Category Archives: Biking

WIAW – What I ate in Nottingham!

Happy Wednesday everybody!¬† Hope you’re all having a great week ūüôā

It’s Lil’ L’s birthday today… he’s¬†8 already!¬†Where did all that time go?¬† Scary!

Just¬† before we head out for his¬†birthday trip,¬†I thought that I’d show what we¬†ate last¬†Sunday for this week’s WIAW event, hosted by the gorgeous Jenn @ Peas & Crayons.¬† As we were in¬†staying in Sherwood Forest for the weekend, we had¬†totally different eats to my usual WIAW¬†entries.¬† Apologies in advance for the poor quality of the evening shots.¬† The photos were taken on my phone (yes, I’ve now worked out how to take photos on the¬†smartypants phone ūüôā ) but the lighting was v. poor in the restaurant.¬† Anyway, here goes… WIAW on Sunday…

Breakfast
Since we’d forgotten¬†to bring¬†ANY food to our log cabin residence¬†in Sherwood Forest, M nipped to¬†Tesco and bought us each¬†some breakfast treats.¬† For me, he got some¬†Dorset Cereals¬†Fruits, Nuts and Seeds Muesli,¬†a carton of¬†Innocent Fruit Smoothie, and some Clippers Nettle Tea (he knows me well ūüėČ ).¬† This¬†fuelled me up perfectly for our bike ride in Sherwood Forest ūüôā

Snacks am
Half way round the Kitchener Trail, we stopped for a snack.¬† We each had a Nakd¬†bar, which are made of raw fruit¬†and nuts.¬† They’re pretty expensive, but¬†on offer in Tesco¬†at the moment, so we bought 4 bars.¬† This time round, I tried the Pecan Pie bar.¬† It was nice, but Cocoa Orange remains my favourite Nakd flavour¬†ūüėȬ†

Lunch
By lunchtime, we were ravenous.¬† Our all-time favourite lunch¬†when we’re out biking is baked beans on toast.¬† It fuels us up really quickly and seems to digest¬†quickly (for me anyhow).¬† Normally when I eat, I have to wait 2 hours before I can exercise otherwise my¬†stomach starts cramping.¬† However, after beans on toast, I can easily get back on my bike within 15 minutes ūüôā

So, after the beans on toast, we got back on the bikes and did the Kitchener Trail all over again ūüôā

Snacks pm
Giant pretzels and some dark chocolate ūüôā

Dinner
For our evening meal, we travelled into Nottingham city centre.¬† I was hoping to have dinner at my favourite cafe in the UK… the uber cool¬†Alley Cafe Bar.¬† Unfortunately, by the time we got into Nottingham on Sunday evening, it was closed ūüė¶¬†

If you’re ever in Nottingham, you must try this cafe.¬† It has the most amazing vegan cheesecake and milkshakes that I’ve ever tasted.¬† Just make sure you don’t turn up there on a Sunday night ūüėȬ†

Instead, we crossed the road and went into Las Iguanas.¬† Though this is a chain (there’s one in Bath too), the food is pretty good.¬† There was a good ambience in the Nottingham restaurant (great Latino music playing), plus the guy that served us was really helpful… especially when I¬†asked¬†if they could make me some vegan burritos as the veggie ones all had cheese in them.¬† So, here’s what we ate… apologies again for the dodgy photos.

Bread¬†and olives, which we¬†quickly devoured ūüôā¬†

Then I had the Sopa de Calabaza (spiced up butternut squash and coconut milk soup).  Really yum, but very spicy.  My mouth was totally zinging after this.

For my main course, the kind chef made me a vegan enchilada,¬†filled with¬†spicy roasted butternut squash, peppers and other veggies, and topped with a spicy tomato sauce.¬† This came with lemon and¬†coriander rice, and refried¬†beans.¬† Totally delish! (the photo doesn’t do it justice).

Lil’ L had the veggie fajitas, which he quickly devoured.¬† For dessert, he didn’t choose the fresh fruit option, but instead opted for the other healthy¬†dessert…¬†chocolate brownie and ice cream ūüėČ

We had a great night at Iguanas and it reminded me how long it’s been since I made fajitas and enchiladas at home.¬† We used to eat them all the time, stuffed with roasted butternut squash, sweet potato, peppers, mushrooms,¬†spinach and refried beans.¬† I’ll definitely have to make some soon!

Right, that’s me done!¬† When Lil’ L’s in bed tonight, I’ll pop along to the WIAW party and see what y’all eating!

Happy WIAW everyone! xx

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Filed under Biking, Breakfast and Elevenses, Dinners

A Wonderful Trip to Sherwood Forest

As soon as school was out on Friday, we packed the car, hoisted the bikes onto the roof, and set off for a mini break to one of my favourite places in the UK,¬†Sherwood Forest.¬† This forest is most well-known for its links with the¬†legend of Robin Hood.¬† We’re¬†not sure whether Robin Hood really did exist but, regardless, I find Sherwood to be a truly magical place ūüôā

M and I lived in Nottingham back in the 1990s, so we know the area pretty well.  Nowadays, we try and visit once a year, normally during the October half term when the forest is full of the colours of Autumn/Fall. 

This year, for the first time, we chose to stay in a log cabin in the forest. 

I loved the lounge area inside the cabin, with its little wood burning stove.  So cosy!  

Lil’ L¬†had his first archery lesson… and¬†turned out to be pretty¬†handy with the bow and arrow ūüôā

We also went to visit Major Oak.  No trip to Sherwood would be complete without visiting this ancient tree where (as the legend goes) Robin, Marion and the band of Merry Men hid out.  This incredible tree is over 1,150 years old!

However, the main reason for our trip to the forest was to ride the trails at Sherwood Pines.  The Kitchener Trail is absolutely awesome and currently my favourite trail in the UK!  

    
We rode it three¬†times over the weekend.¬† Lil L’s verdict… “sweet!”.

The trail has lots of twists and turns, which makes it very exciting.¬† I love this sort of trail as it requires single pointed concentration… if your mind wanders… you’re likely to hit a tree trunk or stump.¬† I fell off once, which was more of a technical hitch where I skidded on sand into a ditch, rather than a mind wobble/fear moment (or a “mind slide” as me & M have started calling them ūüėČ ).¬† Luckily, I was¬†wearing the new¬†knee pads that M bought, so I didn’t feel a thing ūüôā

There’s lots of variety on the trail, including the options of a¬†fast downhill section and dirt jump area for the real adrenalin junkies.

I loved all the different sections we rode through, which included pine forests and ancient woodland filled with chestnut trees.


There was even a super spooky section, which you had to wind your way through.

Here’s a couple of action shots.

From the back, it looks like I was dressed appropriately for biking… but I so wasn’t!¬† Under the jacket and knee pads, I was wearing jeggings and a¬†sparkly top.¬† The Essex girl in me still loves a bit of sparkle ūüėČ

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend, filled with sunshine, lots of fresh air, exercise and a large dose of myth and magic ūüėČ

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Filed under Biking, Vacations

A Wonderful Summer

Before the summer is a long distant memory, I just want to record what an incredible six weeks I had with Lil’ L.¬† He’s growing up fast and I’m sure he’ll soon want to spend the holidays with his mates¬†rather than good ole’ mum, so I really did savour every moment I had¬†with him.

As I didn’t have an income for these six weeks,¬†we thought of lots of¬†fun, free (or low cost) activities to do.¬† Here’s a quick run down of our top five favourite summer holiday activities (in no particular order; they were all great ūüôā )

1. Cycling
We devised our own version of the ‘Tour de France’, which included stages both here in the South West of England and in France. Each stage normally finished with a sprint to a cafe. ūüėȬ† In total, we cycled¬†150 miles. One of Lil’ L’s¬†favourite rides was the Verderer’s Trail in the Forest of Dean. It’s graded Blue but has a Red downhill section at the end. Lil’ L loved it so much that, as soon as he’d finished it, he wanted another go! I need to brush up my mountain bike skills because I fell off 3¬†TIMES (I’ve got an issue about sharp right hand turns ūüė¶ ).¬† Here’s a clip of someone else riding the trail. I’m glad I’m¬†not the only one that keeps falling off. ūüėČ

 

Here’s a¬†short clip of Lil’ L and M¬†riding the Intermediate Skills loop.

 

Lil’ L¬†loves the technical rides much more than road cycling.¬†You should hear him woop¬†while¬†he’s hurtling down those dirt tracks!

2. Hiking / Walking
We did some amazing hikes and walks around our locality, such as the one up¬†Little Solsbury Hill. We even found¬†different ways¬†to walk into Bath. One in particular, which we termed the ‘Wild Walk’, was really fun. We took our cameras and photographed¬†the creatures and wild flowers we spotted along the way. It certainly made walking into Bath more fun (and saved us a small fortune in bus fares!)

Here’s Lil’ L at the start of our wild walk into Bath.

And here’s some of the beautiful wild flowers we spotted on our walk.

40 minutes later, we arrived in the centre of Bath. ūüôā

3. Visiting friends and family
We had some wonderful trips on the train to visit friends and family, including 2 trips to¬†Brockenhurst and Dorset, and 1 trip to Bracknell.¬†I managed to trade in my Tesco¬†vouchers for a Family & Friends Railcard (which lasts a year) and gift vouchers for Redspottedhanky.com, which meant that all our train trips were FREE! What a bargain! ūüôā

4. Photography
We had lots of fun taking photos of beautiful flowers and views, as well as attempting to photograph food for this blog.¬† Needless to say, Lil’ L took the best shots every time. ūüėČ

Here’s his shot of a poppy in the garden. Isn’t it¬†beautiful?

And here’s a shot he took of my favourite house on the canal.

5. Cooking
We had lots of fun baking cakes and making chocolates (all healthy of course ūüėČ ). Our¬†favourite cake creation this summer was¬†a super healthy, super delicious¬†upside pineapple cake (I’ll post the recipe tomorrow).

All in all, it was a wonderful summer; one I certainly won’t forget.¬†

I’d love to hear¬†what¬†your favourite activity was¬†this summer.

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Biking, Walking & Hiking

A bike adventure to Bath followed by ‘scrumdiddlyumptious’ pulao rice!

We decided to spend today in Bath and, to make the journey fun, we chose to go on our bikes along the canal. 

This is the beautiful stretch of Kennet and Avon Canal between Bathampton and Bath

Not only is it a fun way to get to the city, but it’s free, healthy and very picturesque.¬† It also stops me spending too much money as I can only fit a couple of small items in my backpack. ūüėČ

I love the bridges pictured below.¬† They were erected in 1800 and, for me, signal that we’ve arrived in Bath.¬† Just got to nip through Sidney Gardens, along Pultney Street and we’re there!

As I’m not going to be doing any paid work for the next 6 weeks, my aim is to try and find lots of fun FREE activities to do.¬† Our first stop was to Bath Library to sign up for the summer 2011 reading challenge.¬† It’s a real sign that we’re in recession when you find that the libraries in Bath have actually run out of the reading challenge packs on day 2 of the school holidays… and have no money to buy any more!!! ūüė¶¬†¬†¬†¬†

Next stop was the Victoria Art Gallery.¬† This gallery is free to enter and it’s one of my favourite places in Bath.

The gallery currently has¬†two incredible exhibitions.¬†¬†The first is ‘Flying Figures’ by Mark Angus, who is one of Europe’s best stained glass artists.¬† His exhibition features glowingly coloured diving and backlit figures that explore the theme of ‘eternal youth’.

Mark Angus Flying Figures

The second exhibition is Jilly¬†Sutton’s ‘Across the Grain’.¬† Jilly carves her large wooden heads and figures from felled trees and driftwood.¬† Looking at her figures left me with an incredible sense¬†of peace ūüôā

Jilly Sutton 'Across the Grain'

For lunch, we headed to Pultney Gardens (free for residents) and munched our way through the goodies I’d brought in¬†my¬†backpack.¬†¬†From where we sat, we had a great view of The Empire Building with its strange roof.

 

We loved this sculpture, which was made out of plants.

 

We had a wonderful day out and Lil’ L couldn’t wait to get started on his new library books when we arrived back home.¬† While he read, I prepared¬†one of our favourite rice dishes… vegetable and nut pulao, which we normally serve with a side dish of chapatis.¬† As I was short for time tonight, we served¬†it with¬†toasted flour tortilla segments, which made a nice change.¬† Lil’ L¬†described the dinner as ‘scrumdiddlyumptious’ and gave it 5 stars. ūüôā¬† The recipe can be found here.

Lil' L took this photo with our point and shoot camera. I think I'll get him to take all my photos as he does a much better job than me ūüėČ

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Banana Pancakes and Bike Adventures!

Sunday’s¬†special weekend breakfast was one of our all-time favourites …¬†banana oat pancakes.¬† I’ve been wanting to post this recipe for a while now, but Lil’ L has always managed to eat the pancakes¬†before I’ve got round to taking¬†the photo!¬† This time, I made a huge batch¬†so he could be happily munching his way through three pancakes while I took a photo of the others. ūüėȬ†

We like to serve these pancakes with pecan nuts, blueberries and a light drizzle of agave syrup.

Wanted to get another photo in of the cute plate Sandra bought me ūüėČ

Not only are these pancakes delicious, they’re also super healthy and¬†highly nutritious.¬† Lil’ L describes these pancakes as ‘glorious!’ and gives them 5 stars. ūüôā¬† The recipe can be found here.

We’ve finally got round to buying a roof rack for the new car, which means we can¬†start going on¬†bike adventures¬†further afield again.¬†¬†Hurray!¬† This Sunday, after our fill of pancakes, we loaded¬†the bikes onto the car and¬†decided to go to Longleat in Wiltshire.

We parked the car at Nockatt Coppice car park (love that name!)  The trail starts up high, with a beautiful view of Longleat House and grounds.

¬†There was an interesting sculpture that was just begging to be laid on. ūüėČ

Let the adventure begin!

There are many trails round Longleat.¬† The one we chose today took us through an amazing woodland.¬† Lil’ L’s reading Enid Blyton’s ‘Folk of the Faraway Tree’ at the moment, and he said that this tree was exactly how he imagined the Faraway Tree to look. ūüėČ

Apparently¬†the next section of the wood looks just like the Ewok’s forest in Star Wars.¬†

After following the trail through the woods, we popped out by the lake at Shear Water.  There was a very cute cygnet with its mum and dad. 

After consulting the map, we were pleased to find that there was a cafe less than a mile away.¬† Bike rides are always more fun when they involve stops at cafes. ūüėȬ†

The cafe turned out to be a very cute tearoom in a thatched house.

My beloved Marin took a well-earned rest on the grass.

We had our fill of beans on toast and coffee, then we headed back to Nockatt Coppice.¬† It was a great day out!¬† I’m already¬†looking forward to our next bike adventure. ūüėČ

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Filed under Biking, Breakfast and Elevenses