Coconut brownies

So here is my other recipe to help you use up any left over Easter eggs.

I fancied using up some white chocolate, as I prefer it in baking to eating it. I think that coconut really goes with white chocolate, so here is the recipe for coconut and white chocolate brownies.


100g butter

200g sugar (150g caster, 50g brown sugar)

125g dark or milk chocolate

1 tbs golden syrup

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp coconut extract (if you have it)

100g plain flour

35g cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

50g dessicated coconut

Left over white chocolate- as much as you have!


Preheat the oven to 180C

Line a brownie pan with baking paper

In a saucepan gently melt together the butter, sugar, dark/milk chocolate and syrup.

Leave to cool for a few minutes.

Beat the eggs together and add in the vanilla and coconut extract, then stir this into the melted chocolate mix- mix quickly to avoid the eggs scrambling. Then stir in the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and dessicated coconut.

Pour into the brownie pan, and sprinkle with pieces of white chocolate.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until there is just a slight wobble left to the brownie.

Leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes before putting on a wire rack to cool.

If you have more white chocolate left, melt this and pipe over the top.

It is much easier to slice once it is completely cool.

Using up Easter eggs

The brownie with the white chocolate sprinkled over it ready for baking in the oven.

With the white chocolate piped over

All ready to enjoy!

The benefits of compression shorts

Hi all, this is a post by Brooklyn Williams:

Why Are You Running in That Cotton T-Shirt? The Benefits of Compression Shorts and Other Advanced Workout Gear

When Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a registered entrant in 1967, it was a step forward for women’s rights, but not for athletic clothing design. Switzer ran the race in a baggy sweatshirt and sweatpants long before technical athletic clothing became the huge industry that it is today. Photos from that race back in 1967 show how much running attire has changed since then. Although the other runners near Switzer wore running shorts instead of sweat pants, they all had long-sleeved sweatshirts on. Today’s athletic attire is more technical in its design with engineering that prioritizes function and comfort.

The overwhelming majority of traditional athletic apparel was made of cotton. This inexpensive, easy to produce fabric has a lot going for it, most notably, the fact that it ‘breathes’, making it more comfortable than other fabrics.

After physical exertion, cotton starts to become uncomfortable, as it absorbs perspiration and becomes more prone to chafing. Clothing begins to feel like an irritating wet towel. Another problem with cotton clothing is that it was not designed specifically for the events it was used in. This may make it suitable for many uses, but it provides no special benefits for any of them.

The lack of aerodynamic efficiency is another problem. Over the course of a 26.2 mile race, the drag on baggy clothing would slow down finishing times significantly. A modest two percent decrease in wind resistance can make a difference of 31 metres in a marathon. Aerodynamic clothing has been used for years by competitive cyclists and world-class sprinters. It is only recently that it has appeared in other sports.

Whether it’s designed for running, football or tennis, modern athletic apparel is made of synthetic fibres that wick away perspiration. Not only does this keep you from feeling like you are wearing a wet rag on hot days, it also helps on cold days. Wearing multiple layers of non-technical clothing may keep you warm on a cold day initially, but after perspiring, few things are more uncomfortable than wearing wet clothing when it’s 30 degrees outside.

Another important benefit of technical athletic clothing is that the material is substantially less prone to chafing. Running a marathon in cotton clothing would cause numerous problems for many runners. Socks made of this material can cause irritation and blisters in the feet. Shirts can cause nipple chafing and bleeding and shorts made of more abrasive materials irritate the legs.

Clothing that is technical in nature is not only designed with comfort in mind, it is also suited for the activity the user participates in. It won’t make a 10 minute-per-mile runner into a Boston qualifier, but it will help improve the user’s overall experience.

Football undershirts are a great example of this evolution. For years, the outer jerseys that football players wore during practice and in games were made of mesh materials that were durable and tear-resistant, but also provided ventilation to allow body heat to escape.

Not nearly as much though went into undershirts these players wore. These were typically cotton t-shirts that may have protected against shoulder pad abrasion, but did little else. Today’s football undershirts are not only made of comfortable synthetics that work well in cold and heat, but also provide built-in padding in areas that regular pads leave unprotected.

Even baseball and softball umpires can benefit from advanced athletic wear. Undergarments are now available with built-in padding to protect against foul balls and errant pitches striking the thigh area.

Compressive apparel has become more popular in recent years, but is there any benefit to wearing it? A 2010 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology supports that belief. It found that, “The results indicate that compression clothing is an effective recovery strategy following exercise-induced muscle damage.”

Some companies like TommieCopper take the technology of compression shorts another step further. Their copper infused compression shorts are made of a fabric containing copper within the fibres.

One of copper’s strengths is its anti-microbial properties. Copper compounds have been used for years to control fish parasites in aquariums. This same anti-microbial technology inhibits the growth of odour-causing bacteria within the fabric.

Clothing has come a long way since the days when nearly everyone wore cotton t-shirts, socks and sweats. Technology resulted in more comfortable clothing while the rise of competitive sports demanded clothing specific to a sport or activity. No matter how technologically advanced athletic clothing is, it will never replace hard work and training, but at least it will help you recover from it.

What do you think about technical clothing or compression clothing?

I could not bear to wear cotton t-shirts when running and I never understand races that give out cotton t-shirts, unless they are ones you would wear normally (I love my Robin Hood t-shirt). At parkrun it always surprises me the amount of people who wear cotton t-shirts or fleecy jumpers, I just don’t understand it, especially now you can pick up a technical top or vest pretty cheaply. I am not sure on wearing compression gear while I run, but I love compression socks for after a long run.

*Compensation was provided for this post. 

Hot cross bun cookies (recipe)

So, this might be a rather belated Easter post. But then again, I was in Costa over the weekend and they were still selling little Easter nest cakes and fruity marzipan Easter loaves, so I am going with it!

As part of their blogger community, Sainsbury’s asked me to have a go at making an Easter recipe, and as they also sent me an Easter egg I thought I would make use of that. I based the cookie recipe on the Millie’s Cookie recipe that I love.

So here are my Hot Cross Bun cookies:


125g butter/ margarine

225g sugar (mixture of caster and soft brown)

1 medium egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

225g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

100g dried fruit (I used a mixture of cherries and raisins)

A few pieces of candied orange peel, chopped

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp mixed spice

Optional- White chocolate for melting


Preheat the oven to 180C, line two baking trays with baking paper.

Optional- soak the cherries and raisins in a little boiling water- this plumps them up and makes them juicy.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the egg, vanilla and almond extract. Sift in the flour, baking powder and spices and bring gently together. Finally mix in the dried fruit (drain the water first if you soaked them) and candied orange peel.

Spoon onto the baking trays leaving space between them as they will spread.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until brown around the edges- they will continue to cook on the baking trays a little once they come out.

Leave on the trays for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

If adding the while chocolate cross, melt some white chocolate and pipe it over the cooled cookies.

I think they look rather pretty, and the dried fruits and spices create the hot cross bun flavour.

Soaking the dried fruits

Chopping the candied orange peel

Piping on the melted white chocolate

This made 20 big cookies!

I also made some brownies, but that will have to be in another post!

Do you have any Easter Eggs left?

*Sainsbury’s provided me with some of the ingredients.

Lake District goodies

So the Lake District seemed to be a bit of a haven of locally made produce, and I did buy rather a lot of goodies.

From Lakeland I bought some extracts for baking (peppermint, orange and rose), gorgeous mango licorice, a big tub of honey munchy seeds and another lunch cup (the pink thing- I have one which I use all the time for lunches as it can hold a salad, but the lid has a tab to pop open so if I heat something in the work microwave I don’t have to worry about anything).

I have been enjoying the seeds this week-  I bought some Alpro creamy yoghurts (which are so tasty) and had one with British strawberries (hooray- strawberry season is nearly here) and topped with seeds- so good.

I bought some jams- sweet cherry and strawberry with elderflower (thought that sounded really different), some cardamom and star anise, little beond bars and of course when I saw the chocolate marzipan I could not resist!

I also bought some gorgeous sticky toffee chocolates, a jar of chocolate orange curd (just want to try it) and a little pack of mini jars including Christmas jam and sticky toffee sauce.

I also bought my mum quite a few goodies, but I have kept them all wrapped up.

Both the B&B’s we stayed in used Pure Lakes toiletries including hand-wash, moisturiser, shampoo, shower gel and shower mousse (places that have big bottles that they refill always get bonus points from me too- the little bottles or new packets of soap are such a waste)- the first place had a rose and geranium scent which was amazing- I found some of the range in the shops but not that scent, so I might treat myself at a later date.

That was the bonus of taking the car too- chuck it in the boot each time I bought something new, and no worries about luggage allowance!

Weekend plans? 

Beautiful Lakes (no scrambling please)

So we are back from nearly a week in The Lake District, and what a lovely week it was too.

On Tuesday night we drove up most of the way, staying in a Premier Inn somewhere north of Manchester. I had been to the allotment that day for a few hours and was very snivelly- thinking it was just from all the seeds, but I ended up with a bit of a cold. I tried to stay awake to keep Andy company and managed it for the most part!

Anyway, that meant that in the morning we only had 90 mins ish of driving instead of 4 1/2+ hours, so we drove in to Kendal for a walk.

Then we went to a visitor centre (which involved driving past Holbeck Ghyll, infamous from The Trip, which of course meant we could not stop doing awful impressions of their great impressions…..), had a little walk by the water and then drove to our B&B which was just lovely- in Windermere but also on the same road as Bowness (which is on the lake itself). It was a short walk (15 mins ish) down to the lake, so we spent the afternoon and evening wandering about, had some dinner, and then walked by the lake some more.

The next day we got the car ferry across the lake and went to Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s house, before having a few walks elsewhere. We were lucky to arrive early as we got pretty much the last parking space, and as you get a timed ticket to enter we had to wait for around 45 minutes. There were rabbits in the field to watch which kept me entertained!

Then we had a good walk around a little lake, but one we got back to the car it started raining, so we headed into Ambleside for a little lunch. There were some lovely looking places, and we ended up in The Apple Pie, which was lovely- lots of choice. We were going to have tea and cake, but the main menu was so good- I had a lovely roasted veggie and hummus sandwich with a salad, and Andy had a chilli, which meant we were full for ages after. As it was still raining we headed back to the B&B, but back in Bowness it was much brighter, so we walked up to Windermere, and then followed a walk up to the top of the hill for lovely views of the lake and hills beyond. We then went to the original (I think? or flagship?) Lakeland shop (I never knew that this region was called “lakeland”, but it explains why so many other shops are called “Lakeland”- I bought a few bits and we were going to go to the cafe but we were too late. They had an amazing looking lime and pistachio cake- I need to try out those flavours myself at some point.

So we bought some crackers and hummus in a supermarket for a late tea, and walked back down to the B&B, and then down to the lake as by then the sun had come out. Gorgeous.

The next day we were heading up to Keswick, and on the way we stopped at Aira Force– a lovely walk up to the waterfall and beyond.

The weather was just stunning- we could not believe our luck.

We walked beyond the waterfalls for a bit- I think we walked for a couple of hours here.

The waterfalls were so pretty.

And I love being in the woods on a sunny day- the dappled shade is so pretty.

There was a cafe (not National Trust it emphasised!) so we had a tea and shared some toffee cake- our first cake of the holiday!

Then we drove into Keswick- we were a bit early to check in to our B&B so we parked in the town and walked around for a bit- it seemed lovely (and a cafe/ cake lovers heaven!).

It was heaving! We checked in (our B&B here had some great veggie options on the breakfast menu, and was big on keeping green, with local wood and slate being used in all the rooms etc) and then went out to get an early dinner but everywhere was packed. In the end we went to The George Pub, as they did a veggie lasagne whereas some places had no veggie options at all. To be honest I am not a massive pub fan- and this one was not endearing me – it was a typical old pub with tiny dingy windows, old carpet, mis-matched furniture etc, and I was worried that we would be paying loads for a microwave ready meal, but actually it was proper home cooked and home made, filled with chunky vegetables and topped with goats cheese, so much nicer than I had expected. The pub was so busy (we had to share a table with two lots of people) and it was such lovely weather so we decided to head out and enjoy it. I fancied a tea, and although lots of places were closed we happened to walk past Foxglove, a health food store, which also served tea, so I had a delicious Earl Grey (and also picked up a couple of mini Beond bars).

We walked down to the lake and then into some fields (full of lambs! I love seeing the lambs)- such a great way to spend the evening.

The next day the weather was just as amazing- clear blue skies- so we got the boat across with the plan of walking up Cat Bells- apparently an “easy” walk with a little “scrambling”. Well, it turned out not so good for people with a fear of steep things.

The going at first was steep paths, which were OK but covered in little bits of slate so they seemed rather slippery. One bit was very steep but apparently there was another way back down. But then we got to this bit. Well I got further up than this, to the bottom of the rock part. Andy climbed (it was more than a scramble) to to the top, and then tried to point where I should go. I got about half way up and then got stuck. You did have to climb it though- and I mean holding on to rocks with both hands and hauling yourself up, there was no path at this point. And I am not confident at this at all. I don’t like steep things, and I didn’t like being able to see all the way down the hill to the lake- it made me realise how high we were. Then my legs would shake from nerves, and then I would miss my footing and slip, and get even more nervous. Plus I knew that even if I got up, coming down would be even harder. So I stayed there while Andy continued on to the top. I came down part of the way on my bottom and the rest of the way slower than a snail.

After that we got the boat the rest of the way around the lake, and then walked into town for a late lunch. We were recommended Pumpkin by the B&B owners, and it did not disappoint. Delicious wraps, paninis, sandwiches, salads and cakes all made there, plus a lovely range of teas. I was spoilt for choice, and in the end went for a wrap with goats cheese, roasted peppers and home-made apricot chutney- yummy. We also shared a slice of carrot cake which was amazing. We decided that a late lunch was easier than trying to find a restaurant in the evening. Again I picked up hummus and crackers in a supermarket, although Andy bought some chips, and we went for an evening walk around the lake, past the lambs again.

On our final day we went to Whinlatter (it was Easter Sunday so we chose somewhere that would be open)- there was a trail through the woods that was rated “challenging” but we thought it would not be as bad as the mountain walk! The walk was lovely- very steep at times but with some wonderful views at the top, and I just love the fresh air of a forest like that. It said to leave 3 hours but we were back in just over 90 minutes, so we stopped for a drink in the tea room, and then did The Gruffalo trail through the woods- fun.

Then we went to Castlerigg Stone Circle, before heading back into town, for another late lunch at Pumpkin.

Home-made hummus (which was a bit spicy!) in a wrap with roasted veggies, a deli salad, and some pretty calpol-pink Suki Red Berry tea.

We picked up some cake for later, and then walked the other way around the lake – we ended up walking out for about an hour so had to turn back as we were not sure when it would get dark. We had to walk through a field full of little black lambs, and on the way back a big group of them were playing right by the path!

So cute!

On our final morning we enjoyed breakfast before popping into town to pick up some sandwiches from Pumpkin- this time I went for a panini with mozzarella, home-made basil pesto and sun-dried tomatoes, plus a caramel shortbread (I thought that would travel easier). Then we hit the road for the long long LONG journey home. Actually the traffic was not too bad- we hit a few sections where we had to stop, but generally the going was good. We had some old radio 5 film podcasts to keep us entertained. In the end we stopped at about half 2 at a Sainsbury’s- I popped in to get us some soup for dinner, while Andy ate his sandwich in the car park before we carried on and I had mine in the car. The whole journey took us 5 1/2 hours so it could have been worse, but honestly we could have nearly flown to New York in that time! That part of England is so far away. Also, here is a good fact. Lake Windermere is half way between Lands End and John O’Groats. That surprised me a lot!

I bought quite a few goodies while I was there, but I shall save them for another post, as this recap has been rather long! Well done if you managed this far!

Have you ever been to the Lake District? The last time I went was 20 years ago! It was great to go back and we were so lucky with the weather too.

Do you mind long car journeys? I find them a bit painful in this country- I like Devon but again it is such a long way away. But then when we have been to the US the miles seem to fly by as their roads as just not congested (and the scenery helps too). The film podcast has been our top discovery for long journeys though as you can download all the old ones too.