Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Meal planning Tuesday (again)

Hello again. Another late meal plan. In fact, it's now Wednesday, so you might wonder "what's the point"?!  It's a service, so you know how to incorporate potatoes, green beans and courgettes into every meal ;)

Sausages, mashed potatoes, and vegetables (guess which ones?)

Chicken fajitas (with onions, green beans, carrots, and courgettes) and homemade guacamole and salsa

Salmon with ratatouille and boulangere potatoes

Gammon, pineapple, homemade chips, and stir-fried VEGETABLES (of some description)

Three bean chilli and rice

A roast dinner, with green beans, and maybe courgettes.

Don't forget to check out Mrs M's blog for more ideas.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Fleetwood half marathon

It's Sunday evening and I'm relaxing on the sofa after my race this morning. The day looked like it was going to be sunny but as it happened, no. Driving rain and blowing a gale. Awesome.

Before the race, freezing my ass off outside race HQ

The race started at 10am and just before then, the weather had begun to cheer up. But the starting whistle seemed to signal the rain, which fell so hard it felt like hail :( I got soaked several times during the race, three times by the rain and many more by the sea. I tasted of sea salt at the finish!

I managed to sustain a great pace of 8:30 min/mile for the first 7 miles. The course was flat so no terrible hills to push myself up. The worse moment came at mile 8 when we turned onto the seafront. We were running into a gale, which felt like I was running uphill. So all my hill training paid off!

Race summary, click to enlarge
The last few miles were tough. My legs were aching, my knees and hips were burning, but I could see the finish so I kept plodding on. I was thinking of my poor family standing in the cold and rain (I got a hot shower at the end but they didn't). My lovely husband met me a mile from the end and ran along with me, being very encouraging and telling me not to talk! He kept up too! And so the finish, and my time. It's still unofficial, but I timed it at 1:51:40. My aim was 2 hours, and Pete who takes running club predicted 1:55, so I was really pleased!

1 mile to go, and still smiling!
Full race data on my Garmin Connect page. Race results will be posted here soon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Camping in Wales

Welsh dragon, of course
We've just spent a very relaxing 5 days camping in Wales. We stayed at a site called Dolbryn, which is near the town of Newcastle Emlyn in Carmarthenshire. The site was very good, the toilets and showers were kept very clean, there was a bar open in the evening for our entertainment, and there was a playground for the children to burn off energy. The only downside was the rude and unfriendly seasonal guests, so sadly, we won't be returning.

Playing 'Prickly Pile-up' in the bar
The local town of Newcastle Emlyn has a castle (we didn't go), a park (that the kids enjoyed), and a few food shops, good enough to see us through the week. The town of Cardigan is a fair drive towards the coast, but has many more shops and a market. We spent our first day here. Sadly, the castle here is closed for refurbishment so we couldn't look at it.

On our drive back to the campsite from Cardigan we passed through Cenarth. This village is famous for its waterfalls and coracle museum, so we stopped for a look (at the falls, not the museum). The kids really enjoyed jumping over the stepping stones to cross the river.

Cenarth mill and falls
Day 2 was spent in Tenby on the south coast of Wales. I wasn't keen on going here because it seemed such a long way to drive, but we set off early and arrived by 10am, so not that far at all. It's a lovely town, very pretty, with a walled section which I guess is an old castle (not sure). Anyway, it has lots of shops, a lovely quay area, and loads of sandy beaches, and we spent a full day here walking around and relaxing on the beach.

Buried alive!
Day 3 began rainy, so after much procrastinating and laziness at the tent, we decided to drive to the west coast, to New Quay and Aberporth, just to have a look really. New Quay was really pretty. We parked at the top of a very steep hill so had to walk up and down that a few times! Good for our leg muscles.

Rainy start

New Quay
We had a late lunch at a seafood restaurant called The Hungry Trout. What a fantastic find! A really excellent restaurant and very highly recommended if you're in the area.

Crayfish salad with curried alioli, yum :)
After lunch, and after failing to find a boat trip we could take the children on, we drove to Aberporth. I'm so glad we did. The beach was quiet because it had been so cold, but when we arrived the weather had improved. We explored and found a large area of rockpools. The kids had bought toy boats so we sailed those on a little stream on the beach and I showed them shrimps and crabs in the rockpools.

"We are sailing"
We returned to Aberporth the next day because the weather was so sunny and warm, so the children managed to have a full beach day, complete with sandcastle-building, stone skimming, a bit of rounders, and being buried in the sand.

The Castle, with over-sized "road" that hubs got enthused constructing!

Skimming competition

Aberporth beach

 A great holiday in a lovely area. we will return, just not to the same campsite.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Meal planning Tuesday

Oh dear, I'm a bit late with the old meal plan this week!

We've just got home after 5 days of camping in Wales. The meals I'd planned for while we were away didn't really happen. Wednesday we had a very late lunch in a pub, so no dinner (other than crisps). Thursday we had chicken wraps (a planning success). Friday we had delicious rump steak, potatoes, and veg (much better than anything I'd planned). Saturday we had another large and late lunch at a fab fish restaurant (we had cheese toasties for dinner). Sunday I had to use up the contents of the food store before we left (so dinner was a tuna mayo, egg, cheese, ham, sweetcorn, and potato salad!).

This week we're only home for a few days because we're up in Blackpool at the weekend for the Fleetwood half marathon. Eeeek! So I'm only planning meals for 2 days. The Husband took the children shopping this morning while I cracked on with some work, so I'm planning dinners in the style of Ready Steady Cook.

Pork steaks, new potatoes, sweetcorn, and BBQ sauce

Roast chicken, potatoes, and veg

Next week's plan will also be late and aimed at using up what The Husband bought. It's going to include a lot of potatoes since he bought an enormous bag and we've got kilograms of them at the allotment! (He forgot about the allotment.)

Please check out Mrs M's blog for more meal plans.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Meal planning Monday: 15/08/11

Last week's meals went exactly to plan, that almost never happens! Must have been a great plan :)

This week we are camping again, this time in Wales. I've planned camp meals this time since it's just the four of us camping. We cook on a George Foreman grill and a small gas stove, so we can achieve some awesome dinners!

Spaghetti bolognaise with homemade garlic pittas

Fish, chips, and mushy peas

Chicken and vegetable wraps

Salmon, new potatoes, and vegetables

Gammon, pineapple, new potatoes, and salad

Burgers with sweetcorn and salad

Sausage, egg, beans, and sautéed potatoes

Don't forget to check out Mrs M's blog for more meal plans and ideas.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Summer hols: days 15-18

The 3 days since we returned from our camping trip to Bakewell have been spent very lazily. I've done a lot of laundry, cleaning and repacking camping equipment (we go away again next week), ironing, and housework. Very domesticated!

Hubs unpacked the Wii (yes, we do take it camping) and set it up downstairs for my son. He can now play Wii while I'm in the kitchen, so we're not all spread out around the house. He's been playing MarioCart and Lego Indiana Jones and getting better with practise. He gets frustrated easily if he doesn't win, so this new-found patience is a good sign.

He won, at last!

We've spent a few half days at our allotment, weeding and harvesting our vegetables. The children love running around the fields that are nearby, exploring and picking berries. They're safe because I can see them from the allotment, they know not to wander too far, and they frequently return with tales of rabbits and birds they've seen, how many berries they've picked (they know what they can and can't eat), and what strange noises they've heard (crickets, or the combine harvester).

Harvesting potatoes at the allotment
It's great when I can spend time with my children, but daily life is busy and sometimes they do need to be left alone. My little girl is happy to entertain herself on the computer (playing on the cbeebies website or drawing with TuxPaint), drawing and colouring at the kitchen table, singing to herself, and playing imaginatively with her toys (the Thomas trains have reappeared). Occasionally my son joins her and their games together sounds like a lot of fun (lots of laughter)! She is really starting to develop her reading and writing skills too. She can now part-write her name without assistance and can read a few key words.

The "best track in the world", made by mum :)
The best part of these past few days have been when we made rice krispie bars. The children spotted the bars in the supermarket and wanted to buy them but I suggested we make some instead. We bought some chocolate to melt (now the Easter eggs are all gone!) but we had rice krispies, marshmallows (from Easter!), and golden syrup at home. A lot of mess was made, but we had fun and now have delicious cakes to eat for a treat.

Crunchy, sticky, gooey messy!

Today we're off to my friend's house for lunch and to play (her children are the same ages as my two), then we're visiting the Japanese Koi Company in Henlow to buy fish food and filters (and gaze in awe at all the animals, my son desperately wants a lizard).

Chocolate krispie cakes

Thanks to Reluctant Housedad, one of our favourite recipes is his After-Easter Bunny Krispie Cakes. We've made these cakes before so no longer have Easter chocolate lying around, but we do have Easter bunny and chick marshmallows! And it's the summer holidays and we're all looking for something fun to do (at 8 am...). The recipe involves no measuring, just lots of hands and mess.

The ingredients
We emptied the chocolate buttons and the Easter marshmallows into a large bowl (my daughter broke the mallows into small pieces). She added a large squeeze of golden syrup too, then I gently melted everything over a pan of hot water for about 15 minutes (I added some warm water to loosen the mixture).

Mmmm, melty
We then added rice krispies to the melted chocolate mix, a handful at a time, until we could fit no more in (I added all the krispies shown in the first photo, that was about a third of a large pack; we like our krispies cakes crunchy!).

I pressed the mixture into a shallow baking tray that I'd lined with greaseproof paper (for ease of removal). The mix goes sticky very quickly, so I used a knife dipped in the hot water from the pan to help with spreading. The tray went in the fridge for an hour or two to make sure everything was properly set. I then lifted the set krispie block from the pan using the paper and cut it into 18 pieces with a sharp knife. To prevent the bars sticking to each other, we wrapped them all in a piece of greaseproof paper "just like in the shop" according to my son.

And enjoy!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Camping in Bakewell

Me and my family have just arrived home from 3 nights camping in the Peak District; we camped at Greenhills Holiday Park near Bakewell.

One of the camping fields at Greenhills
This is our second visit to Greenhills. We first visited last year with my sister and her family. We enjoyed the site so much we thought we would go again this year and take my husband's parents with us. They haven't camped before and since this site has such good facilities, we thought it would be a good place for their camping introduction.

Family camp
When we mentioned at a family party in April that we were going camping, the rest of my husband's family (aunt and uncle and their children) decided to join us. So that made 14 of us in total! I knew we would be in for a fun weekend.

Playing cricket Friday morning before arrivals
We arrived at lunchtime on Thursday but couldn't pitch until after 1 pm, so we headed into Bakewell for an excellent lunch at The Castle Inn. No need to worry about the children being hungry while pitching the tent later. By 3 pm we had pitched our tents and were enjoying our first (of many!) camp beers. The children had already met up with their cousins and had disappeared to the playground.

Playground at Greenhills; the ball games field is just behind

On Friday we had a very leisurely morning while family latecomers turned up, then we decided to have a walk together along the Monsal Trail. This 9-mile walk follows the course of an old railway line so it is flat and wide, perfect for young children whose legs can't manage hills quite yet. The very helpful staff at Greenhills gave me written directions to Hassop Station, and advised that it was the best place to start a walk from because it had toilets and an ice cream shop (most important!). We had a lovely hour walk and managed 2 miles, which with 14 people to keep together was actually quite good!

Evening chat
We had a barbecue on Friday night, which was chaotic and rowdy! Another large family group were nearby, celebrating a 30th birthday, so we were definitely not the noisiest party there. We did bend the camp rules about open fires though (what started as a disposable BBQ soon turned into an impressive brick fire pit). Oh well, no harm done, except perhaps to my liver. Me and my husband took along a film picture quiz and that kept everyone quiet for 30 mins or so.

On Saturday we took a trip to Peak Village Outlet, which is at Rowsley (between Bakewell and Matlock). The old Rowsley station building forms part of this centre. Two people were displaying a collection of owls and other birds of prey outside the shops, which the children enjoyed, and they also found a large gathering of various ducks in a corner of the carpark.

Arriving back at the campsite with fish and chips for lunch, we decided to burn off the greasy calories by spending a few hours playing rounders on the campsite's ball games field. What started as a confusing mix of rounders and baseball soon became a passionately enforced game of proper rounders! We then spent Saturday evening eating yet more salad and barbecued burgers and sausage and doing a few quizzes and games my in-laws brought with them. And drinking lots of sambuca shots as forfeits!

The next morning was spent clearing up the mess and decamping (sadly, when we have the party at our tent we also get left with the debris and washing up). With 8 other adults helping our tent was speedily brought down and packed away. I need to remember to pack 8 adults next time I go camping!

Meal planning Monday: 08/08/11

Last week went according to plan, apart from the camping ideas (Thurs-Sat). The spaghetti carbonara was a hit with my kids (surprisingly because it's not to everyone's tastes); I made it with leftover gammon from Monday, which worked out well.

This week is all about detoxing after a long weekend of drinking and eating a lot of barbecued food! Camping is fun but it's bad for you from a diet perspective.

Mini turkey meatballs and tomato & hidden vegetable sauce, with spaghetti

Thin-cut pork steaks, mashed potatoes, and green veg (probably kale and green beans from the allotment)

Cod roe, thick-cut chips, and mushy peas (treat for the family; I HATE cod roe so I'll have grilled salmon)

Chicken and pea risotto

Beef enchiladas and homemade guacamole

Left free, will see what we feel like

Roast beef

Check out Mrs M's blog for more meal plans and ideas.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Summer hols: days 8-10

How very lazy, to post 3 days of school holiday activities in one go. The truth is, I've been quite unwell since Saturday and I've not felt like blogging, in fact I've had little energy to do much other than lie on the sofa and snooze.

We have managed to do some fun things though. We've spent a lot of time in the garden, the weather has been good so I've let the children have the sprinkler on to jump through, and the paddling pool. They've painted pictures too, and my daughter decorated a jewellery box she won at a party. They've played games, done jigsaws, and played on the computer together. I'm very proud that they play together so well.

The great thing about living opposite a playground is that I can let the children play out without having to go with them to watch them. So, they've had chance to play football and ride their bikes too.

I'm feeling much better now, and as I write this post we're en route to the Peak District for a 3-day camping holiday with family. Watch out for camping posts over the next few days.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Meal planning Monday: 01/08/11

Last week's meal plan went mostly as intended. It was a tricky week to plan, with guests visiting and activities to go to. The weekend was a write off; we went out Saturday so had a picnic for lunch and takeaway pizza for dinner. I'm not used to eating so much bread and I really felt the effects on Sunday (stomach ache and bloating). Sorry, that's probably TMI!

This week will be simple; we're eating at home 3 days and camping the rest. I rarely plan camping food because we buy provisions on a day-to-day basis, but I've put a few ideas. Anyway, here we go.

Gammon with salad and roasted new potatoes (allotment-grown; proving difficult to work out how to cook them best [we've tried boiled with little success each time])

Salmon and noodles with stir fried vegetables (probably allotment-grown courgettes and green beans)

Spaghetti carbonara

Hot dogs and baked beans

Chicken and vegetable wraps

Steak and onion baguettes with salad

Chinese takeaway
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