Update #19

I didn’t actually post an update last month as I was away in France, where I had a lovely time away and enjoyed the sunshine and French cuisine. I didn’t quite get round to writing an update post as I wrote one about my break in France, but this update looks back at July and August together, since July was a quiet month on my blog.

So back in July I ran 18km for the first time. Since then I’ve managed to run 18km again for my third attempt, as my second go at running this distance didn’t quite go to plan. During my second 18km attempt I experienced ‘The Wall‘, but I’m glad that I overcame this obstacle in my recent 18km run. I’d like to increase this to 21km for my next long distance run, which will be the distance of a half marathon (only 39 days to go until the big day!)

Last month I managed to write a blog with a slight feminist tone, which is about our perception of body image and how this affects our health. Interestingly there was a news story recently about a study which suggests that even if you are fit and do regular exercise, you are more likely to suffer from heart attacks and other diseases if you carry too much weight. I might write a blog about this, as I consider myself to be fitter even though I am carrying a bit too much body weight. It’ll be an interesting study to look into.

Food wise I recently made a chocolate banana loaf for my sister’s birthday. It went down very well and I’d definitely like to make another one for future occasions. I do like the combination of chocolate and banana, it tastes great!

Many of you will know that I have a poetry blog as well called ‘poclaretry‘, where I have recently posted about a new poetry night I went to called Bohemia. I read out a few poems at a restaurant called Boneyard in Leicester where I had the opportunity to perform in front of a new audience, and meet other poets as well.

Performing at Bohemia

This month I’d like to focus on my training for the half marathon, since it will be my biggest physical challenge so far!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

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Chocolate Banana Loaf

In true sibling fashion, I made my sister a birthday cake for the Bank Holiday Monday. We all went out for a lovely meal to celebrate my sister’s birthday, and it turns out that she brought a cake with her even though I made her one. It was quite funny having two cakes both lit with candles brought out by waitresses for one table!

I had a look in one of my favourite cake recipe books, called ‘The Classic 1000 Cake and Bake Recipes’, and decided to make a chocolate banana loaf. There were a few bananas which needed using (as they were extremely ripe) and I had some milk chocolate, so I opted for this recipe which I hadn’t tried before.

Firstly I melted 150g butter, 150g caster sugar and 150g of milk chocolate in a pan. I normally use cocoa powder or drinking chocolate powder when I make some form of chocolate cake, but I followed the recipe and melted the milk chocolate.

Sweet tooth combination!

When everything had melted, I took the pan off the heat and then stirred in three beaten eggs. When the eggs were combined I added two mashed bananas, and then gradually stirred in 200g plain flour and two teaspoons of baking powder. I then poured the cake mixture into a lined and greased loaf tin and baked for one hour at gas mark 3.

The cake mix tasted so good

Once the cake had cooled down I simply decorated the top with the left over melted chocolate and chocolate sprinkles which were hiding in the cupboard. The melted chocolate dripped down the sides of the cake, but no one seemed fussed about that when the cake was served at my sister’s birthday meal.

Chocolate banana loaf

Using melted chocolate in the cake mixture seemed to work really well. The sponge was nice and moist, which would have also been due to the bananas. The simple decoration of melted chocolate on top with sprinkles tasted nice as well, and made the whole loaf look like a chocolate lover’s idea of heaven!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Un séjour en france

It was 10 years ago last month when I went camping abroad for the first time with my father. We went away to France for three weeks, travelling down to southern Brittany and then to a resort called Saint-Hilaire-De-Riez, further down on the west coast. The following years saw delightful summers away in France, exploring more of the beautiful French coast and eventually venturing further afield into Spain, and even making it to the west coast of Portugal.

While I don’t have the time off during the summer that I used to, I join my father for a week or two while he is away (he works as a teacher, hence why he goes away during the summer holidays). This year he is staying in a house with my mother for a month in a French town called Cancale in northern Brittany, which is renowned for oysters. I went out with them on a ferry to Calais and we drove down to Cancale. I had been to Cancale and all of the other nearby towns before on previous holidays, so it was nice to be back in one of my favourite parts of France for a 12 day break.

A view of Cancale from the top of a hill

 

There is a market on Sundays in Cancale, so on our first day we explored the market and walked down to the seafront where people were eating oysters fresh from the sea. I tried oysters for the first time last year when I went to Guernsey and I wasn’t a fan. I tried them again this year… I’m still not a fan.

Oysters fresh out of the sea

My mother hadn’t been to this part of France before, so while I was away my father and I took her to our favourite places, including some beautiful French towns called St-Malo, Dinard and Dinan. We also had some friends who stayed with us so they joined us as we explored around the local area.

While most of my holiday was spent travelling around I also had the chance to relax and recharge my batteries. We had one day at a nearby beach where we could take our dog Barney and the weather was beautiful. I had several swims in the sea and topped up my tan. We also saw a dolphin in the distance which was pretty cool!

A beautiful day at the beach

The day after relaxing at the beach my mother and I drove to Le Mont St-Michel, which you can see in the distance from Cancale. I had been to this fascinating place as well, but I was excited to go back as I got to show my mother around. It’s a bit manic as Le Mont St-Michel is very popular with tourists. It’s also a good workout because once you enter the citadel, you have to go up a steep hill and a lot of steps to reach the abbey at the top.

I hadn’t been in the abbey before, so it was exciting to look around an attraction that was new to me. The views from the top were stunning and I could just see Cancale in the distance. The tide is very strong in this part of France and the sea on the day I went was very far out. Quite a few people walked around the outside of the citadel on the sand, which I had done before when visiting Le Mont St-Michel in the past.

Le Mont St-Michel

I drank quite a bit of wine and ruby beer, which is fruit flavoured and red coloured beer. I also had a lot of treats including Breton sausage in a crepe, Breton tart (light custard tart with prunes) and the classic French custard tart which is my absolute favourite French treat. My father made a beef bourguignon which was delicious, and we had quite a few BBQs as well.

I don’t know where my 12 days away went- they’ve just flown by! I went to France by ferry and came back to England by plane on Thursday. I flew from the airport in Dinard, which is the smallest one I have ever been to. There is only one departure lounge and the runway is rather short. At least you can’t get lost in the airport!

My parents are in France for another two weeks and they have more friends joining them. I’m sure that they’ll enjoy the rest of their holiday. In the meantime I am house sitting, back at work and will soon resume my training for the half marathon on the 15th October!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

Update #18

My blog has been on the quiet side recently. In fact, I only wrote 3 blogs last month: my previous update, one about my current situation and the other about my third attempt at 15km.

While my blog has been a little inactive, I got up to some fun things in June, which I thought would be nice to mention about for a change.

On the 9th June I went to see a stage version of Willy Russell’s play Shirley Valentine in Coventry with my parents. We’re all big fans of the film version and we admire Russell’s works (Blood Brothers is my favourite musical!). The production was really good and it was fascinating that Russell wrote the play with only one character on stage: Shirley Valentine.

The following weekend I went on a small trip to the National Justice Museum in Nottingham. It was an educational day out where I learnt about the history of the judicial system in Nottingham. There was also some history about women’s campaigning for the right to vote during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I liked the artwork that I saw below:

National Justice Museum, Nottingham

I also had a go at putting my head in the stocks, which was harder than I thought it would be (I have a big head!).

What crime did I commit?! 😛

The weekend after Nottingham I went to Skegness for the day with one of my best friends. It was my first time driving over 200 miles in one day, which I actually enjoyed as the route was nice with pleasant views. We got up to all sorts including shopping, walking on the beach, a game of pirate crazy golf, trying our luck on the 2p machines and eating ice cream and fish and chips, although the fish I had was more like a whale!

A huge portion of fish and chips!

The weekend just gone was a very social one- my parents held a surprise birthday party for two friends who have recently turned 65. My father cooked on the BBQ and we had lots of scrumptious food over the weekend. Yesterday I ended up going to an afternoon tea with my mother, which was delicious (and a sugar overload!).

Yet another afternoon tea

My blog will probably be similar to last month, but I will try to post some content for the next few weeks. I have some more exciting stuff coming up this month. I’m off to France for two weeks for a much needed break on the 22nd July, which I can’t wait for. I will definitely write a blog about my fortnight away in France.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

 

Update #17

Wow! We’re half way through the year already! Last month seems to have flown by in a blur, but I got up to a lot looking through the posts on my blog for May.

My blog was busy food wise last month. I made two lemon drizzle cakes, one for a bake off at my new job and the other for a ladies’ night in. I preferred my second attempt at making lemon drizzle cake. I used a metal tin rather than a silicone mould and using plain flour with a little dash of baking powder seemed to make a better sponge.

I recently went to a food and drinks festival at Alexandra Palace called StrEAT Life. This was a fun day out where I got to catch up with one of my university friends, and where we got to try some tasty food (and drink a lot of Pimm’s!). Last weekend in general was a binge food weekend, as I also went to a lovely afternoon tea and had fish and chips in Cromer.

Fitness wise was a series of ups and downs in May. I managed to complete a second 15km run and my 16th parkrun, but I have started experiencing pain in my shins. This has made it rather difficult when running. I attempted to run 15km at the start of the month but I only managed 5km because my shins were hurting a lot. I intend to go out running this weekend, so I’ll make sure to put some Deep Heat on my shins which my father has recommended to help ease the pain. I’d like to complete another 15km run before I move onto 17.5km for my training for the half marathon (which is only 4 months away!).

Despite the pain in my shins, last month marked one year since I discovered the parkrun in Guernsey. I am so glad that I was told about the parkrun; I enjoy going to my local one when I can make it on a Saturday morning. I ought to have a go at other parkuns around the area for a bit of a change and to meet more runners.

I mentioned about a night out for the fitness aspect of my blog, which was Peter Kay’s Dance for Life. It was a 3 hour dance-a-thon, which I think counted as a good form of exercise. The Dance for Life was so much fun and everyone was knackered by the end of the evening from dancing so much, but everyone had a big smile on their face.

I’ve been very quiet on the feminist front as of late. There’s lots of things I’d love to write about, but it takes me more time to write a feminist blog. I think it would be good for me to write at least one feminist blog this month. Do you have any suggestions for what I could write about?

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

StrEAT Life Festival

Sorry that it’s been a while since I last posted! I’ve been rather busy with various things recently, including the content of this blog. My next blog will of course be my monthly update, so I wanted to squeeze in one more blog before it’s June tomorrow!

The recent Bank Holiday weekend has been one full of good food (not all of it necessarily healthy!). I went down to London for the weekend and met up with one of my university friends and one of their friends on Saturday. Before I met up with them though, I was given a recommendation to try Edith’s House, a quirky cafe in Crouch End.

I needed a cool drink like a frappe or a milkshake, so I tried an apple pie pudshake. It was a milkshake full of ice cream and topped with thick whipped cream, and it tasted like an apple pie. It was very tasty, but also very filling! I had a 20 minute walk though, mostly uphill, which helped to ease my stomach a bit when I made my way to meet my friend.

Apple pie pudshake

The 20 minute walk from Edith’s House in Crouch End was to Alexandra Palace for the StrEAT Life Festival, a food and drinks festival which I also went to at the same time last year. The weather was glorious all day and I caught the sun (a bit too much on my back, but it’s tanned now). There is a lovely grassy area by the palace where most people relaxed during the day.

I wasn’t naked! I was wearing a crop top

After debating on what food to have, as there was a lot to choose from, I had a Greek BBQ pork and halloumi wrap with salad and a yogurt and mint dressing. It was delicious! I love Greek food so I was pleased to see a stand called ‘Greek Expectations’. My university friend had a Caribbean meal of exotic fish and rice, while his friend had some paella. It was nice that we all tried something different; we all wanted to try something that we don’t have on a daily/weekly basis.

Greek wrap

I also had an ice cream and a churro filled with banana custard, which were both delicious. I felt very full by the early evening, but pleasantly so.

After a lovely catch up and a day of hot sunshine, and as if I hadn’t already eaten enough food, I had an afternoon tea the following day! This was at a hotel in Enfield, in aid of a charity called Canine Partners. After an exciting magic card show, everyone had some afternoon tea. There were nine people at my table and there were plenty of sandwiches, cakes and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. I love a good afternoon tea, and this one was superb.

This wasn’t all for me!

And as if afternoon tea wasn’t enough, I had fish and chips on Monday in Cromer! After the afternoon tea I went to Cromer to meet up with my family who were camping there. I stayed overnight in a hotel with my mother (she doesn’t do camping) and we spent the day in Cromer the following day. When you go to the seaside in Britain you have to have fish and chips, and in Cromer the best place is Mary Janes. The fish was beautiful and the batter and chips weren’t too greasy.

Yummy fish and chips

I dread to think how many pounds I’ve put on over the weekend, but the food was worth it! I rarely eat food like this over a period of a few days and I enjoyed myself, which is the most important thing.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Clare Bear 🙂

 

Lemon drizzle cake #2

Last Saturday I made a lemon drizzle cake for a bake off at work. I received positive comments from colleagues which was a good sign. I tried a little slice myself today from what was left over- it was soft and moist, and rather lemony but not too overpowering. I felt proud of myself, as I think it was the first time that I had made a lemon drizzle cake, or it’s been a very long time (I can’t remember).

Tomorrow night I am going to a ladies night in/sherry evening with my mother. My mother asked me to make a lemon drizzle cake for tomorrow, so I decided to leave it until tonight to make one, after finding out the verdict from work. I used the same recipe, but used plain flour with a teaspoon of baking powder instead, as I had run out of self-raising flour. I also used a metal loaf tin instead rather than a silicone one, as my mother bought a metal one on Sunday.

Lemon drizzle cake ready to cook

I greased the metal loaf tin and put some greaseproof paper in as well to stop the cake from sticking.

Fresh out of the oven

Same as before, I poured over the lemon drizzle icing on the cake as soon as it came out of the oven. Again I had to pull the cake gently away from the edges of the tin to let the icing pour down the sides of the cake. After it had cooled down a bit, I took the lemon drizzle cake out of the tin.

Yummy!

I must admit, I prefer the look of my second attempt at lemon drizzle cake. You can see the drizzle icing on top of the cake and it looks more of a golden brown. My father said it was to do with the fact that I used plain flour with baking powder instead of self-raising flour. The shape of it looks better as well since I cooked it in a solid metal loaf tin, rather than a silicone one.

Hopefully it’ll taste as nice as my first attempt. I will find out tomorrow night!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

Many thanks,

Clare Bear 🙂