Thursday 25 February 2021

Stour and Orwell Path Part 1

 The Stour and Orwell path runs from Cattawade, just up the road from Manningtree and Felixstowe.  Going up one side of the Stour, around the bend and then up one side of the Orwelll to Ipswich and back down the other to Felixstowe, around 40 miles.

We have done a couple of bits of it, but on Sunday set off from the start in Cattawade

Here I am at the start standing on the old Cattawade bridge with the Stour in the background, looking back towards Manningtree.

From here we walked past the pub, garage and vets surgery and then down Factory Lane.  This used to be a narrow lane with a row of factories on the right.  Margaret Thatcher worked in one of them many years ago and so did my late father-in-law, but not sure that they were there at the same time.  These factories are no longer, but the buildings have been upgraded and house other businesses.  The lane is no longer either, but has been made into a proper road and new housing is springing up on the left side.  At the end of the road, the path goes through a gap in the hedge and around The Decoy Pond.

From here along the path next to the railway line, this is the main line between Norwich and London, normally with trains going past every half hour.  Up a hill, then we looked back at the view across the river

we crossed the railway by a footbridge and then followed the footpath across a field and down to the river, spotting the first WayMark for this path

Along the side of the river, then up onto the bank with amazing views across the river, we carried on as far as the Stutton Mill and then turned back, as this is where I want to start the next walk.  

The sun was bright and warm, the views amazing, the river looked so big.  We could see the cars parked along the walls at Mistley in the distance.

Back to the footpath that leads uphill and away from the river to the main road. we left the Stour and Orwell Path at this point and headed towards our starting point. This is the road from Brantham to Ipswich.

Shame the pub is shut, we could have stopped for a drink, however we walked back towards Manningtree along the road,, spotting the first Daffodils of the year on the side of the road.

We turned down Church Lane, to the left past some houses, saw these snowdrops in the hedgerow

On to the church, were we stopped for a quick rest in the porch 

just after the church was a footpath, which we took, leading to a field and a steep hill going down and up and this bought us out on the housing estate at the top of Brantham, we walked though the estate and back to our car.  We passed more people out walking than we ever have on any of our walks, some days we haven't passed anyone, but it was a warm day.

A grand total of 9.75 miles.  A lovely walk with lots of different things to see., looking forward to the next stage.

Friday 19 February 2021

laptop issues

 I had a few problems with my laptop, which meant it had to go off for repair, but it is back now and working fine.  Thank goodness for that!

Tuesday was pancake day, so made some vegan pancakes, which were quite thick and squishy and absolutely delicious.  Just flour, sugar, baking powder and soya milk, whisked together to make quite a thick batter and then fried in a little oil.  I had mine topped with yogurt and blueberries, Steven had golden syrup (adventurous as always!)  The recipe made so much we had to have the same again on Wednesday

The lettuce I grew in the greenhouse in the autumn is coming to an end so I grew some alfalfa sprouts in a jar. So easy to do, just soak in water overnight then rinse out each day for about 4 days and then they are ready to eat.  Great in sandwiches and salads, but I had them on Ryvita with topping a broadbean pate that I made

Tiny little things, but so crunchy and fresh tasting, perfect for the middle of winter.


No more work until March - that sounds like ages away, but only 10 days.  I finished work at 2PM yesterday for the week.  We were supposed to be heading off to Potters, in Norfolk for our annual dancing holiday.  It would have been our 8th one, but all cancelled due to the virus.  I have got to take my holiday by end of March or I will loose it, so kept it booked in.  Not much to do, as we can't go far, but hope to spend a bit of time at the allotment, the forecast for the weekend is looking good.

As I finished work yesterday afternoon the sun came out and for the first time in two weeks it wasn't snowing or raining, so headed out for a run.  It was actually quite warm and lovely to get some fresh air, but oh! my legs, they felt so heavy after no walking or running for two weeks.  I have been doing weights workouts, but obviously not the same.

Sunday 7 February 2021

The start of Spring

The week started with Imbolc, the start of spring, just the beginning, but the signs are there .... the evenings are getting lighter and  bulbs are beginning to poke through the ground.  
The first Wednesday of the month is WIGs night - my Woman's Institute, I have been part of this amazing group for 9 years now, the last two as President.   Each month we normally meet up in a hall in Colchester, but since lock down all our meetings have been on Zoom, not quite the same, infact nothing like the same but it has to do for now.
This month we had a cook- a- long from a vegan Chef @Natashathelovingchef  She spoke about her work and then showed us how to bake this Chocolate Courgette cake, we stirred and mixed and popped them in the oven.  While the cakes baked she showed us lots of ideas for presenting the cake and decorating the plates.  She sprinkled cocoa powder over stencils, made a coulis and made chocolate stars from melted chocolate
This was my creation, quite a sticky torte.  I have not had any chocolate or much sweet stuff for the last month and my tummy soon reacted to it!

I love to update the dresser to fit in with the time of year, in February it is the time for love, not only the start of Spring, Valentines Day but also our Wedding Anniversary.  All the hearts and pink things I can find to dress it up.

From a distance - looking pink!

Friday is my day off and as the sun was shining and it was quite mild I went for a run, and on Saturday morning we went for a walk around the village, to test out our new boots.
Sunday, today is our 34th Wedding anniversary and we woke up to snow and a storm
Steven fed the birds and got some logs in. I stayed in all day, did some cooking, ironing and other jobs around the house, just popped out to take some photos.  Steven went for a walk to the allotment, but I just didn't want to go out in the snow and cold

Sunday 31 January 2021

The end of January

So here we are in the middle of winter and it is cold, as it should be!  

Normal sort of week, just working, cleaning and shopping.  On Thursday evening I hosted our WI cake club on Zoom.  This subgroup is normally held in a back room of a pub and everyone gets to try each others cake, but in Covid times this is held on Zoom with no chance of tasting.  The theme for this month was healthy treat, two ladies made flapjack, one a fruit cake and another a banana loaf.  As I am trying to be extra healthy I did not make anything apart from a bowl of popcorn.  On Friday I met my friend and here dog and went for a walk, which was good, but we didn't go too far as she can only manage 1 hour walking due to her health, but it was good to chat with someone.

Saturday was absolutely freezing cold, it rained and sleeted all day, so apart from a quick dash to the market I stayed in all day and spent sometime watching the birds from my window.  This weekend is the Big garden Birdwatch, counting how many birds you observe in one hour and then upload to the RSPB website


I topped up the feeders, grabbed my binoculars and a cup of coffee and watched.  During the hour I saw loads of starlings, some long tailed tits, a blue tit, some green finches, a crow and couple of pigeons, blackbirds and two Magpies

Here is a photo taken from the RSBP webiste of some longtailed tits, they looked exactly like this from my window, but with only a phone camera I couldn't get a good photo!


Today started bright and sunny so headed out to the greenhouse to sow some seeds: 

Onions - Long Red Florence, Bedfordshire Champion, Isobel Rose, which I grew last year, lovely pink onions, and some from seed I saved last year, but don't know the variety.

Peppers: Sweet Banana and Corbaci, Chilli Pepper - Eureka

Leeks - Carantan 2

Aubergines- Striped Toga, tried to grow these last year, but only produced tiny fruits, trying again this year

Herbs - Greek oregano, parsley, Corriander and Chervil, all old seed, will see if they germinate

Flowers: Orlaya Grandiflora white Lace

All these seeds are now on a warm window sill in the house, until they germinate

I pricked out some flower seedlings that I had sown in the autumn - Larkspur, Veronika and Rudbekia, all into modules in the green house .

Found some more bulbs that I had forgotten to pot, so popped these into pots in the green house - dwarf daffodils and some pink tulips

I also set the potato seeds out in trays to chit, these are in the porch, the coolest part of the house.

Finished week two of Caroline Girvans Epic 2 workouts, and lost another pound, which is great.


Sunday 24 January 2021

New boots and potatoes

Not a singe flake of snow here, but from looking at Instagram it seems everyone else in the country had loads.  It was very cold today with a hard frost this morning, not a day for walking or allotmenting so headed into town to do some shopping.

I have only had my walking boots for around one year, thought they were fine when I got them, but soon found out they were just too small.  After about 4 miles my feet really began to hurt especially my toes, so before we walk another step I needed to get new boots.  We watched some really interesting You Tube videos last night on how to choose outdoor clothes and boots.  I checked that Go Outdoors was open, the website said for essential items only and these were essential!

 After much deliberation, walking up and down and up and down the little bridge I chose these very soft and squidgy Peter Storm boots.

Wearing them in

After watching all the videos last night, I also ordered some walking socks, a rain coat or Outer Shell jacket and a waterproof fleece jacket.  Can't wait to get all my new kit and go out for a walk..  Have a couple to local walks along the Stour and Orwell Path to do, so will spend a little time with my map and plan them out this week and hope for a dry weekend ,

While we were out we popped over to Dean's Nursery in Great Bromley to get the seed potatoes for the allotment.  We have been buying them from this nursery for a few years as they sell them by weight and you can buy as many as you need, which is great as none go to waste.

 Last year we left it too late and had to order online, so was determined to get there on time this year.  We chose Aaron Pilot - enough for one row and two rows of Maris Bard, these are both earlies.  One row of Salad potatoes - Charlottes, these always do well on our plot and are great for potato salad and having with BBQ's.  For main crop we have Sarpo Mira - great for big baking potatoes, Sentanta -  again big potatoes and blight resistant and a new one to try - Orla, the pack says good for growing organically, which we do.  I will get them out and lay them on trays to start chitting soon.   

Next job is to sort through all my seeds, see what we have over and make a plan of what is needed and then get things ordered.  Hope to do that this week as the onions, leeks, peppers, chillis and aubergines really do need sowing now


Friday 22 January 2021

Surviving lock down 3

 Just over 2 weeks of this current lock down have passed and it feels like months.  I am really missing the gym, not been since Christmas Eve when it closed again.  In the summer I started running outside and completed two challenges, the first month was to run a marathon distance (26 miles) in total over the month of March, which I did in 5Km runs.  Then in April I crossed the Chanel and much further.  I carried on running every couple of days across the summer until the gym re-opened in August.  Went to the gym 3 times a week and was really beginning to see some progress, then it closed again in November. I went for a run and found that I had knocked 5 minutes of the time it took me to do the same run in the summer.  I might have stopped to take an extra photo in the summer, but was feeling much fitter than I was in March.  But now it is either too dark or too wet or too cold or too muddy to run outside, so needed something else.

I have tried various workouts on YouTube, but this week discovered Caroline Girvan and her Epic 2 programme.  The first thing I liked about her is her accent, Irish, not American like so many of the Youtubers, which I don't get on with.  The programme is 5 times a week for the next 10 weeks.  I have managed 4 this week, with still one workout to do over the weekend.  Each session is hard, far too many squats, but I quite like it!  Lots of weights, which I love, just need to get some heavier ones, but need to decide what to get.  

Combining this with counting calories and logging everything on MyfitnessPal, I am tracking everything with a view to loosing a few pounds..  Rather proud of -2lb in two weeks.

The other thing that is keeping me occupied is stitching and crochet.  I have a long term crochet blanket project on the go, but have also been doing some cross stitch, just finished this

 The kit had the word "Welcome" in the box, but I changed it to our house number.

Sunday 17 January 2021

Winter weekend

Hey!  Guess what?  I am back.  After a 7 year break from blogging I am back.  A few weeks ago I realised that I missed my blog and wanted to start again, however I could not find my passwords, but tonight I cracked it and I am back in.  So where to start?  I think that I will just start with today - why not?

After a very busy few weeks, the ones leading up to Christmas and those following with 2 birhtdays there was lots going on, but this weekend there was nothing planned, no where to go as we are once again in lock down, so a quiet lazy weekend.  Saturday morning we woke up to snow, always exciting, and I love watching the flakes flutter down from the sky, so I stayed in bed and watched for a bit.

Had a parcel to post, so we wrapped up warm and walked to the post office and then a bit further, the snow then turned to rain and it was cold, we headed home to the warm and stayed in all afternoon.  Early evening we popped out to get our Tesco click and collect shopping and on the way reminisced that we used to go out on 

a Saturday night, out dancing, where I would get dressed up, hair and make up done and dance the night away.  That seems like a life time ago, even though it is only 11 months since we last went.  I miss it so much, and wonder if we will ever go again?

Today, Sunday was a much different day, with clear skies, sunshine and a bit warmer, we headed out for a long walk.  Debating how far we could go decided on Alton Water.  A short drive from home, only 6 miles but we had never been there - why ever not, no idea.

Leaving the car park we walked alongside the reservoir and across the dam, the wind was blowing across the water and it was quite chilly,  Then down a very muddy track through the woods and alongside a stream

 It was very pretty through here, after a while we came out on the road, near the Mill, crossed the road and headed down another footpath

At the end of this footpath we emerged from the trees onto the bank of the river Stour


Beautiful views along here, looking out across the river, to the side we are more familiar with, our own side of the river.

 We climbed down the bank to a little beach and sat down to eat our picnic lunch, just a roll and snack bar.  Looking to the far left we could see the industrial silos at Parkstone.  Directly opposite on the other bank, with binoculars we could see the beach huts at Wrabness, and to the right the TV mast at Bradfield.  After a short break we headed off to the end of this path along the bank and then across the fields to Stutton Church.

 Quite a pretty church at the end of a dead end lane, which was lined with some big grand houses, some had tennis courts and I am sure all had lovely views of the river.  Past an interesting wall

And on into the village of Stutton..  Along another lane and across fields until we reached the reservoir  and back to the car.

 I loved this walk, so many different things to see. I found this walk, whilst researching The Stour and Orwell Path, which we picked up along the river bank.  We also followed part of this 40 mile walk a couple of weeks ago when we walked in Pin Mill.  So would love to do more of this walk and I am planning on buying a map of the area and marking off where we walk.

Today's walk - 8KM or 5 miles, 2 1/2 hours, including stopping for lunch.  Parking £3.70