Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Gallery...Health & Fitness

 
 
10am on a chilly February morning in Snowdonia. After walking for 2 and a half hours we made it to the snowy part of Snowdonia.
 
I'd been quietly afraid for the last few days that my body would let me down, I'd be too breathless, too weak to get as high as I knew Sion wanted to walk.
 
Looking up at him as we made it past the trickiest part of the pass I felt alive, strong, fit.
 
Most of us are heavier than we were at 18, less able to get up and go like we used to. Joints start to complain, muscles become weary. But oh my, this body of mine is still strong, there is still fuel in the tank and fire in my belly.
 
We didn't make it to the top this time - as the snow and ice got thicker we got a little more fearful. We will make it next time though, that I'm sure of.
 
 

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

In Splendid Isolation...

I don't think I've had a holiday like last week's. I've been lucky to go to some of the most beautiful, captivating places in the world. I've walked ancient trails and flown over tiny tropical islands, but none if them captured my heart quite so fiercely as Snowdonia.

Sion's family are from South Wales, so naturally most of our visits revolve around Barry and Cardiff. With all of us able to take half term week off and a 40th birthday holiday planned we decided to head to the hills for a week of fresh air, walking and just a little wine drinking.

Sion and I headed up first on the Saturday to enjoy Valentine's night in peace and when we found our cottage came with a wood burner and a generously stocked log basket, the evening was spent with our feet up, feasting on chocolates and champagne. As lovely as it was it wasn't my highlight.

No, for me I loved that there was no phone reception, no internet coverage outside of the cottage, no need for entertainment from the TV. Cars were left unlocked, door keys hidden in the plant pot. Make up was left unpacked, my skin within a day was clearer, softer than it had been for months.

Walks were taken, often in silence, each of us lost in our thoughts and wonder of the incredible views, air so fresh you could feel your lungs being restored. I walked further and higher than I ever believed I could. I felt strong, healthy and fit.

On our last day we felt bereft to be leaving our cocoon, back to real life, to street lamps and sirens, distrust and dirt. Already planning our return, dreaming of retirement and relocation. It wasn't a goodbye, merely a see you soon.






 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Putting me first...

Umm...hello??...is there anyone still out there?

I guess first off I should say sorry for not blogging recently. We've done some pretty lovely things these last few weeks and not one of them made it onto my blog...but you know what? I don't think I am sorry.

I don't think I can be the only person who loses their blogging funk for a little while. Slowly life got busy, mostly work wise, and taking an hour to blog about a meal or a trip out seemed to slip lower and lower down my priorities.

January was definitely the month to focus on ME. I lost over a stone in weight, drank very little alcohol and did plenty of exercise and I felt different. I feel like I can stop the depressingly fast rate that I seemed to put on weight. I can stop my knees creaking as I walk up stairs. I can break the frankly worrying trend of drinking because it's the weekend, because it's almost the weekend, because it's NOT the weekend.

My motivation in all of this as you know, is to do as much as I can to get my body in as good a shape I can to get pregnant and have a successful pregnancy. Sion, as always, has been brilliant. He's also slashed his drinking levels (not that either of us were heavy drinkers to start with) and amazingly has also gone cold turkey and given up smoking.

We really thought we had it licked. We both allowed ourselves to think that last month was our month, that that blue line would appear, but it didn't. Of course we were disappointed but I know we WILL get there.

I will continue to eat the right food, take the right vitamins, make time to exercise, listen to my body but above all love this man of mine and enjoy every moment of our time together. I will not let this become an all consuming, clinical obsession. Having a baby is always a miracle and it will happen in it's own time, that I'm sure of.

So what happens in the meantime? Well on Saturday we are off to Snowdon for a whole week of relaxing, walking, eating and more relaxing - I can't wait. I have no schedule for blogging, my priority is to live in the moment through my eyes, rather than the lens of a camera. I have got tickets to a number of blogging conferences and events though that I'm really excited to be attending. I know this will give me inspiration and the confidence that this blog of ramblings is valid and interesting to at least a few!

So this isn't a goodbye, or even a see you later, but maybe just a see you when I see you!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Hanging Tough...

In my relationship I tend to take to role of sideline supporter while Sion plays the role of adrenaline-fuelled, extreme sport junkie, incredibly well. He's sky-dived and glided, beaming his smile all the while.

When I was younger I tried rock-climbing and abseiling with the Girl Guides but since then my sporting activities have been very much on firm ground. Now that Operation Clawback is in full swing (monthly update coming later this week) I was looking out for different activities to do to keep the gym boredom at bay.

Luckily (or not) for me I was invited to try my hand at indoor rock climbing, which is how I found myself 10 metres up one Thursday evening a few weeks ago...


We were invited along to the High Sports site at Alton to take part in their weekly Adult ROCKStart session. Over the course of an hour and half we were expertly guided through all we needed to know to start climbing. Harnesses were handed out for us to get into (this confused us straight away - not a good sign!) and we were carefully taught the 2 knots that we would need to use throughout the session.

Once our instructor was happy with our rope technique we were let loose on the walls. Working in pairs one of you climbs while the other feeds through the rope. The walls are graded to different levels of ability - to start with we used the basic flat wall to build our confidence, moving through to walls with slight overhangs to tackle.

Within each wall section there are various different colours of foot and hand holds. We were encouraged to try to scale the wall using only one colour to stretch ourselves, each colour again is graded to help you develop your ability. Our instructor encouraged us to try lots of different colours and routes and we soon moved onto the more difficult walls.



As there was only one other couple (who had already covered the basics before) at the session we had the attention of our instructor for most of the session. Quiet but very approachable, he let us get on and learn routes through trial and error. He answered all our questions and was brilliant at encouraging us to try lots of different sections. After an hour of climbing my shoulders felt like they were on fire but Sion carried on climbing right until the end of the session.

The usual ROCKStart course is a two or three week course, at the end of which you will be able to use a climbing wall without an instructor. One ROCKStart session costs £20.00 and last one and a half hours. At the moment you can buy 3 sessions for £50 or 4 for £60.00. All equipment can be hired, including climbing shoes if you wish to use them. I would recommend wearing gym clothes that don't restrict movement and keep you cool. We wore our own trainers and these gave plenty of grip for the level of climbing that we experienced.

There are 16 High Sport sites throughout England, all the contact details for your local site can be found on the website here.

We were very kindly invited along to try a session free of charge, however all thoughts and opinions are ours alone.

We're going on an adventure

Friday, 23 January 2015

Raspberry Traybake

Here we are three weeks into Operation Clawback and those sweet cravings are still creeping in! Luckily with Sion's birthday last weekend there was good reason for dusting off the mixing bowl and making baking magic.

As in lots of workplaces, Sion's colleagues bring in cakes to mark their birthdays. Unsure as to how successful Sion's baking would be I offered to make up something for him to take in. His request was a raspberry traybake...squares of soft goodness, with a little mouthful of sharpness every so often. I think the fact that people were still coming to find him on Wednesday to see if there were any cakes left, meant these were a winner.


Ingredients - to make approximately 24 squares

275g unsalted butter, softened
275g golden caster sugar
400g self raising flour
1.5tsp baking powder
5 medium eggs, beaten
zest of 1 large orange
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4-5 tbsp milk
250g raspberries
100g roughly chopped chocolate - I used white, but dark will work well too.
40g flaked almonds

For the icing

150g icing sugar
2 tbsp orange juice

Preheat the oven to 190C, gas mark 5.

Grease and line a 30cm x 20cm baking tin.

Put the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then add the remaining wet ingredients and beat together until light & fluffy. (Note - I started mixing everything by hand, but quickly turned to my mixer to finish the job! If you are mixing by hand , I would cream the butter and sugar together first before adding the other ingredients.)

Using a metal spoon fold in the raspberries and chocolate. Spoon into the prepared tin, level out and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then lift out to continue cooling on a wire rack.

When the cake is cool mix up the icing until smooth and runny and drizzle over the cake. Leave to set for 30 minutes and then cut the cake into squares to serve.

Recipe from Good Housekeeping Cookery Book


This weekend, baking will take a back seat - I'm off to London for a cookery class and a posh afternoon tea (the diet is on hold!)


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