Bluebell Woods and Bath Skyline

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.

Riding along the Kennet & Avon Canal Towpath

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!

Bluebell Woods Clatford

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 😉

Bluebell Woods at Clatford 2

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

Bath Skyline Walk 1

Bath Skyline Walk 3

It’s super steep in places, so a great workout!

Bath Skyline Walk 2

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.

Bath Skyline Walk 4

Bath Skyline Walk 5

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!

Bath Skyline Walk 6

Bath Skyline Walk 7

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 😉

Christmas has arrived in Bath!

First, we had the Bath Christmas Lights switched on by Mary Berry.

Bath Christmas Lights Switch On

Then there was the Bath Lantern Parade, filled with a huge array of paper lanterns which danced its way down Pulteney Street to the beat of Samba Sulis.

Bath Lantern Parade 2013 1

Watching Bath Lantern Parade 2013

The Bath Christmas Market has been in full flow for the past couple of weeks. It’s been bigger and better than ever this year!

Bath Christmas Market 2013 2

The Lantern Parade and official opening of the Christmas Market were even more special for me, as my mum and her best friend came to visit for the night

Bath Christmas Market 2013 1

My favourite time to walk round the Christmas Market has been during the evenings, when the crowds have started to subside. It looks so pretty lit up, with beautiful Bath Abbey as its backdrop.

Bath Christmas Market 2013 3

And last weekend, Christmas came to our house too!  M and Lil’ L headed to Colerne to buy a tree. When they returned home, they decorated the tree and the living room as a surprise for me!

Christmas Tree 2013

After all this activity, the boys definitely deserved a cup of hot chocolate, which I made with the Elements for Life Spiced Raw Hot Chocolate, and topped with some vegetarian marshmallows from The Vegan Kind‘s latest subscription box.

Vegan Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows

And now it’s time for me to treat three of my lovely readers with an early Christmas pressie   The Raw Chocolate Making Kit giveaway ended at midnight last night and the three winners, chosen at random by Rafflecopter, are…

93 Tamzin

339 Poppy

522 Jane

Congratulations to you all!  I’ll be in touch to arrange delivery x

And I must say a big ‘thank you’ to Elements for Life for enabling me to host such a fabulous giveaway!

Elements for Life has a fantastic range of chocolate-making goodies and super foods available from their online store. They’ve kindly given me a discount code which entitles my readers to 10% off any products on their website. Just enter BOTGS10 at the checkout. This code has no expiry date!

Are you feeling ‘Christmassy’ yet? Now we have a tree, I’m definitely starting to feel more festive 😉

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? I only started mine yesterday!!!

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!)

 

Sweet Chestnut Casserole with Herb Dumplings – Comfort Food for a Snowy Weekend!

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend!

It’s been snowing here in Bath. Yay!

Snowy Bathampton Meadows 500

Snow is something of a novelty here. Last year it only snowed for one afternoon!

Lil’ L was so excited when he awoke on Friday and saw the snow. Not only did it mean that he got a bonus day off school, but it also meant that he would finally get to use the sledge that his grandparents had bought him two years ago!

He quickly gulped down his breakfast, threw on some warm clothes, and was out the door!

Lil L Snowy Bath January 2013 1

With all this freshly fallen snow, the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful!

Snowy Tree in Snowy Bath January 2013

As lunch time, M came for a spot of sledging. The boys had a huge amount of fun!

Lil L sledging in Snowy Bath January 2013

They were moving so fast that I only just managed to catch a shot of them. Can you spot them? They’re behind the tree!

Lil L sledging in Snowy Bath January 2013 3

I’m a big scaredy cat when it comes to things like this, so I’m very happy to watch from the sidelines.

Lil L Snowy Bath January 2013 2

As well as sledging, we’ve had some beautiful walks this weekend, including one along the Kennet & Avon Canal into Bath City Centre.

Snowy walk along the K&A Canal - January 2013

Upon arrival, Lil’ L suggested we warm up with a veggie pasty from our favourite pasty shop  (Pasty Presto) by Bath Abbey 🙂

Lil L at Pasty Presto Bath

Back home, we’ve been warming up with lots of hot chocolate. Our current favourite blend is the Elements for Life Raw Hot Chocolate. It’s totally lush! (check out my review here). To make it into a filling, nutritious snack, I’ve been throwing a bunch of ingredients in the blender (1 cup Alpro Almond Milk, 1 tbsp raw hot chocolate powder, 1 tbsp chia seeds & 1 tbsp ground almonds per person) and blending it on high speed before gently heating it through. It’s delicious, thick, creamy and leaves you feeling totally full up 🙂

Lil L drinking hot choc

I’ve also been making lots of comfort food. For the second Sunday in a row, I’ve made a Sweet Chestnut Casserole with Herb Dumplings.  We absolutely love this dish and it’s perfect for this time of year.

Chestnut Casserole with Herby Dumplings

N.B. Recipe updated 1/3/18 to match the recipe in the Bit of the Good Stuff cookbook.

For a Gluten Free version, you could serve the casserole with a root veg mash or add an oaty crumble topping.

Have a great week everyone! Stay warm!

 

 

Is it snowing where you are?
What are your favourite Winter warming comfort foods?

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Bath Lantern Parade & Christmas Market 2012

This week we’ve had heavy rainfall and high winds, and many areas within Bath are now flooded. Bathampton Meadows (pictured in my top banner) has turned into a lake and our garden is completely submerged under water. It’s an amazing spectacle! I’ve posted some pics on my FB page if you want to see for yourself.

However, these adverse weather conditions weren’t going to put us off attending the Lantern Parade and opening of Bath Christmas Market last night. It was raining and blowing a gale when we first ventured out. Fortunately, by the time the Parade kicked off, the rain had reduced to a fine drizzle. Good thing too as I don’t think the paper lanterns would have lasted very long in a deluge 😉

The Lantern Parade started at the Holburne Museum and made its way down Pulteney Street to the sound of Bath Samba Band. Everyone was in high spirits despite the weather.  I noticed that lots of people (me included) couldn’t help but add a little samba strut to our step as we made our way into the city centre 😉

The Parade ended at the Abbey, the site of the Christmas Market.

I just love visiting the Market at night. The sight of all those little wooden sheds lit up is so inviting 🙂

And who are these two characters? I’m not exactly sure but they were very entertaining. Lil’ L ‘high fived’ the … Snow Queen?

In addition to the parade, there were some awesome animated light projections on the Holburne Museum and Bath Abbey. These were the work of Transient Graffiti, a local community development project.  We enjoyed the animation whilst warming ourselves with veggie pasties from Pasty Presto (by far the best pasty shop in Bath in our opinion!)

It was a great night out and I’m so glad the rain died down so we could all enjoy it. About an hour later the torrential rain started again so we were very lucky indeed!

Just before I sign off for the weekend, I must announce the winners of the Raw Hot Chocolate Giveaway.

The 3 lucky winners are…

Julia
Denise Williams
Kathleen Hooper

Congratulations guys! Please email me your postal addresses (Sharon at BitoftheGoodStuff dot com) and I’ll post the prizes to you next week.

If anyone of my other readers would like to try some of the Elements for Life Raw Hot Chocolate, Dan & Paula have given me a discount code that entitles you to 10% off any of the individual hot chocolates, mugs and hot chocolate gift sets.  Simply order before 1st December 2012 and enter the code BOTGS1112 at the checkout.

If you live in the South West of the UK, you’ll be able to find Elements of Life raw chocolate goodies in a number of retail outlets. The full list can be found here.

I’ll be running another chocolatey giveaway in December and this time it will be international.  I’m excited already. I love giveaways 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone! Stay safe & stay dry xx

 

A Special Birthday Treat: Afternoon Tea at Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms, Bath

For my Mum’s birthday this year (which was back in May), I wanted to treat her to afternoon tea in Bath. Incredibly, my mum has never had a traditional English afternoon tea before!

After waiting four months for her birthday treat, she finally made it to Bath this week. It was so lovely to spend some quality one-to-one time with her (something we rarely get these days). I wanted to treat her to a whole day of pampering, so we started the day with coffees, followed by a 2-hour session at the Thermae Bath Spa. By far the best part of the Spa is the rooftop pool, with its stunning views across Bath.

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Before my Mum arrived, I’d scoured the Internet looking for the best place to have afternoon tea. Many places only offered the tea between 3-5pm which, of course, makes sense as it’s afternoon tea. However, this limited time window isn’t so great if you’ve got to pick the kids up from school!

Fortunately, through the Visit Bath website, I came across Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms, which offers teas throughout the day. From its description, the tea room sounded very appealing…

“Step back in time when you enter Bea’s charming Vintage Tea Rooms next to the Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum on Saville Row in Bath.
Decorated in authentic 1930’s/1940’s style from the dainty china tea sets and embroidered tablecloths to the ceiling lampshades, bevelled mirrors and wartime posters. It offers a blissful retreat from the hustle and bustle of this popular historic city.
Retire to the comfortable sofa reminiscent of Gran while you browse wartime recipe leaflets and admire patriotic posters. Or sit at a table, to be served by smiling staff in period pinnies, bright red lipstick and landgirl bandanas, serenaded by the music of those momentous moments”.

After reading this, I couldn’t wait to check it out!

The tea room is only about a 5-10 minute walk from the city centre, but far enough out to feel that you are truly away from the ‘hustle and bustle’.  We walked from the Circus to Saville Row, but probably the quickest way to reach it from the city centre is to walk up Bartlett St, off George St (that’s the way we returned to the centre and it’s very direct).

The establishment did indeed live up to its description. It was a feast for all the senses. Before I’d even entered the tea room I was drawn to the staircase with its eye catching wall coverings.

The interior of the tea room is beautifully decorated with vintage mirrors, lights, ornaments and crockery.

Check out the beautiful 1940s tea dress in the display cabinet!

I loved the cute menus and hand-embroidered tea cloths. I remember my Nan having a cloth like this!

And check out the cake cabinet. Everything looks so scrumptious!

Shortly after we arrived, we were warmly greeted by one of the waitresses, followed by Bea herself.  My mum ordered her afternoon tea for 1 (sadly there were no vegan options), and I chose to have a rocket and roasted pepper toasted sandwich and a pot of tea. The teas arrived in vintage pots with a little egg timer to indicate when the tea was fully brewed (I loved all these little details!)

And check out my mum’s afternoon tea! There were finger sandwiches, a scone with clotted cream and jam, and 2 slices of cake!

The cake on the left was filled with lemon curd, with a meringue topping. Absolutely delicious, according to my mum! After eating the sandwiches, scone and a piece of cake, she didn’t have room for the other piece, so Bea gave her a little box to take it home in.

My mum’s afternoon tea cost £10 and, in my opinion, this was the best value afternoon tea I’ve experienced in Bath. Others I’ve seen (I’m not going to name & shame) have been similarly priced or more expensive, and totally underwhelming.

I’d like to say a big “thank you” to Bea for making my mum’s birthday treat so special.

Eek! Check out my swimming pool hair and no make up look. My mum carries it off so well… unlike me!