Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sutton Vale Country Park

We stayed at Sutton Vale Country Park for one night this weekend, to test out our camping gear before our week in Dawlish in the summer holidays. 

It did feel a bit strange packing the whole car up to camp 17 miles away from home, but living in the Garden of England means the scenery of the countryside and the fun of the seaside is always on our doorstep. 

It was also our first camping trip as almost-vegans. This wasn't a big deal of course, but the smell of bacon sandwiches made on a tiny stove on the grass the morning after a slightly damp night in a tent is how I remember so many of my childhood holidays. So to make it special for us, I bottled up some vegan pancake mix and enjoyed those for breakfast. I'm hoping we've started our own family camping tradition!

The camping field was surrounded by countryside with lovely views. There was a road behind the field so you could occasionally hear passing traffic but it wasn't very busy and we hardly heard it.

The pitches were well spaced and there was plenty of room for the children to run around and play. We were allocated pitch no. 31 which was in the middle of the field. At first I was a bit disappointed as I liked the sheltered feel of field-edge pitches that back on to hedges, but actually being in the middle meant we had lots of space all around the tent and we were able to park next to our pitch which was very handy. 

Archie had loads of space to fly his kite!

There were lots of other families staying in the same field as us and most pitches were occupied, but it didn't feel crowded at all. Archie made friends with some other boys and played football with them. He asked me to go over with him to ask to play which was really sweet, it's not often it feels like he needs me anymore! 

The ladies' loo block was a bit dated but very clean (I was impressed!) and perfectly usable. Nice hot water, hand soap and paper towels. Nick said the men's could have been a bit cleaner, and there was some water puddling on the floor. 

Whilst Wales v. Northern Ireland was on I took Archie for a swim in the Park's indoor heated pool. It was a little shabbier than I was expecting from the pictures on the website - think a big farm shed with corrugated plastic roofing - and the inside of the pool probably could have done with a lick of paint as the chipped blue it was painted gave the water a slightly green tinge. It definitely wasn't as 'polished' as it looks on the website, but it was still a massive bonus to have a warm swim on a rainy day at a UK campsite! And there were changing cubicles, lockers and hot showers at the poolside. Fine for a splash around!

In the evening (and during the huge downpours throughout Saturday!) we played Charades for Kids which was hilarious (particularly Archie trying to make himself look like a chair!!) and Archie and I read six chapters of Mr Stink by David Walliams. 

The sun did come out sometimes! 
To top things off, the staff were very friendly and the permanent residents of the site were also friendly and welcoming - they chatted to Archie whilst we waited to be checked in. The drinks were reasonably priced, too and Archie was very happy to spend 50p of his pocket money on a bag of sweets at the bar!

All together we loved Sutton Vale and think it's great value. We'd recommend it for families and despite it being really close to home (so not much reason to go back) we probably will head there again if we fancy a camping trip without having to travel for hours!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

KM Colour Run 2016

I ran my first 5k a couple of weeks ago in the KM Colour Run at Betteshanger Country Park. It was so much fun and I am very proud to have raised money for such a worthy cause. I also managed to complete the whole 5k without walking, which was the first time I'd ever done that!

I was a bit nervous about running it on my own as I have only done two parkruns before and both times I ran with Nick by my side. I must admit this was easier though, I think perhaps I went entirely at my own pace rather than trying to run a little bit faster so as not to hold Nick up. And no shin splints or stitch whatsoever!

Everyone was so excited to be there, the atmosphere was great and at 1k intervals around the route there were colour stations manned by kids who were more than happy to chuck yet more powdered paint in your face! I had several mouthfuls!!

I paid £15 to enter and I received a KM Colour Run t-shirt, a pair of sunglasses and a packet of powder paint to throw. I really wanted to wear my EKM t-shirt though and I am glad I did because I felt like I stood out from the crowd a little bit.

It has both spurred me on and made me that little bit more scared of the 10k I have booked in September at the QE Olympic Park.

If you're thinking of signing up I'd say absolutely go for it. It was fun and very do-able. I didn't even complete my Couch to 5k programme and I managed it just fine! If I can, you can!

Here are a few pics from the day...

Archie getting his moneys worth of throwing paint over me! 

My first medal!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

SW Best Bits #1

Being new to Slimming World - especially as an almost-vegan - has been a bit daunting for me. I've found most dairy free options are synned and I learned that the hard way this week when I used 12.5 syns on 3.5 tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise! (But if it's any consolation, Tesco vegan salad cream is only 1.5 syns per tablespoon...)

So in this series I'd like to share the low-syn or free vegan foods that I've discovered and loved. I hope they're helpful, and I'd love to hear about your finds too!

Alpro Go On Passion fruit yoghurt - 1.5 syns of pure heaven. A thick fromage frais style yoghurt on top of a delicious passion fruit compote. Can't quite believe they're only 1.5 syns!

Spicy Lentil Soup from the Slimming World website. It's syn-free, filling and delicious. We had it for lunch and Nick loved it too. Apparently you can buy it ready made at Iceland? But it was so quick to make, and I assume cheaper too! I skipped the sweetner as I didn't think it needed it.

Alpro almond dark chocolate milk - 250 ml can be used as your Healthy Extra A. Bargain. I prefer yoghurt for breakfast so most of this week I've gone without my hex a. But now I've stocked up on this I will be able to meet my duties!!

My veggie 'chicken' and pea risotto - hearty and filling and one of my fave dinners ever. Recipe here.

Just Wholefoods jelly crystals are made up with boiling water to 1 pint of jelly which is 14 syns for the lot. I served up a quarter of a pint (3.5 syns) with 2 tablespoons of Alpro soya single cream (2 syns) and some fresh strawberries or raspberries. 5.5 syns for a satisfyingly sweet and cruelty free pudding! They're available in Holland and Barrett.

I hope you've enjoyed my best bits for the week, I certainly did! Until next time...

Amy xx

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Vegan Slimming World 'Chicken' and Pea Risotto

Before I was vegan, this was my favourite Slimming World dinner, so of course I've veganised it! There are two ways to make this delicious, vegan, Slimming World-friendly risotto - the on-the-hob-stirry method, or the in-the-oven-watching-TV-whilst-it-cooks method.



Fry Light cooking oil spray
1 large red onion, diced
2 crushed garlic cloves, or 2 tsp Lazy Garlic
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup of vegan Quorn pieces (optional)
8 oz arborio risotto rice
1 ltr vegan stock (I use this bouillon powder)


1. If you are going for the oven method, preheat the oven to 200c/180 Fan/ Gas mark 6.
2. Heat a large saucepan (for the hob method) or a large lidded casserole (for the oven method) and spray with Fry Light. Add the onion and cook until softened, approx. 5 mins. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes.
3. Add the peas, Quorn pieces and risotto rice and mix well with the onions and garlic. Allow to saute for a minute or two.

For the HOB
4. Gradually add the stock, stirring until each addition is absorbed by the risotto rice. Reduce the heat and allow to gently simmer whilst stirring until the rice is tender and the risotto is lovely and creamy. This should take about 15 minutes or so. Serve immediately.

For the OVEN
4. Pour in all the stock and stir well. Bring to a simmer, stir again and cover the casserole with its lid. Place on a baking tray in the middle of the oven and allow to cook for approx. 20 minutes until the rice is tender and the risotto is lovely and creamy. Serve immediately.


Amy xx

Friday, 10 June 2016

Week 13: Clawing back my motivation!

It's been a few lazy and nonchalant weeks with my healthy eating and exercise taking a battering. I have had a lot going on - although not enough to stop me from making the right choices - and yet that's just what's happened.

But for the first time ever I haven't given up. I've still done what I could on the better days, even when I felt like just not bothering. And I'm still counting my journey in weeks from the beginning (so it's week 13 on Saturday). I think this has helped keep me going, that feeling like I am already invested and it's worth carrying on. A year or two down the line I probably won't even remember this few weeks of fannying about.

A couple of weeks ago I sat wondering why I couldn't get my arse into gear and remembered that two friends at work are doing Slimming World. I thought, well, it can't get any worse than losing nothing week in week out, so I spoke to one of them and arranged to meet them there last night. The group was lovely and I have had my first 'good day' in weeks.

It's my sponsored run on Sunday and I'm looking forward to it. I wish I'd have lost a bit more by now and perhaps built my stamina up a bit, but I know I can do it and I definitely couldn't say that 4 months ago. It's time to be a grown up about these things and not let myself fall into a downward spiral of shame, self-hate and not looking after my body.

Amy xx