Double fish, flowers and cake

Hello there and happy Wednesday! How’s this week going for you?

Hope you haven’t been hit by too much snow or bad weather, it’s been super blustery here in Bristol – I was almost blown off our outdoor stairs taking the recycling out!

This week is whizzing by super fast, I can’t believe I’m only just getting round to recapping my weekend.

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One thing I’ve been trying to do recently is take a breather during my drive home. This gorgeous sunset was in Somerset on Tuesday, it was so nice to get out the car, stretch my legs and relax a little before getting back in for more hours..

Here’s a link to what I was up to in Somerset.. There really are no words sometimes!

Yesterday, I had more than six hours of driving and I broke it up in Salisbury with a visit to their super Waitrose. It really is worth a visit (my wallet is lucky its so far away!).

This weekend was a chilled one but I managed to sneak in some exercise – a huge plus given my lack of movement this week!

Friday

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We’ve been buying herb plants on sale recently and I love using scissors to cut them onto salad. So far we had basil, chives (they seem the least affected by my savage pruning!) and parsley.

Friday night’s dinner was a plate of all my favourite things! I was so ready for a big plate of goodness as I did a long walk accompanied by podcasts beforehand.

Saturday

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The weather was a bit rubbish for running so I did some Youtube workouts instead, 30 minutes of HIIT later and I was ready for pancakes!

We spent the day doing the usual chores and walking around the city while I tried to work out Vine. I have to use it for work and am still a bit confused as to the point of it..

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Joy! A big pile of apple slices and dates to enjoy with the Saturday papers was a lovely way to spend the afternoon before we hit the shops for dinner.

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Let’s talk liver. I love the way it makes me feel, I really hate the texture. We tried some local, free range, organic liver as a meat replacement in fajitas.

I have to say it’s the best way I’ve eaten it so far but I couldn’t manage very much. Next time we’re frying it with onions and serving with gravy and mash.

Saturday’s film was The Queen of Versailles, which I really enjoyed, especially when I Googled how things were working out now.

Sunday

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We ran! We ran! It may have been 3.4 miles but I absolutely loved it. Our legs and core were pretty sore from the previous day and I sneakily made us run all the big hills.

My Mum visited straight after the run so we did extra coffee and pancakes, which she was very impressed with. “So easy.. it’s just two eggs, one banana!”

Mum and I spent a great afternoon going round the shops and stopped off for tea and cake at the Arch House Deli. Their gluten free, dairy free chocolate cake was divine.

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I was sad when she left but very chuffed with the beautiful flowers she brought from the garden, they’ve been cheering up my week.

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Dinner was salmon cooked in the oven with herbs and a slice of lemon, sweet potato chips and avocado.

* Do you use/grow fresh herbs?

* How’s your week been going?

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Eats and Feats

Happy Friday! I feel pretty awesome right now given my 12-day slog is almost over, the sun is shining and two nights of (hopefully) decent sleep await. Hurrah!

I am so pleased to be at this point, I’ve been feeling really burnt out and exhausted in the latter parts of this week – no amount of sleep, caffeine or sugar has been enough.

This morning the sunshine and frost looked so beautiful, I couldn’t resist taking a snap of a field of frozen water with the sun rising above.

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Eagle-eyed readers will notice that this is my first Eats and Feats post for almost two months. That’s because there really hasn’t been much to report on the Feats part.

Last year my stress steadily built to the point where I started to feel panicky, shaky and sick if I went for a run, did a hard workout, or had a tough time at work.

My appetite and sleep was all over the place and I gained an extra 10lbs, mainly on my stomach – a classic cortisol response.

So I decided to scale back workouts big time. Sleep, mental activity (reading, writing, crosswords etc) and stress reduction took priority, with walking and stretching.

Over the Christmas period – including lots of good food, a holiday with my Dad, mega sleeps and family time – the 10lbs vanished and I started to feel myself again.

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Since that point, I’ve been doing one run a week and trying to manage my stress levels. It’s been going well, apart from this 12-day stretch.

Another change is that I’ve started taking my asthma medication again. I hate, hate, hate that I’m back on steroids but my asthma was getting out of control.

The downside of the medication is that it stains your teeth, another reason I’ve avoided it in the past.

I’ve been taking FCLOBB for good tooth health, trying to stay away from sugar, drinking no more than one cup of coffee per day and brushing, flossing etc like a champ.

There’s still been some discolouration, which sucks. I’m on a 12-week blitz of the steroids before I can reduce the dose so will have to grin (without showing my teeth) and bear it.

Anyway, moving away from the joys of my medical state and on to the good stuff – food!

Eats

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Purple balance bars have such fun flavours and taste delicious! This is my favourite flavour so far, very fruity and great texture.

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So I’m still not out of the sweet potato rut because they’re a) cheap and b) delicious. This makes up for the fact I’m going crazy for fresh fish, which isn’t so budget-friendly.

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Banana pancakes, pretend like it’s the weekend.. I did this earlier this week, it made me very happy. Until the phone rang and the reality it really wasn’t the weekend hit.

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I came home from a run to find James had prepared this awesome meal for me. We picked the cavolo up from our local farmer’s market and it is scrumptious.

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Wednesday and Thursday were sugar bomb days. Wednesday I tried to counter the crash by having all the protein – local free range bacon and eggs with aforementioned cavolo.

On Thursday I made a steaming bowl of chicken broth with chopped bacon, courgette, onion and chilli flakes.

I followed the above with a big clove of raw garlic after reading this. It burned but I also felt a million times better. To James’ joy, the smell only lasted for half a day.

Feats

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Sun: Walk Rufus*

Mon: Planking and a little yoga

Tues: Sweaty Betty run club hill training and 6k with Steph and Laureen

Wed: Walk Rufus

Thurs: Planking and a little yoga

Fri: Off

The * for Rufus comes to explain why I justify it as a workout. We walk him for about two hours each time, taking in lots of hills and I run a lot with him.

20150121_185148He’s the sweetest thing to run with, I sprint off and he trots along at my side before racing me back to James again. We also run quite a bit while playing post-walk :)

Above is his “chase me” face – how could you ever refuse?!

* How do you manage stress?

* Any white teeth tips? 

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Review: Fabletics

They say good things come to those who wait.. and it was definitely true for my Fabletics order!

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I’d seen Fabletics on my Facebook feed pretty much daily and my interest piqued when Laureen turned up for a run in some snazzy Fabletics leggings.

My workout clothes are like the rest of my wardrobe – minimal. I wear durable, practical and some might say boring clothes, the majority of which are for work.

Before this order, my workout clothes consisted of two pairs of leggings, one pair of shorts, three long sleeved t-shirts and some race tops, two sports bras plus one pair of trainers.

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I took a long break from working out in December – pretty much since September’s half marathon to be frank – and decided to treat myself for a fresh start in 2015.

Fabletics is free to join and you fill out a quick quiz to ensure the outfits it picks for you match your body shape, form of exercise and preferred style.

It then provides you with a selection of outfits, which range from 2-3 pieces (eg a bra, vest and shorts or vest and leggings).

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Your first order is 50% off, so the outfit I picked, ‘Woodland’, was £36 reduced from £72. I paid £3.95 for express shipping (2-3 days) but there was a free option.

I chose the Fulton Tee, Fenway Vest and Salar Capris. The t-shirt and vest were size small, I went medium for the leggings because I don’t like them super tight.

Anyway, despite me ordering the express shipping, nothing turned up for well over two weeks.

The Fabletics team were quick to respond to my (rather frustrated at waiting at home watching the door like a hawk for two days) emails and refunded me the £3.95.

Apparently, they had a problem with their shipping which has now been resolved. After receiving my clothes, they added a £5 credit to my account to apologise.

Here’s what I thought of each piece:

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Fulton Tee

This top is pretty awesome. It feels really light, not like the usual tops I wear running, yet provides enough warmth for a (lightly) rainy day.

Super comfortable and also super long – the back is especially helpful in providing a little cover when one might fall victim to the dreaded VPL.

The thumb holes are soft on the hands and easy to push back if you don’t want to wear them, which is not the case for the other thumb-holed top I have.

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Fenway Vest

I have barely taken this vest off since my Fabletics parcel finally arrived. I’ve worn it to work, to work-out, round the house.. cannot get enough!

It’s lightweight but warm, cosy and comfortable, long enough to cover the squishy bit above my hips that always gets cold (oh fine, my love handles!).

The pockets have great zips too, it’s such a luxury to carry round tissues, inhalers, lipbalm, money, cards, keys and phones without using a bumbag.

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Salar Capri

I’m fussy about my leggings and these didn’t quite cut the mustard for me.

I ordered them a size too big which I only realised was a negative when I experienced the dread slippage halfway through a run.

And became one of those women yanking up bagging bottoms while trying to look cool and collected.

Anyway, I’ve kept them because a) I might chub up more if my addiction to raw chocolate continues b) They’re flipping comfortable for slobbing about the house in.

They don’t have pockets, which is another major downside to me, I like having at least the option for keys and a phone.

All in all, for £36 I feel like I picked up a real bargain. I’m really impressed with the quality and fit and would definitely shop Fabletics again.

* Is no-pockets in leggings a deal breaker for you too?

* How big is your workout wardrobe?

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Bathing in sunshine and smiles

Monday, Monday, Monday. How’s everyone bearing up?

I feel so exhausted I just want to lie down somewhere soft and sleep for a few days. Working the weekend really took it out of me after last week’s antics.

I had some weird allergic flare up both days of the weekend, I think due to an increased intake of chocolate recently, and taking medication always hits me hard too.

And remember my ‘outgoing’ neighbours? We had three days (and nights) of parties from Thursday to Sunday. I filed noise complaints etc, nothing changed. Same old story.

Anyway, to wake myself up I thought I’d regale you with fun stories from my weekend – don’t worry, I’ve spared you the painful work parts!

Friday

So Friday ended on a frankly awesome note. I hit the giant Waitrose in Salisbury as a sweetener before the 3 hours drive home the previous day and picked up some real goodies.

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Why yes, that is a courgetti bolognese with heaps of veggies and Duchy Organic Free Range Pork – which cost no more than the standard packs in Bristol…

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… And morello cherry coyo! I rarely see this flavour so stocked up, it tastes divine. I savoured it while reading Top Dog, which I totally recommend for prospective and current dog owners.

Vegan smoothies, natural skin remedies, homemade dog food (and birthday cakes!) are all in this colourful and approachable read.

Saturday

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It was cold, rainy and too early but James and I went for our first run in three weeks, a 5k that felt touch but achievable in my new Fabletics kit. Review on the way!

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Breakfast made up for the chill, we had some free range organic bacon I picked up in Salisbury, with banana pancakes, maple syrup and berries.

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James and I did a few chores before heading out for a shop, I was too in love with my Fabletics gilet to take it off.

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I told James I needed cake, he decided soup and salad would be a good alternative. I mean, yes but also no. Just no.

One of our tasks was clearing out Meeko’s cage and toys. I washed then cleaned every item with antibacterial spray and felt so emotional.

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One of the last pics of Meeko, he loved nestling in my hair and staying warm in my hand. Before his death, we decided he was our last hamster. I’ve had a hamsters for the past five years, ever since starting my first job and felt so sad to be clearing everything away.

Sunday

Sunday started with banana pancakes and work, then moved to a great walk in the park with our Borrow My Doggy friend Rufus.

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It was a glorious day and Rufus had great fun chasing me round the park then cooling off his little legs before round two.

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We went for a walk in the woods before heading back to the pond for another leg wash. Well, a teeny French bulldog puppy, clad in his little jacket, was tottering by his owner nearby.

Rufus and the puppy played for a little while before I noticed something change in Rufus’ face, it looked a lot like a child about to do something naughty..

Next thing we knew, Rufus had bombed down the slope to the pond closely followed by the puppy. Rufus skidded to a halt at the edge but the poor puppy went flying in with quite a splash!

His owner was so shocked, saying “No, he doesn’t.. he’s never been in water before.” as James and I tried not to cry with laughter, Rufus casually by our side.

The little puppy emerged from the water totally soaked with such a horrified expression on his face, his little jacket sopping wet. So sad but so, so funny.

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I decided real cake was in order after our long walk and picked up this grain-free and dairy-free delight for me and a banana loaf for James. Yum!

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Dinner was chicken kebabs with sweet potato fries, followed by copious amounts of Booja Booja to keep me awake until work ended.

* Any funny pet stories?

* Do you wear work-out clothes outside the gym etc? 

I love this gilet so much I’ve already worn it to court and shopping!

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Day in the Life

Hey there! Hope your week is going fine and dandy. Mine has been hectic and heartbreaking so far (our little Meeko passed away).

Today I thought I’d write a Day in the Life post, which I love reading on other people’s blogs.

I’ve been wanting to provide an honest insight into my life during the working week to dispel all those ‘journalism is glamorous’ beliefs, and show I don’t get it right all the time.

Wednesday

6.10 – Wake up, reach for my phone and go through news websites, emails and Instagram for some light relief!

6.30 – Shower, get dressed and pack up my various equipment that has been charging overnight.

6.50 – Leave the house, scrape snow from my car and set off to Salisbury.

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7.45 – Traffic has been really slow and heavy. I manage to miss my exit on the M4 so try to come up with another route. Dad calls (I have hands free).

8.10 – James calls to let me know he has just buried Meeko in a lovely spot with a great view.

The wet ground made it very slippy in the woods and he thought he was going to fall to his death “and then they’d find me clutching a dead hamster and a shovel”. It makes me laugh a lot!

8.45 – I take the wrong exit on the M4. Again. Head towards the Marlborough Downs and am stunned by the gorgeous snowy scenes.

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I park my car in a layby and snap a few pictures to send to work.

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8.55 – Phone work, tell them about pictures. They like them so much they ask me to take more, do a video shoot and miss the morning session in Salisbury.

9.15 – Set off towards Avebury with blocks of ice as hands after filming at the roadside.

9.30 – Park in Avebury, find a spare pare of (clean) welly socks in my car and use them as gloves. Eat a Nakd bar. Trudge out in the snow with my cameras and tripod.

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10 – End up walking half a mile through a muddy field to get some footage/stills. Try not to think about my new work boots and smart dress as I plunge ankle deep in mud.

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10.15 – Arrive back at my car, wash off my tights and boots with a water bottle. Head off to Malborough to file as no internet signal in the field/car park.

11 – Caffe Nero provides warmth, coffee and wifi while I edit video and pics and send them to London.

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12 – Back on the road to Salisbury. I eat some jelly snakes sweets in my car.

1.15 – Arrive in Salisbury, park and walk to coroner’s court. Find out the inquest isn’t due to restart until 1.45 so I head to nearest health food shop for lunch.

1.40 – Managed to forget lunch but grabbed raw chocolate, matcha tea drink and water. Eat another Nakd bar from my bag while checking websites and emails before inquest starts.

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Decide I’m not a fan of the apple matcha drink after a few sips.

5 – Inquest takes a five minute break. I text James to let him know I won’t be back in time to walk Rufus and inhale the raw chocolate bar I bought earlier.

6.50 – File copy (800 words), check websites, email and Twitter, and head to the car.

7 – Reach the car and head home. Refuel as I leave Salisbury and grab some water. Hold back from buying sweets for the journey!

7.45 – Phone Mum (on hands free) for a post-funeral catch up.

8.50 – Arrive home. James has walked Rufus, bought me Nakd bars, tidied the flat, taken three boxes of recycling down our five flights of stairs and bought dinner. I’m so grateful I could cry.

9.30 – Eat dinner and watch Modern Family. The avocado is so unripe I can’t eat it :(

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10 – Watch the news while checking websites and emails and eat some Medjool dates with almond butter.

10.40 – Brush my teeth, put my various equipment back on charge. Check Instagram and news sites again. Set alarm for the following day.

11.15 – Fall asleep.

The end!

* What does your day look like?

* Any snow where you are? 

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Real Food Resources: Skin and Haircare

Something I find hard to put into words (but will now try!) is how we have no idea where people are on their journey to a certain goal just by looking at then.

That journey might be mental or physical, the goal far away or already achieved; just reaching it doesn’t mean you don’t still have to try hard to keep it up.

For years, one of my goals has been clear skin, something I am not naturally blessed with.

Conquering my eczema, acne and sensitive skin is something I’ve mainly achieved but it is a daily battle I can easily lose by stress, diet, products or even a change in water.

I often feel I don’t have good enough skin to be a ‘poster girl’ for what works for me, that what I’ve achieved isn’t good enough “yet”.

I know I’m not alone in this – I’ve talked to other bloggers and friends about feeling exactly the same way about weight, fitness level, diet and even clothes style!

Where I am on my skin journey is close to the finish line. I’m in a great place for me but of course, for someone else I might be in a terrible one.

With that in mind, I thought detailing the products which I completely adore and have improved my skin and hair ten-fold would be a great topic for Real Food Resources.

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Before I crack into my favourites products, I should mention they’re not the be all and end all for me – diet, stress and sleep all play a big part too.

For my face:

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The above is all I use on my face, full stop. My skin is usually too sensitive for make-up so a slick of lipbalm is my war paint for situations when I want to look jazzed up.

Green People Day Solution Moisturiser - I’ve written about this before and received so many comments agreeing what a great product it is.

Hurraw! Almond Lipbalm – see above. This stuff is gorgeous and I’ve managed to get many friends and my Mum hooked! The other flavours smell divine too.

Shiseido The Skincare Hydro-Balancing Softener – Alcohol-free and the only thing that calms my neckline when it gets dry and has hives following an allergic reaction.

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Green People Fruit Scrub Exfoliator – Love this! It took a long time for me to move away from my chemical-laden spot-fighting face scrub but the softness and clearness this product brings is oh so worth it.

For my hair:

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Green People Daily Aloe Shampoo - I’ll be frank. Years of using clarifying shampoo and washing up liquid once a week (I worked in a hairdressers, it was our top tip!) meant gentler shampoos didn’t cut the mustard, or grease if you will. Anyway, I persevered with natural shampoo, initially by using a clarifying one, then using it every other day, then phasing it out for this gentle one. My scalp has never felt cleaner or happier.

Green People Moisturising Conditioner - Again, a hangover of working at a salon meant I used a super rich hair mask every time I washed my hair. This lighter condition works just as well, I comb it through and leave on in a steamy shower for five minutes. My hair is rather long now but rarely gets super tangled, even if I’m out in the wind all day.

Giovanni Eco Chic Frizz Be Gone (not pictured) - If you’re a Moroccan Oil addict and looking for something cheaper and more natural, I can’t recommend this enough.

For the shower: 

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Jason Antioxidant Cranberry Body Wash – This smells so good, fresh and yummy! I like to use it after a run or a workout or just to wake me up in the morning.

All of the Jason products I’ve tried have worked really well, this is just my favourite and it’s not too expensive either.

Yes To Blueberries Body Wash - as above, Yes To shower gels are fabulous! They don’t irritate my skin, smell yummy and are super gentle. I prefer the carrot scent but found this bottle a third off at Waitrose and couldn’t turn down such a deal!

So there you have it! All I can recommend is to shop around, ask bloggers for advice (many are infinitely wiser than me on this subject!) and try as many as you can.

I know the majority of the products I use are Green People and that’s because I really like and trust the brand, their products have never failed me!

* What skincare brand do you use?

* Do you ever feel you should be ‘better’ in a certain way to represent healthy living blogs/a way of eating etc? 

p.s. Rose towel is currently on sale at Cath Kidston if you’re interested! 

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Words of Wisdom and the Weekend

Hello there! Is anyone else sporting ginormous hair today? I did my morning paper run with wet hair this morning and the wind whipped it up into a giant frizz. Oh joy!

The end of last week was a little crazy, work went mad and my colleague came down on Thursday night to cover for me on Friday (more on that later).

We ended up working until 11pm, not fun when we’d both started at 7am, but burgers at Byron and beer (ginger for me) helped us get through.

Friday started bright and early with a Wild Thing Paleo bar, my newest obsession!

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We made our way down to Gloucestershire for my Grandpa’s funeral, he’d arranged a limo to take us there and it was funny to see it driving around my Mum’s little village.

So many people came to the funeral with testaments of what my Grandpa had done for them, which was so moving given his circumstances.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on here but he had a stroke in 2003 and was left paralysed down one side, needing nursing home care and a wheelchair.

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I knew Grandpa liked to write but I didn’t know he was spending hours, at his clunky computer in excruciating leg pain, detailing memories and advice for his family.

My sister found his writings, named ‘Random Jottings’, on his computer – a collection of World War II experiences, family, comment, poems and recipes he wanted to pass on.

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She self-published the book and we all have a copy, along with his local church and friends. I spent much of the weekend re-reading it and feeling so proud.

Saturday we woke up feeling exhausted but dragged ourselves out for a pre-pancake walk before tucking in.

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James’ parents were in Bristol so we met with them for the afternoon then cracked on with chores and flat hunting (we need to move in a few months).

It was great to get organising, I wrote down a list of things I absolutely must get done soon, including a hair cut as my Green People regime has it growing super fast!

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Dinner was grilled haddock with sweet potato fries, salad (still going chive crazy) and slightly gone over avocado.

It tasted delicious, so nice to get back to home-cooked food after a couple of fatty meals out – we went out with family on Friday night too.

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Sunday was another quiet day, we both woke up feeling a little stressed so headed for the woods after breakfast.

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Ashton Court is such a beautiful place and deep among the trees we could barely make out traffic noise, a rarity when living in a city centre!

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It’s the resting place of former furry friends Flake and Mo and so we made sure to visit their spots and say hello.

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We felt very old packing a flask of roobios tea but it was a revelation to sip on boiling hot tea while sat on a felled tree trunk as the wind and rain rushed outside the branches.

The evening was more chores and more reading and lots of raw chocolate, I felt in need of lots of it in preparation for this 10 day week, which I’m working alone. Eeek!

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Dinner included sweet potato fries for the billionth time.. we really need to find another carb source but they taste so delicious!

We marinated some organic chicken breast fillets in spices and served with salad and perfectly ripe avocado.

* Did you have a good weekend? 

* Any suggestions for delicious veggie carb sources at dinner?

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