Friday, 16 August 2013

Meet Boudicca (My Beautiful Pashley Princess Sovereign)

Since moving to London, one of the things I've missed the most has been cycling. When I lived in York, I cycled to and from work most days, and would often take long weekend cycles along country paths. However, the fear of London roads and a consistently lengthy commute means I ended up selling my bike not long after I moved to London, throwing £100 or so at TFL each month for the joy of using their "services".

I feel it's important to introduce you to my old bike first - she was my 2nd bike, my 1st being a battered 60s shopper from York Bike Rescue. The 2nd bike was a Raleigh Caprice, also from the York Bike Rescue project and she did me a good few years. I sold her to a friend, who's recently sold her to another friend. It's good to know that she's still loved and used and enjoying life on the roads. I always feel a bit bad that I never gave her a name.

But now, there's a beautiful new girl in my life. My new job has a shorter commute and cycling is a viable option. It should also save me plenty of money and give me a wee bit of a fitness boost. I spent a lot of time researching which bike to go for, but in the end my heart guided me and I went with a Pashley Princess Sovereign (which I'll be paying for for the next few years thanks to the Pay4Later option at Urban Cyclery). 

Pashley Princess Sovereign

I went with the Pashley Princess Sovereign because she had everything I wanted - a strong and sturdy steel loop frame, ding dong bell, lugged frame, dress guards so that my long autumn skirts don't get stuck, hub brakes, 5 hub gears, a full chain case to stop me from being covered in mud when it rains, a beautiful wicker basket, dynamo lights, a pannier rack and a snazzy integrated rear wheel lock for an additional element of safety. It's love, for sure.

Pashleys are by no means cheap, but they're beautiful and incredibly well made (and still made in Stratford Upon Avon). And why Boudicca? Partly because Boudicca is somewhat of a hero of mine, but also because despite the fact that this is very clearly a femmey bike, she's also pretty strong, hardworking and sturdy. I wanted a bike that I'd feel safe on, and she's definitely that. 

I'm looking forward to regaling you with tales of my adventures as a cyclist in London. I'm already a bit bike obsessed, so there's be details of rides, bike accessory reviews (I'm looking forward to sharing my helmet choice with you!) and various bits of chit chat about my new found love on the blog too.

Do you cycle? What's your bike of choice?
RSS Feed | Bloglovin | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter

Monday, 5 August 2013

Budget Eats: Meal Plan 1


Radio silence is taking a wee break as I'm finally through the stress of job hunting (which means I have a new job - hurrah!). I don't know about you, but summer seems to have kicked my wallet a wee bit. I think it's because I'm more inclined to go out and about and meet people for drinks. Which is lovely, but it means that I'm already looking at my bank account with a mild amount of fret and worry (although part of that is due to buying myself a new bike but *shush* more about her another day).

Anyway, on Twitter yesterday I mentioned that I'd managed to plan meals for a week for 2 for around £15 (lunch & dinner - breakfast is always gluten free cereal & almond milk) and a few people seemed interested so I thought I'd share. Lunches will be leftovers, either from the day before or from the 2 big batch meals (soup & rice salad) at the start of the week. I say around £15 because I'm aware I'm not taking the cost of stock, herbs & spices into account, but I'd say at the very, very most this would be £20.

I shop locally, and I'm lucky enough to have a lovely, friendly greengrocers nearby. The veg for this came to £9.28 (including 3 fresh chillis, garlic, fresh ginger, fresh parsley and a cheeky blood orange). I understand that if you have to use your local supermarket, it might not come in quite as cheap. I really do recommend trying to find a good local greengrocers if you can, because they're often cheaper and allow more flexibility in terms of how much you buy of each ingredient.

I'm not giving full recipes, just a basic overview. (although if there's anything you'd really like me to go into detail with then let me know). There's a big stock of herbs & spices in my cupboard - again, I buy the cheapest bulk versions possible. So, without further ado, here's the meal plan for this week:

Sunday evening (4 portions for dinner + 3 portions left over): 
Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup: 6 medium carrots, 1 v large sweet potato, 1 medium onion, 5 cloves garlic, 1 red chilli, 1 inch fresh ginger, cumin, basil, oregano, thyme, za'tar, paprika, ground coriander, S&P, 1 litre gf chicken stock
(Roast carrots & sweet potato until softish. Fry off onion, garlic, chilli & ginger, add roast veg & herbs/spices, add stock. Simmer for 25+ minutes. Blend, adding more water if necessary)

Monday (and a good few lunches):
Massive Rice Salad: 400g rice (cooked & cooled), 400g tuna, 1 red pepper, 1 cucumber, 4 big tomatoes, bunch of spring onions, flat leaf parsley, 4 tbsp mayo, juice of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp olive oil, chilli flakes, S&P, za'tar
(Based on this recipe

Spinach and potato curry: 1 large bunch spinach (stalks removed), 500gish (I have no idea I don't weigh things) new potatoes, 1 medium red onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1 red chilli, 1 inch ginger, garam masala, ground coriander, cumin, S&P, tumeric, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 carton chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
(Chop potatoes into quarters, par boil, drain. Chop spinach, cook in small saucepan with 2 tbsp water until wilted - drain & cool. Fry onion, garlic, chilli & ginger, add potatoes, add spinach, add tomatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with yoghurt)

Mediterranean Veg Stew & Rice: 1 aubergine, 1 courgette, 1 carton chopped tomatoes, 1 medium red onion, 3 cloves garlic, borlotti/butter beans, rice, paprika, oregano, basil, za'tar, smoked paprika, S&P, 2 tbsp olive oil
(Chop everything, Fry onion & garlic. Add other veg & beans. Add herbs. Add tomatoes. Simmer for 25 minutes. Cook rice. Serve)

Vegetable Chilli: 1 medium red onion, 10 mushrooms, 1 red pepper, 1 tin black/kidney/borlotti beans, 1 carton chopped toms, rice, 1 red chilli, 3 cloves garlic, paprika, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne, 2 squares basics dark chocolate, S&P, 1/2 tsp veg boullion, glug of red wine leftover from a party, possibly a bit of cheese if the budget will stretch, natural yoghurt if needed, squeeze of tomato puree
(Chop everything, Fry onion, chilli & garlic. Add other veg & beans. Add herbs & spices & chocolate. Add tomatoes. Simmer for 25 minutes. Cook rice. Serve.)

Leftovers & pasta: Whatever's left in the fridge, pasta.
(Roast whatever veg is left in the fridge. Mix it with pasta. Maybe add some cheese if I can stretch to it)

I don't really do things very exactly, hence why spices etc are just names without measures. Experiment. What works for me flavourwise might not work for you. Use these as a jumping point. This is not the world's most exciting or balanced diet I'm sure but it's cheap, relatively healthy, gluten free and filling.

Let me know if this is useful for you. I'm more than happy to share these every week if it helps!

RSS Feed | Bloglovin | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter