Nuts about cooking [part 2]

If you’re thinking of going vegetarian please don’t make the mistake I did. Don’t think that you can get away without buying a meat substitute. ‘Vegetables will do the job’ I’ve thought several times this week, but honestly how many different types of vegetables do any of us have in our fridges at any one time. Exactly. I’ve spent most of this week eating onions. When I made a thai green curry, when I made Bolognese and when I made vegetarian chilli. Oh dear god the chilli.

Broadly speaking I followed the following slimming world recipe except for a few ‘how important can that be’ amendments:

 Ingredients

  • Low calorie cooking spray
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed [or not if you forgot to by them. Dumbass]
  • 2 fresh chillies, deseeded and chopped [I don’t really like spicy food. Any how important can it be?]
  • 2 tsps ground cumin [Thought I had it. Didn’t]
  • 1 tsp ground coriander [Eww]
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper [Hmm…maybe regular pepper will do]
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 275ml stock
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 450g extra lean beef mince (or Quorn mince) [or NOTHING. In a dark moment I even seriously considered substituting carrot]
  • 1 x 200g can red kidney beans, drained [Now this I did have. What I did not have was a can opener. Neither did my flatmate. My neighbour wasn’t in. I shit you not I opened it with a spoon. It’s just possible that I’m Bear Grylls’ lovechild or it could have had something to do with the fact that I watched this video. It was simultaneously one of my lowest moments and proudest achievements. All I can say in my defence is that being vegetarian and not being a very prepared chef means you really can’t be foregoing a can of beans in this situation.]
  • Chopped fresh coriander leaves, to garnish [Eww. See above]
  • 1 level tablespoon of tomato purée

Method

  1. Spray a large saucepan with low calorie cooking spray and fry the onion gently over a low heat for 5 minutes, until softened and golden. Add the garlic, chillies and all the spices and continue frying, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add mince, stirring until it begins to brown.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato purée and stock. Stir well and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes, until the liquid is slightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper and add drained kidney beans. Heat through gently for about 5 minutes.
  3. Slow-cooker alternative: Brown your onions, garlic, chillies, spices and meat as above and transfer to your slow-cooker. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato purée and stock. Stir well and cook on ‘medium’ for 6-8 hours. 45 minutes before serving add the kidney beans..
  4. Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped coriander leaves. [If you’re a taste bud masochist]

Yes. I know. That's not even sour cream, that's Philadelphia. I let myself down.

What I’m learning is that vegetarian recipes are not to be meddles with. If you start casually missing out key ingredients, flavourings or I don’t know ALL the spices, you will end up eating a sort of tomato-oniony broth. I’ve eaten worse (yes the nut roast does spring to mind) but still I was very sorry that I’d decided to make enough for my lunch as well…

Note to self: must try harder. Also please send help and recipes.

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Nuts about cooking

I’ve come to the conclusion this week that no-one needs to be more adept at cooking than vegetarians. You also need to be prepared otherwise you’ll end up doing what I did at 8.30pm on a Sunday night when you realise that the supermarket is closed and that your only chance of eating before daybreak is to tragically pick the pepperoni off a frozen Pizza Express pizza.

Choosing to do this meat-free challenge in the traditionally money-free month of January has meant that my aim this week has been to cook every night and eat leftovers for lunch like the sorry person I have become. To make matters worse it turns out I’m not a very good cook.

Exhibit A: nut roast

I was at my parents house last Sunday and my Dad was just popping the chicken in the oven ready for roasting when it occurred to me that I should probably mention my card carrying vegetarian status. ‘Never fear’ I said ‘I’m going to make a nut roast’ I said. If I’m honest I didn’t know what a nut roast was really but I gather this is their Sunday dish of choice.

I selected a recipe (click here if you want to try it yourself – and remember what happened next was almost certainly my fault and not the recipe’s) that specifically mentioned that it was the ‘Best nut roast I have ever eaten’. To be fair I don’t know who ‘I’ is and they might usually select nut roast with as much discernment as I do kitchen towels but it sounded like a winner to me.

When they next mentioned that this one was ‘not dry like most nut roasts’ it dawned on me that I might not actually like nut roast. I have to admit I’m not exactly nuts about, well, nuts. But It was now about an hour before lunch and there was no turning back unless I wanted just a plate of vegetables. I’ll leave it to you to judge whether that would have been preferable. As a clue I’d say it tasted as good as it looked…

NUT ROAST

Unfortunately I was stuck with the leftovers at work the next day, quite the embarrassment. I lurked by the communal kitchen until no-one was about and surreptitiously hovered over the microwave as my vile lunch pumped a nutty odor through the offices.

I have since spoken with a genuine all year round veggie who has told me that the secret to a great nut roast is (a) chestnut paste and (b) probably not doing what I did and grabbing the bag of leftover chopped mixed nuts from the Christmas cake. That apparently is both lazy and will make your nut roast quite ‘desert nutty’ as opposed to ‘main course nutty’.

Exhibit B to follow…

Vegging out

Being completely honest I thought being a vegetarian would be a total doddle. While it’s true that I’m secretly hoping that having some eating rules will stop me mindlessly grazing (as I swear the human body is programmed to do. Mine certainly is anyway), sometimes I accidentally eat like a vegetarian anyway. A scarring childhood incident involving a 2 inch tendon baked inside a sausage can do that to a person. My point being that compared to some of the genuine challenges I’ve got in mind for later months (gluten free, vegan, maybe even a chocolate ban *gasp*) this was supposed to be a breeze.

Except by 9.30am on day two I’d already forgotten and was happily ordering myself a full English breakfast when my friend had to cut across me and instruct the waitress that what I meant to ask for was quorn sausages.Thank goodness for good friends who’d actually been listening while you were carefully explain that you’re going to work your way through the book of dietary requirements over the year and how do they feel about celebrating their birthday in May with a flourless cake? Or a halal chicken?

I can’t say a cooked breakie is quite the same without some nice crispy bacon but still plenty to keep me going as you’ll see…

Veggie breakie

Before you ask I’ve already checked out what my options will be for vegan month and it’s hash browns or baked beans. Or hash browns and baked beans.

Luckily by my second eating-out-as-a-vegetarian experience I had graduated to at least remembering what I was supposed to be doing. Even more luckily I was in the dietary requirement friendly city of Brighton offering veggie options so tempting they’ve been known to turn the head of even the most committed carnivore. Food for Friends and Terre a Terre are two particularly famous local examples that regularly beat meat serving restaurants for coveted ‘Best Restaurant’ titles.

After battling through a torrential downpour to get there lunch at Soup-urb in the North Laine was meat-free and divine: mushrooms, halloumi and rocket on toast. All served up with a side order of distressed wooden furniture and a charming French waiter. Just the thing to warm up your January.

SOUP-URB

 

If you happen to be a vegetarian and around Brighton then the Source has helpfully put together their best restaurant guide for veggies. But it’d be great to hear about other examples of great veggie restaurant food? What’s your favourite and why??

Eating in the new year

It’s the start of the new year and as is customary I was looking around for an arbitrary resolution or challenge to make the start of 2014 more interesting. After immediately discounting skydiving or joining a gym I reluctantly considered my least favourite word…

diet [n]

  1. the kinds of food that a person, animal or community habitually eats
  2. a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons

It’s definitely the second use of the word that I take issue with. It’s so depressing and restrictive and makes me think I’m not allowed food. I like food. However if i’m being completely honest my diet (definition 1) is something I should take more care with. Partially because, as previously mentioned, I like food so logically I eat quite a lot of it and partially because I don’t pay any attention to my diet so I eat even more.

Bearing in mind my dislike of diets (definition 2) this year I’ve decided to concentrate on my diet and what I habitually eat. I’ve set myself the challenge of changing my eating habits every month and following a different regime. As long as that regime involves eating regular and healthy amounts of food then I’ll give it a go.

Currently there’s very little that I don’t eat meaning that whatever I give up will always pose a challenge. But that’s half the fun. I’m hoping to become more adventurous with food, discover new recipes and cooking methods and generally see whether being forced to think about what I eat will mean that I end up eating better and feeling better.

January challenge = veggie style. As a committed meat eater and bacon enthusiast turning vegetarian for a month will be a trial for sure. I’ll be updating this page with progress, challenges and recipes so stay tuned…

The Great British Cake Off

Week 5 challenge: bake a novelty cake

You know that feeling when it seems that people are conspiring against you? Well I think that’s what happened when my dad and my sister got together and decided to have their birthdays in the same week.

Funnily enough this happens ever year and inevitably means twice the planning, twice the presents and twice the birthday treats. This year, (because I’m trying a new thing every week) this also meant making a novelty cake. Not once, but twice.

Like every viewer who’s become addicted to The Great British Bake Off over the last three years (which, at a rough guess, I would suggest is the whole of the UK), I’ve decided that I’m a brilliant baker. I treat new recipes like they’re ‘technical challenges’ and have been known to judge the results with a scouse accent, complaining that it’s been ‘overw-air-ked’.

Somehow this led me to believe that it would be fairly simple for me to have a stab at producing two proper novelty cakes. To be fair ‘having a stab at it’ was fairly simple. It was just the execution I had a problem with…

Cake 1: The iPad

Oh if only you could see how brilliant this cake looked in my head. So clean, so crisp, it seduced you into believing that it actually was an iPad but when you went to play with it, it turned out be a slab of buttercream goodness. ‘Buttercream?’ I hear you ask? ‘Why would you attempt to make an exact replica of one of the worlds most streamlined electronic devices using a substance that resembles fluffy cement?’ Why indeed.

I made little icing Apps which were OK if a bit of a mixed bag. The ‘Safari’ one was identifiable, the ‘Settings’ one less so. I have no earthly explanation for why I even attempted Temple run.

The cake itself was de-lish (I used a brilliant Mary Berry tray bake recipe where you dump it all in one bowl: recipe here) as was the offending buttercream to be fair. But no-one has ever told me that spreading buttercream straight onto sponge has much the same effect as longshore drift on a beach. Little grains of sponge just got recycled all over the lovely white exterior (which I partially blame my sister for, why is her actual iPad not black? Not helpful.)

Bear with me, it looks at its most gross here...
Bear with me, it looks at its most gross here…

I fell out with buttercream that day, sadly drawing a curtain over a lifelong friendship. Things got a bit dramatic (‘Why, God. Whyyyy?!’)  culminating in me being about as angry as one of the stupid little birds in the STUPID LITTLE APPS. It was a confusing time.

Once I’d decided there was nothing more I could to either salvage it, or actually wreck it further, I took a step back and was just starting to think that maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. Then my Dad walked past and said ever so helpfully: ‘Maybe it doesn’t have to be an exact iPad. You could say you were going for an ‘artists impression’ of an iPad.’ Thanks, Dad. Thanks very much.

Left: How it looked in my head (Image and beautiful cake by http://blog.pinkcakebox.com/ipad-cake-2011-02-25.htm) Right: How it looked in actual real life. My sister has forgiven me.
Left: How it looked in my head (Image and beautiful cake by http://blog.pinkcakebox.com/ipad-cake-2011-02-25.htm)
Right: How it looked in actual real life. My sister has forgiven me.

Cake 2: England rugby shirt

The next day it was on to cake number 2: a rugby shirt in honour of my Dad and the Six Nations. But this time I’d learnt my lesson and it was out with the buttercream icing, in with the ready rolled. All I had to do then was cut my second lovely Mary Berry tray bake into a convincing rugby shirt shape.

I learnt that if you work symmetrically and make a cut each side at the same height all the way down the cake, then you can’t go too far wrong. It may not look exactly human, but at least it’s not lopsided.

Can you see what it is yet?
Can you see what it is yet?

Next I covered the whole thing in my lovely, smooth, non-cement like icing (damn you, buttercream. You’re still not forgiven). I had to dye some icing red and blue to make the England rose and the O2 sponsor logo (other network providers are available etc etc). A quick scan of my cupboard revealed I did not own any in date food dye so I went rogue and dyed them with some writing icing. And it worked a treat. I now believe food dye to be a con.

I stuck on my freehand symbols and a white collar (if you happen to want to make a cake rugby shirt of your very own, and why wouldn’t you, then I recommend leaving a ‘neck’ shape of cake at the top to stick the collar on to. Hold it in place with a cocktail stick until it’s dried in a preppy, popped collar position). I iced on the shirt maker logo and that was it. Job was a good’un. Then I accidentally stuck my finger through the armpit, but I didn’t tell anyone about that…

Et Voila!
Et Voila!

Keep or delete

Hmmm…bit of a mixed bag this week but keep as I will attempt another novelty cake once I’ve recovered from the trauma. I may never look at buttercream the same way again though you’ll be pleased to know we partially made up when I realised it tasted a tiny bit like dairy heaven. But I was very pleased that both recipients were chuffed with the effort I’d made.
And as my Dad so tactfully put it when he noticed the crater-shaped hole from my little hand-armpit accident ‘It’s the effort that counts’.

Fast, not furious

Week 4 challenge: Try intermittent fasting

Never one to miss the chance to jump on a bandwagon unfashionably late, this week I decided to try the intermittent fasting diet. Devised by Dr Michael Mosley it is an eating regime evolved from extreme calorie restriction. Before you get the impressions that this is something I’d find easy or enjoy, let me just say that I hate diets. They sound depressing, they look depressing, they don’t sound like they’ll allow me to eat whole packets of biscuits in one sitting. In short, they don’t fit in with my life or my way of eating. But as is probably obvious from the packet of biscuit thing, I could do with focussing a bit more on my health sometimes…

How it works
You eat just 500 calories (or 600 if you’re a man) 2 days of the week and on the other 5, eat whatever you want. That’s right, I said whatever you want. It promises weight loss/maintenance and most intriguingly of all, claims to reduce your risk of (among other things) cancer and diabetes. Encouragingly it is backed by medical research and has apparently converted many a doctor to follow the plan themselves. You can decide how you want to spend your calories but my preferred option was to fast on non-consecutive days and split my 500 calories between breakfast and dinner.

The rule is: there are no rules
Aside from the obvious that two days a week you will hardly eat anything, the rest of the time you can do what you want. I don’t have a problem with rules in general, many rules actually make a lot of sense. Don’t jump red lights: you could kill someone. Don’t leave dog poo in public spaces: people won’t like you. But eating is something you have to do every day. If you attach rules to food it demands that you think about it every day, and you can become obsessive. And you shouldn’t have to obsess about food: food is fun. Even If someone decreed you had to eat an entire cheesecake every day the initially brilliance of the plan would probably soon give way to tedium and you’d give up.

The science bit
For the full explanation I really do recommend the book ‘the fast diet’ by Dr Moseley and Mimi Spencer as opposed to my paraphrased attempt. What I’ve gleaned is that it aids weight loss by tricking your body into thinking you’re in a ‘potential famine mode’ and burning fat. Perhaps even more enticing though is that it reduces the levels of a certain hormone, IGF-1, which stimulates cell growth. Very useful when you’re growing: not necessary and potential dangerous once you’re in adulthood because it causes you to produce too many cells which can lead to cancer. There is far more research behind the 5:2 plan than I have space for here but lots of studies back up the theories. Get thinner and live longer? Oh yes please.

What I did
I decided to fast on Tuesday and Thursday. They do say don’t massively overcompensate on your non-fasting days yet I did find myself on Monday tucking into a carrot cake for lunch and Thai red curry as a snack. Yeah…even for me that was ludicrous. I looked into how many calories are actually in things (which was eye opening in itself) and planned these menus:

Tuesday
Breakfast: Porridge made with 40g oats with water and 100g blueberries. Black coffee.
Dinner: Cod fillet and vegetables.

Thursday
Breakfast: Porridge made with 40g oats with water and 100g blueberries. Black coffee.
Dinner: 4 quorn sausages with steamed spinach and broccoli. 2 passion fruits.

After 12 hours of not eating this was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen.
After 12 hours of not eating this was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen.

What it’s like
Being honest, I felt hungry by the time I was at the bus stop on my way to work. Bit of a worry as my next bit of food was 11 hours away.

By 10.50am it was quite a constant and exquisite pain. My stomach was rumbling on like Bruce Forsyth’s showbiz career.

By midday it felt like I had swallowed a rock. This was almost better as at least it reminded me what it felt like to have swallowed something. Still I would’ve preferred a bagel.

Then all of a sudden I wasn’t hungry anymore. That’s not to say I felt full or even that the hunger ever completely went away. But it certainly wasn’t distracting. Just a nagging feeling like when you think you’ve forgotten to lock the back door.

There were more waves of hunger at various points throughout the day but nothing ever as bad as the first couple of hours. It was quite the revelation.

On Thursday it was easier still. It converted me to the concept of mind over matter because the fact that I’d got through a day of fasting already meant I had faith I would do it again.

I also discovered that liquids are your best friend on a diet. I mean the truth is that nothing fills the hole in your stomach quite like a calorie, but water’s a pretty good second option. I also went big on the fizzy water. A bit of a gamble as taking an empty stomach and pumping it full of gas could be a bit like stuffing a pinball machine full of firecrackers, but it was surprisingly effective. Who wants to buy lunch when you can get a litre of sparkling water for 20p? And that’s an extra £3.50 in the shoe fund.

And then there were five, fabulous guilt free days of food. I could eat absolutely anything. The award for most astonishing discovery of the week goes to the fact that I didn’t just gorge myself. I just didn’t think about it and because I know I can eat what I want almost ¾ of the time, there was no need to take every opportunity to eat whatever came my way. Aside from the carrot cake and the red Thai curry. Let’s pretend I never told you about that.

Keep or delete?
DEFINITELY keep. I haven’t been converted to something this quickly since Ryan Reynolds started advertising M&S. Firstly I lost 3 pounds which is a bit fabulous (I haven’t lost weight this easily since I ate those dodgy prawns). More importantly though I’m passionate that food shouldn’t dominate your life. You shouldn’t think about it all the time. The genius of this plan is that most days you don’t have to think about eating or not eating at all. And on the other 2 days, the number of calories allowed is so small that it equally allows for little thought: there just aren’t that many options. It’s the endless thinking about dieting that makes me angry. This way you fast but you’re not furious.

For more information (and proper sciency facts) there’s even an official website: http://thefastdiet.co.uk/

‘You don’t know me but I love you’

Week 3 challenge: Write a fan letter

For this week’s new thing I decided to right a wrong. At various points during childhood, teengehood and, if I’m honest, old-enough-to-know-better-hood, I’ve felt an urge to write to famous people I admire but have never met. People who inspire me or, you know, people in boybands with really great hair.

Plenty of people do it every day but I never did. Having said that, when there was a rumour that Steven Spielberg was directing the Harry Potter films I may have written and asked if I could play Hermione. But that was less of a fan letter and more of a manic episode. He did answer me actually, I don’t remember exactly what he said but needless to say I’m not Emma Watson.

Being older means I have to be particularly careful about who I write to and why. It’s cute to say to a stranger ‘OMG I love you’ if you’re 10 and he’s Justin Bieber. When you’re 24 it’s a bit wrong to write that to anyone and is DEFINITELY wrong if he’s Justin Bieber. Then you probably belong on a register.

So how to go about it?
With the absence of teenage hormones to inspire a love sonnet or a long-shot marriage proposal, it was hard to know where to start. Well when in doubt: Google. It turns out there is website after website dedicated to this very thing. Some are really nice and useful , some others that shall remain nameless had slightly more…er, basic suggestions such as ‘Make sure the address you have is correct’. Genius.

Even I felt confident that I didn’t need this:

To paraphrase some of the top tips I learned:
Do:
· Introduce yourself-if you sound mysterious you risk sounding like you’re trying to stick within the terms of a restraining order
· Explain why you’re writing. Either
a) why you like them or
b) how they’ve personally affected you/your life.

Don’t:
· Sound like a crazy stalker loon
· Sound like you’re willing to take crazy stalker loon steps to meet them
· Invite yourself round to their house.

Who on earth to write to?
This really did require some thought because I literally could write to anyone: Bradley Cooper, Judi Dench, the cast of TOWIE…the world is my oyster so to speak. Something I came across online told me that ‘If you’re writing to someone super famous, don’t expect a response.’

I decided this was fair advice and should avoid really busy and important people. This meant crossing a few people off my list of potentials: royalty, politicians and, regretfully, Harry Styles.

I also realised that if you’re going to write to someone just because you like them then you can’t fake it. You really have to go for someone who you really are a bit fanatical about and I felt I’d left it a bit late to write to Boyzone.

So I went down the alternative route and decided to write to someone famous who’s actually affected my life. Only one person sprung to mind, Danny Boyle, because I was a volunteer performer in the Olympics opening ceremony. Firstly I can’t believe it’s taken me 3 blogs to bring that up; it’s usually the first thing I tell anyone. And secondly, and without wanting to sound schmaltzy, it was the greatest experience of my life.

From the very first of the 140 hours of rehearsal it was a pleasure and a privilege to be involved and Danny Boyle as artistic of director of the whole ceremony played a huge part in that. He was constantly present, infectiously enthusiastic and palpably excited. All of us were so appreciative of not only the opportunity but also to the whole ceremony team. Now I wouldn’t be surprised if Danny Boyle has heard just how brilliant his ceremony was pretty much constantly for the last 6 months. I’m also fairly certain that others will have already written to thank him. But I haven’t and it’s something that even now that time’s past I really feel I should say. So I did. And it felt good.

Should I sleep by the doormat until I get a reply?
Personally I’m not expecting one but if you feel inspired to write to a hero, heroine (or trans-hero: let’s be politically correct here) and want to hear back I would suggest two things.
1) Ask a question. Even if it’s just asking for an autograph I imagine asking for a reply is harder to ignore.
2) Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. I know, you’d never have thought of that one on your own would you?

And if you happen to be a fan of the dying art of written correspondence then do take a look at the always lovely letters of note.

Delete or repeat?
The one thing I did learn is that you should only do this if there’s a reason. Maybe you want an autograph, maybe you felt moved by their latest film, maybe they clipped your wing mirror and you want their insurance details. Either way I definitely recommend putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). They say you should never left things unsaid and you never know, it might brighten someone’s day.

(Not) home alone…

Week 2 challenge: Go to the cinema alone

Lots of people go to the cinema on their own. I rarely notice and certainly never feel sorry for them. But having never ever done it myself, I’ve now got a bit of a thing about it. I’m of the opinion that much like ice skating, it’s something you have to start when you’re young, otherwise it becomes a bigger and bigger deal as you recognise the very real possibility of falling and hurting something. Ok maybe that last bit just applies to the ice skating. But as much as the rational side of my brain knows that it’s not a big deal to anyone but me, that part of my brain doesn’t dominate.

Like all great adventures, it required a bit of pre-planning and I set about considering some real dilemmas i.e. What does one wear when one is going to the cinema alone? When’s a good time? What film should Isee?

I spent way too much time on question 1 and eventually concluded this: don’t dress up or it’ll look like your date stood you up. Don’t dress too scruffy, you could look depressed or necessarily-alone-because-no-one-wants-to-be-near-your-odur. I toyed with hangover chic but it turns out that particular look is nigh on impossible to achieve when you’re not actually hungover. Who knew? So I decided to dress normally. Glad I spent so long on that.

If I’m honest I put little logical thought into when to go and just decided on a Sunday morning, primarily because I was free then. It turned out to be really snowy so I considered not going, but then I remembered that my emu boots make wicked cool prints in the white stuff so I set off with an extra spring in my step. (Figuratively, not literally. It’s not a good idea to skip in the snow.)

Step one: buy the ticket. I felt the need to say ‘ONE ticket please’ as if I might have actually wanted to buy a second one for my imaginary friend or treat the family of snot-faced kiddies behind me, but never mind. I felt proud that I was owning my solo status. Much like Jodie Foster at the Golden Globes.

Was all going well until I bumped into someone I knew in the foyer. Honestly, when does that ever happen? Fun, I thought, someone to talk to. Until she spotted my obvious solitude and asked (with a hint of disbelief it has to be said), ‘Are you…on your own?!’

My first thought was to lie and say ‘No, I am in fact not here by myself. I’m meeting a friend and she’s already in the cinema’. But then I thought: actually there’s no need to lie, it’s not like I’m pathetic or friendless. I’m only at the cinema on my own because I wanted to come to the cinema on my own. Just be honest. Except by the time I’d thought all of that, I’d kind of already said the ‘no, my friend’s already in there’ thing. What can I say? I have a tendency to panic lie.

I’d also completely neglected the question of what to see which as it turns out wasn’t smart. When I got there I decided to go with ‘Pitch Perfect’ because it emerged Sunday mornings don’t have a lot of choice for anyone over the age of 8; it was starting soonest plus I secretly liked the trailer. Rookie. Error. You know how people say you feel most alone in a crowd? Well it turns out you can also feel pretty bloody alone in an empty cinema. I think it was me and 6 others. I felt pretty uneasy until the lights went down and busied myself with my phone. Looking back this probably just drew attention to me by literally shining a light on my face. Damn fool.

After that it was just like any other film. Going to the cinema is one of the least sociable things you can do so of course it’s hardly noticeable that you’re by yourself once the film starts.

Still I felt the need to make a sharp exit once it was over not least because I realised it was perfectly possible I’d run into the girl I knew in the foyer again. And if she asked where my friend was, who knows what ridiculous emergency my panic lying would have come up with…

Repeat or delete?

Shamefully I think it has to be delete. I’m just too self-conscious to pull it off. Having said that, if one day the universe sees fit to unite Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Gosling in one film and I can’t find anyone to come with me, then I might just be forced to make another solo trip.

Proof if proof were needed

Proof if proof were needed

Blog on…

If rules are made to be broken then new years resolutions are literally crying out to be shattered. If I wanted to learn Spanish, feng shui my bedroom or devote myself to jiu jitsu wouldn’t I have done it by now?  They’re basically impossible: you pick something hard, something that’s about as much fun as a cabbage soup diet. If you’re lucky, they’ll just be a vague memory by about March. Yet I still wilfully make them every year.

So at the end of 2012 (aka the greatest year to be British ever) somewhere between the gleeful first sighting of the Coca-Cola truck and being engulfed in new year firework smoke on the South Bank, ‘the resolution question’ reared its head again. At first I thought I wouldn’t do anything: perhaps wisdom and maturity had finally hit. Then the thought of not making a resolution made me sad: I realised it’s because resolutions (at least for me) are a chance to try something new. Try being a gym bunny. Try being organised. Try being one of those people who treats being offered a plate of biscuits as a question, not a certainty.

So my resolution this year is to try something new every week…

Week 1 challenge: Write a Blog

More specifically, stick with writing a blog. It seems half the world have attempted to blog about something or other and it’s even a recognised career these days. I blame ‘Julia and Julia’. I too left that film, mind swimming with ideas for my own blog, convinced the cyberworld would be riveted by my take on where to find super cool buttons or how to stop that mascara gunk forming in your inner eye. Trouble is they made it look so damn easy, and I soon realised that if there’s no real reason for you to write a blog, then there’s also no point in trying to.

But this year I have a reason: to blog about all the new things I’m going to do with my year. So there’s at least a hint of a point.

Image from fotopedia

Verdict

So far, so painless. But too soon to say I’ve really tried something new, after one post. I’ll keep you posted.

Repeat or delete?

Definitely repeat, otherwise I’ll have failed the challenge of writing a blog for a whole year…