How to eat on a Sunday…

…if you’re single/lazy/lacking in time to go shopping much/all 3.

  1. Eat leftover chocolate for breakfast in bed while vowing never to buy chocolate again.
  2. Go run around a park in the sunshine.
  3. Buy broccoli at any opportunity if you pass a local co-op. You’d be surprised how handy it is.
  4. Use sandwich beef (decent stuff, though, no reformed cows or corned beef) in substitute for cooking an actual joint of meat.
  5. Cook broccoli. Use boiling water to make gravy (no waste here).
  6. Put cold beef on plate.
  7. Chuck broccoli on top.
  8. Pour over gravy.
  9. Add salt and pepper.
  10. Marvel at your shortcut Sunday dinner handiwork.
  11. Inhale food.
  12. Wait 10 minutes.
  13. Make a cheese and ham toastie because you’re still hungry.
  14. Chomp on toastie.
  15. Wonder whether you should make another one.
  16. Remember you’ve just eaten all the ham.
  17. Wait 10 minutes.
  18. Contemplate buying chocolate.
  19. Remember you’re not buying chocolate any more.
  20. Drum fingers on laptop keyboard in indecision.
  21. Decide to not buy chocolate, mainly because it will involve walking to the shop.
  22. Make a cup of tea.
  23. Daydream about chocolate. Eat salted cashews and sultanas instead.
  24. Enjoy the mix of salt and sweet. Forget about chocolate.
  25. Contemplate whether to go for a bike ride.
  26. Sit on sofa for another few hours debating what to do while looking at videos of cats on the internet.
  27. Wonder whether you should go food shopping as now you have no food apart from cheese.
  28. Briefly look at recipes from Lean in 15 and consider batch cooking.
  29. Remember you’re hardly at home next week.
  30. Decide to buy more broccoli next time you pass the co-op and therefore do not need to trek to the supermarket.
  31. Wonder what to have for tea.
  32. Remember you have no food. But there is milk and bananas.
  33. Decide to have porridge later.
  34. Briefly wonder what you’d do if you had to cook for someone else.
  35. Remember The Marine and his love of cooking.
  36. Decide that any potential men friends must like cooking.
  37. Go back to videos of cats.

Welcome to my world! Happy Sunday.

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Day #62 02.03.16

Lovely meal out for Niamh’s birthday, full of laughter and random topics, including the many different spellings of Stav’s name and his love affair with Rescusi-Annie. I’m so lucky with the people I have met since moving to Cheltenham. This gang have welcomed me in and made me feel totally at home. So awesome of them to do that.

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Day #60 29.02.16

Working from home means decent breakfasts because I’ve got time to make stuff. Today was poached eggs and smashed avo on toast. For years I’ve not been able to get poached eggs right, despite trying so many different methods. UNTIL NOW. The other week Rick told me to add vinegar (the normal malt type) to the water, and also try it in a frying pan rather than deep saucepan. RESULT:

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Get in my mouth.

Day #40 09.02.16

Party night tonight for Ruth’s birthday. Or a standard Tuesday night in Coventry, you decide. A ton load of mexican food, moustaches, sombreros, fake cigars and margaritas (I’m doing Dry February so this in the photo is not mine; I was on the hardcore pomegranate juice). Good times 🙂

I have however realised that with a fake ‘bandit’ moustache that I look scarily like my Dad when he had his porn star-style ‘tache in the 80’s.

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Day #24 24.01.16

Today’s been an uneventful day really. A pottering day. A day mainly inside. And it’s been great. Everyone needs them. Can’t be busy all the time. It’s also a day where I rejoice at living alone where there’s no one around to judge or comment. Halloumi and beetroot for tea? Why, yes, thank you very much. YES.

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Day #22 22.01.16

I don’t work Fridays. I love this fact. It’s worth the less money to have an extra day on the weekend. People ask me what I do with the extra day. Right now I don’t do anything specific; I don’t like to plan or have a routine too much. So today it was a hotchpotch of a gym class, bit of shopping and then hanging out with my friend Mike who was visiting for the weekend.

We went out for dinner at the Tivoli tonight, never been there for food before and it’s just round the corner from home. It was pretty damn good. Love food.

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Australia: the story so far.

I’ve been in Melbourne for a month now. A MONTH. How has that happened?!!

I adore it. I’ve not been doing the normal travelling stuff here. I’ve been staying in one place for a start. I’ve not done a lot of sightseeing stuff. Or any tours. I guess you could say I’ve been living here rather than travelling. Which suits me just fine. I was about ready for a break from all the moving about. It’s been like going home without actually going home.

I’ve been staying with some friends who have just been brilliant. Made me feel right at home and have done so much for me; from giving me a place to stay to taking me out and about, to feeding me copious amounts of amazing food, to buying me a Christmas present and lending me a bike and all the gear so I can get around. Amongst other things. Not sure how I will be able to repay them!

I’ve not just been sat on my bum for a month though. Oh no. I’ve actually been quite busy. It’s hard work this travelling lark. What have I been doing? Read on.

I said I’d be back on the fitness stuff when I got to Australia, and OH YES I HAVE. Just check out my Runkeeper stats for the proof!! I’ve been running, walking, biking and running some more. It’s been GREAT. The weather has been much better for it (cooler, no humidity and a bit unpredictable. Just how I realise I like it!) and there’s so much opportunity for it here; it’s not an abnormal thing. I have to be careful to not do too much too soon though, so I’ve been trying to take it a bit easy but I’ve been so excited to get out there and get moving I’ve probably done a bit more than I should. I have to remember I’m probably not quite at the fitness level I was back in May 2013 before I left! My left knee is a bit whingey at the moment, and I need it to be on top form the next few weeks so I need to keep an eye on that. But most days I’ve done some kind of exercise. Whoop! I’ve biked, ran or walked to and around Westerfolds Park (beautiful) and Bundoora Park, along the Yarra River and Darebin creek. There are hundreds of places to explore here, all along bike and walking trails, so no need to go along any roads really. It’s just wonderful.

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So, what else?

I’ve been into Melbourne city a few times. It’s only 20 minutes on the train so not far away at all. I’ve had a good wander around the streets looking at all the buildings, done a bit of window shopping (I have neither the spare funds, space in my backpack or inclination to do anything more than that to be fair), went to the Botanical Gardens, took the City Circle tram and went up to the top of the Eureka Tower. I ate my lunch in the Carlton Gardens, walked down by the river where I watched people eating and drinking on the outside BBQ’s there (BRILLIANT facility) and marvelled at the Melbourne street art. I watched live music in Federation Square, got lost in the laneways, visited the State Library of Victoria and saw the famous Myer Christmas window display with Bob and La.  Melbourne’s great because the CBD is small enough to wander round really easily, and on a grid system so if you do get a bit lost you just keep walking until you come to a main road and you can soon sort yourself out again.

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I’ve ran in the city too. The first run was with the Run Bird Crew, a running group from a running shop in the city not long after I arrived in Melbourne. A nice bunch of people, I ran around 7km with them, at a pretty fast pace. The guy from the shop (who incidentally was a better looking version of David Beckham – yes, I didn’t know there was such a thing either. Phew.) said it was faster than they normally go. Well, my body definitely felt it. Although, it was good to be pushed, and great to be running with other people again. Even if I didn’t actually run with anyone much, and was last to get back to the shop, haha! I also ran around Albert Park doing my very first parkrun – you can read about that here. Still on the list to do is to run around the Tan – a bit of an icon in Melbourne and something I have to do.

Albert Park, parkrun #110

Bob and La had a Christmas BBQ to celebrate with all their friends before they went on holiday, so I got to eat loads of scrummy food, drink beer, chat with lots of interesting people and make new friends. In the sun. In December. Very cool.

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I went cherry picking near Red Hill, south of Melbourne. It’s is a popular thing here (very similar to strawberry picking in the UK), and one of Bob and La’s Christmas traditions. It was great to see the countryside around the city, as well as have a picnic and eat lots of mage cherries straight off the trees. Yum. On the way back we stopped at Frankston beach which reminded me of South Africa – bright blue sea and golden beaches. Stunning.

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Christmas happened. I’ve already written about that though. And of course, New Year follows Christmas. This year, for New Year’s Eve I got invited by a new friend to join them and their neighbours in a 6 course Japanese banquet and after party. Oh my word. So much food. So much good food. So much amazing food. It was a great atmosphere and I love meeting new people. It was wonderful to see this real life, slightly unconventional, community of family, friends and neighbours in a Melbourne suburb. And I met Australian people! Hurrah!

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I went for a walk with a new friend in Warrandyte which was just stunning. All trees and river and lovely scenery. These places that are technically in the city of Melbourne are just cracking and could have you fooled that you’re out in the countryside. Definitely a green city here.

I went hiking up and around Mount Dandenong with some more new friends. Spectacular views and a bit of a challenging walk. More fresh air, good exercise, one of my favourite things to do and good company. Oh, and we finished with tea and scones. Not bad eh?

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I went to Brighton beach on a hot day, again with some new friends. Lovely to get to know people who live here as I can experience Melbourne like a local. Experience life here. How else will I figure out whether it’s for me or not, long term? 😉 On this day it was supposed to get to about 38 degrees, so what better thing to do than hit the beach in a bikini? We had about an hour and a half of hot weather before I got to witness the famous ‘Melbourne cool change’! Where the wind direction and temperature changes, and the air temperature drops significantly within the space of a few minutes. Cue everyone on the beach trying to hold onto their umbrellas and day tents, avoid being blasted in the face with sand while packing everything up. Beach abandoned, we did what anyone would do and decamped to a nearby trendy pub to drink afternoon cider.

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I’ve watched quite a lot of films. I don’t feel like I’ve seen any for months (apart from the odd one on a plane) so it was nice over Christmas to sit down and watch a few. Especially when they were accompanied by some chocolate. Mmm. Chocolate.

When I was in Zambia last year I made a friend who was from Melbourne. Of course we said we’d have to meet up when I got to Australia. Back then, that seemed like ages away. And all of a sudden it’s here. And we met up. Jenny took me to the Sherlock Holmes Inn. Very English. We had fish & chips. Very English. I had two glasses of rose wine. Not quite so English. They were £5 each. For a small glass. Australia is expensive.

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I went to St Kilda for a walk along the beach and a wander round the streets. It’s a quirky little place, with lots of bakeries (yes, I resisted all those lovely cakes as part of my trying-to-give-up-sugar thing I’ve got going on), cafe and little shops. There’s also an amusement park called Luna Park, which reminded me of the fair at Skegness. It even had a theatre right next to it. just like the Embassy Centre. I had a walk to the end of the pier – there’s a cracking view looking back towards the beach with the city in the background. I love the skyscrapers of Melbourne’s CBD. Hopefully I’ll get to go to a rooftop bar or cinema before I leave Australia.

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I saw kangaroos and koalas at Healsville Sanctuary. I’ve not seen any in the wild yet, so this was the next best thing. It’s not a zoo, more a wildlife sanctuary where native Australian animals are taken to be looked after, rehabilitated and breeding programs are carried out to fight extinction for some of the country’s most endangered animals. I loved seeing all the animals, especially a platypus (which is much smaller than I thought, and very cute), kangaroos, koalas, wombats and tasmanian devils. Mainly because I’ve never seen any of them in real life before. And there were so many amazing birds too. Birds over here are really colourful. Healsville is out in the Yarra Valley, which is a pretty nice part of Australia. Quite quaint, lots of countryside and green stuff and very pretty. A popular place for people to visit and live. It also has a place called Badger Creek. I liked this. I’d move there, just to have an address that had Badger Creek in it. Bob drove back round Mount Donna Buang and through the rainforest so I could stop and see it, which was pretty cool. Not quite like a tropical rainforest; this one was a bit chilly under the tree canopy for a start, and all mossy and damp.

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I went out for Afghan food one night with Bob and La on Brunswick Street. Brunswick Street is a famous trendy street in the Fitzroy suburb filled with bars, restaurants and quirky shops. Luckily since I’ve been in Melbourne I’ve bought some ‘normal’ clothes so I didn’t feel too out of place. Although I’m never going to completely fit in somewhere uber trendy. Because I’m just not, well, trendy enough. But the food here was great. Really great. Not had Afghan food before but now I have. Would recommend.

I went to a BBQ at the next door neighbours. Hosted by Kieran, Anthea and their two kids. Oh, and a visit from Anthea’s mum Lorna who lives the other side. As my Film Club buddies pointed out, this was a real life ‘Neighbours’ situation. They were lovely. The food was great. Their house is beautiful; they built it themselves, so it’s all new, shiny and modern. Their kitchen island is to die for. Want. I’ll hopefully see them again when I get back from Tasmania as they are (or more specifically, Kieran is) convinced that this Pom will end up stranded or dead somewhere.

There’s been more. I’ve walked around the suburb of Ivanhoe and pretty much know where everything is now. I know short cuts to the shops and train station, and recognise where I am on the bike trails near the creek. I’ve taken the dog for many walks to Darebin Parklands where there’s a strange egg shaped sculpture near a hill and free dog poop bags. I’ve fallen asleep on the train but never missed my stop, bought a pear as a snack instead of a chocolate bar (progress) and woken up pretty much every day without an alarm. I’ve got to know my friends here more and have enjoyed seeing them in their everyday family life. I’m so pleased I’ve been able to meet their daughter, who is just the most wonderful little person. I’ve been made to feel so at home and welcome, which, after 6 months on the road, was so needed you have no idea.

My next adventure will hopefully start this weekend. I’m going to fly to Launceston in Tasmania with a bike, some clothes and a tent and spend a few weeks cycling down the east coast of the island. I’ve got a vague route planned out, but nothing booked or set in stone; keeping it flexible, baby. I’ll be covering an average of around 50km a day, which is around 30 miles. So not too far. I’ve got my padded shorts ready to go. I’m looking forward to combining some of my favourite things; a bit of fitness with a bit of adventure and travel. Excited? YOU BET. Bring it ON, mofo.

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A spoonful of sugar.

Makes me feel like sh*t and is really not doing me any favours. I think I have a little addiction to sugar and sweet stuff, and have decided enough’s enough (after eating enough Maltesers, Toblerone and Celebrations over Christmas I’m surprised I’m not diabetic) and I’m going to cut it out of my diet to try and be as healthy as I can be. For my overall health and also because I know that it makes me feel good. It also helps for exercise. Ever tried running after eating a bucket load of crap? It’s really hard work.

So, as from now* I’m going to stop eating stuff like cake, chocolate, ice cream, biscuits, desserts etc. No sugar in my tea. Natural sugar in things like fruit, dried fruit or honey is OK though. No refined sugar or processed crap basically.

I’m going to go cold turkey. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I gave up smoking once, so surely I can do this? I know I’ve got willpower. I think it’s in there somewhere. I just have to find it and use it. I did do this a few years ago, managed a couple of weeks and it was fine (I completely forgot and got lured in by custard creams in a work meeting). I’ve given chocolate up for lent before. So, it should be easy right? Hopefully.

That’s also why I’m posting this. Telling people. Gives me an extra incentive to stick to it. And also, helps if I see any of you. Please don’t give me chocolate or offer me a biscuit**.

Ta. Wish me luck.

 

 

*9pm, Sunday 29th December 2013.

**Or wave one in front of my nose. I won’t be responsible for my actions. 

My Christmas Day in pictures.

I’d been meaning to do a day in pictures for a while, but not yet got round to it. So I decided, what better day to do it than Christmas Day?

My original idea for a day in pictures was actually to take a picture every hour, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t stick to that. Time kind of ran away with me, and I wasn’t clock watching. So, this is my Christmas Day 2013 in pictures:

Chats with the family first thing (Christmas Eve night UK time):

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My traditional Christmas Day morning run (can’t miss that!):

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Going out for dinner so I decided to glam up a bit when getting ready. Not worn mascara for months!:

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Pre-dinner preparations, including champagne:

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CHRISTMAS DINNER! South African/Aussie mix of turkey, roasties, pumpkin, peach salad, beans, cranberry gravy and christmas pudding. YUM.

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New friends:

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Afternoon champagne after dinner:

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Later on, two bottles of champers down:

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We move onto Moscato. DELICIOUS!:

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Early evening, riding home in the sunshine:

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Chilled out evening watching National Lampoon with the cat and dog, eating pizza and Toblerone:

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Then some Google hangouts with some buddies. Karl wasn’t too keen on having his photo taken:

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Washing up. Got to be done:

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Then a mammoth FaceTime session with the family on their Christmas Morning (late Xmas Day night/early Boxing day morning here). I was in the iPad, propped up on the sofa and it was just like I was in the room for a bit. Lots of laughs and giggles. And I look orange because of THE LIGHT:

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Bedtime. Ok, so this was actually the early hours of Boxing Day morning but it still counts, as it’s the last thing I did:  

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Pretty perfect day.