2017 Highlights

Blogging activities flagged after March. This was mainly because I was hugely busy in other areas, like preparing my novel for submission, and trying to improve my fitness levels. I succeeded on both counts, but the blog suffered in consequence. I promise I’ll do better this year!

Instead of giving a month by month breakdown, I’ve decided to show you the photographic highlights, and tell you a bit about each of the photos.

My culinary skills are a little hit and miss (more of that later…)

Bread

As part of the health kick, I wanted to make my own wholemeal bread. Unfortunately, the wholemeal setting on my bread maker seemed to overdo the cooking phase, resulting in this Triffid-like loaf. To be fair, it tasted a lot better than it looked!

 

After Manchester 10k

In May, the Sunday after the Manchester bomb, the authorities agreed that the Manchester 10k and half marathon should go ahead as planned. Despite nerves and an increase in caution, several thousand people showed up and did their run – standing together to show the world we won’t be beaten by terrorism.

I cried when I got to the end – partly from relief and exhaustion (it was my first attempt at running 10km without stopping) – but also for all those directly affected by the horrific events of that week.

 

Harry Potter Studios

In July, my youngest son and I have birthdays just a few days apart. I thought it would be a lovely 16th birthday present for him if I organised a family excursion to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Hertfordshire. It could be argued that perhaps it was more my present than his, on the grounds that I was by far the most excited member of the family, but we all had a great time.

I don’t think butter-beer ice cream fitted in with the eating plan, but it was my birthday treat, wasn’t it? Oh dear!

 

Abbey KitchenAbbey gardens

Our summer holiday this year included a visit to an Abbey. On the outside, the building bore no resemblance to the setting for The Brotherhood, but I was struck by the kitchens and gardens, which were both strikingly similar to how I’d imagined my Abbey.

 

Babboon invasion

A trip to Knowsley Safari Park at the end of the summer holidays: invasion of the car by baboons! We were lucky to escape with our windscreen wipers, and as for the wing mirrors: they now bear the scars…

 

After the Half Marathon

I spent a lot of time between June and October preparing to run my first (and quite possibly last) half marathon. In August, the mum of a close friend passed away from Ovarian Cancer. I badly wanted to raise money in her memory, so contacted Target Ovarian Cancer – an excellent charity that supports research into earlier diagnosis, amongst other things. This was an excellent motivator, and despite several challenges in training, I managed to complete the event. There was definitely some walking involved this time, particularly after the 10 mile mark, but I ignored my sore feet and aching calves and hips, and kept going to the end, even succeeding in running across the finish line with a smile on my face!

Later that day, I completed the re-write of my novel. It was now ready for one final read through before submission.

15th October 2017 was a day to remember!

Running in a blizzard

Running diminished as the year went on, but I still got out about once a week (most weeks). In the photo above, I’d arrived at park run in blistering cold conditions, but with no more than the occasional flake drifting down gently. Within 10 minutes of starting, I was able to take the photo above. Not surprisingly, I did quite a bit of walking that day, as the conditions were a little bit treacherous (I did a bit of sliding as well, but managed to stay on my feet, just!)

 

Chocolate liquorice cake

A couple of years ago, we saw Nigella making a chocolate and liquorice cake on TV. My husband is a big liquorice fan and thought this sounded great. Unable to find the recipe as Christmas approached, I asked amongst my friends and was sent this lovely recipe by John Whaite: http://www.johnwhaite.com/homebaking/2016/2/2/chocolate-and-liquorice-cake 

I have to say, his looked a lot more professional than mine, and we had considerable difficulties tracking down the liquorice root powder (thank you, Amazon!) But, even my sister liked it. After claiming she didn’t like liquorice, she wanted to take a chunk home with her at the end of the evening, so I think it was a winner.

By the way, the wonky L stood for liquorice, and was strategically engineered to hide a crack in the middle of the cake. Not quite #GBBO!

So 2017 was quite a year. Getting a publishing deal with Crooked Cat in December was the ganache on the liquorice cake. A great ending to an exciting and challenging year.

I would just like to end this by wishing all my blog readers a happy, healthy and inspirational 2018 xx

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