Last Easter, I spent a glorious two weeks with the family on the Canary Island of La Palma. It was one of the most beautiful hiking destinations I’ve ever visited. In today’s post, I thought I’d share a few highlights from the trip, as well as details of our favourite vegan eats.
Today, I’m taking part in the Travelodge #FlauntYourHaunt campaign and I’m going to share what I love about my home city. I’ve lived in Bath for sixteen years now, but not a day goes past that I don’t count my lucky stars that I ended up in this incredible place!
So what makes Bath so special to me?
During the school summer break, we strapped three bikes to the roof of our car and headed across on the Eurotunnel to France. Our destination – the beautiful French Alps.
La Clusaz, a short drive away from our hire chalet, soon became our favourite place to hang out. It’s a great family-friendly place, with so many activities going on that I felt like I’d landed in a scene from Where’s Wally!
The village was filled with activities for all ages – inflatables for the small kids, summer luge, zip wires and a big air bag for the older kids, as well as an ice rink and swimming pool.
Lil’ L loved the big air bag! The slope is actually designed for ski jump practice but, in the summer, you can slide down it in an inflatable tyre. It was really popular with kids and adults alike. Literally everyone I watched jump had a big smile on their face :o)
From La Clusaz, you can take cable cars up into the mountains for hikes, cross country biking and downhilling.
Our hiking adventures took us through alpine meadows…
through forests and streams…
and up and down rugged hills…
where we came across these beautiful creatures ♥
The weather wasn’t the best, but we made sure to make the most of the sun when it came out.
We did get caught out one day whilst hiking on the top of a mountain. The sky suddenly went dark, and then the most almighty storm set in. We ran as fast as we could down the mountain, slipping and sliding in the torrential rain, with deafening claps of thunder and forked lightening overhead. It was exhilarating (and just a little bit scary too!)
For the first time ever, it was me that was left trailing behind on the bike rides!
It’s incredible how much Lil’ L has improved at hill climbing in the past year. Last year, I was the one waiting at the top of hills as M patiently coached him up the hill. Now, he flies up the hills and stands waiting for me!
I’m seriously going to have to up my game as I don’t want to be ‘slow mum’. That’s just not cool!
As well as hiking and biking, I loved running in the stunning countryside surrounding our chalet. After climbing up and down hills for three weeks, my body’s definitely stronger and more toned. I’d love to keep it that way!
Other activities that Lil’ L loved this holiday included swimming, reading, playing chess and Diablo. He’d been patiently waiting for a new Diablo for weeks so, when we finally gave it to him at the Eurotunnel terminal, he couldn’t wait to get started. He even managed to spin it in the car!
We were really pleased with our hire chalet, which was spacious, modern and came with a fully-equipped kitchen. When in France (with the exception of Paris), we always prepare our own meals. Not only does it save us a small fortune, but it can be difficult to find vegan-friendly eateries, especially in this area of the Alps (aka ‘Cheeseland’!).
In fact, I didn’t see a single vegan option on the menus I looked at. No matter though, as I was more than happy to cook, especially as M was around to help out. Back home, I’m usually in the kitchen on my own, so it was lovely to have some company!
Since we were travelling by car, I took a few supplies from home that would either be hard to come by (like nooch and nettle tea) or a lot more expensive in France (like big packs of almonds and cashews). I also took some herbs and spices to save having to buy more.
Fortunately, non dairy milks and yogurts are readily available in the French supermarkets. The Bjorg brand has lots of vegan-friendly products, including delicious mushroom and aubergine pates. We found them on the ‘Bio’ (organic) aisle, along with the milks and tofu. Bjorg tofu is different to the tofu you find in the UK, as it’s UHT and doesn’t need pressing. It’s chewier than our regular tofu, but I find it works well when diced into small cubes and cooked in sauces.
The one thing that always catches me out in France though is the hummus – for some unknown reason, most of the brands contain cheese!
All the meals we made were simple and quick to prepare. For lunch, we loved big colourful salad plates, beans on toast (we found Heinz baked beans on the world food aisle!), or baguettes filled with stir-fried veg. For our main meals, we enjoyed pasta, curries, fajitas, French bread pizzas, stir-fries and couscous dishes.
The three weeks flew by and, before we knew it, it was time to head home. We’re now back into the routine of work, school and evening clubs and activities, so week days are pretty full on. I’m looking forward to lots of weekend biking adventures though, crunching our way through piles of Autumn leaves. I just need to sneakily get some extra hill practice so I can keep up with those boys 😉
I hope you had a wonderful summer too ♥
Did you manage to get away on vacation or for day trips?
What was the highlight of the summer for you?
I don’t remember a year ever being as wet as this one! Here in Bath, rarely has a day gone by without rain. In the press, there’s talk of an impending heatwave. Hmm I’ll believe it when I see it.
Last weekend we finally had a break in the weather and we were itching to get outside and make the most of it. It was actually a Bank Holiday here in the UK and we had three days of warmth and sunshine ♥
We were pretty much outdoors for the whole weekend. On Saturday, we headed out on our bikes along the Kennet and Avon Canal and rode the Two Tunnels circuit. This is one of my all-time favourites cycle routes. I love riding through the Combe Down Tunnel. It’s got such a cool vibe! Just over one mile in length, it’s the longest cycle and walking tunnel in the UK.
On Sunday, we met our friends for a drink in Marlborough then headed to West Woods at Clatford, North Wiltshire. English bluebells bloom in late April/early May and you’ll find many woods are literally carpeted in them!
We timed our visit to Clatford just right. By going later in the day we found that everyone was leaving just as we arrived. For most of the walk, we were literally alone in the woods. It was an incredible experience. Truly magical! ♥
Of course there were plenty of sticks and climbing to keep Lil’ L and our friends’ grandson happy 😉
On Monday (our bonus day off), we went for a hike along the Bath Skyline. We did the circuit back to front and started at Bathampton Woods. Another magical place, filled with mossy trees and stones ♥
It’s super steep in places, so a great workout!
The official circuit guide says that, on average, people burn 735 calories on this walk! Luckily M had stuffed his backpack with leftover pizza and trail mix to keep us going.
The climbs are worth it as you’re rewarded with the most spectacular views of Bath city. It was pretty hazy on Monday but the views were still incredible!
We finished our walk in the city centre, which was abuzz with tourists and locals. It’s amazing how a spot of sunshine can totally transform the vibe of the city. It actually felt like summer had arrived! The bars and cafes were packed with people drinking and dining al fresco. Sadly it was short lived as the rain started again on Monday night, but at least we made the most of it while it lasted!
How’s the weather where you are? Today it’s so dark and rainy that it actually feels like winter’s returned! Not great weather for us, but perfect if you’re a slug or snail 😉
As of today, the Christmas holidays are officially over in our house. For me and the boys, the holidays have been total bliss. All the usual busyness of daily life stopped in our house and we enjoyed two weeks of ‘down-time’ together ♥
Like many parts of the world, we’ve been experiencing freaky weather patterns these past few weeks, including frequent spells of torrential rain and gail force winds. Our local meadows (pictured in my top banner) transformed into a big lake.
On Christmas Eve, we awoke to find our garden completely submerged under water. The water levels were the highest that we’ve ever seen them before, reaching the top of Lil’ L’s slide. While the water did eventually drain away, as soon as we had more heavy rain, the garden flooded again. Fortunately, our house is on higher land, so there’s no risk of it flooding.
For Christmas Day, we headed over to my mum’s in Dorset. We were having such a nice time that we ended up staying five days!
We played games, watched films, and went on some lovely walks with the dogs. Father Christmas brought Lil’ L a laser gun set, and he and M had lots of fun and laughs running round the house and forest shooting each other (boys eh?)
Using the weather tracking tool on our mobiles, we were able to time our walks to avoid the worst of the rain. Most days were dark and cloudy, but Boxing Day was exceptionally bright and dry, so we headed to Bournemouth.
It was utterly glorious!
We took a long walk along the promenade, played with the dogs on the beach, had coffees on the pier, and played the tuppence slot machines in the arcade.
I find it so invigorating by the sea this time of year. It’s great for clearing the old cobwebs away!
Love these colourful beach huts on Bournemouth promenade!
Food-wise, by far the best meal of the holidays was the Christmas dinner. My mum made the nut and lentil roast on Christmas Eve so, on Christmas day, we simply needed to prepare the veggies and gravy. Lil’ L said it was the best Christmas dinner he’s ever had! He even tried the Brussel sprouts and, though not keen on them on their own, he loved them mashed in ‘Bubble and Squeak’ (which we served on Boxing Day with the Chestnut and Mushroom Jalousie).
And thank you SO much for all your lovely comments about the Cranberry Glazed Red Lentil and Cashew Nut Loaf recipe. I was over the moon to hear how much you liked it! ♥
I admit I’ve eaten far too much these past couple of weeks but I’m not worried about it. This week I’ll get back into my usual eating and exercising habits and, by the end of the month, I’m sure I’ll back back to my usual weight. For me, this month is all about quick prep, low cost, tasty, healthy meals. I’ve got some really easy recipes to share with you, plus some awesome giveaways.
Time for me to officially bid farewell to 2013 and embrace the New Year.
Here’s wishing you all a very happy 2014 ♥ xx
Last month, we were lucky enough to visit the beautiful region of Provence in France. We travelled by car, stopped overnight in Fontainebleau, then headed to the historical village of Goult, which was to be our home for two weeks.
We stayed in a sweet little cottage, which we rented from Eva, a very kind and welcoming Swedish lady that had lived in Provence for many years.
The cottage had everything we needed for a comfortable stay, including a fully equipped kitchen. Whenever we stay in France, we tend to prepare our own meals. It’s way cheaper (we would easily have spent £60 per day if we’d eaten out), plus I’ve found it near-on impossible to find vegan cuisine outside the big towns and cities.
I did bring a few supplies from England with me (mainly bags of raw nuts as these tend to be expensive in France). We bought fresh bread, salad, fruits and veg from the shops in Goult and did our main grocery shops at the hypermarche in Apt. The big supermarkets often have a ‘bio’ (organic) aisle which stocks health foods, wholegrains and ‘free from’ products. We found non dairy milk (including Alpro) in the long life milk section, and soya yoghurts (such as Sojasun) on the chilled yoghurt aisle. We also found big tubs of ready-made houmous, much to Lil’ L’s delight 😉
All the meals we prepared were quick and easy. For lunch, we’d have big plates of salad and crudites, served with freshly baked ‘6 cereales’ bread. We also found Heinz baked beans on the ‘International’ aisle of the hypermarche, which made a tasty quick lunch served on toast.
For evening meals, I’d stir fry a big pan of veggies with spices, then use them as a basis for Mexican fajitas, Moroccan couscous or Indian curries. We also made tomato & basil pasta dishes, red lentil dals and French bread pizzas.
While we were out and about, the boys did eat the odd ice cream, crepe or patisserie but I stuck to nuts, seeds and dried fruit snacks. My stomach appreciated it. Normally on vacations my stomach feels very unsettled but not this time. I didn’t have a single stomach ache whilst we were away 🙂
We enjoyed so many activities on this vacation! In the mornings, there was tennis playing and frisbee throwing in Goult; swimming at nearby St Saturnin; exploring in the Foret des Cedres in Bonnieux; paddling in the crystal clear waters at Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and plenty of biking 😉
After lunch, we would often go exploring by car, hiking up to hill-perched ancient remains…
and visiting nearby towns and cities, including the historical and vibrant Avignon.
Back at the cottage, we would chill out in the ‘cave’, reading, drawing, playing cards and watching films. Early evening, I also enjoyed going for runs up and down the hills round Goult, taking in the beautiful scenery 😀
Biking was a big part of our vacation this year. We took our own bikes (strapped to the top of the car) and enjoyed exploring Goult and the surrounding countryside. We cycled past vineyards, olive groves, lavender fields and through cedar forests. It was such a feast for the senses!
Often, in the mornings, we would cycle to neighbouring villages, which tended to be perched on top of a hill.
It was challenging at times for Lil’ L …
… and there was the odd injury :/ …
… but it was worth it. In addition to the great sense of achievement he felt at having ‘conquered’ another hill, there were the rewarding refreshments at the village cafes…
and spectacular views to take in ♥
I also took on my own challenge this year and decided to ride a section of Mont Ventoux. I hadn’t done any hill training on my bike this year, so I knew I wouldn’t be in shape to ‘conquer’ Ventoux, but I thought I’d at least attempt the last 6.5km section.
I left M and Lil’ L eating nutella crepes at Chez Reynard…
… and set off on my Marin full suspension mountain bike (much to the amusement of the ‘roadies’) ….
… praying that my 13 year old gaffer taped shoes would hold out!
The final 2km seemed more like 20km, but I eventually made it to the summit.
It was a fantastic experience. I’m so glad that I did it!
The two weeks flew by and it was soon time to pack up and head back home, feeling refreshed, revived and fitter than when we’d arrived!
Provence is such a beautiful area of France. Hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to return one day ♥
Do you choose to cook on vacations? If so, what are your favourite dishes to make? Do you have any tips for quick and easy meals?