Monday, 31 August 2015

Walk with me

We have enjoyed a beautifully warm and sunny day today here on the south coast of Cornwall

The grass had been mowed, the washing is blowing on the line and my walking shoes were singing songs of temptation

Take a little wander with me around one of the many walks in and around our home town

Leaving our house and crossing the road, I entered the small park which sits directly opposite our home

Through the park and out of the other side you can just glimpse our house through the trees

Once through the park, you can either take the chalk track along the stream

If you took this track you would pass a lovely view of our local church

You would continue past our home team's football ground, and if you followed the path to it's conclusion, rejoining a second route over a road and headed towards the trees you can see in the distance, you would be at the Eden Project, which is nestled just behind those two hills

But if you opted for the track on the other side of the stream, there is a gentle amble through a small wooded area

Which gradually opens out a little

And then meets the same road that the other track comes to

Both these little walks lead inland, where the landscape is lush and green, peacefully perfect for a warm afternoon's gentle stroll

Among all the abundant greenery there are always plentiful little bursts of colour peeping through ferns and ivy

What a beautiful way to spend an hour on a bank holiday

Love and simple pleasures


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Annie Sloan Altered Drawers

Before moving house, my friend Carole and I had a little craft shopping spree, our local 'The Works'  were selling some beautiful scrapbook papers at a very reasonable price, I also couldn't resist this little set of wooden drawers, the whole unit measures approximately 12 inches square

Along with many a bargain, this small unit ended up being stored away semi-forgotten, until I needed a 'trial run' kind of project to test-drive my Annie Sloan paints

I used the white and the French Linen with the clear soft wax over the top

And the finished drawers - et voila !

They now reside in AJ and Rob's room, housing all manner of teenage boy treasures, as they match the much larger pieces I have since completed

I was really happy with the washed out, beachy look and they perfectly complement the boys room, but I must warn you - this shabby chic, Annie Sloan phenomenon is dreadfully addictive, I find myself deliberately looking for ugly or unloved furniture just so that I can perform a mini-makeover.

Love and a lick of paint


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

An alternative journey

Up to present, I have mainly blogged about our journey from Lincolnshire to Cornwall, but I have also recently embarked on another journey,  a weight-loss and healthy 'new me' journey

I have tried Slimming World before - and it worked, but I made excuses about not having time, difficulties in preparing meals when I am also cooking gluten-free for AJ and Neil and vegan for Amy  - any excuse really to put it aside and sink back into eating the usual staples and a few too many treats

I live in Cornwall for crying out loud, it would be positively rude to not sample all the many variations on the Cornish Pasty, all those scrumptious scones with luscious thick cream and extra fruity jam, not to mention the absolutely wonderful ciders

But.. since my last foray into the world of speed foods and syns I have gained the pounds I had lost and a few extra too

As usual it was dear hubby who took the brunt of my moaning about clothes not fitting, my huffing and puffing as I tried to walk ( there aren't many flat areas in Cornwall) and the deep sighs as I once again binged on something naughty and then regretted it the moment it had passed my lips

So, as a surprise ( and to no doubt stop my whinging ) Neil enrolled me at our local group and paid three months worth of subscriptions up front (no excuses now !)

Elaine and the girls all made me feel incredibly welcome and so the first step was taken

I am three weeks in and loving it

One of the key tools I have started using to keep me on track ( as well as my food diary and my fit log) has been to menu plan for at least a week and do all the shopping in one go ( on a full stomach so that I don't get tempted)

Here's this weeks menu plan which does include a recipe or two out of this months magazine

I am still at the stage where I have to keep checking my food optimising book

I am not terribly rigid with what I have on a particular day, sometimes I swap the meals around a little depending on what I fancy, but I know I have all the ingredients to hand and that the syns are already worked out for my main meals

Here are some of the meals I have been enjoying in the last couple of weeks

Slimming World quiche with a huge salad, the only syns are in the mayo ( lighter than light Helman's)

Most of my breakfasts now include fruit of some description, this time it was a couple of bananas, fat-free yoghurt and mixed berries

An alternative accompaniment to the slimming world quiche - mushrooms, new potatoes and baked beans, all free and unlimited

And a new ( to me) recipe - diet cola chicken with wholegrain rice, this was sooooooo tasty and syn free

Homemade chicken kievs with steamed veggies

Huge mixed salad, always free and also a speed food, I added ham to this and a balsamic dressing

Spicy Thai beef and vegetable rice - again totally syn free

Fruit platters are becoming one of my favourite 'go-to's 'for either breakfast or a light lunch

Baked basil cod with roast tomatoes and garlicky mash

And tonights meal was Slimming World fish and chips, asparagus, tomatoes and peas

Most of my meals are syn free or very low in syns, this leaves me plenty of room to have a drink or two at the weekend and treats during the day, I snack on popcorn, a little cheese, fruit or muller light yoghurts

I have not yet been hungry and I have really enjoyed trying lots of new recipes, and the bonus is that I have managed to quite easily adapt the recipes for both the gluten free and the vegan peeps

And finally the stats

Starting weight (12.8.15) - 13st 2lb
Current weight 12st 12.5lb
In the last three weeks I have slowly but surely lost a grand total of 5lb

I am aiming to get to 10st and my Club 10 weight is 11st 12.5lb

So, I have a long way to go, but to be honest, this time it doesn't feel like a diet

So thankyou to Neil for my subscription, Elaine for being so supportive and so fun and all the girls for their warm welcome

Love and lighter living


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Teetering on the soapbox

I touched upon the subject of cooking in yesterdays post, how much I am enjoying using a well planned and efficient kitchen to prepare my meals.

You may have also noticed some of the cookbooks I used are vegan ( for my daughter Amy's meals) and gluten free (for my son AJ and hubby)

I cannot possibly leave the subject of gluten free cooking without addressing the appalling article led by the Daily Mail and closely followed by several other tabloids

I have long since stopped reading newspapers, as, at best they are ok for fish and chip wrappings, at worst they are inflammatory, lie-mongering weapons of mass hysteria

The NHS does NOT spend the reported millions on Coeliac NHS prescriptions, it spends a fraction of what has been reported

Coeliacs do NOT get free reign to order junk food and sweets on their prescriptions

The TINY bit of help a Coeliac receives in the form of a prescription is surely contributing to a healthier patient with less symptoms and complications - both long term and short term, therefore resulting in less treatment, fewer prescriptions and a reduction in costlier procedures and treatments later

AJ receives a prescription at the moment. At diagnosis we were given a list by his consultant of NHS approved foods and I can tell you categorically that it did NOT contain any puddings, cakes or sweet treats

AJ receives Pasta, flour, bread, pizza bases and crackers, all his meals are cooked from scratch and are healthy and nutritious

Try shopping for gluten free items and ingredients yourself, they are scarce, overpriced and inconsistent in availability, but for AJ and all his fellow coeliacs they are vital to keeping healthy

There are so many other prescriptions and groups of people that should be targeted if the NHS were indeed overprescribing, a recognised, diagnosed and totally incurable disease should not be one of them !

AJ's latest prescription contained the above ingredients, I use the staples to supplement the other ingredients I need to buy to give my son a healthy and varied diet. There is indeed pizza bases, we make our own pizzas with fresh ingredients and the two bases he receives provide a small treat twice a month

This week I have used the flour to bake two cakes and some sausage rolls

I tweaked the recipe on the back of the box for the Juvella flour for this chocolate sponge cake

I also made some scotch eggs from a traditional recipe by switching out some of the ingredients for gluten free variations

You can read Coeliac UK's response to the daily Mail article HERE

Neil CHOOSES to be gluten free as he has read numerous documents that suggests gluten can be inflammatory to some of the conditions associated with MS, this is his choice and although he does feel better for eliminating gluten from his diet, he has NOT been diagnosed with Coeliac disease and therefore is NOT entitled to any prescriptions for gluten free products. On the other hand AJ has been diagnosed with Coeliac disease and has been under treatment for vitamin deficiencies (caused by the damage in his gut from previously eating a gluten containing diet)

On a positive note, AJ has been gluten free for 18 months now, he has gone from being under 7 stone ( at 6'1") at diagnosis to 10.5 stone and 6'3"

From suffering severe daily headaches and an upset stomach for much of the week, AJ is now largely pain free 

AJ had become lethargic, sedentary and very quiet, a little withdrawn to be honest, fortunately his diet has brought me back the happy-go-lucky, laid back and fun boy he always used to be

Daily Mail - get your facts straight, speak to those in the know (without misquoting and embellishing those facts) and consult a Coeliac before printing such utter b****cks in the future !

Love and healthy eating


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

All booked up

This beautiful oak bookcase was my 'new home' gift from Neil

Doubly special, because, not only was it a complete surprise, it also houses my entire collection of Charles Dickens as though it was made for them

My grandad left me this collection, he wanted me to have something special to remember him by and asked me whilst he was still with us what would mean the most to me

I cannot picture my grandad without him being surrounded by books, he read voraciously and helped impart a love of reading to my younger self, he taught himself a vast knowledge of history, geography and endless other subjects through his love of literature

Being a naval man grandad also had a love of the coast and water in general, another trait he passed on to his granddaughter. He is always in my thoughts especially when I can see the sea and smell the ozone, so this bookcase with its nautical shape, snugly creating a special home for my beloved collection of the books, I know have been held in his hands, read and enjoyed, will be treasured forever

The bookcase has pride of place between the two higher windows in the centre of our sitting room

I am storing my cookery books and stationary in the drawers and cupboard below the shelves

Not enclosed in the cupboard and currently in the kitchen are :
Phil Vickery's Seriously Good Gluten Free Cooking
Ella Woodward's Deliciously Ella
And my Slimming World magazine and Simply Summer recipe books

I have been slowly cooking my way through these in turn, I am in love with my new kitchen and all its appliances, cooking has never been so much fun ( there will be more about Slimming World in a separate post)

Finally, on my bedside table this week, I have :
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn ( yes I know - I am seriously late to the party with this one)
and Nothing to Lose by Lee Child

I have just finished Gone Girl, I didn't seem to have time to read it when the hype first started.
Absolutely brilliant book, I really enjoyed the writing style, the twists and turns and the clever way the author developed the characters with her choice of language. But the jury is still out on the ending, it was unexpected and seemed a little hurried to me. I enjoyed the fact that the book didn't tie all the ends up completely and didn't follow the usual conclusions but I didn't enjoy the final couple of chapters as much as the rest of the book ( I daren't say any more as I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't yet read it - if there is indeed anyone left !)

And my latest Jack Reacher. I am still working my way through the Lee Child collection, in no particular order. Lee has a very specific style and follows a formula with these novels which may become predictable I am sure, but they are my version of what I like to call 'brain dead entertainment'. They are the literary equivalent of  Die Hard and to be honest they are always a page turner for me. I don't have to think too much, no need to concentrate and I can pick them up and put them down in between other activities, perfect to intersperse with more thought provoking reading matter. And who doesn't love a little murder and mayhem once in a while ?

One criticism, not with the book but with the film, who the Dickens thought Tom Cruise could possibly fill the roll of Jack Reacher ? Jack is 6"5', muscle bound at 250 lbs and has a 50' chest !!! Tom is most definitely not - come on casting guys - what were you thinking - Hugh Jackman anyone ???

Love and written treasures


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Blazing a trail

To pick up where I left off in my previous blog post,  yes we did find our new home

It certainly wasn't any of the first houses we looked at, in fact, the price had placed it out of our search criteria and finding it was a fortuitous twist of fate

We had  booked a viewing in a town called Par, the viewing went a little awry, there was a mix-up with the keys, so we had to wander around the town while the Estate agent contacted the vendor, the house smelled damp and was darker than the photographs had led us to believe, the garden was too small for our growing menagerie, in short, it wasn't 'the one'

Before heading out to our next viewing we searched out the local pub for a comfort break

As we sipped our ciders and gathered our thoughts, the landlord made polite conversation. We shared our disappointment of the viewing but also mentioned how we had found a gem in the town, we loved the area but couldn't find anything else here suitable. Matt mentioned that a friend was selling a house that he had just finished renovating, in nearby St Blazey and offered to take us there to have a look ( he actually shut the pub and took us the mile down the road )

It wasn't the kind of house we were looking for, we were looking for a bungalow, but it just had such a happy feeling. The refurb had just been finished and the whole house was immaculate from top to bottom, brand new plastering, paint, woodwork and best of all the fabulous high spec kitchen and two new bathrooms both with showers and one downstairs which was an absolute bonus.

The view from the conservatory door looks out onto an old cottage- a listed building, beyond that is a beautiful wooded area and park with a duck pond, the level crossing is just beyond the cottage, over which is a canal and a small stream

We have started tidying the garden, all the flower beds had been neglected the fences had been left unpainted, the old post box you can see on the wall in the bottom picture (filled with rocks to hold it down) has been replaced with the shiny new red one on the wall of the house in the top picture.

We have been painting and renewing fences, the dirty grey rendering on the walls has been painted white and we have refilled the flower beds with new topsoil, ready for plants and flowers, photos will be shared of the progress we make

So, by happenchance and the helpfulness of the local landlord we found a house that would have otherwise remained undiscovered in our new hometown of St Blazey.

St Blazey is a small town  on the south coast of Cornwall just 3 miles east of St Austell

St Blazey is the home of the incredible Eden project, just one mile and easily within walking distance of our house

We are home to two lovely beaches too

Par Beach, which is approximately 1.5 miles away from the house 

And Spit beach which is slightly nearer at a mile away, both fabulous places to take the dogs and the kids

Are we settled yet ???

Hell yeah !!!

And as you can see from the last photo, Sox would agree. I uploaded a photo of her to facebook last week, supposedly helping me tidy away my craft stuff. As fast as I could empty a box, she would then commandeer the box as her new home, it was suggested by a couple of my friends that maybe I should let her have her own little corner of my craft room - I think she loves her new basket - don't you ?

Love and kisses from St Blazey


Sunday, 9 August 2015

The journey begins ...

And so the adventure begins....

We made it to Cornwall  - wooohoooooooo !!!

Our relocation here did not go as smoothly as we had hoped it would

We put our bungalow on the market

Sold said bungalow within a week, full asking price, to investors with no strings or ties or conditions

We found a new house and all aimed for a mutually agreeable completion - should have been plain sailing

And there we stayed - aiming for completion for almost six months

Turns out the house we were buying contained two of the most indecisive people you could meet, cutting the story short, with three days until the mutually agreed completion date, the vendors  changed their minds and took the house off the market.

Not wanting to lose our sale and knowing our search would be much easier if we were actually living in the county we were househunting, we embarked on our 'little adventure'

We trawled the internet and discovered a little static caravan in Perranporth - a place we briefly visited last year and loved,  and booked it for five weeks, cramming all our worldly belongings into storage. We packed one bag each and all the pets in our little Honda Civic, beginning our journey brimful of uncertainty, excitement and just a tad of "what the hell are we thinking ?"

The packing was easier than I thought, limiting our belongings to the contents of a holdall each forced us to choose loved, comfortable and practical clothing

The journey was pleasant, good driving conditions, very little traffic for our term-time departure, all the pets and the kids travelled well, impeccably behaved for the full 385 miles, no mean feat when there are three kids, the dogs ( one still a puppy ) a cat and a hamster all in the car with us 

The goodbyes - heartbreakingly hard !

As we left Lincolnshire, the lump in my throat threatened to break into a sob and be my undoing, I so wanted to be positive and upbeat, transferring good vibes and energy into the precious cargo of kids and pets, I held it together - just !

And so, for five weeks, we were homeless  holidayed in the beautiful beachside town of Perranporth

The view from our caravan

Exploring the rock pools

The boys had so much fun playing on the endless sands of Perranporth beach with the dogs, carefree, all inhibitions dumped at the edge of the incoming tide along with their sea soggy t-shirts

One very happy puppy, finding her sea legs with the aid of a football

The evenings were spectacular, stunning half light bounced and dazzled from sea sodden sands

And you would be forgiven for asking  "so what is it like sharing a caravan with your hubby, three kids, the daughters boyfriend, a dog, a puppy, a cat and a hamster ?"

I am not going to lie, at times we all had the 'count to ten' moments but on the whole it was absolutely brilliant. We visited some amazing places, we met some lovely people, we enjoyed some fantastic beaches and we shared some very special moments .......

And did we find a new home ?????

To be continued ......

Love and salty kisses