Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – The Thames: Abingdon Lock to Sandford Lock

We’re back on our plan to walk the Thames Path, now that everything isn’t completely muddy. Our first stint, since the one we did last year, was from Abingdon Lock to Sandford Lock. It was a lovely, easy walk, that had me feeling like we were a million miles from anywhere. We only saw about three or four other people the whole time. The first part of the walk was insanely muddy and it really slowed us down. But once we got away from Abingdon and closer to Radley, it cleared up a lot.

Heading off from Abingdon Iron Man in Oxfordshire

There were some fabulous views along the way, including seeing Iron Man, which was an unexpected surprise! It’s always amazing what you can see when you’re walking along the lesser used parts of the Thames. We kept on passing fields and fields, full of geese who were clearly loving the food they could find there. And you’re pretty much guaranteed to see some rowing action, whichever bit you’re walking along!

Thames Path walk Poppydog on the Thames walk Arriving at Sandford Lock

The walk is fairly easy to do and we completed it in just over two hours, with a little rest stop for drinks and snacks. There was no where to stop along this stretch, but there are plenty of places the other side of Sandford Lock, where there’s a pub and a few places to park your car. It’s the perfect walk to do in a morning or afternoon, as it won’t take up too much time and isn’t too strenuous.

Abingdon to Sandford walk

Zizzi Vegan Pizza

I’ve been vegan for about a year and a half now, and I don’t regret anything, other than not doing it sooner. One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is how veganism is being embraced by mainstream restaurants. Zizzi have led the way with not only have a vegan offering, but by developing their own vegan cheese, they have put themselves on the map as a vegan friendly place. Others have followed in their footpath, but I wanted to try Zizzi’s cheese. The reason being is because I struggle with vegan cheese. I’ve not really found a vegan pizza cheese that is anything remotely like regular cheese. As a result, I’ve quite happily gone without cheese on all my pizza. That being said, I wanted to see if Zizzi had nailed it.

Zizzi Vegan PizzaThe pizza itself was really tasty. I added red onion, mushrooms and green chilli and it was great combination. I wasn’t overly impressed with the cheese, as it was very wet, so that it melt like mozzarella. I was never a huge fan of mozzarella, and maybe that’s why I wasn’t that keen on this cheese. It had a decent flavour and there was plenty of it, but I wasn’t keen on the texture. I realise that nothing is ever going to be the same as regular cheese, and I’m really pleased that Zizzi have made such a huge effort for their vegan customers. Not only do they have vegan cheese, they also have vegan desserts that aren’t sorbet. I know, right?! How cool is that? Naturally, I wanted to give the vegan calzone a try, despite being pretty stuffed.

Zizzi vegan puddingMy first impression was that it was way smaller than I was expecting! This is because I’m a huge greedy guts and wanted one as big as my pizza! It had pecans, banana and blueberries inside and had chocolate and coconut ice cream on top. It was delicious! The first vegan pudding I’ve had in a mainstream restaurant! I really enjoyed it. It was warm and doughy and filling. Well worth leaving room for.

I hope that other restaurants who aren’t being as forthcoming with vegan options take note. My friends and I, one of which is gluten-free, purposely went to Zizzi because we knew we would be catered for. The vegan revolution is beginning!

Healthy Life Balance

Well hello there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I had about an hour to do some blogging a few weeks ago, but then I couldn’t remember my password. Such is the current state of my brain! Teaching can be a really demanding job (Don’t worry, this isn’t a ‘woe is me, teaching is the hardest profession ever’ post!) but it’s a job that I love. Right now, it’s taking a lot of my time, and it doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else at the moment.

We have been walking, doing a few stretches of the Thames path, but work has been the main focus of my life. This won’t last forever. As exam season approaches, I will have less classes to plan for and mark, so I will start to have more free time to blog, relax and generally live my life again!

As result, I’m starting to think of how to make my life have a healthier balance. Back at the beginning of the year, I decided to make my diet healthier and eat a more wholefood, plant based diet. When we started eating this way, I had loads of energy, lost some weight and had a good understanding about what was going into my body. But it is a lot of work! While we still eat a generally plant based diet, we aren’t eating as well as we should be. So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to try and make a concerted effort over the next few weeks to get a few more recipes and get back on track. I know I’ll feel brighter when I do, and I’m hoping that it’ll help for when I’m walking.

The ThamesRecently, I’ve being having pain in my knees and back, which means that, funnily, walking Poppy isn’t enough exercise to keep my hypermobility in check. Full disclosure, I’m not even doing my back stretches. So I’ve decided to join a Pilates class, get some strength going in these old bones and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to start going back to the gym. As Poppy goes to daycare a few days a week, she doesn’t need walking when I pick her up. I need to move more. At the moment, I’m getting out breath, walking Poppy while drinking a coffee in my Keep Cup! It’s definitely time to kick things up a notch.

I’ve decided to revamp my work out gear, including getting a new sports bra, and am toying with the idea of getting a FitBit watch, as opposed to the one I wear on my bra, so I can keep track of my fitness and hope that it motivates me to hit the gym. I’m not looking to be an athlete or anything, I just want to make sure that my life has a bit more balance to it. If I can plough half as much energy into being fit and healthy as I have into writing courses for school, then I should be running marathons in no time!

Christmas 2016

Happy new year and all that guff. Yep, I’m glad all the festivities are over. You see, I’m not a massive fan of Christmas. There’s too much pressure, faff and fuss for just one day. Anyway, by the time the end of term came around, I was exhausted and just grateful for the two weeks break. My parting end of term gift? A cold! I was a sleepy, snotty, coughing mess for the first part of the holidays. Then Phil came down with something worse for the remainder of the holidays, meaning all we pretty much did was sleep and veg out, trying to rid Crafty Chai towers of the plague.

sunrise

But having a less than mediocre Christmas did get me thinking about what I want our Christmas next year to look like, colds and flu notwithstanding. One thing I realised is that I need to get my shit together for Christmas way earlier than I did. Not just buying presents, but organising decent card, festive treats and thinking about what we’d like to do during the festive season. Because while I enjoyed being lazy and binge watching the latest Netflix sensation, it’s not how I want to be spending all my time away from school. I realise that I was really tired and needed to spend some time recuperating but I also felt that I was wasting my two weeks off. Next year, I want to make sure that there’s time for vegging out, but also time spent seeing a few friends, going on some lovely walks and spending more time reading and crafting.

Newgale

In my head, next Christmas, I envisage a whole different picture. More fresh air, less time on the sofa. Trying out great, healthy plant based meals, less cheese and crackers. More time reading, less junk TV. Focus on the special things, make new traditions and plan lovely things. I want to make sure that the foodie treats we have are worth it, and just mindless eating. I want it to be something I enjoy and not regret. So I’ll be planning next Christmas with military precision, making sure that there’s time to enjoy it, without worrying that time is being wasted.