Walking for health, wealth and breakfast

Depending which experts you believe, millennials are the first generation that are either going to live routinely into their nineties or have shorter lifespans than their parents. We may need to stay economically active well into old age, so good health is a must.

I am not as fit as I should be at the tender age of 32. As a student, I walked miles every day by necessity and did frequent fieldwork in rugged terrain that saw me slim down and strengthen up. Walking is free (except for shoe pleather), low impact and lets you experience the world in a way that travelling by car or bus doesn't. It's also a great, environmentally sound way of getting from A to B without spending a penny. 

I've been making real efforts to get out of the house this month. So far this week I've walked 17.5 miles, not including the school run and a trip to the shops, not too shabby for a snow week. Today's mileage was a  solid 7.5 miles. We stopped halfway at a great little cafe near the harbour for a Full English (vegan of course) and made our way back via the wholefood store for a slice of peanut butter cheesecake. Life is good.

We saw this fella:

The blackthorn blossom is out and looking fine in the university park. I'm starting to pay more attention to my local flora and fauna once again. Did you know that blackthorn flowers before it leafs, whereas hawthorn leafs then flowers? I did not.

Street smarts:

 I feel most of my woes in life could be solved by being more like student me, she was a smart cookie.


Snippets - Beastly Easterly edition

I don't think I've experienced cold like this since I was a nipper back in Norfolk. I imagine I would find it utterly charming if I lived back in the Old County, in a house like this (I'm on a tiny house kick again):

Back in the real world, I live in a city that has ground almost to a halt because the pavements are ice rinks. I do however have a roof over my head and a full storecupboard; and I am not worried about fuel poverty or food poverty or slipping and breaking something and not being able to work, or pipes bursting because I can't afford to heat the house. Back in this real world, I am truly blessed; many other households have these worries right now.

What to do if you see a homeless person sleeping rough in the snow - Metro

Freezing cold house with no central heating  - MSE Forum

Keeping warm in a winter weather emergency (pdf) - Bob Waldrop - if you are struggling with no heating/fuel poverty.

How to run the economy on the weather  -  Low Tech Magazine - a timely read for  a country that almost ran out of gas yesterday.

I've been reading this book and its fascinating, if not vegan:

The chapter on fuels and fireplaces is a comforting read right now. I want a cauldron.


A wintry walk

It's a bit parky here. The 'Beast from the East' propelled me along the beach this afternoon which was quite invigorating. The beach was deserted bar that lone figure in the distance, even the seagulls were sitting it out at sea. I realised that there was no turning back unless I wanted to lose my nose to frostbite, and so my mile long walk turned into a 3 1/2 mile winding route home that kept me perpendicular to the wind.

I nipped into a charity shop on the way and found these two Le Parfait jars for £1.50. I will be making jam later this week and now know for sure that I have enough jars. The lovely yellow cotton fabric was another £1.50, it's going to be a throw for an ugly burgundy tub chair.

Stay snug!


Small swaps and a simple knitting project

Last weekend, when it looked like winter was done and spring was here (it's 4⁰ in the sun right now, gotta love British weather) we took a walk along the shoreline. Whilst the kids collected crabs legs and amputee starfish, Mr PL and I collected this:

All from a narrow 200m stretch of shoreline, and only as much as we could carry without a bag. There was much more to pick up; and we focused on the stuff that we thought could do immediate damage to our sea life. One of the things we found but didn't pick up was a kitchen sponge, the kind with the scratchy plastic scourer on one side.

I haven't used one in years and have tried a variety of alternatives, including crocheted and knitted cloths (no abrasion but great for wiping and damp dusting), loofahs (expensive if you can't grow them yourself), wooden brushes (expensive and short lived) and steel scourers (great for tough baking stains).

These days, along with a steel scourer for tough stains, I use one of these:

I whipped these up from a large ball of jute garden twine I bought to wrap Christmas presents; just 20 rows of garter stitch worked across 17 stitches on 5 mm knitting needles. They tick all the boxes. They are just abrasive enough to remove sauce gack, don't scratch glass and they dry quickly. They are cheap too - my £2.50 ball of twine from Wilko's is probably enough to make 7 or 8 of these.

If you don't know how to knit, this Youtube video series explains the basics very well. These would make a great 1st project after you've mastered the basics, much quicker and more useful than the misshapen scarf that I made when I learnt to knit!



Ful medames

I made ful medames using the recipe card that came with my Hodmedod's order (helpfully they've put their recipes online).

Whilst not entirely authentic (this Claudia Rosen version looks pretty good), and the beans having taken significantly longer to soften than the suggested 1 hour, they were delicious. Even the pickiest among us gobbled them up with the seeded pitta breads from the freezer (yellow-stickered for the win!) and so I can add another dish to my repetoire - another dish that can also be made entirely from pantry ingredients if you substitute dried for fresh herbs.

On the subject of Middle Eastern cuisine, I watched the first two episodes of Nigel Slater's Middle East and I thoroughly recommend it. The Turkey episode blew me away - that 'rootedness' and sense of place that I was banging on about, Nigel banged on about it too. It's available on iPlayer now.


British beans

My first order from Hodmedod's has arrived. This is not a paid advert, I am just that excited that someone is reviving some of our native crops and making our food system a little more resilient.

Everything here is UK grown. I plan on replacing all of my usual imported pulses with these - carlin peas can sub for chickpeas, haricot for any small bean, marrowfat peas for soups and purees. The camelina seed are interesting, they can be used as a vegan egg replacement much like chia seeds. They also stock British grown quinoa and a few other pulses that I'd like to try next time.

I want my vegan diet to be as ethical as possible, the 'vegan' bit was the easiest choice I had to make in an edible minefield of carbon footprints, habitat destruction and human and animal exploitation. I make my choices as best I can on a modest budget; and usually focus on buying from my local shops, buying British, avoiding overpackaging and buying luxuries like coffee Fairtrade. A 'locavore' diet is not necessarily the most planet friendly, in this instance however replacing my imported pulses has a raft of other benefits:

The handwritten delivery note scribbled on the back of a 10% off voucher for my next order; and a stack of recipe cards is also much appreciated.


A word for 2018

It's February, and past the halfway point at that! I hope that the year is treating you well.

We spent the past week in the Peak District. My southern bones were wearied by the cold, and my East Anglian soul leary of the altitude, but the blue skies and quiet landscape pulled together by snow were a soothing winter tonic.

There were vegan options everywhere to fortify me against the cold, so that helped. I find that tea and cake helps in most situations.

Whilst away, I finished reading my first book of 2018, If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie. Part autobiography, part eulogy to Celtic myth and legend, and part self help book; I picked it up on a whim expecting it to not be my cup of tea. Instead, I've spent much of the week reevaluating my place in the world and all that I have forgotten.

Rootedness. It is something that I need, something that I have had fleeting grasp of in the past. I've seen rooted people, confident and complete - I'd like to be like them. On my travels I have seen peoples truly rooted in place - rarely in Britain. We have lost much of our native lore, flora, fauna, landscape, community, skills and sustainable ways of being in the world. I would like to recover that.

And so this is my word for 2018. Rootedness. It's already taken root within me and has me questioning everything. What's your word for the coming year?