How did we get to March already? This year really is flying by. Yes, I know I’ve said that before, and I know time passing quickly is what happens when you get older, but it really does feel like time is racing. But let’s face it, with everything that nature has thrown at us in February, the storms, the flooding, the seemingly high frequency of hail showers that hurt my face when I’m waiting for the bus, I’m not entirely sorry to see the back of February. Here’s hoping March brings better weather, even if we do have to contend with a rather infectious and nasty virus outbreak!
It’s been another one of those incredibly busy weeks here, with not much time for fun. It’s been all about work, chores, eating, and trying to sleep. To be honest sleep has been a bit elusive for the last few days, but hopefully that’ll get back to normal this week, that would certainly make everything feel much less chaotic. We even had a rushed Friday night takeaway this week, normally reserved for a Saturday night relaxing in front of a movie, and more than one “prepared by the supermarket” meals in the form of some Mexican style chicken and from-a-packet fishcakes, which isn’t my usual style. I much prefer it when I can cook things from scratch, I’m used to making good use of my slow cooker, but to be honest life is too just short sometimes, and allowing the supermarket or local takeaway to do the hard work makes things more than a little bit easier. Actually, the whole week has been rather defined by food…
Despite cheating a bit on our main meals, we did make time to enjoy Shrove Tuesday earlier this week, eating our way through one-too-many pancakes with a variety of toppings. There was the traditional freshly squeezed lemon juice with a sprinkling of sugar, blueberries and maple syrup, a glug (or two) of golden syrup, and some melted chocolate and salted caramel spread by Gu – the people who make those amazing puddings. That Gu chocolate spread was on offer in Tesco, and is a definite step up from any chocolate spread I’ve ever tasted. I’m not sure I could go back to Nutella now. I see they do a Hazelnut one, too, I need to try that.
I don’t know how many pancakes in one sitting is too many, I suspect I went beyond that number on Tuesday evening, I just can’t help myself – one of my favourite food days of the year by far. Although I’m not sure why, and I’ve seen others say similar this week too, as an adult I don’t ever think to make pancakes on any day other than Shrove Tuesday?! They are very simple, quick, and delicious – this year I will make more!
Did you know I have a not-very-popular Instagram feed dedicated to snacks? If you enjoy sweet and savoury treats, head over to The Snack Addicts for occasional food snaps and mini reviews of things I couldn’t resist trying out. I don’t post every day on there, but I do enjoy talking about food and that’s a good place to join in with my drooling over snacks.
Of course, the day after Shrove Tuesday is Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent in the Christian calendar. In years gone by I have used this as an opportunity to give up chocolate, fizzy drinks, cakes, and other things that I’m told are bad for me. I know others use it as an opportunity to forgo a luxury such as a daily coffee and give the money to charity. Others donate time or goods. If you’re someone who needs an excuse to challenge yourself to make a change or start a new habit, then Lent is not a bad opportunity to kick start something good. I’ve decided I’m out this year, though, mainly because I’ve committed to the Live Creatively series of 30-day challenges (read about my cold showers challenge) and there are only so many good habits I can attempt to form at any given time. At the moment it’s meditation, which is not going particularly well yet – I’ll keep trying.
An Extra 24 Hours
I noticed a lot of talk on social media this weekend around what people chose to do with their extra 24 hours thanks to it being a leap year. I know lots of people who did the first ever leap year day Parkrun, some who went off on an adventure to celebrate, some who tried something for the first time, and some who organised a special family gathering to mark the occasion. Brilliant! I love that people decided to use Saturday to do something out of the ordinary. It should be said, though, that if you spent Saturday 29th at home, either by choice or necessity, lounging around in your pyjamas, hiding from the weather, doing chores you hate but had to do, reading a book or watching a random box set, then that’s all fine. I admit I didn’t get the memo on marking “leap year day” (as I saw it called) with a special adventure either. It was cool that some people chose to do something weird and wonderful, but it doesn’t matter if you didn’t. I hope you at least had a nice day.
Celebrating St David’s Day in Wales
Happy St David’s Day to all my Welsh friends! Seeing as Wales is so close, it was fun to spend St David’s Day weekend over the border, joining a couple of blogger days out in the Newport area. I was invited to head over the bridge and take part in a couple of guided walks and see some cool Welsh sights. I should probably say this wasn’t a sponsored trip, but I did get lunch provided on both days along with entry into a couple of museums. It was part of the Over the Bridge to Wales campaign – with Newport being just about an hour and 15 minutes from where I live it is within easy day trip or weekend-away distance, and there is so much to see and do in that area.
On Saturday we joined one of the free guided walks offered by Newport City Council from Fourteen Locks Canal Centre, had a lovely lunch at The Priory Hotel, and explored the extensive Roman ruins in Caerleon in the afternoon. And on Sunday, today, we had a guided bird watching walk along parts of the Wales Coast Path within the Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve, followed by lunch in the Wetlands Centre Café, before heading to Tredegar House, a National Trust property, to see how the other half live (before they spend all their money and go bankrupt!). We packed plenty into the two days! Today’s weekly blog is a little late up this week because we’ve not long been back and I didn’t get time to schedule one ahead of time this week.
The two guided walks, the reason I signed up to join the Over the Bridge to Wales days out, will feature here as separate blog posts in the next couple of weeks as I think they are routes you’ll enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring new-to-me places with knowledgeable guides and getting my new boots nice and muddy. But seeing as I’m talking a lot about food today, I thought my weekly blog would be an excellent place to mention how good the food was both yesterday and today. This girl will most definitely walk for food, and it was lovely to be treated to lunch by Over the Bridge to Wales on both days. The Priory Hotel in Caerleon was a bit of an unexpected delight. Dating back to 1180 in places, it’s got character by the bucket load, and the restaurant serves an array of super fresh and very tasty food. We had the two-course lunch, priced at a very reasonable £13 per person, which meant we could choose from five starters and five mains. My crispy lamb and grilled salmon were utterly delicious, and we’ve already agreed we’ll be back to eat there again sometime. At the RSPB Wetlands Centre café, had the Welsh Cawl (lamb stew) and a Welsh cake, which worked well at warming me up after a very cold three hours on the levels. It also seemed a fitting choice for St David’s Day lunch. The centre might not have had the antiques of The Priory Hotel, but it did have panoramic views across one of the reed beds, and we watched a Sparrow Hawk swooping over to see which Gold Finch might be the tastiest while we ate our lunch.
(To confirm, this is not a sponsored post or review, but I did get the lunches above for free, and so I have marked this post as “gifted”.)
This Week’s Question
This evening is all about getting organised for the week ahead. There’s the small matter of a pile of muddy clothes and boots to clean and sort after this weekend’s antics, a meal plan to write, a work bag to pack, some Gloucester Services Farm Shop scotch eggs and lemon meringue cake to devour, and the Dr Who series finale to watch.
While I get on with all that lot, how about answering this week’s question?
What is your least favourite “chore”?
Unpacking has to be one of mine. I know I shouldn’t leave it until tomorrow… but the washing can certainly wait.
If you enjoyed reading this blog, if you think my weekly blog series is a good idea, and especially if you got to the end of this episode, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And I mustn’t forget the vloggers’ catchphrase – please like and subscribe for more posts like this in the future! Come on by next Sunday at 6pm for the next in the series.