A Portobello Breakfast

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Coffee today is served outside, a thought that was put into motion Friday morning by suggesting that we cycle to the beach.  It’s rare that we get such a long dry spell here in Edinburgh, enabling us to plan, and the beauty of a sunny morning at the weekend is not to be missed.

Portobello is a short distance away, within our allowable 5 mile radius and easily cyclable.  We soaked our muesli overnight, loaded up our flasks and headed down for 9.  It was hot already with folk swimming in the sea, mainly the hard core open water swimmers armed with wet suits.

The sea and the sand a tonic for the mind after sitting at my PC all week, and a real treat to be eating our breakfast outside in the warmth.  We know this place will be busy come the afternoon, so we didn’t hang around.

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#breakfast down the beach this morning.

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The local high street, with both a traditional butcher and fishmonger was not to be missed, small queues at each and a new bakery Twelve Triangles we’d not see before selling the most amazing sourdough loaves….lunch sorted along with a couple of items for a BBQ later.

Another week flies by and Scotland is beginning to release itself out of lock-down.  We’ve entered Phase 1 and we are allowed to meet people again, in gardens and open spaces, but to keep 2m apart.  Not to enter the abode let alone use the facilities.  So meet ups will be short and sweet.  I don’t see these rules being followed as we see how our teenage boys friends are reacting, a never ending opportunity to meet up and flaunt the spirit of the new freedom.   I can’t help worrying that they bring something back into the house, un-controllable and inevitable.  Then again it might be me, who brings it into the house, due to the small errands that I run at the weekend in an effort to keep our meals interesting and feed my cooking habit.  To say we are anxious is an understatement.

As an aside I managed to post a couple of recipes this week:

Thanks for popping by, hope you have a great week and the sun shines for you.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

UnProductive

IMG_3579Coffee this week is served with a peanut butter brownie, crisp and chewy around the edges, gooey in the middle.  Definitely not for the health conscious and I almost regret making it having seen how much sugar goes in.

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#peanutbutter #brownie ….one of the boys will be happy!

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The baking experiments seem to be the things that are pulling me through this whole lock down experience.  I’m very lucky in being able to remote work, this week though has seen no let up, no extra time to myself.  A full on project gaining senior management attention as the number of issues starts to escalate and a milestone date that was promised a year ago is merely a few weeks away.  Many folk with lots of opinions staring at a hole that needs digging but funny enough they don’t have any shovels with them.

Another week has flown by and we mark this weekend by not doing some of the Cuillins in Skye.  A long weekend my youngest and I were going to take; to get him out the house and away whilst big brother did his exams….so sadly neither has happened.  We’ve climbed a few Munro’s (and have a lot more to go), but the Cuillins are probably the ones that scare me the most so we’d booked a guide.  They’ve been brilliant though and just to let them know when we’d like to re-arrange.

As a family we are all trying to keep the daily exercise going and I’m now back to running a 5k loop, which my Garmin seems happy about most days.  Although I did log in one day to be told my exercise was unproductive!  Oblivious to my mental state, which is on a roller coaster as we work through the quirks of the house through lock down.

So I’m choosing to ignore that piece of data and focus on the fact that 8 weeks ago I could barely walk around the house without numerous aches and pains.   Not saying the aches and pains have gone….they take constant monitoring and attention in order that I can be productive…..I’ve come a long way.

If your able to stay for lunch we have a nice homemade loaf in the oven, the dough enriched with a little sour cream that gives the crumb an amazing tenderness with a quick rise……in the meantime I’m away to do some yoga before I seize up!

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Lunch for 4, sour cream #sandwich #loaf

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The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Fast and Slow

IMG_3625Just topped my coffee up with some hot water, you’re welcome to do so as well.  Perhaps you like your coffee strong, like rocket fuel.  I’m topping it up mainly to add some heat.  I’ve been bobbing around doing the breakfast.  Getting a loaf on the go, so the coffee had gone slightly below that enjoyment heat level for me.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you how excited I am.  After doing various bits of research on the slow cooker scene we’ve gone for a a combined fast and slow cooker.

It arrived roughly around the same time as the prime ministers baby, absolutely not related but at the time I know what I was more excited about.  A replacement for a 10 year old steamer which had been holding onto life for some time, and a slow cooker which loves to spit all over the work surface when it’s doing its thing.  I convinced the boss that we could swap 2 things with one, up our cooking game and learn something new in this lock down period.  Placed the order on Sunday and it arrived by the Wednesday.

We had a pressure cooker back in the 80s, a monster of a thing that we used a fork to pull the valve off.  Today it comes like a robot just off the set of Star Wars or as my wife described it the head of a Cyberman.  I know I’m really late to this party of a modern one pot that both sears and slow cooks…or fast cooks depending on your mood.  But I’m looking forward to the journey.

Since our veg order came from the wholesaler there’s been a bit of queue on the machine, almost thinking we could have 2 on the go.  Monster beetroot reduced to tears in minutes.  Not quite like roasted, but still sweet and soft within about 15 mins.  Hummus from dry chickpea in 30.  Slow cooked a ham hock and then pressure cooked the bone afterwards.  Stock was amazing.  Not convinced with the Rissotto…but will give it another go.

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New #fastandslow cooker in action. #bolognese

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Where ever you are I hope this brief coffee share finds you safe and well.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

A Packet Mix

IMG_3579Morning and welcome, today’s coffee is served with piece of chocolate cake. For the first time ever I succumbed to a Cadbury’s packet mix.   In my defence it was purchased to encourage my youngest to make something, get him away from the xBox and join me in the kitchen. Add to that zero flour on the shelves and it was on offer!

I can’t believe they get away with such things at the price, almost day light robbery, still had to add eggs, oil, milk and your own icing to boot. It did bring a sense of achievement, pulled the boy away from the machine and gave us something to look forward to, served with strawberries and a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

It’s been a funny week, a game of two halves. First part on holiday at home and the second part working from home. The thing that’s really coming to bear is the notion of time. I’d hoped to be tackling my dream list and that being in lockdown would open up so much more available me time, and that I would be achieving so much more. Bit of an obvious statement…when I’m at work….I’m at work. It’s still a full on day, calls, excel and more calls. I come out my cave just as frazzled as being in the office.   Without a commute to break the thoughts through a natural transition of getting from physical space A to physical space B.

So even more so, I’ve tried to become more organised and keep to a routine. I have managed 6 straight days of a 10 minute Yoga routine in an effort to combat the occupational hazard of sitting at a desk all day. I think it’s working. Alongside this I have some semblance of a bullet journal system going on…..and if there is one thing I want to take away from this whole lockdown is a working time management system for the ebb and flow of all my stuff!

We’re trying a couple of different food delivery options that have popped up in a way to avoid the supermarket. An awesome array of fruit and veg appeared on Friday. Which resulted in a root vegetable curry (will see us through for a few days!). I discovered the ease in which one can make flat breads as an accompaniment.

I can definitely recommend Charles Stamper, although the website has room for improvement.

Enjoyed watching some of the One World broadcast in conjunction with the Global Citizen, with a highlights to be shown on TV this evening.

Where ever you are I hope you are staying safe and in good health.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

 

The Chairs

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Coffee today is served with a piece a of Humming Bird cake, made with bananas, raspberries, pineapple and pecans with a light lemon frosting.    Grab a seat on one of my newly upholstered chairs and I’ll tell you more…..

The recipe for the cake was taken from the Mountain Café Cookbook (A Kiwi in the Scottish mountains).   The café is an amazing foodie haven that sits above the Cairngorm Mountain Sports shop in Aviemore a wee town in the Cairngorms.  We normally vow to never go again because if you don’t time it right the wait on the stairs is infuriating…..but a good sign of the quality produce!

With the school holidays in full flow (I didn’t notice the transition), we were due to be in Aviemore this week.  So we have brought the café to us.  I love it when an establishment shares the wares in a take away book and this one does not disappoint.

Netflix is also getting more use than normal, and now that I’ve run out of Picard on Prime I’ve decided to go through a re-run of  Deep Space 9 from the beginning.   I never made it through in my youth, I think timing wise back in the day of University ending, new job, moving house and probably the BBC messing about with the schedule.  It serves as a back drop to re-upholstering the 12 kitchen chairs we inherited with the house.   Amazingly I’ve made more progress in the last few weeks than I have in the last 4 years.  My ability to remove staples with a bradawl and a pair of pliers is now legendary.

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A few days away from logging into work has also helped with thoughts around trying to be more organised.   I’ve re-arranged my desk setup again.  The changing light and my eyes warranting a monitor move, which meant a desk move and I’ve gradually been working through the books shelves trying to be disciplined around what I will actually read (ever!) and those books that I might dip into (one day) versus the keepers and the one’s I’ve read and never likely to read again.

A small box for the charity shop (for when it opens again) has been created.  I’ve an immediate work through section which started off in my head as 3 books that I will focus on and now contains about 15!

With that said, I’m going to go get another cup of coffee, will stop by the places on the link and then pick up a book…thanks for stopping by and sharing coffee.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

 

Minutes into Hours, Days into Weeks

img_5059-1024x768Jumped out of bed in a mad panic this morning. We’d had a lie with no work for the day and was just coming too when my subconscious told me I’d not put yeast in the bread maker.  I lifted the lid to find the dough smiling at me, with 3 hours left to go…thank fully the bake setting hadn’t kicked in….what to do?, I grabbed a teaspoon of yeast, a drop of milk, mixed the yeast and then poured onto the dough, a spoon of extra flour and set the mixer to pizza setting.  I’ve now switched to manual (me) bake mode and it’s rising happily in a kitchen bowl.  Flour is too precious to waste at the moment!

So week two working from home came to a close yesterday, and we celebrated by bringing a bit of holiday spirit to the table instead of a glass of wine.   It’s been a few years since we went Sorrento, a coastal town in southwestern Italy famous for Limoncello.  A long distant memory, but the taste of the drink brings back a bit of sunshine into our minds.

Funny to see in the Guardian today Limoncello locktails! How to make delicious drinks from years-old holiday booze and I should have known we weren’t the only ones falling back on the old drinks cabinet.  I’ve made a note to myself that I need to look up #quarantini.

I rediscovered twitter this week, according to my profile I joined in 2009!  Which messes with my head, I’ve dipped in and out over the years mainly on wet rainy day bus rides into work, but nothing that made me think I need to actively get stuck in.  This week though I sporadically dipped in a bit more, changing some of the folk I followed more akin to my interests now and it was refreshing.   Even one of my favourite bakers @DanLepard answered and then followed me which gave me a buzz.

So I’ve been rambling on and not offered you a coffee, mainly because all the baking has been hovered up this week.  I made a chocolate and banana loaf from Nigel Slaters Kitchen diary to keep the beasts at day and it didn’t last long at all.  This weekend I’m going to make a carrot cake (will slow one boy down) and a coconut and chocolate traybake both from the bourke street bakery.  Both recipes need little flour and given the shelves are still completely empty of flour it’s a blessing.

Also got a big cook up planned for the day, the local butcher delivery showed up yesterday, stewing lamb and a chicken.  If I get those sorted, it will make the week go a little easier by having the evening meals already sorted.

Exercise wise I’ve been getting through the ibuprofen nursing my hip and back.  I’d have gone to a physio if they weren’t on lock down.   It’s strange though after a run the pain seems to die down.  It’s just overnight and long periods of sitting down…which is prevalent given all the phone meetings that I used to walk round a building for.   I took a rest day on Wednesday from the morning run and I was in fowl mental state by the end of the day.   So I pushed through the pain Thursday and Friday and it made such a difference to my well-being.  Also trying to pay attention to the beeps of my watch….when it tells me to move, I go up and down the stairs until it clears.  Typically 4 times!

I hope you are managing to stick to routines, or forming new healthy habits and wishing you another healthy safe week.   We were supposed to be going away this week as part of the Easter break, sadly cancelled, but I still long for the mountains…..so I leave you with this small film.  Stay safe both in body and the mind.

Freeride at Home, a Ski Movie by Philipp Klein

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

 

The Last Piece of Christmas Cake

Cake wise we either have a piece of zucchini & carrot with a lemon frosting or the last wedge of Christmas Cake, which has seen us through some dark days since December.   There is probably some superstition that you shouldn’t carry Christmas cake through to April so it’s fitting that it’s finished off in the first week of lock down here in the UK.

As I’ve worked from home all week, the phone has sometimes needed an extra top up charge during the day.  The idea that I might have more time by being at home quickly got bashed on the head, after Monday.  Instant messenger has been on fire and the number of emails seems to have been ramped up significantly.  A piece of Christmas cake with a cup of coffee around 10.30 has been a welcome pick me up.

Managed to get into an exercise routine, out at 6.20 for a 20 minute run Mon, Tue, Wed, a cycle round Arthur’s seat in the mist and rain Thursday with a rest day yesterday.   Got up early this morning despite it being a weekend and ran as well to avoid anyone.   Have to say my body feels broken, my back aching and a sore hip.  But for brain and sanity I’ve forced myself through it.

Food shopping seems to be the hardest part in terms of self-isolation, we’ve a big supermarket down the road, a fairly quick moving orderly spaced out queue to get in.  Once in it’s strange with some people body swerving with others just behaving normally in terms of spatial awareness.  Met my next door neighbour in there  Then there’s the masks, the gloves with some folk wearing goggles.  A very unpleasant experience from a shopping perspective and I think the staff are amazing to carry on working in such an environment of what could turn nasty in any moment.  On the plus side there was plenty of food, unless you want pasta, rice or flour.

The boys being off school is hard, we’ve carved out sections round the house and being a man of technology (and a hoarder) there are various old pieces of kit hanging about that have been put back to life.  Even had to make use of the wires that I’ve collected over the years.  So everyone has a makeshift workstation and trying to keep themselves busy.

We are trying to rope them into more household chores, some cooking lessons and a generally it’s been met with good humour.

Friday night was movie night.  We covered Les Man 66 (Ford v Ferrari), and once you get past batman having a broad north English  accent it’s a great film.  Thoroughly recommended.

FORD v FERRARI | Official Trailer 2 [HD] | 20th Century FOX

 

I can also recommend a podcast on Anxiety (coronavirus-special-how-to-manage-anxiety-in-the-face-of-a-global-pandemic), given where we are as a global society.

 

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Perspective

It’s a strange time folks, I’d ask you to come and take the load off…but it has to be virtual I’m afraid and maybe that’s what makes the weekend coffee share great in terms of social distancing.

The office has gradually wound down and yesterday was my first day of working from home for what could be 12 weeks.  A crazy day with way to many phone calls and simultaneous instant message conversations popping up.  I thought I’d get a minutes peace, and some solitude to think…..it just didn’t happen.

And for the boys, yesterday was the last day of school with their sports (football and water polo) being cancelled a few days earlier I’d be lying to say that the idea of Wi-Fi rationing hasn’t entered into my thinking.  We’ve got a house meeting later on where we will try and find a way to work through this.  An approach where they don’t turn into zombies and ourselves come out fighting.

Both my wife and I have elderly relatives and the prospect of the next 12 weeks in isolation just doesn’t compute.  My father in-law lives for travel and the church.  It’s been knocked on the head.  My mum lives in the lake district and I’m due a visit, I’m too scared now for fear of passing something on.

As an example of this crazy time and the fact the supermarkets have no toilet roll left I’ve just received a phone call to say my first pair of reading glasses are in, but they are cancelling the fitting appointment to avoid any contact.  They will post them out to me which on the bright side has saved me a trip into town now that I’m working from home.

On the opposite side of my thinking I’d love to come out of this fitter and healthier mind wise than going in.  There’s a calm about the city, it’s surreal at the same time thought provoking and scary.  Ultimately, officially we’ve been told to chill.  Routine will be different and the idea of rushing, getting to work, getting to school and getting to clubs has been knocked on the head.   At the same time no socialising or gatherings, no pubs, no cafes and no cinema.  My thoughts are with the folks who rely on this economy to pay the bills and my lack of a glasses fitting is a tiny misdemeanour in the grand scheme of what’s going on in the world….perspective.

Not totally in lock down compared to some places around the world we’ve managed to get out and intend to keep doing so as long as we can, obviously keeping our distance from anyone else doing the same.  Just for health of the mind.   We now have a circuit that takes us up and over Arthur’s seat about 5 mile in total door to door.  The fresh air and the taste of spring is welcome as we head into this storm.

Where ever you are I hope you are safe and staying well and thank you for joining me for coffee.

 

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Need to Know – got to start somewhere

img_5059-1024x768A few days into March and I’ve missed a few coffee shares,  so hello and welcome to March, come on in the kettle has just boiled.  Despite a few chilly mornings and icy days it does feel like it’s starting to warm up and brighten.  Buds opening and raring to go.  The daffs, a sea of yellow urging the sun to come out.

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Yellow….bring on the sunshine #daffodils

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The last few weeks I’ve really been struggling with that feeling you get when you’ve been on holiday, the odd bit of clothing that doesn’t quite fit……it used to but for some reason it’s shrunk.  For me it started with the salopettes.  They have an annual outing and a rough marker in time.  This year the zip feeling a bit tight even as the holiday started and as the days progressed they seemed to get tighter and tighter.

Holidays are for enjoying though, I was stuck up a mountain….hardly the time to give up calories or to start watching what I was eating.

I know for my wife the last thing she wants to know is a post-holiday weight…for me though I needed a reality check, a number to back up the way I was feeling.

The scales are electronic and I can influence the number by moving it around different places on the floor.  The feet influenced by the uneven floor tiles.  No time for kidding myself,  I lined them up with my favourite tile line and took a deep breath.

Not good, 6kg over my target weight, a BMI of 26.3 putting me well into the overweight category.  Previously I’d been sat on the edge a fine balance…..head in my hands time for change.

That was 3 weeks ago…….and since then I’ve brought my BMI down to 25.6 by losing 3kg (Not by moving the scales to another location!).  Still technically Overweight.

I think I’ve been a bit more active despite the weather.  Catching the bus to work when it’s been lethal ice wise or the wind and rain howling and then walking home regardless.  Deliberately drinking a glass less wine at the weekend and trying to avoid chocolate during the day.   The vending machine on our floor at work the Achilles heal when the afternoon munchies kick in.

It’s hard to describe the mental challenges that an office job brings, I’m exhausted every day and I ask myself why write this up……it makes me think.  It’s almost like taking a moment to look at yourself from the top corner of a room.  I’m trying to live well, work well and be healthy and it’s easy to go off the rails.

It’s making me think what do I want to achieve this week…..

 

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Avoriaz 2020

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Rather than a cup of coffee, can I interest you in a Vin Chaud and a piece of home-made Christmas cake on the ski slopes of Avoriaz just on the border of France and Switzerland?

For the first time we have gone back somewhere two years running, as intrepid explorers it’s not our style.

We were just looking for something in budget, similar transfer time from the airport and somewhere that we know would do good food, somewhere authentic.

There is a little hamlet called Prodain just outside of Morzine with a small family run hotel, les lan.   The prodain lift is minutes away taking you straight to the main ski lifts of Avoriaz.

Getting There requires an early start!

  • 2:55am It’s Saturday and the alarm springs to life.
  • 3:40 and the taxi is here, there’s a bit of grumpy ness the boys hitting it off well from the start. The taxi moves through the streets with no holdups. There are few folk still out from the night before. Kicking out time from the club we pass.
  • 4:20 the bags are checked in and we are sat eating porridge and granola. My wife’s attempt at getting pre-soaked muesli through the scanner foiled!
  • 6:20 and the flight leaves on time, a little bumpy due to wind approaching
  • 9:20 local time (+1 hr) and if someone poked me in the left ear with a knitting needle I’d thank them for it. I’m in agony from the pressure changes and the remains of fluid from my cold.
  • 10:20 baggage claimed, skis in tow we get on the coach. An apple, a piece of Christmas cake and a thimble of coffee I’m almost starting to feel human. The lights different, the sun is shining and despite it being cold it’s an uplifting feeling.
  • 1:20pm and we arrive at the hotel, eat our home made Tuna sandwiches in our room….with a plan to explore the resort

Some Thoughts

That first beer on holiday, when you sit down breathe and realise for a week you’ve earned some freedom from the daily grind is worth its weight in gold.

The menu is exciting, mainly familiar to my school boy french….but with nuances. A week of good eating ahead of us.  Nice to be cooked for without having to think.

The weather, we’ve been fortunate with the first and last days being sunny.  The wind chill in between was punishing. We also had rain and some of the snow was washed away.

The skiing has been defensive, one moment free flowing through powder like coasting over velvet. The next hard packed ice, where the skis take on a life of their own, with a noise that cuts through the bone.

Despite what I would describe as the worst snow and weather conditions we’ve ever had; alongside the aches and pains from the muscles that are used to being sat in a chair all day I feel like I’ve got a glow from being weathered. I’ve not missed staring at a screen all day!

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#bluesky #blueskies on top of the mountains #skiing #ski

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Tune of the holiday has to be the Blinding Lights by the weekend, seemed to be playing at the bottom of the chairlifts and if it wasn’t being played then, my son was playing it in the hotel room.

 

Now sat safely at home in front of the computer drinking coffee, feeling blessed. Tuning into the news the weather system is in a crazy state. If we’d been a day either side of our travel days it would be very unlikely we’d got away. At least 170 flights cancelled today. Homes devastated by flooding and my heart goes out to them.

 

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.