A healthier dinner

We have this rose tinted idea that when we live in Cornwall every aspect of our lives will be so much healthier.

But I have realised that in actual fact the tinting may not be that unrealistic.

When we were there for 10 days at the start of the month Y had decided that she didn’t want to eat any meat for the whole time we were there. She didn’t quite achieve that as we cooked a slow (super slow) roast leg of lamb for Lou and some of his friends the night before we left as a thank you to everyone for their help and support over the days. But other than that…

What we ate a lot of instead was haloumi. The funny rubbery Greek cheese is tremendously versatile and we had it in all sorts. This salad is a typical lunch that felt perfect when the sun shone, and was OK at other times stuffed into a pitta bread as a kebab, and we even tried roasting it on the barbecue. It doesn’t melt like normal cheese.

Healthier dinner What I’d like to eat more of is lentils. If a restaurant offers a dish on a bed of lentils I will usually buy it as i love the little jewels, but I don’t know what to do with them if I just buy a bag of dried ones. The Merchant Gourmet ones are good though, you just pop them into the gravy of whatever you’re eating.

So maybe it’s jet possible that our diet may improve with our move west, although we must also consider that regular trips to the chip shop which has just changed hands are likely, and if The Square starts doing good pizzas….

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Would you like to move abroad?

Living abroad is so very different to travelling a lot. We were disputing this topic in The Star one of the evenings when Y and I were in St Just earlier in the month and it all came about when we were saying about our plans to move to the far west permanently within a few years.

Most people who actually follow their dreams and upticks from Britain in search of warmer climes will then settle in that new place, probably taking holidays back to Britain to see friends and family.

So why do they do it? Well how long have you got? The first thing most emigrants will quote is the weather. Yet despite Southern Europe, the Emirates and the US being popular destinations, many Britons also flee to the Scandinavian countries, and wether there is pretty harsh indeed through the winter, it’s darker too.

What are the big considerations? Unless you have already retired, or you’re about to retire then you’re going to need to work. Within the European Economic Area that’s fairly straightforward provided you can speak the language wherever you end up. You’ll need to be good too if you want to command a good salary. If you have retired language will be more of a comfort thing. It can feel rather lonely after a while not having much idea of what’s going on around you.

Money will be a big thing in other ways too. I don’t mean just earning it, but all the things that money has to do for you -your insurance, for health, for your income, for your pensions, and for whatever property you live in. Bank accounts, they’re notoriously difficult to open in Britain these days so imagine what it could be like abroad. Just paying bills is time consuming until you have all these things sorted out properly.  I read this useful article on the This Is Money site that I’ve bookmarked to refer friends to who are thinking of taking the plunge.

I think that it could be hugely exciting and I wouldn’t put anyone off. Hey, let’s face it, if the Cornwall move doesn’t work for us then we’d love to do a stint in the far south west of France. I love the idea of France because I speak the language, but then popping over to Spain now and then.

Now, where did I leave my Pesos?

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A walk to Sennen in the evening

To Sennen in the eveningWith the evenings now so much lighter it’s a joy to head out the the pub and somehow it feels like a treat, whereas when you go in the winter it is more of a retreat to the comfort and warmth.

Last evening it was warm and sunny so we headed over to Lou’s at Tregiffian, and then down to The Old Success for a couple of pints of HSD. Hick’s Special Draught is named after Walter Hicks, one of the founding family of the St Austell Brewery. Lou always tells us stories of when the beer was aged in wooden casks and would be completely flat when poured, but seem to be halucinegenic. Apparently two pints might have left you legal to drive (back then) but in absolutely no state to do so.

It was good going down to Sennen, a couple of drinks, a wlak back to Lou’s. But then the fact dawned on us that we then had to haul our tired arses back to St Just, another three and three quarters of a mile away.

It was long dark by the time we hit the city limits, it always makes our new friends around here laugh when I call it that, and although we really wanted to get to bad, we decided to nip into the Star for a final swift half (well, OK, a pint and a half) before having an amazing sleep.

I’ll fill in the gaps from the purchase over the next week or so I hope. We’re here on a long break with the intention of getting some basic works done, and truly getting our heads around the longer term plan.

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Food poisoning, or fast dieting for the weak of will.

I was working for a few days in North Yorkshire last week and visited a fantastic looking castle hotel just north of Durham (is that County Durham? probably). We were shooting some film for an advert and it involved climbing out onto a precarious roof top turret – exciting but blinking scary.
It was a lovely day and we were all happy to be outside after the long winter. The castle was never built as an actual fort, but it is very old – like 1500 or something. Kings and villains have stayed there, and there’s an underground tunnel where the catholic priests used to hide, or flee to a neighbouring house when the protestant forces would come hunting for them.
The hotel and its rooms were lovely and made me want to come and stay in the future, but the attached pub restaurant wasn’t so exciting. We were desperate for a meal after hours outside and we came in at the end of the carvary lunch service and it didn’t look appetising.
I’m prepared to say that I caught a bug as I was the only one to suffer out of the group, but within half an hour I was double ending in the toilets. That carried on for the rest othe day and I felt rotten for the next two days. It was a whole lot more effective than going on a diet, but I’m sure the shed pounds will go back on as soon as I have re-hydrated.

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Grand Hotel Budapest

Go and see this film.

See it if you love language.

See it if you love beauty found in obscure settings.

See it if you just love a good laugh.

Or see it for the cast – Ralph Finnes is wonderful and plays the part so well. Wes Anderson’s direction seems perfect to me and I’d go to see it again given the chance, although I do want to see Her as well.

We went to the Manchester Printworks which is hardly a cheap cinema, but it was a lovely experience.

There are a score of cameos too, and ever Jeff Goldbloom gets a rare outing – good to see the tall guy back on the screen.

We followed it up with a great meal in a new restaurant that was new to us in the badlands of Ancoats – it was called Lotus Flower, or maybe Lotus Blossom, but it’s a Vietnamese opposite the huge Chinese Wing Yip. There are two Vietnamese almost next to each other and I hope they end up creating a little area like the south end of London’s Kingsland Road where there is a thriving collection of Vietnamese which are all made cheaper by not being licensed, and then serve excellent and healthy seeming meals.

It’s a winner all around.

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Travel unencumbered

Travel unencumbered

You know what puts me off traveling unless I can go by car?

It’s baggage. That and leg room.

I’ll cover off the legroom first – I’m six foot three, not a giant by any stretch of the imagination, but you’d think so from the pathetic space you get on the majority of budget airlines. If I can’t blah an exit seat then I’m one unhappy traveller.

And then there’s the baggage situation.

I travel light, always have. That’s because as a student I had to be able to carry everything I took away with me in my rucksack and I have never gotten out of the habit.

My lovely wife on the other hand has a completely different view on the whole thing.

Y has to take everything she owns, including all her cosmetics, perfumes and God knows what else. When the ban on liquids in hand luggage came in she didn’t see it as a problem as she could just take more but check in her bags.

I was horrified by that!

The amount of time wasted waiting for the silly baggage trolley could have been spent every time in whatever place we were flying to, but that never bothers her.

Now however we have found the perfect solution -we ship our baggage, wherever we’re going. And it has transformed my attitude to travel. Send my bag is a sweet little app from sendmybag.com that helps us get the whole process underway. It’s generally cheaper than checking your bag into a so called budget airline, but best of all it means that you don’t have to touch your bag from before you leave home to arriving at your destination, whether that’s in the UK or abroad.

Genius.

Now, I just need to work out a solution for my long legs!

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St Just – the end of the world, the start of our new world.

It feels so exciting today to pull into St Just.

I have always loved the place, but from now on we own a little part of it.

We are both thrilled to a degree that surprises us both, especially since we know the house is going to be a huge come down when we go there – still ugly inside and out, still smelly from the old lady’s dog. But it’s the start of something new for us, something we have wanted to do for such a very long time.

We pull up outside of the estate agents, not the slick kid you get in London or Manchester, Philip Wilkins is a seasoned player, he’s been looking after St Just for decades, and there’s not much he doesn’t know. He shakes out hands and passes us an enormous bunch of keys and wishes us well. I guess he has seen a few blow ins over his years, and he’ll wonder whether we’ll make it through our first winter, whether we’ll spend the rest of our lives trying to get our plans approved.

And then, ten minutes after we arrived into St Just we’re in.

These photos will look pretty uninspiring to anyone but the two of us. But for us, it’s all we have thought about for months, and the excitement is worth bottling and selling.

The YardYard and garden

 

We sat on the floor in the old lady’s bedroom upstairs, drank a bottle of fizz from paper cups.

And cried tears of joy!

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St Piran’s Day

We have to leave the gorgeous comfort of Lou’s luxury self catering cottage at Tregiffian and head back to the north, but today is actually St Piran’s Day – the national(!) saint’s day of Cornwall. There were parades and all sorts in Penzance on Saturday, and today there’ll be a lot more pasties consumed than usual in St Just and indeed across Cornwall.

Classic Cornish Mining Scene, Crown Mines.This is one of the old mine sites that Lou took us to when we came this far west in the first place, it’s at Botallack, and while it looks wonderfully romantic now, the thought of working in the horrendous conditions that the miners endured back then sends a shiver through me. At this place, which is on the north coast and has a great little pub called the Queen’s, ironically run by two gays, there was a disaster when the crazy cart that carried them down to the first level broke free sending a dozen or so miners crashing down the near 45 degree slope to their death – grim!

On a brighter note, they all had St Piran’s Day as a holiday and there’d be drinking and eating in all the streets of all the towns and villages with mining at their core.

Neither of us have any desire to leave here today. But alas we must – we have to earn the money to pay for our crazy indulgence.

 

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It’s ours!

It felt all wrong completing on the house a fortnight ago and not being there on the instant that the transaction completed to collect the keys.

But we’re en route now.

We left home after work and rather than drive all the way, but have to turn up at Lou’s late at night, we decided that we’d blow another fifty quid and stay in a motel on the way. And brilliant it is too.

Right now Y is curled up in the corner on her tablet (or maybe sleeping), we have had a coupe of cans of Fosters, and now fast supping our way through a cheap bottle of wine from the Co-op‘s wine clearance sale (what a great idea, we bought five fabulous bottles of their Valpolicella which we usually pay a fiver for at just three quid a bottle last Saturday). The room is big enough for us and the dog, and it means we’ll arrive at mid day on Saturday, get the keys, run around the house a bit and get excited, then with a bit of luck we’ll be allowed by the girls to slide into The Star for a few pints of HSD.

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The Star was what attracted Lou to St Just in the first place apparently. He often talks of the first impression of irreverent riotousness he encountered there in the old days of Rosie and her Pete. They used to love a bit a bit of singing and encouraged all sorts of music.

Anyway. Breakfast at Collumpton McDonalds and we should be there before noon. We’re more excited than we dare admit (though I’m sure the girl is asleep in the corner).

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Four weeks rest – that hurts

I haven’t ridden for four weeks.

A week off the bike is often good – you have a proper rest, feel great when you get back on, and go like hell if you’re lucky.

Two weeks rest starts to tell. You realise that we’re not built to maintain peak form – or if we are then it’s a damn shame that we lose it so quickly.

Three weeks rest and you have the double trouble of a sore arse after the first few rides. People who don’t ride often get this every time – poor sods, I don’t know how or why they bother with the second ride after the first experience of the pain.

Four weeks off is silly.

I rode today. Just now in fact. And now I feel sick.

I feel sick, my arse hurts, I’m coughing non stop, and the coughs lead to the dog barking, and a barking dog leads to me shouting, and so it goes around.

I fell off a few weeks back. Took the bike for repairs, then did the Glasgow job, then was just too busy, but didn’t even have the opportunity to ride to work.

And then today I tackled a hill at full pelt without having warmed up properly.

I think I may have to go to bed.

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