It's that time that happens only once a year

It's my BIRTHDAY!! 

Well not today but Tuesday and I'm just a little bit excited because I'm going to Amsterdam, yay!

I follow Liz on who currently lives in Amsterdam and her blog has got me excited to go back.  I've been once before but that was over 5 years ago.  I've made a few pointers on places to go and see , the Reich museum is one of them, now it's re-opened.

Several people in my office are off on holidays in the next couple of weeks, Angie from left today for Cape Cod.  I'm a little bit envious, I'd love to see that part of the world.  Can't wait to see her pictures.  Natasha is off to Universal Studios to unwind and enjoy the attractions, and then there's me, did I tell you I'm going to AMSTERDAM!

I'm planning on going to De Bakkerswinkel (pics below) for my breakfast on my birthday.  Other than this I don't have many aspirations for my trip.

The last time I was here I had the most amazing pineapple and mint jam, I really hope they'll still be selling it.  I know, I know this is a bit of a long shot but a girl can dream.

Have you been to Amsterdam?  What did you think?  Any recommendations?


Spa Sunday

We had such a fun day on Sunday, celebrating father's day; yes I know it's a week early.  Four of us trundled over to St David's Hotel and Spa at Cardiff Bay for the day. On arrival we were given big white fluffy robes and slippers to wear for our duration, relaxation here we come!

We hit the gym first.  It wasn't very big but had everything you'd need, even spin classes unfortunately not on a Sunday.  My father decided to give the gym a miss and sat reading in the juice bar instead.  There is lovely sea view from here so it was very relaxing, especially with an endless supply of herbal tea, juice and water.

We hadn't booked the Spa set lunch menu but were able to choose something off the bar menu which was quite extensive.  I chose poached eggs with smoked salmon, trying to be healthy, my parents had sausage rolls (homemade) and my daughter chose the steak ciabatta.  There is unlimited tea, various coffees’, fruit and water in the lunch room which has a balcony that overlooks the Bay (pic below).  We sat outside for our lunch, it was a bit windy but nice just to be able to sit in a bit of sunshine in big fluffy white robes I might add.  These drinks were available to us all day free of charge; my daughter enjoyed the hot chocolate.

After some swimming, use of the sauna and Jacuzzi’s we headed off for our treatments - a back massage and facial.  My mother chose a facial and manicure with gelish varnish.  These were all very relaxing, especially when we were taken to a room afterwards with duvets to have a little rest.  I kid you not; I was ready to put my head on the pillow and stay the night but was gently reminded by my mother that food was in an hour.

We each had a two course meal and I started mine with a cocktail - don't you just love Margarita's.  The food was very nice and ended with tea and coffees. 

 The food was very nice and ended with tea and coffees.  The Sri Lanka'n Cricket Team was also in the restaurant which made my father's night.  After all this relaxing and eating I'm exhausted and ready to go home. 

Driver, where are you?

Weekend Part deux

Being from Pembrokeshire, my father loves the water so I took my parents to Cosmeston Lakes or as my father called it Cosmopolitan Lakes.  We took the short walk around the lakes approx 1.4 miles.  It was lovely, there were so many people there but as it was spacious you didn't feel it was crowded. There was a big wooden play area for children and people were eating picnics, sunbathing, having barbeques, cycling and walking their dogs.  My son is into birds after watching Springwatch and we found a nice family going for a swim (pic below).

The country park has habitats covering over 100 hectares of land and water.

There's even a medieval village.

If you fancy a nice day out it's a great place to go and it's free, even the parking.

I'm off to St David's Hotel and Spa tomorrow for the day.  My dad's father's day present, so we're all going, my dad, mum, my daughter and me.  Can't wait.

 What have you done this weekend? Have you been enjoying the sunshine?  Done any gardening? Had any nice picnics?

Bye from me in sunny Cosmeston. 

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Fun in the Sun - weekend part une

What amazing weather, I hope you're having fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun.

Do you remember I said that I as going away with work this week?  Guess what, I managed to stay healthy, I'm so pleased with myself,  There was a gym at the hotel and I'd packed my kit just in case I was motivated enough to get up early in morning to exercise.  I did, check me out!  45 mins of cardio on the treadmill.  Good or what! 

If you're ever near a Harvester and just want some simple food, they serve sea bass with green beans.  Perfect for my protein and veg diet.  I had poached eggs with mushrooms for breakfast and they even managed to find me some soya milk.  One happy girl.

My parents are visiting for the weekend as we're celebrating father's day a week early, I decided to take my mum out for breakfast.  There's this lovely little deli in Pontcanna - The Fat Pig Deli.

It was full outside when we arrived so we sat inside, still light an airy as the door was open.  I loved the tables, very rustic, they were made by the owners out of old doors and mis-matched table legs.  On the tables were mis-matched silver cutlery and ornate silver looking sugar bowls.  The inside decor is shabby chic with modern chairs. 

They have a brunch/lunch menu along with a nice selection of cakes and breads.  I'm afraid we didn't go for the healthy option.  We chose this.

Oh yes it was good, all served with good strong coffee.  The owner is very chatty and happy to answer any questions you have on the food, the decor, pretty much anything really.  All the waiters are trained chefs too, impressive!  The bread is from Allen's Bakery (see my other blog post), this morning there was Chorizo, Tomato, Olive, french, granary and white bread.  It looked fantastic.

Do pay them a visit.

Polishing my Halo

Oh yes I'm polishing my halo today.  In the gym at 0630am doing leg work with my trainer.  My left arm and leg is so much weaker than my right side, yes I'm right handed if you're wondering.  I nearly fell over doing lunges on my left leg, still managed 3 sets of 6 though. I increased my leg weights on one of the machine today - an improvement, but my arms are still sore from yesterday's push ups and dead lifts, roll on tomorrow morning which will be session 3 this week.

On Monday I was craving something sweet whilst training, probably withdrawal from all the sugar I'd consumed last week.  I decided to take my protein shake (featured in one of  my posts) with me today to have after my workout.  The gym won't mix your powder so I bought one of these, a Vexo Mixer that runs on batteries.  It might seem excessive but I always have lumps in my manual shaker and I hate lumps, yuck!  It's not bad, mine leaks a bit, not sure if that's just the way I put it together but there are no lumps - result.

Breakfast was eaten at 0930, chicken sausages and a cup of spinach.  Nicer than it sounds. 

Mid morning snack was 1oz sweet chilli nuts (also featured in a previous post) and lunch was 1 cup of cannellini beans with salad and a tablespoon of fish oil with balsamic vinegar. 

Mid afternoon snack was 2 tablespoons of Hazelnut butter with a cup of tea with almond milk.  I love Hazelnut butter, it tastes like ferrero rocher. 

I've been drinking my ginger tea all day, soo refreshing! I did have 2 americano coffee's with soya milk but this is an improvement as I normally have soya cappuccino's.  We fancied going out for tea as it was such a nice evening but I don't like going places with too much temptation, so Nandos was the venue of choice.  My supper was Butterfly Chicken with a side salad.  Doesn't look too bad does it? 

Home to have more Ginger Tea after this and then that's me for the night.  Nothing else passing my lips.  I'm away in a conference this week and I'm a bit worried about the food that'll be on offer as I feel like I'm back on track. Wish me luck.

What positive steps have you made this week?

It takes so much effort to get back into exercise but I feel so much better, mentally and physically as a result.  Worth the effort.  Why don't you try a nice walk if you can't face the gym this week.


Since I've been on this eating plan I've been eating a lot of eggs from the supermarkets, value range to organic and all of them have been tasteless which has been a bit of a disappointment considering the cost of the high end eggs. 

I fancied boiled eggs with asparagus for breakfast (protein and veg) yesterday so took myself off to my nearest farmers market to see what they had.  I didn't take my camera so I've included a link below.

I found a stall with plenty of eggs, Trecastle Eggs.  They sells free range hen's and duck eggs as well as Welsh salted butter and a selection of Caws Cenarth.  The duck eggs looked fantastic, you can see a picture on the link above, I bought the large organic eggs, £3.20 for 12.  I found another stall selling fresh asparagus so bought a bunch as well, breakfast, tick. 

The eggs were delicious, very thin shells and creamy yolks.  I cooked two for breakfast and another two for today.  They were still creamy!  I know where I'll be going in future.  Definately worth the effort.

My other latest craze that I have to tell you about is Ginger Tea.  I know it doesn't sound great but I've tasted this a few times and it's been amazing hot or cold.  I'd ordered Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook 'It's all good' online a while ago and hadn't really read it properly.  That is until yesterday.  There on page 207 was the tea.  

I like mine luke warm and being ginger it's got a kick.  You can add more lemon juice if you prefer it more tart or honey if sweet is your thing.  Friends came over yesterday and I served this with ice.  Let's just say it went down well.  There are lots of good recipes in this book and no sugar in them! In addition there is barely a trace of gluten and the recipes that do include it offer variations.  I'd suggest ordering the book from the library first of all to see if you'd use but I absolutely love it.  I know a lot of people have knocked Gwyneth for her cookbooks but this one's definitely a keeper if you want to cook healthy meals for your family go grab it.

What are your favourite healthy eating cookbooks?

A day out to the Zoo

My son is obsessed with animals at the moment, and if he could, would turn the house into a zoo.  What better way to channel his enthusiasm than to take him to an actual zoo.  Now the sad fact is that there aren't any zoo's in Wales, quite a few animal sanctuary's, but no zoo's, so I decided to travel to Bristol.

The journey took us under Clifton Suspension Bridge built by Brunel.  Amazing piece of work.  I feel another visit may be on the cards soon so that I can have a go walking over the bridge.  The views must be amazing!

The Zoo has an overflow carpark which was great as the one's just outside the zoo were full. 

We didn't get a chance to pack a picnic as it was a last minute decision but something I will definately do next time.  There were lots of places to sit and eat your food and snack bars, ice cream machines and a cafe if you needed to buy something.

We loved all the animals but our favourites were the gorillas, the lorikeet's which land on you as you feed them (the lorikeet's that is not the gorillas) and the seals who were performing tricks in return for fish.  There are 2 lion cubs which aren't that small anymore and who sleep for 22 hours a day.  Luckily for us they were just getting up as we were leaving so got to see them.  The zoo isn't cheap but you can buy annual passes which softens the blow a little.  I don't think we live close enough to get our money's worth out of these though.  A really good day out which was helped by the sun.  4 hours later I was ready for home and an afternon siesta.

Nos da xx

A little bit of sunshine

Don't you feel just a little skjp in your step when that yellow ball in the sky?

My Personal Trainer has been sick this week so my exercise plans have been pretty non existent, unless you call gardening exercise.  My diet was pretty good until the evenings when I seemed to eat digestive biscuits and not much else. On the plus side, I kept my fish oil up and I will be going down to 1 tablespoon a day from tomorrow.  I hated this stuff when I first started taking it, it remined me of Castor Oil, yuck! but by now, with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, I don't notice the taste.

It was my colleague's leaving do on Friday night and I've been suffering with a tension headache for a couple of days.  I decided to book myself in for a massage and facial to try and ease the tension so I'd be in better shape to go out.  I'd had a leaflet for this salon which is walking distance so decided to give it a go.

The treatments are with Elemis products and I chose the Elemis Advanced Performance Facial with Deep Tissue Back Massage which lasts 1hr 45 minutes.

The therapist explained the different stages of the treatment, asked me what kind of pressure I'd like and then started on my back.  Oils were used on my back and arms and then she moved onto my face using different products for the facial and lymphatic drainage.  The treatment finished with a scalp massage. The oils smelt amazing and by the end of the treatment I was ready to sleep.  My headache had lifted and my back was much better which was just what I needed.  I will definately be going back and was so impressed that I've booked a cut and colour in August as well.  Oh yes, they are also a barbers and hairdressers.  Link to salon below.  Their website is great, very informative and just the place to go and spoil yourself.  Only thing missing is a loyalty card.

Now it won't have escaped you that I mentioned I was going out for a meal. I walked 2 miles there and back to make up for not being on my eating plan, so I felt a bit better. 

I chose 3 little dishes for my meal; bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, scallops on black pudding with beetroot and blue cheese deep fried with a chutney.  The scallops were lovely, I wasn't keen on the fried blue cheese, I'm a bit fussy about fried food and this one didn't really agree with me.  It was lovely though being with my colleagues to say goodbye to a friend who is going on a new journey in her life, and was also going on a bike ride of over 100 miles today!  This lady is superwoman, she is truly an inspiration to all who know her and I will truly miss her cheery face in the office.  One of my colleagues is Angie or Angers as I call her from who also had some nice food, I can only rememeber her onion rings though as I did try one.

Happy weekend everyone.

I'm not affiliated to Belle Toujours and paid for my treatment.