A Walkaway Weekend..

Its been a while since I wrote about our weekends. Not surprising, actually, because most of our weekends don’t seem to be something to write home about, these days!

Last year, I enrolled Poohi in a swimming class, and that I think partially contributed  to the demise of the weekend posts. Just the other day, husband and I were horrified to find out that we did not even make one day trip to York last year. York is our neighbouring, cute, historical town. We love going there, walking around, walking by the river.. It is even better in spring and summer, but that never stopped us from going there in Autumn and Winter. This last year, every saturday goes off in finishing off Poohi’s work, rushing to the swimming lesson, and once we are back, we end up wasting time over lunch, and before you know it, the day is over!

Last Saturday, we decided to go to York. No wasting time having lunch and stuff, lets just get going and grab a bite outside- was the plan. It was freezing, but sunny – the mere feel of sun, makes the whole world look cheerful and happy! And the whole world also looks like it is out to enjoy the day 🙂 but in the opposite direction. Look!

Normally, we drive to York and then spend the same amount time trying to find a parking space. This time we decided to use the Park and Ride facility. We always thought of trying it out but never did. So we parked the car and got onto the bus to take us to the city centre.

Public Transport is so much more fun, isn’t it? At least it is for me 🙂 I love getting into buses and pretending that we are on a real holiday 🙂

Now, while this trip was all suddenly decided, we did have a plan. We have been to the York Minster loads of times, we had never made the trip up the tower. Most of the time, we end up parking somewhere far away, walk through all the little lanes, and are exhausted by the time we reach the Minster. This time, we had a one point agenda. Climb up the Tower. So as soon as we reached, we rushed to buy the tickets, only to be told that our daughter needed to be 8 before she could be allowed up there… Now, having no option to leave her behind, we decided to just take pictures and walk around all those quaint little lanes, just as we do every time that we are in York.

The York Minster from all sorts of angles( to bore you all to death :))

Outside..

And inside..

And some more.. doesn’t it look majestic?

Since climbing the tower did not happen, we decided to do the other thing we always planned and never did. Walking on the City Walls.  Apparently York has more city walls intact than any other English city. So off we went. Fun time we had, and a history lesson as well, because Poohi wanted to know everything about why York has city walls.. Going through the pictures, I realized that I had just one picture without any of us – that’s what happens when Husband has the camera- he does not remember to take blog pics 🙂

Something cute(that we found cute), we found while on that wall..

The sunset far away…..

Finally we came to the end – of one part of the walls, anyway. And off we went through the little lanes, dotted with cute shops.. And after all the walking, we went into a cute little cafe, and had a full Yorkshire Tea, complete with scones with clotted cream and all. Tummy and soul satisfied, we walked back to the bus stop to take us to where our car was parked. It was -2 deg, but we had the greatest time!

On Sunday, because all the walking was not enough for us, we decided to go to a nearby park, and go on a nature walk. It was a cold and frosty morning – one of the first really cold days this winter. Everything looked like they had been dusted by a fine sprinkling of icing sugar. Just the perfect weather for a walk beside the lake.

Turns out, we were not the only folks out to enjoy the day..

And look frosted rock….

After all the walking, we balanced it out nicely with bread rolls, bread pakodas, mix veggie pakodas and gulab jamuns – Can’t take the risk of being too healthy, can we?

When in despair…

When in despair, I bake. Regular readers of mine know about my craze love of baking.

Well, we had a rather hectic weekend, with some friends who came over today for lunch. Now, I am the sort of person, who can manage calling people for dinner – because it gives me plenty of time to cook – but when it comes to lunch, I go crazy – no way can I cook and put together a decent meal by lunch time. So I had to resort to what my friend L, does. Cook a day in advance.

So I dedicated Saturday to cooking and only cooking. Only to end up stepping out for grocery shopping and getting back totally exhausted. So cooking, officially started only at 4:00 pm.  Once I had a few pots bubbling, sizzling on the hob, I decided to get a start on the cake. Now, I had this brand new Bundt cake pan, which I absolutely had to try out. And baking is something I always do when we have someone over. These are the few times that I get to bake and force it down someone else’s throat – apart from hubby’s and daughter’s – so I don’t let such opportunities go 🙂

So once I had finalised on the cake I was baking, based on the size of the pan I had, I started measuring out ingredients while at the same time, trying to ensure that none of the bubbling sizzling pots turn into burn out pots.  I had never tried out Bundt cakes before, so was quite excited, plus I was making a struesel coffee cake – and I love cakes with struesel topping. Who am I kidding – I love all cakes 🙂

So after I had all the whisking and the mixing done, while ensuring that none of the dishes got burnt, just as I was about to pour the batter, I realized that the batter was way too thin. On re-checking the recipe, turns out that it called for 4 cups of flour and I had most certainly not added 4 cups.. Now, I had no idea how many cups I had added, but with a few mental calculations and the memory of how full the packet of flour had been, I came to the conclusion,  that I must have added just one cup of flour. So bravely, added 3 cups, mixed a bit more and hoping for the best – was about to tip it all in, when I realised that the batter was most certainly more than what the tin could hold.  I nearly collapsed then. Now, I know that I am successful at baking – ONLY because I follow the recipe to the dot – make no changes at all. Here, I already had made a few changes – replaced sour cream with fat free yoghurt, in an effort to keep the calories in control, replaced walnuts with pecans simply because we like it more and had added 3 cups of flour, assuming that I added just one. And now it just won’t fit! Clearly, I had got the size of the pan wrong – or I had added too much of something.

Praying hard and hoping that it was the former, I baked them in 2 pans. I have never prayed so fervently, ever! And lo and behold, this is how it turned out 🙂 Delicious, even if I say so myself :)It tasted better than it looks, which is more than what I can say for the food that I cook 🙂 Hubby helped himself  to the cake, last night while it was hot and declared that he was falling in love with cakes  and now, that was a compliment from somebody who does not even like cakes 🙂

DSC04155

On another note, as a lot of you are aware, I have been job hunting.. To say that I have been unsuccessful so far, would be an understatement. Now, I don’t even find jobs that I can think of applying to. When I started off, a lot of recruitment agents called, most of them wanting to know if I am willing to relocate.. now even those have stopped – but today, as I was searching – the word ‘bakery’ caught my eyes.. Some advert for a job in a bakery had crept in somehow.. is that some kind of clue? Do you think I should switch from IT to baking ?

PS : Crafty, I saw your message when I was all sad and was waiting to see how the cake turned out – hoping against hope that it would be edible. Your hugs certainly helped 🙂 Thank you!!!!!

Edited to add the recipe. Tara, as per your request 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda together and set aside. In a separate small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and 2 cups white sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and beat until well combined.
  3. Pour half of batter into Bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture on top of batter in pan. Add remaining batter, and sprinkle with the last of the nut mixture.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

This was the original recipe – picked up from allrecipes.

The changes I made were

1. Used margarine instead of butter

2. Replaced sour cream with low fat yoghurt

3. Used one cup of white sugar and one cup brown sugar instead of 2 cups of white. And made the struesel sprinkling with brown sugar entirely. These were based on the comments at the website. And it tasted awesome 🙂 So if any of you do try it – please do let me know how it went.

Of daughters and mothers and friends..

Does anything sound sweeter to one’s ear than the delighted giggles of a child, thoroughly enjoying herself ?

After, Poohi not getting to see any animals, last week, we wanted to ensure that she got to have some fun this weekend. And it was not very difficult to achieve either.. She had been invited to a birthday party, and ended up having a ball of a time too! And that was just the start of the weekend.

It was in a soft play area where the children went crazy! Climbing up obstacles, and zooming down giant slides to end up in the ball pool! It was fun to watch her collapse in giggles as she hits the balls 🙂 It took me back to the time in London, where we used to go to these soft play places, very regularly.There was one, very close to where we lived and there the parents were supposed to go with the child – on to the play area. So to be honest, it was as much fun for me as it was for her.

Those days, husband used to be working away from home – 5 days a week 😦 , so we used to do a lot of mum-daughter fun stuff. The soft play area was on of our favourites! We used to climb right to the top and zoom down the huge slides, ending up in huge ball pools  – huge enough even for mums to get submerged 🙂 It used to be amazing exercise too – for me 🙂 Made up for all the junk that I used to eat 🙂

That was the time when, I ‘fell in friendship’ with a dear, dear, dear friend. She was my husband’s ex-colleagues wife. Funnily enough, we had never met before we accidently ran into them at a restaurant. We started talking on the phone and hit off instantly!  Both our husbands had been very busy travelling and we went on our annual India vacation and we never met again for the next three months. We did keep in touch on the phone all the time though.. Finally, we ended up meeting at a play group near her house and from that day on – I think we met every single day  – barring the weekends. She had 2 daughters, a 5 year old and a 1.5 year old- the sweetest little children! . Her younger daughter and mine hit off too 🙂 Both their names were similar sounding and both of them referred to each other with the same name and funnily they, even looked similar. We used to be asked by people of the road if they were cousins 🙂

Those days, were probably one of the best times, of my life.. We used to be inseparable.. We used to meet at the play group every day – and then walk around the town aimlessly – talking away, go to the park, and let the kids run around having fun.. and yet feeling as if time was not enough.. there was so much more to share and so little time. It was a truly magical time.. We used to share what we cooked. What she cooked and I baked, to be honest :), share our thoughts on everything possible.. gossip , have serious discussions… watch our little girls have fun while we, big girls had the time of our lives too 🙂

DSC09305Here’s a pic of the 2 cheeky monkeys running around in the park 🙂

The amount of fun all of us had, was amazing.. What absolutely took the cake, that my friend’s elder daughter and Poohi got along very, very well too – from the moment they met! They even had a sleep over at our place and my daughter could not stop talking about ‘chechi'(elder sister) for ages after that..

What brought on, all this reminiscing? Well, it’s been a year since I saw her last. They returned to India last year, this time, and to be honest, it broke my heart.. Everything felt so empty.. Daughter used to look for her friend, in vain, every time, she went to the play groups, to the library or the parks…We are still in touch and we can still talk away for ages on gtalk or on the phone.. and it is almost as if she has never been away.. But it is amazing how much we still miss each other..  Just makes me wish, how wonderful it would have been, if our friends did not have to move away, or if we could all live nearby.. how wonderful that would have been..

Weekend Update : I have to say that this weekend, while Poohi had a wonderful, wonderful time, I got the bestest compliment from a little 7 yr old girl:) She told me that my daughter and I look like a ‘pair of twins’ :), if only I had been a little shorter 🙂 For an almost 33 yr old to be told that she looks ‘just like’ a 3 yr old is huge 🙂 Coming from the mouth of a babe – I am going to consider it totally true 🙂 And to make it even better- I even drove the Audi !!!! Yay!!!! Even the fact that it was just around our estate did not detract from my excitement!!! Like, my daughter says, ‘I’m so excited and happy’!!!!

Drive, Drive , Drive….

…. that’s what we did last weekend. Drive and eat, that is. I did some side seat driving(slow down,slow down!,  slow down now!) , as I am still to get my driving licence.

We had a Merc for a test drive last weekend as we are in the process of finalising our second car – so that it arrives by the time I get my license, which by the number of times I have had to cancel classes – not happenning any time soon 😦

Anyways, I digress. Husband was super, super excited and all he wanted to do was drive. He did not care where – as far as he got to drive atleast a 100 miles a day! So after millions of arguments, we settled on a zoo + theme park just under 50 miles away from here. Husband confirmed that the weather was good – 22 degrees – Brilliant –  according to the weather conditions here.

So off we set at around 11:30 on saturday morning – delayed thanks to all the fuss about ‘where’ to go.  We were supposed to reach there by 12:09 – the ETA as per the sat nav – which by the way was an integrated feature in the Merc, which we were very impressed by – in the beginning only to get disillusioned very soon as our Sat Nav had more features.

Husband, made the most of the drive by touching insane speeds. I was chanting ‘slow down’ as a constant prayer. Apparently it is necessary to touch these speeds and drive more than 100 miles a day to properly ‘test drive’ a car!

Just as we were nearing our destination, we noticed drizzling! Oh no! How are we going to enjoy the adventure park if it rains!!! Finally, when we did reach, the rains had stopped and out we stepped all excited – only to realise that it was not raining  – but it was very very cold!! Where was the 22 deg??? I did not even get daughter’s and my coats – 22 degrees – who needs coats! Husband had got his – he always has his coat – they are like his second skin. Then it turned out that husband had checked the weather at source – not at destination! Now, there was no way we could go out there and have fun while shivering and getting wet(possibly), so we decided to find something else to do.

Earlier that day, while we had been researching our options, we had seen a steam railway, which is a picturesque ride, almost like a hop on/hop off train through the Yorkshire moors and it had been somewhere close to this place. So we quickly googled and found that it was just 4.5 miles away.

Off we went to find the steam railway. By the time we reached here, it was already 1:30 – and we had had no lunch, so before we did any sightseeing, we went in search of lunch. We found a quaint little Italian restaurant and had the most delicious lunch there. Daughter and I had yummy pasta and husband opted for his boring pizza and then ate my pasta 😡 ! Anyways, after stuffing ourselves, we slowly made our way to Toursist information, only to find that we were too late 😦 Apparenlty the whole round trip takes atleast 3 hours!

So finally, we decided to go in for some retail therapy and spend some money to help resolve the credit crunch and drive home.  So we drove all the way, to eat and shop 🙂 The bright side was that husband got to drive, and I got to eat and shop. Daughter was a little disappointed as she wanted to see animals and the only animals she got to see were some crystal animals in the mall. She did get to play on a bouncy castle which had a dinosaur painted on it 🙂

A trip that was not meant to be…

Till last Friday, we had no plans for the long weekend(last weekend).. We had been thinking of going for a couple of day trips at the most and had planned to relax at home on Monday.. Then somewhere mid, Friday morning, it struck us that it was the last long weekend until the end of August!

So then started the holiday planning in earnest! We settled on Lake District as we had been planning to go there for the last 4 years – with no luck.. So I started checking out hotel rooms or B&Bs only to find out that every single one of them was completely booked for the long weekend! Talk about popular destinations, eh?

After calling some 20 hotels/B&Bs – finally a nice man gave me the number of the tourist information – who apparently have the latest list of vacancies. Finally, late in the afternoon, after calling some more B&Bs – I found one which had just had a cancellation!

We still were not sure about it as the weather was supposed to be ‘partly sunny’ on Saturday.. We were not sure if it was worth thr trouble.. Finally, we decided to go for it and from that point on – it was a mad, mad rush, to get everything ready.

Thankfully for us, the ‘weather god’ was in a good mood.. We did not get any rains.. We travelled through some of the most beautiful landscapes that we have seen so far – more of it in the next post.

What I really wanted to talk about was the weather.. It’s no wonder that sunny days are so welcomed here in Britain.. Every person in the country must have been out, thanks to the brilliant weather.. Every patch of grass had people having impromptu picnics! We even passed a petrol station where people were sitting in a really small patch of green, sunning themselves! Pubs were full of people drinking beer, outside.. People fishing in every little stream.. Watching the sunset at 9:00 in the night.. Feeding swans and ducks.. Ice cream vans everywhere! We ate a lot of ice cream too! Daughter has finally mastered the fine art of eating ice-cream from a cone – without it dripping all over the place – she’s been having a lot of practise these days 🙂

We finally got back last evening, exhausted, but totally satisfied with our last May holiday.. That was one fantastic trip – especially for one that was so last minute!

Weekends like this…

Ever had a weekend when you are on your feet the whole time, had not had a minute to really relax and end up in bed after a three day weekend with aching limbs , feeling, wow – that was one superb weekend?

That’s how we felt last evening! We had friends over for the long weekend and had the most wonderful time.. It was one of those friends with whom you feel absolutely comfortable and can talk nonstop with 🙂 The funny thing is that we have not even met all that often between our jobs and children and everything – but with some people, you just connect.

The children had the most wonderful time, three little girls, one five year old, one three year old and one one year old, all playing and fighting for the same toys every once in a while, fighting sleep , jumping on beds, making castles, and having the time of their lives! And we,grown-ups, decided not to waste time sight seeing and going around, instead lazed around at home, ate and ate , and talked late into the night! I have never stayed up this late in the night in recent times 🙂 and just when you go to sleep and are in deep, deep slumber, daughter wakes up – ‘I’m hungry’!

And after all that fun, the  house feels empty and lonely after they’ve gone. Suddenly, the weekend is over and its back to business as usual… And the best thing – back to blogworld  🙂 and once again I’ve got 1000+ unread posts in my reader 🙂

You know it’s almost summer when…

– Every fourth car you pass on the motorway has a trailer or caravan attached to it.

– Every second car has bikes attached on it’s roof

– You see people braving 10 degrees in shorts and skirts and t-shirts

– When you see frisky lambs with mummy sheep 🙂

– You find people out on the streets drinking beer in the afternoon 🙂

– You step into the waves even when you are freezing – which by the way, is a very, very bad idea, especially when you are wearing skinny jeans with no change of clothes with you 😦

Am so happy, summer is nearly here!

The weekend that was…

Last weekend was my idea of a perfect weekend. We has whole of Saturday to do our weekend chores and we steppedout on Sunday for a day trip to Hull.

 It was a wonderful spring day. Warm, sunny, cheerful and bright! It felt so good to be feeling warm instead of freezing! One of my great-uncles lives in Hull, so we visited him and went off sightseeing . Our first stop was the Humber Bridge. It used to be the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world for 16 years.

dsc028522

There is a nice walkway for pedestrians and we had a nice leisurely until we got tired . My daughter was delighted to see little cars and little people walking below and of course, the huge expanse of water..

 dsc02867

The view from the Bridge..

The one thing that always amazes me is the fact that the UK government does so much to maintain and promote tourism at all such places.. They promote everything and anything and I am sure the revenue more than justifies the investment. In direct contrast, in India, we went to so many places, really pretty, very unique, but so badly managed!  If we step out here, we really don’t think twice about using a public toilet, places are clean, no rubbish on the streets.. We were having an discussion about this, which probably is the topic of another post – so I will leave it at this for now:)

Our next stop was The Deep, an aquarium. My daughter had the most wonderful time! Her shrieks of joy on spotting ‘Nemo and Dory’ and the sharks was to behold! There is something contagious about a child’s excitement on seeing these things! I think it absolutely made my day to see her so happy:)

We also managed to catch a 3D movie on underwater creatures! It had all the children screaming in fear and excitement! There was a birthday group too, so it was a lot of children shrieking and screaming! I think my daughter was not sure what to be more scared of – the movie or all the screaming around 🙂

 Back in the evening, with aching limbs – not having walked so much in ages.. and happy smiles – the sunday slid to an end.. That was my idea of a perfect weekend 🙂 Exhausted but happy 🙂 After all, I have the whole week to laze around and relax 🙂