This year is going to be awesome

Hello there! How are you doing? Hope you’re been having a wonderful 2016 so far – can you believe that February is already here?

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I’m even more stunned that I haven’t blogged since September, which is such a long time and lots has changed so I feel like an update is very much due.

Because I’ve still been reading blogs, it’s been easy to forget that I haven’t been on here for months but I had a wake up call during dinner with the lovely Laureen last week.

The moment came to sneak a quick pic of our food and it felt totally alien to me! I haven’t photographed food for such a long time, I think the end result gives that away:

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Speaking of Laureen, have you seen her gorgeous new (to me) blog design? And while we’re on the subject of blogs, Laura‘s has been particularly excellent recently.

I’ve chatted with a few people about blogging recently and the main reason for my absence is that I’ve been feeling like not much has changed and I don’t have much to say.

I envisaged myself writing about how I’m still walking the dog as my only exercise, still eating paleo-ish, still living in Bristol, still at the same job, still happy and content.

But I keep forgetting that for me, the best thing about blogs is the people behind them. Finding out how they are, what they’re up do, fun anecdotes.

Returning to my assertion “not much has changed”, let’s have a little recap of my life post-September 2015.

We bought a house!

Just a small life change… I am so thrilled to describe myself as a homeowner. There were many trials and tears along the way but this place really feels like home now.

Fun story: When we moved in, the previous owner moved to Canada. She helpfully left all her furniture and stuff, including a shed full of rubbish, for us to enjoy.

Nothing says ‘your own home’ like two weeks of arranging furniture removals and trips to the tip.

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One day I’ll do a before and after post, I promise it does look much better now! Even the bathroom, which we’re having re-done (bet you can’t think why).

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One of the fun parts of this place that it’s situated right on the water, and there’s a dog-friendly ferry across into town and great parks.

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The views from the water are beautiful and I feel so lucky every time I use it.

Henry turned One!

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Obviously he received a bazillion presents and lots of attention. By the way, I post all.the.time on his Instagram account.

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I can’t believe the happiness this curly monster has brought to our lives. He’s hard work but gives so, so much joy in return.

Christmas 2015

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I was working this year but still managed to join in the festivities with my family (sister and step-sister pictured above).

Presents included clothing from my favourite brand, Maison Scotch, and this Dyson hoover. Is it weird to go wild over a hoover? Because this one is awesome!

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Friends and family were tickled to receive Christmas cards with pictures of Henry on.. I’ve officially found my calling as a crazy dog lady!

Of course that calling included buying matching festive bandanas for Henry and Rufus – they are unbelievably sweet together.

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We call them #teamnaughty because they love to get up to mischief!

2016

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My plans for this year are to socialise more, try new foods, organise myself better and keep doing what makes me happy (like this podcast).

I have a feeling this year is going to be particularly awesome!

* Any grim bathroom tales? Especially those with happy endings!

* What are your plans for 2016?

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My first DNS Did Not Suck

Last Monday morning I woke up with achy legs, feeling tired and with a sense of achievement – exactly how I was expecting to feel the day after the Bristol Half Marathon.

My race pack popped through the letterbox weeks before, I had scanned training plans, bought a new t-shirt with the race in mind and looked forward to a good time.

On the day of the race, I woke up early, laced up my trainers and headed out the door, passing lycra-clad runners with their race numbers pinned on their chests.

I wasn’t going to be joining them at the start line.

Months ago, James and I decided not to run the half marathon, which was a bittersweet choice.

This race was going to be the one in which we smashed sub-2hr, it would be my fifth half marathon and James’ second – this time following a proper training plan.

And then we moved house and our puppy, Henry, arrived. IMG_8765

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We muddled through a few training runs for the Bristol 10k and thoroughly enjoyed it but then began to take more and more ‘breaks’ from running.

With each one, I began to feel better and better. My allergies subsided (despite being in hayfever season), my hormones balanced out and my skin improved dramatically.

Every time I went for a run I felt emotional and panicky. I experienced cold-like symptoms and weight loss coupled with extreme hunger for a few days after.

This happened when I was running alone, with friends or James – I would be fighting back tears as I struggled to keep up, blow my nose, use my inhaler and move my lead legs.

Eventually, I stopped running altogether and felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders (and legs).

Last Sunday, the day of the half marathon I’d be so looking forward to, James and I got up early, went for a walk and smiled at runners heading to the start.

He peeled off for a work conference in Cornwall and I put on my sexiest waterproofs and headed to a ‘doodle meet’ nearby, where we had a blast.

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I’m not writing this post to be anti-running – I have huge respect to those who do it, who have recently completed big races and are in training for others.

I just want to explain that it’s not for everyone, all of the time. And that’s absolutely fine.

Ultimately, you need to find something you love, something that makes you feel good both in the long term and short term, something that brings you joy.

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That ‘thing’ might change over time – running has definitely been it for me in the past, it may well be again. If it isn’t, that’s ok.

On that note, I know I’ll want to get back to ‘formal’ workouts at some point because I enjoy them, especially pilates and Crossfit. Just not right now.

Currently, I’m walking Henry at least twice a day – with sprints, jumps and squats thrown in – aiming for between 15 and 20,000 daily steps come torrential rain or shine.

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It may not be anything spectacular and I’m not going to earn any medals (oh race bling, how I miss you) but it is working really well right now.

Running has brought me lots of things – friends, confidence, a sense of achievement, great experiences, toned thighs.. – and I do miss it some days.

But I have to remind myself that those benefits are not exclusive to running and can be found out of the sweatosphere, as well as other places within it.

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New tries and buys

Hello there you lovely lot! Are you excited for the weekend?

I’m working and Henry is going for his first solo sleepover with my Mum, I’m going to miss my puppy so much but it will be good for all of us!

Today I thought I’d spare you the puppy pictures (you can get your fix here) and instead fill your screen with delicious goodies I’ve tried recently.

Doisy & Dam superfood chocolate bars

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When I first started delving into the world of raw chocolate I was desperately seeking a bar with a bit more solidity – well here it is!

Both of these flavours were pretty good and if you tolerate/eat dairy there are some delicious-sounding options in the ‘light’ range – date and Himalayan salt anyone?!

Also, I’ve always heard people say ‘so rich you only need a little bit’ and laughed (a lot) but it really is true for these bars. Love that you can buy 40g sizes too.

Conscious raw chocolate 

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You need to try all of the conscious chocolate flavours because they’re delicious. Especially the mint and the love potion, fresh out the fresh. Truffley, rich gorgeousness.

I’ve been saving these bars for special occasions as they contain agave nectar which I choose to shun in favour of natural sweeteners (honey, date, maple) or cane sugar.

However, they are fantastically yummy, have a great texture and are ‘friendly’ to so many different diets – raw, vegan, soy-free, gluten-free etc.

Sassy’s Brownie

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This is my kind of treat! I LOVE the ingredients in this (cashews, dates, cacao powder, orange, matcha and cacao nibs) and the taste and texture are spot on.

Great with coffee plus the box means it doesn’t get squished in your handbag. Plus, they do monthly subscriptions so you can get your raw cake fix without leaving the house.

Roo Bar

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So I’m a sucker for packaging and this bar grabbed my attention on the shelf. Usually I’d plump for a chocolate flavour but the lemon zing here really hit the spot.

The chia seeds give a great crunch and helped me feel full until dinner time (I had this as a mid-afternoon snack).

Planet Organic Energise 

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I’m sorry to say this bar really didn’t do it for me, I just couldn’t get into it at all. The texture and flavour were just not to my tastes at all.

I think it was the hemp protein that I wasn’t a fan of, it’s rare that I eat it and so perhaps it was standing out among the other ingredients.

Pip & Nut sachets

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I’ve always looked enviously over the pond to bloggers who enjoy sachets of nut butter and so it’s thrilling they’ve made it over here – by a UK company to boot!

There’s the option of peanut butter too but the coconut almond really is divine. I used to carry nut butter in tupperware but there were a few accidents, not fun to clear up.

Have a great weekend!

* Have you tried any of the above?

* What would your ultimate nut butter flavour be?

I think I’d like a salted caramel almond butter or perhaps a vanilla cinnamon version!

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He brings us so much joy

Hello there! Hope you’ve been having a fantastic summer, enjoying the sunshine and making the most of the daylight before winter strikes again.

I haven’t blogged for ages (well over a month – yikes!) but I’ve been really enjoying reading all my blogging friends’ adventures, advice, recipes and recaps.

The short reason behind my unplanned hiatus is simply: there aren’t any massive updates for you and my life has been dominated by a certain curly-haired monster.

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Exercise-wise, I’m still sticking to walking and feel ace on it. I’ve been doing the odd bit of yoga here and there but walking Henry twice a day has been a revelation.

It’s been great physically for me but mentally too – getting out first thing in the morning and last thing at night, meeting people, making friends and playing freely.

I feel better than I have for a really long time, very at peace and full of joy. I do miss running, races and my running friends but I’m not ready to get back to it yet.

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Food-wise, paleo-ish best describes my diet but I’m making a real effort to buy British produce where possible (sadly the avocado tree in my garden hasn’t worked.. yet).

We were given this quite frankly giant marrow at the weekend by a neighbour of my parents and Henry was convinced it was a toy for him.

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We had to cut it down to fit on a baking tray, then halve each piece so (most of) it sat on a dinner plate. I stuffed the marrow with pork, peppers, garlic, onion and feta. Yum!

Our flat has the world’s smallest fridge and Henry eats raw food so our storage facilities are pretty much zero but we are trying to make leftovers.

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We roasted our first chicken a few weeks ago, it was a free range, organic beauty and fed us for two meals, plus dog snacks, plus packed lunches. And tasted delicious!

This summer has been dominated by one thing: trying to buy a house for us and Dogzilla.

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There isn’t much of an update here, just frustration at the Bristol housing market bubble, where cost and demand are just crazy.

We were buying a place, a lovely two-bed terraced house with a garden, but it fell through due to the survey, which was a massive disappointment but probably a lucky escape.

Estate agent: “Well, don’t you have a spare £30,000 to do the work?”. Erm, no.

Talking of houses, James and I visited my childhood home in the village of Ashton Keynes with Henry one weekend.

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It was a gorgeous day and I became quite emotional taking Henry round Harry-Dog’s favourite haunts.

I was getting quite choked up at seeing him splash in Harry’s old swimming lake..

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… Then I realised the bottom was covered in horrifically thick muck and Henry was covered from nose to tail. The day after a bath. You have to laugh!

Of course, now I’m talking about Henry I have to give you a BFF update for Rufus, who went away to Finland for a month.

This is them the day after he came back, I think it’s clear how much they mean to each other.

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It’s the paw touching I can’t deal with, seriously too much!

I don’t think I can use an ‘onwards and upwards’ link to the fact James and I had an awesome time at Bristol Balloon Fiesta, I can’t get much happier than those two!

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Hopefully I’ll be back soon, I just don’t want to deluge you with pictures of the dog and not much else (taking food pics has gone out of my routine lately).

Have a wonderful week:)

* What have you been up to this summer?

* Have you ever revisited your childhood home?

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Hello Mr Slug

Hello there! Hope you had a great weekend and didn’t get too soaked yesterday. I managed to on three occasions – come on July, bring some sunshine!

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Henry is loving the wet weather, puddles are his favourite (he zooms from one to the next and back again). He couldn’t believe his luck when Rufus joined in yesterday.

I could probably write a million words recapping the past couple of weeks but I’ll keep it shorter and sweeter instead!

First up, James was away in Germany last week so I was in charge of Henry, who is going through a ‘fun’ teenage stage.

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I sent James off with banana pancakes and dropped him at the station before my Mum arrived for a sleepover.

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Lunch was a quite frankly huge roast at Aqua, which I highly recommend. Check out the size of that Yorkshire pudding – I was too stuffed to even start it!

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Henry was in full-on sass mood once he realised James had gone, my Mum and I couldn’t leave him for two seconds before naughtiness began.

We had a great shopping trip on Monday – I picked up this dress – including a lovely cake fest for lunch.

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I’ve been having a little dairy recently and *touch wood* no reaction yet. Maybe gluten was the problem all along? I think that’s a bit optimistic but I’m happy to have cake again!

Mum left on Monday evening and it was weird how empty the flat felt, I made sure to join the group of local dog walkers each morning to prevent cabin fever.

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Having Henry meant my week off was hardly relaxing but I had great fun taking him to new places – like the Clifton Suspension Bridge for the first time.

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He also met a similar attired woolly animal from the Shaun In The City.There are 70 sheep around Bristol, they definitely keep walks entertaining!

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It felt weird making dinner for just one, I kept up the usual meal rotation, with Don’t Tell the Bride (my guilty pleasure!) for company while I ate.

I did so much walking that I really, really struggled during a five miler with the Hill Killer Girls but thinking of the pub afterwards got me through!

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We picked up Henry on the way, he helped us demolish some crisps (and the pub by splashing water the landlord had kindly brought him everywhere..!)

IMG_1869I feel so lucky to run with such awesome girls, they always make me forget any troubles, hill inclines or tired legs. And colour coordinate so well!

I’d planned to invite Laureen round for coffee the following day but something horrific happened.

IMG_1908I was just settling down with a coffee, cake and a new book when Henry came in from the garden to say hello.

Anyway, he dropped a slug (a slug.. a slug.. a SLUG!) in my coffee when I wasn’t looking. I took a big sip and blurgh. Luckily I realised straight away. Grim, grim, grim.

 

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Henry is now very much sleeping on the floor and not near my bed – I don’t want him to drop one by my pillow!

I packed us both into the car on Thursday for a Cotswolds BBQ with my parents, which was utterly delicious.

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He loves the garden there, as do I.

James arrived home early on Friday morning and had to take Henry to the vet in the afternoon, as he has a sore paw.

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We left with a bag of medication and a feeling sorry for himself pooch. Cuddles were in order (when are they not with this dog?!).

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The weekend started with some fab pancakes, which were very welcome!

 

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We met up with BFF Rufus to cheer Henry up post-vets – they make each other so happy:)

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On Sunday I was lucky to meet up with my BFF too, it was her first time seeing our current flat (we only moved in a few months ago) and of course, the puppy.

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It’s hard to say but I think they liked each other!

* Are you a city or a country person?

* Ever had a slug in your food or drink? I can’t be alone…!

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Review: Trespass

One thing that has amazed me since getting a dog is the amount of clothes I get through, especially when the rain hits (which is often here in the drizzly UK).

At least twice a day, I take Henry for a long walk through fields and my wardrobe has really taken a battering.

I was running out of radiator space to dry my sodden jeans when an email dropped to my inbox from Trespass, asking if I’d like to review their summer hiking gear.

Of course I immediately accepted the challenged and picked two items I thought would be incrediblly useful – the Janel waterproof trousers and Nadi quick dry top.

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The items arrived quickly and well packed. I was really impressed at how they looked and felt.

Nadi quick dry active top – £6.99

I had a run planned with the Hill Killer girls (Laureen, Julie and new recruit Lucy) and putting on such a brightly coloured top definitely helped the 6am start!

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I really love this top. The fit is fabulous, I adore the length (no more tummy or back bearing!) and the colour is bright without being too crazy for early morning eyes.

It felt lovely to run in and kept me cool and comfortable. IMG_1649

I’d never had a running top with a hole in the back before and wasn’t sure how I’d find it but I really like it!

For £6.99 I think it’s an absolute bargain too, it’s already my favourite running t-shirt (and I’ve spent more than five times that price on others).

The top has Duoskin fabric to wick sweat away from the body, with an antibacterial finish to combat bacteria build up and keep you feeling fresh and clean.

 

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I picked the S size-wise and I think fit-wise it is pretty spot on. I’ve washed a few times and it has come out really well.

P.s. Trick for wearing a bum bag while running: wear it back to front. Much less annoying and it stays put instead of digging in/smacking you in the stomach.

Janel waterproof trousers – £20.99

I’ve been putting off buying waterproof trousers for ages despite the fact I really, really need them for work and walking the dog.

There’s a funny story about me having to be fireman’s lifted out of a farm in waist deep water in front of a senior politician – while wearing a dress – in the Somerset floods.

Anyway… Even that experience didn’t convince me to shell out for some “unsexy” waterproofs so I’m glad Trespass forced my hand!

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Look, I can’t pretend that waterproof trousers are sexy but they are flipping useful. And comfortable. And I’ve worn them for the past four morning walks.

That’s right, I absolutely love them. Imagine walking through torrential rain, coming inside and being bone dry underneath – not soaked through to your underwear.

I can’t understate how much satisfaction and joy these trousers have brought me.

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They are oh-so comfortable, fit snugly but not tightly and I can run about it them without any problems.

The trousers have an outershell and a dropliner. The outer features quick dry technology to wick away moisture and has a UV40+ finish.

The dropliner is waterproof to 3000mm, breathable to 3000mvp, windproof and has taped seams to give total protection against wind and rain.

There’s a detachable belt, which is fully adjustable, and four pockets to keep phones, keys, tissues etc safe from the elements.

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I genuinely can’t think of a bad thing to say about Trespass, I think the prices are brilliant, clothing is flattering, practical and comfortable and delivery is speedy.

* Do you have any Trespass clothing?

* Do you have a full set of waterproofs at home?! 

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A weekend of ups and a down

Welcome to the start of a new week! How’s everyone getting on? Hope your weekend was fabulous.

I was in a rush this morning and dashed out to walk Henry in some pumps (I adore these Victoria plimsolls) and a t-shirt. Then the heavens opened!

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Henry absolutely loves the rain but you can see how soaked he was, we were both drenched when we returned home. That will teach me for not checking the weather!

Speaking of weather, it wasn’t too shabby this weekend. I was working but managed to squeeze in lots of fun around my laptop – here’s what went down!

Friday

We celebrated the start of the weekend with a lovely walk at the Clifton Observatory. I snapped this pic of James and Henry sharing a moment – he’s definitely the favourite!IMG_1551

Dinner was a fabulous mix of salmon, all the sweet potato chips and a great salad. I was in foodie heaven.

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Radishes just might be my favourite salad extra at the moment. I’m also really into stuffed olives too, though I eat them before they can make it on the dinner plate!

Saturday

I was up mega early to walk Henry before work and took him back to the Observatory as there are usually lots of dogs there (and he loves to play!).

Just before we reached the park, we bumped into a woman walking her spaniel on a flexi lead. Henry went to say hello and she said “oh, just to let you know, he will attack your dog”.

Of course at that point Henry was already at the other dog and within a split second he was making this heartbreaking squealing sound – the spaniel had clamped onto his nose.

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The dog eventually let go and Henry cowered into me, his poor nose was bleeding and so sore.

I gave him lots of cuddles and sausage but continued our walk as I wanted him to meet some nice dogs, which thankfully he did – as well as a Shaun the Sheep!

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He was surprisingly ok, just a bit jittery and of course needed all the cuddles after we reached home for a pancake breakfast.

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I worked away until 3pm, when we met our friends for lunch at a local pub. They have a black lab and we headed on a lovely walk after the food.

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Back home for all the cuddles and a dinner of leftovers (it tasted fab but wasn’t picture-worthy!).

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Sunday

I had a lovely boost on Sunday morning when I found a parcel waiting for me in our hallway. Trespass kindly sent me some hiking gear to review, so exciting!

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I stupidly decided not to wear it for our morning walk, which was a Doodle meet up in Bristol!

It absolutely poured – so much so I couldn’t take a picture. Just imagine 20+ curly haired dogs running riot in torrential rain. Henry was delighted.

James and I dried off and headed out to the shops before working in the afternoon. At 6pm it was time to head out and meet Rufus the corgi for a walk.

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These two really are best friends, it sounds silly but I get so much joy from seeing them together. Our walk was a long hilly one (I think 5 miles or so).

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Dinner was very welcome, I whipped up a pork bolognese with courgetti and sprinkled some local, organic goat cheese on top.

My allergies are so much better since getting Henry, it feels like such a victory to be able to eat cheese without any reaction.

And of course I had to have the best dessert to celebrate with:

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* What salad extra are you loving at the moment?

* Favourite dessert?

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