2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work


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Joys of running

I am loving my running at the moment. I’ve been doing a really slow build programme the last couple of months and am now covering just over 3 miles when I head out. Now I know this is nothing by most runners’ standards, but for someone who couldn’t even get round a 400m track at school, this is an achievement.

One of the things that has made a real difference for me is being able to do it in the middle of the day now that I work for myself (it still feels strange saying that). I find it makes a perfect break after several hours slaving over a hot laptop, and whatever stress has accumulated over the morning has gone by the time I get back.

IMG_2150Of course, it helps no end being able to get out into nature rather than just streets.

IMG_2148The local park is less than 10 minutes away at a slow jog, and most of the way is off-road down a disused railway line, usually deserted apart from the odd dogwalker in the middle of the day and often home to several squirrels.

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So many amazing colours as the leaves give it one last, final blast before winter.

IMG_2151I’d have had to do a lot more than 3 miles though to work off tonight’s tea: cheese, apple, onion and thyme pie from BBC Good Food.

IMG_2156Honestly, I don’t know who thinks up these portion sizes. Serves 10??? Not a chance 🙂


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Sunday outing

Finally, a bright and sunny day that meant I could get a few decent photographs. I’m finding it harder to get inspiration for blogging when the light levels are so poor – everything seems permanently in gloom or artificial light. We headed out to the dunes for a walk to see a particularly brilliant patch of reeds that my other half had seen when he was out running earlier in the week.

IMG_2101I really love this part of town – you feel such a long way from everyone and everything, and there are so many paths that you never take the same walk twice. We still keep finding parts we’ve never seen before.

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IMG_2117You get a good idea of the terrain in the above photo – loads of little hills, infant woodlands and every now and again fantastic glimpses across the bay as you reach the crest of a dune. Also, in the middle of the picture, you can just see the magnificent sweep of reeds that fills the whole of one hollow with silky, feathery reeds as tall as my head.

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I’d never seen reeds en masse like this before and they were just stunning in the bright sun.

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IMG_2127I could just imagine the characters from ‘The Wind in the Willows’ exploring the little streams round here.

Tea tonight was appropriately hearty after all the fresh air and exercise: leek, potato and celery soup…

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IMG_2134…followed by apple and sultana crumble with custard. Easy prep food for a restful Sunday.

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Good things about Autumn No. 3

IMG_19821. Your lunchtime walk (running off the agenda till I shake this cough) is suddenly a lot more colourful.

IMG_19922. Blue sky looks a whole lot bluer when contrasted with golden leaves.

IMG_19933. Scrunching through the leaves is on the agenda once more.

IMG_19974. Potatoes dauphinoise for tea seems entirely appropriate and a wise precaution to keep the cold out 🙂


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Productive Day

We had our regular blackberrying outing again this morning while the sun was putting in a brief appearance and will be heading to the kitchen shortly to get some crumble on.

IMG_1856It really is the season of berries – saw a blackbird this morning with his beak crammed full of yew berries:

IMG_1844I’ll be surprised if there are any of these left in the next few days. Oddly, the rose hips seem to stay on all winter – they look so attractive you’d think the birds would go straight for them, but not round here.

IMG_1846Had a go at making tomato relish this afternoon as the rain started, it was a Chantelle Grady recipe from the first edition of Simple Things magazine published last year. I’m not really sure how relish differs from chutney – I’m guessing less sugar, less boiling and therefore less keeping time – but it was so good it won’t be around long, trust me. This (tomatoes, apples, garlic, onion, vinegar, mustard, thyme, garam masala)…

IMG_1853 …turned into this after about 90 mins cooking.

IMG_1860We had it for tea with the courgette and potato fritters also featured in the same recipe – they were like a very decadent sort of bubble and squeak, using mashed potato mixed with grated courgette/egg/flour and an incredible amount of parmesan which, let’s face it, is never a bad idea, providing you don’t need to move again for the rest of the evening. Slight pause before that crumble, I think.


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New berries, new growth, new recipe

Lords and Ladies, Cuckoo Pint, Jack in the Pulpit, Wild Arum – call it what you will, its berries are pretty spectacular just now. They’ll be gone in a  couple of days – the blackbirds can’t resist them – but for now they’re lighting up a small corner of the garden.

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The raspberry is also sending up the thorniest new stems I’ve ever seen…

IMG_1829They look like fur until you touch them!

New recipe for tea tonight – Toover dhal with with lime and coriander leaf dumplings. I love getting all the ingredients out on the worktop before I start! It’s great to know exactly what’s gone into what you’re eating.

IMG_1830Unfortunately, the finished result was pretty bland despite all the herbs and spices, although the dumplings puffed up beautifully (never made dumplings with olive oil as the fat before, but worked well). I’ve cooked a few different dhal recipes, and although they’re usually edible, they never seem to have enough flavour. Lentils just seem like a vacuum that can absorb any other flavours like a sponge. So any hints if you’re a dhal master very welcome!


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Quietening down

By Friday evening, I was wired. I’d not had a bad week – in fact, a lot of it had been really good – but I was just buzzing with it all. The last few nights I’d been waking about 3am, or getting up at 5.30 to start work because I just couldn’t stop thinking about all the exciting stuff that needed doing. I’ve learned from previous experience that this is a sign I need to take time out before work starts to tip from being fun to being stressful, so was adamant that I was going to close the laptop Friday night and not open it again till Monday.

Apart from a quick check of emails (5 mins only) at the start of the day, I’ve stuck to that resolution, and boy do I feel better for it. Today we went for a five mile walk by the sea front mid morning and took sandwiches for a picnic – something I’m not sure we’ve ever done from home. It was surprisingly quiet away from the beach and  was so relaxing to walk in the sun, listen to the birds, look at the flowers and just chill.

IMG_1646There seemed to be so many burnet moths about today and they’re quite happy to pose for photos, unlike butterflies which never stay still for a minute.

IMG_1647The flowers on the dunes are gradually tipping over into high summer – swathes of geraniums today…

IMG_1649…while the first scabious and centaury were just coming out.

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IMG_1652We ate our cheese butties on a hill overlooking the dunes and just drank in the wonderful weather and families of goldfinches flying past (think the correct name is a ‘charm’ of goldfinches, which seems perfect for this lovely bird).

After an afternoon in the garden flitting from sun to shade whenever we were in danger of overheating, finished off the day by trying a new recipe – Pea, Mint and Halloumi fritters from Perfect Host by Felicity Cloake. It was meant to be a brunch recipe for 6 – so of course I made the full amount for the 2 of us (some of the ingredients were hard to scale down – that’s my excuse). Really lovely and quite easy, although I did use an awful lot of bowls for the various stages.

IMG_1658I have to say the bright pea green cakes matched our patio table perfectly! Sunshine+flowers+nature+good food = one chilled person, ready for whatever next week brings 🙂


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Thanks very much!

Lots of thanks tonight to Poppy whose blog Poppy’s Patisserie/Bunny Kitchen about making 5 minute flatbreads prompted my other half to say last night ‘Those look nice and easy, I’ll have a bash at them to go with the curry tomorrow night’.

So he did.

IMG_1621And they were delicious. Just the right amount of spice and really quick – I think I have made naan bread in the past but seem to recall it taking ages.

IMG_1620They didn’t puff up quite the same as Poppy’s but that might well have been because the dough had to hang around a bit while I was catching up on some work emails when I came in – so have made a note to do at the last minute next time. Great idea, elevated the curry to a whole new level – thanks!