2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work


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Spring outing

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Confession time: I bunked off yesterday (technically I’m not sure I can bunk off as I’m my own boss. But you know what I mean) and headed to one of my favourite bits of the countryside (see our visit last spring here) to enjoy the fabulous spring weather. We ran and walked around Beetham and Silverdale on the Lancashire/Cumbria border, an enchanting part of the world full of ruined towers, beautiful little villages and woods that run right down to the sea.

IMG_2721Our route took us past stately homes…

IMG_2727panoramic views…

IMG_2734hundreds of spring flowers…

IMG_2728and a real live fairy door!

IMG_2729Isn’t this the cutest thing you ever saw? It was just to the side of the path by a viewpoint known as the ‘Fairy Steps’ – a very narrow path up a limestone cliff – legend has it that if you reach the top without touching the sides you’ll see a fairy/get a wish. We didn’t manage it, but we did get to see the door. I would have loved this when I was little, and to be honest it quite made my day yesterday too 🙂

IMG_2730After that we headed downhill at a brisk rate for soup and cake at the utterly phenomenal Wolfhouse Kitchen. This cafe is tucked away in a quiet corner between the woods and the sea and serves the most wonderful cakes. Indeed it was so good that we forgot to take any pics of them in our greed, went for a three mile walk afterwards to walk off lunch, went back again for more cakes and coffee and forgot for a second time to take a picture. I had a rhubarb and vanilla friand first, and then a plum, marzipan and vanilla cake. OH had a strawberry, lemon and almond bundt – twice.

No, we didn’t need to eat much when we got in yesterday evening.

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Unwinding

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I’ve recently reverted to a childhood pleasure: colouring books. This is mainly because of a lovely Christmas gift from my other half of the above book: Secret Garden by Johanna Basford. This amazing book takes colouring to a completely new level – with its minute detail and stunning designs it’s really not aimed at children. Having a quick look around the web today too, it was clear to see that lots of people use it in just the same way I do: it’s a great way to switch off and wind down.

IMG_2692I’ve been using Stabilo pens (pictured on my blogpost here last year) to colour mine and they seem to work really well, they have fine points but also enable you to colour larger areas without leaving too many tide marks. If you’re a frustrated artist looking for something creative and quick, do try this book – I’m planning on framing some of the pages when I finish them as they’re so lovely.

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In addition to my artistic endeavours, I’ve been trying a new scone recipe today:Blueberry, lime and coconut scones from a Jo Wheatley recipe in Sainsbury’s mag this month. They were absolutely delicious, but I had to use almost double the amount of milk stated to get the dough to bind together – maybe my lime was a bit small. I always find that’s a problem when recipes just state ‘juice of a lemon/lime/orange’ as the amount of juice you get varies widely. Beautiful combination of flavours though, highly recommended 🙂

 


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Ingredients for the perfect Saturday afternoon

Sunshine, warm enough to take your jacket off and roll your sleeves up.

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Miles of paths to wander and explore.

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Good company.

IMG_2531Loads of plants and wildlife – rabbits scattering ahead of us, buzzards and curlews wheeling overhead, and dazzling reed beds.

IMG_2536Quick drive home for a cafetiere of freshly ground coffee and a newly made Chocolate Guinness Cake.

IMG_2539Such an easy cake to make – one of Nigella’s recipes – and I follow the recipe exactly except I use half the icing sugar in the topping as I don’t like really sweet icing. It would be a great first cake to make as it’s such a simple technique and tastes absolutely sublime. It’s probably not that low calorie though, so we only make it on special occasions (it’s my birthday this week :-)).

IMG_2542Honestly, make it. You won’t regret it. Unless you are trying to wear something close fitting tomorrow.


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Luscious lemon cake

IMG_2417The baking of the lemon cake was postponed last night, as on closer examination the loaf tin size suggested in Sainsbury’s magazine seemed to have been a misprint – I couldn’t find anywhere on line that sold loaf tins that were 13cm x 7cm, and my small tin was way bigger than that, plus the quantities seemed strangely small. So I resorted to the tried and tested BBC Good Food Lemon drizzle cake instead, and it worked perfectly.

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It’s cooling now and will shortly be demolished by myself and my other half who’s just returned from a long run (and I had a run this morning too, so we’ve earned it. No question.)


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I love weekends

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It’s warm, quiet, the house smells of mixed spice and there are rock cakes cooling on the kitchen worktop. There’s a tickly feeling at the back of my throat as I try to fight off the cold that OH has had since New Year, but a cup of tea and warm cake is making it go away nicely. I had a fantastic lie-in this morning, the food shop is out of the way, and I am mulling over which creative project to go and do next (probably my crewel embroidery that’s been the fave choice so far this week).

Can we have weekends every day please?


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Solstice

I always love this day – it feels like the year is turning again and all of the delights of another year and another spring to come are laid out before you. Logically, I know we haven’t even hit winter yet, but it doesn’t stop me feeling ridiculously optimistic. Tiny step by tiny step, after today there will be more light each day, and in the next couple of weeks we’ll start to see the first bulbs pushing their way up. If ever there was a time for anticipation, this is it.

I finished work yesterday for Christmas and am thoroughly enjoying all the preparation for the big day. Most of the food is bought (in a surprisingly quiet store), presents are wrapped (though need more bows and ribbon), and there’s time for stories by the fire with coffee and mince pies. I’ve also dug out some of my favourite festive reads: one of them I thought would be worth sharing with you:

IMG_2336The book is ‘Images of Christmas’ by Dorothy Boux and Eliane Wilson and it’s all handwritten in this beautiful calligraphy script. I’ve had the book since I was a teenager – calligraphy was one of my pastimes then – and every Christmas I look at it again and the poems, drawings and stories still enchant me.

IMG_2337Do you have any favourite festive reads to recommend? If so, please share!

 


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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 🙂