It’s Sunday evening so it must be time for a new weekly blog. It seems that while I did reasonably well for a few weeks at the start of 2021, writing more than just my weekly blog, it’s just been this for the last two or three weeks, so I’d better make sure it’s interesting. Not putting much pressure on myself there, then.
Within the parameters of us still being in national lockdown here in England, it has been a reasonable week. Work was calm, I got my One Hour Outside every day, I ate well, took time to be creative with my Comms Unplugged colleagues, I had some lovely motivating conversations with friends, and some good relaxation time.
I also received a couple of very nice surprise deliveries in the form of amazing cookies from Crumbs and Doilies and a wonderfully colourful bunch flowers, both from colleagues. I mean, I already knew I worked with a fabulous team, but their gestures of kindness this week while wholly unnecessary, touched me deeply, and made me all warm and fuzzy inside.
Just quickly before I carry on… Remember the Blurt Foundation Buddy Box I mentioned in my last weekly blog (read Weekly Blog Episode 57)? I just wanted to share that the Blueberry Muffin Rooibos Tea by Hoogly that was included in that box is really nice. I tried it without milk first and then with, and prefer it with. Another excellent decaffeinated tea option.
Anyway, back to this weekly blog and some things I’ve enjoyed this week – we pancakes and a Lent challenge, an adventure webinar, failing at finding a blanket of snowdrops, and the last week of my photo challenge…
Oh how I love pancakes. I tend to make American style pancakes on a Sunday, not every week, but you know, not irregularly. We have them with fruit, normally blueberries, and Canadian maple syrup. Fluffy pancakes are definitely one of my pandemic successes, I mean, I haven’t had time to practice making them before this all happened!
In my mind, actual Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, requires large flat English pancakes. These are made with a runny plain-flour based batter, not quite thin enough to be crepes, and the size of your largest frying pan so they can be rolled up into a cigar with a selection of your favourite sweet toppings.
I am fascinated by how different people “do” pancake day. For us, it’s an evening activity – and the pancakes are pudding; we eat a light dinner first, in the vein hope that the amount of sugar we consume with said pancakes is somehow soaked up and doesn’t stop us from sleeping. This year we had mushroom stroganoff and rice, which would have worked very well with a savoury pancake, but a bowl did the job perfectly well.
We made 12 pancakes from the four-eggs bowl of batter I prepared, some carefully turned using a fish slice, some flipped, and some very nearly scrambled. We make and eat as we go, there’s only two of us so there’s no need to make them ahead and keep them warm in the oven – straight from the frying pan onto a plate and into our bellies.
On top we had quite the selection of sweet treats. Lemon and sugar, of course, blueberries, Maple syrup, Golden Syrup, Biscoff spread, Gu salted caramel spread (honestly the best chocolate spread out there), Cornish vanilla ice cream, and any combination of that lot we happened to fancy the moment we sat at the table with a freshly cooked pancake. We certainly had our fill; six pancakes each is enough to make any adult’s belly groan with pleasure and pain, but it was worth it.
Of course, we only get Shrove Tuesday so that we can prepare for Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. I’m very much of the mindset that we’ve all given up enough already at the moment, thanks to pandemic-related restrictions, and so am certainly not adding anything else to the list as a nod to the temptation of Christ. I mean, there is no way I’m giving up chocolate or sugar right now, and I truly admire anyone who will do so for the next 40 days.
And in cany case, for the last few years I’ve done less giving up and more being intentional or focused in this period leading up to Easter, and that’s what I’m hoping to do this year, too.
Along with those small habits I talked about back in Weekly Blog Episode 54, including daily Spanish (I hit my 30-day streak this week) and stretching, I’m going aim to walk 10,000 steps each day.
Reaching that apparently healthy 10k steps a day was my norm pre-pandemic, or I’d be very close most days. But working at home and being limited on what we can do out of the house means it’s becoming rare for me to even reach 7,000 steps, and sometimes much less than that. As for many others, my incidental exercise has been wiped out completely by the pandemic, I’m much for sedentary by default at the moment, and so the only way to up my step count, and therefore hopefully my physical health, is to be very intentional about it.
So far, so good, I’ve walked 79,823 steps this week (seven days including today), an average of 11,403 steps a day with each day more than the 10k I aimed for. Now I just need to keep that up until Easter.
A Record-Breaking Solo Hike
I’m really enjoying tuning into adventure-related online webinars at the moment, to hear people chat about their feats of endurance and how they get out and do the thing. I went through a period where such things did more harm than good for my mental wellbeing, talk of big adventures tortured my soul in that it filled me with wanderlust that was then trapped the wrong side of my own front door. But I’m back in a better headspace at the moment, and hearing from those who’ve been there and done that is making for an excellent way to be inspired and encouraged by what humans can achieve in the outdoors when they want to.
On Thursday I joined one of Ellis Brigham’s webinars, featuring fellow GetOutside Champion James Forrest. James is best known for completing a three-year mission to climb 1,001 mountains across the UK and Ireland. In 2017 he hiked up all 446 ‘Nuttalls’ in England and Wales; in 2018 he bagged the 273 Irish ‘Vandeleur-Lynams’, and in 2019 he finished with all 282 ‘Munros’ in Scotland. And when he speaks of his adventures, even the really tough ones, he does so with an infectious smile on his face that means you know he’s already planning the next one.
This talk was specifically about his August 2020 adventure climbing all 214 Wainwrights, self-supported, and in a record time. This Lake District-based 14-day hike would have been hard enough in decent weather, but James faced some of the worst summer weather the Lakes can offer, and I think it’s fair to say experienced some incredible lows along with the highs of adventure. It was fascinating to hear James chat about how he planned and organised his hike, what he carried and what he ate, and how he felt. I might not be about to attempt anything similar, but I am inspired and motivated to walk more, no doubt.
If you haven’t already read James’ book Mountain Man: 446 Mountains. Six Months. One Record-Breaking Adventure (read my book review here), which is an account of one of his other walking adventures, you really should.
I find out about these events on twitter by following some of the big outdoor brands and organisations who put them on. Maybe I’ll see you at the next one?
Hunting for Snowdrops
One thing I really wanted to do this weekend was find a blanket of snowdrops. I’ve seen lots of photos of them on my Instagram feed and I made it my aim to find a similar scene of my own, just to see one in real life.
I picked two likely woodland candidates, certain that one or the other would fulfil my requirements… but also that would give me two nice very local walks to fill my weekend. Even if I knew they would be as muddy as they come.
The first was a new-to-me route, taking in a hill I’ve explored a little before but always seems to come second to the larger and more obvious Cleeve Hill. It was predominantly bridleway, taking me across farmland, through farmyards, through woodland, along country lanes, and even along the course of a stream… yea, muddy.
It was, in fact, so muddy that even with my super grippy Meindl Bhutans on I slid onto my butt – just the once, though! Even with that it was a great route, one I certainly plan to repeat it when things have dried up a little, I think it’ll be a good one to share with you here on my blog when I’ve given it a second go round.
Alas, as nice a route as it was, I did not find my blanket of snowdrops. I saw a couple of small bunches, but nothing close to a woodland floor of little white flowers. So it was back home for a much needed wash a little disappointed but with expectation for my other planned route. It’s okay, I consoled myself with a Chinese takeaway.
My second option was what I thought was a sure win. Last year I enjoyed the bluebells there, and then the garlic, before Autumn took the leaves and turned the ground brown again. Although having been through these woods when the snow fell at the very end of 2020, and knowing what the ground had been like the previous day, I chose to wear wellies this time around.
These woods occupy a lovely spot on the side of a hill, with glimpses of the view through the trees every now and again. It was indeed a swamp, I should have taken my trekking poles for stability, but thankfully I didn’t fall over this time! I had a good wander around the woods, found a tempting looking rope swing that I chose to walk by,
Still, despite being covered in a gorgeous layer of lime green moss in places, with huge fungi growing out of the side of the trees, there were no snowdrops – not one. Maybe the sheer amount of water was just too much for the bulbs here? But still, another lovely walk in the fresh air, and I didn’t need to wash quite as much mud off this time around.
I might have failed at hunting for snowdrops this weekend, but I did find what I think is my new favourite tree. It’s just so imposing, twisted, and beautiful. It’s not far from home, so I should be able to visit it as the seasons change. You all have a favourite tree, right?! I’d love to hear about it; tell me in the comments below…
Last Week of SplodzDPC
Throughout February I have been running my annual Daily Photo Challenge – and we have just one week left to go of sharing our themed photos each day. Sharing my world in photos was how Splodz Blogz started (way back in 2010), and I’ve always enjoyed looking back to those days and setting a little challenge for us all to join in with.
The idea is to encourage you (and myself) to look at the world a little differently to normal, by hunting out things that might fit with each given theme, and documenting it there and then. I provide the list of 28 daily themes, giving us all a creative project for the month, and hopefully reminding us how fun it can be to take an share photos that are a bit less curated for a change.
If you’ve not taken part so far you are more than welcome to pick it up for the final week. You can find the final seven themes and the rest of the details on this blog post; join in using #SplodzDPC wherever you like to share your images. You’ll find my interpretations over on Instagram.
As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. Let me know what your favourite thing about the last seven days has been, and don’t forget to get your One Hour Outside today… whatever day you happen to be reading this on!
Buy Me a Cuppa?
If you fancy supporting me and my mini adventures, you can “buy me a coffee” (or a tea, naturally). If you enjoyed this post and would like to support what I’m doing, head over to https://ko-fi.com/splodz to find out more. Thank you.
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 can’t forget the vloggers’ catchphrase – please like and subscribe for more posts like this in the future! Come on by next Sunday evening for the next in the series.