from Lollipop Designs x Blogtacular which is all kinds of awesome. I’ve spent a lot of the evening filling the diary up with my life and whatnot. I am not a great blogger in that I don’t plan posts very much. I think this is why I end up going AWOL for a bit, as I struggle to think of things to blog about if I leave it too long. I’m going to give the planning thing a go, based on what I already know is going on in my life. I feel like I am winning.

Day 24

Breakfast: Pistachio nuts

Lunch: Marks and Spencer’s egg and new potato salad

Tea: Piri piri steak hache with onion and sweet potatoes

How I’m feeling: I was unprepared for breakfast or lunch today.  Big oops.  A combination of lack of sleep, unpreparedness for breakfast and lunch and a couple of dull meetings has been no fun. I don’t even know why I was so late to bed which makes it more annoying. Despite being tired, I don’t actually feel too bad (just not as good as I have done for the last couple of days). Early to bed for me tonight! On the plus side for food preparation, my HUGE Muscle Food delivery arrived today. It was almost too heavy to carry, and I could feel the bottom of the box bulging as I was carrying it, so the first thing I did when I got back to my desk was re-tape the seams.

Muscle Food

I have some batch cooking to get on with – first up is pulled pork as we haven’t had that in absolutely ages. We’ll also be having Cincinnati chilli and meatloaf (all made Whole 30 if they’re not originally paleo). I’m not entirely sure what I am going to do with the chicken. Quite possibly I think Fiona’s green chicken might feature, and I might attempt a curry. I’m not sure what sort of curry yet though.

So, after what has felt like a really slow start to my Whole 30 round 3, I’m onto a winner now.

Fancy catching up with the rest of my Whole 30 so far? Here you go:

 


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Whole 30 Days 19 to 21: on the up!

After a pretty miserable few days, I feel like I am on the up again! And about time too! It isn’t (cringe) the “tiger blood“/superhero feeling, but I am feeling more together.

Day 19

Breakfast: Diced bacon, hard boiled egg and sweet potato

Lunch: Chicken in Matt’s amazing tomato sauce and veggie couscous

Tea: Steak with onions and sweet potato

How I’m feeling: I am glad it’s Friday, that’s for sure! It was one of the busier days in the office again today, and I didn’t end up eating my lunch until nearly 4pm. I had planned to have it earlier, but a meeting overran and then I had a couple of others to go to. One thing that I was pretty glad of was I didn’t get ravenously hungry (or grumpy). Yes, I was hungry, but I wasn’t chew-on-your-arm kind of hungry. I also noticed I seemed to keep a better concentration level going. All in all, it’s been a pretty good day.

Day 20

Breakfast: French omelette

Lunch: Ham and a juice

Tea: Chicken stir fry with sweet potatoes

How I’m feeling: Refreshed! Finally! I woke up, having had nearly 9 hours of sleep and felt good. Over breakfast, Matt and I were talking about what we wanted to do in the day. His nearly-Whole-30 is going really well, and he decided his treat would be a new Xbox 1 controller (how it’s different from the other one, I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve been told it is MUCH better than the other). Unfortunately the only place that had it was an Argos in Plymouth (which is about an hour away). We’d also been talking about rejoining the National Trust, so decided to do it today and stop by Saltram House on the outskirts of Plymouth on the way back from Argos.

Saltram House

It was a really murky day, but the weather is clearly confusing the plant life – the daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses were all out in force. We didn’t get to go around the whole house, as only the east wing is open at the moment, but it was a nice way to spend a couple of hours. We’re going to go back in the spring (when hopefully the sun is shining!) so we can go around all of the house and gardens.

Gardens at Saltram

Around 3:45pm, we headed home, stopping at Tesco to see if they had a magazine that Matt was looking for. Because we hadn’t had lunch either, we picked up a couple of things to munch. I picked up ham and a juice. It wasn’t the best thought out meal, but it filled a hole until tea time. This evening, I’ve put in a big Muscle Food order, which will hopefully be here on Wednesday. I’ve included a couple of their paleo snacks to see what they’re like. If one thing that this Whole 30 has told me is that I can’t be prepared all the time, so having a back up plan is a good idea.

Anyway, it’s been another pretty good day today – the Whole 30 goodness is beginning to come through!

Day 21

Breakfast: Banana, melon, apple and orange juice

Lunch: French omelette with ham, followed by dried apricots and pistachio nuts

Tea: Prawn stir fry with carrot noodles

How I’m feeling: Another good long sleep, and I’m feeling good! We decided to get a juice for breakfast in the Guildhall in Exeter rather than eat at home. I realised that the smoothie I usually like (Banana Boat) has yoghurt in, so I asked for one without the yoghurt. It wasn’t quite the same, but it was a nice change. It wasn’t an exciting shopping trip (conditioner, deodorant, lip balm), but it was nice to get out the house for a bit. I definitely think I am procrastinating a bit less than I have done in the recent past.

Fancy catching up on my January Whole 30 so far? Here you go:

 


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Whole 30 Days 10 to 14: Going strong

I’m through the first third! It’s going well, I’m not hungry or feel like I am missing out (too much – just cups of tea still!), and at the moment, I think it’s going to be a relatively smooth ride to Day 30. That said, I’m conscious that I still seem to be running a few days behind “the timeline“. Here’s how I’ve got on over the last few days:

Day 10

Breakfast: Hard boiled egg, chicken, cucumber and tomato with some balsamic vinegar

Lunch: Left over chicken stir fry with veggie couscous

Tea: Cincinnati chilli with butternut squash noodles

How I’m feeling: Productive! As I’ve mentioned before, when I come in after work, I quite often literally flop down on the sofa and call it a day. Not tonight, no! I cracked on with making Pina Colada chicken for later in the week, and also did the marinade for the green chicken, which smells absolutely amazing when you’re whizzing together all the ingredients. The chicken needs to marinate for at least an hour, but longer is better, so that’s tea for tomorrow sorted.

Day 11

Breakfast: Banana and apple with almond butter

Lunch: Left over Cincinnati chilli

Tea: Fiona’s Green Chicken (from Nom Nom Paleo)

How I’m feeling: Apparently most people feel the strongest urge to quit their Whole 30 at day 10 or 11. I can’t say this is something that I have felt over the last couple of days. Actually, it has been really nice to come home of an evening, eat proper food (not a ping meal in sight!) and get ready for the next day. I love the green chicken recipe, and would definitely recommend it. I used chicken breast instead of thighs as we don’t have thighs in the freezer. I feel good though – energy is improving day by day, I don’t have any all consuming cravings and don’t seem to be feeling any ill effects right now.

Day 12

Breakfast: Banana and apple with cashew butter

Lunch: Left over green chicken with veggie couscous and roasted med veg

Tea: Bacon braised cabbage (from Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food) with sweet potato chips

How I’m feeling: I am very glad it is Friday and this week is over. It’s been a bit mad at work. I’ve weathered it well though – my energy and concentration levels have been good, though I have been more irritated than normal with silly things (trying to get through to a human being at one of the government agencies is the devil’s own job and saw me shouting at the stupid automated woman on the other end of the phone!).

Day 13

Breakfast: Banana and apple with cashew butter

Lunch: Left over green chicken with sweet potato

Tea: Steak with root veg chips and stir fry veg

How I’m feeling: I went to bed too late last night and didn’t sleep brilliantly. I think I spent too much time looking at a screen before bed, watching some of the gubbins on my Netflix. It was a relatively slow start to the day, and I ummed and ahhed about going in to work today or tomorrow. I needed to go in when no one else was there as I just needed some quiet time to concentrate on the fiddly stuff. I decided to go today, and turns out that it was time well spent, which was a load off my mind and will allow me to enjoy the rest of the weekend. I cooked up the chicken and sweet potato before I went. I absolutely love this recipe – it’s pretty easy to do too which is always good! After popping to work for a few hours, I stopped at Tesco and picked up some steak for tea. It wasn’t on the plan, but I really fancied it. Matt cooks steak better than me, so he was the chef of tea.

Whole 30 Days 10 to 14

I feel pretty good still. No super energy (though my energy is better than pre-Whole 30) and no vivid dreams about food as the Whole 30 timeline suggests. I do feel a bit more positive generally though.

Day 14

Brunch: Two fried eggs, followed by cashew nut butter on apple and banana

Tea: Pina Colada chicken from Well Fed 2 with butternut squash noodles and stir fry veg

How I’m feeling: I didn’t get up early enough to consider breakfast and lunch two separate events. Instead, I settled for waiting a little longer and having lunch. After lunch, Matt and I decided to go on an explore around town. We googled some walking routes, and came up with two that we combined. It’s been a really murky day, light drizzle and grey. Cold too – the wind has a real bite. There has been snow up on Dartmoor, but we haven’t had any that has settled (yet).

January Walk around Cullompton

We walked a reasonable distance before my stomach started to get a bit sore. It is getting close to that time of the month, but it wasn’t a period pain soreness. Nope, this was one of the delayed side effects of the Whole 30 – the bad tummy time. Delightful! I will be backing off the nut butters, just in case they’re anything to do with it though, as almond and cashew butter have become a near daily thing. Anyway, that aside, I slept really well last night, and the vivid dreams appeared. They weren’t about food, but they were vivid all the same. My energy levels are pretty good, no obvious crashes, and it isn’t taking me so long to get round to doing things (I remember on my last Whole 30, my procrasination levels reduced quite a bit).

All in all though, I am pleased with how it’s going. The only thing I regret not doing before this was a proper “before” picture, as I feel like I have lost some weight, but I’m not 100% sure. Matt definitely has though – his t-shirts are fitting better, and his face looks a little thinner which is really great. He had a great non-scale victory today too – a coat that he hasn’t fitted into for ages, he did up. I’m so pleased for him!

Want to read my previous days? Check out:

 


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Murder on the Moors in Simonsbath

Quite early on this year, Mum said for Matt and I to make sure that we didn’t book to do anything this weekend. At the time I had an inkling of what we might be doing but wasn’t sure until it slipped out a couple of months later. Pretty much every two years, Mum and I go to the Christmas markets in Belgium or France. As we have a regular “thing”, so do Mum and my sister. Each autumn, they go to a murder mystery on Exmoor, and each year they come back and say how good it was.

My murder mystery experiences have been one of two dinner party types.  One, where everyone is assigned a role, and you have to work out whodunnit amongst yourselves. I quite enjoy these – it’s a bit of fancy dress, questionable accents, dodgy acting and food with friends. The other type is played out by actors. My last experience of this version was at Reed Hall in Exeter, and I wasn’t much of a fan. The acting was distinctly am-dram and Reed Hall didn’t get the food right at all, and I think it was too big a group of people for us all to gather what was going on and being said. It wasn’t a great experience. So when Mum said that was what we were doing this weekend, neither Matt nor I were too enthusiastic.

I’ve had a week at work which has completely knackered me out mentally, and I just wanted to sit on my bum and let my brain fall out of my ears in front of the TV. I didn’t really feel like being social. That wasn’t an option though.

At 5pm, Matt and I headed off in the dark along the North Devon link road. Once we got off the main link and into the lanes, I actually really enjoyed the drive. It was a barely-more-than single track road, pitch black, twisty and turny. My inner rally driver was unleashed and Matt pace noted the drive from the sat nav. Yeah, we’re just your regular husband and wife tarmac rally stage team… We arrived around 6pm and headed in to Simonsbath House.

I think this may have been one of the friendliest places I have ever been. The house is over 350 years old, in the middle of nowhere, nestled in a valley, wood panelled, with open fires that smell like winter.

Simonsbath Hotel

As we arrived at night, we were looking forward to seeing the house in the daylight. First though, we got settled in the room and got ready to head downstairs. I was really impressed by our room – it was lovely and spacious.

Simonsbath Hotel Room 3

I’m a sucker for a nice bathroom too. It was quite a big bathroom, well appointed, warm, and had shutters (what’s not to love about shutters!).

Simonsbath bathroom

We met Mum and Philippa in the bar. A couple of drinks later, I felt more relaxed and less uptight, and started to enjoy the evening.

The actors milled around (in character) and made small talk. There were approximately 30 people there including us. We were called to the dining room. Service was speedy and efficient (but not too efficient – despite being a fast eater, I hate being rushed). I wish I had taken photos of the food as it was presented really nicely, but I didn’t have my proper camera with me and my phone camera makes a poor substitute. My starter was partridge with bacon on romaine lettuce, drizzled with a balsamic vinegar dressing and toasted pine nuts. I haven’t had partridge before, and was expecting it to be more game-y that it was. The acting continued throughout the starter, which was quite amusing (no one had been murdered at that point). I had a little bit of plate envy when Matt’s main arrived – he’d gone for the cannelloni which smelled amazing (and quite garlicky). I’d chosen the rack of lamb with roast veggies. The lamb was perfect – pink and tender. I don’t eat much lamb as I’m not brilliant at cooking it. It always turns out tough or to be a really fatty cut. The pudding was a choice of sorbet, cheesecake or rice pudding. I haven’t had rice pudding in ages, so that was my choice. Stodgy, wintery, goodness! No dessert envy here! Sadly, during the pudding a murder occurred, shortly followed by another (murder, not pudding). Two people down and it was time to retire to the lounge for teas and coffees to solve the crimes. We weren’t an effective crime solving unit, as the third and final murder happened in front of us! I didn’t get any of the murderers right, though Mum did (well done Mum!).

Once the actors had left, we were free to do what we wanted. Philippa decided to build the fire in the lounge up a bit more, and we were visited by the owner of the hotel’s dogs – a Collie called Bramble, and a Cocker Spaniel called Fern. Bramble spent some time with us, though Fern was less bothered.

Bramble

After a natter, more tea, and visiting each others’ rooms, we went our separate ways and headed to bed. Matt and I were interested to see what the view was like in the morning. We weren’t disappointed, despite the mist.

DSC_0225

Breakfast was nice and relaxed. I had a cooked breakfast, with a lovely oozy poached egg and good toast to mop it all up with.

Despite my initial misgivings, I was really glad I didn’t just sit at home and wallow, but got out, met a few really lovely people, had a great evening with the best company, and came home with a bit more of a spring in my step. Matt and I are already thinking about going back and getting out onto the moors for a walking weekend, as well as telling some of his family about Simonsbath House, as we’re sure they’d love it too.

Have you been on a murder mystery before? Did you have a nice weekend?