Our Snow Days Became Baking Days – Is The Gym Open Yet?

4A91CBDC-D755-49B3-8CF1-F433031E30F4I spent an entire week confined to barracks because I can’t bear the minus temperatures and icy winds, or risk a fall on the ice. My husband couldn’t go out on his usual bike rides and we’d also chosen this week to have the hall parquet flooring restored, which meant open external doors. We had blizzard conditions here and the woodburner was our best friend. So was the oven. We spent the whole week cooking, but mostly baking, and if the weather doesn’t improve soon, I’ll be needing a bigger size in jeans!

This was just one day’s production line:


D14E5C63-6F6C-4E66-A9C5-39B82C1583B2My husband made bread rolls (and next day a wholemeal loaf), I made a Mango & Raisin Crumble with Oaty Topping, some Scones from the leftover crumble and some Curried Squash Soup! The next day I made a Coconut Cake.

9D4DC69F-4FDA-467C-A5E2-65F1ED6E4392My husband, on finishing the cake said ‘We should do this every week,’ to which I replied ‘I don’t think so, there’s no more room for my waistline!’ We even had crumble with Coconut Custard for late breakfast one morning, very decadent.

At the beginning of the week, I’d attempted to make flapjacks. The mixture looked amazing in the tray. Tasted good, too. Unfortunately, I spent far too much time talking to the floor man and didn’t keep my eye on it, so it was a tad overcooked and I forgot to cut it up before it went cold. So it became granola!

(The floor turned out nicely, though:


Thankfully, it was a much easier task than the other two rooms we’d had done in previous years as it didn’t have to be relaid. It was finished in two days).

My husband made some Welsh cakes – a bit like fruit scones – and our son jokingly said, send some down! So we did, with some granola. However, they were snowed in, there were no shopping deliveries and no mail deliveries until 5 days later! We were convinced they would go straight in the bin, but my son gave them the thumbs up and was very appreciative.

719CAC7A-861A-4A48-8CAE-9F7A86FDE4F0On Friday morning, my husband walked the mile to the gym in snow and icy winds for a spin class, but the only exercise he got was the walk there and back and the half hour in between, clapping his arms around his body trying to keep warm! The class was cancelled due to the snow, but the instructor was unable to contact him. He did get a free session out of it for the next week, though.

As for me and my waistline, well, I surprised myself when shortly after the thaw, and despite the still chilly temperatures, I managed to walk My First 10,000 Steps.

*Since I wrote this, the snow decided to pay another visit at the weekend, and this was the result:

From left, clockwise: Chocolate & Coconut Tarte, Gingerbread Ducks & Chicks, Vegan, Gluten-free Pizza.  There has to be an end to snowdays soon, surely?

Copyright: Chris McGowan

One of those days …

Please excise any serious typos  – there, I made one already, excuse came out as excise – I am injured. Not seriously. Hardly at all in fact, just enough to make typing a hit and miss affair. This morning has been one of those mornings when a couple of things happened to knock the day slightly off kilter and then you’re waiting for the other thing to happen. You know… disasters come in threes and all that. Although mine are more mishap than disaster, but still…

First thing happened when I was barely awake. Actually, no, that’t not right. First thing happened while I was still snuggled under the duvet. I missed the snow! I’ve been waiting all winter and the first real smattering we have comes down before I’ve opened my eyes and by the time I’ve stirred, it’s gone.


(This is from 15th January for illustrative purposes. It lasted all of 5 minutes as did last night’s –  apparently).

I thought back to last weekend when my two-year-old grand-daughter, who has never experienced snow but is obssessed with it, had a long, forthright argument with me during a heavy hailstorm. She was entranced, kneeling up at the window eyes alight with amazement, mouthing ‘It’s snowing, look it’s snowing!’ in such a small voice overcome by the wonder of it all. We all tried to tell her they were hailstones, but she held firm and fast to her fantasy, and we finally agreed, yes, it was snowing.

Disappointed, I got up and went to the bathroom. We had a West Wing marathon last night and as I came out I was still drowsily thinking about it all when I was brought up short by a searing pain as I trapped my finger in the door and caught it on the edge of the catch. After all the usual squeezing of said finger while hopping around shouting and receiving no help – as always when disaster strikes, everyone has headed for the hills and you realise you’re on your own – I looked down and saw blood dripping down the bannister, pouring from my nail bed as my finger throbbed. Those cartoon disasters came to mind where a character gets hit on the head or hand and a huge lump forms and throbs in lurid colours.  It was a tiny cut, but you’d have thought that at the very least my nail and fingertip were missing, what with all the pain and blood.

Please note: there really should be an image here of my injured finger, but I spared you the sight of it. (You wouldn’t have been able to see it anyway without floodlights and magnifying glass! – ed.)

I made it to the kitchen and thrust my finger under the cold water in an attempt to staunch the bleeding. It carried on. I couldn’t get to the plasters in the cupboard without leaving a trail of blood the likes of which you only see in episodes of CSI! I grabbed a clean tea towel and held it around the finger but every time I tried to release it, the blood gushed. Honestly, it was the tiniest cut, you’d need a magnifying glass to see it. (Told you! – ed.)

Finally, my husband returned from his cycle ride and managed to get a plaster onto the finger. Crisis over. I listened to his usual recounting of where he went, how many miles, how fast, who he saw, punctures etc etc (well, listening might be overstating it a bit), as I got my morning juice out of the fridge and a straw from the cupboard. Intending to seem fascinated, I turned to ask him a question and…

I caught the straw with my sleeve, the jar went over and before my husband had even managed to remove his helmet and cycling shoes, he was on his knees dealing with the second disaster: sticky orange liquid was oozing across the kitchen counter, down the cupboards and fridge, soaking into the hanging tea towels, the leg of my jeans, the tops of my trainers and across the floor!

And then:

There were no ripe bananas for my breakfast smoothie! Now I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is so insignificant as not to be worthy of a mention. But in the context of my morning, this really is a disaster. They were green as green could be. So I decided to use avocado and just put things together and see how it turned out. I had some coconut milk that needed using up, a kiwi fruit, some romaine lettuce. A little wheatgrass powder. I imagined a vibrant green smoothie. But I couldn’t leave well alone and I added blueberries and açaì powder. I got khaki! And it was so thick I could have taken a knife and fork to it! But it tasted a lot better than it looks, really it did. Recipe here.


So that was my morning. My husband fared a little better, he is back cycling after a 9 month lay-off following an accident and a broken arm that needed some metalwork. But he posted a birthday card to his cousin and then realised he’d forgotten to put the stamp on. Then of course he had to start washing floors and cupboards and jeans when he arrived home.

But I think the worst disaster is still to come.

The final episode of West Wing. Nooooooo!

Ps But the sun is shining!

Copyright: Chris McGowan