Time for tea

The last two mornings I have got up early and gone for a run.

That noise you can hear? ย That’s the sound of people who know me falling over in a dead faint.

I don’t do running.

And as I was running around the park this morning I thought to myself

ย 

“I don’t DO running”

and then “why am I here?”

ย 

and then “I want to go hoooooommmmeee”

But, I’ve been reading recently.

and that can be a dangerous thing.

so according toย this

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I (along with most of the western world) have a biological age that is 18 years older than my chronological age.

Which makes me over 60.

But given the effect that 90minutes of Ashtanga on Friday followed by two early morning runs on Saturday and Sunday has had on my body, 95 would be a positively flattering estimate.

This can’t be good for you!

And then, and then, of course, is the ‘news’ that all sugar is evil, the work of the devil, and responsible for everything that is wrong in the world today.

So what is a girl to do?

Lavender and Honey Scones

No sugar (ahem) and it contains plant matter so it can count as one of your five seven a day.

Take 375g self raising flour and sift it into a bowl. Take 2heaped teaspoons of culinary lavender flowers and grind in a pestle and mortar or blitz in a processor

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Add the lavender to the flour and mix well.

Now add 2 tablespoons of runny honey and mix well, and then to this slightly sticky mix add 80g of butter. Use your finger tips to mix in until it resembles breadcrumbs

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Add between 150-200ml of milk – add a bit at a time, you don’t want it too sticky, but also try not to overwork the dough or the scones will be heavy. Once the dough has come together, turn it out onto a floured surface and press down.

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Cut out your circles and place on a baking tray. Brush with milk if you like.

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Bake in an oven, preheated to 220C gas 7 (200c if fan assisted), for about 15 minutes until golden.

I remember having Lavender ice cream when we were in Provence many years ago.
Sounds lovely doesn’t it?
Imagine eating frozen perfume and you get close to the experience.

These scones are not like that. The lavender is subtle and adds just a hint of fragrance to the scone.

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They go very well with strawberry jam

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And that ups the score to 2 of your 7 a day!

Result!

๐Ÿ™‚

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Fiction Friday

I’ve been ignoring it for weeks.

But today I finally succumbed.

I went into the garden.

And I didn’t immediately turn around and go straight back into the house again!

This is what awaited me

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And this

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And where did this come from?

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It wasn’t there the last time I looked!

And after two hours solid gardening, can’t you see the difference?

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Nope, me neither.

Sigh.

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

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Well, it was ok. The tale of an ex-pat Singaporean woman who returns to the family fold, and business, after the breakdown of her marriage. The story was reasonably well told, well structured. But….But. It lacked something. The main character was not particularly likeable, so it was hard to care whether her journey of self discovery led anywhere. The descriptions of Singapore? Uninspiring. The descriptions of the art of soy sauce manufacture? Routine.

A bit of a missed opportunity.

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

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A mysterious authors society, books that rewrite themselves and things that lurk in the woods.

Sounds promising.

Roll up

Yoga today.

We assumed a position which involved sitting on the floor, knees bent and flopped out to the side, soles of feet together and hands holding the toes.

As we folded forward, the practice should have involved focused visualisation of the earth supporting us and tensions slipping away.

What popped in to my head?

Circus clowns pedalling tiny bikes.

Just call me Coco ๐Ÿ™‚

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Fiction Friday

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

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Oh Dear.

Do you remember 80s High Street shop, Athena?

The one that sold posters with meditation enabling images (pebble on the beach, sunlight streaming through a tree canopy etc) and “inspirational” quotes?

Do not mourn it’s demise for Mr Coelho is here to gladden your heart and fill your soul with similarly deep and meaningful insights.

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life”

Who can not be awed and stunned into silence, deep and reflective silence, by such original insights as this one?

Ahem.

I fear Mr Coelho has read all the hype about him being a sage for the 21st century and is either, starting to believe it

or, has panicked at the weight of expectation that awaits his every literary outpouring.

Or perhaps he’s just been watching too many repeats of Oprah and Dr Phil.

A book of platitudes?

Stick with the poster of the tennis player scratching her bum.

It probably offers more meaningful insight into life.

๐Ÿ™‚

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

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A story about family, tradition and honour, Singapore and artisanal soya sauce.

What’s not to love?

The Scent of Summer

I think it could be official.
We’ve had four, four, days on the trot when the sun has made an appearance for at least part of the day.

Yay, summer is here!

And with summer comes

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Strawberries.

I did the annual trip to our local Pick Your Own, The Malt Kiln Farm Shop, with youngest child and her friend.

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The sun shone, the bees buzzed, all was right with the world.

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And we came away with about 3 kg of strawberries.

So we may have got a leeetttle bit carried away.

I’m not counting the several kilograms of strawberries we ate whilst we were filling the baskets.

Until you’ve tasted a freshly picked strawberry, warm from the summer sun, you have not really tasted a strawberry my friend!

Once we got home (the mini doing wheelies due to the weight of strawberries in the boot) it was time to try and do something useful with the fruit.

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And what better than strawberry jam?

It’s the easiest thing in the world to make.

Wipe, or wash, your strawberries and de-hull them.

Weigh your fruit.

Chop the berries into smaller chunks and place in a large saucepan or jam pan.

Heat for 10 minutes or so to release the juices and then mash with a potato masher or wooden spoon.

Heat for a further 5 or 10 mins until the fruit has really cooked down into a pulpy mash.

Add the same weight of jam sugar as you have of fruit, plus the juice of a lemon as strawberries have little pectin.

Bring to a rolling boil

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When the jam has reached the setting point (either pop a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes then remove and drop a splodge of jam on it, pushing to see if skin forms on the surface, or see if the jam forms globular droplets that cling to the back of a spoon when it is lifted out of the mixture) take off the boil and decant into clean, sterilised jars.

Now make yourself a quick batch of scones and enjoy warm homemade, intensely strawberry jam on warm, homemade, melt in the mouth scones

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It really is the taste of summer. Mmmmm.

Fiction Friday

Sorry, it’s been a while since I last fictioned on a Friday. Best laid plans and all that….

So without further ado

Last Week I Was Mostly Reading

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I am at a bit of a loss as to where to pitch this one.
Set in Pakistan, it is the story of a wealthy, beautiful, educated young woman, Zarri-Bano, who turns down suitor after suitor, until she meets her match, and the man of her dreams. So far so predictable. When family tragedy strikes Zarri-Bano is forced by a sense of duty to obey her fathers wishes and become a Holy Woman, in essence becoming married to the Koran, adopting the Burqa and immersing herself in the teachings and laws of Islam.
What is interesting is that a book that starts off as pro-feminism, pro-Westernization, then shows how religious devotion, familial duty and tradition can be as fulfilling to an individual as chasing after one’s own dreams and ambitions.

The portrayal of the Pakistan countryside, the bustle of the cities, the contrast between “sophisticated” wealthy city dwellers and traditional, patriarchal villagers – it’s all beautifully and evocatively done.

The Cinderella conclusion? A bit of a let down

But an engaging, page-turning story nonetheless. Definitely recommended!

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

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I very much enjoyed “The Alchemist” so I hope this is as inspirational and thought provoking….

In the wild

A fab night at Hinckley Island Hotel. 2 double beds and a single in the bedroom, three restaurants on site to choose from, and best of all, a swimming pool!

Because we hadn’t managed to get wet enough during our drizzly day at the zoo.

Our second trip into the delights of Leicestershire’s finest attractions was to Conkers.

It rained.

And rained and rained and rained.

But that didn’t deter the intrepid adventurers.

No siree.

There were dens to be built

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And fires to make

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Man build fire. Ug.

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Not quite enough fire to roast a mammoth.

Fortunately Conkers has lots of cafe’s so we didn’t starve ๐Ÿ™‚

Now back to the grindstone. The last few weeks before another school year is over. How did that happen?

Deep in the Heart of Leicestershire

It’s half term.

The whole world seems to be on holiday.

My other half is even away (with work) in Holland. I’m sure he’s not enjoying himself at all.

Ahem.

And so. And so, I decided to be a bit adventurous and book to take the kids away for a few days by myself.

To……Leicestershire.

So, okay, not really all that adventurous then.

But it was a journey into uncharted territory, or at least, as it was oldest child’s first go at map reading for me, it might as well have been :-).

We booked with Leicestershire’s Stay Play Explore short break, which gives you one night in a four star hotel, and family tickets to three of Leicestershire’s finest attractions.

And what could be finer than a zoo?

In the rain?

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Have you ever seen penguins look cold and damp before?

But it was still fun, in spite of the weather.

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Black tailed prairie dogs

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Otters

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Primates

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I know. It would just be too easy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just be wary of the spider monkeys.

What at first glance appeared to be a third back leg, led to all kinds of interesting discussions as well as much hilarity and is likely to be the one thing the kids remember about the whole trip.

It will also make their “what I did during the holidays” school essays very interesting for their teachers to read. I am sooo looking forward to the next parents evening…..

And no, I haven’t got a photograph. ๐Ÿ™‚