Family Weekends

    With most of my family in New Zealand, it’s really lovely to be able to spend time with hubby’s family who have pretty much adopted me as their rugby loving, chitter chatting, token antipodean.

    As weekends go, this was a good-un. One we got our chores out of the way, it was full of …

    … Pumpkin Spice Lattes (they have been finally brought over here – I’m going to see if I can get the syrup/spices and make my own – yum!)Very soft, rather sweet they are a cross between vanilla and chai lattes… right up my alley.

    … snatched sunshine, and the drafting of a cat excercise regime as she has put on half a pound – too much sleeping not enough of anything else …

    …birthday dinners of beautiful Lamb & Mash – food of the gods…

    … fairly disappointing Creme Brulee …

    … refreshing beverages, though a worrying amount of Christmas menus – it’s only September people! …


    … surprisingly ostentatious golf clubs, hidden behind a road bend …

    … sunsets …

    … and random blurs (I’d like to think it’s because I’m so fast buuuut lets be honest…).

    How do you like to spend your Sundays? Curled up with a book warm at home? In the pub?


    London Living – A Donkey on the Edge (Escape to the Country)

    One of the hardest aspects, and at the same time the best aspects – about living in London is the grey city-fied-ness of it (yes, I’m making up words again, sorry). London is incredible, but on a daily basis to earn the money that keeps you able to travel to lovely destinations, eat scrumptious meals and generally enjoy yourself, you wake up to the alarm, do your work-day trudge, work, go home, complete chores and then sleep, ready for another day to begin. This is most definately a “first-world problem” as some of my Twitter buddies chat about, but after awhile sometimes the mad rush and coporate ladder can get you down. To be honest, living in both Auckland and Wellington, in New Zealand I used to have the same urges, but it’s easier as in New Zealand you’re never more than a 3-hour drive maximum from beautiful beaches.

    I’ve found (and much to my delight, I’m not alone) that every so often I have to see some greenery, get some fresh air in my lungs and hear nature. Leah, a Twitter buddy puts it beautifully, and slips in a Shrek reference – score, here in a post on her blog Naturally, Leah (go, it’s such a well-written blog) – calling it the ‘Donkey on the Edge’ feeling. Hubby doesn’t seem to get the same urge, but happily lets me drag him along where ever takes our fancy.

    This evening satisfied my Donkey on the Edge need quite by accident, as we were taken to a pub with quite the most beautiful view I think I’ve ever seen so far. Set up on the side of a hill, The Orchard in Harefield is quite something. A busy, well staffed Gastro-pub with a resident Basset-Hound we were really pleasantly surprised – it really seems to have it all.

    The below images really don’t do the scene justice – I’m going to go back, soon, with my proper camera, and try to capture the beautiful lakes and Grand Union Canal better.


    The Landlord even knew how to make a Vodka Lemon, Lime & Bitters with Angostura Bitters (though a half point deducted as we were later served by one of the other bar maids, who had never heard of Bitters). Heaven in a glass. The boys in our party can vouch for the beer being kept beautifully, and the owners really seem to have a passion for the beautiful pub and it’s roaring fires.

    That’s another facet of London life I love though, when you do get the urge to get out and away, it’s so easy to jump on a train/bus/car/tram/cable car/whatever is near and more often than not it can take you to green pastures, running canals and amazing English countryside. This place is a little harder to get to for Central Londoners by public transport – from Marylebone Station it’s a train to Denham (about 20minutes) then a 30min walk/bus, but it’s totally worth it.

    The continuously updated  menu-du-jour alone looks like it’s worth another trip, that and to see the pub dog. Such a friendly fellow.

    I am no longer a Donkey on the Edge. For now.

    Where do you go to escape? Is it as simple as a window box or backyard, or do you like to mix it up and make your breaks more stimulating? Have you got any recommendations for me?


    Foodie-In-Training: Figs

    It’s funny. For the last six months, we’ve been really focussed on changing the way that we eat and live our lives. We’ve lost a fair amount of weight on a calorie-counting programme, and it’s interesting because the relationship we have with food has totally changed. Whilst still enjoying all of the treats available, it’s no longer imperative to over indulge. Understanding the calorie values that everything is worth really changes the way you view treats. I still enjoy everything I like on a regular basis – nothing is off limits because I’m of the mindset that as soon as you make it off limits, you crave it and go overboard – but we are also taking more pleasure in the simple acts of cooking, preparing and trying new things.

    Gaining weight while on holidays/changing where you live seems to be a fairly widespread problem – beautifully put by this article “Whether it’s the dreaded ‘Heathrow injection’ or simple overindulgence, the fact is that many antipodean travellers return home carrying unwanted extra baggage.”

    But my our new improved outlook is introducing us to lovely new things. Take Figs for example. We never would have considered them, and now we’re trying them. I like fig biscuits, and thought raw figs may have a trace of that flavour.



    Yum. After very googling very intensive research, we decided grilling the figs with a smidgeon of Honey, and serving them with light cream cheese and waffles would be the way to go. They took about 5 minutes to make, the (pre-made) waffles popped in the Toaster, and fork at the ready.

    Delicious – and one of our five a day, containing all sorts of vitamins & nutrients. Who’d of thunk it?

    Have you tried figs? What is your favourite cooked fruit?


    Before I Go To Sleep – Reading Recommendation

    “As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me. . . .”


    I couldn’t put this book down. It literally went everywhere with me. When younger I was a Koontz fan and this reminded me of him – without the Sci-Fi. I enjoyed the almost disembodied-ness of the book; it really adds layers to how Christine feels. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional as some reader thought, I enjoed it. Reading is definately a willing suspension of disbelief, and I’ll admit that the twist in this book I didn’t see coming, though I probably should have. The insular world that Christine lives in is very intense, and there were a few coincidences, but I’m willing to forgive them for the overall story.

    The only problem is it finished. I could have kept on reading.

    Before I Go To Sleep S.J. Watson

    Definitely a compulsive read, and a great debut novel. A fantastic commuter read, and the cover is just beautiful.

    (Please note any links to Amazon are through
    my Amazon Associates account, which means I make a little money (less than 5%)
    from any purchases made after clicking through these links without adding any cost. This helps support
    my book addiction, so if you are interested in buying the book, please click
    through the top link)


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