Escape to Exmoor for fly-fishing

Exmoor in North Devon is one of the best places in Britain to experience the ultimate in traditional fieldsports. From soaring pheasants, spiraling partridge to spectacular salmon, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The landscape is magical too, and with mobile phone signal a rarity, it is the perfect place to get some of the much needed countryside headspace that city-dwellers lust after over Wednesday evening gin and tonics/

Fishing has long been considered a great form of therapy – with worthy organisations such as  Casting for Recovery and Fishing for Forces, demonstrating how fly-fishing can help you clear your mind by focusing on the beautiful surroundings and the art and technique of the sport.

It’s also well documented that fly-fishing is a proven way to help addicts to overcome their reliance on substance abuse, and there are a number of well-known people that have used it as a tool during recovery. The Harvard Medical School’s Department of Neurobiology recently published an article that drew comparisons between fly-fishing and yoga, stating that by breaking the train of everyday thinking through concentration and repetitive motion, it can relax the brain and combat the ill effects of every day stress. As a massive fan of yoga, and the clarity it helps me find on a day-to-day basis, I can vouch that the effect of casting is eerily similar, if slightly less sweaty.

In Devon, salmon and sea trout are caught frequently across the north of the county in some of county’s most idyllic countryside. It truly is the most wonderful place to cut your teeth on the riverside and enjoy the peace of outdoors.

Highbullen Hotel is ideally situated on a spur of land between two of the best fishing rivers in Devon, the River Mole and the River Taw. The hotel enjoys beautiful scenic views of both valleys from its grounds and thus it the perfect destination for idyllic fishing escapes.

About two miles from Highbullen is the hotel’s own beat. It features about three quarters of a mile of single bank fishing with seven named pools. Each is quite different but all have yielded salmon in recent seasons.

Highbullen can also arrange for fishing on other local beats – on the Taw, the Mole and the Bray – and they can arrange for a ghillie and tuition from experienced local fishermen if required.

If you’re a complete novice I highly recommend that you get the hang of casting before you head on to the riverside. To do so, I suggest a lesson by Orvis in Green Park in London. They are free to attend and the next will be held on Thursday 15th September at 6pm. Led by Orvis’ experts, attendees will be introduced to the sport and be guided in the technique also. For further information and to book to attend, telephone +44 (0) 20 3137 9086.


What I’m eating for lunch this week – Sweet potato and spinich warmer

On my way back from an impulsive trip to the pub last Saturday afternoon, I was too late to make it to the shops to buy the remainder of the ingredients for my planned cookathon on Sunday morning (typical and annoying) which was not part of my super-efficient day plan, but hey ho, the temptation of a vodka soda or 3 was just too much!

Anyway, it was rather nippy as I was heading home, so I was definitely getting quite a stride on having deftly avoided a night out to Infernos, after Friday night I couldn’t take another really late night – not so much the hard core party animal anymore! So I walked past a corner shop – you know one of those which is an Aladdin’s cave of weird and wonderful bits and pieces and seems to be open all hours and got distract by a huge display of fresh veggie’s in bowls, each costing a pound, market-stall style, avocados and sweet potatoes included. It was nearly a kilo of sweet potatoes for a quid – now that seemed like a good deal to me – is it, looking back I’m not sure, but anyway, that’s what made my mind up about what I was going to eat for my lunch this week.

This’ll make 4 portions for your lunch and you’ll need…

500g sweet potato

1.5 x tbsp coconut oil

1 x white onion

2 x cloves of garlic

1 litre veggie stock

2 x large handfuls of spinach

1 x 3cm piece of fresh ginger

½ a lime

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp chilli powder

2 tsp turmeric

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Whack your oven up to 180 degrees Celsius, and get out a roasting tray, popping 1 tbsp of your coconut oil in before sliding into the oven to warm up
  2. Slice up the sweet pots into rough chunks – no need to be too picky, it’s all getting blended later. I never bother peeling them, but do give them a good scrub!
  3. Then peel you garlic, leaving whole and put it, and all the sweet potato into the tray with the coconut oil. Give it a good shake and season with salt and pepper, then back into the oven for 45 minutes.
  4. Good things come to those who wait, so while the sweet potato is cooking slice your onion finely, then you can potter around doing your thing, – personally I made some date and almond protein balls and read the Sunday Times… but I digress
  5. Once the sweet potato is soft and smelling all roasty take out a large saucepan, turn onto a medium heat on the hob, then heat the rest of the coconut oil before using to soften the onions for a couple of minutes
  6. When the onion is translucent, tip in the sweet potato and garlic, then pour half the stock in on top
  7. Then add all your spices, giving it a bit of a mash, and leave to simmer for 5 minutes
  8. Whilst it’s simmering finely grate the ginger and add to the mix, along with 300 ml more stock
  9. Leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes and add in the spinach
  10. Once the spinach is cooked, get blending. You’ll probably need the rest of the stock here to ensure that it’s really nice and smooth.
  11. Finally give it a taste, squeeze in the lime juice and season well

IMG_1375 Sweet potato soup

Et voila, warming nourishing lunch for the week, now aren’t you feeling virtuous!


A January retrospective… What KID did!

Happy Tuesday my lovelies – how on earth is it February already?! The weeks are whizzing by and although I know that I’m cramming a lot into my days and weeks at the moment, I still can’t help feeling pressured that I’m not achieving enough  the curse of being super competitive, even if it’s only with myself!

It’s been a month of ups and downs, a few fun firsts, some good quality girl time and some serious thinking about getting my head in order. Despite all the best intentions I’ve really struggled to maintain some sort of balance amongst the emotions of change, taking on several new projects and the urge to hibernate in the dark long evenings. However after a slight mind overhaul (only 3 weeks into the year… I was clearly not doing very well!) I’m feeling far better, my mind is clearer and February is set to be a much better month. I’m allowed to start the year a month late right?!

So here’s my January highlights, in statistical form…

1 x trip to the Ballet at the Royal opera house

Royal opera house

1 x afternoon tea

afternoon tea

1 x week sugar free (post-afternoon tea natch…)

1 x new fitness initiative at work (more about that in a post to come at the end of this week)

Marlin gets fit

1 x new shiny gadget

Galaxy Tab 3

1 x day out shooting with my Daddy

Countryside selfie

1 x first ever matcha green tea

Matcha latte

2 x BNOs (big nights out. obvs.)

Girls night

And – 2 x baking experiments, 3 x weekends out of London (two in Dorset and one in Bristol), 3 x brand new exercise classes experienced at Frame, 3 x runs in the freezing cold, as well as many, many miles walked…

Putney sunrise

Here’s to February. Beautiful things are on the horizon!


What I’m eating for lunch this week: Parsnip Soup

Soup on a cold winter’s lunchtime is the bomb, there’s nothing better. Plus when you make it yourself, you know exactly what’s in it, no nasties, hidden ingredients and minimal salt, so you can feel completely happy that you’re fueling your body with goodness.

So, this soup couldn’t be simpler, and as it’s basically a load of vegetables it’s really good for you – parsnips have a great natural flavour which the curry, paprika and turmeric just enhance. Best of all it’s creamy without any dairy at all, so it feels a lot naughtier than it actually is. I like to have mine with some yummy rye bread to really fill me up at lunchtime, as my tummy usually starts rumbling at about midday – but obviously you can pick your preferred accompaniment! This should make about enough for 4 days, so you can have a surprise lunch on Friday! So pop some tunes on, and get stuck in with your food…

You will need –

  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 800g of parsnips
  • 1 litre of veggie stock
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to season
  1. Find yourself a heavy bottomed sauce pan and slug in half a tablespoon of oil (olive is better for this recipe, as I find coconut a bit sweet in addition to the parsnips), then pop on the hob on a low heat.
  2. As the oil heats up, finely slice your onion and garlic then chuck in the pan, turning up the heat to medium and gently sweat away till soft
  3. Whilst the onion and garlic are sweating, slice up you parsnips into little finger-width chunks (you can peel them if you want, but I never usually bother) and pop in with the onions once they are soft.
  4. Fry the whole lot for a couple more minutes and spice it up, adding the curry powder, paprika and turmeric. Continue to fry or 2 more minutes, stirring to coat the veggies.
  5. Then you’re ready for some stock. Add in about 400ml crank up the heat and leave the ‘snips to simmer and soften for around 10 minutes – it’s fairly low maintenance, but do give it the occasional stir and add in around 200ml more stock as needed.
  6. After the 10 minutes have ticked past, test your parsnips, if you can squash them with the back of a spoon, then they’re ready! If not, leave to simmer for a little longer until you can.
  7. Then pour in another 200ml of the stock and blend with a hand blender until lovely and smooth and silky. The left over stock is for you to add in to your preference on soup consistency (I like mine fairly thick – season to taste with ground black pepper and sea salt.
  8. If you’re lucky enough to have a fridge and microwave at work like me, pop in a big clickable Tupperware (you know the one’s I mean!) and leave to cool before putting in the fridge at home, it’ll keep all week, just don’t forget it come Monday morning. Otherwise heat up a portion for 4 minutes in the microwave in the morning (stirring halfway through) and decant into a thermos – it’ll still be nice and toasty.



A pre-cursor to ‘What I’m eating for lunch this week’

Of all the things I whip up in my lovely kitchen in Putney, my lunches are not necessarily the most beautiful, but what I do try to do is feed my body with healthy, filling food to help power me through the afternoon, and avoid the temptations of the biscuit cupboard as when I get a little distracted I’ve been known to be a bit of a snacker. I’m going to try and post these on a weekly basis to showcase some of my experiments, and hopefully give you guys some fresh ideas of what to make in preparation for the week ahead, as we all know that in reality squeezing everything into the working day is hard!. It’s become a bit of a reassuring, comfort ritual which I enjoy either really early on a Sunday morning before any of my housies arise or of a Sunday evening as part of the weekend wind-down – it’s half an hour of creating, calm and clarity.

This isn’t just a recipe post though, because my lunch making habits are a bit of deeper reflection on my relationship with food, which like many girls has been a tad tumultuous. I was a buzzy kid and teenager, into absolutely everything, playing every sport and too eager to get on with life to sit at the supper table, my mum always says I used to sit with only one bum cheek on my seat, for the minimal possible time it took to eat an acceptable supper. My parents are fantastic cooks and we’ve always had the best, freshest food, from our garden and have always been shown where it comes from, picking and smelling tomatoes in the vegetable patch and helping my dad pluck pheasants, but away from their watch as a fresher at University I began to stray. Suddenly the world of fast food was open to me and that, along with the pints of Guinness (I know, what was I thinking?!) started to take its toll on my 18 year old body. However a polite word from my mum at the end of the year meant I was soon making sure I the majority of what I ate was homemade and moving more, and my limbs slimmed out again, in fact I became a bit obsessed and controlling about what I put into my body and how I moved it.

In my late teens and throughout University I was a waitress at a fantastic pub in the countryside, where the amazing chefs continued the education my parents had started, encouraging us to try new things and I really began to develop a passion and knowledge for food, farm to plate living and the wine that goes with it! This really helped me get a bit more of a grip on reality and become less fastidious about my diet and exercise regime, and I really started to enjoy what are the most natural things in the world.

When I first moved to London a couple of years ago I was overwhelmed by the choice of quick and easy food available at lunchtime, it was like being a University fresher all over again and, being a typical country-girl in the big city, I indulged left right and centre. Coupled with all the irresistible, glamorous cocktails, and then spoily hangover brunches I suddenly started getting bigger, quite a lot bigger than my little frame had ever been and one day I got on the scales after about 8 months in the big smoke and could no longer deny it!  I knew things had to change, but I had kind of lost my way, lost sight of everything I had ever been taught. So I set out to retrain myself – physically and mentally. I took up running and trained for a half marathon (I’ve done two now!), and began listening to my body a bit more and taking into account what it needs to fuel it properly.

There are so many inspiring bloggers both foodie and fitness, and chefs who’ve really helped me find a balance (I’m going to do an inspirations post some time soon), rediscover my love for a fresh healthy lifestyle, and those size 8 high-waisted shorts I thought I’d never get back into! I’d be lying if I said it was easy, I’m only human and have had slip ups along the way, but living by the 80:20 rule has really helped and I’m now, although not entirely happy with my body, more comfortable. I also get a huge kick off all the different exercises and sports I am trying all in pursuit of that post-workout high! I truly love to move.

So that explains why I cook up my lunches every week – to keep hands on with my food, enjoy the creating cooking experience and know exactly what I’m eating, avoiding all the hidden nasties in pre-prepared food and keep my body and mind happily ticking along. Now the Parsnip soup recipe I’m going to post tomorrow is not exactly radical, but it is what I’m eating for lunch this week (shock horror), is super healthy, warming and is perfect for the end of what has been a financially lean January!


First Time Framer – Body at Frame Shoreditch

At the beginning of the month I won five free classes at Frame – a breed of fitness studio like no other, with classes that put an emphasis on strength backed by a pumping soundtrack, ensuring the minutes whizz past in a blur of sweat, and the good kind of burn! I’m a sucker for a new challenge, and having been in a bit of an exercise rut for over a week, getting very bored of everything that usually got me hyped up and ready to go, so trying something new is exactly what I needed! Sometimes everyone needs to mix up their routines to really push to see what your body can do. Boy was I totally oblivious to what I was letting myself in for.

Frame have a huge range of classes for you to pick from, the choice and descriptions are really a good way to help get excited and ultimately figure out what’s going to get your heart racing and find your ideal workout groove!

Most will find themselves spoilt for choice and you’ll probably fall into a session with a whole bunch of like-minded people, all aiming for the same thing.  Despite what the press may say, it’s not a cartoon parade, or at all intimidating. In fact the whole atmosphere is really informal and friendly,  with a huge emphasis on wellness, and naturally refueling your body post-workout – think super laid back, Shoreditch warehouse setting with lots of great healthy recipe and lifestyle books for you to peruse whilst you wait and plenty of healthy snacks and refreshing drinks on sale.

Its signature set are aimed at helping you get the fit, strong body you want through a combo of cardio and  strength exercises, stripping fat and building tone, and led by a team of motivating, passionate instructors (be fully prepared to get fitness crushes at every turn!).

It’s 80’s rave, club night and music video (yes, you can learn Beyonce’s routines…) dance sessions enable you to boogie and burn away for an hour without even realising it!

To top it off, there are all sorts of yoga classes adorable to help lengthen and stretch out those lovely muscles, and find some inner calm in your hectic schedules.

I opted to try out the signature BODY class for my first time at the studio (although have since signed up to ‘Abs and Ass’ and ’80’s Aerobics’) and definitely succeeded in finding something to put my body through it’s paces… I can reliably report that I dripped sweat throughout endless sets of dynamic squats, weighted cardio, tough stretches and mountain climbers, and felt burn and stretch in all the right places, but didn’t once want to give up. I was totally taken with it! The instructor (Jodie) kept my attention for the whole 60 minutes, leaving me wanting to be an absolute teacher’s pet in the front row and I left (after making the most of their rather slick showers and changing rooms) on an absolute high, feeling in in tip top condition for my evening out in Bristol.

These 5 classes came courtesy of The Debrief (one of my favourite lunchtime browsing sites), although I can safely say I’ll continue to go once I’ve used them all up!

Watch this space for further news from my experiences at Frame – this week’s going to be a big one on the fitness front!


January Clarity… not so easy to come by after all!

I started January with a very clear mind… full of motivation and ideas on how 2015 was going to be a year for achievements beyond the usual – so far not so impressive, it’s all I could manage to keep up with work, gyming and my friends!

As with many weeks of my life as a busy PR, preparations and execution of events, the ever overflowing inbox and keeping my head sane and above water, avoiding succumbing to the January Blues has been taking up most of my time, with the remainder being spent with friends!

I have been thinking of you guys though, every day, and have come up with ideas of what I want to write about (there are several half drafted blogposts which definitely need my attention this weekend!), but also I have been just about managing to find my headspace, mainly through a lot of very frosty walking – it’s jolly chilly in London at the moment, and I’m waking every morning to find my Velux frozen over! So I just wanted to share a couple of snaps from my walks over the last couple of weeks…

View from the Deodarian box at the Royal Opera House when seeing Alice and Wonderland

Safely say this dude is nailing his commute...

Frosty sunrise on Putney Bridge

Twinkly lights on Albert Bridge

A dramatic sunrise walking across Putney Bridge

However, I’m getting out of the city this weekend and heading back to Dorset to see my Parents – so there will be lots of lovely recipe and other posts ready for the coming weeks!


Keeping the wheels turning – Tips for staying on the wagon

This was not a planned post, however as I battled through (cursing) all the resolution gymers yesterday evening it reassured me that many of them wouldn’t be around for long… And although it makes for a more peaceful session on my part, I felt a pang for those who will inevitably abandon ship in the coming weeks. Ultimately there is nothing, in my opinion, that keeps you level headed and feeling at your best like finding your way to work out, and getting the balance right.

I’m under no illusions that the pounding the treadmill is the best choice for everyone. Whilst I’m a bit of a sport fiend, and super competitive, working out at the gym is by no means easy for me! I’d much rather be hollering on a netball court, or out running in the sunshine to beat a PB. However for those days where that’s not possible (particularly during the darkness of winter) it can be a good way to get your blood pumping and that magic rush of endorphins which can transform your day, and justify a little bit of wine at the end of the week!

I know it’s incredibly easy to fall off the wagon, having been there several times myself, staring down the barrel of an empty pack of biscuits after a long day! So if you’re trying to turn over a new leaf and find your healthy groove, there are a couple of tips I use to ensure that I don’t undo all my hard work, but still get to enjoy all the things I love.

1. Put your gym kit on – you’ll find it harder to talk yourself out of that run when you’re all trussed up and ready to go, even if you take half an hour to summon up the courage. Having a race to train for always helps too!

2. Fit exercise into your schedule – don’t let your work out interfere with your social life, as you’ll start to resent it. Use it as time to clear your head, whether it’s pre-work, in your lunch hour or just before supper.

3. Mix it up – variety really is the spice of life! I’m a keen runner but, like everyone, I do get bored and injured! There are so many fun, alternative classes out there you’re bound to find one you love! With the exception of in the run up to a race, I can sometimes go a month without running at all, instead I’ll go to cardio, sports conditioning classes, do yoga or play netball until I’m ready to pound the pavement again!

4. Live the 80/20 rule – get the balance right! I try to abide by the 80/20 rule, as in 80% of what I eat is healthy, packed full of veggies and protein, and the other 20% is to be honest largely red wine, crisps and naughty cakes. I’m only human, when you know you’re going to have an indulgent weekend, make the rest of your week virtuous, and pack in as much exercise as possible without interfering with your life!

5. Don’t beat yourself up about a slip – so what you ate that whole family bag of kettle chips? Or missed an early morning wake up? No one is judging, so don’t feel too bad! Draw a line under it and make the next thing you eat healthy, or get off a tube stop early and walk that little extra distance to clear your head. Get back on the straight and narrow right away, you’ll feel so much better about yourself.

Ultimately, it’s all about enjoying it! Make sure you have rest days, to allow your body to repair and don’t stress too much about slip ups.
Keep your eyes on the prize, whether that’s completing a race, loosing a little weight, or simply wanting to have some time to think without interruptions. You’ll soon be in a routine, feeling the benefit!


2015 – Non-New Year’s resolutions

Whilst I don’t generally do New Year’s resolutions, however, after winning a digital competition at work just before Christmas and really falling back in love with all things social media I vowed to start a blog and claim this little corner of the Internet as my own. I wanted to explore the different ways I’m finding my moments of clarity and headspace in the big city – whether it’s when I’m running on the riverside, drinking hot chocolate (or wine!) with my best friends, cooking or crafting, or just walking, wherever I am.

So I suppose a welcome is in order, and as the most non-committal person ever, here’s me promising to you that I’ll keep it up! It’s always easier to make a habit when you’re being watched…

As we hurtle at full speed into 2015 I wanted to share a handful of the things I want to achieve this year, not resolutions as such, but loose goals!

1. Learn how to use my camera better – I need to stop relying on my iPhone and make the effort to get out there and capture the best of what’s going on around me. This definitely means chasing more sunsets.

2. Learn how to Clay Pigeon Shoot – I’ve finally decided that it’s something that shouldn’t just be left to the boys, so want to take lessons and give them a run for their money.

3. Visit at least two new countries – Following a weekend break to Venice at the end of last year I want to broaden my European horizons a bit and see cities and places I’ve never been.

4. Just keep walking – it’s one of the easiest ways I find to get some clarity in a busy schedule.

5. Keep up with the blog!

Happy 2015 all – hopefully we’ll all be ticking off our Non-New Year’s resolutions as the year progresses.