Monday, 28 May 2012

REVIEW: English Provender Co. Ploughman's Plum Chutney

After a nice little chat on Twitter, the English Provender Co. very kindly sent me a jar of their Ploughman's Plum Chutney to review. Now, if you've been following my blog, you will know that food is very central in my life so getting sent food to try is like a dream come true for me. Usually. Unfortunately, I do not like chutneys! Or pretty much anything that has been pickled, preserved or otherwise vinegared. Now how's that for opening an honest review?

But never fear! All is not lost! I have the Faithful Boy on hand to give me his unreserved and full, unbiased opinion of said product for the lovely English Provender Co. And yea! The Boy hath spoken...

"The chutney comes in a nice posh looking jar, and the colour looks quite appetising. 
When I opened the lid, there was a nice tangy and (thankfully) plummy smell. 
It tastes really nice, sweet and sour but with a good balance. 

It's the sort of thing I would use in place of Branston Pickle, 
but it's a lot nicer than normal pickle because it is not as vinegary and tart. 
It's a good salady type thing, I had some with cheese today and that tasted really good. 
As you would think, it would be very nice with a Ploughman's. 
Hence the name probably. 

Cold meats, cheeses, salads, all that sort of thing would be good with it. 
But I'm quite happy to eat it straight from the jar, which you'd never do with regular pickle. Because that would be gross. But this isn't, it's nice."

Genuinely ate it straight from the jar..
So there you have it. A very positive review from The Boy. But don't let him round your house if you have some English Provender Co. products in the cupboard, because he may well simply hoover them all up.

Gipsy liked the look of it!
If you haven't come across the English Provender Co. before, they are a nice company who make all kinds of sauces and condiments. Stuff that goes with other stuff, rather than being an ingredient. They use high quality ingredients to make their products and appear to have a friendly little team. They have some nice recipe ideas on their website, as well as suggestions submitted by their fans. Looking around the website it seems that many of their products are vegetarian, vegan and coeliac friendly as well which is good - there's certainly no compromise on flavour or quality because of this and the website is very clear in giving this information.

They claim to have something to suit every taste and I think they're right! They have an organic range (I wonder how long it will  be until all of their products are organic?) In particular, the Organic Spicy Onion Chutney catches my eye in that range.  I know, this is despite my disclaimer about not liking pickly stuff at the beginning of this review. But I've just been having a browse of the website to see what else I can tell you about and this sounds nice! The Boy has got his eye on the Hot Chilli Relish and I reckon my favourite thing in their range would probably be the Indulgent Balsamic Dressing. It's only fair as well for me to give a nod to their Orange Flower Water. It has been a staple in my cupboard, mainly for baking tasks, for quite some time now - I think probably about 2 years. So proof indeed of the quality of this brand that I have kept coming back.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

REVIEW: The Font, Leicester

Edit: Now closed :(

The Font is one of Leicester's worst kept secrets. Everyone's been, everyone knows it's good, but for the most part, people walk in and say "God, I've not been here for ages". Set on the outskirts of the central Leicester De Montfort University Campus, on the interesting address of 52 1/2 Gateway Street, The Font is unassuming from the outside and certainly very easy to miss if you don't know the city. This is a great area of town for real ale, with both the Criterion and the Swan and Rushes just a short walk away and the Font does not disappoint in the area, although it is a lot younger, funkier with a very contemporary 'vintage' decor.

Upon entering The Font, you'll see a huge amount of mismatched retro furniture, in a slightly dim environment, with a variety of interesting artwork around the walls. It sounds cluttered, but it's quite a big space and for me it works, it's a nice place to hang out. There will also be at least one table full of students already in there before you, whenever you go, but it is literally across the road from DMU so that's to be expected. As we move into the summer, The Font becomes a bit clearer for us regular punters.

The Font offers you a friendly welcome from dedicated and hard working staff, who are always open for a bit of banter. It's definitely one of those places that quickly becomes 'where everyone knows your name'. The well stocked bar features a wide range of options, from cocktails to Brew Dog beers on tap - Punk IPA being the favourite amongst our party. The lagers and ales are well kept and while it is not cheap (the Brew Dog was £4 a pint and San Miguel about £3.40) it isn't quite on the side of offensively expensive for the nice experience you get.

They have a decent pub menu, lots of sandwiches and wraps and things, with a good choice for vegetarians. The prices looked OK and their Sunday roast is already becoming something of a local legend - although I've not had the opportunity to eat there yet so I can't really comment on the quality of the food myself.

Like a few places in Leicester, the only real downside to The Font is that they have no outside area, however, everyone does line the street along the front in the evenings. They have those nice big windows that can be opened as well and give a nice sense of space. It's the nature of the area though that unfortunately a beer garden isn't possible for this lovely little spot.

I give it a clear 8 out of 10 Extreme points. It could be a smidge cheaper and no patio is a shame, but otherwise a lovely place to while away an evening.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

REVIEW: Zaggora Viva HotPants Two Week Challenge

I received my swanky new green Zaggora Viva HotPants in the post this morning and so my Two Week Challenge has begun! I wore them today for a short home workout as the first test.

New Viva HotPants come in a bright variety of colours; pink, orange, green, blue or yellow. I asked for either a green or blue pair as I couldn't decide which I preferred and I received the green which come with a smart blue trim which I like as a colour way. For some reason, they are still lined with that awful shade of yellow, but I can ignore that as you don't see it when it's on so that's not the end of the world. In honour of Zaggora's new bright colour scheme I decided to wear them in combination with my new plum pink top which I received for my birthday.

With my fun new Cardio Bell
Quite frank photos these, now I look at them
My first impressions of the Viva HotPants is that it seems to be a bit of a two man job getting them on! In fact, I did have to call The Boy in to help me squeeze into them! I don't know if Zaggora's sizing has got smaller or if I've got bigger but I felt like I worked up a definite sweat just getting the damn things on. I found the best technique was pinching and pulling up small sections until they were on properly. I thought that the fit around the crotch was a bit gappy and around the knee it was a bit tight so that was a bit weird. However, no doubt this is just because of my oddly shaped body! The photos that we took today to illustrate this blog have demonstrated to me that I have been putting on a bit of muscle and fat recently, what with the cycling and boxing, but also with the snacking etc. as well, so this is an excellent time for me to test out the HotPants for two weeks. If nothing else I hope that I can get them on more easily after the fortnight!! Think carefully about what size you request if you enter my competition - Viva HotPants strike me as quite unforgiving size-wise and the HotPants zip is now a distant memory.
Action shot

Once they were on though, they were very comfortable, and noticeably more flexible than the old, thicker style of HotPants. I know you're all desperate to know, and yes, the signature HotPants "swooosh" when your legs rub together is still there, but it has taken on a slightly different tonal quality now the thickness of the fabric has changed. Perhaps we could get a whole gang of different HotPant wearers together and create some kind of Zaggora orchestra? The fabric is still a touch on the 'wetsuit' side though, if you're wondering what they feel like. The seams at this stage appear to be robust, which is good because I felt like I was putting the back seam under quite a distinct amount of strain when I subjected them to 50 squats earlier, but once again that could well be because I have a massive arse...

I felt that the HotPants gave me decent flexibility and should stand up to a decent amount of wear. When I took them off I had the familiar damp leg feel, but also the signature soft skin where they had been. This is the action of the Celu-lite fabric lining which is intended to use your body heat to increase energy expenditure. 

It seems to be a common misconception (or accusation) that by making you sweat more, Zaggora products are in effect giving you a 'false' sense of weight or inch loss as you are actually just losing water, but this is not the case. In reality, the idea of the technology is to heat you up which maximises the amount of calories burned, regardless of what sort of activity you are doing, from housework to horse riding.  

The two week challenge on the Zaggora website boasts you can lose 2 jeans sizes in two weeks and I know that other HotPants ambassadors have done this in the past. I don't need to lose 2 sizes, but having seen these frank photos of myself I think it is definitely time to get just that little bit tighter! So look out for my results in two weeks, I will try to wear the same outfit (down to my super cool Shock Absorber sports bra) so that hopefully you can see a realistic indication of before and after.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Uncover Ancient Lives

Do you ever feel like you waste too much time on the internet? Do you wish you could do something engaging and meaningful but yet still ultimately as pointless as collecting badges on FourSquare? Do you like really old things?

Then the Ancient Lives website is for you. Part of the Zooniverse series, where you can take part in real science and humanities projects online, Ancient Lives is the modern day incarnation of the study of the hundreds of thousands of fragments of ancient documents found at the Hellenistic site of Oxyrhynchus, in modern day Egypt. 

Take a short tutorial and you will be able to help transcribe real, as yet undeciphered fragments of ancient Greek papyrus. You could be working on a previously unknown gospel, an ancient letter or even a lost fragment of Greek philosophy. For someone as obsessed with the ancient past as me, this site is absolutely compulsive. Plus it's helping me to understand the construction of the Greek alphabet much better. That's almost certainly not going to come in useful, but I will waste many, many more hours transcribing these tiny, ancient letters.

REVIEW: Monster KONG Kickeroo and Catnip Spray

Mystery Box!
The folks at Monster Pet Supplies sent a box through to my house today. It contained a mission, addressed to my cats. Yes, once again, my cats are taking over the blog.

Morrighan, Gipsy-Moo and Maneki Neko were challenged (should they wish to accept it) to test two products from the Monster shop and give their honest opinions. Well, they've had a day of playing and frolicking, sniffing and kicking and now they've asked me to share their thoughts with you.

Well, Maneki Neko reports that he couldn't have been happier. As soon as I unveiled the cheery green box with its cutesy Monster stickers on the side, he was in, trying to snuffle the box out of my hands so he could play with it. What he was smelling was the premium North American catnip of the brand new KONG Tiger Kickeroo! None of us have been able to figure out why it is significant that the catnip is North America, but it is repeatedly emphasised on the packaging, so we thought we'd perpetuate the myth. 

As soon as the lid was off the box, Maneki pulled everything out, grabbed the Kickeroo and ran away, so I had to put everything back and hold him off so we could stage this film as if he was just getting into the box for the first time...

The Kickeroo is a plush little stuffed rectangle with an exceptionally soft tail. It is well made and Maneki hasn't been able to pull any bits off it despite playing with it all day! Even the fluffy tail hasn't shed any bits despite the rough and tumble. Maneki enjoyed grabbing the toy and kickerooing it with his hind legs. I think kickerooing may now be a verb in our house. As you may have noticed in the video, Morrighan wasn't so sure about it initially. She doesn't like to play with the kickeroo on her own like Maneki does, but thoroughly enjoys jumping at it if you wave it around for her. Gipsy-Moo was the least fussed on the Kickeroo. She gave it a bit of a sniff and decided she'd quite like to sit next to it rather than playing with it.
Don't kick it! Sit next to it!

  • Maneki Neko gives the Kickeroo 10 out of 10 Furry Baby Points. He chuffin loves it.
  • Morrighan gives the Kickeroo 7 out of 10 Furry Baby Points. She likes it because it gives her an excuse to play with me, which she loves.
  • Gipsy gives the Kickeroo a sad 3 out of 10 Furry Baby Points, owing to mistaking it for a friend and then being slightly disappointed that it didn't do anything except smell nice.
  • As an owner, I thought this was great value and excellent quality for the price. It costs the same as other cat toys which will only last two minutes and are nowhere near as nicely made. It's just a shame that every cat doesn't react the same way to catnip so Gipsy could enjoy it as much as Maneki!
We were also sent a bottle of KONG Catnip Spray to test out. This also contains North American Catnip oil for you to spray on  toys and scratching posts etc. It's easy to use and a natural product so it is safe for your kitty. Disappointingly, ours weren't fussed. We tried spraying it on their scratching post and their toys. They obviously could tell there was a different smell there as they each spent some time carefully sniffing the affected items, but they then all lost interest and wandered off! I'd suggest perhaps only buying this if you know your furry baby is a proper catnip nut!

Unfortunately that means we can only give the Catnip Spray a 2 out of 10 Furry Baby points. It just wasn't the cats whiskers as far as Gipsy, Morrighan and Maneki were concerned. It seems a perfectly good quality product, they just weren't into it!

The people at Monster have been so nice and friendly, I thought I'd tell you a little bit more about their website. They don't just sell things for cats, they sell everything you could need for a whole range of pets large and small. They offer free delivery for orders over £59, but light orders only cost £1.99 delivery and heavy ones £4.99, so I think that's pretty reasonable anyway. As well as toys and accessories, they also offer food and medication, so they're a pretty much one top shop for your treasured animamamals. Looking at their cat food, for example, they have a very wide selection and their prices compare favourably with the supermarkets so that is very positive.

COMPETITION: Viva Le Zaggora HotPants!

Bad Extreme Housewife! Slap wrists!
I forgot to update you all on my Zaggora Flares issue. After my last post, when my two week trial was abortive due to the stitching on my seams going, the lovely ladies must have seen my blog as after about two days they got in touch, full of apologies and offering me a replacement pair at no charge!

Nearly three months on, my replacement pair of Flares are going strong. I am really pleased with them, but perhaps for an unexpected reason! Instead of wearing them around the gym, or when doing the housework, I have been using my Flares (and HotPants, depending on the weather) as my cycling bottoms! I've been cycling to and from work every day since early February now and I am really enjoying it. I have noticed my quads are getting really defined now, but also my calves have improved and I put this down to the Flares. My stomach is also a bit more under control than I would normally expect, even though I have been neglecting my ab work in favour of the boxing of late.

And today I find out that I will be getting the opportunity to review the latest Zaggora product - Viva Hotpants! I am quite excited about this as they sort out the two major issues I had with previous products - they aren't just black with that horrific neon yellow lining and they are a bit thinner, which I hope will lead to increased breathability and flexibility, which I imagine will be more comfortable when cycling, running and also when taking them off!!

I will let you know how I get on with my latest Two Week Challenge when my Viva HotPants arrive. In the meantime, I think we should have a little competition, what do you reckon?


I am going to test out new Viva Hotpants over two weeks. You can be one of three winners to try them out for yourself by entering my competition!

The Sciencey Bit

New Viva Hotpants, brighter and better!
Women Lose weight 4x Faster with Hotpants!
Specially designed with Celu-Lite technology fabric lining, Hotpants use your natural body temperature to warm you up around the areas you care about (legs, bum, thighs).
Tested at the Chelsea School at Brighton University, HotPants are proven to use your body heat to increase energy expenditure before and after exercise by raising your core body temperature by up to 18%. Since your heating up, your body uses more energy which means its also burning more calories. Actually, calorie burn increases by 26% in the hour after exercise with Hotpants too.  As well all know, as you burn calories, you lose weight.
In the University laboratory tests, in just 30 minutes of exercise, women lost 4x more weight with HotPants than doing the same exercise in normal work out clothes.

And you can win one of three pairs of new Zaggora Viva HotPants!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

REVIEW: Reebok Cardio Bell - 6kg kettlebell

Exciting piece of kit!
A week or so ago I won a competition on the Reebok Fitness Twitter page and bagged myself a brand new 6kg Cardio Bell. I was absolutely made up to win this, and since I have started using it, it has become one of my new favourite things! I thought it was only fair to write a blog review about it on this basis, since I am enjoying having it so much. I have already written a short review on Tribesports about it too! If I'm getting a bit evangelical let me know...

In fact now I've been on the Reebok Fitness website to get the Cardio Bell link for you, I'm feeling a bit covetous generally... If anyone fancies sending me some sexy boxing gloves and wraps for me and a set of pads for The Boy for us to try out, just let me know! (Yes, my current boxing obsession continues unabated).

Back to the Cardio Bell! It's a good design, although how much manouvre there is in terms of designing a unique kettle bell I don't know!! The handle is nice and wide though, meaning people with lickle hands like mine can easily hold it in a two handed grip. It is made of moulded plastic which is comfortable to hold, but also has a surprisingly good grip. I'm used to metal kettle bells with a rubber coating on the handle, but I find this easier to use and presumably it will last longer than a coated handle.

Although unconventional, "Cardio" bell is an excellent name for this piece of kit. If you haven't used a kettle bell before, you may be imagining they are just for meaty men who want to add muscle bulk, but this is not the case at all. They are great for building strength, granted, but they also help to tone and really provide quite a significant cardio workout, so actually they function quite nicely as an all in one piece of kit. I think for the ladies out there looking for a good home workout I would build up a routine with the 6kg bell and perhaps get the 3kg for initially building up strength in your arms individually, particularly for tricep exercises.

I tried out the Reebok Fitness YouTube videos yesterday to see what the exercises they recommended were like. To be honest, they were all things I've been instructed on using a kettle bell with before, which I suppose is quite reassuring! You'll see quite a lot of thumbs down on the videos, but this appears to me to be because Reebok have weirdly decided to name the exercises differently to the rest of the world - in some cases even seemingly swapping the names of standard exercises around (it would be like randomly saying that sit ups are now called press ups and vice versa, it just makes no sense) but the exercises themselves are sound. I found that working through each of the videos twice (one for each side where necessary) was an excellent short workout and really got the blood pumping and had me out of breath. The only criticism I have it that there are no verbal instructions to assist you with checking your posture and form is correct when undertaking the exercises.

Today I've done a load of kettle bell swings and focused on more arm toning work than cardio. That's what I really love about my new Cardio Bell, it's flexibility. On that basis I think it's a really good value home workout item. It seems to generally be priced at around £25 for the 6kg bell at the time of writing, the only reason I would suggest this is average value is that this seems to be about the price you'll pay for any 6kg kettle bell! I like the feel of this one though, so I would be happy to recommend it.

Monday, 14 May 2012


The lovely ladies at LBD asked me if I'd have a little looksy at their website and tell you lot what I think. I haven't used their site before, but I have been a follower on Twitter for a while. Being an obliging soul, I saw no harm in taking a peek, so I clicked on the link and was confronted with this homepage:
Oooo, pretty!! I think it's fair to say I likey these dresses!

So, having being sucked in by pretty prom dresses, it was no hassle to keep exploring the site. I have not been given any financial reward or been sent any products for this review. But you never know, maybe in the future they'll send me something so I can tell you all about their delivery speed and packaging... *subtle hint alert*

A Little Not Black Dress
So, it seems to me that is all about shopping for that special show stopping outfit, whatever the occasion. Rather than your usual womenswear online retailer that sell all kinds of everything, they have collected together boutique and high street brands and only offer you the lovely, pretty dresses. In fact they claim to be "home to the world's largest and finest collection of little black dresses." This could be true, however not all of the dresses are black. I saw one which was a rather distinctive shade of yellow. Regardless, I found it a delightful site to browse, as I was feeling in a girly mood. To complement that one perfect dress, they also offer a nice range of shoes and accessories to make the outfit complete.

I found the site really easy to navigate. I liked the option for searching by occasion, although I'm not entirely sure there will ever come a time that I require an outfit for a trip to the races. There are also easy to find menus which allow you to search in other ways, by style or brand for example. By this stage in my browsing I'd noticed quite a lot of beautiful but expensive dresses that were out of my price bracket so I decide to cut to the chase and click the 'sale' menu to see if there was anything on offer that I could afford. I was pleasantly surprised. There were a number of sale items that were a much more pocket friendly high street price and the more I browsed, the more I realised that the LBD team genuinely appear to have tried to cater for all budgets, which I really like. Personally, I tend to take inspiration from design tailoring and embellishment and then transfer that onto less expensive clothes, so this site is really good for me.

Purdy LBD
I liked the menu that allowed you to refine your search, particularly the slider that allows you to set your own price range. There are loads more options too - size, colour, boutique - a really detailed selection which really helps if you have a fixed idea of what you're looking for. If you're more of a browser or an impulse buyer then I'd search by occasion. This is where I found some inspirational choices outside of my usual sort of selection.

LBD is trying to be more than a mere online retailer - they seem to be building their profile to be more connected with their customer base. They have an online 'magazine' you can access through their site, essentially a blog which highlights useful offers from their designers, offers competitions and giveaways and also highlights interesting style stories. As a museum curator, I was immediately drawn to the article about the ballgowns exhibition at the V&A. They also have an active social media presence.

  • Many pretty going out clothes all in one place *drools*
  • Easy to navigate site with good search function and search refining options
  • Clear layout, good pictures with nice level of zoom on the pictures
  • Dresses, bags, shoes and bling. All you could want really
  • Range of prices to suit all budgets
Gratuitous shoe picture
  • I can't quite figure out what their delivery charges and terms are, despite having clicked around the site. It appears that your items will be sent out from individual boutiques (which means you can get otherwise hard to find items from other countries - bonus) but LBD seem to coordinate the order. I can't find any info about what this costs though.... Oh, here we go, took me 10 minutes searching but I found this - Delivery costs for each Merchant may vary, according to the delivery methods they offer.
  • You have to organise any returns with the vendor directly, not with the LBD site, which begs the question, why not cut out the middle man and see if you can get the item cheaper directly from source? I suppose it's the convenience of having all these lovely items from different retailers all together in a one stop shop that would prevent you from doing this.
So there you have it. A pretty, easy to navigate site which features lots of lovely clothes and also a nice sense of camaraderie. And now I've looked at far too many beautiful LBDs, peeked at gorgeous shoes and used the word pretty too many times. I think I may have to go for a little lie down.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


After last week's epic Live Below the Line challenge, I have been enjoying eating milk, cheese and eggs again, but have tried to refrain from massively pigging out. However, I have particularly been looking forward to cooking something proper, so here's what I came up with. There are a few omissions of ingredients I would have liked to add, such as onions and perhaps peas instead of spinach but that's just because we didn't have them in the house and I couldn't be bothered going to the shop when we already clearly have such an abundance of food. 

Many of the key ingredients such as the rice, paprika and saffron came back with us from our recent holiday in Spain. I like bringing back ingredients that are hard to obtain/expensive over here - unfortunately all the chorizo is long gone or I would have whacked some of that in. Everything is easily obtainable though, except for perhaps the colourant, what the sneaky Spanish use to get that vivid colour (if you just use saffron the colour will be nowhere near this bright). I suppose you could use a dash of tumeric for the same effect, just don't throw in a load so it affects the taste.
Paella (Serves 4, or possibly 6)


250g paella rice
5 tomatoes, chopped
2 handfuls of mushrooms, chopped
1 large courgette, chopped
2 big handfuls of spinach out of the garden or whatever green leaves you have to hand, chopped
3 large cloves garlic

1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp colourant
small pinch saffron
chicken/vegetable stock cube
squeeze of lemon juice
Pint or more of water
Whatever seafood you have to hand - I used half a pack each of mussels and prawns.
Dash of olive oil


  • Heat up a slug of olive oil in the pan.
  • Gently fry the garlic, onions if you have them, courgette and mushrooms.
  • Add your spices, then stir through the rice until coated.

  • Add enough water to cover the rice by a couple of mls.
  • Add your chopped tomatoes.

  • Simmer for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked.
  • Check the rice doesn't stick and burn on the bottom. Add more water if necessary.

  • When the rice is pretty much cooked, add your seafood and spinach (or peas).

  • Allow to cook through gently for a couple of minutes.
  • Add a squeeze of lemon juice and salt to taste, serve with freshly ground black pepper.

Eat. We found it to be really filling, so I only managed to get through about half of this portion!


Silent Sunday

Friday, 11 May 2012

Live Below the Line: Day 5 The Final Hurdle

Here we are, the last day of the Live Below the Line challenge - eating and drinking on under £1 a day to raise awareness of global poverty. Three guesses what I started the day with?

Day 5 Breakfast 

Soft cheese with garlic and herbs - 25 calories, 1.7g fat, 1.1g sat fat, 3.5p
Value pitta bread - 130 calories, 1g fat, 0 saturates, 3.3p
Cup of value tea with a value sweetener - Negligible nutrition, 0.3p

Meal cost: 7.1p
Calorie Content - 155
Fat Content - 2.7g
Saturated Fat - 1.1g

I've struggled the most today. Cycling in to work against the wind was difficult and an afternoon session at the local community centre showing objects for two hours really took it out of me. Then the cycle home involved a sudden heavy rainshower, freezing to death while I dried out and once again, somehow, cycling against the wind. Luckily, I wasn't able to fit my whole portion of lunch into a tub so I had some left over to eat when I got home, to try and counteract the headache I was feeling. It makes me wonder, how long do you feel like this if you find yourself on the poverty line? A week, two weeks? Six months? Always? I can't imagine having the constant nag of a not quite full tummy, suffering headaches, not sleeping properly, spending the whole day thinking about food - planning, scheming, doing whatever you can to get a nice full belly. And I have hardly had the genuine experience. I've sacrificed my usual lifestyle, foodwise, but I've had a roof over my head, running water, electricity and everything else at my disposal the whole time.

Day 5 Lunch

75g of value pasta - 4.5p, 260 calories, 1.1g fat, 0.2g saturated fat
150g beans and sausages - 12p, 175 calories, 5g fat, 1.5g sat fat
35 ml value passata - 2.4p, 13 calories
courgette, cubed - 4.5p, 8 calories
mushrooms, slice - 2p, 6 calories
Swirl of soft cheese with garlic and herbs 0.5p, 6 calories, 0.3g fat, 0.2g sat fat

Meal cost - 25.9p
Calorie Content - 468
Fat Content - 6.9g
Sat Fat - 1.9g

But it's not all doom and gloom and headaches and tantrums and general lethargy.

  • So far I've raised £65 in online and offline donations for Peace Direct, smashing my £50 target.
  • I genuinely feel that this experience has raised my awareness of global poverty and my empathy for the 1.4 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line.
  • I hope I have raised other people's awareness too and at least made people think twice about the things they take for granted.
  • It has made me feel luckier, and generally more positive about my own life. Things could be a lot worse for me and I hope to be able to remember that every day.
  • Hopefully this will have helped me get over my post-quitting smoking mahoosive appetite!
Day 5 Dinner

Battered white fish - 17.25p, 225 calories, 13g fat, 2g sat fat 
60g rice - 2.4p, 162 calories, 0.5g fat
1/4 courgette, cubed - 5p per portion, 10 calories
2 mushrooms, slice - 2.75p per portion, 8 calories

Last of the soft cheese - 0.5p, 6 calories, 0.3g fat, 0.2g sat fat

Meal cost - 27.9p
Calories - 411 
Fat - 13.8g
Sat Fat - 2.2g
Day 5 Totals

Cost - 60.9p
Calories - 1034
Fat - 23.4g
Sat Fat - 5.2g

Today my calorie intake was 51.7% of my recommended daily allowance.

I've managed to come out of this week with some store cupboard ingredients left over also - lots of rice, pasta, passata and also one of my battered white fish portions (a slight lie, The Boy may well have eaten it). Were I to do this challenge again, I think I'd probably see what I could blag from the good market traders of Leicester, rather than using the corporate giants to provide my food. I reckon (if I was lucky) I could do quite well off a courgette here, a 50p bowl of potatoes at the end of the day there... This time I wasn't willing to take the risk, but perhaps next time I'd be more resourceful and probably do some foraging too!

Total spend on food actually consumed - £3.77
Average daily calorie consumption - 1135 calories

There you have it then. I have completed the Live Below the Line Challenge 2012. Thank you if you have sponsored me, or go on to sponsor me as a result of reading this blog post. I hope it helps you to appreciate what a privileged position many of us find ourselves in.

REVIEW: My Old China Vintage tea sets!

One of my old colleagues stopped by today. She is still doing some freelance work for us and we were going out to do an object handling session with a group of old Gujerati ladies. It was a very pleasant afternoon. And to top it off, she presented me with a most unexpected birthday gift. Now this is a woman of taste and style. She goes to vintage fairs, she wears awesome 'homage to the 50s' outfits without looking over the top. I bet she knows about contemporary art as well. You know the sort of person. So you know whatever she's got me for my birthday, it's bound to be supercool as well as awesomecore. And it is.

It is my very own personal, vintage, one of a kind, unique, custom tea set! It's an absolute crying shame that I am still on the Live Below the Line challenge until tomorrow, because otherwise right now I would be baking a bloomin' awesome cake to enjoy with a delicate cup of tea in this set of total amazeness! However, I am not allowed cake until tomorrow, so I am satisfying myself with sitting and admiring my pretty new crockery.

The set consists of a customised, matching set of cake plate, tea cup and saucer, with a mismatched but also highly vintage cake fork and teaspoon. I particularly like that the spoon is a Tenerife souvenir. I have never been to Tenerife, but I remember it being mentioned on Corrie once and so I have taken great delight in following The Boy around the house this evening talking loudly about Tener-iffee. They are top notch quality, no chips or crazing at all that I have seen and I think the star design is absolutely adorable.

It came ever so sweetly wrapped, in an understated but strong plain box with 'My Old China' stickers and some nice pink tissue to keep everything safe and well in transit.

This delightful set, so the card in the box tells me, is from the quite probably lovely folk at My Old China, a Nottingham based company. Always happy to do my bit for a local-ish business that trades on fun and dreams and unicorns, here's what they are about.

Vintage china, tea-sets, cake stands, cutlery and linens, 
to hire or buy for your wedding or special occasion.
Contact us for our hire rates or a bespoke quote for all your tea party needs. 
Available throughout the East Midlands area.

You can't say fairer than that. I am chuffin' chuffed with my tea set, so why not treat a Vintage loving loved one to a special set on their next birthday? I think I will be seriously considering paying them a visit myself for gift shopping in the future. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Live Below the Line: Day 4

Mmmm, squirrel sandwich
Well, my food intake is over for another day and so endeth Day 4 of the Live Below the Line Challenge. In case you've been on Mars this week, I'm living on £1 a day for five days, to try and get even the smallest degree of empathy for the 1.4 billion people globally who live in extreme poverty.

Today hasn't been as bad as yesterday I think for two reasons: a. it's not my birthday anymore and b. I have had something to look forward to in the food stakes... More on that below!

This morning started the same as every day, with my now traditional pitta bread. I think that it may be quite wrong that when I got to work and saw a squirrel eating a sandwich he'd foraged out of the bin I felt really quite jealous of him. That bread looked like Mighty White or some other awesome shizzle.

For lunch today I took my tin of vegetable soup and the spare pitta bread from the pack of six that will not be used for breakfast. When I set this out I felt quite chuffed that it looked like a proper meal. There were different kinds of vegetables in it, even one or two bits of pearl barley and some little tiny pasta hoops! I thought I was well in, nutritionally. Which maybe I was, but I must confess I was quite disappointed when I read the back of the tin and found that the whole lot was a measley 160 calories. On top of today's 8.5 mile cycle that did not sound sufficient...

Day 4 Breakfast

Soft cheese with garlic and herbs - 25 calories, 1.7g fat, 1.1g sat fat, 3.5p
Value pitta bread - 130 calories, 1g fat, 0 saturates, 3.3p
Cup of value tea with a value sweetener - Negligible nutrition, 0.3p

Meal cost: 7.1p
Calorie Content - 155
Fat Content - 2.7g
Saturated Fat - 1.1g 

Day 4 Lunch

Tin of value vegetable soup - 160 calories, 1g fat, 24p
Soft cheese with garlic and herbs - 25 calories, 1.7g fat, 1.1g sat fat, 3.5p
Value pitta bread - 130 calories, 1g fat, 0 saturates, 3.3p

Meal cost - 30.8p
Calories content - 315 calories
Fat content - 3.7g
Sat fat - 1.1g

My day at work finished and I hopped on the bike to get home, when half way back there it was - the growl of a hunger pang. Darn. However, all was not lost. I'd been building a plan for tonight's tea for nearly 72 hours and so convincing was I that it was a super awesome amazing meal plan, The Boy requested to be included in on it - not just tonight, but for tomorrow lunch as well! So here it is, the full recipe and costings. Wait for it, this will blow your socks off in the Live Below the Line Recipe stakes.

Day 4 Dinner
Pasta Blaster Extravaganza! (Serves 4)


400g of value pasta (24p, 6p per portion = 350 calories, 1.5g fat, 0.5g saturated fat)
2 tins of value beans and sausages (66p, 16.5p per portion = 230 calories, 7g fat, 2g sat fat)
200 ml value passata (11.6p, 2.9p per portion = 17 calories, 0.1g fat)
one reduced courgette, cubed (25p, 6.25p per portion = 10 calories)
eight reduced mushrooms, slice (11p, 2.75p per portion = 8 calories)
Swirl of soft cheese with garlic and herbs (3.5p, 0.8p per portion = 8 calories, 0.4g fat, 0.3g sat fat)


1. Put the pasta on to boil.
2. Meanwhile, dry fry the courgette and mushrooms until softened. 
3. Add the passata and beans and sausages to the vegetables and bring to a simmer.
4. When the pasta is cooked, drain.
5. Add the soft cheese to the sauce mix, and stir in along with the pasta.
6. Serve with a smug look on your face. We got 4 sausages per portion.

Meal cost - 35.2p per portion
Calories - 606.8
Fat - 9g
Sat fat - 2.8g

And there you have it. Our forays to Tesco have finally paid off, not just in terms of the reduced mushrooms I mentioned yesterday, but also with reduced courgettes - huzzah and hooray! I got to cook something which involved chopping up and applying heat to real live vegetables! This meal has been a real boost to me today and although, 3 hours or more after eating it I am still burping, I thoroughly enjoyed it and do not feel hungry.

It made me laugh that I'd only half finished mine by the time The Boy had eaten his, washed up, made us a brew and then gone out for a ciggie! I am definitely eating more slowly!

The Live Below the Line issue that has been playing on my mind the most today is how difficult this challenge would be if I didn't have readily available, running drinking water. What would I do about my value rice, my value pasta? How would I enjoy my value teabags? Once more, undertaking this challenge has helped me understand the things that I often take for granted. Like flushing the toilet with drinking water. Which is, quite frankly, stupid.

Day 4 Totals

Total cost - 73.1p
Total calorie intake - 1076.8
Total fat intake - 15.4g
Total sat fat - 5g

Despite feeling more satisfied (perhaps due to having more nutrients I guess), I have only managed an appalling 53.8% of my daily recommended calorie intake. I guess that means I should go to bed.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...