Saturday, January 5, 2019

Welcome, 2019

Over 15 weeks have passed since I last logged on to Blogger. I was open about my plans to step back from blogging, but confess that I surprised myself by just how easy it was to do so, and so fully. Now that I am online less, I don't know how I found the time for it before.

Nonetheless, I felt a tug to come on and reflect on the final few months of the year. I also wanted to wish you all a very happy start to 2019. I hope you enjoyed the festive season and that 2018 finished off well for you.

Peak District, near Alstonefield

We spent Christmas in the Peak District, a beautiful part of the UK that I hadn't visited previously. It is more accessible for us than the Lake District where we have spent two previous Christmases and less crowded. As usual, we hired a self-catering holiday cottage and with a toddler in tow self-catered our Christmas meal and evening meals across the week. This is Mini Bite's third Christmas but the first she has really understood and it was nice to celebrate with her, and soak up her excitement at presents and holiday food.

Christmas lunch

Friday, September 21, 2018

Medway Valley Walk - 16 miles between Tonbridge and Maidstone

Long-term readers may know that whilst I am poor at organised sports, I am very fond of being active and being outdoors. In a day-to-day and week-to-week sense, this translates to family walks in the Kent countryside and runs both in London, as part of my commute, and in Kent, on the weekend. (No prizes for guessing which gives the nicer scenery.)

In a bigger pictures sense, I harbour dreams of doing a long-distance walk, the type where you either camp out overnight or find accommodation along your route.

Medway Valley Walk, a few miles out from Tonbridge

I have never done a truly long distance walk and my only experience of walking, camping out, and walking some more was as a 14-year-old working towards the Duke of Edinburgh award. I have done a variety of long single day walks but even those have been fairly rare since we had Mini Bite two years ago.

Last week I managed to rekindle my walking enthusiasm by covering half of the Medway Valley Walk. This is a 28.5 mile route from Tonbridge to Rochester in Kent. Maidstone is roughly half way and I did the 16 mile stretch (25.5km) from Tonbridge to Maidstone.

Locks over the Medway River

Sunday, September 2, 2018

In my kitchen - September 2018

I am linking this into the monthly In My Kitchen round-up, hosted by Sherry of Sherry's Pickings.

After missing a few In My Kitchen posts, it is nice to be back for September. Here are some recent highlights from my kitchen, from new products to old staples.

A new product and an old staple comes in the form of tinned barley by Napolina. I love barley, but don't always love the time taken to cook it. Having a tin on hand is excellent when I need a quick meal (which is often).

Tinned barley

Every work day I buy a coffee from the coffee shop at my local train station. (I know this is a luxury). While they are making my oat milk latte, I ponder the cabinet with pastries and muffins. It has been years since I had a Danish pastry, but recently, they have been taunting me and making me wish a vegan alternative was available. I'm not aware of any vegan Danish pastry offerings so I made a version myself with Jus Roll puff pastry, Alpro custard, stewed apples and strawberries. I can't pretend these were authentic but they were tasty.

Vegan 'Danish pastry' variants

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Checking in, recent meals out and a vegan vanilla caramel butterfly cake

Well, hello. It is odd to log onto Blogger after nearly 2 months away. I confess that I haven't missed the act of blogging but I have missed the outlet for sharing food-related news and for connecting with regular readers. I hope you are all well.

I have been less active than I expected in reading blogs too. I opened Inoreader this week with a little apprehension - how much would have built up? - but found it freeing to look at 2 months of others' activity and know I could pick and choose what to read and what to comment on. It was a lovely surprise to see Johanna's reflection on blogging as part of my catch up. Her post captures many of my views and it summarises how blogging has changed and time can feel stretched for all of us.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

I think and hope I may be in a position to return to posting a little more often, but will make no promises in this post. I am pleased, however, to announce one update: Bite-sized thoughts is now on Instagram (@bitesizedthoughtsuk). I resisted Instagram for a long time because I thought it would be another thing to monitor and manage, but I like that I can share snapshots of products and meals when I wouldn't manage a full post. If you're on Instagram, let me know and I will look you up.

For now, I am pleased to share some highlights from the last 2 months.

Mini Bite in action

Sunday, July 1, 2018

(Not) in my kitchen - July 2018

This post will be short and sweet, and somewhat bittersweet. After 7.25 years and 1,035 posts I am taking a step back from blogging for a little while. Bite-Sized Thoughts will still be here and I will post intermittently, but the frequency will be less and likely variable.

With more demands on my time these days (a toddler-sized one, in particular!) blogging is still an enjoyable activity, but it also tends to feel like something on my To Do list. I hope in the future that will change and I will post regularly once more, but for now I am reducing the number of things I try to squeeze into each week and freeing up time for family, life and the occasional bit of relaxation (rare, with a toddler!).

I can read others' blogs on the train and so you may still see comments from me, or I may read and not comment, but for those of you who have read Bite-Sized Thoughts for weeks, months or years - thank you for your support and enthusiasm along the way. I look forward to checking in occasionally and perhaps reconnecting regularly in the future.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Center Parcs and visiting family

It's been a busy two weeks in the Bite-Sized Thoughts household, as we followed a long weekend away with a visit from my sister and her boyfriend from Australia. Both were wonderful. My sister is now in France for a wedding but we're looking forward to welcoming her back for two further nights next week.

Coffee #1 in Warminster

We spent most of my sister's visit around our town and the adjoining countryside, but also made a day trip to Bodiam Castle. This is one of my favourite English castles with its intact exterior and impressive moat, but semi-ruined interior that you can climb around and explore without the confines of a tour. The picture below shows Mini Bite taking advantage of the opportunity to clamber. I first visited Bodiam as a 10-year-old and my family have returned regularly over the years, so it was also nice to go back with my sister and add to childhood memories

Mini Bite exploring Bodiam