Tag Archives: biking

Birthday Celebrations & a Chocolate and Lime Vegan “Cheesecake”

This week it was my birthday.  I never imagined that birthdays would be as much fun at the ripe old age I am now, but how wrong I was.  I actually think this was my best birthday yet! I had a fantastic day, made all the better by the fact that M was able to take the day off work 😀

During the day, we managed to fit in lots of my favourite activities (as you’ll see, eating crops up a lot 😉 )  We started off with one of my favourite bike rides, along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Limpley Stoke where we stopped at the Angel Fish Cafe for a toasted tea bun and cup of coffee.  We then continued through Monkton Coombe, the Two Tunnels, Bear Flat, Widcome and into the centre of Bath.

Me on my Birthday 2013

Along the way, we saw lots of wildlife, including this very cute baby rabbit

Baby Rabbit

For lunch, we went to one of my favourite restaurants in Bath – Thai Basil on Walcot Street – where I had a Thai red vegetable curry.  It was creamy and full of delicious fragrant flavours.  This has got to be one of my favourite curries ever!

Thai Basil - Thai Red Curry

After school, we went to the cinema with Lil’ L to see Epic.  On the way, we stopped off at Hotel Chocolat to buy some vegan chocolate (I can highly recommend the Gianduja Bombe Selector – it’s totally lush!)

Epic the Movie 2013

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For dinner, we went to another one of my favourite restaurants, the Nepalese Yak Yeti Yak, where we had the delicious Dal Bhat Tarkari (vegetarian/vegan set menu).

Yak Yeti Yak - Vegetarian Platter

Even though I was full up, I couldn’t leave without having the Kir dessert.  This is one of my favourite desserts ever.  It’s a creamed coconut rice pudding lightly spiced with cardamom. I’m going to have to try at make this at home one day. It’s so yummy!

For my birthday cake, I chose to make one of my all-time favourites – Chocolate and Lime Vegan “Cheesecake”.  I much prefer these ‘no bake’ cheese cakes to any kind of baked cake, plus they’re almost impossible to fail at.  You simply throw the ingredients in the food processor, whizz it together then freeze!

Raw / No Bake Chocolate and Lime Cashew "Cheese" Cake

Here’s how I made it…

Note: Almonds and cashews tend to be much cheaper in Asian supermarkets or in the World Aisle of large supermarkets.  For this dessert, I used Aasani almonds and cashews, which are available from the larger UK Tesco stores.

 

We finally got round to eating a slice of birthday cake yesterday and it was absolutely gorgeous!  All three of us loved it and, even though Lil’ L went back for seconds, there’s still plenty in the freezer to share with friends and family (if they’re lucky 😉 )

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! xx

What would be your ultimate birthday cake?

Do you still enjoy your birthdays as much as when you were a kid? (or even enjoy them more, like me!)

 

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Biking, Out & About in Bath

A Weekend of Sunshine, Bike Rides & Almond Cookies (Dairy Free, Egg Free, Vegan)

After one of the coldest Springs on record, the weather is finally starting to warm up.  Like us, the garden is loving it!  The Aquilegias (‘Granny’s Bonnet’) are out in full force…

Aquilegia - June 2013

and the peonies have started to bloom.

Peony May-June 2013

We had zero fruit on the apple and plum trees last year due to the poor weather conditions, but things are looking better this year.  Even the tiny apple tree growing in our rockery is covered in blossom.

Apple Tree & Peony - May-June 2013

Hopefully we’ll have lots of homegrown apples come September 🙂

Apple Blossom - May-June 2013

The weather is still very patchy at the moment though.  One day we have glorious sunshine and it’s warm, while the next day it can be cold and dark, with non stop rain.  I don’t know when (or if) the weather is going to settle down this year, so we’re just going to have to make the most of the sunshine when it appears.

This morning, before heading out on our bikes, Lil’ L and I decided to bake some Cinnamon Fruit Loaf and Almond Cookies.  As soon as the cookies were baked, we headed out into the garden to enjoy them along with a cup of raw hot chocolate.

Lil L, Almond Cookies & Hot Choc in the Garden 1

In fact, it was so sunny this morning that we needed to wear sun glasses!

Lil L, Almond Cookies & Hot Choc in the Garden 2

The almond cookies were really yummy!  Straight from the oven, they were crunchy on the outside with a softer centre.  We used chapatti flour which is so fine that you wouldn’t even guess that these cookies were wholegrain!  To boost the almond flavour, we added a little almond extract which gave them a hint of marzipan.  Next time round, we’re going to toast the almonds first to see if we can boost the almond flavour even more.

Vegan Almond Cookies

Here’s how we made them:

Fuelled up from our ‘elevenses’, we headed out on our second bike ride of the weekend, this time along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal…

Riding along the Kennet & Avon Canal Towpath

passing through the lush green countryside and wildflower meadows round Monkton Coombe, followed by a ride through the Bath Two Tunnels (it was so cool in there!)

Two Tunnels

then onto Bath city centre for cappuccinos & smoothies.    It was absolutely glorious!

I hope you had a lovely weekend too and I wish you all the best for the week ahead 🙂

What was the highlight of your weekend?

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Filed under Baking & Desserts

Deer Spotting and Biking at Ashton Court (plus WIAW!)

Due to all the rain we’ve had lately, I haven’t been out on my bike for weeks. So, when we woke up on Sunday morning and saw that the sky was bright and clear, we decided to make the most of it and head to Ashton Court with our bikes 🙂

Before we set off, we all had a huge bowl of porridge to fuel us up. Me & Lil’ L opted for cocoa porridge, which is one of our current favourite breakfasts. As you can see, I add lots of toppings to my porridge, including flaked almonds, chopped walnuts, goji berries, citrus peel, ground flaxseed and a sprinkling of grated raw chocolate. Yum!

There are two ways I make cocoa porridge depending on what milks I have available. I either use Alpro’s Chocolate Milk (which is really yummy!) or add 1 tbsp cocoa to the porridge along with some non dairy milk (I use Alpro’s Almond or Soya milk) and a drizzle of agave syrup to sweeten it up. Both methods are equally scrumptious!

After breakfast, we strapped 3 bikes to the car and headed to Bristol. As soon as we arrived at Ashton Court I paused for a few moments to say hello to the deer.

Check out this little cutie.

I then hopped on my bike and did my best to catch up with the others!

I might still be able to beat Lil’ L on hills, but it’s impossible for me to catch him on the trails. Yes that’s me in the pic below, trailing behind…

Here I come!

It was so exhilarating to be out on the bike. I’ve really missed it!

For lunch, we stopped at the Golf Hub Cafe, which is near the mountain  bike trail. It had a great selection of food for veggie mountain bikers 😉

‘Doorstep sandwiches’ and all-day cooked veggie breakfasts are great re-fuelling foods. However, this time round, Lil’ L and I opted for the veggie burger. We both agreed, though, that next time we’ll have the cooked breakfast. That was M’s choice and it looked amazing!  For dessert, Lil’ L chose to have a piece of Victoria sponge cake. The slice was huge. And this is what a 9 year old boy looks like on a sugar rush 😉

Luckily the sugar didn’t wear off until he was back at the car 😉

Even though I’m very rusty at mountain biking, I managed to get round the trail without falling off.  However, back at the Ashton Court manor house, whilst stationary with my left foot on the ground, I managed to lose my balance, fail to unclick my right foot from my pedal, and slammed down on the ground.  Durgh! So not cool!  I cut and bruised my knees but fortunately I managed to avoid tearing my leggings. phew!

Back home, we fancied something warming and filling for tea so we opted for a butternut squash, chick pea and apricot tagine served on a bed of couscous. This is one of our all-time favourite Moroccan tagines and I promise to post the recipe soon!

For dessert, we had fresh pineapple, served with a drizzle of Alpro soya cream. Delicious!

So that’s a rundown of Sunday’s activities and eats for the WIAW foodie party. Thanks, as always, to our wonderful host Jenn. If you want some inspiration for new eats, do check out her WIAW posts, published every Wednesday. There’s literally hundreds of entries to browse through!


Have you ever had a Moroccan tagine before? If so, what’s your favourite?
I had my first tagine in Istanbul a few years ago and I loved the combination of sweet and savoury flavours. Last Christmas, a friend of mine bought me a tagine pot and it’s been put to a lot of use this year.  I love trying out different combinations of veggies, dried fruits and spices. I’ll write up the recipes for our favourites and post them very soon!

Enjoy the rest of the week everyone 🙂 xx

 

 

 

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Filed under Biking, Breakfast & Elevenses, Dinners

Lake District Camping, Mountain Biking & NKT International Buddhist Festival

We last camped three years ago. The three of us spent five nights squashed in my ‘3 man’ tent in the Lake District. It rained a lot, the tent leaked, I woke up to find my pillow was soaking wet and vowed that I would never camp again.

Three years later, here I am again, camping in the Lake District. It wasn’t exactly my preferred choice of accommodation but it was super cheap and all the B&Bs in the area were full (yep, as usual, I left planning to the last minute). 

We borrowed our friend’s slightly bigger tent and pitched it in the middle of a farmer’s field. After a night of relentless rain, I woke up to find that the rain had flooded in on my side of the tent and I was laying in a pool of water. You see, me & camping just don’t get along 🙁

But, despite the less than favourable camping experience, we had a fantastic time in the Lakes. Me & Lil’ L had a very special day at the NKT International Buddhist Festival in Ulverston. Thousands of people from all over the world attended the festival and the atmosphere was incredible. Everyone was so friendly. I never seen so many smiley faces 🙂

A lovely diary of the festival with video clips and photos is available at http://kadampafestivals.org/summer-2012/.

While we were at the festival, M went mountain biking. He had a fantastic day of exhilarating riding and beautiful scenery. 

Here are some of his favourite shots of the day…

When the three of us met up at the end of the day, we were buzzing from our experiences and had lots to chat about over dinner.  For our evening meals, we went to Ambleside which has an array of restaurants and cafes with menu options for vegetarians and vegans.

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 This small town has two highly popular vegetarian/vegan restaurants – Zeffirellis and Fellinis – and we sampled the menus in both.

The food was fantastic, especially in Fellinis. There are three dishes in particular that I’d like to try and re-create at home:
–  Sweet potato, broccoli and lentil sambar served with coriander and lime flatbread
– Chestnut, leek and wild mushroom filled pastry with baby roasted vegetables (Lil’ L loved this)
– Sweet potato and chickpea tagine with lemony couscous

We’re now back in the South where it’s actually been hot and sunny for a couple of days. It’s been perfect weather for the start of the Olympics. Let’s hope it continues!

I hope you’re having a great summer wherever you are. And if you’re camping somewhere in the UK, make sure you don’t forget your waterproofs. Next time I’m going to take waterproof pyjamas. Knowing my luck, I’ll need them 😉

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Filed under Biking, Buddhism & Meditation, Dinners, Vacations

School’s Out! Planning Summer Activities on a Shoe-String Budget

The school summer holidays officially start for us today. I can’t believe that another school year has finished already. These years are flying by!

I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time with Lil’ L over the next six weeks. However, as I’m not working at the moment, I need to make sure that we keep spending to a minimum. 

We did lots of great free/ low cost activities last summer that we’re hoping to repeat or improve on this year. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far…

– Bike Rides
Inspired by the Tour de France, we’re going to devise our own ‘Tour de Bath’ where we explore different areas of the city by bike and record our ‘stages’ on a map, noting the distance and time.

– Hiking
There’s so much local countryside that we’ve yet to explore.  We’re going to pack some sandwiches, binoculars, a map, and waterproofs, and hike along footpaths and bridleways in the hills around Bath. Luckily my ‘smartphone’ has got GPS, just in case we get lost 😉

– Photography
Lil’ L loved the challenge I set him over the Jubilee weekend of photographing red, white and blue images. This summer I’m going to set him some more photographic challenges and show him how to edit photos and make online albums.

– Creating in the kitchen
Lil’ L has already devised a list of 15 new smoothies and milkshakes that he’d like to try making. During the holidays, we’ll work our way through his list, photograph the successes and blog about them.
I’m also really looking forward to teaching him how to make other treats, such as granola bars, chocolates, ice cream sundaes and so forth.

 

– Summer Reading Challenge
Last weekend, the children’s summer reading challenge was launched in Bath by Olympic Gold Medallist Amy Williams. It was such a pleasure to meet her! I didn’t get to hold the Olympic torch (like my mum did!) but I have now held an Olympic Gold Medal. It was beautiful… and way bigger and heavier than I imagined it would be!

The library reading challenge has really fired up Lil’ L. The first thing he wanted to do when he broke up from school today was to go to the library and borrow some more books!

– Maths Challenge
To keep our ‘maths brains’ ticking over, we’re going to take part in Carol Vorderman’s Online Maths Factor Summer School (I need this as much as Lil’ L 😉 ). The school costs £15 but is so worth it. Carol Vorderman has got to be the ultimate Maths teacher. Not only is she fantastic at explaining maths, but she actually makes maths fun. Her online schools are perfect for kids like Lil’ L who are yet to develop a passion for numbers.

– Summer Diary Writing
Lil’ L has recently started to get interested in writing and his stories are way more creative than anything I’ve ever written! I’d love to encourage him to keep writing over the holidays, maybe in the form of a summer diary or scrap book. As well as writing, he could add photos, ticket stubs, drawings and so forth.

– Family Activities at Local Museums and Galleries
There are lots of drop-in activities on offer at the museums and galleries in Bath which are free for residents, and I’m planning to make the most of them!  Does anyone fancy investigating Roman gods and goddesses and making Minerva’s wise owl? Or how about learning some Roman language and make a Roman book mark? I know I do! 🙂 
If you’re planning to be in the Bath area over the school holidays, you must check out the family activity programme. Here’s the link.     

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– Play Dates
It’s really important that I arrange some play dates for Lil’ L so he gets to spend time with his friends during the summer. I need to do this ASAP as I know diaries get filled really quick.

– Quality time with grandparents
Lil’ L rarely gets to have one-to-one time with his grandparents and this is something that he mentioned he would really like this summer. Next week, he’s going to spend a couple of nights with his nan and her two dogs in Dorset and he’s really excited about it! Hopefully, at some point during the summer, he’ll be able to have some one-to-one time with his other grandparents too.

– Family quality time
The three of us (me, M and Lil’ L) are really looking forward to spending a couple of weeks’ of quality time together during the school hols, which means switching all the gadgets off (phones, computers, etc) and giving each other our full attention. We really value our quality family time. For me, it’s priceless 🙂

– Buddhist Festivals and Daily Meditation
There’s lots of Buddhist festivals in the UK this summer, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to attend at least a couple. As well as inspiring teachings and meditation sessions, there’s always lots of fun activities arranged for the kids. Lil’ L made some great friends at the festivals last year and hopefully they’ll meet up again this summer.


I’m also hoping that we’ll get into the habit of daily meditation, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. With Lil’ L’s help, I’ll set up a dedicated ‘meditation space’ upstairs. We’ll make it cosy with cushions and blankets, and light incense and candles. It’ll be great 🙂

 So that’s just a few ideas of what we’ll be able to do this summer on my shoe-string budget.  I can’t wait to get started!

I wish you all a wonderful summer. 🙂 xx

p.s. If anyone’s got a bit of sunshine to spare, we would really appreciate it if you could send it over here. Thank you 🙂

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Filed under Biking, Buddhism & Meditation, General wittering, Living Rich on Less, Vacations, Walking & Hiking