Archive | May, 2012

Yaw Eladseet Episode 6 – Gainford to Barnard Castle

28 May

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Very, very hot but fun walk this Sunday from Gainford to Barnard Castle. The route followed the river, for the whole route and it was delightful to ramble along next to it in the gorgeous sunshine.

We picnicked at Whorlton Lido, and were gutted to discover that The Bridge Inn in Whorlton, where we had gone for a post-lunch drink, had closed!

We also met a herd of alpaca in the fields by Rokeby Park, who seemed quite interested in us!

Searched in vain for an ice lolly to cool me down when we reached Barnard Castle (loads of ice creams, no orange lollies, is there a national shortage?!)

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School Trip

26 May

Friday 25th May, for ‘team building’, 16 over-excited women high on sugar and one very patient male tour-guide, hopped on the bus in Durham (and Newcastle) and headed out for a day’s adventure in Northumberland, and what a day for it, the weather was absolutely glorious!

Lisa and Lidsay at the back of the bus – caffeine and excitement, a dangerous combination!

First stop, once we were all on the bus, was Craster Shoreline Cafe for tea and cakes! Sadly nothing vegan or wheat-free on their menu, so it was just coffee for me (and a Nakd bar I’d sneaked into my handbag) whilst everyone else munched on huge homemade scones. All the windows were wide open and we had glorious views of the sparkling sea whilst we enjoyed our morning coffee break.

Craster Harbour

After the trip to the tea shop we wandered through Craster. Some of the group dropped into the kipper shop to buy some famous traditional smoked kippers, whilst the rest of us walked along the coast to Dunstanburgh Castle

Walking along the path to the castle.

After our stroll we all got back on the bus and drove up the coast to Seahouses where we were having lunch. Lunch was arranged at the Bamburgh Castle Inn. Alex, our fab tour guide from Northern Secrets had made sure there was something I can eat so we sat down to a massive 2 course lunch. I had homemade tomato soup to start (delicious) followed by a lovely salad (lettuce, tomato, carrot, cucumber, apple, pear, olives and pineapple). Everyone really enjoyed their lunch but were completely defeated by the portions, especially since they had all been eating scones about an hour before!

Keeping it glam on the boat!

After lunch we headed down to the harbour and joined the Billy Shiels boat trip (Glad Tidings IV) to go over to the Farne Islands to see the seals and the birds. The boat trip takes you around some of the islands where you can see the birds nesting on the cliffs and flying or floating all around you. They also take you to see the grey seal colony. After 45 minutes of sailing around they land on one of the islands so that you can go and look at the nesting birds.

Looking back to the mainland with Bamburgh Castle

The birds are pretty tame, and will happily sit there on their nest whilst you get up really close. A lot of the birds had chicks in their nest that you could see too. The puffins live in burrows, and are quite shy, so they tend to scuttle into their puffin-holes when you get close, they are so funny. I love their orange feet, I think they look like they are wearing wellies! (gum boots for my US readers)

The terns are the most aggressive of the birds. They nest really close to the paths and shriek at you if they think you are getting too close (it must be very stressful for them) they will also dive-bomb you if they are really pissed with you, so we were all recommended to wear a hat. Even so, they still had a go at everyone. It made me laugh so hard to see everyone ducking and scuttling along as the birds dived at them. L was particularly bothered by them and one bit her ear whilst she shrieked, “It bit me Bee, it bit my ear! It’s like Hitchcocks fucking Birds!” I nearly wet myself I was laughing so hard!

The bird on the left was sitting on an egg, when she stood up slightly you could see the chick was beginning to hatch out. The bird on the right was giving her snuggles, probably telling her what a clever mummy she was.

Can you see the chicks in the nest with her? She was grooming them whilst we photographed her. Isn’t her plumage gorgeous?

We caught the boat back to the mainland at 4.30pm and were back at the coach in Seahouses by 5pm. After a quick pause for a 99 ice-cream and a photo we headed home, a lot more quiet than we had been on the way there. We’d had a fabulous day out with Northern Secrets, and couldn’t have wished for better weather.

Jerveaux Abbey

22 May

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The DD&H had a lovely ramble in Wensleydale on Sunday 20th May. A fairly gentle 8.5 mile circular, which took in the ruins of Jerveaux Abbey, and for the rest of the group Brymor Ice-cream parlour. I just talked to the gorgeous cows instead. Considering the amount of ice-cream they were dishing out, there weren’t many cows in the fields surrounding the farm. I hope they weren’t all locked in a barn somewhere!

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The day before our hike in North Yorkshire I had a very enjoyable Saturday. I had a great long run on the treadmill (8 miles), and then went through to the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle to attend the UK Green Film Festival showing of Vegucated, which I really enjoyed. If you get a chance to see it, I highly recommend it.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 30th) is my workmate L’s birthday so I have been spending the evening cooking up a storm (vanilla cake and choc-choc chip cookies in a glass jar with chocolate ganache), seriously naughty!

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Treats in London

17 May

It’s been a ridiculously busy week, so apologies for being so tardy in posting on my blog.

This last weekend was a little holiday for me, after a busy Spring with lots of travel. I used my Hilton Honors points to treat myself to a lovely weekend in The Bentley Hotel in London. This was a really lovely hotel, located in Knightsbridge, a short walk from the Gloucester Road tub in a neighbourhood populated by lovely shops and coffee bars. It was really nice to stay somewhere luxurious and be pampered. I don’t think I would have been able to have afforded to stay here otherwise, so it really was quite a treat.

The reason for heading down to London was to attend the VIP Closing Ceremonies of the World Burlesque Games at Madam Jojos. But was also to do a bit of shopping, a bit of sight seeing, a lot of eating, and general pampering and relaxation.

We arrived on Saturday lunchtime, dumped the cases and headed for Portobello Market. We spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the stalls and people watching. After spending all afternoon exploring we headed to 222 Veggie Vegan for dinner.

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I’d wanted to eat at this restaurant for a while, and seeing as it was only a short walk from our hotel we decided to try it out.

We arrived about 6pm to find all of the tables with reservations on them! We thought our luck was out, butthe restaurant managed to fit us in seeing as it was early, so if you want to eat here my recommendation is to book (or go early like we did). L ordered the vegan roast and I ordered the mushroom and spinach raclette, which was a combination of spinach and tofu cottage cheese on a bed of roast potatoes, topped with sautéed oyster mushrooms and a light creamy sauce. It was delicious, I nearly licked the plate.

After the quality of the main course we both decided to have dessert. L chose the Spice Island Pie, cashew and almond cream flavoured with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg on a crunchy nut and coconut base. Sweetened with agave nectar, and I chose the raw Chocolate Torte. Again, both were absolutely delicious!

After our yummy meal, we walked back to the hotel. The housekeeping staff had been in to turn down the bed and put out chocolate and fruit for us (told you this hotel was posh). We let our dinner go down a bit and headed down to the hotel gym, followed by a session in the sauna. Fantastic!

Sunday we got up and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the hotel before heading to Spitalfields market. A bit of shopping, and then a stop at Rainforest Creations for one of their yummy salad boxes full of raw food goodies. I chose the Rainforest Box, which for £6 is an absolute bargain!

Later, after hitting the Up Market for a bit more shopping, we met up with one of L’s friends from her time studying at SOAS and went for an early curry dinner on Brick Lane. The food in the restaurant we chose was average, but cheap and filling, so no complaints really.

After filling up on veggie curry we headed back to the lovely hotel to get ready to head into Soho.

So, after getting glommed up we caught the Tube to Piccadilly and dropped into Jewel, a cocktail bar, for a couple of pre-night out drinkies.

I don’t drink so I opted for a ‘virgin’ Ginger Mocktail (fresh lime and ginger, topped with Schweppes ginger beer and a dash of grenadine) and L chose to go for a Cosmopolitan. After knocking back our drinks, we headed to Madam Jojos for the main event.

It was a fantastic evening, great people watching, and great entertainment. I would definitely go again, and seeing as they are planning a 10 day affair for 2013 next years looks like it is going to be bigger and even better!

On Monday we didn’t need to get the train home until 8pm that evening so we had the whole day to play. The down-side was that the weather was absolutely disgusting: rain and very cold!

We headed for the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square to attend the Freud Exhibition, which was very busy, but interesting. After that we went to Neal’s Yard to World Food Cafe for lunch.

I chose the meal of the day, which was baked shitake mushrooms with pine nuts, leeks, zucchini and celeriac puree. It was fantastic, probably the nicest meal that I ate all weekend (and that is saying something!), again, it was plate lickable! However, the service there was a bit slow. Not really a problem as we were in no rush and happily spent about 2 hours there watching people rushing about in the rain! We finished off with one of their hot chocolates (divine!) and then made our way back to the station to collect our luggage.

We finished our trip off with a visit to Drink, Shop & Do which is a fun and kitsch cafe just around the corner from Kings Cross Station where we drank tea and relaxed in the quiet cafe before heading into the chaos of the station to catch our train.

The whole weekend was brilliant. Exhausting, but brilliant. Can we do it again please?

Helvellyn

6 May

Fantastic day’s walking in the Lake District.

A last minute whim lead us to Glenridding to walk up Helvellyn via Striding Edge, and back again down Swirral Edge. The weather was good for walking: still, clear, and for the most part sunny and cool (although we did have about 40 minutes of snow!) We think the walk was about 8.5 miles, and fairly easy going, apart from the scramble along Sharp Edge and up onto Helvellyn.

Most of DD&H were in Skipton for a weekend of walking, but a select group of us that hadn’t been able to head off to Skipton enjoyed today’s walk. Definitely a fantastic day!

Long Run Saturday

6 May

Yesterday I ran 7 miles.

This is the longest that I have ever run, and I am so pleased with myself. In addition to that, I felt really good, and could probably have done a mile or more on top of this distance, but decided to call it a day at 7 because that was Saturday’s goal distance.
On top of that I did a PB on my 6 miles (62 minutes), which really pleased me too.

The next time I do a long run I would like to see if I can make it to 8 miles. However, I am meant to be going to London next weekend to attend the World Burlesque Games and generally have a fun girly weekend, so it will probably be a fortnight before I get a chance to do this.

Today I am off to the Lake District with some of the Darlington Dales and Hills for a little ramble. I have no idea what the plan is, it is all very ad hoc as the majority of DD&H are in Skipton for a walking festival, but the mountain weather forecast suggests that it is perfect walking weather in the Lakes today (cold, still and clear), so it bodes well for a superb day’s hiking.

Home again, home again, jiggly jigg!

5 May

I’m back from my trip, and feeling a little spaced out. I’m not too sure why, but yesterday’s travel home seems to have completely wiped me out, so I am having a lovely relaxing morning with BBC news, protein porridge, proper coffee (not the filter rubbish you get in the USA), and google reader to catch up with all my blogs. Fantastic. When I’m feeling a bit more human I will head to the gym for a run, but that will be later. Much, much later.

The Washington DC part of my trip went pretty well. I wasn’t there for long, which was a shame because I was really enjoying myself. The hire car I had was really nice, and I was enjoying driving it. Also, the hotel I was staying in in Georgetown was fantastic: one of the nicest that I have stayed at for a long time! It was called the Savoy Suites and I really liked it. It was particularly handy because there was a gym, Whole Foods Market, and a Starbucks all about 5 minutes walk away. 🙂

However, at the end of the trip I was feeling tired and looking forward to returning to my own little house. I flew home with KLM from Washington Dulles airport, via Amsterdam. The KLM flight was ok. I watched the Lady Gaga Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Gardens and had a nice sleep. KLM are usually pretty good for vegan food on board, but this time, they gave me yoghurt for my breakfast meal (and not vegan yoghurt). However, the lovely flight attendant had some fruit squirrelled away, and gave me that instead, which was really really kind.

So the plan for the long Bank Holiday weekend is to get my body clock back onto UK time, spend a bit of time in the gym, go for a walk (possibly the Lakes on Sunday), catch up with friends, and generally relax. Sounds great, no?