There is nothing like coming home to a hot dinner!

On Sundays we very often get out for a good walk and this week was no exception. It has been so cold, but luckily it warmed up a bit and the wind died down. Mr S woke up with a headache so we decided a bit of sea air would do him good and headed off to Brightlingsea.

 It’s a pretty little place and worth a visit if you are ever in Essex. It has a nice shallow paddling area for small children in the summer and an actual lido – very bracing!! It being the middle of winter, we resisted the urge to dive into the icy waters. Instead, we did a nice circular walk along the sea wall, up to the church and then back into the town. It wasn’t too far as Mr S was still feeling a bit fragile. I think we did about three and a half miles.

 On days like this the slow cooker comes into its own. When I got up I made a big beef and mushroom stew. I hardly ever use a recipe for this kind of meal. I browned the meat with some onions and celery, then added carrots, a tin of tomatoes, chopped mushrooms, beef stock cubes, some herbs and a little water and chucked it all in. It smelled wonderful when we got home. All I had to do was make a big pile of mash to go with it – delish, and really easy. I made enough for Monday as well, feeding me, Mr S, his mum and my no 3 daughter. I stretched the beef with a lot of vegetables, but it was excellent value anyway from Lidl.

 I really must use my slow cooker more often – they are such a worthwhile investment and cost pennies to run.

I wasn’t surprised at how many people made positive comments on the Tightwad Gazette the other day. I really envy those who subscribed to the original newsletters. I wish I had known about them in the early nineties when I had my first house and my first child! I would have avoided so many mistakes.

I am still finding interesting new blogs and websites via Twitter. One I have just discovered is Montana Money Adventures. The link will take you to an article called Do the Unnecessarily Difficult Things, which I found fascinating. I tend to do everything in moderation so this approach would be challenging, yet made a lot of sense. Have a read and see what you think!

Perfect Sunday 

I don’t normally let Christmas in this early, but I needed to go through all my decorations to take the spare ones into work and before I knew it we had put ours up!

I bought loads really cheaply at my favourite charity shop and the others I have had for years. It looks really cosy.

We had a lovely autumn walk today in the sunshine, walking five miles  from Colchester to Wivenhoe and back. If you haven’t walked the Wivenhoe trail I recommend it. When you arrive there is a great pub in the village called the Rose and Crown, by the estuary. Today we settled for a cup of tea in a little cafe before we headed back to Colchester. 

We now have roast pork in the oven which will be followed by apple and blackberry crumble made with foraged fruit for pud. Can Sundays get any better? 

A walk on the beautiful Essex coast

I believe that many people have a rather warped view of Essex. The old Essex girl stereotypes, reinforced on the tv by TOWIE (The Only Way is Essex – I don’t recommend it) might paint a view of the county and is inhabitants that most of us don’t recognise and definitely don’t aspire to. In actual fact there is so much more to this area. It is very beautiful, has a fabulous coastline and you don’t in reality see that many orange people with ridiculously white teeth and huge hair!

We went exploring the coast near us on Sunday. It was a glorious September day so we took a trip to Walton on the Naze to visit the brand new Essex WildlifeTrust visitor centre. The beach there looked stunning so we took a walk before having a cup of tea in the cafe.

There also happened to be a classic car show in the town which of course we couldn’t resist. I loved the vintage camper vans. Look at the interior – gorgeous!

We have become members of the Wildlife Trust again and will be exploring their sites all over the county. Let’s hope we don’t spot any TOWIE wildlife en route 😀.

Another day, another walk

We thought we would have to take our students out somewhere today as they have had no organised activities this weekend. We wouldn’t have minded, but it turned out that they had arranged to meet their friends in the park in town so we dropped them there and drove out to a pretty little village called Fingringhoe, a few miles outside Colchester. We walked to the next village, Rowhedge, which lies on the banks of the River Colne, via some small country footpaths and had half a cider in the pub before walking back. It was lovely, such a nice part of North Essex.

We enjoy Sunday afternoon walks, but it may not have appealed quite so much to two teenage boys 😊. I’m sure they preferred football and flirting with the girls in the park!

It’s a lovely evening here in Essex. Now I am cooking roast pork with veg from the garden and Yorkshires. Let’s see what they make of those. They have been very easy to feed and have good appetites so I don’t anticipate any complaints…

The Best Things in Life are Free…

J at WivenhoeIt was such a dreary day today – I was working, so I missed most of it anyway. It was dark when I left home this morning and dark again when I came out of the office!  I was looking at some photos from Sunday and it couldn’t have been more different here in Essex. An absolutely beautiful winter’s day with the most fabulous blue sky. I went for a walk with Mr Shoestring along Wivenhoe Quay. We bought some chips and tea, and sat on a bench watching the birds and the people on their walks whilst we ate them. It was a perfect afternoon and cost nothing – well, only the price of the tea and chips, and Mr Shoestring treated me to those!

wivenhoeI love to get out in the fresh air and just walk – I am stuck indoors enough. You can spend a lot of money going to expensive tourist attractions, or pay a fortune in a swanky restaurant, but there are some things that are very precious and cost nothing, and a great view in good company is a good example.

Tonight we won’t be making a fuss. The girls are all out socialising, so me and Mr S have a bottle of Prosecco chilling in the fridge and a large bag of Doritos, and we plan to cuddle up and watch some of the TV programmes we recorded over Christmas. I know that must sound incredibly boring to some people, but I have done enough New Year’s Eve partying in my time!

Whatever you are doing, have a great night, and may you have health and happiness in 2014!