Fiesta Española

I’m very pleased to have returned from a two week holiday in Spain with a very good sun tan! I’ve not had a decent tan for a few years now, so it feels good to have a lovely colour on my skin (plus my arm hairs have been dyed by the sun, so they are currently blonde). It was nice to have two weeks off work and spend some time relaxing and exploring a part of Spain I hadn’t been to before.

I stayed in a villa with my parents, a few friends and my dog Barney. The villa was beautiful with a much needed swimming pool and air con in all parts of the villa, including the bedrooms. Every day it was hot and sunny with the temperature increasing while we were away. The hottest temperature while I was there was 39 degrees, which was during the second week of the holiday. We all made sure that we stayed hydrated, had plenty of sun cream on and avoided being in the sun for too long. Barney was in the swimming pool most of the time to stay cool!

Barney recharging his batteries

The villa was just on the outskirts of a town called Peñíscola. We did walk into the town on our first visit, but it was a rather tidy step and the heat didn’t help either, so we drove down for future trips. Peñíscola is not quite a tourist hot spot yet – the beaches were very busy but the castle was fairly quiet and there were some nice bars and restaurants in the main town. There was also an outdoor market on Mondays which we all had a good look around.

A view of Peñíscola castle

As I love exploring, I paid a trip to the castle in Peñíscola. It isn’t one of the most grandest castles I’ve ever visited, but it was interesting to look around and the views from the top were amazing, such as the one in the photo below.

A view from the top of the castle

Since the castle is only small, it didn’t take too long to look around the ramparts and in the main citadel. There are some quaint streets which I enjoyed walking down, and some shops which I had a look around too.

A street in the citadel

We found some decent beaches which my dog Barney could go on. We spent a couple of days during the holiday relaxing on several beaches and swimming in the sea. Barney loves swimming so he joined in too and swam for long periods of time (I held him now and again in the water so he could have a rest!). I had an explore along the coast as well while we visited the beaches. The views of Peñíscola are stunning along the coast.

Exploring in my new swim suit

One of my favourite parts of any holiday is trying out local cuisine and drink. One lunchtime we visited a restaurant near the castle which we all called the ‘meat place’. You could have a platter of different cuts of Spanish cured ham with sheep’s cheese. I shared one with my father, which came with two different cuts of Spanish ham, a helping of cheese and bread covered in a tomato sauce (which looked more like strawberry jam but still tasted good).

Meat platter with sheep’s cheese and bread covered in a tomato sauce

My father decided to have a go at making paella at the villa one night. He included chicken thighs, chorizo, mussels, prawns, squid and cuttlefish. For a first attempt, it was delicious. One of my friend’s bought my father a paella pan off the market in Peñíscola, so I’m sure he will cook another paella at home sometime soon.

Paella

I drank sangria and lemon beer, but also tried out an alcoholic drink called tinto de verano. Suggested by a colleague at work, tinto de verano is similar to sangria but I much preferred the taste and found it more refreshing than sangria.

The past two weeks have flown by, but it won’t be long until I’m away on holiday again. I’m off to Benidorm for a short break in September. I love the television series Benidorm, so I’m going to experience what it’s really like. I imagine it will be a short break full of laughs and probably plenty of drinking! It will be my first time staying in an all inclusive hotel, so I’m very excited!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

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Dos semanas en España

Tomorrow morning I will be heading off to Spain for a relaxing two week holiday!

Flying into Barcelona Reus airport and then a train ride to Benicarlo-Peñiscola station, I will be staying in a villa with my parents and a few of their friends in Peñiscola. My father and his friend have been travelling through France and Spain with my dog Barney for two weeks already. They will be picking up myself, my mother and her friends from the train station when we arrive. There’s a swimming pool at the villa, so I imagine Barney will end up in the pool most days!

I’m really looking forward to having some time to relax and making the most of the sunshine. I should be back with a lovely tan with the current weather forecast for Peñiscola (except for this Sunday):

As much as I love relaxing on holiday, I like to take the opportunity to explore new places. I’ve not been to Peñiscola or around that part of the Spanish coast before. There’s a natural park not far from where we’re staying and other small seaside towns. We may plan a trip to Tarragona which my father has told me is a very interesting place with a Roman Amphitheatre on a beach!

I will post a blog on my return about my holiday. In the meantime, adiós, and as always, happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Update #27

It’s almost been a month since I last posted blog, which is the longest time I’ve not written a post for! This is due to many things, including the hot weather. I’ve been feeling pretty tired for the last few weeks, due to it being muggy during the night. I shouldn’t really moan about the long spell of hot weather we’re having in the UK, but it does make it difficult sleeping at night and it’s not fun being in the office when it’s so nice outside. Although around this time last year, I wrote an update about what I got up to, rather than focusing on the topics I normally blog about.

For example, I went to the Caves of Nottingham last weekend with a group of friends. It wasn’t quite what I expected- the tour didn’t take that long but the history was very interesting. I didn’t know that the caves were man made, and that people took refuge inside the caves during the Second World War. It was also a great way to cool down with it being so hot outside. After the tour of the caves I visited Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem, the oldest inn in England. Just by Nottingham castle, it was very quirky inside and I had a lovely pub meal, which was beef and bone marrow suet pudding.

Ye Old Trip to Jersualem

I also went away to Birmingham for a weekend in June with my boyfriend, which was really nice. We had a look around some of our favourite shops in Birmingham, had a very tasty meal in a Brazilian restaurant in the Mailbox, and visited the SeaLife centre. It was during this weekend that England played a match as part of the World Cup. I’m not a football fan, but it was funny to hear people cheering throughout Birmingham when, I’m assuming, England scored a goal (or penalty).

Despite the fun stuff I got up to, last month was actually quite stressful for me as my car failed its MOT. I should’ve known this day was coming soon, as my car was 17 1/2 years old and had been making rattling noises for quite some time. Although earlier this year my car survived a trip to the Peak District, driving in hazardous conditions and almost getting stuck in a blizzard. The costs of the repairs would’ve been more than the value of the car, so it was time to invest in a new car.

For two weeks it felt like I had lost an arm. Since I still live with my parents, my car is a form of independence for me, so having to rely on lifts to work felt horrible for me. I am grateful for my parent’s support during this time, and they also helped me with selecting a new car and sorting out insurance. I have had my new car for just over two weeks now, and it’s beautiful to drive. I now have a radio that works, and air con which couldn’t have come at a better time. I am now the proud owner of brand new Hyuandi i10!

My beautiful new car!

While I was car-less, I went to Torquay for a weekend conference. I have mentioned before on my blog that I am a member of a friendly society, which I have done a lot of fundraising for. Running my first half marathon last year was in aid of the society’s chosen charity, the Association of Air Ambulances. Once a year around June, the society holds it’s annual AGM where members from around the UK attend. It was a great opportunity to meet members I hadn’t met before, and learn more about how the society works. There was also a presentation by a representative of the Association of Air Ambulances, which was insightful into the fantastic work they do. I had a little bit of spare time to explore Torquay, but I would love to go back to see more of the lovely seaside town.

You can see now that I had a very busy month. I wanted to write a blog one weekday evening, but I’ve been feeling tired after work and have been practicing solos for a concert I’m singing in tonight (which I’m feeling very excited and nervous about!). I will try my best to write some more content this month, although I am off to Spain for two weeks soon so I will be getting myself ready for that!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

BBQ weather

Yesterday evening my father cooked on the BBQ rather than making a roast dinner. I was more than happy as I love BBQs and the weather was gorgeous last night. We were originally going to have a roast lamb dinner with all the trimmings, but my father sliced the joint of lamb and cooked it on the BBQ. The lamb was so delicious and juicy, and cooked just right.

While my father cooks the food on the BBQ, I usually prepare the salad. I boiled some new potatoes and green beans, and added a little bit of butter when I served them. The taste of melted butter on new potatoes is just divine, like melted butter on a jacket potato. I also prepared some vegetable skewers which were cooked on the BBQ. The skewers consisted of courgette, mushroom, yellow pepper and halloumi. I sprinkled some mixed herbs on top of the skewers before they were placed on the BBQ.

Before cooking…

I couldn’t wait to try the vegetable skewers- I like halloumi and hadn’t tried it grilled on the BBQ before, so I was keen to see how it tasted. The vegetables tasted really nice, and the halloumi was very tasty too.

… after cooking

Just before the BBQ prep started, I noticed a small bee on the floor outside of my house. It was very docile and didn’t move when I stood very close to it. I’ve seen quite a few videos on social media recently of what you should do if you see a bee in this condition. I made up some sugar water and placed a teaspoon of it on the floor next to the bee. I had to softly nudge the bee with the spoon as it was very weak and didn’t seem to notice the sugar water at first, but with a little bit of persuasion, it started helping itself to some much needed nutrition.

Giving this bee a helping hand

Normally I wouldn’t dare go near a bee, as I’m not a fan of creatures that can sting you (especially wasps), but this bee was harmless and I wanted to offer my help for a much needed insect which sustains our ecosystem.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Update #26

How are we already half way through the year?!

I know that I tend to mention a lot about how time seems to fly by, but it really is true. The older you get the faster time whizzes by! I mean it’s already been just over a month since I started my new job.

May was well and truly a foodie month for me. I went to a cheese festival and most recently the StrEAT food festival in London. Both events were very enjoyable and I got to sample some tasty food.

Last month I also ran my first parkrun in almost a year. It was good to see some familiar faces again and run a fairly gentle route (expect for the steep hill halfway through). My 17th parkrun was the slowest one I’ve done so far, in a time of 36 minutes and 50 seconds, but I’m sure that I can get back up to speed again. The fastest I’ve completed a parkrun in so far is 32 minutes and 1 second which I achieved in March last year.

I know that I’ve been quiet on the feminist front recently, I just haven’t had the chance to write about it. The most notable event that’s happened recently is the Northern Irish referendum which saw abortion being legalized. Abortion is of course a controversial topic, but I believe that Northern Ireland has taken a huge step forward. Northern Ireland has now given women choice over their bodies, especially those whose pregnancies are life threatening and now they can terminate it without having to travel overseas to Great Britain.

Another recent news story outlined the ‘excuses’ made by male bosses about why women aren’t hired as directors. It sickened me to hear some of the reasons why many companies have no or very little women in senior positions, such as ‘Women don’t belong in the board room‘, ‘Most women don’t want to the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board‘, and ‘I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to‘. With the move towards gender equality, sexism is still glaringly obvious within the workplace and the majority of senior positions are held by men. I’m sure that one day we will reach the point where equality is achieved in businesses and it won’t matter what gender you are.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Bank Holiday Foodie

May is a great month of the year- in the UK we get to enjoy two bank holidays which means two longer weekends. Both May bank holiday weekends this year have been lovely for me, with beautiful weather and spending time with family and friends. I’ve also enjoyed eating tasty food, with a cheese festival in Melton Mowbary at the start of May and recently attending a food and drink festival in London for the bank holiday just gone.

For the third year running, I have been going to the StrEAT Life festival at Alexandra Palace. It serves as the ideal reunion with university friends, as we get to catch up and enjoy quality food and drink. As with last year, there was plenty of choice to tantalize everyone’s taste buds, including Caribbean, Greek, Italian and Indian food, as well as your standard burgers, ribs and chips. I decided to go for Spanish paella this year, which had chicken, chorizo and a mixture of seafood, including squid and prawns.

Mixed paella (looks like orange mush, but it was tasty!)

I also had for the third year running a churro filled with banana custard and shared a large pitcher of Pimm’s with my friends. We had the chance to relax on the grass by Alexandra Palace, which is a treat for Londoners and visitors with a stunning view of Central London. The weather was stunning for the majority of the day, so I was able to soak up some rays and top up my tan.

A stunning view of Central London

After enjoying my third StrEAT food festival, I was in for a treat the following morning. I rarely eat out for breakfast and what better way to do it than going to a lovely little cafe in Hornsey? The cafe has only been open for a few months and hopefully it’ll stay open for many more months/years to come. My breakfast was the best I’ve had in a long time, which was scrambled eggs, tomatoes, homemade smokey beans, garlic mushrooms, halloumi and two slices of brown bread. The whole meal was delicious and I also had a fresh banana and berry smoothie on the side.

Breakfast in style

And if that wasn’t enough, I had a lovely afternoon tea later that day! I absolutely love a good afternoon tea, especially scones smothered in clotted cream and jam (or is it the other way round?). There was a nice selection of cakes including red velvet cake, Victoria sponge and profiteroles. I also enjoyed a few glasses of prosecco and of course, plenty of cups of tea.

Yummy afternoon tea

The last May bank holiday of the year has certainly been a fantastic foodie weekend however, I’ve been very naughty by not getting up early enough for the gym since starting my new job. I definitely need to go to the gym soon as I can feel the effects of very little exercise and sitting in an office all day.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

parkrun #17

What a coincidence that I’m writing about my most recent parkrun when I did my last one a year ago today!

It had been far too long since I last did the Braunstone parkrun, so I was determined to run my 17th parkrun on Saturday. I was awake in plenty of time (thanks to my adjusted body clock due to starting a new job recently) and had a free Saturday morning. It felt great to be back at the parkrun as it was nice to see some familiar faces with many of them dressed up in style (for the royal wedding) and the sun was shining.

I completed my 17th parkrun in 36 minutes and 50 seconds, just two minutes shy of my last parkrun (which was 34 minutes and 47 seconds). I came in 419th place out of 467 runners. My latest parkrun is my slowest time so far, but it doesn’t surprise since it had been a while. There are a couple of alternations to the route but otherwise it’s still mostly the same, so that didn’t affect my running too much. It was rather warm as well on Saturday morning, so I’m glad that I had plenty of water with me.

I have many reasons for why it had been almost a year since I last ran 5km. This time last year I was very focused on training for my first half marathon, so when I had free time at the weekends I’d usually go out for a long distance run. Some Saturdays I simply wasn’t up in time and other Saturdays I already had plans which didn’t allow time for going to the parkrun first.

I’d like to get back into parkruns again, as 5km is a nice short distance to run when you don’t fancy running longer distances. I guess I could incorporate the parkrun into my second half marathon training by running to the parkrun, completing the parkrun and then running some more afterwards. I’ve seen many people making their way to the parkrun by running there.

I promise I won’t leave it so long until my next parkrun!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

 

P.S. Sorry that it’s been a while since I last posted on my blog! I’ve not forgotten about the cheese fair I went to in Melton Mowbary, I’ve just not had time to write about it yet. I may have to mention it briefly in my next update post.