Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Friday, 23 August 2013

A Punnet of Cherries

We are at the end of the cherry season here in the UK, which I didn't know until I "Googled" cherries; (I do that a lot, "Google", that is.)  I also didn't know that they are a "fleshy drupe", a description which doesn't conjure up anything delightful, in my mind.  

What I do know is that my Dad loved them.  An enduring summertime memory from my childhood, is of my Dad handing out cherries from a brown paper bag, as we walked along on family days out.  

Today, while I was out picking up some groceries for the long weekend I bought some cherries.

We could have scoffed them between us, Muse and I.  Instead I made muffins - cherry and white chocolate muffins.  Let me tell you, they are good.  Really they are, make them!

Here is how they turned out.


I ate this one.  

Want to try them out for yourself?  Good, here is the recipe and the method.


250g self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
140g cherries (you could use dried)
100g bar of white chocolate cut into chunks
100g castor sugar
2 eggs, beaten
150ml greek yogurt
100g butter, melted
pinch of salt

Here's what you do with them thar ingredients:

1. heat oven to 180 (this is for a fan oven), you'll need to crank it up a little for a regular oven
2. pop your paper cases into your muffin tin
3. sift the flour, bicarb and salt into a bowl
4. stir in the cherries, chocolate and sugar
5. add the beaten eggs, melted butter and yogurt and stir so all the ingredients are combined, but don't go nuts, over-stirring will cause the muffins to turn our tough (urgh)
6. spoon the mixture into the paper cases and pop into the over for about 20 mins


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

77 Miles

Progressing on from my short duration bicycle rides; this July I completed my first (of many) bicycle tour.  The majority of the journey was made on the traffic free paths of the Sustrans National Cycle Network.

Abergavenny is not very far from where I live as the crow flies or by car, probably not more than 20 miles.    So yes, using the cycle paths extended the journey but I have seen the countryside that surrounds me from a completely different perspective, which has given me a greater appreciation for where I live and how easy it is to get out and see something beautiful.   

Destination - Abergavenny
Mileage - 77 miles
Duration - 4 days
Bike - 15 year old purple Raleigh Mountain Bike
Fellow adventurer -  Muse Kidd
Accommodation: 2 nights camping, 1 night B&B

* National Cycle Route

Day 1 - Tuesday 9th July 2013

Weather: Gloriously sunny and hot
Destination: Newport, Tredegar House
Miles: 20
*NCR used: 47 (through Sirhowy Valley Country Park, I have written about this route here), 4 and some road (3 miles approx)
Start time: 10am
Arrival time: 2pm
Pace: leisurely
Stops: Whysom's Wharf on Monmouthshire Brecon canal path (Crumlin arm) route 47.  Perfect tea/coffee, snack stop, lovely setting and friendly folks.  Camping also available.

Check out my snaps!

Like our little trailer?  it served us very well!

Steps are not so trailer friendly, luckily we didn't encounter many.

Setting up camp, that's my bike!

Muse is happy to be here.  

This is Tredegar House

There is a path around the lake, it's beautiful.

Dogs like it.

Hug a tree?

A note about Tredegar House: you can find more about this National Trust property here .  Guided tours of the house are available, you can walk the grounds at your leisure, as we did.  Lovely tea room and assorted shops.  The camping facilities are great, the site is run by the Caravan Club.

Day 2 - Wednesday 10th July 2013

Weather: Gloriously sunny and hot
Destination: Blossom Camping park, Abergavenny
Miles: 28
*NCR used: 4, 47, 49, 46, 42.  We also used the train for a short hop from Newport to Pontypool.  I wasn't looking forward to this part, but it was very straightforward, the station and train staff where very friendly and helped us on and off with our bikes, trailer and panniers.  Approximately 1/2 mile on road, from the train station at Pontypool to join the cycle path.
Start time: 10.08am
Arrival time: 7.15pm
Pace: leisurely
Stops: (Includes 2 hour stop in Newport for lunch and waiting for a train.)Newport Arts centre, Goytre Wharf and various places along the way to take pictures.

Check out my snaps!

River Usk at Newport

Why wouldn't you want to cycle this canal path?

Check out the views to my left.

We went under plenty of these!

We saw plenty of these too, all colours and sizes.

Check out the views to my right.

You thought all my stuff was in the trailer, right?  Wrong!

Your can find out more about the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal and the Blaenavon World Heritage site here.

Destination reached.

View of the sugarloaf, from the campsite.

Whilst the campsite is lovely; each pitch lined with pear trees, flat and grassy: the showers and facilities are super clean and well maintained.  BUT the haul up to it is gruesome! Particularly after a long day riding.  We had intended to stay 2 nights, but we wanted to spend the day looking around Abergavenny the following day and I didn't fancy climbing that hill again.  So we booked into a B&B for the following night. 

Day 3 - Thursday 11th July 2013, Rest day

Weather: Gloriously sunny and hot
Miles: 1 downhill from campsite into Abergavenny!

Pre-breakfast, cuppa and a slice of malt loaf. 

Coffee time

Bailey park, Abergavenny

The Blorange at sunset

Day 4 - Friday 12th July 2013

Weather: Gloriously sunny and hot
Destination: Home
Miles: 28
*NCR used: 46 and 467 
Start time: 10am
Arrival time: 5.30pm
Pace: leisurely
Stops: Brynmawr for lunch

The first 10 miles of the ride home from Abergavenny is a steady 10 mile climb through The Clydach Gorge.  If you follow the main road it is a steep beastie, one I would not entertained pedalling up; the cycle path however, is a lot more forgiving.  Most of it follows old rail lines and is easy to ride, with the exception of one steep hill.  The Gorge is rich with heritage from Wales' industrial past. The Clydach Ironworks which was constructed in the 1790's and the Llanelly Furnace there were also Limeworks in the area.

Old rail line, now a path.

This is a view of the path above from the other side.

The 10 miles from Abergavenny through the Clydach Gorge up to Brynmawr are quiet, scenic and traffic free.  From Brynmawr onward the cycle route is on roads and shared pavements following loosely the Heads of the Valley road to Tredegar, from Tredegar it is downhill all the way to Blackwood (or very nearly).  

At Pochin the cycle path returns to traffic free, look.  

Ain't that a beautiful path, wasn't that a beautiful ride?