It started with a cake

Challenge no 16  – Day trip to Cardiff to visit daughter, go to Cardiff Bay for lunch and buy Welsh cakes.

Any journey or trip with the family will involve planning around eating. We are particularly fond of cake especially cream teas. As I was visiting Kathryn at her 2nd home, I thought I would make her a cake. She has insisted that I only take a few slices up as she is eating healthily. I am sure the boys won’t mind be left with the remainder. As I was going to Wales, I opted for Paul Hollywood’s version of the Welsh plate cake, white chocolate and cherry cake. I think it went down very well.

My trip was taking place on Saturday 25th March, the day before Mother’s day and I was looking forward to having a lovely day with Kathryn. After a three hour train journey, I was able to see my daughter and experience, in unusual March warm weather, a walk in Kathryn’s favourite parks. One of the parks gave me an excuse to use Kathryn’s camera, a very thoughtful present from Aaron. I want one; I meant the camera but Aaron is a lovely lad too! With the camera, I was able to capture an arty picture for challenge 26. I will share later.

After having a delicious blackcurrant and clotted cream ice-cream (another family favourite), we reluctantly left Roath Park and the many families enjoying the sun, swans and beautiful scenery, and made our way to catch the train. As much as she is clever, my beautiful daughter can be a bit dipsy too; she honestly thought that the restaurants and pubs would stop serving food at 3 p.m. I personally think she was just hungry and wanted me to walk a bit faster. Cardiff Bay isn’t too far away from the City so it didn’t take long before we were sitting down enjoying a lovely lunch.

First ice cream of 2017
Beautiful daughter

There is certainly a great selection of places to eat. We opted for Bill’s and loved the look of everything on the menu. I opted for a fish pie and Kathryn decided to go for a burger. Although we were very full, we still needed to buy the welsh cakes. For these we went to Fabulous bakery on the quay and chose blueberry and white chocolate. We didn’t actually try them until on the train back to the City; they were yummy.

Bill’s Fish Pie

We took in the scenery and enjoyed a walk along the quay. Kathryn was trying her hardest to try to get a good “selfie” of us but the bright sun and wind had other ideas for that. Another photo we both wanted was the carousel; on our first trip to Cardiff Bay when we were viewing the university, we watched with amusement, a wedding party enjoying this carousel. What great memories for the start of your marriage. We even got to enjoy a female choir singing The Climb (apparently from Hannah Montana, information courtesy of Kathryn).

We still had a few hours left so we returned to the City and I managed another challenge; buy a physical copy of an album. This had rules and had to be spontaneous so I was not allowed to buy The Osmonds because I had wanted that one.  Honestly, I would not have thought about that had I not heard Let Me in on Radio 2 a few weeks ago. What can I say, the kids today would definitely love that music. In the end, I decided to by Eva Cassidy and I can confirm I love it; with a song on it called Kathy’s Song, I would say it was the perfect choice.

I was then taken towards the car park in St David’s shopping centre to play adventure golf. There are 2 courses; we chose to play the Ancient explorer trail and Kathryn joked that it would be funny if one of us got a hole in one at the end and got a free play. Funny as it sounded and I’d like to pretend beginner’s luck but we have both been rubbish at crazy golf for years, we both did get a hole in one and Kathryn has 2 free games to play in the next couple of months. Thanks Bob, we did beat the 19th. I must add that Kathryn did win our game.

Perfect selfie taken by Kathryn

With sadness, I said goodbye to Kathryn (I will probably see her at the end of the week!), and made my way home. This challenge was a joy and I am looking forward to my next day out with my (I know this is getting boring now!) beautiful daughter. Three ticks for this adventure.


In our Italian restaurant, anything can happen

My weekends have certainly been taken up by challenges just recently and I have got just under 7 weeks to finish. Very busy weekends. Preparation is going very well.

The challenge I completed at the weekend certainly goes into the top 10 of my favourite challenges. Believe it or not, I found it fun, a little challenging and rewarding too. There were 2 challenges here; buy a new baking machine and make something with the baking machine. Also have to document it in my scrapbook.

I had been searching for the right “baking” machine for a while. It didn’t have to be baking like a bread machine or doughnut maker; it could be something like a soup maker which I did think about. Looking at my blender attachment for my food processor, I decided against that. I did also think an attachment for the food processor would be a good idea; I really want the mincer attachment. I could make great chicken burgers. In the end, a book helped me with my decision. I was reading From Rome With Love, when it gave me the idea for a pasta maker (also an idea for this month’s book to read with a different genre too so a worthwhile read!). I investigated the different sorts, a manual machine and an attachment for the food processor. I ruled out the attachment out due to cost and after reading the reviews, went for this little beauty from Marks and Spencers.

Shine pasta machine


I decided to use it when everyone would be home and after looking at the many recipe books we own (I was delighted to read in Mike Gayle’s The To Do List that he has cookbooks to that he hasn’t used), with Chris’s input, I decided to make a carbonara recipe from one of Gary Rhodes book. For the pasta recipe, I used different books to find the the best method and ingredients. All you need for the pasta dough is flour and eggs. The flour needs to be 00 flour (I didn’t have a clue either) and some need semolina flour too. In the end, I opted for Tesco pasta flour and it worked a treat. It even has a recipe on the side.

I was a little surprised to see that I was expected to sift the flour on the worktop and make a well to add the eggs. I decided on a less messy approach; my good old food processor. Such an easy method. Whilst I rested the dough, I assembled the machine. The only fault with it was the clamp did not fit my worktop but that didn’t beat me; I had a new vegetable rack with worktop that fitted the job perfectly.

When the pasta dough was ready, I had to feed it through the flat rollers which according to The Ask Italian book, proves the dough, and the gluten’s in the flour will be kneaded and elastic. It needed to go through this part several times. It was amazing when I looked at the photograph in the book to find that mine looked the same.

Proving the pasta
Like the book said!


Next job was cutting the dough. It did make me so happy watching the machine cut the dough into tagliatelle. I concocted a rack to dry the pasta on for two hours before making the carbonara. The pasta does not take long to cook so dinner was made very quickly. End result was fantastic; my description would be a creamy Italian version of an English cooked breakfast. Delicious.

Cutting the pasta

I loved this challenge and although it won’t be used every week, I am determined to use it regularly. Might even attempt the manual method of making the dough next time.

Two big ticks earned here.

Tempted by the fruit of another (well a wicked queen)

Another tick has been awarded. Well there are three ticks on the page but it does only count as one challenge.

The hardest part of this challenge was which films to choose. The weirdest thing is some of the films I love, I think of modern films: Grease, Flashdance, Airplane; all from 70s and 80s  but are actually classics now. It came as a shock the other night to realise that the series, Just Good Friends, was from 1983, and the gorgeous actor from it, Paul Nicholas, was 72 years old. How time flies.

I have written about Singing in the Rain previously which I had enjoyed. That film brought back memories of my childhood.

To Kill a Mocking Bird was chosen for two reasons; when my mother was alive, I would visit her every Saturday afternoon and often watch films with her. I had been engrossed in the film but didn’t get to watch all of it. This led me to reading the book. Having partly watched the film first, I could clearly picture Atticus played so wonderfully by Gregory Peck. The story is about prejudice in the 1930s of a small town in the Deep South but narrated through a child. The film is a great adaption of the book and I loved watching the kids being able to play carefree. Atticus had the difficult job of earning a wage whilst bringing up two inquisitive children. A fascinating and enjoyable film to watch. I still have the prequel, Go Set a Watchman to read. It is on my list of things to do after my challenges come to an end.

Snow White was the first featured length film by Disney. It was always a particular favourite of mine. As a child, I had the story on a record and would sit for hours with headphones on listening to the story. Who could resist the seven dwarfs; Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy and Grumpy. My favourite will always be Dopey. Perhaps my greatest memory when listening to the record was the scene with the wicked queen asking “Mirror, mirrors on the wall, who is the fairest of them all”. It is a Grimms fairy tales which explains the frightening side of the story. I was surprised at how scary the huntsman and Snow White scene was. I certainly don’t remember feeling frightened as a child. In true Disney style though, Snow White, being so sweet and loving, is saved. Everybody falls in love with Snow White, even the hard to please Grumpy but they are unable to protect her from the evil queen.

It has been lovely to watch the classics whilst cross stitching. I have actually watched more films in the last year, and stayed awake, than I have ever done before. One other film I have enjoyed recently is the new Cinderella, a modern day version of the old classic. It did not disappoint me at all, and now, I am looking forward to watching the new adaption of Beauty and the Beast.

Now how many more ticks have I got to get?


We Keep Our Love In A Photograph

When I saw this challenge, I did think about the photos I had of Jordan and Kathryn but then remembered all the photos I had of my grandparents and other people who were no longer with me. They are tucked away in a box where I stumble over sometimes and look at for the memories. This particular challenge has made me think that they shouldn’t be in a box but displayed in some way; that said, would they become part of the scenery where I wouldn’t even notice they are there. Maybe so but at this moment I can see a picture of my dad that my brother, Richard kindly framed for me. It does allow me a few minutes to remember him. This particular picture is a lovely carefree one of him, a dad I would never know because he was young, free and single then. Lovely to see him so happy.

My young dad

In this day of digital, we take lots of photos but don’t tend to print them. Sometimes it is a good thing; I remember paying for the photos to be developed only to find lots of blurry photos. I’m still not much better at taking photos now! Whether a photo is printed or on my screen, I still gaze at the photo, touch it to feel the person, want to kiss it and feel so much emotion from it. A photo I chose when I wrote my post for Kathryn’s 21st was one I had forgotten about.   I have probably looked at it more over the last month and loved the memories of my little girl, whilst appreciating what a wonderful feisty young lady she has grown up to be.

Young Kathryn

Going back to the challenge, I did have in mind the sort of frame I wanted for the photo I wanted to use. I had seen it in Sass and Belle in Brighton on our visit in September so bought it on our visit in February. It had that particular antique look about it that I wanted. I know that the photo isn’t perfect but it is photo of one of my favourite people;my lovely nanny (and she was a true nan in every way) looking lovely and trim pictured with my great gran (my grandad’s mum) who I remember fondly on her visits to my grandparents’ home. The photo floats in the frame and looks wonderful.

Nan and great gran

I have promised myself that I will try to frame the others that are in my box and find a mixture of other frames that would suit the purpose. My next one will probably include a photo with me in it. I am not actually a lover of having a picture taken but it is one when I much younger with my brothers and my wonderful grandad.

Next picture to be framed


A very satisfying tick for this challenge.

Play that Song

Kathryn and I have signed up for our 10k challenge; a race for life event at Windsor race course on the 3rd June. Very close to my challenge deadline so no backing out of that.

I am a slow plodder when it comes to running so I am going to try to increase my speed in my training over the next couple of months. Kathryn has recently written a blog post about her exercise tips, and how she finds fitting some short one mile runs in beneficial. I was only managing one long run at the weekend so, as the morning are lighter, I am trying to fit in a couple of runs around “the block” before work.

My round the block scenery

One of my favourite things is my iPod. I have lots of music on it and being some sort of weirdo, I like to have playlists. (The weirdo part will become apparent when I come round to explaining my kindle library; I am sure everyone has playlists).

My playlists are:

  • Bedtime
  • Christmas
  • Dancing
  • George
  • Lovely songs
  • Musicals
  • Running
  • Sing a long
  • Walking
  • Zumba

The type of music you play when you do an activity is very important. I love dancing when I cook although when Kathryn is cooking with me, a good old singalong or musicals is called for. I haven’t perfected the walking one yet and sometimes put my sing a long one on which can be dangerous. Play That Song by Train is my favourite song at the moment and I quite forgot myself the other morning and heard myself singing the chorus on my way to work. I found it very hard to compete with Stubbington church bells when trying to reach the high note in Defying Gravity. Anyway, I digress. I have found that having the wrong music on can make you slower: I lazily stayed on my bedtime playlist whilst walking to work the other day which meant I was a few minutes slower!

My running playlist is perhaps my most important. I did read up about the beats per minute and how songs like Duffy’s Mercy has 127 bpm so has quite a good beat to run to. The NHS page is a good one to explain more.

As well as the beats, I do find the lyrics inspirational too and that will give me encouragement to continue. However, on my second “round the block” run last week, iTunes randomly picked the slower inspirational tunes and I did find my lap was slower than the first. I think I need to do a few extra playlists.

Let me indulge and share a few of my favourite from this particular playlist. There are 84 (I told you I was weird) but here are a selection:

  1. Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys – I feel like that girl  – passionate and enthusiastic
  2. Don’t Stop Movin’ by S Club 7 – we can all move to this one
  3. Amazing by George Michael – I love hearing George telling me I am amazing
  4. Brand New by Pharell Williams and Justin Timberlake – the words “a winner never quitter, a quitter never wins” inspires me big time
  5. Get Stupid by Aston Merrygold – this just makes me move. Love it when I am flagging
  6. Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz – always makes me giggle because it tells me I’ve got to speed it up then slow it down straight away. Also the time always comes when I have to make up mind about the direction I am going!
  7. Work Work by Britney Spears – I do dream that I will have that hot body so I will get to work
  8. Fighter by Christina Agulira – It wouldn’t be fair not to have Christina when I have Britney song would it. This is my fight for it song.
  9. Can’t Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake – will always bring the memories of the Great South Run
  10. (Is This The Way To) Amarillo by Tony Christie – I should keep this a secret that this is actually on my iPod but it is on for sentimental reasons. My mum asked for it be played at her funeral and I bet she thought I would never do it. Always plays when I need some inspiration.

Sorry for all the tunes that didn’t get a mention – I love you all!

I have to mention the song that gets me in the mood for running. I do a 5 minute walk and always (and. even with tears on Boxing Day) I start with George Michael singing Feeling Good. There is always a George song for whatever mood you are in.

Hopefully the tunes played on my next run will help me increase my time.

A Town Called………Arundel

Challenge no 22 is to visit somewhere in England that I have never been before. I do have 2 ideas for this one; the first one a beautiful little place the train has stopped at whilst travelling to Cardiff; the second one, which I plan to visit with Chris is to have a bit of a “fan girl” experience. I would hasten to add that I would never have thought to visit if my idol had still been alive. I will share the place and experience once ticked off.

Chris and I did actually practice visiting a town I had not visited for sometime last Sunday. Funnily enough, Chris had been on a train back from London when he noticed Arundel castle looking splendid on the landscape. He thought it might make a nice change to take a journey by train there. Investigations found that the castle is closed on Sundays in March and the train journey would have been over an hour long due to a lengthy stop for a change in Barnham. I am sure Barnham is a lovely place to live but after Karen and I found ourselves waiting there for over an hour in July, I have a phobia of the place. Despite all this and a wet looking weather forecast, we decided we would drive to Arundel to explore the town.

We planned to have a late breakfast once there and we were delighted to see as we drove through the pretty town, lots (and I really do mean lots) of little cafes where we could satisfy our hunger. We parked opposite the closed castle and walked along by the Wey and Arun canal, a place I do plan to go back to in the summer. Chris had then insisted his stomach needed food so we went to find a place to eat. We chose a very busy little cafe on the corner called The Tudor Rose and enjoyed a very nice sausage bap and a delicious latte. Whilst we were sat in there, there was a downpour of rain so maybe Chris’s stomach is connected to the weather forecast.

One of the many cafes
Canal I plan to visit in the summer months

The sun reappeared to allow us to explore the shops. We turned into Tarrant Street and I was delighted to find some wonderful quirky shops. I did manage to resist buying a pair of sandals but did buy a present for a friend from an amazing clothes shop called Fanny Adams and some small tins of paint to help me with challenge no 43 – Upcycle/DIY something from a charity shop. Again that shop, Arundel Interiors, is delightful to look around. We also bought some tea in the Tea and Biscuit Club. The assistant let us smell all the different varieties before we made our purchase.

Before we got caught in another downpour, we did find a lovely little garden to admire, and in my case, nearly fall flat on my face. It was looking over the canal and would certainly be lovely to visit in the summer.

Mind the steps!

After a cup of tea and cake from another of the little cafes (it would be lovely to try them all), we wondered around finding more attractions the town had to offer including the Lido which I would imagine is a popular venue in the summer months.

We had a delightful time in Arundel and plan to visit again soon to hopefully explore the castle, enjoy a boat trip and buy lots of presents from the unique shops. Might return to Fanny Adams and buy myself that outfit I still need to buy.

I Am Who I Am

Whilst I thought I would love the two reading challenges, I did find them very hard work at the beginning. I have got over the negativity now and have actually found it has changed my reading habits for the better. I now only buy the books I want to read by the authors I love to read. February found me buying one of my favourites, Mike Gayle. That man is amazing; as well as having great male characters, his female characters are brilliant. He gets our species!

The book I bought was The Hope Family Calendar. It was on a daily special so I sent the link over to Chris as Mike Gayle is one of his favourite authors too. It actually didn’t take me long to read and if I had had time, I would have read it one sitting! It was actually great being able to discuss a book with Chris even if one of the items was about something I felt was an error. Think I might need to read a few parts again before I question the author! Still loved the book though.

I had completed another two books in February before reading this. It might have been a short month and lots of birthdays too but I certainly enjoyed my reading.

First book was I am Malala, one of Kathryn’s top 10 books for me to read. I am still finding physical books hard to read but not moaning so much about it.

Like most people, I first knew Malala as the girl who had been shot by the Taliban because she wanted to go to school. As a “white British girl”, I have taken it for granted all that I have. I am not just a female expected to clean the house and bring up a family. I have the choice to be educated to a high standard and have a successful career. Malala was born in Pakistan whereby females are treated differently. Malala was lucky though: her father ran a school and treated her as an equal to her brothers, and encouraged her education.

Her father was very outspoken about the Taliban especially about the restriction they were putting on education, particularly female education. Inspired by her father, Malala started writing a column under a pseudonym for the BBC Urdu service about fears of her school being attacked and education rights. Both father and daughter received death threats but continued to speak out.

I’m not sure if I would have read this book if I had not been given this challenge: having said that, I feel much more educated for having read it. Malala describes herself as being just an ordinary girl who fights with her brothers and since coming to England, liking cheesy wotsits. I actually believe she is a brave girl who I respect and admire. I will enjoy following her story.

My choice for my February read for a different genre was an Agatha Christie read. I had never read any of her books although I had sometimes seen a Miss Marple or a Poirot TV programme whilst visiting my mum. Jordan had read Murder on the Orient Express at Christmas so I thought that was where I should start. Not the first of the Poirot mysterious but perhaps one of the famous, Hercule Poirot is on the Orient Express when it comes to a complete stop because of a snowstorm. At this time, a dead body is discovered. His fellow passenger has been murdered and Poirot is called upon to investigate.

I chose this particular book because I love the romance of the Orient Express and it was February. I have fallen in love with mystery of this type of book and do plan to read the collection from book 1. I was actually relieved to discover that my plan to have a pen and paper ready so I could hopefully solve the crimes was shared by Jordan. Perhaps we are both mad!

A very enjoyable February reading month. Now I must go and read my March choices.

Keep on moving, don’t stop blogging

March has come and panic has set in. Just under 3 months to complete my challenges; can I do it?

I have actually used the first week of March to get on top of some of the ongoing challenges: I have read, I have stitched, I have been running and I have been preparing some of the challenges. I hopefully won’t let Kathryn down. I have neglected my blog but I plan to change this.

Challenge 29 – Complete a sewing project
Challenge 6 – Read your daughter’s favourite books


First thing I have done is update my 50 challenge list:

  1. Purple is for completed
  2. Orange is for ongoing/planned
  3. Pink is for a change (which hopefully Kathryn has been approved)

First of all, I can confirm I have:

  1. 16 ticks for completed challenges✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓
  2. 10 items are ongoing/planned
  3. 3 changes and, (takes a huge gulp) 21 to start getting on with

In the next couple of weeks, I will share any completed challenges I haven’t written about before and the items that have been planned and will hopefully be turning to completed soon. Now let’s talk about the 3 changes:

Challenge no 2 – Visit the Ritz – paid for by your fabulous daughter

The Ritz was a wonderful idea (thinking about it, we could still visit and look but not have an afternoon tea!). Kathryn is a poor student; as well as that, she is in her final year so leading up to my (I can’t believe I am saying this) 51st birthday, she is extremely busy. However, she still needs a break and Kathryn and I were given a fabulous present from Jordan of a cookery course in London. We have booked ourselves on the Afternoon Tea course which sounds wonderful. We will make dainty sandwiches, pastries, a British cake and of course, scones – yummy! Hopefully this will incorporate challenge no 20 – try some sort of course with your daughter. Both of these I do plan to continue with Kathryn once she has finished her degree and will be earning money. Hoping to put a regular mother and daughter afternoon tea plus if we enjoy, take more cookery courses together in the future.

Challenge no 8 – Host a MacMillan Tea Party

I love baking so this shouldn’t be a problem but I have had a problem setting a date. I was planning to change it to a Comic Relief Tea Party but that hasn’t worked out either! So, I have actually signed up for our local radio station’s 1,000 faces to raise a £100 for their charity, Cash for Kids. I am going to raise money by inviting my friends for morning coffee, afternoon tea or supper instead of going out. Hopefully will plan a tea party to complete this challenge.

Over the weekend, I plan to get some of the 21 challenges moved to completed or planned. Wish me luck.