Good morning friends – here goes, weekly blog episode 100 is here.

After spending most of last week doing very little thanks to that cold I mentioned in the last episode of my weekly blog (read Episode 99), I have had a much more enjoyable time this week. Especially Saturday. I don’t know, it was just one of those weekend days that was the right amount of fun, laughter, adventure, relaxation, trying something new, spending time with a friend, relaxing, eating. Just a most excellent day.

But before I get onto that day, which will certainly be the main focus of this post, let’s talk about what feels like a milestone – reaching 100 episodes of my weekly blog.

A Century of Weekly Blogs

I’ve been posting here on Splodz Blogz for over 12 years. Which is not an insignificant amount of time. Over the years this little corner of the internet has naturally changed and developed as I moved through my 30s and into my 40s, and as this world of personal-publishing has grown and matured around me.  

I started my Weekly Blog series back in January 2020 with the intention of giving me some space for much more of a free flow form of writing than the other review, bucket list and activity-led posts you might find on Splodz Blogz. I see these as weekly vlogs (which I also tried once) in written form; an opportunity to share an insight into the world of a busy outdoors-loving travel-dreaming full-time-working 41-year-old.

Some weeks you get an account of random life events, sometimes I take you on a mini adventure or bucket list tick (or two), and others you get more of a soliloquy on one particular thought or experience. Some episodes are focused on food eaten, things purchased and entertainment consumed, while others are about thoughts and feelings and photos taken. They’re a real mix. I enjoy writing them and I hope you enjoy reading them.

100 Blogs in 109 Weeks

Let’s not talk too much about how it’s taken 109 weeks (and four days) to write 100 episodes of a so-called weekly blog, or indeed that it’s now very rarely published on a Sunday evening at 6pm as I’d imagined would be an appropriate and easy-to-keep to schedule. But here we are, I’ve done this 100 times, and that deserves at least a mention.

I could have written a whole post listing 100 things that writing weekly blogs has taught me. I could have picked out 10 of my favourite episodes to link to. Or I could have written a monologue sharing some of my not-very-adventurous experiences of the last two years. But actually, I’m just going to head into the kitchen and make some biscuits. That seems the most suitable form of celebration for this particular milestone.

My aim is to get back to a regular specific-day-of-the-week posting schedule, so you and I both have some kind of regular expectation, and to help me find a bit more blogging routine. But in the meantime, let’s stop talking about weekly blogging and just get on with the weekly blog. Starting with those biscuits.  

Celebratory Biscuit Failure

I thought that biscuits would be an excellent way to celebrate 100 episodes of my weekly blog. Who doesn’t like a homemade biscuit, right?! And while my husband is the baker in our house, I have dabbled in biscuit making and have been reasonably successful.

I saw a recipe for Cornish Fairings on Jam and Clotted Cream, and thought these would make an appropriately delicious celebratory biscuit. Cornish Fairings are a traditional sweet and spicey ginger biscuit from Cornwall, crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle, apparently perfect for dunking. And you know I love my tea.

My first attempt, made last week whilst I was full of cold, were a bit of a failure. Well, they tasted good, but they were nothing like the photo on the recipe post, and certainly were no good for dunking. They were thin, floppy and chewy. Too much golden syrup? Too much mixing? Terrible baker? Maybe all of those things.

Seeing as they tasted good, and I hate to fail at things, I thought it deserved a second go. Earlier this week I tried again, concentrating super hard to do it all right, without distractions (well, other than having the Winter Olympics on in the background).

My second batch were indeed better, very tasty indeed, and much closer to the crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle description in the recipe. But they’re still quite thin (should I have cooled the dough before putting it in the oven?), and I’m not risking any kind of dunking.  

Ah never mind, you win some, you lose some. I’d love to get your recommendations for your favourite easy homemade biscuits, especially if those biscuits are good with a cup of tea.

Becoming a Master Potter

My bucket list is not just about long-distance hikes and travelling by motorbike (although there is plenty of that on it). If anything, there are more experience-based things on it than anything else; I love to try new things, learn new skills, and have Sunday afternoon adventures.

Sarah (The Urban Wanderer) and I have wanted to play on a potter’s wheel for the longest time. It’s one of those things we’ve talked about on and off ever since we met, but just haven’t got ourselves organised enough to do it.

On Saturday, thanks to a collaboration with Red Letter Days, we headed over to Eastnor Pottery near Ledbury in Herefordshire for their Potter’s Wheel Workshop Experience for Two.

The workshop was 90-minutes long and was a basic introduction to throwing pots on a wheel. Jon and Sarah, the husband-and-wife team who run Eastnor Pottery, made it really fun – and quite successful! We each threw two pretty reasonable pots following the excellent and friendly instruction, it felt like we were in good and knowledgeable hands.

I brought home the makings of a pen pot (we could choose one pot to bring home, the other was recycled for a future workshop participant). I spent some time on Sunday afternoon trimming the base and smoothing out my thumb prints, and will eventually paint when it’s completely dry. It currently lives in my airing cupboard.

Of course, now I want more, it was such a lovely environment to learn a new skill and I came away feeling like I had been at least a little bit successful. I’ve put their Potter’s Wheel Weekend Course on my birthday list, and would highly recommend the short 90-minute taster to anyone who fancies giving pottery a go.

As I mentioned above, this taster session was a collaboration with Red Letter Days, they kindly gifted me a voucher for the workshop in return for a post about my experience here on Splodz Blogz. Watch this space for that post coming soon (ish!). And a massive thanks to Sarah for taking loads of photos of me during the experience, along with all the video clips that I turned into my first ever Instagram reel.

Exploring Great Malvern

I can see the Malvern Hills from home, and while I have done one walk up to the Worcestershire Beacon, I really can’t say I’ve explored the area very much at all. Given that it’s only a 30-ish minute drive from home, that really is a shame. Seeing as we were very close to Great Malvern on Saturday morning and needed somewhere to head for lunch, we decided that it was an excellent opportunity to explore the town.

We started off by doing the Malvern Town Walk Trail, which takes you round some of the old buildings in Great Malvern, many with connections to the Victorian water cure which brought the town much fame and investment in the nineteenth century.

Following the map and directions on this Malvern Hills District Council leaflet to do the easy 1.2 mile route around the town, we learnt a lot about the history of this really quite beautiful place. The walk started at the statue of Edward Elgar (the composer of Pomp and Circumstance) outside the Post Office, took us around architectural highlights, gave us the history of water cure, and even past a Victorian post box that’s still in use. Trails like this are good when you want to get to know a place, all towns should have them – I’d highly recommend this one if you’re heading to the Malverns any time.

Bluebird Tea Rooms

We lunched at the Bluebird Tea Rooms, which has been open for over 110 years. Sitting in the window overlooking Elgar’s statue, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch of panini with salad followed by cake.

We were particularly impressed with the range of vegan and allergy friendly options; surprising for somewhere that appeared so traditional, but really good to see. It was quite difficult to choose what to have – homemade quiche, all day breakfast or savoury scones.

Our only regret is that we didn’t give into temptation and have a second cake! It’s gone on my to-return-to list, for sure.

Windy Up Top

We ended our day out by heading up the hill. It would have been rude not to…

Our chosen route took the route through Rosebank Gardens, up the 99 Steps, and up along a zigzagging path through the woods to St Anne’s Well. The café wasn’t open due to COVID-related staff shortages, which was a shame as we’d have definitely had a cup of tea!

From there the view opened up and we followed the signposted path up to the Worcestershire Beacon and trig pillar which stand at the highest point of the Malvern Hills. We passed a man heading down the hill who warned us about the strong winds on the summit, and he was absolutely right, it was very windy indeed up there.

(I admit it seems a bit silly writing about how windy it was last weekend as Storm Eunice hits us this morning – stay safe out there.)

It’s a lovely walk up to the Beacon, it I highly recommend it to anyone who’s spending time in the area. It is a bit steep in places (for short sections), but it’s no mountain, and it’s well worth the effort as you get tunning 360-degree views from the top. There are lots of paths over the Malvern Hills, I’ve got the end-to-end route on my to-hike list, maybe I’ll try and do that this summer.

It really was an excellent Saturday out; getting crafty in the morning, a great lunch, some urban exploring with a history lesson, and even some hill walking. I got home and had a soak in the bath before eating a chippie tea and (finally) watching the latest James Bond movie. More Saturdays like this one, please.

With Sarah

Making Multi-Day Hiking Plans

I am very keen to make sure that I get a multi-day hike in this year. Unfortunately, because I work full time (like most normal people…), I can’t tackle another “big” long distance trail like the UK Coast to Coast this year. But there are so many other options here in Great Britain.

I asked around for recommendations of short-ish long-distance hikes that I might be able to do within a working-week off, or even over a long weekend, and I had heaps of suggestions sent my way. The Great Stones Way was already on my list, which has been joined by the Cumbria Way, Isle of Wight Coast Path, and a bunch of others.

I also had a lovely couple of conversations with fellow GetOutside Champions, who were super generous with their time and encouraging words. I’ve been inspired to take a much bigger hike that seems out of reach and split it into shorter hikes rather than doing it all in one go, which for some reason has never really appealed until now. Section hiking the Wales Coast Path or another biggie does seem like a fun way to spend the next few years. As much as I would absolutely love to hike instead of work, that’s just not achievable for me.

There is so much choice, it’s just a case of choosing and planning. Ideally, I’d want to be able to use public transport at the start and finish, which always adds a level of difficulty into the mix. I hope to get one of those planned for later this year, as a little solo adventure – I’ll let you know if and when I manage to pull that off.

The Cotswold Way

Abbie Barnes, fellow GetOutside Champion and founder of Stay Wild, released her film about walking The Cotswold Way last week. It’s a great watch for anyone who is thinking about hiking the route, or who just likes hiking – a perfect video to add to your watch list during the storm.

I hereby declare that I WILL be walking the Cotswold Way – in full – in the next year or so. I’ve done lots of small hikes using the trail in part, but there is something so drawing about wanting to hike my local National Trail. There’s a provisional date in my diary (it’ll be one week), and a backup option, and a friend who feels she needs a re-match with this particular long-distance trail is going to join me. It has to happen. Bring it on!

Your Trail Recommendations

While I’m here, and even having had a heap of suggestions over the last week or two, I would love to hear your recommendations for three-to-four-day long-distance trails in England or Wales. Go on, add to my list!

Win a Walking Guidebook

If you’ve not read my post about these fabulous little walking guidebooks by Cicerone yet (this post), then you may not know I’ve got one to give away.

The great thing about books like this is they are always sat on the bookshelf waiting, so anytime I find myself with a day or half day available for walking, and want someone else to do the route planning, I can choose a ready-made walk. These books are also quite compact, meaning they are not too onerous to carry on the walk itself.

I’ve got one book to give away, and I’m doing that over on my Instagram feed. The winner gets to choose whether they want to receive Walking in The Cotswolds, Walking in The Forest of Dean, or Walking in The Wye Valley (one of the three books I have).

To enter, you need to be following me over on Instagram, and comment on this post to tell me which of the three books you’d choose. You’ve got to be in it to win it, so get entering.

I’ll draw the winner at random soon after 6pm on Sunday 20 February. The giveaway is open to UK residents only (as these books are about walks here in the UK).

Your Questions Answered

Episode 101 of my weekly blog series will be a good old Q&A. What do you want to know? Any burning questions? Drop me a line in the comments below, or over on twitter or Instagram, and I’ll pick a few to feature next time.

Question of the Week… Toasters

This is something I did in my first few weekly blogs and kind of fizzled out, and having a look back at some of my early posts when writing this episode reminded me how I enjoyed. Each week I ask a question of you – and you tell me your thoughts in the comments below. These questions aren’t about fixing the world’s biggest problems, but rather, to learn a little bit more about each other. This week…

Do you keep your toaster on your kitchen worktop or in a cupboard?

Mine is in the cupboard. We don’t use it every day so it doesn’t need to be out all the time, and if we did it would take up valuable real estate on the worktops when there isn’t quite enough space for food prep. I also prefer having as few things out as possible, it makes the kitchen look cleaner and tidier. Where do you keep yours?

Buy Me a Cuppa?

If you enjoyed this blog and fancy supporting me and my mini adventures in 2022, you can “buy me a coffee” (well, tea, if that’s okay). If you enjoyed this post and would like to support what I’m doing, please head over to Ko-fi to find out more.

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