We’re in complete denial we have to give something back we borrowed over the winter. Thinking about not having this space anymore makes us really sad.
Living in a garden-less flat over the winter months sucks. It’s too cold to sit outside in a park or on the beach for any length of time and there’s only so many times you can frequent a local cafe without having to take out a loan for tea and cake. I always get a bit self-conscious hanging around a cafe for too long, especially as most around here are quite tiny and rely on a frequent turnaround.
In December I had a brilliant brain wave to get in touch with Bournemouth Council to see how much it was to hire one of the beach pods at the Boscombe Overstrand. Initially, we fancied it just over the Christmas period, but as they’d all been snapped up for then we ended up signing up for one from the end of December through to the end of March. The price was very reasonable.. the whole term being the same as the price of the Pod for one week in the Summer months.
Admittedly, it has been a very cold winter. But, with a little electric heater down there, a blanket and a kettle and microwave to make hot treats it’s been cosier than our home. And, on the days when it has been sunny it’s like sitting in a little greenhouse. We’ve even been able to brave it out on the sun-trap of a balcony for brunch on the beach.
Deco’d up by Hemingway Design the Pods come with most of the essentials like a table, director’s chairs, windbreak, deckchairs, cutlery, crockery, a microwave and a kettle. And best of all, being just a few minutes walk from our home it’s been completely do-able to pop down there, heat up leftovers from the night before’s tea and have a bit of time out.
We’ve had parties in there, had Thai takeaway delivered (that blew their mind!) sat with a broadband dongle and worked, had lunches, cake, read, listened to the radio and watched the world go by. I’ve even used it as a space to sit, concentrate and teach myself crochet and knitting – one of my goals for 2013 (can you spot the little Octopus I made? His name is Sebastien Le Poulpe).
Everyone that’s visited us in our little Pod has assumed it was really pricey. Especially as when they were first opened the advertised prices were astronomical! But, at £50 a week out of season we reckon it’s a bargain, especially if you can luck out on a bit of sun.
So, if you’re looking to do something a bit different on a week off and are looking for a staycation idea we really recommend looking into hiring. Just make sure you leave a pod free for us for next winter!
For a long time we’ve needed some inspiration for things to do on our days off that doesn’t involve us splashing too much cash, going to the same old haunts time and time again and doing the same things (brunch, cake and coffee come up way too often). We recently read this brilliant article from guest blogger, Martha on Florence Finds on the topic of “Alphabet Dating”. In a nutshell, as inspiration for day trips and nights out you and your partner work through from A-Z, using the letters as a guide. Personally, I’m not a fan of the term “Date Night”… I don’t live in an 80s John Hughes’ America (although I wish I did sometimes). We really just needed a helping hand in finding new and exciting things to do that would get us out of the house. So, we’ve simply dubbed our A-Z “Adventure Days”.
We’ve only just started this, so I’m afraid we don’t have a action-packed A-Z blog full of us fooling around on our days out. However, it’s such a blimin’ good idea (and an excellent article to boot) I had to do a premature share.
So far, we’ve only done two so are looking for ideas for our “C-Day”. Any suggestions are welcome!
We had a brilliant time recently taking a trip up to Southampton for the matinee of Graham Linehan’s The Ladykillers at the Mayflower Theatre.
It’s been so long since we went to the theatre, let alone a cosy matinee. We even had ice-cream in the interval.
We are massive fans of Graham Linehan and were so lucky for this to be touring near us. Everything was perfect; great performances from a star-studded cast, brilliant script and such a magical production (the set, lighting and sound were out of this world). It’s coming to the end of its current tour, but if it does another run do go and check it out!
For B we felt like we needed to do something a bit more active. We love “Biking” so much, but we really only have town bikes that are built for road and promenade riding. There is absolutely no way I would ride my beauty of a basket bike around on muddy tracks. For a start, it’s way too heavy. So, instead we took at trip to Moors Valley Country Park to get a bit mucky riding through tracks and woodland on one of their hire bikes.
We did go with the intention of getting a tandem (but they only had one and that had already gone). However, to be honest, after all the rain I think a tandem would have been a nightmare. We were more than happy bombing it around on a mountain bike. Although, Ian got so warm riding up the hills he fell victim to “Fog Glasses”. And he pretty much wrecked his gilet.
Here are some photos we took when we weren’t being muddy mountain bikers.
Hopefully the A-Z Adventure Days will continue soon…
I made Ian a Birthday Cake. Paul Hollywood would not be impressed by my icing thickness but I’m sure Mary Berry would be approving of my jam to butter icing ratio. It may not look completely perfect but it tastes like a Marks and Spencer’s cake. According to Ian anyway. He had some for breakfast.
White onions send my stomach curling into a ball, bread bloats me out to a balloon and if you give me a scallop or a prawn you may as well reserve a hospital bed at the same time. I love eating, I love reading up about food and looking at pictures of food, and if I know I can sit in my pyjamas afterwards I’ve not learnt to turn away a slice of delicious crusty bread. But my stomach doesn’t like this at all.
Having IBS and a full-on food allergy doesn’t mix well with being a wedding photographer. The erratic timings of the wedding breakfast alone is enough to send my stomach into a bit of a strop that can last for a couple of days. There was a time not long ago where I’d avoid having anything other than an energy-intensive chocolate bar for fear of setting me off. But I was ending up groggy, headachey and clock-watching for the time when I could take off my suit and boil up a hot water bottle.
We don’t request a vendor meal at weddings for various reasons but sometimes our couples are very happy to offer, and turning one away because we’ve “brought our own” seemed silly. Especially as there’s two of us. And it’s definitely not Ian’s fault my stomach is having a strop when he’s starving.
The “don’t worry, we’ve sorted you out with some sandwiches” line was a bit of a conundrum too. Ian will happily munch on a ham and cheese bap, whereas I’m more likely to tentatively nibble on some rescued cheese filling, getting more and more grumbly as I got hungrier and hitting a brick wall long before the First Dance.
Something had to be done about it. Something that solved the solution of my Fuss-Pot Sally stomach, for the times when clients had sorted food that never materialised from the caterer, and the times when we really felt like we needed something hot to keep us going.
I think we have it nailed. I’m sure there are other photographers in a similar predicament to me so I thought I’d put together a little troubleshooter post for inspiration.
Getting together our cool bag has now become as important a step as sorting out our camera kit. It does takes a bit of motivation to sort out the night before and morning of the wedding, but we are so thankful for it every time.
There are a few bits and bobs that have made our picnic hamper a lot more efficient. And we use them out of work too for jollies on our bike or road trips.
Some days for me are better than others and I’m starting to get more in tune with what I can tolerate and when. The key is to keep things small and nibbly – you already have the soup for something warm as soon as the guests sit down for their wedding breakfast, and if you’re mega hungry and are waiting on a meal this can be treated as the starter!
Fretting about whether a venue has forgotten about you does nothing for an already panicking IBS stomach. If we know from the outset that no meal is being provided we can tuck right in. In the summer we have been known to find a quiet grassy spot and treat it as a full-on picnic. If we’re not sure and are holding out for the hope of some hot chicken we can graze as we see fit. If the meal is good for Ian, but not so good for me I have something I know I can eat as back-up and Ian has two mains to enjoy
Things that work well for me are:
And if we think we need something a bit more substantial this Moorish Crunch Salad by Jamie Oliver is really hitting the spot at the moment. Just make up the Tahini, oil and Red Wine Vinegar mix separately and mix up later along with a freshly chopped apple (depending or not whether you think your stomach can handle the extra acidity) so nothing goes soggy or brown.
The beauty of the “Tapas Approach” and a good ice pack and cool bag is that everything is still completely edible when you get home – even if you do have to reheat your soup. That way if you did get treated to a slap-up wedding breakfast that your stomach could handle and you just want to crash when you get back you have some supper already sorted!
We also have a “Hobo Approach” for those times in the winter months when you have to stay away from home and nowhere is open to serve you a hot evening meal. But I think I’ll save that for another time for fear of coming across any more of a nutjob than I already do. For now you’ll just have to use your imagination!