Sunday thoughts

Ah another good week comes to an end! The week started in France with my granddad, passed through Paris for a quick lunch with my aunt, before getting straight back to my clients in London. A bit of training, including a new circuit, plenty of clients, lots of writing, even more cooking and testing and eating, some tweeting and instagramming (I’m still very much a newbie to Instagram, but slowly finding my feet), friends, and sunshine!

Once I managed to get stress levels back down after the trip to France, I was left with a real sense of calm and optimism about the world. I don’t know why, but I’m not here to question!

New things I’ve learnt this week

I know for sure I have learnt plenty this week, but I couldn’t possibly tell you what. The one thing that stands out to me right now – possibly because it resulted in me doing squats in our living room at 11pm on Saturday night, whilst wearing an eyepatch and an earplug – is discovering neural dissociation. From what I can tell by a few minutes of search-engining this is a vast field, but the relevant application to me is having a dominant side take over and confuse other body parts. More specifically, my right eye and ear dominating my balance, causing me to shift my weight off-centre and thereby over-stress one side of my musculature. Thus, when I perform a squat, my right leg feels stiff and awkward, but give me an eyepatch and an earplug and I start to squat normally again. Remove them and I’m back to awkward and lopsided. Weird, eh?

Anyway, stay tuned for that one as I do some work on regaining control of my individual muscles, and I’ll report back with some more in-depth information!

New things I have eaten this week

  • Finally, a real “new” ingredient: amaranth! I had to buy it for a recipe I was testing, but it’s been one of those things I’ve been debating buying for years, always putting it back on the shelf as frankly I don’t really end up eating that many grains these days apart from oats. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it; the only way I can think to describe it is like super compact quinoa, remaining chewier than the latter but with a similarly nutty earthy taste. I like! And I think it’ll turn out to be highly versatile in cooking.
  • After the mouse that lives in our kitchen decided to get his (or her) own back on me for surprising him/her in our cupboard by eating through every single one of the large flour tortillas I had bought (oh, he/she – let’s go with “he” as I’ve called him Bruce Willis – didn’t just politely nibble at the edge, but rather chomped straight through the middle, ensuring they could not conceivably be eaten by any human), I had no choice but to make tortillas myself. Well, I could have bought some more, but I refuse to pay twice for something I only use once and anyway it hurts my soul a little to buy tortillas with their emulsifiers and antioxidants and preservatives and whatever else. So tortillas I made! 
    Flour tortillasAnd you know what? They turned out brilliantly – so much so, that Ben requested them again the following night! Plus, it’s easy and kinda fun. I can’t imagine I’ll be buying tortillas again. Take that, mousey!
  • I also tried a new chocolate, Godiva 85% Extra Dark Santo Domingo. I left my chocolate behind when I left France, thinking I could make it back to the UK without chocolate. I was wrong, as my craving was so strong I coughed up the €4 to buy a bar of luxury dark chocolate, the only vegan chocolate available in the terminal. I can’t seem to find it online anywhere though, so wondering if it’s been discontinued… I’d love to say I have been making my bar last, just in case it’s the last one ever, but that would be a lie and I’d never lie to you.
  • Unfortunately, I also had the misfortune of trying Trader Joe’s Organic Hemp Protein. The taste was fine; surprisingly, it was the texture which was repulsive. The grittiest protein I have ever seen, mixed, or tasted, it was like drinking sandy water. Even mixed with soy protein, the grit pervailed. Really not good – luckily, I was trying a friend’s and hadn’t spent any money on it myself!
  • Hopping right back on my forlorn chocolate bandwagon, I also managed to fit in a taste of the new Divine 70% Dark Chocolate with Mango and Coconut. Divine holds a special place in my heart; every Thursday there would be a little stall on the university concourse selling The Independent and a bar of Divine chocolate for 40p. As the chocolate on its own was usually 80p, of course I bought the newspaper and the chocolate. I would then actually read the paper, back in my first-year single room, whilst savouring the chocolate one little block at a time. It was a peaceful moment I looked forward to every week. Now, I no longer read The Independent, but I still buy Divine chocolate when it is on offer (buy 2 bars and try a new flavour free). Anyway, this new bar was a delightful surprise of tangy exotic chewy nuggets of mango and creamy nutty coconut crunch, but not so much as to distract you from the creamy smooth 70% dark chocolate. Yum!

Other highlights this week

  • Giving in to that little moment of pure indulgence when I bought that bar of chocolate whilst waiting to board my train back from Paris. I sat down, carefully opened the package and unpeeled the foil, then savoured every mouthful. It was a moment of perfection.
  • Despite looking forward to a quiet journey back, I got into conversation with a most interesting gentleman sat beside me. He turned out to be a political science professor in Oxford and Sciences Po, highly cultivated, but also a real enthusiast of the little things in life. We talked for the entire journey; about fitness, cooking, aspirations, about differences between French and British cultures, bookshops, piano (he’s been playing since he was three!), and so on. He bought me a coffee, and we kept talking all the way to the main station where we parted ways without even exchanging names. Somehow that made it all even more refreshing; just a completely no-strings-attached exchange of ideas.
  • Seeing all my clients this week. I really love what I do.
  • More recipe testing! On the menu this week were quesadillas and “meatball” marinara sandwiches. Oh and hey, I made my own bread, it was gorgeous, and I’m not ashamed to admit I am very proud of myself!Bread rolls
  • Finding out that my friend Matthew got a job as a cycling journalist. He is passionate about cycling and about writing, so it couldn’t really have been more perfect, and I am so happy for him.
  • Getting some more circuit training in. I hate it, but it really does make me feel so much fitter, so much quicker. It’s good to see my limbs can still work at a higher speed. Honestly, I was beginning to doubt it.
  • Meatball marinara sandwichSaturday was a great day; up early for a little bit of work, followed by a low-key little workout to fill in the week’s gaps, back home to make bread, talk to my family on Skype, watch the athletics, eat meatball marinara sandwiches (pictured), watch the UFC… and then I was fast asleep by midnight!
  • Oh but today was even better! Up and out the door into the sunshine, brunch in the sunshine with two beloved friends (thank you Giraffe for putting another vegan-friendly option on the brunch menu; sourdough toast with hummus, avocado, cherry tomatoes and basil oil!), coffee with a new acquaintance in my uncle’s sister and her partner, then back home where Ben is making us ravioli for dinner.

I guess that’s about all of note, but I hope I have left you with the same sense of peace and happiness that I am filled with today. If you are in this part of the world, I hope you have been able to make the most of the sunshine and warmth, or at the very least have done something for you this week!

Merry Sunday all, and a happy new week!