Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 01

This would be wonderful any day of the week...
Source
Oh my goodness, I'm very excited about this! I stumbled across the glorious world of Wonderful Wednesday on Michelle's hilarious blog and her weekly snippets of good cheer never fail to put a smile on my face to help me through the remainder of the week. The whole idea was actually the brainchild of the lovely Sally and I've decided to jump on this merry little bandwagon too. I thought it would be an excellent idea to push myself to look for the excellent moments in a week (I know some weeks will be easier than others in that regard) and it'll keep me posting, at least on a weekly basis as the next few weeks are going to be a haze of packing, unpacking and dust. Gah.

So without further ado, onto the joy! Hooray! These are a few of the things that have brightened my week...

♥ Long Weekends... I do wish that long weekends were just that little bit more frequent but then I suppose I wouldn't treasure them so much when they do occur... Last weekend was a wonderful mix of rest, fresh country air, delicious food and time to just catch up on some Internetty things. I went to a fantastic gluten free café (did you happen to catch this post?), went on a glorious walk where I made friends with a horse before getting caught in a hailstorm, ate the last 6 weeks of chocolate in one afternoon (I jest... *looks shifty*) and really enjoyed just having nothing pressing to do. It was bliss.

And what else do long weekends mean? Shorter weeks!


♥ Crisps... I really thought I'd be more excited about being able to eat chocolate again by the time Easter Sunday rolled around but it was actually crisps that I was keener to grab. I'm so happy to welcome M&S nachos back into my life again...hello my friends, how I have missed you.


♥ Freckles... Probably an odd choice but bear with me. I used to loathe my freckles when I was small and consulted all the old wives tales around to try to find a way to get rid of them - lemon juice all over them? Nope, didn't work. But I've grown to love them and after an afternoon in the garden on Friday supervising the mister as he chopped at the top of a hedge, my nose and cheeks are now sprinkled with freckles. I adore them. It's beginning to feel like summer (or at the very least, proper spring) is on its way!

♥ The Waiting Room... I've been loving listening to the new Tindersticks album...it's been the soundtrack to my journeys to and from work most days over the last week. Beautifully evocative lyrics interacting gorgeously with delicious musical arrangements...all held together by Stuart Staples' incredible voice. Tindersticks albums are just made for curling up next to the record player and listening to on repeat as the evening turns into night and night turns into morning. Glorious, another fabulous album by this wonderful group. 

♥ Light Evenings... I was not happy to lose an hour when the clocks went forward this weekend (although having the Monday off to acclimatise really helped) but it made such a difference to get all the way home this evening before it got dark! Sunny Friday was the taster but tonight has made me start to look forward to warm light evenings, Pimms and beer gardens. Oh my!

♥ Moving House... This could be both a difficult thing and a wonderful thing over the course of the next few weeks but I'm choosing to focus on the good at the moment. The packing is going well, or at least it's going, and I'm trying to get rid of the clothes I just don't wear anymore. We don't have a vast amount of space but it's amazing how much I've held onto and it feels really great to have managed to give a few bags of clothes and books to a local charity shop already. Besides, doesn't this mean I have the perfect excuse to go shopping when we're all moved in?! I've also been excitedly poring over furniture, particularly bookcases, and dreaming about one day being able to have all our books on display in one house (most of mine are still at my parents' house). My very own library, how wonderful that would be!


I hope you've all had wonderful weeks and your Wednesdays are fab! Short weeks, am I right?!

♥ If you're on the hunt for more joy, and frankly who isn't, check out the other happy bloggers who are making Wednesday just that bit more wonderful for all of us - Sally, Michelle, HelenKate and Jo 

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Review: The Norfolk Gluten Free Shop & Café



Twitter is fantastic for the gluten-free community. I've discovered so many new products and heard about exciting restaurants and events thanks to some of my favourite tweeters (twitterers?!). A few months ago, I heard about the Norfolk Gluten Free Shop and Café, and excitedly bookmarked it for the next time we came to Norfolk for a long weekend. THIS WAS THAT WEEKEND!

On Easter Saturday, we headed into Norwich planning to re-live the mister's childhood with a visit to Norwich Castle and then do a spot of wishful thinking for our new flat in the hallowed halls of John Lewis. But first, lunch! We arrived at about 1pm, which was probably the worst time to visit because every table was full - definitely a good sign. You can make reservations every day apart from Saturday but, rather than come back later, we decided to just wait for a table, popping upstairs for a quick look in the shop beforehand.

The shop is full of all kinds of delicious gluten free treats - cereals, condiments, pastas, bread, biscuits and a fridge full of pies and pastries, to name but a few! I made a mental note of a few items to come back and buy on our way out before heading downstairs to wait for a table. We didn't have to wait too long, about 10 minutes or so, before a table freed up. Most of the tables were two-seaters but as there were 3 of us waiting for a table, it took a little longer for one of a suitable size to free up.

You've no idea how exciting it is as a coeliac to be able to look at a menu and choose absolutely
anything that's on it! I'd say it doesn't happen often enough but really, public knowledge and availability of gluten free products have improved so much over the last few years that I can't complain, but it's still such a treat to be able to eat somewhere and not worry about cross-contamination. We all chose to have the 'pie and side' - I chose the chicken pie, which was served alongside a dressed salad and some lentil chips. I think next time I would have the extra gravy too (any excuse for more gravy!) but the pie was delicious, beautifully flaky pastry and lots of filling. Hubby chose the chicken and stuffing pie, and his mum went for the steak pie and there were clean plates all round. There were lots of other options to choose from on the menu and I'm already deliberating between the Ploughmans, doughballs and quiches for my next visit.


Room for dessert? Absolutely! There were an array of fabulous-looking cakes and sweet treats to choose from, including some Millionaire Shortbread which will have to wait for another visit when I'm back on the chocolate. My mother in law chose the cherry frangipane tart, my mister went for a sweet little carrot cake and I (after much thought) chose the victoria sponge. Oh they were so delicious - sweet, moist and thoroughly enjoyed even by my gluten-eating companions.


It was very difficult to even think about food after our lunchtime spread so probably a good time to pop back to the shop to pick up a few bits to take home with me! I decided to get some Italian gluten free tagliatelle, some Walkers shortbread, which I haven't had for years, and the selection of bread on offer was simply too irresistible. I chose a tiger bloomer and it's honestly the best gluten free bread I've ever had - I still remember gluteny bread and it tastes like that!


Definitely worth visiting if you're in the Norwich area - not far from the castle too, culture-buffs!


The Gluten Free Shop & Café
21 Timberhill, Norwich NR1 3JZ

Opening Hours:
(excluding Easter Sunday and Easter Monday)
Monday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday: 10am - 4pm

Friday, 25 March 2016

My Happy Place

 I love London, I really do, but I also love escaping it for the peace and quiet of the countryside. My mother in law lives in a small village in Norfolk and we're staying with her over the Easter weekend. I've always loved the thought of living in the countryside. Hubby, who grew up here, tells me it's not always so fun but it's hard to persuade someone who grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton books that it's not picnics, ginger beer and collecting eggs from local hens all the time.

We try to visit the mother in law for a visit at least once a month but the beginning of this year has just been nightmarishly busy, with a sprinkling of house hunting and packing thrown in for good measure, so this is the first time we've come for a visit this year. We got the train from London on Thursday evening, to give us three full days here over the long weekend. I always notice the quiet as soon as we arrive. We don't live in an incredibly noisy area in London but I suppose you get used to the background hum and don't notice all of the hubbub - the trains and buses in the distance, and the sound of people spilling out of bars and pubs on a Friday or Saturday night. But I really notice the peace when we arrive here, lying in bed on the first night the silence is almost deafening.

Coming here is slightly different for me than for the mister. He usually has to spend at least one of the days trimming hedges or cleaning out gutters for his mum but I can curl up in her lovely conservatory, looking out at the birds in the garden (there was a pheasant strutting around today!) and reading a book or a magazine, with copious cups of tea. I've kept that thought in my mind over the last few weeks, when work has been particularly busy. My new issue of the Simple Things arrived just yesterday so I saved it to enjoy this morning and the content seems designed just for me this month - a veg patch could-do list, yoga (which I really want to get back into) and a recipe for cardamom banana bread which I can't wait to try...hopefully a straight gluten free flour swap will work fine.

The next few days ahead should involve nothing more taxing than what to have for dinner, when to open another bottle of red wine and from Sunday onwards, chocolate! Oh how I've missed you.

Hope you all enjoy wonderful Easter weekends!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Moving House

Found via Pinterest
Things have been a little quiet on here for the past few weeks as the mister and I have been busy flat hunting. We've lived in our current place for almost four years now and although it is lovely (fireplace, window seat oh my!) it's also tiny and too far from my work. A daily commute of almost four hours all-in just isn't fun. So we've been looking for a new flat which will give us more space and is closer to my work, but without having to pay an eye-watering level of rent in exchange.

As much as I love noseying around new places, there's something about the pressure of finding a new flat in enough time to enable you to move out of your old place without too much overlap or spending huge amounts of money that fills me with dread. My goodness, there are some horrible flats out there too - dark, dingy, smelly, damp places, being rented for far too much money. Ugh.

After a day of wandering around a succession of no-hopers and getting more and more apprehensive in the process, we arranged a viewing in a slightly different area to the one we'd planned on moving to and loved it immediately. We learned this week that we passed our reference checks with flying colours and now I can actually start to get excited about moving! The new flat is in a lovely Edwardian house, with gorgeous high ceilings and wooden floors. We'll have an extra room, which we'll turn into a spare room/study, and we even have a small garden! I've started planning a vegetable patch and summer BBQs...I can't wait.
Image found via Pinterest, but
originally from here

We've got a fair amount to get done over the next few weeks though before I can start choosing which vegetables to grow, plotting the layout of the spare room and deciding where to hang our pictures on our new walls. I've already started making lists of things we need to do - book a removal van and cleaner, order boxes, reminders to redirect post and cancel utilities - and the next few weeks will (must!) be a whirlwind of packing and organising. It's amazing how much you accumulate over the course of a few years in one place, even a very small one, so it'll be a good chance to go through as much as possible with a critical eye and throw out, or donate, a good few things. Well, I say that now, hopefully I won't be just haphazardly throwing things into boxes the night before the removal van's due to arrive!

Any tips for making the moving process as stress-free (and economical) as possible?!