Happy Saturday! This episode of my weekly blog comes from my dining room. It’s blowing a hoolie and raining outside, I’ve got the Winter Olympics on in the background, and I’ve got a box of tissues at the ready to soak up the snot… Yes, I’ve only gone and bagged myself a stinking cold. Ho hum.
It’s been a pretty decent week. I spent last weekend in Surrey with family and eating all the food, have had a good start to my February photo-a-day challenge thanks to some weekday boots-on walks, and made a rather tasty pea and potato soup. Let me tell you about it.
10,000 Steps a Day
Back at the start of January (in Weekly Blog Episode 95), I set myself the goal of upping my average daily step count more towards the 10k we’re told it should be.
The idea was to make a conscious effort to move a bit more than I did in 2021. If you take out my UK Coast to Coast hike and a handful of reasonably long day hikes, my average step count last year was terrible. In fact, in December, it was only just over 5,000 steps a day. That was partly due to dealing with the effects of anaemia (read Weekly Blog Episode 91), but still, as someone who finds both their energy and peace in walking, it’s a bit poor.
I’m pleased to say that with a bit (okay, a lot) of effort, I just about achieved my self-inflicted goal. My final average for January is a little over 10,300 steps each day.
Adding it all up, that’s a whopping 319,610 steps (or there abouts) in total. Approximately 150 miles.
It’s no wonder my shoes wear out.
It probably goes without saying, but I didn’t walk over 10,000 steps every day. Some days I walked way more than 10k, some days I struggled to get over 5k, but that’s the beauty of averages. It wasn’t easy, especially on meeting-heavy working-from-home days, but I definitely feel better as a result of trying – not least because it motivated me to get out and explore a lot more than I might have done otherwise.
And those really are the main things. I’m making a habit of moving my body more, and getting out to explore at home and further afield – every day. I’ve no idea if doubling my step count compared to December has resulted in losing weight or inches, but it’s certainly not done me any harm in those two areas.
I should probably also say that I’ve been tracking my steps on my iPhone, using the built-in Health app. So, this is by no means completely accurate, and it doesn’t include any steps walked when my phone hasn’t been in my pocket. But I’m happy with it as a guide – the reality will only be higher.
The challenge now is to keep it up for February… and then March… and for the rest of 2022. Looking at my stats for the first few days of February, despite getting out every day (more on that below), I’ve got a bit of work to do. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Do you walk 10,000 steps a day? For those of you who do (and don’t do a job that means you have to), I’d love to know how you manage it.
Escape Room: The Game
We spent last weekend in Surrey visiting family. There was takeaway eating, lego building, ten pin bowling (I won – yes, really), pizza, cake, hill walking, bike riding, horse feeding, snow drop hunting, and aeroplane watching.
Our Saturday evening activity of choice was attempting one of the puzzles in Escape Room The Game. I’ve not done a traditional indoor Escape Room yet, my experiences are limited to the amazing bespoke game created for a friend’s Hen weekend (read Weekly Blog Episode 77), and the very fun The Wren Code by Outscape Games in London (read Weekly Blog Episode 89). I was intrigued how a board game version would work without being immersed in the puzzle, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The box includes three games, and we played the first, Prison Break. There were three envelopes containing the puzzles and clues, which you work through in order, and a “Chrono Decoder” which acts as the countdown device, tells you if you’ve solved the puzzle, and provides the cyphers.
I’m not going to give any of it away, that would be very unfair, but I wanted to mention that this was a really fun way to spend an hour. It was the right amount of difficult and confusing, tested us as a group (each person was able to contribute), and we needed some of the hints but not others. Ultimately, we completed the game and escaped the prison cell.
A word from experience, though. Our Chrono Decoder box thing got a bit stuck which meant it wasn’t properly detecting the keys placed in the last of the four slots – which meant it kept telling us we had the code wrong, even when we were correct. Once we realised this (quite late on), we reset it which seemed to unstick it, but of course that also reset our time. We all agreed we successfully completed the game in the time allowed.
Even with that frustration, if you’re looking for something to do with family or friends, this is a good option.
A Photo a Day
My annual photo-a-day challenge kicked off on Tuesday this week. SplodzDPC (which you can read about in this post) is all about looking at the world a little differently each day for a month, and spending time outside in the process. I’ve been running it for something like six or seven years now, it’s always a fun way to travel through February.
I am so chuffed with the reaction so far, it’s been so great to see your photos. I’ve been sharing as many as I can on my twitter feed and Instagram stories – be sure to use the #SplodzDPC hashtag so I can see your posts.
Personally speaking, it’s already doing its job. I’ve been out walking intentionally every day so far – I want to try and take my photo on the day if I can. I know I’ll get stuck at some point and I will need to revert to an old photo or two, maybe even today, we’ll see how I feel later and how bad the weather gets! I’m trying to use my own challenge as I originally meant it, to be a bit more “now”.
The best thing so far is that I’ve had boots-on walks on working days. This has been helped by having the car available, which is something of a luxury mid-week. I’ve not been far, but the act of lacing up my Meindl Bhutans and heading out (and up) on the trail at lunchtime or on the way home from the office fills me with so much joy. I hope this is something I can keep up as February continues.
Taking my photos on-the-day of course means that some snaps I’ve posted are far superior to others, but that’s the nature of conditions, locations and my skills. I’m not sure I’ll ever beat the sunset through the trees I shared on day two (more on that below), but hopefully I can look back at the end of the month and see a bunch of 28 great outdoors memories. Or at least something close to that.
If you’ve not joined in already, it’s not too late, please consider this your invitation to pick it up from now. Today’s theme (Saturday 5 February) is “This Way”, and tomorrow’s (Sunday 6 February) is “Feet Up”. This is the blog post you need to get a list of all the themes, and don’t forget to use #SplodzDPC to share your photos so I can see how you interpret the themes and what outdoors fun you’re having.
The Most Glorious Sunset
As I mentioned above, having the car available this week has opened opportunities to hit the trails before, during or after the working day. And I have absolutely loved that. I am fortunate that my work team culture is one where taking daily lunch breaks is the norm, and more than that, getting outside for those lunch breaks is encouraged.
As I left the office on Wednesday evening, the sky was on fire. I had the foresight to put my hiking boots in the car – just in case – and I’m so glad I did. I hot footed it up to my favourite hillside woodland to try and get a good view as the sun dipped down in the west.
This is a definite plus for February. Daylight hours here in England at this time of year mean that many of us who work traditional hours can see the sun rise on the way and the sun set on the way home from the day job. And it’s wonderful.
I practically ran up the hill to the thin strip of ancient woodland, but it was totally worth the effort. I mean, just look at it. My walk wasn’t particularly long, it was getting dark after all, but that short 20–30-minute wander in amongst the trees with the golden light making shadows, was everything I needed. If you’ve never experienced sunset in a woodland I would highly recommend it.
I took so many photos on my phone. I reckon the photo I shared on Instagram that evening is probably the best sunset photo I’ve ever taken, and it wasn’t the only shareable one in the bunch. No doubt I’ll share others on Instagram once this photo-a-day challenge is over, but here’s a sneak peek for anyone who comes to read my weekly blog.
Getting out on the way home from work is something I will try and make a habit of this year, at least on days I have the car available to get me to a nice trail. I hope there are more sunsets like this to experience.
Minty Pea and Potato Soup
The weekly blog episode where I shared my mushroom soup recipe (read Weekly Blog Episode 57) is one of my most popular to date. You seem to like making it, which is nice to know. Sadly, this isn’t going to be another one of those, as I can’t claim to have my own pea and potato soup recipe. Not yet, anyway.
This is the recipe I use – from BBC Good Food. I’ve used it three or four times now and it works well, making a lovely fresh tasting but also hearty and filling soup. If you are looking for a February-appropriate mid-week soup recipe to try this week, this is a good one. It’s super simple, uses few ingredients, and doesn’t take long.
The main thing I do differently to the BBC recipe is I choose to process the whole thing to a smooth soup rather than leaving some of it lumpy, but that’s simply about personal preference. Oh, and I don’t peel the potato, I don’t see the point. It serves four so we have it over two days with a loaf of fresh tiger bread (bought, naturally).
Okay, I’m done for this week. I’m off to eat cheesy beans on toast and drink some tea before I sort out the images and get this weekly blog episode published. I keep looking out of the window at the weather wondering if I should go for a short walk to get today’s SplodzDPC photo and keep up my on-the-day streak, I guess you’ll find out what I decided later.
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