Beautiful Lakes (no scrambling please)

So we are back from nearly a week in The Lake District, and what a lovely week it was too.

On Tuesday night we drove up most of the way, staying in a Premier Inn somewhere north of Manchester. I had been to the allotment that day for a few hours and was very snivelly- thinking it was just from all the seeds, but I ended up with a bit of a cold. I tried to stay awake to keep Andy company and managed it for the most part!

Anyway, that meant that in the morning we only had 90 mins ish of driving instead of 4 1/2+ hours, so we drove in to Kendal for a walk.

Then we went to a visitor centre (which involved driving past Holbeck Ghyll, infamous from The Trip, which of course meant we could not stop doing awful impressions of their great impressions…..), had a little walk by the water and then drove to our B&B which was just lovely- in Windermere but also on the same road as Bowness (which is on the lake itself). It was a short walk (15 mins ish) down to the lake, so we spent the afternoon and evening wandering about, had some dinner, and then walked by the lake some more.

The next day we got the car ferry across the lake and went to Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s house, before having a few walks elsewhere. We were lucky to arrive early as we got pretty much the last parking space, and as you get a timed ticket to enter we had to wait for around 45 minutes. There were rabbits in the field to watch which kept me entertained!

Then we had a good walk around a little lake, but one we got back to the car it started raining, so we headed into Ambleside for a little lunch. There were some lovely looking places, and we ended up in The Apple Pie, which was lovely- lots of choice. We were going to have tea and cake, but the main menu was so good- I had a lovely roasted veggie and hummus sandwich with a salad, and Andy had a chilli, which meant we were full for ages after. As it was still raining we headed back to the B&B, but back in Bowness it was much brighter, so we walked up to Windermere, and then followed a walk up to the top of the hill for lovely views of the lake and hills beyond. We then went to the original (I think? or flagship?) Lakeland shop (I never knew that this region was called “lakeland”, but it explains why so many other shops are called “Lakeland”- I bought a few bits and we were going to go to the cafe but we were too late. They had an amazing looking lime and pistachio cake- I need to try out those flavours myself at some point.

So we bought some crackers and hummus in a supermarket for a late tea, and walked back down to the B&B, and then down to the lake as by then the sun had come out. Gorgeous.

The next day we were heading up to Keswick, and on the way we stopped at Aira Force- a lovely walk up to the waterfall and beyond.

The weather was just stunning- we could not believe our luck.

We walked beyond the waterfalls for a bit- I think we walked for a couple of hours here.

The waterfalls were so pretty.

And I love being in the woods on a sunny day- the dappled shade is so pretty.

There was a cafe (not National Trust it emphasised!) so we had a tea and shared some toffee cake- our first cake of the holiday!

Then we drove into Keswick- we were a bit early to check in to our B&B so we parked in the town and walked around for a bit- it seemed lovely (and a cafe/ cake lovers heaven!).

It was heaving! We checked in (our B&B here had some great veggie options on the breakfast menu, and was big on keeping green, with local wood and slate being used in all the rooms etc) and then went out to get an early dinner but everywhere was packed. In the end we went to The George Pub, as they did a veggie lasagne whereas some places had no veggie options at all. To be honest I am not a massive pub fan- and this one was not endearing me – it was a typical old pub with tiny dingy windows, old carpet, mis-matched furniture etc, and I was worried that we would be paying loads for a microwave ready meal, but actually it was proper home cooked and home made, filled with chunky vegetables and topped with goats cheese, so much nicer than I had expected. The pub was so busy (we had to share a table with two lots of people) and it was such lovely weather so we decided to head out and enjoy it. I fancied a tea, and although lots of places were closed we happened to walk past Foxglove, a health food store, which also served tea, so I had a delicious Earl Grey (and also picked up a couple of mini Beond bars).

We walked down to the lake and then into some fields (full of lambs! I love seeing the lambs)- such a great way to spend the evening.

The next day the weather was just as amazing- clear blue skies- so we got the boat across with the plan of walking up Cat Bells- apparently an “easy” walk with a little “scrambling”. Well, it turned out not so good for people with a fear of steep things.

The going at first was steep paths, which were OK but covered in little bits of slate so they seemed rather slippery. One bit was very steep but apparently there was another way back down. But then we got to this bit. Well I got further up than this, to the bottom of the rock part. Andy climbed (it was more than a scramble) to to the top, and then tried to point where I should go. I got about half way up and then got stuck. You did have to climb it though- and I mean holding on to rocks with both hands and hauling yourself up, there was no path at this point. And I am not confident at this at all. I don’t like steep things, and I didn’t like being able to see all the way down the hill to the lake- it made me realise how high we were. Then my legs would shake from nerves, and then I would miss my footing and slip, and get even more nervous. Plus I knew that even if I got up, coming down would be even harder. So I stayed there while Andy continued on to the top. I came down part of the way on my bottom and the rest of the way slower than a snail.

After that we got the boat the rest of the way around the lake, and then walked into town for a late lunch. We were recommended Pumpkin by the B&B owners, and it did not disappoint. Delicious wraps, paninis, sandwiches, salads and cakes all made there, plus a lovely range of teas. I was spoilt for choice, and in the end went for a wrap with goats cheese, roasted peppers and home-made apricot chutney- yummy. We also shared a slice of carrot cake which was amazing. We decided that a late lunch was easier than trying to find a restaurant in the evening. Again I picked up hummus and crackers in a supermarket, although Andy bought some chips, and we went for an evening walk around the lake, past the lambs again.

On our final day we went to Whinlatter (it was Easter Sunday so we chose somewhere that would be open)- there was a trail through the woods that was rated “challenging” but we thought it would not be as bad as the mountain walk! The walk was lovely- very steep at times but with some wonderful views at the top, and I just love the fresh air of a forest like that. It said to leave 3 hours but we were back in just over 90 minutes, so we stopped for a drink in the tea room, and then did The Gruffalo trail through the woods- fun.

Then we went to Castlerigg Stone Circle, before heading back into town, for another late lunch at Pumpkin.

Home-made hummus (which was a bit spicy!) in a wrap with roasted veggies, a deli salad, and some pretty calpol-pink Suki Red Berry tea.

We picked up some cake for later, and then walked the other way around the lake – we ended up walking out for about an hour so had to turn back as we were not sure when it would get dark. We had to walk through a field full of little black lambs, and on the way back a big group of them were playing right by the path!

So cute!

On our final morning we enjoyed breakfast before popping into town to pick up some sandwiches from Pumpkin- this time I went for a panini with mozzarella, home-made basil pesto and sun-dried tomatoes, plus a caramel shortbread (I thought that would travel easier). Then we hit the road for the long long LONG journey home. Actually the traffic was not too bad- we hit a few sections where we had to stop, but generally the going was good. We had some old radio 5 film podcasts to keep us entertained. In the end we stopped at about half 2 at a Sainsbury’s- I popped in to get us some soup for dinner, while Andy ate his sandwich in the car park before we carried on and I had mine in the car. The whole journey took us 5 1/2 hours so it could have been worse, but honestly we could have nearly flown to New York in that time! That part of England is so far away. Also, here is a good fact. Lake Windermere is half way between Lands End and John O’Groats. That surprised me a lot!

I bought quite a few goodies while I was there, but I shall save them for another post, as this recap has been rather long! Well done if you managed this far!

Have you ever been to the Lake District? The last time I went was 20 years ago! It was great to go back and we were so lucky with the weather too.

Do you mind long car journeys? I find them a bit painful in this country- I like Devon but again it is such a long way away. But then when we have been to the US the miles seem to fly by as their roads as just not congested (and the scenery helps too). The film podcast has been our top discovery for long journeys though as you can download all the old ones too.

A grown up Easter

Hey peeps

I hope you are all well, and enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend- 4 days of bliss!

Sainsbury’s kindly sent me some Easter goodies to give me some ideas for a grown-up Easter weekend.

Those little Easter egglets didn’t last long- I loved the dark praline ones and Andy loved the white chocolate ones.  He also enjoyed the wine- it would be perfect for taking on a picnic as it is only a little bottle.

The carrot cake was delicious (not a great photo as it was on its side in the box!)- I love carrot cake and this did not disappoint. I loved the chunks of nuts on top of the icing.

The gluten free hot cross buns were delicious- I have had some gluten free bread before which has ended up with more of a cake like texture, but this was really good and I am not sure I would be able to tell the difference.

I also enjoyed the Taste the Difference hot cross buns, with golden raisins and cranberries. I love hot cross buns with toppings- so again one was with coconut butter and (home-made) blackcurrant jam, and the other with lemon curd.

They are great for breakfast or to go alongside a cup of tea.

I also have a few Easter treats- I was given this cute rabbit (I have already eaten the little carrots), and I bought for us to share these gorgeous peanut butter filled eggs by Montezuma’s. They are amazing, and almost too good to share!

If I was to have a little Easter picnic meal, I think I would have something simple and savoury to start like avocado on toast.

(Proof that I don’t just eat sweet things!)

This was avocado on seeded bread, with some tomatoes and a little fresh basil.

Or maybe some hummus- I made this using the recipe in my new Oh She Glows cookbook, and added in a little pesto. Very tasty.  Or a combination with hummus and avocado (matching my delicious waffle from last week)- yummy. Then it would be on to the chocolate- I have been saving the Easter egg for this!

If you have hot cross buns left, then I recommend making bread and butter pudding with them- we used to have a recipe card where you spread them with marmalade, cover with custard (you can make your own, or buy it fresh) and then bake. Very good indeed.

 What are you up to this Bank Holiday weekend?

Veggie restaurant in Sorrento

Ages ago we visited Sorrento in Italy! I might at some point post some photos (when Andy sends them to me) but in the mean time here is my Italian inspired post.

Eating vegetarian food in Italy is not too difficult as there is always pizza and pasta on offer, however they have no idea of vegetarian cheese, and seem to love parmesan on everything, so I do like to try to find cheese free food when I can. Luckily we found a lovely organic veggie and vegan cafe in Sorrento called the Mondo Bio Cafe. It is on the side of a little health food store, and was only open until 8pm so one night we got there too late, but we did eat there twice. The menu was fab, with veggie and vegan options, as well as other dietary options such as gluten free- they offered spelt, kamut and some other sort of pasta for all their dishes. I had the most amazing gnocchi with tomato sauce and Andy had a lovely basil pesto dish, and then I think the second time I had some sort of baked tofu with tomato sauce (I think Andy had the pesto pasta again as he loves that).

If you fancy checking it out, there are some Trip Advisor reviews here.

Anyway, at Christmas I was given an Italian cook book, and recently have been attempting some of the recipes.

I have always wanted to try biscotti. This means twice baked- (and where the word biscuit comes from)- bake it once, then slice it and bake again to make it crispy.

They turned out really well- I used macadamias and almonds as the nuts (was meant to be pistachio) and they were especially good with a little nutella (also Italian!).

But the main dish I fancied trying was a gnocchi dish.

The recipe did call for ready made, so I am not cheating! The only passata available was this Pizza Express stuff, which turned out to have salt added, but it turned out so well.

Basically, chop an red onion and cook in a little olive oil, then add the passatta and simmer for 10 minutes, adding basil leaves at the end. Then cook the gnocchi.

Smelled so good already!

Then put it all in a baking dish with some mozzarella, and bake for 10 minutes.

It was delicious- we topped ours with more fresh basil as we bought a pack (I never have much success with keeping those little pots alive)! We had it with a salad, although the suggestion was some crusty bread.

Yum. I had never even had gnocchi before that trip to Italy, and am really glad I tried it. I am not the greatest potato fan, but the rich tomato sauce was just delicious and went really well with them.

What is your favourite Italian food?

Favourite holiday food find?

Perfect hair products

I don’t often post about beauty buys, but I feel I have to share this with you guys because this one product in particular has actually revolutionised my hair.

I have very thick hair- I know a lot of people say this but I do think mine is crazily thick. I always have to have 2 people drying it when I go to get it cut. I would love to be able to plait my hair, but even if I have 2 plaits they are too fat to properly hold together. So of course these products that I love may not suit your hair.

First up, I love “I love juicy” shampoo by Lush. Smells like a fruity smoothie, gets rid of grease and sweat, and leaves hair shiny and soft.

I am a bit fickle with conditioners- at the moment I am using a Bath and Bodyworks one I picked up in the US last Easter (yes I hoard things like this too) but I love the Organix coconut one. I have never found a Lush conditioner that properly conditions by the way, and I have tried a fair few.

This is what has revolutionised my hair. I tend to wash my hair quite often, and I do like to use hair straighteners as otherwise I look rather 80′s. Plus I get kinks from ponytails. I have tried serums before but they leave me with greasy hair and having to wash it even more often, which just wastes my time. Catherine over at Running In My Wellies raved about this coconut serum before (again by Organix), and when I saw it on offer I had to try it. First up, it smells like coconuts. Surprise. But mainly it actually makes my hair better. I use it like this: I get out the shower, and put my hair in a towel. Then after washing my face (to give you an idea of the time) I put a blob of this in my hair, work it through a bit and then put my hair back in the towel. Then I get dressed, clean the shower, and then take my hair out the towel and tie it up with all sorts of bands and clips. Then later on I blow dry my hair. If I straighten it, I tend to do that the next morning so my hair is properly dry as a hair-dryer will never get it 100% (well it would, but I can’t be bothered to dry it for that long).

The serum, instead of making my hair greasy, seems to actually repel dirt and grease. I am not joking!

I have been trying to wash my hair less, as I was washing it every other day at least. But recently I have been using dry shampoo after some workouts. I always use this after body pump now, because I get back so late that I can’t be bothered to wash it. Sounds bad I know, but I am sure washing less is better for your hair. It is better for my stress levels!

One week I think I washed my hair on Saturday morning after a parkrun, and didn’t wash it again until the Wednesday night- on Tuesday I had a run but just used dry shampoo. I really should have written it down, but I am sure one week I only washed my hair twice. I also find that using the serum means I use less dry shampoo. My hair does get greasy at the roots, so one day I would wash my hair and in the morning it would be fine, but the next morning I would need to use dry shampoo. Now, I can leave it another day without using the dry shampoo. I was only partly joking about stress levels too- one day I had a big pile of marking, left work late and wanted to have a run. As I was driving home I just decided that I would not wash my hair- this means a quicker shower but also means I don’t have to spend ages drying it at night, and straightening it in the morning- less stress right there.

Can you tell how much I love this?

What hair products do you love? How often do you wash your hair?

Tea follows running in the rain

(And iced tea follows gardening)

Recently we have been enjoying a pot of loose leaf tea on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

On our trip to Nice I bought some gorgeous teas from the Christmas market, including this chocolate orange tea, which contains huge flakes (pieces?) of dried orange.

Although I love “normal” tea, there is something lovely about the ritual of brewing tea in a teapot and taking time to enjoy the drink.

It is even better if I have been out on a run, either in the freezing cold, or more commonly this winter, the pouring rain.

I was sent this rather bright and fabulous running rain jacket from Mountain Warehouse to help me stay dry in the rain.

Since I have had it, it hasn’t rained so I have not tried it out, although we are heading off to the Lake District later so I am going to try it out on some walks up there.

I love the bright pink colour- it will be great for dark evenings too.

They have plenty of waterproof jackets to choose from, and if you are unsure what you can look to find out how to choose a waterproof jacket with their expert guide.

I was considering some waterproof trousers too, so on Sunday afternoon (after watching the London marathon) I walked up to the shops to have a look. I tried on pairs in 3 different shops but they didn’t seem very comfy for walking in, so I am going to take my running trousers instead.

Yesterday I did my longer run of just over 8 miles- I was going to do a shorter loop but forgot and went the longer way automatically. It was good to be out there and although I was chilly at the start I warmed up pretty soon- no need for a jacket!

After some work at home and helping my Dad load up his car for the tip (he has a bigger car so offered to take all our garage junk for us) I headed to the allotment for a couple of hours of weeding. Oh my word there were dandelions everywhere!!! I was so tired by the time I got home, and hot and thirsty too, so instead of hot tea made myself an iced chai.

I used a chai teabag, and then topped with milk and ice.

So refreshing!

This morning I had another short run (3.5 miles)- I saw some rabbits! I had to pop to work, and then to the shops, and now need to finish packing for our trip.

Do you have any favoured post run rituals? Really I should focus on stretching more, but normally I want to wash the salt off my face and then have a drink.

Any Lake District recommendations?

The jacket was sent to me by Mountain Warehouse.