Splish, Splash I was taking a ….. swim across the Channel!

A few weeks back an equally mad friend told me that she was swimming the channel. My immediate thoughts were eww jellyfish and having to wear a bucket of lard to keep you warm… But NO, this is an entirely civilised swim in your local swimming pool over 12 weeks (thankfully as it’s 1,416 lengths!) to help raise money for Aspire, a great charity who help people with spinal injuries.  Of course I said I would do it too……of course I’ve now just missed a week’s swimming with the annual September-back-to-school cold, but if I stick to an average of 2 miles (128 lengths) a week, I should do it comfortably….I hope!

Here’s my progress so far in the form of a groovy little map!

Now, the only problem is, am I conning those who have sponsored me so far?! To call what I do “swimming” is a bit of a cheat I’ve come to think (lets face it, there’s plenty of time to think when you’re plodding up and down the pool that much!). As I’m spending so much time at the pool people are actually starting to question what I’m doing instead of a swimming stroke. Can’t do crawl as my ears are too dodgy anyhow without pool water to help them, can’t do breast stroke as my arms will either do what they are meant to do, or my legs will do what they are meant to do but both won’t do the proper thing at the same time… My dad always used to tell me off for splashing people when I was little so I altered my doggy paddle to be completely underwater. Over the years I’ve honed this so that the arm bit is longer than doggy paddle and my legs don’t actually do anything at all. I seem to have a bit of a Shakira thing going on with my hips rotating instead…..  Sounds odd, but it does work I promise. Maybe I should patent it?! But in the meantime, let them laugh, I’m swimming the Channel without jellyfish or lard and I’m proud of it, and I hope to make those who have sponsored me proud too :)

And I'm off.....!

And I’m off…..!


A Good Kitchen To Cook (Yes!)

The best thing about the new house so far is the amount of room to work in the kitchen. Our first flat had a massive bedroom and front room but lacked severely in the bathroom (peachy orange – ick!) and the kitchen, which was so small that you had to enter sideways crab-style and then go back out again if you wanted to turn around to use the other side of the kitchen! It was so small that the only appliance that fitted was the cooker and everything else had to be kept in the front room. That of course meant a twin tub which had to be rolled into the hallway on washing day with a long stretch of hose to the kitchen sink…. The kitchen in our old house had lots of room but no surface space (designed by a man (sorry husband!)) so you’d end up having to create and cook on top of the hob – not ideal.

This kitchen has masses of room. It does need work but unfortunately the designer came on a day when I was at work and his plans reflect the opinions of not only my husband but my father, teenage daughter and her boyfriend. Their idea of kitchen heaven turned out to be taking away all the drawers (Noooooooo! I have so many drawers at the moment that I have a dedicated “party drawer”!) and have an American fridge (yes, lovely but for three of us?!) and wine racks. Needless to say, I wasn’t too pleased when I saw the drawings!

Party Drawer!

Party Drawer!

I think you’ll agree…..the party drawer has to stay!

Anyway, as I say, a lovely kitchen to cook so we’ve had some nice tasty treats at the moment including an apple and blackberry pie which would have had Mary Berry wailing as it had such a soggy bottom. It was delicious though, using honey instead of sugar because we all had colds – medicinal pie, yum, can’t beat it!

Soggy Bottom!

Soggy Bottom!

Then last weekend came two firsts for me – a goat’s cheese, thyme and fig tart and runner bean chutney. Both of them were delicious, though I say so myself – in fact in the case of the first I have to say so myself as the family wouldn’t eat it – bah humbug, their loss and all other statements made to make me feel better at their rejection! Think the chutney looks lovely in my Kilner Jars and wish I had more to try more chutneying – 6 weeks to wait to try the contents though – boooooooo!

MY tart!

MY tart!

6 weeks and counting!

6 weeks and counting!

Tidy Trio Triumph! Thumbs up for Marco!!

Starting with an explanation..always good to do! A very nice Welsh borrower came into the library where I work this week and called me and my colleagues “tidy girls”. Now, we decided to take this as a compliment. We weren’t sure whether he meant we were very nice or was in fact saying we kept a tidy well shelved library (he’s a bit of an aficionado, visiting libraries all over the country!) but we liked the term either way and decided that we would become the Tidy Trio, who would go on intrepid adventures and report back – either a Triumph or a Travesty.

Today we had our first adventure out! We visited the New York Italian Restaurant, Marco’s located next to the new Hampton by Hilton near Exeter Airport.  Here’s a sneaky peek….

Marco's Exeter

Lots of mean and moody pics of Marco Pierre White, dancing glitterballs and elegantly decorated tables. Take a look at their website for more photos and a menu.  http://www.marcosexeter.co.uk/

We were very pleased, on the whole, with the menu although there wasn’t a great deal of choice for vegetarians. Tidy Frances is a veggie and decided on Mushroom Risotto (nice but could have done with some greenery on top!), Tidy Linda is most definitely not a veggie and had Yellow Fin Tuna steak, which looked amazing and had an accompaniment of wonderful smelling new potatoes! I tried the Asparagus, Mint & Lemon Risotto, which was lovely and very filling.

Lemon Risotto

We did have room for dessert though, of course! We wouldn’t be doing our job properly if we didn’t, would we?!  I went for balsamic strawberries and icecream (delicious!), Tidy Frances had Double Chocolate Truffle Cake and Tidy Linda had Marco’s Tiramisu (lucky that he’s happy to share!)….didn’t realise until it arrived that it would match her outfit!

Tidy Linda!

A very good time was had by all Tidys and we voted it a good Triumph! The service was good and unhurried, leaving lots of time for chatting and daft photo taking (we kept the flash off, we weren’t TOTALLY embarrassing!). Would definitely recommend it and would love to go again (hint, hint!).

Just as an afterthought…..our only problem was finding the restaurant in the first place! No signposting whatsoever from what we could see, and we nearly ended up having lunch at a Kebap (yes, correct spelling!) van on a nearby estate in desperation! As we entered we said to the people behind us that we’d had trouble getting there and they said they’d had to stop and phone in for directions! So, handy hint, don’t let it put you off going, but google how to get there before you set off!

Here I am at last!

Sorry, know it’s been ages….. but we are moved and settling into the new house. I did want a “SOLD” photo but apparently our estate agent doesn’t actually do those signs! We went straight from a sale agreed sign to him taking the sign away completely….which was a bit of a shame as the sign being in front of the new house was the only way I could identify which was ours!!

So, we’ve been here 4 weeks and 1 day and I wish I could tell you that we’re all unpacked but we’re not. We’ve got so much work to do on the house that most things have stayed in boxes stored in the garage. Here’s a photo of the day we moved in – fortunately it’s not quite that messy any more!

New House!

As I said….lots to do. Our first job, we thought, would be to get our daughter into her room. Things didn’t go quite to plan though. It turned out there was lots more to do to the house than we’d originally thought – ie daughter going up to scrub her teeth the first night and finding there was no running water in the bathroom! For some reason we’d not checked that when viewing the property. Well, you would assume…..wouldn’t you?!

Then, when my husband pulled up the carpet in daughter’s room to find why the floorboards were squeaking, it turned out that they weren’t loose…no, they’d been taken up and the previous owner had put down extra pipework, right on top of existing pipework so the new top pipes were wearing away the old pipes underneath. On top of this he’d used really big attachments to join the new pipework which actually stood proud of the bottom of the floorboards….so he’d chiselled away the back of said floorboards to house the pipes – leaving floorboards which were now so thin that they were bendy! So, of course all of that had to be sorted out before we could do the “normal” stuff like paint and decorate. Daughter did seem quite happy in the spare room in the meantime though, although it was a bit of a squash! Never mind…..it’ll all get done eventually and one day we’ll look back and laugh…..won’t we?!