Tub on the Run


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The Great 2017 Declutter

I’ve had a (very well deserved) week off with Matt this week. We had nothing planned – no day trips, no nights away. I have, however, been reading a couple of decluttering books recently (It’s The Daisy Pages’ fault!), and come to the messy house, messy head conclusion. This week was therefore going to be the Great Declutter of 2017.

Confession: I have never been a neat and tidy person. I have spells of brilliance where I am 100% a domestic goddess, but these episodes are few and far between. Eventually the clutter seeps back in and I am rifling through unreasonably large amounts of junk to find my car key, or my glasses, or whatever. This makes cleaning more of a challenge too and therefore doesn’t get done as often as it should.

About a week ago, I started feeling the need to watch some old stuff that I used to enjoy watching. Stuff like How Clean Is Your House. I bloody love Kim and Aggie. And actually, watching the available episodes on YouTube made me feel a little relieved as I realised that my house wasn’t in How Clean Is Your House territory. Coupled with this, my appetite has been off this week. Wonder why?!

This week has been devoted to decluttering, as there is no point cleaning around the clutter. 10 big bags for charity later and we’ve made a dent. There is still a lot more to go, but getting some of it gone is a relief. I’ve tackled the naff tasks that I have been putting off too, like taking the duvet to the laundrette, washing skirting boards, tidying the towel cupboard, etc.

Some “highlights” of my finds?

  • 5 bottles of nail polish remover. You know, to remove all of the nail polish I don’t wear (last time I had painted nails was 2016).
  • 2 bottles of Olbas Oil. One went out of date in 2011…
  • 2 long lost pairs of sunglasses.
  • Enough plasters to be an Elastoplast mummy for Halloween.
  • Enough pens and notepads to start my own branch of Paperchase.
  • Spare leaving cards for all of my office (even though no one is leaving any time soon).
  • 4 old mobile phones. Only 1 of which I can get some money back on.
  • 4 old laptops and 1 printer which were taken to our local Currys who can recycle old electricals safely.
  • Countless leads. What do they belong to? Who knows!
  • 12 bath towels. For two people. Oddly, we seem to be short on dish towels though. The Cats Protection that we got Tank and Timo from are now the proud owners of our old towels.
  • More yarn than I feel comfortable admitting. Thankfully, the local Cats Protection and my sister’s local animal shelter will take donations of handmade blankets so I can use up the old stuff that is left over from other projects.
  • A Fitbit and a broken Jawbone Up.

So it hasn’t been the most exciting week off, but it has been productive. There are still bits that I want to have a good sort through and donate/chuck, but my next focus is on finding a cleaning routine that really works for me.

Are you in a good cleaning/decluttering routine?  Any tips you’d care to share?

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Ultimate Coffee Date: June 2017 – the big catch up

Well hi! Long time, no speak! How are you?

I have been trying to think of the best way to actually get back into blogging again – talk about losing your stride! I figured that an Ultimate Coffee Date would probably be a good opportunity to just have a bit of a brief catch up. So settle in, grab a coffee, maybe a biscuit, and let’s get to it!

If we were having coffee, first off, I would probably try explaining my absence from my blog and make a bit of a hash of excuses. Work, mental blargh, lack of ability to form coherent sentences, life. You know, the usual. I’ve missed the blog. I enjoy writing, but I don’t like posting for posting’s sake, and if I am honest, while “life” has indeed continued along its merry way, I haven’t much felt like posting.  Which is naff. Because I haven’t posted in so long, I was also torn in my decision to go to Blogtacular or not. I went last year, and I honestly think that a second visit would probably be more useful as I wouldn’t be so nervous or unsure of what to expect. Unfortunately, I’ve left it a bit too late now, and definitely want to be in more of a blogging swing of things before I go back so that I can take more things away from it.

(Photo credit: Mollie Makes)

If we were having coffee, I’d probably look a little more relaxed than I have done recently.  I’ve just come back from a week away with my mum and sister.  It was meant to have been a family holiday, but it turned into a girls’ week away, which I think actually turned out to be better than it probably would have been, had it been a family holiday. We went to our holiday destination from when we were children – a little town in Herefordshire called Ledbury.

Photo Credit: Hoseseasons

We stayed in a Scandinavian style lodge, which has limited mobile signal, and is in the middle of nowhere, resulting in an enforced (and well needed) break away from technology for the most part. The lodge itself was really nicely decorated, and I genuinely wondered whether we could move into one permanently.  We managed to head out every day to do something – whether it was getting a bit soggy in a walk around the ruined castle at Ludlow, or sitting in the sunshine watching a rather brilliant falconry display. I have a real soft spot for owls anyway, which was completely reinforced by their burrowing owls (like “Scarp” below), and a European Eagle Owl who is foster-mum to all sorts of orphans.

If we were having coffee, I’d probably still be raving about the amazing salted caramel chocolate cake that I had when we visited the International Bird of Prey Centre this week. Sometimes, salted caramel can just be a bit “meh” and it’s always a bit of a lottery whether it’s going to be any good. But this stuff? Amazing. It was rich and chocolatey and properly-salted-caramelly. I think one of the Centre’s five labradors (this one is called Agapanthus) would have liked to help, but apparently he’d already managed to scoff someone’s birthday cake earlier in the week anyway. And besides, the cake was too good to share (and also, too good to photograph – I didn’t hang about to get stuck in!).

If we were having coffee, you’d know I was reading Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint. I haven’t ventured back to a Whole 30 or anything yet, though I know I am heading that way (sob… no more salted caramel chocolate cake… sob). In the midst of wandering around the internet (or more specifically, Instagram), I was looking for food inspiration. I follow a paleo convert called Paleo Bailey on Instagram, but didn’t realise until very recently that she also had a blog. So I hopped on over, and got reading her post about her “paleo bookshelf“. Really, I was on the hunt for another good recipe book. But I read through the list and reviews, and decided that perhaps Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint was worth a read. It’s pretty heavy on the science side, but it does make sense, and I can see me heading back to a more paleo way of life soon. I feel best on it, and that should probably be enough to tell me that I don’t want to keep chasing down my current path.

What’s new in your world? Been on holiday recently? Matt is going to Le Mans for the 24 hour race, so we’ve somehow managed to do two holidays apart this year! Oops!


Thanks as always to Deborah and Coco for hosting Ultimate Coffee Date each month! I think it’s a lovely way to catch up with and discover new blogs.


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Ultimate Coffee Date: August 2016

I completely missed July’s Ultimate Coffee Date for some reason, so I have a couple of months to get caught up on. You’ve been warned – it’s a longish one!

Over coffee, I’d tell you about the week off I had in July. My last week off was back in March, so I was definitely ready for some time off. We didn’t have anything planned as such, so we stayed at home and went out on day trips. First stop, we had a day out to Lynmouth and came back via the Doone Valley.

Lynmouth - Beyond the Sofa

It was the best day, weather wise, of the whole holiday. The sunshine was absolutely gorgeous and it really felt like summer was just coming. We walked around Lynmouth, then up the hill (which is so ridiculously steep) to look at the Cliff Railway and I was reminded that I don’t think I could have done that walk about 6 months ago because of my weight. Don’t get me wrong, I was hardly sprinting up it, but I lumbered slightly more gracefully than I would have done previously.The climb was definitely worth it for the view though!

Lynmouth Cliff - Beyond the Sofa

One of the highlights was seeing wild Exmoor ponies. I’m quite used to seeing Dartmoor ponies roaming around Dartmoor. As a family, we have spent loads of time on Dartmoor, but not much time of Exmoor.  They’re so lovely. A little further up the road, there was a mare and her foal – so adorable!

Exmoor Ponies - Beyond the Sofa

On the way home, we stopped off at the little chapel in Doone Valley. Apparently Lorna Doone was the Devonian Romeo and Juliet. I don’t remember the story at all, so Matt’s Nan dug out her copy and sent it down to me (which I still haven’t read…).

The rest of the week, we weren’t blessed with good weather, though that didn’t stop us making the most of our National Trust membership. We visited Cotehele and took Matt’s nan to Tyntesfield. That was probably one of the more rewarding days. Nan doesn’t get to go out on day trips all that often, as she isn’t so mobile these days, but we offered to take her out for the day. I never realised how hard pushing a wheelchair around all day is. I definitely got a good sweat on, going up the hills. It was totally worth it though – she enjoyed herself and we were pleased to be able to do something with her too.

Cotehele House - Beyond the Sofa

If we were having coffee, you might notice I’m a bit stiff. I’ve finished my 6 week introduction to Mysore style yoga course, and have since signed up to do one class a week. I’ve got part way through to the seated poses and it’s really challenging me. I’m enjoying it though, but I also need to make sure that I get into a better routine for some home practice.

If we were having coffee, I hope you’d see that I am quite a bit thinner than when I started the year. This is my February to July progress:

Beyond the Sofa - Feb 2016 to July 2016

My Whole 100 is going really well still. I am actually on Day 90 today, and will do a weigh in post tomorrow, but at Day 60, I was 40lbs down. I still have a long way to go, but I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going. I really thought I was going to have some food boredom but now, but I’m not feeling it at all.

If we were having coffee, we’d probably be having coffee from a paper cup at Gatcombe Horse Trials right now. As part of my birthday present, Matt bought us tickets to Gatcombe. We went a couple of years ago but I felt we didn’t make the most of it. We’d gone, not really knowing what to expect, having never been to a big horse event before. We got absolutely soaked and didn’t really get round to seeing what we wanted to.

Gatcombe 2014 - Beyond the Sofa

This year, knowing what to expect, we’re going to try and squeeze a bit more in. I’m also hoping to get to play with my camera a little bit more this time. I definitely feel like I am able to tackle the hills with relative ease now so I’m hoping to get out onto more of the cross country course.

So, that’s where I’ve been. How is life with you?


Thank you as always to Lynda, Coco and Deborah for hosting Ultimate Coffee Date.  Thanks as always to Deborah, Lynda and Coco for hosting Ultimate Coffee Date each month! I think it’s a lovely way to catch up with and discover new blogs.


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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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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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Weigh in Wednesday 12: The return

Weigh in Wednesday 12

Given that I weighed myself at the weekend, I wasn’t expecting to lose anything at all, and true to form, I have stayed the same. I’m pretty pleased about that, as my eating has been a bit sporadic over the last couple of days with my lunch being whatever I can find at whatever time I can take it. I need to make sure I carve out a bit of time to eat at a sensible time, and not the 4pm that it has been.

Good news is though, that our fridge freezer is now repaired and I can start batch cooking again. After my last batch cook, the freezer started to go on the blink (again – third time it has happened, and it’s only 7 months old), and we lost most of the meals I’d prepared. The ones we had were pretty tasty, so I am hoping to spend some of the long weekend doing a batch cook so we can get back to some sort of normal.

I’ve been giving the Whole 30 another good think. I am planning to do another one in July anyway, and I was considering sneaking another one in before then. I don’t think that my diet has gone totally awry but I do need to tidy it up a bit. Bread has snuck back in, along with microwave meals. Foor has definitely needed to come under the “convenience” category recently, as my working hours have been quite long. I’ve decided for the time being to hold off on another Whole 30 as I have a couple of evenings out and I am travelling with work (to the exotic location of Bradford…).

Anyway, other notable events this week were giving blood. I successfully gave my 11th donation. I would like to say that I am catching my mum and sister up, but that would be a massive overestimation – they’re both charging ahead in the 30s! I do wonder if losing weight will make my veins easier to find or get in to, as I seem to have problem veins.

I am very much looking forward to the bank holiday weekend. We don’t have loads planned, but I am looking forward to just taking a rest from work (says the girl who had a week off at the start of the month!).

Have you got any plans for the Easter weekend?


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Starting the decorating

If I had to sum up my March so far in a picture format, it would be this…

Faceplant

I’m not entirely sure who has done it, but I’m certain that someone has pressed the fast forward button this month. Really, it is just my work that has increased over the last couple of weeks, which I think might be due to having a week off at the start of the month.

We didn’t have any plans to go away for our week off, but decided towards the end of 2015 that as we became more settled, we should turn our attention to redecorating our house. The first room we wanted to do was our bedroom. Originally, our bedroom was painted a deep red and a mix of other neutral colours. We’d ordered and had a new carpet delivered and fitted on the day after we bought the house, so that was quickly sorted last year.

Bedroom original

It is safe to say that the previous owners’ forte did not extend to decorating. We’d already spotted a couple of “interesting” patches in other rooms (for example, the wall behind a curtain in a different room is an entirely different colour to the rest of the room, where they hadn’t taken the curtain off the pole to paint behind it…), but we didn’t think our bedroom was going to be too bad. I knew that we needed to prepare the bare bones well to make a nice job of it, but I hadn’t realised quite how much needed doing.

I’d surprised myself by filling in the dings, dents and holes and achieving a nice finish – it’s the first time I’ve used filler before. That was job number 1. I did a second review of them if I’d missed any patches or wanted a slightly smoother finish and left it to dry before sanding it back. While that was all going on, we attacked the woodwork. We realised that there was different paint on different parts of the room. Some of it had a gloss finish, some a satin, and the door frame had been painted with silk. The silk was probably the worst bit, and I think Matt died a little bit inside when we had to use a paint scraper to strip back all the silk off the wood (sanding it just won’t work, as it peels and you’d end up with a really naff finish). Matt’s not much into the prep work, more about the bigger transformation picture. I was adamant that if we were going to do it, then it was going to be done well.

Anyway, long story short, like the woodwork, there was different paint (matt v silk) on the walls too, so that needed more prep than a normal matt emulsioned wall. It definitely made me realise how much of a doddle decorating our flat had been.

Once we’d covered off the bedroom (meth lab chic anyone?), and made sure that the black cats couldn’t accidentally become white cars, over the following couple of days, I did the cutting in and the gloss and Matt did the roller work (white ceilings and gloss, B&Q Colours in Chantilly for the main walls, and Dulux’s Purple Pout for the feature wall). Surprisingly, there were no arguments, despite the immense tension of putting the new curtain pole up (we’re now the proud owners of a spirit level and power drill, and I’m convinced I should have had my salary directly transferred to B&Q this month).

Decorating

It took us a lot longer than we initially anticipated and spent the whole week sorting it out, but it was a week well spent. I’m really pleased with the result, even if I realised that our deep purple colour is actually the same as one of the brand colours at work!

The next room on the list is our spare room. That will be much easier, as it isn’t a room that we live in.

Are you a fan of decorating? Any tips you’d care to share? I’m not quite at the stage of wanting to tackle the next room yet, but anything to help speed the process along while maintaining the finish is always a good thing!