Tuesday, 28 July 2015

When It Rains, Always Have a Plan B


We were over in East Sussex at the week-end for a 2 night camping trip with friends.  The weather was fine on the first day, which is always good for when you're putting up the tent and having a barbie in the evening.  However on day 2 we woke up to rain, the serious and heavy rain with overcast grey skies and blustery winds - the kind of rain that you know will be with you all day.



One of my mottos is to always have a plan B - something to fall back on if plan A can't happen.  If you do this, you should nearly always manage to avoid disappointment.  Sometimes my plan B's are even better than my plan A's.

We decided to take a short trip to the seaside town of Bexhill On Sea as we had discovered that the annual Bexill Motofest was happening - a festival of "everything biking".  However, when we got there, it was blowing a gale and the last remaining stall holders were doing battle to get their display stands back into the vans before they were whipped up into the sea, never to be seen again. There was just one solitary motorbike looking sorry for itself, parked in a sheltered spot beneath the De La Warr Pavilion .

So then we had to go on to plan C and we took a bracing walk along the seafront




After this, there was nothing more that we could do but to go into the De La Warr Pavilion itself and admire the architecture.  It is said to be one of the most iconic Modernist buildings in Britain.  







We had tea and cake in the cafe which overlooks the seafront and enjoyed visiting the free exhibition of Curve Paintings by Bridget Riley, which was an added bonus as we both love her art - paintings that move and dance around before your eyes.






Saturday, 25 July 2015

Morris By The Water



After the tranquility of the beach, we cycled back to town and were greeted by the sounds of beating drums and jangling bells as we crossed the river bridge, the sounds getting louder the closer we got.

It seemed that there was "a celebration of Morris Dancing with teams attending from around the UK - a gathering of nearly 20 English Morris sides (teams) in all their strange and exotic forms".  We'd not heard about this event until now but suddenly there were people in brightly coloured costumes and painted faces everywhere we looked and I was feeling a little under-dressed in my t-shirt and cycling trousers - like I'd turned up to a party and not made the effort.





It's not until you get a gathering of so many groups together that you realise how much variety there is in traditional English Morris dancing, as different regions put their own slant on things.  Included at this event were the traditions of Cotswold, Garland, Rapper, Northwest Clog, Step Clog, Border and Longsword!








Each group was accompanied by their own musicians and on a beautiful English summer's day the traditional music, dancing and costumes provided great street entertainment.






Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A Tropical Beach On The Edge of Town



Some people like a sandy beach, others prefer pebbles but personally, I like both and each have their good points and bad points.  

Our local beaches are very pebbly which is no good for building sandcastles but they don't half give your legs a work-out trying to walk on the uneven surface.  

On Saturday we needed to cycle into Worthing to take care of some errands and as it was such a lovely day, we bought take-away coffees from the little mobile coffee truck and sat and admired the view from the tranquil landscaped beach garden at the far end of the promenade on the edge of town.







For half an hour, we felt as though we'd been transported to somewhere abroad and very tropical.  Then it was time to get back onto our bikes again and head towards the busy shoppers in town ...



Sunday, 12 July 2015

Chocolate Fudge Balls



Sometimes you just need a sugar boost and my new philosophy is if you're going to indulge, then you might as well try and make things as healthy as possible.  So I dug out my Chocolate Covered Katie recipe book and decided to give the Anytime Chocolate Fudge Balls a go.  My version actually turned out almost as good as the picture in the book (I forgot to process the chocolate chips so they were a bit chunkier than they should have been!)

These little beauties gain their sweetness from the dates which are packed full of nutrients such as iron, potassium, calcium, dietary fibre and antioxidants to name but a few.  They also contain nuts (again, packed full of nutrients and protein) and shredded coconut which means they take a bit of chewing which makes them a more satisfying snack.  The cacao/cocoa gives another boost of antioxidants.

They're quick to make, don't require any cooking and can be stored in the fridge and average out at about 45 calories each.

Ingredients

3/4 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup raw pecans (I used mixed chop nuts)
2 tablespoons of cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
small pinch of salt
1 handful of mini chocolate chips (optional)

Method

Combine all ingredients in a high quality food processor* and process until a fine crumble forms.  If the mixture is too dry, add up to 1 tablespoon of water.

Transfer the dough into a resealable plastic bag and smush into a ball.  Open the bag, break off pieces of dough and roll into balls.

Store in a covered container at room temperture for up to 3 days, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks (but they probably won't last that long, they taste so good!) or can be frozen for up to 2 months.


* I don't own a food processor but managed to make these by chopping through the dates in a mixing bowl with a sharp knife and using pre-chopped nuts and then more squishing of the dough with a fork

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Towers in the Clouds



Last Sunday we were on a whirlwind mission to show our 2 nieces visiting from abroad the sights of London.  We started with a boat trip down the Thames from Westminster to Greenwich.  Its about a one hour trip but you get to see a lot from the water. 

The day was cloudy and cool - which was a shame as the day before it had been hot and muggy and I'd planned to wear a sundress and sun hat but had to change plans at the last moment to accommodate the unpredictable English weather.  But every cloud has a silver lining and I found the changeable weather produced wonderful skies which made for a terrific background for photographs of the old and new London architecture.








Before heading home, we ate at The Stockpot in Soho.  I used to eat there years ago when I lived and worked in London and was pleased to see it hadn't changed a bit from the old days - stuck in a time warp of decor and traditional English food.  Extremely good value for money and lots of choice, I could really recommend it if you're visiting London and want something cheap and cheerful and very English, in an old fashioned sort of way ...