Archive | June, 2012

World Vegan Pizza Day, 30th June 2012

30 Jun

It’s been a long time since I last had pizza. Being wheat-intolerant and vegan, the number of pizza opportunities available to me in the UK were exceptionally limited. I’ve had vegan pizza on visits to the US (usually picking up a frozen Amy’s rice crust pizza) but it has definitely been a while.

So, when I saw it was Vegan Pizza Day on the 30th June I thought, what better excuse to get my bake on, and cook myself up one delicious vegan pizza.

I started the crust first thing this morning. Leaving it to prove I headed out for my run, and continued on it for the rest of the day, slowly growing in a bowl on the living room floor! At dinner time I started to assemble my pizza. I opted for a tomato sauce base, then portobello mushroom slices, green olives and a sprinkling of Redwood mozzarella style vegan cheese.

The conclusion? The great pizza experiment was a massive success. My pizza was delicious and I will almost certainly make it again. However, seeing as I ate far, far too much of it (because it was so delicious) and I now have a stomach ache, perhaps I won’t make it too often! 🙂

Happy Vegan Pizza Day. What did you have?

Narrow Boats and Lunar Landscapes

24 Jun

This weekend we had 20 members of the Darlington Dales and Hills in North Yorkshire for wet weekend!

We headed down on Friday night through awful storms and roads that were flooding all around us. What is it with the weather this summer? We were staying in Clapham near Ingleton in North Yorkshire, and when we arrived it was absolutely pouring down and the river running through the village was threatening to burst it’s banks.

We unpacked and after a quick one in the local pub, headed back to The Old Manor House to unpack and have a few drinks in the bar there. 

The next morning we got up fairly early and headed to Skipton where we had hired two canal boats; ‘Bill’ & ‘Ben’, for the day and evening, on the Leeds to Liverpool canal.

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We had a fantastic time on the canals all day, chugging along enjoying the view and drinking lots of cups of coffee.
 
The next day we went out for a hike in Crummackdale. Enclosed on three sides by pale-grey escarpments, the walled fields and green lanes of Crummackdale are ringed by an almost lunar landscape, scoured by a glacier 15,000 years ago. The weather was really mixed: plenty of rain, plenty of sun, and moody skies all day, but the walking was fantastic.
 
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More Wales!

16 Jun

Week 2 – St David’s, Pembrokeshire

Friday: It’s hard to believe that such a wonderful week started with such shocking weather. The journey from Liverpool to St David’s, which was meant to take 4 hours, ended up taking 6 because the weather meant the roads were just awful. My journey took me through Bala and Machynlleth (again) before heading down the coast. The rain was absolutely torrential, and as it turned out, resulted in floods for the Machynlleth area! I was so pleased that we had been staying there the weekend before this happened!

I arrived at St David’s around 4pm Shearers’ Loft, which was my base whilst I was staying there, and was absolutely fabulous! The weather wasn’t great, it was blowing a gale and raining too, so I unpacked and relaxed for a few hours. After dinner it had cleared up a bit so I went for a stroll down to the end of the peninsula, overlooking Ramsay Island, to enjoy the views.

Saturday: I woke up early with the sunshine. The storm clouds had moved off and it promised to be a bright and breezy day. So it was Radio 4 and coffee whilst I consulted the map and decided where I would adventure! In the end I decided to head straight down to the coastal path at St Justinians (about 10 minutes walk from my cottage) and turned left, with the sea on my right, and headed along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.

The storm the night before had left the sea between the mainland and Ramsay Island, with its rocks (called The Bitches) and dangerous currents, a rolling seething mess: very dramatic. I walked all the way around to Caerfei Bay where I stopped to eat lunch and enjoy the views. From there it is a short walk into St David’s itself.

St David’s is really pretty, and the smallest City in the UK (even smaller than Durham!) It has lots of lovely coffee shops and plenty of vegan friendly shops too. I spent the afternoon with a bit more walking and a bit of exploring of St Davids, as well as stopping to drink coffee and read the newspapers, as well as writing a postcard for the Parentals.

Sunday: I’m lucky to have another glorious day on Sunday, and the wind has dropped too. I spent a lazy morning watching the news and eating breakfast before heading out to walk at about 9.15am. I traced the same steps as I did the previous day, but this time turn right, with the sea on my left, and walked up the coast past St Justinian’s lifeboat station towards Whitesands, which is the big sandy bay popular with families and surfers!

I walked from Whitesands into St David’s and had lunch at the Farmer’s Arms pub, whose food wasn’t as good as the menu promised, sadly. I then walked through St David’s to St Non’s on the other side of the peninsula and followed the coastal path back to St Justinian’s and Shearers’ Loft. It works out about 14 miles (same as Saturday), but the walking is just so wonderful, it’s difficult to head home! 🙂

Monday: Another fantastic day with lots of sunshine. I walked into St David’s and caught the 9.50 bus to Newgale, which is down the coast from St Davids. The first section of the walk from Newgale to Solva is hard work with lots of climbing up and down the cliffs, and in the sunshine it’s really hard going! I made it to Solva by lunch time and enjoyed sitting on a bench in the harbour to eat my lunch and people watch!

The second section from Solva to St Davids is much easier, with lovely wide grassy paths to follow and magnificent views of the coast. The reward for reaching St David’s is coffee and reading the newspaper in The Sound Cafe before the final stretch back to Shearers’ Loft. Another 14 miles under the belt, but the downside was that I had managed to hurt my right foot by doing too many miles in the last few days. Nothing too bad, but I know I need to be a bit more gentle with myself for the rest of my holiday!

Tuesday: The weather forecast for Tuesday was that it wasn’t going to be great, and as I also had a sore foot I decided that I was going to have an easy day. As it turned out, after a short-lived sea fret, the weather was fine and sunny. After walking into St Davids I spent the morning mooching about drinking coffee, reading newspapers, writing postcards and exploring the shops. I do get a walk in later along the lanes around my cottage so it’s not a completely lazy day.

Wednesday: Another good day weather-wise: early drizzle gives way to sunshine. I drive up the coast to Abereiddi and walk up the coast to Trwyn via Porthgain, and back again. It’s a really lovely section of the coast. Abereiddi is a popular spot for coasteering and it’s good fun to watch, although I’m not sure I fancy it myself!

Coffee and newspapers in the afternoon, and then after dinner I have another walk in the lanes before heading to bed. I can’t get enough of the magnificent coastal views!

Thursday: For some reason I slept really badly and wake at 4am on Thursday morning, and cannot get back to sleep. The weather on Thursday, my last full day, was forecast to break at lunchtime with storms heading in so I had a morning walk along the coast nearby the cottage. I’m back by lunchtime just as the weather breaks with rain and very high wind.

I spent a wet and windy afternoon in St Davids and didn’t manage to get an evening walk in because the weather outside was so dreadful. I swear it sounded like the cottage was going to blow away and the rain hammered on the windows and roof with such force! I was so lucky with the weather during the week, it would have been a disappointing holiday if the weather had been like this all week!

Friday: I left the cottage early on Friday morning in an attempt to get off the country roads before they get too busy. It worked and it takes about 7 hours to drive home. The wind and rain stormed all Thursday night, and it was pretty nasty driving for the first couple of hours out of Wales.

The whole week was pretty fantastic. I really enjoyed Pembrokeshire, and if you like walking I would definitely recommend it as a great location for a walking holiday. The coastal walking is spectacular, and the plentiful and cheap buses means that you barely need to use your car to explore the coast: linear walks are really easy to arrange. Every inch of the coastline seems to over fantastic views! I don’t think there was a section that I walked that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.

It was one of those holidays where you are very sad to be going home, which always signals a fantastic holiday in my opinion.

Wales!

16 Jun

Oh, hello!

Sorry about the lack of posts for the past fortnight. I’ve been having a little early summer holiday in Wales and actually had no internet access whilst I was away. This was actually a pretty good thing for me, it meant that I just chilled and relaxed rather than sneaking a look at my work emails every half hour!

Week 1 – North Wales and the Jubilee Weekend

Cregennan Lakes, DD&H

On Saturday 2nd June I drove down to Snowdonia to meet up with several other members of Darlington Dales and Hills for 4 days of exploring southern Snowdonia. We met at Cregennen Lakes at lunchtime and had a wonderful walk down to Barmouth on the coast to cross the toll bridge and then back again. It was pretty hot and humid, but nice for walking.

I adore this picture which was taken on our way down from the Lakes, we all look so happy. I’m lurking at the back. 🙂

After getting back from our walk we drove through to Machynlleth where we had rented a cottage for the weekend. The rest of the group went out to a local pizzeria for tea, but me and Joy chilled out at the cottage and made our own meal.

On Sunday the weather was absolutely horrible. The clouds were right down and it was raining. This was a huge shame because we had planned to climb Cader ldris that day and were looking forward to the views from the top – fat chance of that! However, we still planned to climb it so we drove the short distance to the start of the walk and set off, bundled up in our waterproofs.

The walk is pretty steep right from the offset and even though it was raining it was pretty humid, so it was hot going! We got up to the lake in the bowl of Cader Idris and had some lunch. You couldn’t see the top of the mountain at all because the cloud was right down, and it was pretty windy too. Liz, Michael and I decided that we weren’t going to go up to the top. It seemed a bit of a thankless task given that there would be no views and it was so windy. Instead we walked around the lake and then headed back down. The rest of the group went up, but they said it was pretty grim up there. Such a shame that it was so horrid. I’d like to go back and do it when the weather was a bit better because it was a pretty good walk.

Luckily the weather picked up the next day, and Monday turned out to be the best day of our trip. Again, the group split up. Some of the group went mountain biking, whilst the rest of us went off to walk up  Tarrenhendre.  Tarrenhendre is close to Cader Idris and promised great views of the Snowdonia range as well as up and down the Welsh coast, so I was looking forward to it.

The walk started off in Abergynolwyn where there was a steam railway. We parked up at the station and headed up into the forestry above the village to begin our climb. The sun was out and it was lovely weather for walking, but the midges were an absolutely nightmare, and whenever we stopped on the climb up the midge clouds gathered and we got bitten to death! It was really frustrating!

The climb up to the top of Tarrenhendre was steep and really hard going but the views that we were rewarded with at the top were absolutely fantastic. We could see the Snowdonia range, the Llyn Peninsula to the north, and Cardigan bay to the south: it really was stunning. Also, as it was the Jubilee we topped the cairn with a Union Flag!

On Tuesday it was time to leave, but not before we squeezed in one more walk on the way back North. Unfortunately the weather was dreadful (heavy rain and thick cloud again), but we didn’t let that put us off and we headed north to climb Cnicht: the Welsh Matterhorn!

Unfortunately we got started on the walk a little later than planned, but this actually worked in our favour as, shortly after starting the walk, the clouds lifted and the rain stopped, which meant that when we reached the top we actually had really great views down to the coast and the Llyn Peninsula.

However, this didn’t last and the last couple of hours of our walk were very wet indeed, and we were pretty drenched by the time we got back to the cars. However, we had enjoyed a good few days walking, despite the weather!

I headed up to Liverpool from there to spend a few days with my Nan and Uncle Eric, whilst the rest of the group headed back to the North East.

I really enjoyed my walking in Snowdonia, and would definitely like to return to do some more hills (and to tackle Cader Idris when the views can be enjoyed). The only down side was that for the first time in my life I got bitten by a tick, nasty little thing! I got the bugger out, but I’m keeping an eye on the bite site for rashes and any symptoms of infection (and Lyme Disease) although I believe Snowdonia is fairly low risk for this.

So after spending a couple of days in Liverpool it was off to South Wales for a week of Pembrokeshire adventures….!