Saturday, 21 March 2015

Lemon drizzle and blueberry cake

I love cake! I love making cake and I really love eating cake and it has become a bit of a habit to make a weekly cake. Recently I've made a carrott cake as well as a white chocolate and raspberry cake and multiple banana loafs but after suffering a few colds in our house I have a surplus of lemons that need using.

I decided to make a lemon drizzle loaf cake but wanted to add a few extra flavours and decided to add blueberries into the mix.

Once the cake was cooked it was drizzled with pure lemon juice and sugar yet even though I had pricked the cake all over the cake had risen quite a lot and the lemon juice just kept running off the sides rather than into the cake.

I need to find a better way to get the drizzle into my lemon drizzle cake! Once the cake was cooled it was time to remove from the tin and grab a slice. The cake was delicious however all the blueberries had sunk to the bottom and the lemon juice had barely made it past the top of the sponge. So I made a half/half cake by accident. Lemon drizzle on the top half and a blueberry loaf on the bottom half. It was all very yummy and had to be eaten quickly as a soggy cake can go off in no time at all... or at least that was my excuse my munching my way through a whole loaf of cake in just a few days!!!

If a cake has fruit or veg in it then it's healthy......right?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Seriously naughty white chocolate and raspberry sponge cake

When we offered to host a dinner party at ours just a few days before a friends birthday we wanted to bake something really yummy. But with a very hectic day planned and not a massive amount of time a simple sponge cake was going to have to make do for dessert.

Adding my two favourite ingredients to the cake made a mundane sponge cake into an indulgent white chocolate and raspberry sponge cake.

Melting white chocolate into a bowl and adding this carefully to whisked cream cheese makes an absolutely devine frosting for cakes. then adding raspberries to the mix creates a gorgeous pink layer to sandwich between the two cakes. With the top then decorated with further white chocolate cream cheese mix. Then a few more raspberries and a random choice of marshmallows later I had a totally delicious moist, creamy, fruity sponge cake for the centre of the dinner table made from a simple sponge cake.
White chocolate and raspberry sponge cake

White chocolate and raspberry sponge cake
 I think If I throw together another cake like this I will make it slightly more indulgent by somehow blow tourching the marshmallows to give them a little colour as well as drizzling more white chocolate over the whole of the top of the cake to tie together the topping.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Park Run number 12 at Lanhydrock house Bodmin. Shaving 7 minutes of my time in 3 months.

Last week it was time for my twelfth Park Run at Lanhydrock House in Bodmin and I wasn't really feeling it. I had been out the night before only for a quiet one with a few pints but I was knackered and had had a terrible nights sleep and was wide awake watching the minutes tick over from 5.00am.

I eventually got out of bed at 6.30am and had my breakfast and thought to myself I might as well do Park Run as I was awake early but I felt shattered. Arriving at Lanhydrock house in Bodmin I was feeling wiped out, sleepy and yawning my head off. I warmed up by jogging to the start line and that hurt! My knees ached and I really did feel like I couldn't even achieve getting around the whole course today.

Meeting up with some friends on the start line we were chatting away and through yawning my head off my eyes were streaming with water and all off a sudden everyone started running. I was half asleep and hadn't even heard them shout go! I started running and thought to myself how hard it felt today, the first bit of the run is a quick down hill before a slight up hill and that first little section of uphill really did feel like a battle!

I wanted to get this finished, as I know the course I slowed down my pace on the flat section along the river in the hope of saving some energy for the long uphill slog. I am still yet to run the whole course and this weeks attempt was no exception. As I hit the steep muddy section through the woods, on the last of the uphill sections before the finish I could barely catch my breath and had to slow down to a walk. As I reached the gate I knew I only had a slight incline uphill to go before a dash downhill to the finish. Forcing myself to pick the pace back up I continued running very slowly up the hill to the brow of the hill and gave it everything to get to the end.

I crossed the finish line absolutely exhausted and got myself scanned in to receive my time and started walking back up the hill to the car park. At least after my run I was feeling slightly more awake now but definitely more exhausted.

Then to my surprise the results came through and I received my notification of my time and to my absolute astonishment and shock I had achieved a new PB!!! Yes a new personal best, clearly lack of sleep and cider has had a positive effect on my running. My quickest time up until now had been 29:11 and this was 4 weeks ago and I was proud of this time, I was sub 30minutes on a hard 5km course and that, I was happy with. After all I have only been running for 3 months now. Last week I had felt stronger, faster and a lot more confident yet I was 6 seconds off beating that time. This week I felt rubbish and smashed through knocking 28 seconds off my time and this week received a time of 28:43.

I'm so pleased that in just 12 Park Run attempts I have gone from achieving a time of 35:48 on my first attempt to now receiving a time of 28:43 shaving a whole 7 minutes of my 5km time since I began.

Massive thank you's go out to Park Run for turning my fitness around in just 3 months and to all the volunteers at Lanhydrock Park run who put on the event. See you all on Saturday for the next one.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

My first attempt at making home made bread

When we invited some close friends around for dinner we wanted everything to be made fresh and made from scratch and that meant making home made bread for the first time. 
With my other half making a Lasagne from scratch I was on hand to make a sharing bread dish to accompany his lasagne as well as a desert.

Flicking through the pages of a recent Morrissons magazine I came across various bread recipes and one included a tear and share rosemary and roasted onion tear and share bread. 

Having never made bread before I thought that it would be really hard and knew that it took a lot of time with various amounts of proving required. 

What I hadn't realised was that making home made bread is actually incredibly easy! I had never realised just how few ingredients are used to make a loaf of bread and how utterly simple and quick it is to make. I was so worried with all these terms mentioned on the Great British Bake Off of first prove and second prove, knocking back, kneading and gluten structures that it was going to be a challenge to make. 

3 hours after getting all my ingredients out I have 16 delicious bread rolls warm out of the oven ready to eat and now knowing how easy it is to make bread I'm thinking of what else I can make and how else I can adapt the recipe to make other versions of these rolls.  

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Park Run number 11 at Lanhydrock

Another Saturday morning, another Park Run. For me this was Park Run number eleven, I was feeling confident. The weather was a lot warmer then it has been recently, ok so it was still in single figures but a balmy 9'C rather than the 1-2'C and frosty starts that we have been previously used to. 

Arriving to Lanhydrock the morning was fairly overcast but the forecast for the day was meant to be amazing and sunny and I was confident we wouldn't be seeing any rain so I left one layer of clothing behind for this weeks run. 

Walking over to the start I was feeling a bit chilly and wondered if leaving the extra layer behind was such a good idea as the wind blew it felt rather nippy. Saying hello to a few friends and having the run brief from the run director it was time to begin the run and we were off. This week it seemed a lot busier than previous weeks and running through the woods there was quite a number of runners steadily plodding through the trees. 

Starting Lanhydrock Park Run Bodmin

Starting Lanhydrock Park Run
Feeling confident around the course I arrived at the down hill section towards the finish line and gave it everything I had to cross the line. It felt good, I felt confident and was sure that I would achieve a personal best. After a few hours the times were in and I was gutted I had missed getting a personal best by 6 seconds!!! I had increased my time for the last three weeks running and was sure that this week I had broken my fastest time but sadly not this week. That sub 3o minute personal best 4 weeks ago was seeming impossible to beat. 

Finishing Lanhydrock Park Run
Rather than getting deflated missing out by just a few seconds this has made me even more determined and I already can't wait for the next week for another attempt at beating myself. Park Run is really addictive and I never would have thought that getting faster and fitter was that important to me. Just three months ago I attended my first park run and was proud of myself for getting up and out of bed on a Saturday morning and at least attempting park run. I was so pleased to have even covered 5km even if I walked large chunks of it I was really pleased with the effort and didn't really care about the time. I can't believe the difference Park Run has made to my weekends and I'm already looking forward to completing my twelfth run.

Finishing Lanhydrock Park Run


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Frosty morning walks in Cornwall and Ruthvoes holy well

Last weekend we thought that Spring was here, or at least arriving! The sun was shining and temperatures reached recorded highs of 17'C but this weekend it's gone back to being a wintry story. 

The sun might be shining and it might be a beautiful morning for a walk but a heavy frost and freezing temperatures make it feel suspiciously like winter.
Here's just a few of my photographs from a recent frosty walk around Indian Queens and Ruthvoes and includes Ruthvoes Holy well. 
Frost on plants

Heavy Frost on plants

Frosty Leaves

Heavy frost on leaves

Ruthvoes Stream

Ruthvoes Stream Cornwall

Frosty morning in Cornwall

Ruthvoes Holy Well Cornwall

Frosty morning in Cornwall


Winter in Corwnwall

Winter scenes in Cornwall

Heavy Frost in Cornwall

Ruthvoes stream in Cornwall

Sunrise over Cornwall

Cornish Holy well - Ruthvoes

Heavy frost in CornwallPublic footpath sign cornwall


Frosty Sunrise

Frosty leaves

beautiful patterns made in a heavy frost in Cornwall

Frost on plants

Frost on leaves in CornwallPlants under a heavy frost


Frost forming on plants

Frosty sunrise looking towards goss moor

Frost patterns on wood

frosty plants

frosty plants in cornwall




Sunday, 8 March 2015

The little big run Cornwall

Last week I took part in my first organised run in probably 15 year! When I was at school I was a keen runner, I competed for my school and for Chelmsford Athletics Club and my events were the 800 and 1500 metres as well as cross country. But since leaving school and moving to Cornwall my running shoes have well and truly been hung up. 

All of that changed in early December 2014 when my sister, who is an avid Park Runner came to visit me in Cornwall for a pre Christmas get together. Not wishing to miss a park run my sister arrived in Cornwall with her boyfriend and her running shoes and were insisting that I would love Park Run and it's only 5km and that I should come along. 

Since that first Bodmin Park Run just over three months ago where I had to walk over half the route I've clocked up running just over 70 miles! and last weekend was one of my longest distances yet and my first race. 

On Sunday the 1st of March I headed over to Wadebridge and met up with two friends and took part in the 'Little' Big Run Cornwall. The day consisted of three races a 5.5 mile little race, an 11 mile serious race and then the 17 mile super serious race. All three routes were following the camel trail to Padstow. I've cycled the wadebridge to Padstow route many times but never had I run the route. 
The big run Cornwall 2015
15 minutes before the race began we were taking part in a rather energetic warm up, which was just as well as the temperature in the morning was pretty cold. Once warmed up and ready to go all the runners moved over to the entrance to the camel trail to start the 5.5 mile race.
Warming up at The big run Cornwall 2015

Warming up in Wadebridge at The big run Cornwall 2015

Wadebridge at The big run Cornwall 2015
We all started off fairly slowly as the crowd of runners funnelled through the narrow camel trail but as people started to settle into their own pace the runners thinned out. By the time we were passing under the A39 road bridge the run was under full swing. 

Putting my headphones in it was time to zone into my run and enjoy the scenery of the route. Having cycled the route many times before I knew what to expect and knew that the route was pretty flat so could run at a faster pace than I had run my previous Park Run attempts. 

Getting across the finish line I received a time of 46 minutes which is my fastest pace run yet, as it was a run completely on the flat I can't get too over excited by this pace, but as the wind was fierce during the run I'm really pleased with my time and can't wait for my next official run.
Mandi Brooks The big run Cornwall 2015

The camel trail Wadebridge to Padstow

Reflecting on the run, I did find the route a little boring, the scenery was good, the atmosphere was good but I think due to the nature of the flat course and knowing it so well it was just a little monotonous. I'm not wishing for huge hills but maybe just thinking about the next challenge, I'm not talking doing anything crazy like a tough mudder but maybe there's a 10km in me or a half marathon for me to achieve next.

Thank you to my sister for getting me back into running and massive thank you's to my two girly friends that I ran with last week.

Bring on the next run.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Volunteering at Park Run

It's Saturday morning and that can only mean one thing, it's ParkRun time. I'm actually running this week after having a weekend off running last weekend. But just because I didn't run didn't mean I didn't go to Park Run. 
Yes last week I was up early and actually over at Park Run before all the runners! Last week I did my first stint of volunteering at the Lanhydrock Park Run. 

The whole Park Run movement is only possible due to volunteers and the whole movement is completely free to take part and be involved in and all that is asked in return is that you volunteer every now and again. 

So after ten Park Runs and racking up 50km of Saturday morning running I thought it was my time to stand around the course and volunteer my time and take that mornings Park Run photographs. 

I've got to say that volunteering is more time consuming than just turning up and running, you need to arrive earlier, finish later and then in my case of the photography spend time after the run to upload the images to the flickr group. However the joy you get from volunteering is equally as good as running at Park Run. Cheering the runners on while capturing their smiles on grouling hills makes it all worthwhile. 

I'm off to do Park Run number 11 now. Enjoy the photos and hopefully I will see you on the start line or volunteering soon.  
Volunteers at Lanhydrock Park Run

Warming up at Lanhydrock Park Run

Lanhydrock Park Run

Park Run past Lanhydrock house

Park Run bodmin

Runners at park run in Cornwall

Runners at Lanhydrock park run in CornwallRunners at Lanhydrock park run in Cornwall


Runner at Lanhydrock park run in Cornwall

Lanhydrock House bodmin

Lanhydrock country park bodminLanhydrock country park bodmin

Lanhydrock country park bodmin

Volunteers and tail runners at Park Run
If you would like to run at Lanhydrock Park Run or volunteer find out more information on their website - http://www.parkrun.org.uk/lanhydrock/
Volunteering at Park Run