Gym update

Today is 1st May and I’ve now been attending the gym on a regular basis for 5 months (having joined during the first week of December 2017). This is probably the longest I’ve kept up a gym membership for… ever…!

I am still attending the gym 2 or 3 times a week and have got into a routine of spending an hour each time before starting work in the mornings. I vary my routine slightly and haven’t yet missed a session.

I am feeling incredibly fit now and the buzz I feel when I’ve completed each session is huge meaning I feel positive and ready to face anything throughout the day!




Week 17 walking progress

Week 17 walking progress:

  • Total for week 17 = 33 miles
  • Average per day for this week (33 / 7) = 4.71
  • Running total = 538 + 33 = 571 miles
  • Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 571) = 479

A fairly average week of walking to and from work, a bit extra at the gym and 10 miles with my local walking club on Sunday.

Lovely bluebells on Sunday’s 10 mile walk!



Vegan verdict

Conclusions on vegan diet…

For my last day as a vegan a little reflection on the last month is in order. What has this month taught me?

I do feel incredibly healthy and positive in both mind and body. I have a little personal turmoil at the moment but that’s for another post.

Throughout the last month I’ve managed fairly well to stick to a predominantly vegan diet. Unfortunately I’ve not managed to be a 100% vegan…

  • Chris and I visited a local pub for dinner one evening. There was no vegan option and the only vegetarian option was mushroom risotto… I’m not keen on mushrooms or risotto so decided to have fish and chips.
  • During my recent trip to Oslo with my vegan daughter Zoe, we were able to follow a vegan diet without too much difficulty. The hotel had a massive choice of breakfast enabling me to have soya milk on my cereal, beans on toast, smoothies etc. Oslo has several excellent vegan restaurants including Nordvegan and Funky Fresh Foods. However on the last night we set out to look for something to eat but at 8.30 pm on a Sunday most specialised vegan restaurants had closed. We found an Olivia restaurant but the only vegan option was a bowl of olives! So we had to get a vegetarian pizza…

Lessons learned:

  1. I have no issues with preparing vegan food at home; there are thousands of tasty vegan recipes and I never get fed up with curries and soups. I don’t miss meat at all.
  2. Many restaurant chains now have specific vegan menu’s which is great. However this doesn’t apply to all and going to the two restaurants mentioned above has meant breaking my vegan pledge.
  3. Having discussed veganism with my daughter Zoe she now refers to herself as having a ‘plant based diet’ rather than calling herself a vegan.


Following a vegan diet throughout April and March’s vegetarian lifestyle have encouraged me to think carefully about my approach to food and eating.

Giving vegetarianism some careful thought I don’t feel its much more ‘animal friendly’ than people who eat meat. It could even be considered worse… I am not an expert but I would assume that killing a cow for its meat means the animal suffers less than a cow who is milked for its entire life. Therefore if someone decides to become a vegetarian and as a result consumes more cheese rather than eating meat, are they in fact being more harmful to cows?

I also believe that a predominantly vegan lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle choice and that eating meat isn’t really necessary.

Taking all things into consideration this is what I am going to do from now:

  • I will cook vegan as much as possible at home although I will revert back to having fish occasionally.
  • I will order vegan food as a priority if it’s available on restaurant menu’s. If it isn’t I’ll go for the most healthy choice.
  • I’m not keen on the way animals are used to produce milk (which is meant for baby cow’s) so I will continue to have oat milk or coconut milk rather than cow’s milk. And have occasional cheese but try to get vegan cheese where possible.
  • I might very occasionally have chicken but only if it’s free range and organic. And the same applies to eggs.
  • I won’t eat pork, lamb or beef again. The only exception would be if I am invited as a guest and someone has kindly cooked it for me without realising my food preferences. This would be extremely rare and might occur less than once a year. However I wouldn’t want to make a fuss or offend my host.

So following my vegetarian and vegan months and discussing the terminology with Zoe, from now I am going to follow a primarily plant based diet! 



Week 16 walking progress

Week 16 walking progress:

  • Total for week 16 = 44 miles
  • Average per day for this week (44 / 7) = 6.29
  • Running total = 494 + 44 = 538 miles
  • Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 538) = 512

A milestone in week 16… yes, I’ve completed over half of the 1050 miles I had pledged to walk in 2018 already 🙂

Some of these miles were walked in and around Oslo city centre. On Saturday my daughter and I clocked up 9 miles and a further 8 on Sunday. It’s surprising how many miles you can walk by spending a day in a city!



Visiting Oslo


Having set myself a goal to travel to every European capital city a few years ago, I’ve been fortunate to visit many of them. This has been greatly assisted with budget airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair. In the past I’ve even visited some of them for just a day by taking the first flight out, spending the day exploring and coming back on the last flight home.

Oslo is one of the cities I had never managed to visit… well, until last weekend! My daughter Zoe and I had 3 nights in Oslo, the full details of which are covered in our Oslo travel blog post!

There are 51 European capital cities and so far I’ve been to 32 of them:

  • Vienna (Austria)
  • Brussels (Belgium)
  • Sofia (Bulgaria)
  • Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Nicosia (Cyprus)
  • Prague (Czech Republic)
  • Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • Tallinn (Estonia0
  • Helsinki (Finland)
  • Paris (France)
  • Berlin (Germany)
  • Athens (Greece)
  • Budapest (Hungary)
  • Reykjavik (Iceland)
  • Dublin (Ireland)
  • Rome (Italy)
  • Riga (Latvia)
  • Vaduz (Liechtenstein)
  • Luxembourg City (Luxembourg)
  • Valletta (Malta)
  • Monaco (Monaco)
  • Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  • Oslo (Norway)
  • Warsaw (Poland)
  • Lisbon (Portugal)
  • Bucharest (Romania)
  • Bratislava (Slovakia)
  • Ljubljana (Slovenia)
  • Madrid (Spain)
  • Stockholm (Sweden)
  • London (UK)
  • Vatican City (Vatican City)


Still to visit:

  • Tirana (Albania)
  • Andorra la Vella (Andorra)
  • Yerevan (Armenia)
  • Baku (Azerbaijan)
  • Minsk (Belarus)
  • Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzgovina)
  • Tbilisi (Georgia)
  • Astana (Kazakhstan)
  • Pristina (Kosovo)
  • Vilnius (Lithuania)
  • Skopje (Macedonia)
  • Chisinau (Moldova)
  • Podgorica (Montenegro)
  • Moscow (Russia)
  • San Marino (San Marino)
  • Belgrade (Serbia)
  • Bern (Switzerland)
  • Ankara (Turkey)
  • Kiev (Ukraine)




Weeks 14 & 15 walking progress

Snowdonia National Park

Week 14 walking progress:

  • Total for week 14 = 43 miles
  • Average per day for this week (43 / 7) = 6.14
  • Running total = 408 + 43 = 451 miles
  • Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 451) = 599

Another super effort! 10.5 tough miles were achieved by climbing to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn, the second highest mountain in Wales. And on Easter Monday I did a 15 mile walk in the Chilterns which boosted this weeks’ total.


Week 15 walking progress:

  • Total for week 15 = 43 miles
  • Average per day for this week (43 / 7) = 6.14
  • Running total = 451 + 43 = 494 miles
  • Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 494) = 556

Oddly the same total for weeks’ 14 and 15 but very different miles walked! Most of week 15’s miles were walked in and around my local town including a walk that Chris and I did to a local village pub and back… it took slightly longer to walk back…




Vegan progress…

Mid month update…

A last minute change of plan on 1st April, Easter Sunday, meant we didn’t go to visit my in-laws and I was able to stick to my first day as a vegan. After the promise of an aubergine and chickpea curry, I decided to cook a vegan curry in any case. I used vegan curry paste, vegan Bouillon, coconut milk, sweet potato, chick peas, cauliflower and peas and made enough for 2 nights. It was delicious!

Typical vegan breakfasts have consisted of: Alpro yogurt with grapes, blueberries and organic muesli. Or sometimes organic muesli or porridge with oat milk.

Lunches are often home made vegan soups or vegan soups from Pret. Or peanut butter or hummus with pitta bread.

I’m using oat milk in coffee or having black coffee and drinking fruit teas rather than black tea.

Dinners are often vegetable curries or something like spaghetti bolognaise made with quorn and vegan sauce and spaghetti.

I nearly forgot last night as I popped a pizza in the oven… then suddenly remembered the cheese! This meant that Chris had the pizza and I had the falafels and vegetable samosas!

So generally it is easy to stick with a vegan diet while at home… going away is a slightly different matter…

Work trip

I had a recent work trip and decided to mention to my colleagues that I was following a vegan diet. This meant that every time we had some food they were helping me to choose saying ‘Oh… you can have this… or that…’ which was fine! And I tend to do the same with my vegan daughter Zoe…

Breakfast in the Premier Inn was good with fruit, muesli, baked beans, tomato and hash browns.

The M & S lunch was a little disappointing… the only option I could find was a single choice of a pre-packed vegan salad…

Snowdonia weekend

I decided on this occasion not to mention to this particular group of friends that I was doing a vegan month. I wanted to find if I could do it without anyone noticing…

En-route: Starbucks cappuccino with coconut milk (delicious)

Coffee shop lunch: hummus with bread and fruit tea

Evening meal: Shepherdess pie made with lentils. This was actually the vegetarian option but it seemed the closest to being vegan. There was probably a small amount of butter in the mashed potato but I didn’t want to make a big deal of it.

Breakfast: there was no milk substitute available so I put orange juice on my muesli! On the second day I had porridge and requested it was made with soya milk which fortunately they had.

On the way home from Snowdonia I stayed in a different hotel where I had a delicious vegetarian chickpea and spinach jalfrezi. There was nothing vegan on the menu but I think this was made with coconut milk… I didn’t want to ask the in’s and out’s of the ingredients.

There was no fruit available for breakfast and the only vegan option I could find was beans on toast! I was tempted by a poached egg but resisted… if I’m going to try veganism for a month I need to do it properly and not be tempted by such an obvious animal product.

This weekend made me start to think there are different levels of veganism and that being vegan doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. I’m classing myself as a ‘light touch’ vegan by choosing zero animal products as far as possible but not to the extent of examining all ingredients every time I go out for a meal.

A ‘hard core’ vegan would be strict and would ensure that absolutely no animal products are used in the production of their food.

I had an interesting conversation recently where, during a discussion about vegetarianism and veganism, a friend, defending the steak they had just consumed said “you have to enjoy your life”. I’ve found that you can enjoy your life without eating animal products. It seemed unfair that an intelligent animal such as a cow has to lose its life just to enable a human to enjoy eating them when there are other options available. Why do we humans seem to think we’re entitled to ‘make use of’ and eat other animals when we don’t need to?

Just a thought…



April book review

Book number 6

Book read: The Long and Whining Road by Simeon Courtie

An interesting and realistic account of a family of 5 who travelled around the world in an old VW camper van. The author (the dad, Simeon) gives you a good insight of what would be involved if you ever wanted to take on such a trip, setting out a number of issues for example with border controls and with shipping their van between continents.

This book did take me a while to get into so progress was slow at the beginning. However the book got better and better as the family continued to drive through Europe and into Turkey, Syria and Jordan and onto India, Australia and the US.

Incredibly Simeon drove his family through Syria although thankfully for them this was shortly before the tragic events of Syria took hold. Even so, he described the tensions the family felt in a country on the brink of civil war.

This book definitely inspired me even more to take on something similar… maybe not driving around the world in one go but I would certainly love to drive around the UK, Europe, Australia and the US in camper vans!



Snowdonia road trip

Snowdonia National Park

Wikipedia road trip definition:

“A road trip is a long distance journey on the road”

I wasn’t sure whether a weekend trip of driving for 4+ hours to North Wales and back would technically be classed as a ‘road trip’ and it certainly wasn’t on the same scale as the road trip Chris and I took across Europe from Calais to Prague and back in July 2016 or the road trip through Northern Argentina in November 2016.

However, on the basis I had given this challenge the title ‘Go on a UK weekend road trip’ and this was a weekend, on the road and within the UK, I decided this should therefore count!

The purpose of the weekend was to explore the gorgeous scenery on foot by means of a series of 3 separate hikes which I’ve covered separately in our travel blog.

I did a little bit of driving around Snowdonia but this was mostly driving to and from the starting point of each hike.

And on the way back, I had a night in a spa hotel in Llangollen, a small town near the English border.