Monthly Archives: June 2014

Another weekend… Another 83 miles :)

This weekend Mummy and I decided we needed to do a more realistic distance… so on Saturday we picked a favourite restaurant about 32 miles away to cycle to for Lunch and arranged to meet our Grandparents there – we knew we’d need an incentive to go that far 😉 and  we were very happy to know that they’d bring us clean clothes AND provide the option of a personal taxi-ride home if we were too exhausted to continue… Thankfully we needn’t have worried!

We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather, and it couldn’t have been a more beautiful ride! We managed to find a sneaky back route using our new bike Sat Nav (it’s like a miracle in a box!)

The Feathered Nest Inn in Nether Westcote is completely surreal… with panoramic views over the cotswolds, beautifully quirky decor and food that is out of this world! This might have something to do with the fact that the chef trained at Le Manoir aux Quatre Saisons… as might the fact that the portions aren’t always exactly what you want after a 3 hour bike ride 😉

The Feathered Nest

Despite not being enormous, my first ever experience of Courgette Flowers will certainly be a memorable one… and probably hard to beat! Thank heavens for giant puddings and Pettit Fours… we certainly made sure we got a good supply of calories! We felt VERY spoilt!!

 

Even our Grandparents looked pretty pleased when their chocolate cherry soufflé’s arrived and were almost the size of their heads!!

The Feathered Nest (2)

Its probably rather fortunate that they can’t really use the internet… or i’m sure they’d be rather embarrassed by this photo!

It was also special to visit somewhere we had been with Daddy, both before and during his illness. He had absolutely loved the whole experience and was always coming up with “special occasions” that could merit a trip to Nether Westcote for another delicious meal. He would be so SO touched to know that Tony and Amanda (the owners) are donating a night at their Inn as a prize at our Charity Auction in November!

It was the best weekend we’ve had in ages! Croatia is going to have a lot to live up to!!

The only thing missing was Alice, but as she was visiting her boyfriend in Fontainbleu in France we forgave her 😉

It was such a relief for Mummy to cover a big chunk of our daily mileage without too many ill-effects – although I don’t know why she’s worried – she goes so fast I could hardly keep up. Amazingly the only thing we noticed was being slightly saddle sore when we went out for our shorter loop on Sunday, which is pretty amazing when I look back on how my body used to feel after a long run!

I’m beginning to see why the world has taken to cycling!

 

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Jane’s enchanted Tea Garden worked it’s magic :)

Over the last few weeks our weekends seem to have developed a familiar rhythm. We congregate on Friday night happy to be together and excited for the weekend’s training, but invariably something happens…

Perhaps it’s when we are all together that Daddy’s absence is most noticeable, or maybe we do just all need to let off some steam. Usually I say or do something (totally unintentionally) which makes Mummy cry, and we all go a bit mental for a short period… Then we calm down enough to agree to just get on our bikes and some sort of magic seems to intervene (the endorphins kick in) and within the space of a few miles, we are once again the best of friends…

Jane's enchanted Tea Garden 1

This weekend was no different except perhaps the degree! We had planned two heavy (by our standards!) training days this weekend, 38miles on Saturday and 38 miles on Sunday (incorporating a 1km swim), and as if to match this the emotional outburst pre-cycle was the most intense yet and it was all over nothing…

In fact if anyone has arrived at our house at around 11am on Saturday they probably would have thought they’d entered an insane asylum! It was two months to the day since Daddy’s death and I think the outburst actually helped us release some pent up emotions.

We had a lovely ride to Kirtlington, where we found Jane’s enchanted Tea Garden, which was fittingly magical…

We cycled down a long lane, where there was no suggestion that you might find anything remarkable (we even asked a passerby, just 50m away whether we were on the right path and he had no idea what we were talking about… ) but finally we saw the sign and a gate that welcomed us in, down a little overgrown path… to the most unexpected display of utterly amazing cakes! It was totally different to what I’d expected.

It seemed somewhere between the setting for a circus, a seance and an old fashioned garden party, with a little bit of Hansel and Gretel Magic thrown in…

Jane's enchanted Tea Garden 7

It was a children’s paradise and certainly revived us for the final 15miles of our journey. The steaming hot tea came in a real steel teapot, the cakes tasted even better than they looked and the ice-cream was home-made with milk from Jane’s very own cow, Wendy  (we actually saw Jane milking her as we left!)

The only difficulty was choosing what to eat… the lemon an poppyseed cake was Alice’s favourite, while Mummy favoured the gluten-free rhubarb crumble cake. Personally I thought the scones and cream were hard to beat!  Needless to say we can’t wait to go back! Fortunately it is a good 16 miles away, even going the most direct route – so we figure that we’ll have earned our cake by the time we get there 🙂

I wonder if our neighbour would mind lending us a few cows to make our own ice-cream? They certainly looked cute…

 

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Key Lime and Chocolate Pots

This is the easiest pudding to make and always seems very well received 🙂 I’m embarrassed to admit that I made it this evening for the 3rd time this week! It is seriously addictive… I usually make it for dinner parties so this recipe makes enough for 6-8 people.

Ingredients

300ml whipping cream

300ml double cream

1 can condensed milk

Juice of 5 limes

300g digestive biscuits (gluten free if required)

150g dark chocolate (70%)

 

Method

1.   Mix together the cream, condensed milk and lime juice and whip until thick and creamy.

2.   Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin and chop the chocolate into very fine pieces (almost powdery). Then mix the chocolates with the biscuits.

3.   Spoon the chocolate biscuit mixture into 8 ramekins or sundae glasses (about a tablespoonful in each).

4.   Spoon the lime cream on top of the biscuit mixture (about 1.5 tablespoons in each).

5.   Then repeat so that you have another layer of chocolate biscuit mixture with a top layer of cream.

6.   Decorate with fruit and serve with a fruit salad.

Then… ENJOY!

*** This recipe should probably come with a warning that you shouldn’t make more than you think reasonable to eat in one sitting as it is dangerously moorish!!

Nb. This can easily be made gluten free by using gluten free digestives 🙂

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Blenheim Triathlon – 9th June 2014

 

The triathlon was so much more fun that I’d expected 🙂

Having freaked myself out a little with that bad swim a few weeks ago I was not looking forward to the swim, especially knowing that my team mates would only get to compete if I finished. (when we entered all the individual places had sold out, so we decided to do it as a team, which certainly made things more interesting!)

In the end the swim was actually really fun – I was actually too hot and finished in a respectable 14 minutes… which just made me feel like it didn’t even count as exercise it was over so quickly! Mummy actually probably took the most exercise just running round after us trying to take photos!!

Alice managed to stretch the cycle out for nearly 40 minutes, but was going so fast we couldn’t get a photo of her actually on her bike…

We then nearly killed our team mate by making him race us for the last 100m… oops!!

But all in all it was a great day – and Daddy would have absolutely loved it! We felt certain he was there in spirit. He was always so supportive and never got tired of running around supplying us with water, food and sun-cream at all kinds of sporting events.  I distinctly remember him missing the rugby world cup to come and take me to a competition with my horse… in between sessions he’d sneak back to the car to get an update from the radio, but he still made me feel like there was nowhere he’d rather be than supporting me! He was amazing like that 🙂

I am so happy to have conquered my swimming issues and am now getting quite excited about Windermere!

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Pre-Blenheim Carb Loading: Raspberry Surprise Victoria Sponge Cake :)

Any excuse to eat cake is good enough for me! And our friend who is kindly doing the running part of our team triathlon at Blenheim tomorrow loves Victoria Sponge so I thought I’d give it a go… The recipe couldn’t be more user friendly 🙂 it only takes about 10 minutes preparation!

I normally find Victoria Sponge a bit boring so I thought I’d embed a few raspberries filled with raspberry jam in the sponge and fortunately it turned out ok…

Here’s the recipe..

Ingredients:

8oz margarine
8oz caster sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons self raising flour
about 15 Raspberries

For the Filling:

300ml whipping cream,
chopped strawberries
raspberry jam

 

Method

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 4 (180 degrees Celsius).

Grease and line 2 8 inch sandwich tins.

Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl (except the raspberries) and mix well.

Divide the mixture between the two tins.

Place the raspberries into the mixture filling each one with a little jam before pressing into the mixture

Bake for 25mins then leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack

When completely cold sandwich together with whipped cream, raspberry jam and chopped strawberries!

Then Enjoy!! 🙂

 

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And then there were Three…

And then there were three...

Mummy is now officially part of the team! 🙂

After cycling thirty miles (for the first time ever) with us this morning Mummy has decided that she will join us on the cycling part of our challenge. Now we are even more excited… although it looks like camping might have just gone out the window (sorry Alice ;)) Daddy would certainly love to know that we are all doing this together. I hope he is looking down on us with a smile…

And happily it seems that everything (even lake swimming!) is better when Alice is around!

Our thirty mile cycle this morning was via Queensford lake – a beautiful open water swimming lake near Oxford where Alice and I duly attempted our first ever 750m lap. And although I still didn’t love the cold feeling around my neck – having Alice there certainly made it all seems so much easier. We are thinking this will have to become a weekly activity… (Alice wants to include a wake-boarding session after the swim. Obviously.)

Thankfully the water was cleaner and warmer than the lake last weekend and having Alice meant it just felt like a bit of fun! Clearly I needn’t bother attempting to train without her!!

Queensford

Although I think I will probably have to do one more session before I feel prepared to cope with the swimming leg of Blenheim Triathlon next weekend 😉

I think maybe Alice thought we all needed cheering-up as her post-cycle yoga outfit was pretty entertaining…

Thanks Alice! You certainly made me smile…

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