Author Archives: Sharon

Banana Pancakes and Bike Adventures!

Sunday’s special weekend breakfast was one of our all-time favourites … banana oat pancakes.  I’ve been wanting to post this recipe for a while now, but Lil’ L has always managed to eat the pancakes before I’ve got round to taking the photo!  This time, I made a huge batch so he could be happily munching his way through three pancakes while I took a photo of the others. 😉 

We like to serve these pancakes with pecan nuts, blueberries and a light drizzle of agave syrup.

Wanted to get another photo in of the cute plate Sandra bought me 😉

Not only are these pancakes delicious, they’re also super healthy and highly nutritious.  Lil’ L describes these pancakes as ‘glorious!’ and gives them 5 stars. 🙂  The recipe can be found here.

We’ve finally got round to buying a roof rack for the new car, which means we can start going on bike adventures further afield again.  Hurray!  This Sunday, after our fill of pancakes, we loaded the bikes onto the car and decided to go to Longleat in Wiltshire.

We parked the car at Nockatt Coppice car park (love that name!)  The trail starts up high, with a beautiful view of Longleat House and grounds.

 There was an interesting sculpture that was just begging to be laid on. 😉

Let the adventure begin!

There are many trails round Longleat.  The one we chose today took us through an amazing woodland.  Lil’ L’s reading Enid Blyton’s ‘Folk of the Faraway Tree’ at the moment, and he said that this tree was exactly how he imagined the Faraway Tree to look. 😉

Apparently the next section of the wood looks just like the Ewok’s forest in Star Wars. 

After following the trail through the woods, we popped out by the lake at Shear Water.  There was a very cute cygnet with its mum and dad. 

After consulting the map, we were pleased to find that there was a cafe less than a mile away.  Bike rides are always more fun when they involve stops at cafes. 😉 

The cafe turned out to be a very cute tearoom in a thatched house.

My beloved Marin took a well-earned rest on the grass.

We had our fill of beans on toast and coffee, then we headed back to Nockatt Coppice.  It was a great day out!  I’m already looking forward to our next bike adventure. 😉

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Filed under Biking, Breakfast & Elevenses

Schools out!

The school holidays are here!  Hurray!  🙂   

To mark the end of their time in the Infants, Class 3 performed a rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis for the parents.  It was very sweet. 😉  

Lil’ L decided that he’d like give his teachers some gingerbread cookies as a ‘thank you’ gift.  We made gingerbread houses for Jon, and gingerbread hearts for Jackie.

 

For our first trip of the holidays, we travelled by train to visit family in Dorset.  As soon as we arrived, we headed to Burley (Hampshire) for lunch in one of my favourite tearooms.  They bake the most delicious vegan ginger cake I’ve ever tasted! 

I forgot to take my camera so I've borrowed some photos from the wonderful website www.geograph.org.uk. This image is (c) Derek Harper

For me, Burley is a place filled with wonderful energy.  This might be, in part, explained by its historical association with white witches.  Back in the late 1950s, Britain’s most famous white witch, Sybil Leek, lived in Burley.  She later emigrated to America and her son lives in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

There’s a number of shops in Burley that sell witch and wizard-related items, such as the ‘Coven of Witches’…

Coven of Witches Shop in Burley (c) Richard C

 and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

(c) Graham Horn

One of my favourite past times is walking through the ancient woods that can be accessed from Burley.  There’s something very magical about these woods…

Another beautiful experience we had during our visit was seeing all the New Forest ponies and their foals grazing on the Common. 

(c) Trish Steel

 These ponies have roamed free in the New Forest for over 1000 years.  It’s funny to see them in places that you would never expect.  During our last visit, we saw ponies and baby donkeys outside the newsagents and pub, and two highland cattle sitting on someone’s front lawn!

(c) Chris McAuley

 
We had two bonus viewings of the ponies on the way to the train station, as I left my handbag at mum’s house and we had to drive back again.  Sorry mum!
 
 What a wonderful start to the school holidays!  Just need to plan special activities for the next 44 days 😉

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Filed under General wittering

The Agonies of Dairy

When I was doing my degree and PHD (many moons ago) I spent a lot of time to-ing and fro-ing to Paris.  As soon as I arrived, I would head straight to Bastille to buy a pancake from this little crepe stall that I adored.  My favourite pancake filling was nutella and banana.  After savouring every mouthful of the pancake, I would then spend the next half hour or so sitting on the steps of the Opera de Bastille, clutching my tummy in agony!

I’ve spent a lot of time sitting on these steps!

It would take me another 4 years to realise that I was actually allergic/ intolerant to dairy.  Throughout my student life, everything I ate seemed to give me stomach cramps and upset stomachs.  Being a vegetarian, it was likely that most dinners I ate at university would have contained dairy (this was a long, long time ago when the classic response to ‘I’m vegetarian’ was to serve you pasta or vegetables covered in cheese).

I went to the doctor’s a few times over the years, but they would put the stomach problems down to ‘student lifestyle’.  I put up with it for years (with a little help from bottles of kaolin and morphine).  The ‘lightbulb’ moment came when I complained to a friend that even a cup of tea would leave me in agony with stomach cramps.  Ding!  I realised the culprit must be dairy.   As soon as I stopped consuming dairy, all the symptoms stopped.  No more stomach cramps, no more upset stomachs… and even the patches of eczema that I’d had all my life completely vanished!

Since I’ve stopped eating dairy, I’ve never looked back.  I feel far healthier, my skin’s clearer than ever, I weigh less and I have no more stomach pain.  People ask me if I feel that I’m missing out but the answer is no, not for one moment as I’ve never felt so good. 🙂

I’ve subsequently found out that most of the world’s population is lactose intolerant.  Studies have also shown strong links between the consumption of animal protein and increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and the common cancers.  More than ever, I’m glad that I’m unable to consume dairy.

Another reason that I don’t feel that I’m missing out is that all my favourite dairy-based treats, like cheese cake and pancakes, can easily be ‘veganised’, with no compromise on taste at all! In fact, I love the dairy-free versions even more than the traditional ones! You’ll find lots of delicious dairy-free treats in my Recipes section, including these scrumptious dairy-free and egg-free crepes ♥ 

Vegan Crepes

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Filed under Breakfast & Elevenses, General wittering

Super easy veggie burgers

Veggie burgers are great fun to create as there’s no end to the combinations of beans, veggies and flavours that you can use.  With my birthday money, I decided to treat myself to a burger press in the hope of making a more professional looking burger than the usual pattie I mould in my hands. 

The burger press arrived today and I couldn’t wait to try it out!

This week, I opted to make cannellini bean and chick pea burgers with a spoonful for crunchy peanut butter to give them a nice crunchy texture.  M said they were one of the nicest burgers I’ve ever made and Lil’ L said they were ‘delish’. 🙂  I think the burger press helped.  Within a flash the mixture was turned into professional-looking burgers!  I’m very pleased with this new addition to my (ever increasing) kitchen gadget collection 😉

My simple veggie burger recipe can be found here.

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Filed under Dinners

I did it!

I woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain pounding on the windows.  “Great!” I thought.  I hadn’t factored in adverse weather conditions!  Fortunately, the rain eased off by the time the race started.

My strategy was to plod round the track in my usual, casual running style.  I’d never run 10k before so I didn’t want to burn out early on.  My friend D gave me some great advice, which was not to be tempted to set off at the pace of the others.  It was only last night I realised that I’d accidentally entered a serious race  (part of the Wiltshire Championship series).  When I entered online, I hadn’t read the blurb, but had just seen the words ‘suitable for beginners’.  I now think this meant ‘beginner competitors’ rather than ‘beginner runners’.  I tried not to panic though and kept reminding myself that I was doing it for Jodie and Macmillan, and it didn’t matter if I came last.  In fact, I should expect to come last and any other place would be a bonus 🙂 

So everyone sets off and I start my plod. 

Everyone soon deserts me.  It doesn’t matter though; the main thing is to enjoy it (this is what I keep telling myself!)  I do pass a couple of people that did set off too fast 😉

Here I come for lap 2, cheered on by one of my greatest supporters.  I’m starting to look like a beetroot now.  Still no one else in sight!

Already I’m being lapped by the guys.  I need to learn from their running stance because it’s far more effective than mine 🙁

By lap 3 I’ve got a humongous stitch.  A guy who’s running past me asks if I’m alright.  When I yelp that I’ve got a stitch, he tells me to “push it in”.  I’m not sure exactly what he means so I try pushing my hand into my ribs where the pain is.  It doesn’t seem to help much, so I decide to just get on with it and use it as an opportunity to practise a bit of Tonglen 🙂

I even tried to smile for the camera, although it was more of a grimace than a smile :/

I finished the race in 58.22 which is far, far quicker than I’ve ever run in my life.  You wouldn’t be able to tell from the photos, but I didn’t come last either!  I came 156th (out of 182) 🙂  It doesn’t really matter where I came though, because this is what it was all about…

A big thank you to everyone that sponsored me and offered words of support and encouragement.  I am very, very grateful.  At last count, the total raised was £295 which has far exceeded my expectations!  Thank you so much for the very generous donations xx

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Filed under Fund-Raising, Running