Author Archives: Zoe at Splodz Blogz
Splodz Blogz is now a self-hosted wordpress.org blog. If you are seeing this post then you are viewing the old wordpress.com version of the site.
You’ll know it’s the new version of the site because the background is black instead of green – to make it easy for you (and me!) to know you are in the right place.
If you have subscribed to Splodz Blogz via email you should still receive notifications of new posts to your inbox. I have transferred your email across using one of the wordpress.org plugins. Hope it works ok.
If you followed Splodz Blogz using you wordpress.com account you may find your subscription no longer works. Please visit http://splodzblogz.co.uk and subscribe either by email or using a reader.
Remember you can also follow Splodz Blogz through various social media channels:
Thank you for your continued support of Splodz Blogz – it will be great to see you soon!
Splodz Blogz is undergoing some changes at the moment while I switch to a self-hosted wordpress.org blog.
I purchased hosting from 123-reg and began to set things up. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake. 123-reg’s WordPress hosting is extremely slow. I couldn’t even get as far as setting up the site properly because it simply stopped responding all the time, so I dread to think what it would be like for anyone trying to view the blog if I ever got that far. Ping times jumped between 50-1000ms if you’re interested in that sort of thing.
I’ve cancelled that and will find another host. That means the domain name for my site has pointed to a few different places over the last 24 hours, and may take a while to get sorted. Temporarily http://splodzblogz.co.uk will forward to https://splodzblogz.wordpress.com as a workaround.
I apologise for the downtime today and any that may occur over the next few days. Most frustrating.
See you soon…
Following a taste of home made lemon meringue ice cream a couple of weeks ago (thanks Bec and Karen), I was desperate to see if I could recreate the creamy but sharp flavour myself at home. So, using the basic recipe I was given and double checking things with Mary Berry (as you do when you’re not experienced at these things!), I gave it a go. Here’s my version of the recipe:
- 300ml pot of double cream
- standard sized jar of lemon curd
- box of 8 (shop bought) meringue nests
- Whip up the cream until the whisk leaves a trail. I used an electric whisk to do this – it took a little longer than I’d expected (I haven’t done much cream whipping in the past!) so I’m glad I didn’t do it by hand.
- Add most of the jar of lemon curd and stir through. I left a 2-3 teaspoons worth in the bottom of the jar.
- Crush the meringue in to small (but various sized) pieces. Stir most of it through the ice cream mixture.
- Put the mixture in a freezer-proof container. ‘Pour’ the remaining lemon curd on the top (‘dollop’ might be a better verb there), then sprinkle the remaining meringue on top… I thought this would make it look like a posh ice cream desert!
- Freeze for at least four hours, or preferably overnight.
Splodz Blogz Verdict
This really is very easy and very tasty, no doubt about that. The whipping of the cream took a few minutes but not that long really, and once it’s made it will sit in the freezer until you want it.
With all that lemon curd it has a really sharp citrus flavour which complements the cream perfectly and is very refreshing. I served mine up between four of us as a desert and everyone agreed it was particularly yummy and I should make it again very soon. Praise indeed!
The quantity, which doesn’t look like much when you’re whipping the cream, is plenty for four, probably even six. The fact you add a jar of lemon curd and a whole load of meringue makes it a really decent sized tub of ice cream which goes a long way due to the richness.
I think next time I want this to be a desert to serve guests (rather than just making it to dig my spoon in), then I will line my container with cling film before filling and freezing so that I can turn it out onto a plate and serve it sliced. If I did this then I couldn’t really make the top look like Carte D’Or or Vienetta because the top would become the bottom, so I would stir all the ingredients through it instead. It would just be easier to serve (neater) that way.
I’m trying to work out what other flavours would work with the cream. We reckoned raspberry ripple (fresh raspberries, squirts of raspberry sauce and crushed up meringue) and chocolate (crushed up flake, squirts of chocolate sauce, mini marshmallows) would work. What other suggestions have you got? What could I use to make this mint choc chip?
Go make some!
A good friend of mine and fellow blogger recently realised, after over a year in the blogging game, that she is in fact a blogger. Alison runs Dragon’s and Fairy Dust, a fab blog full of reviews and other stuff. Anyway, following her realisation she started a meme and tagged me – so now I need to answer her questions…
What is your blog about?
I always describe Splodz Blogz as my “everything blog”. It is about any subject I am interested in at the time of writing – including photography, travel, outdoors, gadgets, food, fashion and of course bunnies. I write reviews of products I’ve been able to test out but it’s not just a review blog, it’s also about my journey through life – life is all about the journey after all.
When and how did you start blogging?
Splodz Blogz started on 7th January 2010 after I wanted a way to share what was my latest personal challenge – a year in photos. It wasn’t my first blog, though, I have used blogs before to follow challenges such as my ride on a Harley Davidson from John O Groats to Land’s End to raise money for charity. Since I started posting a single photo each day Splodz Blogz has come a long way.
What was your first post?
Does blogging affect your life and if so how?
Yes. Blogging is absolutely a part of my life now. It has slowly but surely taken over the majority of my ‘spare time’. I am a hobby-blogger so this is what I do to relax, for enjoyment. The reviews take the most time – my other half knows that anything that gets delivered can’t be opened or used until I’ve had chance to take photographs. I like to give things a proper try before writing about them, and so sometimes there can be a pile of stuff in the spare room waiting to be looked at. It’s all good though – I write because I like it, and if for some reason I don’t feel like writing one weekend then I don’t. Blogging very rarely provides me with deadlines, or stresses, it’s just what I do because I want to. So yes, taken over a bit, but in a good way.
What do you love most about blogging?
I love the fact that blogging has opened doors for me. People read and comment on what I write. Companies have enough faith in my writing to send me things to try out. I hope the doors continue to be opened via this outlet.
So there you are… I hope you’ve found something out!
In order to continue this meme for Alison I need to tag some other blogs that I like to read:
- Operation Threadbare – http://shellmoby.wordpress.com/
- Cathyjam’s Blog – http://cathyjam.wordpress.com/
- Cotswold Claire – http://cotswoldclaire.wordpress.com/
I look forward to reading about how you started blogging soon!
When we went skiing last month I wanted something that would track how far I’d skied, so I could add the totals to my 2012km in 2012 challenge. I didn’t want to buy a GPS watch, I wanted an app to use on my iPhone. After some research I chose Ski Tracks.
Ski Tracks is an iphone app which allows you to track your time on the slopes so when you get back to your hotel you can see where you went, how long it took and how fast you went.
And because it uses GPS you don’t use any data to track your skiing, so if you’re abroad you don’t have to worry about that.
At the end of each run (and during, actually) you are given details on max and average speed, distance travelled, distance skied, maximum and minimum altitude, number of runs, average degree of the slopes, and duration. It also plots where you’ve been on a map so you can see exactly – in case you want to go back to exactly the same spot next time.
You also have camera and iPod controls within the app, although Ski Tracks also runs happily in the background so you can use those apps properly if you prefer, which I tend to.
There is a pause function but I just left mine going all day, even on lunch and hot chocolate stops. I was impressed that it didn’t drink too much of my iPhone’s battery.
One of the best things about this app is that it knows when you are on a lift and when you are actually skiing. Brilliant. This means you don’t need to tell it – you just put your phone in your inside pocket where it’s protected and can forget about it all day without having to stop/start it for each run. When you then view the map you can see straight lines for the lifts, and very wiggly ones for your downhill.
You can then export the information for Google Earth or as a gpx file (you send these by email when you’re back on wifi or can afford roaming data), which means you can view your runs on a computer. The gpx file can also be imported into Run Keeper and the like. The biggest problem with that though is despite Ski Tracks knowing when you were on a lift and when you were actually skiing, Run Keeper does not and assumes the total distance is what you travelled – so I ended up manually inputting the runs to keep all my 2012km in 2012 data in one place.
The best use for this? Well apart from being able to track the km I skied for my 2012 km in 2012 challenge (which was the reason I downloaded it in the first place), it was being able to compete against my husband on speed! Who’s faster is a very important thing to know! (I was, by the way!)
I thought this app worked really well, was intuitive, and just got on with it in the background. It probably has no real use but the stats are very interesting. I will definitely be using it again next time we go skiing.
Ski Tracks is currently 69p from the App Store.
Life is all about the journey. But sometimes everyday life gets in the way of taking a specific path, however awesome it might sound.
I’m talking about the Visit England campaign to find someone to tour the country (all expenses paid) and blog/tweet/photograph/video it for 12 weeks this summer. The lucky traveller will get to follow the Olympic Torch as it makes its way through England, finding out what is so great about our fair land, and telling everyone about their experiences along the way. And it sounds incredible. I’d love it. The travelling, the writing, seeing different places, trying out different things, learning loads about this place where I was born. Look – http://enjoyengland.typepad.com/fan-in-a-van/2012/03/englands-biggest-fan.html – what a wonderful opportunity for someone who loves writing and wants to get a bit of adventure. It would be an amazing opportunity for me. It would be something never to forget.
But the fact is I’m not really what they’re looking for. They’re looking for someone who is not doing anything for 12 weeks from mid-May… someone young… someone willing to throw themselves into the task without a second glance behind them. Even the web address for applications is something to do with students. And of course as a 31 year old home-owning full-time-employed married hobby-blogging sensible person, I don’t fit into that. Several people have made suggestions such as taking a sabbatical, which I appreciate because it means people believe that I could do it, but it doesn’t help the fact that there is no way “all expenses paid” includes my mortgage. Or that I would actually miss my husband a great deal.
I sit and wonder what would happen if I felt confident enough to drop everything and go for that opportunity. Assuming I got through the selection process and was the one chosen to take the trip, I imagine myself in that camper van, driving through some of the best scenery the country has to offer. I would eat proper pasties in Helston, pork pies in Melton Mowbray, Bakewell Tarts in Bakewell, sausages in Lincoln. I would surf at Fistral Beach, jet wash an elephant at Longleat, ride Rita Queen of Speed at Alton Towers, take a trip in a boat along the Norfolk Broads. I’d visit Buckingham Palace, Dover Castle, St Michael’s Mount, Blackpool Tower. All the time telling the world about my fantastic journey. What an amazing three months it would be!
But I’m not. Risk taking can be very expensive – personally, professionally and financially. And while I most likely have a Type A personality, I’m not so far to that end of the scale I will go for things whatever the cost. Which is probably why I just plod through life enjoying the moment but never making a real statement. This experience has been designed for an undergraduate student wanting some fun for three months after their exams. Not for me.
I guess it’s the same as the old dream I have of becoming a Blue Peter presenter (I’d make an awesome Blue Peter presenter!). It just ain’t gonna happen. Because I’m too old and too sensible.
But… I do love adventure and experiencing new things. I just have to keep my plans a tad smaller than 12 weeks in a camper van. A few years ago I created my ultimate to do list – a long and ever-expanding list of little adventures I want to have. My bucket list if you like. Some are tiny – like eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; others are massive – like go on a motorbike tour across the West of the USA. Some are about learning things – like ice skating backwards; others are about raising money for charity – like taking part in a trek up Kilimanjaro or somewhere equally as challenging. Some are about travel – such as visiting Niagara Falls; others are all about adrenaline – like wing walking.
Since I wrote my list I’ve crossed loads of things off. I’ve done a tandem skydive, a bungee jump, walked several marathons, been in the audience of a TV show, had a photo published, done jet skiing (best thing so far!), learnt to surf and ski, completed a Masters degree, ridden a Harley-Davidson from John O’Groats to Land’s End (a number of things in one go there!), and loads more. I’ve blogged about many of those things. And the list is always growing, I’m always adding things, and am always planning when I can turn the next thing green.
I might be too old and too sensible for a massive “leave everything behind” kind of adventure, but I’m loving life with all my little challenges and experiences. And I hope you’ll still read my blog even if I’m not a full time blogger taking part in the adventure of a lifetime. Oh wait, I am taking part in the adventure of a lifetime – I am taking part in my own journey.
So thank you Visit England for giving me something to dream about. This particular thing might be unobtainable for me in my current situation, but it doesn’t stop me (or anyone else for that matter) living in the moment and doing unforgettable things.
Life is all about the journey. Bring on where ever it takes me next!
I like the term “travel shoes”. The name evokes an idea of holiday – going away – spending the day on your feet because you are having a break, taking some time out. These new Brasher Roam GTX ladies travel shoes are for just that – enjoying a city break, doing a coastal walk, or taking the forest trail.
For me at the moment the path is more often a tarmac or concrete one rather than a footpath as I train for the London MoonWalk. That’s travel right? So I put these on and went out to see what the shape and comfort of the shoes was like. The above is a terrible shot, I apologies… these next few show off the shoes better:
I love that shoes are so packed full of technology. The Roam GTX have been developed specifically for women, designed around the natural shape of the feet, giving them space to relax as well as support. There’s a shock absorbant EVA footbed and gel inserts anatomically positioned to provide extra cushioning and stability by “promoting the foot’s natural rolling motion”. There’s memory foam in the collar and tongue for extra comfort, and the waterproof and breathable gore-tex lining keeps feet dry. Upper-wise Brasher have used suede and breathable mesh in the design, and have a “travel active” sole for grip and performance.
Look and Fit
These look like a pair of walking shoes don’t they? The shape and design is exactly as I’d expect a pair of walking shoes to look. Which is a good thing – I like a traditional pair of shoes, classic design. They work perfectly well with walking trousers, tracksuit bottoms, linen trousers and boyfriend style jeans – not a fashion statement of course but designed for comfort and durability.
The mesh and suede upper looks great, and the black solid toe is wide and rounded which means your toes have loads of room inside. The shoes are fairly low at the ankle too which I like because they’re less likely to rub, and the memory foam in the ankle/tongue is snug.
The laces are long, maybe a little too long, but that gives plenty of room for adjustment. I did find it was difficult to get the laces secure to start with. An extra lace hole so you can use the heel lock lacing technique would be useful, but after a few wears (and therefore once the memory foam had started to mould to my feet) I found it was much easier to get these to stay in place. If anything, after 13 miles I found these were a little tight.
Splodz Blogz Verdict
You’re supposed to break in shoes if you’re going to walk miles and miles in them, and I always wear new shoes around the house before going anywhere in them, it’s best to give your feet a chance to get comfortable in them. I’ve now done a handful of walks in these, the longest being 13 miles this weekend, and I’ve found these do a good job. The cushioning inside the sole is really good, I am very heavy on my feet (they really take a battering), and I had no sore spots in these.
I went for a size 7, and they are fine for normal walking, but by the end of my 13 miles on Saturday, with my feet having enlarged inside the shoes, I did wonder if I should have gone for some bigger ones. But actually I don’t think so – shoes do mould to your feet anyway, the padding shapes around your toes, and these are plenty wide enough. I should add I didn’t get any blisters, I could just feel the shoe tightly – I wasn’t in enough discomfort to change the lacing.
Apart from walking I have found these great for cycling to work. The grip on the bottom fits with my pedals really nicely (I don’t use clip-ins, just standard pedals), which made my feet really secure. This is great news as it means the shoes are versatile enough to cycle to the local nature reserve, walk around it, then cycle home. Sounds silly because trainers would normally be good enough, but I would choose these instead due to the security on the pedals and the grippy sole for the trail.
In comparison with my other pair of Brasher shoes – the Kuga GTX I’d say the wider toe area is more comfortable for my toes, and the lower ankle height is kinder. Both have their place but these lightweight versatile travel shoes probably have more uses, although they don’t look as good with jeans.
Brasher’s Roam GTX travel shoe is available online for £120.
A quarter of the way through the year (yes, already!) and the 2012 in 2012 challenge I set myself seems to be going ok.
March started well because I was in the middle of a skiing holiday, and thanks to Ski Track I was able to calculate my downhill skiing and import it into Run Keeper so it counted towards my target. I will review that app properly this week, honest.
I became very tired after my holiday and had an incredibly busy couple of weeks at work so actually went a full 9 days without doing any kilometres at all, which frustrated me a lot but there was nothing I could do about it due to being totally exhausted. I’m not quite over that yet really but I at least now have the energy to cycle to work a few days a week and go on walks at the weekend.
To be honest there has been a lack of walking going on, which is not good seeing as the MoonWalk and Yorkshire Three Peaks are less than six weeks away. Eek!
So here’s the data:
2012 in 2012 Summary, Saturday 31st March
Total for March >> 214.4 km
Total for 2012 >> 673.9 km
Average per day (91 days) >> 7.4 km
Remaining >> 1338.1 km to go
So a third month over 200 km which I reckon is pretty good – and still above where I need to be to finish 2012 km by the end of the year. I’m pretty pleased with that. I know I’ve got a long way to go but so far so good.
Looking ahead to April, it has got to be all about walking. Now the clocks have changed (anyone else finding it really hard to get over that hour loss last weekend?) and the evenings are lighter I’m hoping to find time and energy to do short walks at the weekends. I have put longer walks in my diary for the weekends – building up to 20 miles hopefully by the end of April as the MoonWalk is only a few weeks away. This month is gonna go so fast isn’t it? It’ll be 12th May so soon.
How are your 2012 challenges going?