Tub on the Run


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Foodie Penpals – May 2013 Reveal

This month’s Foodie Penpals went much better than last month (well, certainly from my perspective).  I felt much more confident buying produce this time round, having spoken more to my Foodie Penpal.  I was paired with Stephanie and Luke at Foodylicious (I sent to them), and Alena was the person sending me a parcel (Alena doesn’t have a blog for me to link to).

As I said, I found the sending experience much easier, having gained more information in the first place and I was able to time my shopping for this with the County Show.  The County Show provided the perfect setting to shop for local, independent produce.  You can see Stephanie and Luke’s post for this month here.

Alena asked me what I wanted, and I said a mix of good and naughty, and, what can I say?  She done good!

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M was under strict instruction not to let me eat all of the bad stuff in one sitting.  There were a couple of things that I felt I had to try straight away.  The lime chilli chocolate was amazing.  I was a little bit apprehensive, as I am not 100% sold on chilli chocolate, and I can’t recall the last time I saw lime and chocolate together.  What have I been missing!  The chocolate was deliciously smooth, with a hint of lime.  It made me think of grown up chocolate limes.  I couldn’t taste the chilli at first, but after swallowing the chocolate, I felt a really lovely warmth.  It wasn’t a bitter chilli taste, but just a nice heat.  M tried a bit and wasn’t as convinced, but I will definitely be keeping my eye out for this in the future.

Alena had obviously done her research and kindly sent me two Nakd bars (that Kit at What a Peach had introduced me to last month).  Yeah, these didn’t last too long either, though they did make it to the car for our camping trip.  The Reese’s Nutrageous bar was interesting.  I am a huge fan of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (these lasted a remarkably long time for me!) and the whole peanuts in the bar gave it another texture.  It was nice, but I definitely couldn’t eat too many, as they’re very sweet.  However, I’m not complaining – my sweet tooth has been demanding indulgence.

I didn’t realise I like dried dates either.  I like dried fruit, but have tended to stay away from dates and figs.  It might be because of their size, I don’t know.  I have snacked on these since we came back from our camping trip (trying not to leave the stones lurking around, as the cats find them fun to play with).  I’ve yet to try to goji berries or nuts, but I’m sure they’ll be tasty.

Huge thanks to Alena for kindly putting together such a superb package – I have thoroughly enjoyed munching my way through the contents!  Also, thank you to Carol Anne at This is Rock Salt for organising the UK arm of this fab idea.

If you fancy getting involved in Foodie Penpals, check out the information for UK bloggers here, or here for those based in the States.

Roll on next month’s matches!


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Tub’s County Show Write Up

Brace yourself, it’s a long one.  There are pictures though.

Yesterday was one of my favourite days of the year.  This year, it was even sweeter as it was my first day off (excepting Bank Holidays and weekends) since Christmas.

I love the County Show.  I love the build up to it, the reminder that I live in an amazing part of the country, and that at heart I am a country girl, even though I dabble in thoughts of moving to a bigger city.  I also love that it is a day that I get to spend with my mum.  I hold dear the time I get to spend with my family and spending the day out with mum is one of the highlights of my year.

Life didn’t go quite according to plan in the morning.  I thought I’d set myself up for the day with a bowl of porridge.  No porridge.  This virtually never happens.  Ok, Plan B – scan bran (Slimming World super-tough cardboard-like Ryvita to non-Slimming Worlders) with cottage cheese and peanut butter (not together – that’s just plain wrong).  I’d never tried scan bran before.  It’s like chewing, well, the unchewable.  Mum appeared just as I finished the second biscuit (there were another two that I was meant to eat, but had jaw ache so couldn’t).  We caught the bus to Westpoint and started our wander.

012First stop, the alpacas.  The problem with the County Show is that I get all “animal broody”.  I would have a farm if I could.  Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be a farmer, but I’d just like that land to house the animals I’d love to own.  Alpacas are one of these animals.  I mean, just look at that face…

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Plus, you could spin their fleece and make stuff out of it.  I’m allergic to sheep wool, but alpaca wool doesn’t seem to be an issue.  From the alpacas, we wandered down (via the RAC stand, a dog treat company and the Guide Dogs for the Blind stand) to the game area (game of the animal variety).  I love the birds of prey, I find them fascinating.  I caught a picture of these beauties (don’t worry, no dogs were hurt in the making of this stand).

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Then it was on to the heavy horses.  I used to ride, and ride well.  I’m currently too heavy to get back into the saddle, but it doesn’t stop me day dreaming about starting riding again, or one day owning my own horse.  I adore the gentle giants that are heavy horses, and I’m always amazed by their ability to pull such huge weights.

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I was especially impressed by the horse on the right, Charlie.  This was Charlie’s first show, and hasn’t long been broken by the sounds of it.  He got a little twitchy when he was bored, but otherwise was impeccably behaved.

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So, that would be an addition to my fantasy farm.  I lie, I’d probably have a whole stable of various breeds/classes of horses.  After wishlisting my stable, and looking at some of the classic motorbikes…

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… It  was coffee time, followed by a visit to the mohair and angora tent.  Add sheep and goats to my farm.  I have always loved goats.  No idea why, but even now I think they’re great.

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At this point we were getting quite hungry, so we made our way to the food tent.  We went there via the Young Farmers tent, in the hope of seeing my godfather’s son for a catch up.  As it happened, we bumped into him in the food tent, shortly after purchasing our bread for lunch.  I had a wonderfully fragrant and equally as delicious spelt bread with red onion, rosemary and feta, while mum opted for a cheese and onion spelt bread.  Pudding was a spelt fruit bread.

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The savoury breads were accompanied by a small bag of cheese bits.  Mum’s was washed down with a pint of Old Moggy (a real ale from Teignworthy Brewery).  I don’t much like real ale, so stuck to my squash.  Unfortunately the rain started as we were eating, but it didn’t dampen spirits – rain is usual fare for the County Show, and we were prepared.

After lunch, we went back to the food tent and completed a couple of laps, purchasing bits and bobs along the way.  I bought all of the things for my Foodie Penpal this month – all independent business.  One great discovery I made was Tea’s Me.  Aside from loving the play on words, I really like spearmint tea.  I was introduced to it when I had my first “proper” job.  Apparently spearmint tea has a whole host of benefits.  Twinings do a camomile and spearmint tea, but I find it is too camomiley, not enough mint.  After a quick swig of a tester at the stand, this spearmint and green tea is the perfect blend.  I don’t like green tea on its own, but you can’t taste it in this.  For £3.50, it’s a real bargain.

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When the rain became a little too persistent, we sought shelter in the BBC tent, where live bands were playing, waiting the weather out until it was dry enough to go to the main arena.  In the waiting area, the South Devon Hunt (well, the Hunt Master and hounds) were getting ready.  I was really surprised by how friendly the hounds were.   Not that I expected them to be vicious, but they’re working dogs, not pets.  The other thing I was surprised about was that they hunt with hawks still.  I’d add dogs into the mix on my imaginary farm, along with a hunter or two.

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That concluded our mum/daughter day out, revelling in all things Devonian.  I was glad it was a rest day, as my legs are stiff.  However, before I disappear to get on with my weekend, I would just like to share a non-scale victory.  This time last year, at the show, I arrived home with an incredibly sore back, knees and ankles, and that was with a lot of sitting down throughout the day.  This time round, nearly 3 stone lighter, I have sore knees from slow walking, but no other maladies to complain of.


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Tub’s 1st Foodie Penpals – April Reveal

So my first month of Foodie Penpals has been and gone.  It was a really great experience, but I struggled a little bit with what to put in my parcel, so I think I need to tweak my email a bit more to get the best of the information so I feel more confident with what I send.  It was a good experience though, and I did enjoy it.  It has made me think that I need to plan it all a bit better.

My parcel went overseas to a lady called Nathalie.  I shopped locally, and sent some shortbread (who doesn’t love shortbread!), a jar of handmade chutney, chilli crisps/rice puffs, and some chilli chocolate from the South Devon Chilli Farm.  It was surprisingly difficult to stay within the £10 budget.  I should have taken some pictures too, as Nathalie doesn’t have a blog, but never mind!  I know for next time.

So, onto the very exciting bit…  I had been like a child waiting for Christmas to arrive for days.  M always gets to the top of the stairs before I do, and I had been asking for the last couple of days “anything for me?”.   A parking ticket letter, yes.  Foodie Penpals package, no.  But then, the day came and it was carted off to the living room, scissors in hand to break into my box of foodie goodness (it was incredibly well packaged and taped!).  Inside was a beautiful card (I’d been interviewing designers all day, so I probably paid even more attention to the patterns on the card than on a normal day – though I do love good stationary, and could spend a fortune in Paperchase) with a lovely handwritten note from Kit at What a Peach, explaining the contents of the box and some serving suggestions.  Then, into the box…

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I swear Kit is a kindred spirit of shopping trolleys!  I am a fan of Japanese food, and can’t wait to use the black soba noodles in yasai yaki soba (my favourite Wagamama dish – recipe book courtesy of my sister a couple of years ago).  I’ll be topping it with the Japanese sea salad too.  All this new food to try – so exciting!

I had to try one of the Nakd banana bread bars immediately, and it was love at first bite.  How have these beauties escaped my notice until now?!  I have a real soft spot for banana based products – banana cakes, breads, chips, milkshakes, bananas themselves…  You name it, there’s a good chance I’ll love it.  After snaffling the first one, a second one started staring at me, calling my name.  I reasoned (perhaps unreasonably) that it was fine to have a second one (about 10 minutes after the first), as I hadn’t had lunch because work was so crazy, and I had spinning in half an hour.  So I sat down, and slowly ate the second one.  Wow!  So tasty!  I am not sure how I would keep them in the house, so when I buy some I may ask M to hide them from me and allow me one when I’ve had a low-syn day.  Of course, there’s a reason I love them – they’re 10.5 syns!  Oops.  There are lower syn bars though, so I think I could definitely work my way through the range in time (whilst practising that pesky “moderation”).  Can you tell I am totally taken with these?!

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The dark chocolate will be reserved for a sweet treat with a cuppa.  It’s the only way really.  I could grate it into a yogurt or something, but I doubt it’ll make it to that point.

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The two jars were a local honey – so handy, as I have just about run out of honey for my porridge (and I have to have honey or peanut butter in my porridge).  Strangely, I only like honey with meat, or in salad dressings or porridge.  As a child, I always remember the rest of my family having honey sandwiches for Friday tea, and I had jam as I didn’t like honey.  I won’t actually lick it off the spoon either.  Weirdo.  The peanut butter is smoooooooth.  I usually buy crunchy, and have a pot of Whole Earth crunchy on the go, but will definitely be using the smooth in stir fries (and Kit has inspired me to hunt down a gado gado recipe to try).

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Last but not least – some lovely L’Occitane soap and a Pukka tea.  I’m on a real fruit/herbal tea kick at the moment (though to my dismay had bought raspberry leaf tea, which I didn’t know was meant to bring on labour at the end stages of pregnancy – hope no one thinks I’m pregnant!).  The soap and tea will be my Sunday bath treat after my run.

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So, a huge thank you to Kit – I’m so pleased with what I received, and love that I get to try new stuff that I would just never think to pick up.  You’ve picked some really great things, and I just can’t wait to try it all!

Thank you also to Carol Anne at This is Rock Salt for coordinating the UK & European contingent.  I can’t wait for next month’s instalment!

If you’d like to see what Kit received from her Foodie Penpal, head on over to her post here.

I have also made a mental note to research taking good pictures, so hopefully May’s Foodie Penpals will have some better quality pictures.


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Tub joins Foodie Penpals

After mooching around other people’s blogs a month or so ago, I came across the Foodie Penpals badge on 111lbs‘ blog.  There’s me thinking “Wow!  What a great idea!  Shame there isn’t a UK version” (Foodie Penpals originally started up in the States under the Lean Green Bean).  Then I start thinking “tut, American bloggers do all the good stuff in blog world”.  I then jumped over to the Lean Green Bean’s blog, and saw a couple of UK submissions, so I thought perhaps there is a UK contingent.  After reading the “How it works” bit, there’s a link to Carol Anne at This is Rock Salt who looks after the European side.

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Now, Tub loves writing.  Tub also loves parcels.  This Foodie Penpals thing sounds like two great things rolled into one.  After I’d read around the How It Works (UK style), the terms and conditions, and how you go about signing up, as well as a couple of blog posts on Reveal Days, I signed up.  What is not to love!  Writing + parcels = happy Tub!

I signed up in time for April, and I’m very excited about getting my penpal names tomorrow, and an ensuing weekend of produce hunting.

I keep meaning to post a bit on buying from independent businesses, and it seems like a good time to raise this.  I live in a sleepy little seaside town, where there isn’t a huge amount of trade.  It’s mostly full of charity shops and takeaways (I know, I’m really selling it!).  There are also some fab little independent businesses around, but they are dwindling in their numbers, and more and more shop spaces seem to become available, only to be replaced with another takeaway or charity shop.  It makes me sad.  It makes me sad that people didn’t support that business enough for the people to make a living.  Then I stand back and realise that I probably never shopped there either, which makes me even sadder.  And I wonder why my hometown is dying on its feet?!

As a bit of background, my parents have a model train shop in Exeter.  They’re independent.  Both my father and mother have worked very hard to provide for our family over the years, and undoubtedly there are other shop owners in similar circumstances.  While I don’t share the hobby that my parents cater to, it does make me think I need to support independent businesses more.  Don’t get me wrong, large companies have their place, and everyone has to suit their budget.  But I would like to be more responsible in my buying habits, and buy from local businesses more – they’re people like my dad after all.  Ok, the £10 per month on Foodie Penpals isn’t any great shakes, but it’s more than I’ve done before.  I am going to source my Foodie Penpals’ product from independent businesses.  There are other areas that I can do this too – and I’ll get to this.  I think this is very much a work in progress.

Business as usual for exercise – I’m off to kettlebells tonight.  I think I shall treat myself to a bath after that tonight, given my muscles were sore after last week (sore seems such a small word for such pain).