The ultimate avocado

There is nothing more satisfying than a perfectly ripe avocado that you can just spoon out like butter. Much appreciated on a wet, windy Sunday and therefore, a lovely thing.

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The Sunday Sessions

In the next few weeks, the first of the The Sunday Sessions

live music nights will be held somewhere in Bath.

Think Sunday evening, think small venue,

think six songs, think secret mini-gig…

More information to follow so check back soon!

Smiling in the rain

This morning I arrived, sopping wet, at a  puddle filled bus shelter where a young guy was already stood waiting. I was just considering how last minute I could dash out from under the safety of the shelter to flag down the oncoming bus before it drove straight past when chivalry, it would seem, stepped out in front of me. Not only did this guy stand out in the rain, taking the brunt of the splash back,  to make sure that the bus didn’t go past, he then stood back to let me get on first! I felt like quite the lady…

A simple thing. A little thing. A lovely thing.

Chelsea flowers

The Chelsea Cafe

Chelsea Road, Bath, England

For lunch today, a friend and I took the five and a half minute walk up the road from my house to one of my favourite local bolt-holes, The Chelsea Cafe. A lovely, independently run little café with locally sourced food, amazing coffee and the cheeriest welcome you could wish for. I was introduced to their impressive selection of teas, coffees and cakes a few months ago now and have whiled away many peaceful hours in there, finding myself surrounded by upturned chairs and scrubbed down, empty tables on more than one occasion.

Today, however, with three hours to spare in the middle of my day, I sat down not to my usual black coffee and flapjack but to a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a crispy polenta and avocado salad. To me, almost anything with polenta in the title has the potential to be amazing and when it was brought over, it did indeed look extremely appetising. It was also beautifully garnished with a tiny sprig of wild garlic flowers that we were assured were quite edible.

Don’t be fooled by their seemingly innocent appearance, these flowers can pack a punch… as my dear friend discovered after bravely, admittedly at my request, putting the entire sprig in her mouth all at once. There was also a spring vegetable soup on offer as well as a wide selection of jacket potatoes, paninis and sandwiches but I was sold on my salad. It was light and fresh with the addition of the polenta making it just that bit more filling and certainly giving it an edge over your standard plate of lunch time leafy greens.

As far as coffee goes, I have been a Chelsea convert for a while now so secret, ninja salad flowers were just the icing on the cake for me. I will certainly be returning soon to see what seasonal delights the specials board has to offer in the coming months and suggest that if you like good food, great coffee and supremely smiley service, that you too should drop by.

Follow Chelsea Cafe on twitter @thechelseacafe or find them online at http://www.thechelseacafe.co.uk/

The sound of silence – a story of sitting still

Hello darkness my old friend… perhaps it’s something to do with my memories of growing up listening to my Dad playing Simon and Garfunkel on sleepy Sunday afternoons as he ironed his shirts but these were the familiar words I found floating round and round my head a few weeks ago when after having already been fighting with what I insisted was just a nasty cold for over a month, finally my body gave out, my mind gave up and I took to my bed on doctors orders.

My internal jukebox though, it seems made an appropriate choice. For as reluctantly as I might refer to this sort of darkness as an ‘old friend’, we have met before. A few years ago I wore myself out to the extent that for what felt like the first time, even my mind fell still, and silence, when you’re used to an ever bubbling background buzz of thoughts, ideas and inspiration rushing around is distressing to say the least. This perhaps the reason that I have always failed miserably at meditation… I’m afraid to block out the noise for fear of missing something interesting.

Now, after almost two months, I am finally beginning to feel a little closer to ordinary. The snotty tissues are gone, along with the temperature, my tongue is returning to its original colour (it was black, a fascinating side effect of taking antibiotics that made me look like a malnourished pirate), my energy is slowly coming back and my throat is sounding less like the voice over woman from the Marks & Spencer adverts by the day. What I am left with, however, apart from a pink nose and a slightly grey tongue, is the worry that if I throw myself straight back into life, that all of this could happen again in a few months time. So if prevention is better than cure and in this case it surely must be, how does one stop from simply burning out every time things get busy?

In the 1800s, people who were in need of rest and relaxation were sometimes sent to convalescent homes; big old houses often by the sea or on cliff tops where residents were encouraged to rest and recuperate.  To me, taking time to do nothing but sit around in the garden of an old country house seems like a wonderful idea in principle but not something I could ever see myself having the time for. Though perhaps they were onto something. These days it seems, the idea of a holiday where one actually relaxes is somewhat of a foreign concept. Before I was forced to do nothing this Easter, I certainly had grand plans of a three week daily exercise regime, getting at least half of the script I am currently working on written, doing some extra uni work and returning from home early in order to catch up with friends and restock my cupboards ready to start the new term. Yet here I am, on my sofa, wrapped in a blanket, having spent the last two weeks sitting around drinking tea on my parents’ canal boat like the leisurely ladies in the photograph above.

So do I feel better for it? Well, I would definitely rather have not gotten ill to the point of obligatory bed rest first but after being forced to really relax as a result, I do feel like I have become a little better acquainted with the sound of silence, even if I do prefer my more typical cacophony of cranial chaos. I have come to learn that sitting still isn’t so bad. Once I got over fretting about all of the things that I could have been doing and instead focussed my energy on doing nothing at all, it was remarkable how quickly my mind rushed back into action and my body isn’t too far behind.

So from here on out, I intend to bring back the traditional holiday, with tea in the garden, walks in the countryside, afternoon naps and lots of time to do nothing. Maybe I won’t be able to escape to the country every weekend but perhaps next time I won’t leave it quite so long between visits.