Gromit Spotting, Street Art & Lunch at Roll for the Soul in Bristol

Hi everyone! I’ve finally made it back to blogging world!

I hope you’ve all had a fantastic summer

After a refreshing break, I’m very happy to be back ‘plugged’ in. I’m really looking forward to catching up with you!  I’ve got lots to share this month, including some exciting giveaways and yummy recipes, but I thought I’d kick start my return to blogging by sharing some pics of one of my favourite family days out this summer.

Wallace & Gromit Bristo
‘Newshound’ by Nick Park CBE

I’m not sure whether my international friends will have heard about Wallace and Gromit, but they are the most endearing couple that feature in a series of stop-motion comedy films, created by Nick Park at the Aardman Animations Studios in Bristol.

Gromit Spotting 8
‘Isambark Kingdog Brunel’ by Tim Miness

This summer, 80 Gromits were ‘unleashed‘ on the streets of Bristol and surrounding area. The 5ft tall Gromits were individually designed and named by famous artists and celebrities.

Gromit Spotting 6
‘Where’s Wallace?’ by Martin Handford

While the trail finishes this Sunday (8th September), from the 18th to 22nd September, all 80 Gromits will be on display at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) in Clifton, Bristol. They will then be auctioned in October to raise money for the Bristol Children’s Hospital

Gromit Spotting 5
‘TutanGromit’ by Dale Evans

The trail has been hugely popular with people of all ages. And what a fantastic way to encourage kids to go walking!  I reckon we must have spent over 4 hours walking round the streets of Bristol, but Lil’ L was far too busy Gromit spotting to notice. Every time he spotted one, he photographed it, checked it off on his trail map, then he was straight onto the next one!

Gromit Spotting 4
‘Lancelot’ by Paul Smith

We ended up spotting about 25 Gromits, so there are still plenty more to discover. If we don’t make it over to Bristol this weekend, we’ll definitely have to go and see the display at the RWA at the end of the month.

Gromit Spotting 7
‘Poetry in Motion’ by Joanna Lumley OBE

In addition to the Gromits, we also enjoyed spotting all the amazing street art in Bristol. I just love wandering round the streets taking it all in. Every time we visit, we seem to stumble upon new pieces.

Bristol Street Art

This visit, we also stumbled across this fantastic vegetarian community cafe called ‘Roll for the Soul‘, which promotes cycling (it even has a bike workshop upstairs).

Roll for the Soul Bristol 3

I don’t think there could have been a more fitting place for us to have lunch!  It was awesome!  A large proportion of the food served at the cafe is vegan too 🙂

Roll for the Soul Bristol 1

This time, all three of us chose the falafel wraps. They were HUGE, perfect for hungry cyclists (and Gromit spotters) and very tasty indeed. I can’t wait to go back again to try their soul burgers and vegan cakes. Maybe if I cycle across to Bristol I’ll have a big enough appetite to fit it all in 😉

Roll for the Soul Bristol 2

All in all, it was a fantastic family day out. One that I’ll treasure forever

Do you have any community or not-for-profit veggie cafes where you live? If so, I’d love to hear about them.

p.s. Thank you Lil’ L for allowing me to share your Gromit and street art pics. They’re awesome!

Weekend Highlights – Spray Painting, Bike Riding & Roasted Vegetable Risotto (with Recipe!)

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend 🙂

We managed to fit in lots of fun activities this weekend, starting off with a trip to the library on Saturday morning where Lil’ L returned his book and came out with another seven! You can guess who ended up carrying those round Bath. Luckily he had lots of books to keep him occupied while we went for coffees in Neros 😉

I’m still getting a real kick out of how much Lil’ L is enjoying reading.  In addition to the library books, he’s also currently reading a chapter of Lemony Snicket to us every night and, on his own, he’s reading Philip Pullman’s ‘The Subtle Knife’ (both books that he picked up from the charity shop for a couple of pounds each).

In the afternoon, after a quick visit to a local village fete, Lil’ L and his friend T did some stencilling and spray art with M in our garage.

T did a space-inspired picture, while Lil’ L sprayed an underwater scene with a scary looking fish!

On Sunday, it actually stopped raining for a few hours and the sun came out. We decided to grab the opportunity to go out for a bike ride along the Kennet & Avon Canal.

To make it more interesting for Lil’ L, we said we’d cycle to the Angel Fish Cafe at Limpley Stoke for lunch.  That sure got him moving!

Both the boys fancied baked beans on toast but we were surprised to find that the Cafe only served white bread. No wholemeal, no granary, no seeded bread.  That’s no good! Bike riders need big chunky doorsteps of wholemeal granary bread to refuel them, not thin anaemic white slices 😉

Lil’ L asked if he could have an ice cream for dessert. I told him he could have one at the Canal Boat Cafe in Bathampton (back where we started our journey). This was a sneaky move on my part to make sure he peddled fast rather than dawdled all the way back. It sure worked 😉

We’ve had an unbelievable amount of rain lately but, on the plus side, the countryside is looking beautifully lush and green!

The muddy bike bottom really isn’t a good look is it? I’m so glad I’ve finally had mudguards fitted to my bike.

The face was pretty muddy too (and chocolatey!)

And look at those legs!

Back home, Lil’ L headed straight to the shower while I made the most of our sunshine and did a little gardening. I was amazed to find that we’ve actually managed to grow some strawberries that haven’t been eaten by a slug … or snail … or blackbird!

And look what else I came across… a beautiful shimmering blue damselfly taking refuge on Buddha 🙂

He stayed there for ages!

After a great day out, I cooked us a large pan of roasted squash and red pepper risotto. It was very yummy indeed. Unfortunately, Lil’ L isn’t a huge fan of risotto (he isn’t keen on the texture of Arborio rice) but I pre-empted any negative comments by serving it with some toasted wholegrain tortilla segments. He then proceeded to tuck in with enthusiasm, piling the crispy tortilla high with the risotto, and ate every last grain!

I often find that the addition of a ‘bready’ side dish, like a flat bread, tortilla, or piece of garlic bread can transform a meal for Lil L. I wonder if this is the same for all children?

At the weekend, I made the risotto with an old packet of Arborio rice that needed using up. Next time I make the risotto, I’m going to try the Riso Gallo 3 Grains Risotto Rice which consists of Italian Rice, Spelt and Pearl Barley. As this rice contains wholegrains, it will have a lower GI than regular white risotto rice, as well as other nutrients such as Iron and B Vitamins.

With the butternut squash and red pepper pieces, our risotto did look quite pretty. I also added some peas to add more colour and lovely nutrients 🙂

Here’s how I made it:


Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Risotto

Serves 4
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
350g / 12½ oz / 1¾ cups of Arborio rice (or wholegrain equivalent)
1 litre (1¾ pints) hot vegetable stock
300g / 10½ oz / 2 cups butternut squash, cut into small slices or cubes
1 red bell pepper, chopped
60g / 2oz / ½ cup peas
27g / 1oz / ¼ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas 6.
  2. Place the butternut squash, red pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 cloves of crushed garlic in a roasting tin and mix well. Roast for 25 minutes or so, until the vegetables are cooked.
  3. Gently heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and 2 remaining crushed garlic cloves, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the rice and mix well to coat it in the oil.
  4. Now you have a choice… you can add the stock the authentic way … one ladleful at a time, waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next ladleful … or you can do what I do… which is simply to pour all the stock in at once, bring it to the boil then cover it and gently simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes I stir in the peas and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender. I’m sure the ‘authentic’ way is the best way to cook risotto, but I find that pouring in all the stock at once works fine for us. The risotto turns out creamy with a little ‘bite’, just how risotto should be. Anyway, please choose whichever method suits you best 😉
  5. Once the rice is cooked, mix in the roasted butternut squash and pepper pieces. Serve in warm bowls with a garnish of toasted almonds.
  6. This risotto is delicious served on its own, or with segments of toasted tortilla.


Have a great week everyone! 🙂 xx

This time last year… Glastonbury!

A Trip to Essex, My 100th Post & a Raw Chocolate Giveaway!

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

We had a couple of important birthdays to celebrate this weekend so, on Saturday, we decided to take a road trip back to our home town of Essex.  It’s the first time we’ve been back to Essex this year, and it was really nice to catch up with family and old friends. 🙂

On Saturday night, we celebrated M’s Dad’s birthday at the Strada Italian restaurant at Lakeside.  We had a great night and the food was really good.


On Sunday, we headed to M’s best friend’s in Hertfordshire to celebrate his 40th birthday.  It was really good to catch up with the gang and their off-spring (all of whom have grown incredibly since we last saw them!)  To mark his friend’s special birthday, M had sprayed a unique piece of graffiti art for him.  (The lettering spells out his friend’s surname!)


Before we left for the party on Sunday, I managed to squeeze in a visit to see my best friend from school.  It was so good to see her!  We met each other on the first day of school and we’ve been friends now for 35 years!  I still can’t believe that we turn 40 in a few weeks time!


So, after a busy Bank Holiday weekend, I’ve finally managed to sit down and write a blog post and… guess what…. it’s my 100th post!!!  After nearly a year of blogging, I’ve finally made it to the big 100!  It took a while didn’t it?



To celebrate reaching my 100th blog post, I thought I’d make some celebration raw chocolates 🙂  I’ve made one batch of goji & almond raw chocolate hearts, and one batch of raw chocolate orange segments.  Do you fancy sharing them with me?  If so, just leave me a comment below and I’ll choose a winner at random next Monday, 14th May.

Good luck everyone!

And finally, before I sign off, I must announce the winner of my ‘Be the Change’ book giveaway.  The entrants were placed in chronological order, and a winner was selected at random using

I am pleased to say that the lucky winner is…..

Candy @ Healthy in Candyland!

Congratulations Candy!  The book will be flying its way across to you very shortly! 🙂

Have a great week everyone! xx

A Day Out in London – Graffiting in Banksy’s Tunnel

For the second part of M’s 40th birthday present, I’d arranged for him to spend a few hours in Banksy’s Tunnel in Leake Street, London with graffiti artist ‘G’. 

While they were hard at work, Lil’ L and I met up with our gorgeous friend Helen for a delicious Thai lunch at Busaba.  If you’re ever in London, I highly recommend a stop at one of the Busaba restaurants as the food is outstanding.  After stuffing ourselves full of delicious eats, we headed to the Natural History Museum.  I was blown away by the beauty of the museum building.  The collection of dinosaur bones was pretty impressive too 😉

Check out what M and G were up to while we were gone… (BTW, it’s legal to graffiti in Banksy’s Tunnel so don’t get alarmed!)










 G is clearly a great teacher and M must be a quick learner.  I dread to think what mess I would have produced if I’d had a go! 😉  

Big thanks go out to G and Helen for giving us a such a great day out in London 🙂

A Birthday Surprise, Yummy Eats & Yak Yeti Yak

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Hope you all have a great day!  I’m posting early today as we’re off to London for part 2 of M’s birthday surprise 😉

Thank you for all the kind birthday wishes left on my blog for M (or ‘Mr Bit of the Good Stuff’, as Candy calls him 😉 ).  On Monday, M turned the ripe old age of 40 and, to mark the occasion, I had 2 great surprises lined up for him (one for Monday and the other for today) 🙂 

Both M and I have got a keen interest in art but unlike me (who hasn’t got an artistic bone in her body) M is a dab hand with a pen, pencil or paintbrush.  For a while now, he’s been mentioning that he’d like to have a try at stencil graffiti art so, on his birthday, I arranged for Stuart, a graffiti artist, to come to our house and give M a 1-2-1 tutorial. 

As well as being an artist in his own right, Stuart travels all over the UK and internationally to teach individuals and group workshops.  I was so grateful that he was able to stop by Monday to spend a few hours with M.

It rained non stop on Monday, so Stuart and M had to squeeze in our very messy garage.  Both Lil’ L and I were fascinated with Stuart’s suitcase full of spray cans.  Here’s one of many photos that Lil’ L took of the suitcase 🙂

Stuart was a great teacher, not only helping M with technique, but also in the development of his creative ideas for the two canvases that he was going to produce.  Here’s a shot of M in action (minus his head as he wants to remain anonymous 😉 )

The two pieces of work he produced are already hanging on our living room walls.  They’re not bad for a first attempt are they?



He’s definitely got the spray painting bug now and can’t wait to have another go.  Luckily, I’ve got another surprise lined up for him today  😉

While the boys were busy being creative in the garage, I decided to get creative in the kitchen and try out a new recipe.  Since I had some ready-made puff pastry sitting in the fridge, I decided to have a go at making Viva’s Chestnut Pate En Croute.  It was so simple to make, and ready in less than 30 mins. 

I cut it into four large slices, and gave a slice each to Stuart, M, Lil’ L and the last one for myself.  The feedback was very positive, and M suggested that this bake would be great for Boxing Day dinner.  While it was delicious as it was, next time round I may add some chopped chestnuts, pine nuts and porcini mushrooms to make it even more special 🙂

Here’s how I made it:[print_this]Chestnut Pate en Croute (based on Viva’s recipe)

Serves: 4
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20-30 mins

2 onions, chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g / 3 1/2oz button mushrooms, sliced
Half a tin of unsweetened chestnut puree (a full tin is 435g, so you want 215g)
2 tbsp fresh soft breadcrumbs
1 tbsp brandy
salt and pepper
1 sheet of Jus Rol ready-rolled puff pastry (rectangular, not round)
soya milk to glaze


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas 6
  2. Fry the onions and celery in the oil in a large saucepan, covered until the onions are transluscent.
  3. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and cook for 2-3 mins.
  4. Mix in the chestnut puree, breadcrumbs, brandy and seasoning until everything is well combined.
  5. Unroll the pastry and place carefully on a lightly-oiled baking sheet.  Pile the chestnut mixture lengthways down the middle third of the pastry.
  6. Make diagonal cuts 1cm / 1/2″ apart on the pastry on either side of the chestnut mixture.  Fold these up alternately to make a lattice covering it.  Brush the pastry with soya milk and bake for 20 mins or so, until browned.


Viva has produced a fantastic mini guide full of delicious vegan Christmas recipes.  The guide can be accessed online here.  I’m planning to try out a few more of their recipes over the next couple of weeks.

After we’d had lunch and said goodbye to Stuart, we headed into Bath as Lil’ L wanted to take his dad to the cinema to see Arthur Christmas in 3D (another birthday treat).  All of us really enjoyed the film.  Arthur is a very sweet, kind hearted guy 🙂

For dinner, we went to one of our all-time favourite restaurants in Bath… The Nepalese ‘Yak Yeti Yak’

So what do I love about this restaurant?  Basically everything! … The delicious food, the great ambiance, the gorgeous interior, and their stunning dinnerware.  I must get me some of those brass platters and bowls 😉

We opted for the veggie set menu ‘Dal Bhat Tarkari‘ (rice, dal, aloo channa, popadum, fresh stone-ground chutney, dhai, and our choice of individual vegetable dishes – Chyauko Tarkari (stir fried mushrooms), and Aloo Tamar (fermented bamboo shoots stir-fried with new potatoes and black-eye peas).  Between the three of us, we’d soon polished off the lot!

For dessert, I had Kir (coconut creamed rice lightly spiced (with cardamon, I believe), sweetened, sprinkled with toasted shredded coconut and served chilled).  This dessert was totally scrumptious and I can’t wait to have a try at making it myself.   

All in all, Monday was a great day of fun-filled activities and eats, and I hope M enjoyed it as much as I did 🙂 

Time to head over now to Jenn’s WIAW party and see what my foodie friends are eating.  Hopefully I’ll get some inspiration for Christmas. 

I still have no idea what I’m going to be cooking over Christmas and as I’m hosting this year, I really need to get organised.  At the moment, I’ve a huge urge to go to the supermarket and buy lots of ready made food and be done with it.  I’d much rather be playing games with the family and watching movies than slaving away in the kitchen.  But, is that too much of a cop out?  What do you think?