Well this idea of setting myself things to do this year is already turning out to be such a great idea!! I have wanted to go on a cruise up the River Thames for years but because I live in Kent and it’s virtually on my doorstep I, like many others I am sure, never quite got around to doing it. For instance, I have been on a cruise up the River Seine in Paris and across the fjords of Norway, but not the Thames.
So this week I rectified the omission. My daughter, Kate, knowing I wanted to do this decided to treat me for my birthday ( which made it even nicer). We embarked at Greenwich and took a leisurely trip up the Thames, which derives its name from the Sanskrit Tamas, meaning dark, as the water is often so dark in colour (there are other possible reasons but I like this one). The weather was great and a with a drink in one hand and camera in the other it was such a great way to see London from a completely different perspective. It became so clear how important the river was in the past, with so many of the buildings we passed being wharfs ( now luxury apartments). We arrived at The Houses of Parliament in time for Big Ben to strike 12 (which I know means we were indulging in a wee tipple a bit early – but it was a treat!!) and as we passed Tower Bridge on our return the barriers rose which was a real spectacle to behold. It was good to see all the pleasure, leisure and working boats, together with the police and naval boats too.
I would recommend anyone to take this trip, Greenwich was a great start/stop destination as the market has good street food and stalls there and the Cutty Sark in dry dock is impressive. The day also provided me with a list of other places ( including numerous pubs ) I would like to see. Top tip = booking online in advance gave 50% discount and bring a cardie as it gets chilly 😄
So whilst Chris (hubby) is still away motorcycling, I thought I would practice some vegetarian meals for my two week 50@50 eating vegetarian challenge. I have not eaten vegetarian food much, however as we are growing so many vegetables in our garden it seems like a good time to experiment .
First of all I collected an onion, courgettes, aubergine and the first picking of our beef tomatoes. I cleaned them, chunkily sliced them and tossed them in olive oil. Once seasoned I roasted them for 30 minutes on 180 C.
Confessions here are that I cheated and used a jar of tomato sauce ( not what I would usually do but I ran out of time as it was one of the hottest days of the year today here in Kent and I spent it gardening…digging actually, so I used the half hour to have a well needed shower!!)
Then I made a basic white sauce with butter, flour and milk. I then layered the vegetables with the tomato sauce, pasta, white sauce ( sprinkled some mozzarella I had left over from yesterday’s bake – double cheese and bacon rolls for recipe see yesterday’s post)), and topped with a bit of mature cheddar. It’s such an easy meal.
I baked it at 160 C for 40 minutes which gave me plenty of time to have a lovely chat with my sister and sit outside enjoying the setting sun whilst reading Poirot ( a guilty pleasure).
Served simply with lettuce and cucumber this was such a tasty dish and the vegetables tasted amazing; it did not feel like it was “missing something” which has been a worry of mine with vegetarian food. Certainly encouraged me to try something more.
So my birthday has been and gone and I am now 49!!! Time to get cracking with the 50@50 challenges and whilst my husband Chris is off motorbiking around America baking seems the ideal way to spend my evenings (especially as the diet does not start until September.)
I thought I would start off easy so went for a recipe I found online which is double cheese and bacon rolls mmmmmmmm…which I thought might go well with the courgette and Brie soup I was making for supper
They were soooo good, easy to make and I felt like Paul and Mary ( Great British Bake Off) would have been happy with their Virgin bread baker; no soggy bottoms here. I think I might use a strong cheddar on the topping next time but the gooey mozzarella filling is scrummy. Truly speaking they were like a meal in themselves. So, if like me, you have not tried making bread before I suggest you give it a go as it was fun, the proofing time meant I could water the garden and they really do look and taste like I bought them from some smart deli 😄
Well it is now the penultimate day before my 49th birthday and the start of my 50@50. The challenge is to achieve some of those things I have just never quite got around to doing but really want to do and I have a year to complete them. I have also offered some friends and family the chance to suggest something, cerebral or physical but basically an enjoyable 1:1 experience with that person. So here it is…the list which will define a great part of my up and coming 12 months
have drum lessons and learn at least one piece
complete a bike ride
take a generation photograph
read all Agatha Christie novels
do another 2-5 day extended walk
make a piece of artwork
see basking sharks in UK
lose at least one and a half stone
Read a non-fiction book
let someone else order my food at an Indian restaurant
sleep under the stars
Disconnect from IT for one week
have a holiday with my family
have a driving lesson
make a lemon meringue pie from scratch
attend a flower show
stand on Hastings pier with the one I love
use my fishing rod
visit the Eden Project and lost gardens of heligan
blog my 50@50
go to a Maidstone United football match
get one of my photographs printed or hung in public
Watch a sunrise and sunset
record my mums favourite memories
finish the birthday bed in the garden
take up a sport again
spend a guilt free day in my PJs watching DVDs and eating KFC
research and try meditation
Watch the starling murmurations on Brighton Pier
revisit every road and house I have lived in
eat vegetarian food for two weeks
grow my hair long
go on a River Thames cruise
go glamping in a yurt
Chris = watch the original Italian Job film with him
Katie = surprise on the day
Matt = surprise on the day
Nicky = positive news, recipes and top tips letter correspondence
Debbie = meditation, willow work and sleeping out adventure
Frankie = weekly recipe swap
Helen = classical music event at the Royal Albert Hall
So as I have said two of my interests are food and nature. Today I went to my local market and picked up the most amazingly tasty lamb samosa; but what to do whilst it was gently warming in the oven?….I decided to spend the time completing the short 15 minute Big Butterfly Count 2015 (butterfly-conversation.org) What a lovely and mutually beneficial way to spend the time. I spotted over 23 butterflies of eight different species ( including holly blue which was areal treat). So if you have a spare fifteen minutes it was really lovely to wander my Kent garden; ignore the weeds and enjoy watching all the visitors and insects who benefit from my work. And now I can enjoy the samosa knowing that the heating time wasn’t wasted.
I have 50 challenges to achieve before the age of 50 on August 15th 2016. However I have asked 14 family members and friends to set 14 of my challenges for me, which I now believe may have been a rash decision. Their remit was to suggest something, cerebral or physical that we could do together which would be memorable for us both but potentially challenging for me in some way.
These challenges are not a bucket list and some are very humble, but they are things which have eluded me thus far. Now that my children have grown up and left home I feel I should make the most of my extra time and try to achieve these thing. I’m will be posting my list on the day before my birthday this year…..so watch this space