Cajun Pumpkin & Black Bean Lasagne

In a world where so much food goes to waste it seems crazy to me that most people just throw away their Jack o Lanterns after Halloween when there’s so much you can do with them.

For this recipe I’ve gone for a Cajun/Italian fusion and it’s perfect for this time of year now that the evenings are crisp.

Serves 4 

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tin of black beans. drained

1/4 pumpkin, peeled and cubed

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp paprika powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Drizzle of olive oil

100g of vegan cheese, grated

6 lasagne sheets

Salt

1 tbsp of vegan butter

1 tbsp of plain flour

1/2 a litre of dairy free milk (I used soya)

Method

Preheat oven to 200°C

In a pan, fry the onion and garlic in olive oil for around 5 minutes until they start to cook.

Add the tomato, pumpkin and black beans.

Stir in ginger, cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper and salt to taste and bring to boil.

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Turn down the heat, put the lid on the pan and simmer for around 20 minutes.

In another pan, melt the butter and then stir in the flour to make a roux paste.

Remove from the heat and stir in some of the milk until the roux melts and there are no lumps.

Return to heat and add the rest of the milk gradually, stirring until the bechamel sauce thickens in to a nice consistency.

Stir in about 1/4 of the grated cheese.

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To layer the lasagne, spread half of the vegetable mixture in a lasagne dish.

Place 3 of the lasagne sheets on top, covering the vegetable mixture.

Spread half of the bechamal sauce evenly on top of the lasagne sheets.

Repeat, vegetable mixture, lasagne sheets and bechamal sauce for another layer.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

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Place in the oven for 45 minutes/1hr.

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Serve

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Spiced Pumpkin & Apple Crumble

Serves 4

Pumpkin Spice

1.5 tsps ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

Ingredients

3 apples, peeled and cubed

1/4 pumpkin, roasted, peeled and cubed

6 heaped tbsps of plain flour

3 heaped tbsps of dairy free butter

2 tbsps raisins

2 tsps of pumpkin spice

2 tbsps of brown sugar 

Method

Preheat oven to 200°C

Mix the apple, pumpkin, raisins and 1 tbsp of sugar and arrange in an over proof dish.

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Sprinkle pumpkin spice over evenly.

In a bowl, rub the flour, butter and remaining sugar together with your fingers until you get a crumb like consistency.

Sprinkle over the fruit evenly.

Cook in the over for 30 minutes until the crumble starts to brown on top.

Serve with vegan squirty cream or ice cream

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Eggless Royale

I’m a big fan of the Sophie’s Kitchen konjac based vegan smoked salmon and in my opinion, there’s no better way to eat smoked salmon than for breakfast as eggs royale – with a glass of champagne, obviously.Sohpies-Kitchen-Vegan-Smoked-Salmon

So basically there’s nothing about the rest of this breakfast that sounds very vegan friendly but swap the eggs for tofu scramble and make the Hollandaise sauce  vegan and volia!

Not only is the sauce as delicious if not even more delicious as regular Hollandaise, it’s also easier to make!

Serves 2

Ingredients

200g Firm tofu

2 tbsps vegan butter

1 tbsp plain flour

200ml dairy free cream (be careful to get one that isn’t sweetened)

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp nutritional yeast flakes

1 tbsps lemon juice

Salt

Pepper

6 slices of Sophie’s kitchen vegan smoked salmon (Sainsbury’s)

2 bagels

Tofu Scramble

Method

Melt 1 tbsp vegan butter in a pan.

Break up tofu and stir in.

Heat for 2/3 minutes until cooked.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Hollandaise Sauce

Method

Melt 1 tbsp of vegan butter in a pan.

Stir in flour to  make a roux.

Remove from heat and add a little of the cream, stir until there are no lumps.

Return to heat and gradually stir in the rest of the cream bit by bit until it thickens.

Stir in lemon juice, turmeric and nutritional yeast flakes.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Serve on toasted bagels or muffins

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Mind Body Soul & OM Yoga Show

The wonderful team over at Prime Impact Events & Media were generous enough to offer me 5 pairs of weekend tickets for the Mind Body Soul Experience to give away to my readers in a competition and also invited me along to the show at Alexandra Palace.img_2604

I woke up yesterday morning  (Saturday) with an annoying cold so after a cup of echinacea tea I popped along  to the show for what I thought was going to be just a couple of hours not actually realising that the OM Yoga Show was at the same venue and the tickets allowed entrance to both so ended up sucking it up and battling through and stayed for most of the day and was in my element!

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I have a formula when it comes to big shows, I start by doing a lap of the aisles to get a feel for what’s there and then I double back later on to do my shopping so I started the morning with a walk around the Mind Body Soul Hall and there really was so much to see, buy and do, from crystals, jewellery and vegan make up  to Tibetan singing bowls, clothes, incense, soy Reiki infused candles and art. Or if shopping wasn’t your thing, you could opt to get your fortunes told via palmistry or tarot, you could get your auras read or relax whilst indulging in a massage or heal with a spot of Reiki.

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After my initial lap I’d worked up an appetite and was spoilt for choice as there were lots of delicious vegan offerings but having heard of Vausages before, I’d been dying to try one of their hot dogs for a while so was delighted to find them there so it HAD to be done, I kept it pretty traditional with the Cumberland and I have to say, it was the BEST vegan non frankfurter style hotdog I’ve had yet.

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After lunch, it was off to make a few purchases which ended up being a selenite unicorn horn wand, for no other reason than I love unicorns, a clear quartz pendulum and some Himalayan salt for my bath.

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I didn’t get involved in any of the workshops that were available, most of which were free although a few you had to book and pay for but I did walk past one of the belly dancing workshops whilst it was on and wished I had turned up at the start so I could have joined in, I’m definitely going to look at learning to belly dance in 2020!

The only bugbear for me with shows is that I can’t stand pushy sales people that pounce on you and this was certainly the case with some of the stands and I know that they’re there trying to make money but I for one am much more likely to stop and make a purchase if I’m left to peruse in peace, if I need help, I’ll ask for it. The same as when I go to any shop when as soon as I walk in the door, they’re on me asking if they can help, I mean, do I look like I don’t know how to shop?

On the flip side though, there were a few stands I was interested in where the only person manning the stand was busy doing a reading so I didn’t want to interrupt and they didn’t have visible price lists or booking sheets so the only way to find anything out I guess would have been to be lucky enough to time walking past in a gap between their clients, which I wasn’t and didn’t so unfortunately didn’t get a chance to have my fortune told although my friend Natalie read my palms for me recently so I’m good . . . 

On my way through to the OM Yoga hall, I stopped at the chill out zone complete with sound bath courtesy of Paiste Gongs, it was my first sound bath experience and although just a taster it was relaxing and something I’ll more than likely try again.

On entrance to the OM Yoga show, I instantly felt guilty about slacking off from yoga recently, I’ve never seen so many flexible people in once place before, from people hanging from hoops at the X Pole stand to people taking part in the multiple yoga classes that were taking place.

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Unfortunately as I didn’t know that the OM Yoga show was on, I wasn’t wearing yoga clothes so couldn’t join in any of the classes but I have been inspired to get back in action and have already booked myself in to 2 yoga classes next week, Namaste.

A also purchased a new bamboo based top to wear to yoga from the Nissim London stand that says David Attenborough For World Leader, I love it, not only for the statement on the front but also because it’s fully sustainable and made from certified, renewable wood sources.

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New yoga/gym clothes always make me more excited about exercise so totally justifiable!

Again there was so much to buy and I could have shopped way more but I’m trying to stick to the ‘buy less’ principle and let’s be honest, how many yoga mats does a girl really need? 

A thoroughly enjoyable day out, even with my cold, not only are my chakras back in balance, I was also able to pick up the latest issues of Vegan Life, Plant Based and OM Yoga magazines for just £1 each, bonus.

Goody bags were packed packed with treats, products form Weleda, hand crafted soap from LovEve, bath bombs from Shobu, crystals from Lava Artworks, crystals, lavender and palo santo wood smudging sticks from The Mystic Wolf and lava stone bracelets from Freyas Crystals.

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Oh and I woke up this morning (Sunday) and cold – gone! Was it zapped by yesterdays Reiki session? Who knows but it’s possible.

www.mbsevents.co.uk

Insta

@mbs_experience

@omyogashow

Gnocci In Pumpkin & Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Cream Sauce

What says Halloween more than a Jack o lantern?

Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without carving out a pumpkin but once turned in to Jack o lanterns a pumpkins life is often cut short.

Pumpkins are not just for Halloween, they’re pretty good the day after too so rather that throwing old Jack Pumpkin Head out, one thing you could do with him is turn him in to a delicious pesto.

Pumpkins don’t tend to last too long once they’re carved and out of the fridge though, as I found out one year after a particular Halloween. I’d thrown a dinner with a pumpkin carving competition in the interval between mains and dessert. The carved pumpkins were then added to my Halloween decor and lived on my stairs for a few days, I thought they looked cute – that is until I was sitting at my table downstairs and found out pumpkin mush was dripping through the holes (I have weird metal stairs). Cleaning that up wasn’t my most enjoyable moment let me tell you so make sure you don’t leave it too long between carving and cooking!

I’ve made this recipe with a new pumpkin rather than one that’s already carved so if you are using your old jack o lantern, you can skip the gutting step . . . 

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/4 medium pumpkin (keep an eye out for more pumpkin recipes for ideas of what to do with the rest )

1 clove garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (you could wash and roast the ones from your pumpkin but I used from a pack) 

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes

1/2 cup grated vegan cheese

1 can coconut milk

1 tsp dried sage

1/2 tsp chilli powder or 1 red chilli (optional)

Salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

Method

Preheat oven to 200°C

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Cut your pumpkin in half and remove the pumpkin guts.

 

Cut one quarter of the pumpkin in to pieces. (wrap the rest in cling film and put in the fridge to use for something else)

Brush pumpkin flesh with olive oil and place on a flesh side down on a baking tray.

Cover with foil and place in the oven for 1 hr.

Remove and let cool.

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Once cool, scoop pumpkin flesh from skin.

Blend pumpkin flesh, garlic, sun dried tomato, pumpkin seeds, vegan cheese, coconut milk, sage, salt and optional chilli together to form the pesto cream.

.Serve with gnocci (alternatively you could use pasta) I garnished with some extra chilli and pumpkin seeds.

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Remember to double ingredients if cooking for 4 as the gnocci recipe is for 2

Click for gnocci recipe

 

Gnocci

An alternative to pasta, gnocci is actually really simple to make with only 3 ingredients or 4 if you include the water for boiling.

Serves 2

Ingredients

400g potatoes

200g plain flour (basically if you want to make more, weigh the potatoes and use half that weight in flour)

1 tsp salt (optional)

Water

Method

Peel, quarter and boil potatoes in a pan for around 10 minutes until soft.

Mash potato until smooth with no lumps.

Mix in salt( if you have decided to use it, personally I like a little flavour in my gnocci).

Gradually stir in flour and mix bit by bit until a dough is formed.

Knead the dough until it is pliable but not sticky, if it’s too sticky, add a little more flour, if too dry, add a drop of water.

Once you have a dough, separate in to 8 balls.

Roll each ball in to sausage shapes, about 2cm thick.

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Cut each sausage in to 1.5cm pieces, you will probably get around 8 pieces per sausage

Turn each piece on to its side, hold top and bottom and gently press with fork to make slight indents, this will also help shape the pieces.

In another pan of boiling water, cook pieces in small batches, they will sink and first and float to the top as once they are cooked, then you can remove them from the pan.

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Serve with source of your choice.

Bewater Bottles

My Mum had been infusing her water with crystals for years and I admit that on her council, I have a piece of shungite in each of my gym bottles (apparently it’s a water purifier, who knew?) but other than that, up until now it’s only fruit, mainly lemon that I’ve been avidly infusing on a day to day basis.

Well, not anymore, welcome Bewater, a company who create the most gorgeous crystal elixir bottles.

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Everybody needs to hydrate, that’s nothing new, water is literally the most important thing we can feed our bodies, every cell, tissue and organ we have needs water to work properly but we can improve not just our health but our wellbeing with water, good hydration boosts energy, flushes toxins and strengthens skin, hair making us feel happier all round.

Personally I do believe that gemstones have a special energy, something about them forming over hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of years, being part of the earth, the universe and even if I didn’t believe that, I’d still be drawn to gemstones due to their sparkle (I have a definite magpie complex).

It is said though that different crystals have different healing properties, that some are energising, some are calming, some are grounding, some cleanse and some protect, well whatever it is you need, I can guarantee that Bewater will have the right bottle for you.

It’s no secret right now that single use plastic is a problem and of course Bewater bottles are completely reusable.

They come in 4 different varieties:

Home and Office (glass)

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Belove Passion Glass – Garnet & Rock Crystal £28.95

Original Titan (BPA free plastic)

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Bejoy Elements – ocean Agate, Amethyst, Fossil Wood, Rose Quartz & Chalcedony £25.95

On The Go Titan (BPA free plastic, easy lids)

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Belove Harmony – Rose Quartz & Rock Crystal £19.95

Zodiac Bottles (limited edition glass)

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BeUnlimited Leo – Ruby & Clear Quartz £54.95

Each bottle comes with a choice of insert, you can choose inserts for awareness, elements, balance, glow, harmony, passion, vision, clarity, courage, vitality, liberty, abundance or magic or if you go for one of the limited edition zodiac bottles, they have all kinds of other properties.

If you got for the Home and Office, you also have the option to purchase extra interchangeable inserts.

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Bejoy Abundance Insert £19.95

I personally went for the On The Go, partly because it’s slightly smaller so fits better in my bag, partly because it’s plastic, I’m very clumsy so I don’t think any of the glass bottles would last long around me and partly because you can choose  which colour lid you want and they had pink!

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What insert did I get? Magic. Why? Well, because I figured all of the other properties are covered by that one.

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Bemagic On The Go Junior £19.95

I would quite like a Zodiac Bottle in Leo though, maybe if this one ‘magically’ makes me a little less clumsy I’ll invest . . . 

Each bottle comes in a recyclable tube and also comes with an extra tumblestone crystal to add to your crystal collection.

Get 10% off on the site by clicking Here

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www.bewater.com

Shop Vintage & Say No To Fast Fashion

You know that moment when you see a picture of someone wearing the most amazing dress – only it’s vintage so you know you’re never going to be able to find the exact same one? Devastating right?

Well I saw a picture last week on Immodesty Blaize’s instagram of her wearing a beautiful baby blue 70’s maxi number, and blue isn’t even a colour I usually wear unless it’s denim but the dress was just sooo pretty.

Anyway, I popped in  to Beyond Retro’s Soho branch yesterday and found not the exact same dress but something very similar in peach!

It’s the simple things in life, like finding the perfect dress and because it’s vintage, knowing it’s highly unlikely you’ll bump in to anybody else wearing the same thing.

And because it’s vintage, you’re also taking a step away from the fast fashion, throwaway culture that is now.

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In times gone buy clothes were built to last, classic cuts and styles made well and to stand the test of time.

Whether down to war and therefore a lack of fabric, lack of money, ration or general austerity, there was a make do and mend, waste not want not culture that seems very far away from today.

The environmental aspect on fast fashion is huge, not only do the chemicals used in the production of crops and fibres that are tuned in to garments contribute to different forms of pollution including water, air and soil, they of course also play their part in climate change, the  fashion industry is responsible for 10 % of the carbon footprint of the world. 

In the UK alone people spent over £50 000 000 on throw away fashion, items bought that would  be out of fashion and thrown away before the Autumn/Winter season.

Then more often than not, these clothes end up in landfill and we just don’t have space.

I’ve been as guilty as anybody in the past, I had a big sort out in my walk in wardrobe just this year and found numerous items that I’d bought and never worn, lots still with labels attached but fast fashion is so last season.

What can you do?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Buy less.

Buy quality rather than quantity, clothes that will last.

Don’t jump on to fashion trends, buy classic items that are timeless and if you do happen to buy something that you love but was very much on trend, don’t throw it way, chances are it will come back in fashion.

Buy vintage or second hand, there are unwanted clothes out there that need love.

Swap clothes that you’re bored of with friends.

Learn to sew, customize and turn old items in to something new.

 

Pumpkin Pie

Halloween is my favourite event on the calendar and Autumn for me in general is all about pumpkin spice and all things nice!

So of course it will come as no surprise when I tell you that pumpkin pie is one of my favourite things ever and it’s surprisingly easy to make!

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Serves 8

Ingredients

Pumpkin Spice

2tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

Crust

200g of plain flour

100g of dairy free butter

2 tbsps of cold water

Pie Filling

1 can of pumpkin puree (or 425g fresh pumpkin pureed)

1/2 can of coconut milk (use the full fat canned cooking variety rather than the cartoned)

50g corn flour

100g brown sugar

50ml maple syrup

1tsp vanilla extract

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Method

Crust

Put the flour, dairy free butter and water in to a food processor and mix until the dough gathers together.

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Sprinkle a little flour on your worktop and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough in to a circle a couple of inches bigger than your pie dish.

Place the rolled out crust in to your pie dish, pressing the edges with your fingers.

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Cut off any excess pastry and smooth the edges.

Pie Filling

Mix all the filling ingredients and pumpkin spice in a blender until smooth.

Assembly

Pour pie filling evenly in to the pastry lined pie dish.

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Place in oven for 1 hr.

Remove from oven and let cool. The filling might still seem a little runny but will start to set more as it cools.

Once cool, place in fridge for a minimum of 4 hours.

Serve with a squirt of vegan cream!

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Camping – Dover

I’m forever saying that Great Britain is a beautiful place and that I really should make an effort to see more of it, yes it rains for most of the year and the skies are often gray but for a reasonably small country surrounded by stunning coastlines it’s full of mountains, moorlands, lakes, forests, wide open fields and historic landmarks, pretty much all of which you can explore and nowhere will take you more than a day to get to.

Now with climate change being such an issue, what better way is there to reduce your carbon footprint during the Summer months then by opting for a staycation rather than a plane ride?

So earlier this Summer, I found out I was going to be camping on location for a film, now I’m going to be honest, I might have been a Brownie and a Girl Guide but I’m not really known for my camping skills so to test whether I would be likely to survive a full 10 days, I decided to go on a test camping couple of days, somewhere not too far from London, somewhere I hadn’t been before and because the weather was going to be nice, somewhere I could go on a long walk with the dog and after a little research, I decided that somewhere was going to be Dover.

The only times I’d ever been proper camping before were in Canada, Toronto and Montreal with my Uncles and Cousins when I was a kid, I used to Summer over there a lot and I remember there were signs saying ‘beware bears’ and you had to keep all of your food supplies in a separate tent well away from where you were sleeping just incase one decided to come and raid at night, that in hindsight was pretty extreme camping, but I was younger and braver . . .  

Other than that, I’d only ever glamped in my ‘My Little Pony’ wendy house, in my bedroom, with my duvet but that probably doesn’t count does it?

Anyway after a little googling, I found a campsite online, Fallow Fields, set on a fruit farm in Sandwich, Kent with well attended facilities, an onsite shop, optional fire pits and most importantly dog friendly so booked up and a couple of days later set off!

On the Sunday we arrived, the tent was put up pretty painlessly and then we went on the hunt for a local pub where we could have lunch and found The Black Pig Country Inn  a gorgeous old building dated around 1588, the pub had delightful staff and a really good vegan menu which I’d thoroughly recommend, I opted for the shepherds pie to wash it down, Prosecco . .  .

After lunch, we headed back to the camp site and after a spot of sunbathing/napping/sleeping off the lunch, once it was getting dark, the fire pit was lit, I’d packed enough vegan bbqable food to feed an army (I don’t like the thought of running out of food) I do love a bbq, I always have, maybe it’s the Aussie in me, my Dad used to light up the bbq as soon as he thought Spring hit, even if it was still freezing but even then I loved wrapping up in a blanket and sitting next to him watching the bats flying in the garden whilst he cooked, now being a grown up though, I’ve discovered that Prosecco goes perfectly with a vegan burger! In fact with a Quorn Ultimate Burger, Quorn vegan sausages a Vivera steak and corn on the cob, and yes I did eat all that even after the pub lunch!

The next morning, I discovered, that in the Summer you couldn’t even have a lie in if you tried whilst camping because pretty much as soon as the sun rises, the tent becomes a furnace so it was an early start, lunches were packed and a vegan fry up (cooked on a little gas stove without blowing anything up) devoured before setting off to start a 12 mile hike along The White Cliffs from Dover Castle to Deal.

I’d checked Dolly would fit in my back pack just incase she got tired although she does frequently walk long distances so I was pretty certain we’d be fine and I harnessed my inner Lara Croft with my ensemble to  gear me up and what a wonderful day we had.

At the start of the walk, beautiful sunshine, blue skies and breathtaking views of the cliffs, then whilst walking through the meadows on top to the symphonies of crickets, we spotted numerous types of butterflies amongst the colourful fauna and a crazy bird which I at first thought was a defective sparrow and my friend tried to tell me was an ‘R2D2 bird’ due to the sounds it was making but after a google, I identified as  skylark. the first I’d ever seen.

Just before getting down to the beach at Saint Margaret’s Bay, we stopped at The Pines Garden, Tea Room & Museum for a cup of tea and to fill up our water bottles, the ladies at the cafe were very nice and gave Dolly some treats, I was however a little shocked when I looked at my phone to see I had received a message from my network welcoming me to France, as far as I was aware, I was still on this side of The Channel but I was informed that it was a common error and that I wouldn’t be charged for roaming . . .

Then it was on to the beach to continue our walk. 

We couldn’t have asked for better weather and the walk took us around 5 hours including stops, the coast path was well signposted and I could have happily carried on further although I wish I’d worn sun cream but I’m without a doubt going to  walk some more of the British coast paths when next Spring comes around.

We’re all guilty of travelling abroad to guarantee hot holidays but it’s a shame because we’re missing out on what our own has to offer, and you know what? Camping? I didn’t hate it, I embraced it. Yes there were some screams when a giant beetle ran in to my shower cubicle but I lived to tell the tale and I also survived the 10 days on the film location afterwards too – I was very thankful there for one of the other actresses and the MUA who came to my rescue every time I screamed ‘spider’, I do believe of course that every being,  animal, bird, fish, reptile or insect has its place although I believe that a spiders place is very, very, very far away from my place wherever I might be at any particular time.  

What do I miss about camping? The crystal clear skies filled with stars at night, the being outdoors surrounded by nature, hearing tawny owls calling during the night, the sound of rain beating down on the roof of the tent when you’re going to sleep and the smell of fresh air.

What won’t I miss? Spiders!

Would I do it again? Hell yeah!

If you do plan on camping in Dover and doing the same route, do be aware that dogs aren’t allowed inside the castles at Dover or Deal or in the caves inside the cliffs but I was happy to forfeit visiting those to ensure Dolly didn’t miss out on a fun day out.

Fallow Fields campsite is open again from May 7th to September 20th 2020 and their details can be found at www.fallowfieldscamping.com