Good evening and welcome to episode two of my new weekly blog series. It didn’t seem to go down badly at all last week, so here I am back for more today. In this week’s blog there’s talk of chocolate, cold showers, walks in the woods, continued adulting, and more of the entertainment I’ve been enjoying recently.
All the Chocolate at Café Rouge
I’m all about the experiences rather than the things when it comes to gifts, and was very excited to receive a voucher for afternoon tea with a difference this Christmas. LincsGeek and I headed to Café Rouge to try out their new Chocolate Afternoon Tea, which replaces everything you’d normally find on an afternoon tea menu with a chocolate based alternative. It came with a “Choc Monsier” – a s’mores French toastie, a chocolate fondue with brownie pieces, marshmallows and various fruits for dipping, a white chocolate mousse, and a fabulously rich “Billionaire Bar” which was a thick salted toffee and chocolate ganache on a biscuit base, possibly the richest thing I have ever eaten.
Drinks wise we went for something that might cut through the chocolate – one of their French Garden Fizz mocktails, which is elderflower petal, fresh mint, lemon and lime juice. Very nice indeed, I’d order that again for sure.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a chain restaurant that produces food in bulk, you’ll get a better afternoon tea in a beautiful family run tearoom or a posh hotel where they specialise, but it was delicious and a very nice experience. We paid £30 total including our drinks, which we thought was perfectly reasonable for what we had. They also have a Cheese one on the list, we might have to go back and try that one another time!
Living Creatively with Wild We Roam
Towards the end of last year I decided to treat myself to an ebook written by Dana and Lou of Wild we Roam. They are honestly the most wholesome couple I’ve come over on YouTube, and I genuinely love to watch their videos and read their newsletters each week. Over the last year I’ve learnt so much from them and their travels in Ody, and so I pre-ordered their self-help style book as I felt it was something I could take a lot from.
I’ve always seen myself as a creative person, but there is no doubt in my mind that I’ve lost some of that over the years. While I have my now ten-year-old blog as a creative outlet, somewhere to share my words and pictures, I don’t often feel properly creative. I used to paint, draw, play music. These days I do a lot more concentrating on the must-dos than the for-funs, and that was the reason Dana and Lou got me. The idea is that, no matter what role art or creativity plays in your life at this moment, the ideas in this book will help you feel empowered to live creatively in whatever manner feels right for you.
Each of the eight chapters in this book has a corresponding 30-day challenge, and technically we should all be in the middle of the first of those now – the taking of cold showers. The idea of taking a cold shower each morning is around finding comfort in discomfort, breaking addiction to the easy life, learning how to persevere, and working hard, which in turn is said to help build good habits and routines, which allow you to grow. I have to admit I’m not getting on particularly well with this one. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve not yet in the right frame of mind to take on a cold shower every morning, or if I’m too stressed with my looming deadline at work that my mind and body can’t deal with any more, or if I’m just so used to my creature comforts that I can’t do it.
I re-read the chapter this morning before writing this post and realise that as the whole point of the cold shower challenge is to practice not giving up on a goal, training myself to handle stress in a different way, and forming positive habits to help reset things, I really should give it a proper go. I also realised that they’re not telling me I have to wash in cold water every day for the rest of my life, it’s a stop-start challenge that will end and be replaced with something else. I’ve therefore decided to go back to day one and start again. The “beginner” level is to have a one-minute cold shower at the end of your regular shower each day, I’ll report back next week and let you know if I got any further this time.
Exploring Wendover Woods
Yesterday we headed over to Wendover Woods near Aylesbury to spend some time with our friends and God Children. They live in Essex and we are in Gloucestershire, so we like to fine places to explore that are somewhere akin to midway. Wendover Woods is in the Chilterns, an area of the UK I’ve not explored recently, and it was great to be set on the side of a hill with good views across the landscape. It’s a Forestry England site (and so be prepared to pay good money for parking) with some brand-new facilities – a café, toilets, information centre, and a large carpark. There’s also a GoApe course, although we didn’t partake in that this time around.
It’s a large site with a good number of trails which kept us busy. After a quick run around the play area we headed off around the Play Trail, which had a wooden climbing frames, viewpoints, and other playthings for the kids to explore along the way. After lunch in the café, which was decent enough but rather chaotic thanks to the sheer volume of people in there, we headed “down the steep hill” at the request of my oldest God Child, following a random route as far down as we were willing to go before turning back and heading along the muddy woodland tracks to get back to the car. There is also a Gruffalo Trail and also a new Shaun the Sheep trail, the latter of which you seem to need a special UV pen for (I think).
I do genuinely love walking in the woods, there is something peaceful about wandering along trails between trees, even when you are there with 100s of other people. And sites like this are perfect to meet and catch up with friends you haven’t seen in a long time.
The Adulting Never Ends
The problem with being a home-owning full-time-working 39-year-old is that I can’t ever just leave the adulting, there is always something that has to be done, that gets in the way, that adds to the bottom of the list and makes me want to sell everything and go travelling. This week the car needed a service, we had a leak on the hot water cylinder fixed, Sainsburys delivered our groceries, we ate some good (and one not-so-good) evening meals, and the day-job project continues to use up all my concentration and energy so the only thing I’m good for in the evening is sitting down. Know that I’m not complaining about any of those things, it’s just normal life – but it does explain why dreaming of holidays is also very much part of adulting in my eyes! Ah holidays… soon… very soon.
As is probably inevitable thanks to the Olympics being in Tokyo later in the summer, I’ve become even more fascinated by Japan than I already was. I think this is thanks to some well-timed telly programmes that have been on recently; Our Guy in Japan on Channel 4 and James May: Our Man in Japan on Amazon Prime are both very similar looks at travelling around Japan seeing the sights, meeting the locals (some of the same locals, actually), and learning about the culture. I don’t think I mind that both programmes are very similar, they’re both super interesting and definitely make me want to do more than just visit Kyoto when we eventually get to go someday. Off the tellybox, aclaireytale over on YouTube is currently sharing her Japan vlogs, a much more honest description of a visit with some handy tips on transport too. I’ve always wanted to visit Japan, and now I want to even more! Maybe I’ll get a call to work on covering the Olympics?? I can bring my own Olympic torch!
Away from my screens I also spent some time reading my UK Coast to Coast guidebook (I have the Trailblazer one because it came recommended and has so much information in it – although I note a new edition will come out next month which is bad timing for me) through properly this week, as it is time to start planning if that is going to be some a reality this year. Adventure planning is definitely entertainment to me, I love the process of working my way through a guide book, making notes, and thinking properly about what to take, training, and all the other considerations, it helps me visualise the adventure and get myself ready to face it.
If you’re looking for a decent radio station to try out, I’ve had Scala Radio on pretty much constantly during my working days this week, and for a good while now. I find the modern twist on classical music very easy to listen to without putting me to sleep. I’ve got to have background noise while I’m concentrating, it stops me thinking too much.
This Week’s Question
I didn’t get much take-up on my question of the week last week, but I thought I’d give it another go anyway… this week, because I nailed it with a slow cooker enchilada soup this week, which was utterly delicious even if it was high on the calories for a mid-week meal (let me know if you want more recipes, I’ve not shared one for a while), I want to know:
What was the best thing you ate this week?
It looks like “the weekly blog” is here to stay for now at least. If you enjoyed it, if you think a weekly blog is a good idea, and especially if you got to the end, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And not forgetting the vloggers’ catchphrase – please like and subscribe! I’ll see you next Sunday at 6pm for episode three…