Friday, 7 January 2022
Monday, 27 September 2021
Sunday 3rd October 2021
Well, we did it! The three of us - GS Alfie, son Ben, and myself - set off at 7.55 yesterday morning, and arrived back at 7.25 yesterday evening. So 11 hours 30; actual walking time was 9.38. We had 3 pitstops, one in a rural cafe, one at a local shop in one of the villages we walked though, and the main one, just after the halfway point, back at my son's house, where we changed into some dry clothing.
Conditions were OK - it was a bit chilly early on, around 10C, and it was overcast - pretty good really.
But it didn't stay that way! The forecast said to expect rain about 11am, but it began to rain about 10 - nothing heavy, but it was steady. The forecast I had seen showed green patches of rain over the Chilterns throughout the day - with the green turning to purple, which indicated heavier rain, for most of it. And so it proved. As soon as it began to rain I donned my poncho - hoping to keep my rucksack dry, and that worked, after a fashion. The rain steadily grew heavier, in line with the forecast. It wasn't comfortable, but there was nothing for it but to plough on. I have a mantra I bring out on these occasions, gleaned from one of the Rich Roll podcasts - "Being comfortable with being uncomfortable."
One of the joys of that first couple of hours was that we had wonderful views of loads of Red Kites, soaring and swooping around us - sometimes just overhead. When the main diet here in the SW is the odd buzzard, this was a treat indeed!
I learned a few things about endurance events, and myself, yesterday. One of them was that once it had been raining steadily for a longish period - say over an hour - rain became the norm, and it no longer bothered us. We all agreed on this. Another was that once my feet were wet - and this was inevitable, since the puddles eventually became too big to avoid - some time after the squelching had gone, my feet began to feel warm and dry again. They weren't, of course, but they felt OK. This was more noticeable with my Asics road trainers than with my Inov8 trail shoes. I had started off wearing my trail shoes, went to change socks at the halfway point, but didn't want to put dry socks into wet shoes - so I rather stupidly put on my dry trainers - which became soaked within 10 minutes of getting back on track!
|15.34 - Glad to get out of these wet shorts! And, taking note of Paul Millson's advice to keep warm, I donned a pair of joggers and an extra fleece which I'd been carrying in my rucksack. So the poncho worked on my top half, at least.|
Knowing that vegan food would possibly be hard to find on the route, I had brought with me a couple of Gregg's vegan sausage rolls, and 4 pre-cooked Richmond meat-free sausages, plus, as a treat, a dozen dates stuffed with marzipan. I planned on having one of these every hour. In the event I had more than enough, and came home with 5 of the dates still uneaten. Not being a fan of hydrating with water, I took along a 1ltr flask with black coffee, and again, I still had half a mug left.
My son had the difficult task of guiding us around the route he had chosen, using a combination of his iPhone and Garmin watch. The rain was so persistent and heavy that he had trouble accessing the phone at times. But he kept us on track for the whole 50k - with about 75% trails and 25% roadwork.
I have to pay tribute to Alfie, who suffered a groin strain when he slipped early on - and he developed the odd blister But he never complained, and just got on with it. I saw a quote from Bob Unsworth, on The Ultra Challenge Club FB page, which I've relayed to Alfie: "Doing it without the adrenaline buzz of an event makes it that much more impressive.”
We did 48k in daylight - just the final 2 in darkness where we needed our head torches. In fact, as the light dwindled, so did the rain, finally. Just as we arrived home! Bloody typical! 😃😃
|19.26 - 3 smiling faces! And why wouldn't we be happy - we'd just smashed 50k in nine and a half hours in the pouring rain, and we only had hot showers, warm, dry clothing and hot or cold drinks and a takeaway in front of us!|
I can't begin to convey the feeling of satisfaction - along with some euphoria - that we all felt, as we finished. It had been a wonderful day, with some real highs, and one or two - very short in duration - lows, it must be said. But the opportunity to test ourselves, in our loved ones company, was something really special. A day I will savour for a long time - an occasion to remember, indeed!
A huge thanks to my supporters - the animals at Pear Tree Farm Sanctuary will also thank you. There's still time to donate - you'll find a link a little further down this blog.
These are the reason I'm fundraising - these guys will get to live out their whole lives in peace and freedom. Surrounded by nothing but love! But it costs money for feed, vets bills, etc. So any pennies you can spare will be hugely appreciated - and put to good use!
|I'll post their names, as soon as I find out from Bex at Pear Tree farm.|
One last thought about my ultra adventures - and my ambition is to do 50 of these before my 100th birthday - or three a year: We can all do more than we think we can! In fact, we can all do much more than we think we can!
(As a treat for reading this far, I give you my chocolate cake recipe, down the side of this post - you'll be glad you did! An 8" cake, with only 5 ingredients and costing around 40p! What's not to like?)
Monday 27th September 2021
I've been holding off posting this update, since my son was unable to arrange childcare for the Chiltern 50 ultra and we were casting around for something to take its place. So, we've had to go to plan B. We still intend to do a 50k - but this time a Virtual one - and plumped for the Virtual Challenge Trek to Kilimanjaro - 50k exactly, over the Chilterns - this coming weekend. And we're to be joined by my grandson, Alfie! But my fundraiser for Pear Tree Farm Sanctuary (link below)is still ongoing - I'm hoping to run it until the week ending 10th October.
My training is going well - walking about 70+km a week, ATM. And, whisper it quietly, I actually did some run/walk this morning, only for about a mile, but it's a start!
22nd August 2021
There's no doubt about it, at least in my experience, ultra marathons are addictive! My friend Alex, who also did the South West Coast 2 Coast last month - his first ultra - is now actively planning to do 10 ultras throughout 2022! And my son, Ben, who also did the ultra with me, took less than a week afterwards to start looking at his next ultra - the Chiltern 50. Then I started thinking about it, and decided - just yesterday - that I would like to do it with him.
Fundraising: When I did my 100k challenge last year, Dean Farm Sanctuary was the beneficiary; For the SWC2C challenge, Viva! benefited. I figure these two charities represent two sides of the same coin. So this time I'm going for another sanctuary - Pear Tree Farm Animal Sanctuary.
The ultra takes place on the 25th of September, so we have 5 weeks to prepare. I thought long and hard about funding it - it costs £130 to self-fund, but only £10 if I was to fund-raise for a charity. This would require me to raise £395 - over 5 weeks I thought this would be doable. But the problem with that is that half of the money has to be with the charity 3 weeks before the ultra.
So I've got 2 weeks to raise £200.
Please donate if you are able to - but if you're a bit short this month, I would appreciate it if you would share this among your friends. :)
And I'm just about to start a fundraiser with Wonderful.org, recommended by Money Saving Expert, they take no commission - every penny goes to the charity - for those not on Facebook.
Monday, 6 September 2021
Tuesday 27th July 2021
Well, I did it! Or at least I completed 70km out of the full 102km. I'll come on to why I had to drop out in a moment, but I want to start at the beginning. But first, I should like to thank everyone who donated to Viva! both on Just Giving, and on Facebook Donate. I finished up raising around £1700 which is absolutely amazing! Thank you, each and everyone of you!😍😍
Here's an article that I wrote an article for the Vegan Runners Newsletter, about the whole adventure - and it was an adventure, it was a complete blast!
Sunday, 5 September 2021
Tuesday, 27 July 2021
200g chopped dates
200g rolled oats
50g peanut butter
Turn oven on to 180C/350F
Soften the dates with the water - I microwave them for 2 minutes.
Add the banana and mix into a paste - I used a hand-held blender for this
Add the oatmeal and the peanut butter - I get mine from our zero waste shop, just pure peanuts
Mix together into a stiff, but very sticky, dough, using a table knife
Place the dough onto a baking paper lined oven tray and press down evenly to your chosen thickness - 5mm or 1/4”. Wet your knife or spoon, whatever you’re using for this.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes, then turn the temp down to 150C/300F for a further 15 minutes.
TBH, I was trying to get them to crisp up a little at this stage, but they still remained a bit soggy - but with a chewy texture.
I also did some in the frying pan over a very low heat. Place spoonfuls of the mixture around the pan, press them flat with the back of a wet spoon. Turn over after 5 minutes. Keep turning over until you think they’re done.
Think I’ll add some cocoa powder next time. And you could add sultanas/seeds to this, no problem. I reckon a pocketful of these would keep you going for a few hours, at least!
23/7/21 - for my latest version, which I took on the ultra, I added:
1 dsp cocoa powder
Thursday, 27 May 2021
One of the guys, who'd seen me coming, had a load of spare change to give me, so another £2.80 goes into the pot.
Thursday, 4 March 2021
|Ciabatta-style spicy fruit soda bread|
|Chocolate cake - with perhaps a little too much cocoa powder|
|Ginger cake, sliced up ready for the freezer. My aim is to have just one chunk per day.|
To bake 3 or more items online with a group of friends. The intention is to make a spicy fruit ciabatta, a chocolate or ginger cake, plus fruit pikelets - and, if time allows, battered mushrooms and banana fritters.
By the end of the session, students will have made a variety of baked goods, and, with the help of recipes, be able to recreate these items to feed their families.
For the fruit soda bread (FSB):
Mixing bowl, scales, stiff palette knife, or table knife, measuring jug, spatula, baking tray lined with baking parchment, oven.
For the cake:
Mixing bowl, measuring jug, scales, dessertspoon, whisk if you have one, spatula, microwave-safe cake former or cake tin 20cm/8”, microwave or oven, cooling rack or tea towel.
For the pikelets and fritters:
Large cereal bowl, dessertspoon, jug, frying pan, hob.
200g self raising flour (or, plain flour plus 2 good teaspoons baking powder)
1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon veg oil (olive oil I find best)
What to expect.
First of all, let me say that this is meant to be a relaxed and enjoyable experience - in fact my first teaching aim for any session of mine is that everyone should have fun - including me!
And my objective is, that everyone who joins in will be able to bring the making of at least one of these baking products into their comfort zone - hopefully all three.
We will wait until everyone has finished each item, before we start with the next recipe.
Fruit soda bread; Chocolate or ginger cake; Battered sausage and/or mushrooms, banana fritters; plain or fruit pikelets.
Oven on to 220C/425F , prepare baking tray - with baking paper (NOT greaseproof! Packet must specify baking paper or parchment), or a non-stick mat. If you have neither of these, then oil a baking tray and sprinkle flour over the oil.
200g (8oz) self raising flour (or, plain flour plus 2 good teaspoons baking powder)
1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
150g (6fl oz) water
1 tablespoon veg oil (olive oil I find best)
Measure the dry ingredients, mix round couple of times to disperse the spice; add the water and add the oil directly into the water.
Mix with a stiff knife, stirring and mixing until the ingredients are mixed thoroughly. It should be a very wet, sticky dough.
Position the bowl directly above your baking tray and scrape the contents carefully out of the bowl, so that they finish up in the middle of the tray.
Smooth the dough, if required, using a wet spatula, or pat any lumps down with wet hands.
Place directly in the oven. Set your timer for 20 minutes
This generally takes me about 10 minutes - but I’m allowing for 30 for everyone to finish. Then we’ll move on to the cake.
Chocolate or ginger cake:
200g (8oz) self raising flour
200g (8oz) sugar
30g (1oz) cocoa powder
300g (12oz) water
1 tablespoon veg oil
Once again, dry ingredients first, a couple of seconds mixing to distribute the ingredients; then add the water and oil. It looks like a very wet mix, but it’s supposed to be wet.
Pour into your prepared 8” (20cm) cake-former/tin or whatever. For the microwave, I now use a large pasta bowl, lined with baking paper. Scrape the bowl with a soft spatula or whatever.
Place in a microwave (800W) for 8 minutes, or in the oven for 35-40. Turn the oven down to 180C/360F when you remove the ciabatta. Test with a skewer to see if it is cooked.
This generally takes me about 5-6 minutes - but I’m allowing for 20 minutes for everyone to finish. Then we’ll move on to the batters.
Battered sausage/banana fritters and plain or fruit pikelets:
First of all, put your frying pan on a low to medium heat, with a little oil if needed.
Place 4 dessertspoons self raising flour in a small bowl and add 3-4 dessertspoons water, plus a pinch of salt. Stir into a thick paste, using the back of the spoon to smooth out any lumps. Carefully add a little more water, stirring all the time, until you achieve a thickish batter - known in some circles as a tempura batter.
Turn the heat up under the frying pan to medium to hot.
Slice the pre-cooked sausage lengthways, then into halves, so you have four pieces. Place these in the bowl and cover each with batter. Lift them out, using a fork, and place them in the frying pan, turning them over when they’re brown underneath.
Or: slice a couple of button mushrooms and repeat the process. Or do both.
Once these are in the frying pan, add a dessertspoon of sugar to the batter and make the banana fritters - it’s exactly the same process.
Check the battered sausage, mushrooms and banana fitters, turning as necessary
Pikelets: thin the batter slightly and place several dessertspoons round the frying pan - these are plain pikelets; then add a small handful of sultanas or raisins to the mix and repeat to make the fruit pikelets.
Not in the programme, but if you were to thin the batter right down, that makes a pancake batter. You don’t need egg replacement or plant milk - you just need s/r flour and water.
Sunday, 3 January 2021
"Our task must be to free ourselves...by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." Albert EinsteinDear reader,
70 billion animals are slaughtered, unnecessarily, every year. Unnecessarily, because both the British Dietetics Association, the American Dietetics Association - and the WHO - have stated that you can live healthily on a whole food, plant-based diet - at any age. And there are vegan alternatives for every food you can think of.
Would you go vegan to help feed the 800 million people suffering from malnutrition in this world?
Would you go vegan out of concern for the slaughterhouse workers?
Would you go vegan to prevent the overuse of antibiotics?
Would you go vegan to help save the Amazon - and all the other rainforests under threat?
But it's the animals that are my main concern - would you, could you, go vegan for the animal's sake?