Honey, I'm Home

Hey bloggy reader types! I've taken a short, conscious step back from blogging recently, just for a little while, as life did a little twist and turn and a couple of loop-the-loops before settling on to a different course. Sometimes it's difficult to maintain a public lifestyle, through a blog like this one particularly, and deal with your own, real, shit at home. I tend to think it's healthier - for my mind and for my blog content, to retire and deal with said shit, before returning renewed and ready to write about myself again!

But I'm back now and ready for action! 


Japanese Raman - om nom nom nom.

Training For The Big Walk: Day 1

Yesterday I laced up my walking boots, strapped on my new backpack for the first time, and set out on my first day of proper walking, building up towards April's 72 mile trek to London. 

Let's clear a few things up; initially when I bore the idea to walk from Margate to London, in one go, without sleep: I was relatively blasé about it. A few people suggested that it would be really.bloody.hard and that I'd need to train - like, seriously train, and the Internet suggested that this would take about 6 months (twice the time I have to prepare for the Big Walk). I'd waved my hand about indifferently and pointed out that it was, after all, only walking. I was wrong. Yesterday, on Day 1 of my loosely thought out training rota, I walked just over seven and a half miles, and afterwards I ached, and I was so tired I was asleep before my head hit the pillow last - I was also ravenously hungry, and felt like I'd walked at least double the distance that I had. 

Walking 10 times the distance I walked yesterday no longer seems like a "it's just a massive walk" triviality. I've decided that I really do need to train, and as a non-walker previously (I mean, don't get me wrong I'm a capable walker, but I have zero experience of long distance walking) - it's not something that I can just do - annoyingly.

So having eaten a serious slice of humble pie, I got up again this morning, laced up my walking boots, pulled on a waterproof (ish) jacket, and headed out once more. And this is what I'm going to have to keep on doing (for those who're wondering, my temporary Christmas job has ended now so I'm back to freelancing whilst I work out the next move!)

I'd initially planned, with buoyant cheer, to walk from Margate harbour, to Ramsgate harbour yesterday. I actually made it just over half way, to Broadstairs, and decided that I'd reached the limits of my comfortable capability. What I didn't want to do was push myself on to Ramsgate, only to give myself some sort of injury and have to bow out of any more training until I was back to health. It seemed to make more sense to stop when my muscles and joints began to complain, rather than wait for them to give up altogether. 

One other change to my initial plans, was the addition of a walking companion, in the form of my (estranged) husband's dog, Pat - the company was very much appreciated! 

I took the camera along too so thought today I'd share some pictures from our walk (and of Pat).




Nothing makes me sad like the abandoned and derelict Lido at Cliftonville. Whilst taking this photo I got chatting to a guy who'd spent much of his childhood in Margate, until the late 60's, not only does he remember The Beatles playing at The Winter Gardens, but he also remembers the lido when it was a busy pool. Returning to his childhood town now, 50 years later, he seemed heartbroken. 















Living Room Update; Victorian Style School Desk

Ever since moving in to the flat I've wanted to get my hands on an old wooden school desk. I've had my eye on a few in the many second hand furniture shops of Margate (one thing we are not short of here in Margate is fantastic retro and antique furniture outlets!) but every time, they either wanted more money than I was prepared to spend; or the desk was already sold and awaiting delivery to it's new home. 
So you can imagine my delight when my friend posted a picture of her perfect Victorian school desk on Facebook - asking if anybody wanted it for £20 so that she could make space for a tumble drier. Obviously I bit her virtual arm off, and luckily, I was the first to do so. Before the end of the day, this perfect little piece was sitting pretty in my living room.



The living room here is big. I'm not complaining, but it's such a large room to furnish. At the moment I have one three-seater sofa, a two-seater sofa, a large square foot stool, a coffee table, a writing bureau, a nest of occasional tables, a rocking chair, and a drinks trolley - and there are still great expanses of space left to be filled. I think the idea is that this room should serve as a lounge/diner, and therefore half of the space should be filled with a table and chairs for eating at, but I've always been more of a kitchen/diner kind of girl, so this is lounge and lounge only. 

The writing desk now has it's own corner though and it's proved more than worth it's cost, given that I finally have somewhere to stow all of Seb's arty bits, colouring books and the like, and my (white) coffee table is saved from felt-tip threat. 


The living room is one room in the flat that I finally feel is coming together, and I've been able to make a (relatively small) list of finishing touches and outstanding jobs that will leave it feeling "complete". 




Recipe: Vegan Party Beans

Unless you're a bean hater (and I'm aware that there's a whole army of you out there) - beans on toast is pretty much the impossible to f*** up dish - and it is a "dish", let's not argue about that. Previously I have pimped my beans by adding cheese. A couple of fried eggs nestled safely upon the bosom of the toast, before being drenched in beanage, is also a path worth taking. Yesterday though, I made, what I can confidently declare as, the best beans on toast ever. And this plate of food is entirely vegan. If you're not following a vegan diet, by all means, pursue the cheese and egg, but omnivores, I promise you - this is perfect as it is.

This recipe takes bean juice to a whole new level, with chia seeds which absorb a lot of the water and create a viscous, thick sauce, and plenty of crunch from lightly fried red pepper. There's heat from chillies, and the unmistakeable flavour of tamarind. 

Usually I would have served this on a couple of slices of sourdough - but when I took it out of the bread cupboard there were a few tell-tale specks of mould, so this automatically becomes seagull fodder I'm afraid. Here I've just used a slice of seeded granary bread instead, which is still tasty!



Ingredients

1 portion of vegan friendly baked beans - I use Heinz reduced sugar and salt baked beans. Only you know what "1 portion" means to you, so I'm not giving you a weight!
A generous glug of olive oil
1 medium tomato, chopped. 
1 red pepper, chopped. I used a Remano pepper today as that's what I had.
Half a white onion, finely chopped. 
2 cloves of garlic, crushed. 
2 teaspoons of finely chopped red chillies. 
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate. 
A handful of chia seeds.
Salt and Pepper to taste.
1 or more slices of bread.
Tahini for spreading. 
Chopped coriander for dressing. 

Make It

  1. Fry the onion, tomato, garlic, pepper and chillies in the olive oil until onions are softened and tomato has fallen to pieces (physically, not emotionally)
  2. Add the tamarind and stir to fully combine. 
  3. Pour in the beans and stir until heated through. 
  4. Add the chia seeds and stir until they've absorbed most of the runny bean juice and you're left with a thicker, gravy-like sauce and then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Spread your bread with a good layer of tahini and then spoon on beans. 

What Humans Eat

One thing that I foresee as being something of a "Food Trend" in 2015 is the continued shift towards an interest in vegan diets. As I always remind people, I'm not a vegan; however, I think the collective vegan mindset has a lot of good, strong philosophies, and I identify more with vegan attitudes towards food production than I do vegetarians, or even most fellow omnivores. 
To some degree though, I think there is still some confusion as to who exactly eats what, and why, which is why I thought I'd put together a non-exhaustive collection of the main groups based on their consumption of animal products. Of course, there are a number of spin-offs and sub-groups to this list, such as bee-gans - vegans who eat honey, but lets keep things simple shall we?

Omnivores

Technically, human beings are omnivorous animals, this means, our digestive systems are designed to eat both animal and plant materials, meat and eggs, as well as vegetables. A majority of human's still stick to this way of eating, and in modern history we've added grains, oils, dairy etc. to the equation. Basically speaking, omnivores are on the "default" setting, though you'll find many who've tailored their diets to suit their bodies, for example, those who eat white, but not red meat. 

Flexitarians

I dont like this title, but it's been coined by someone else and I'm going to use it. Flexitarians are a new breed of omnivore, and they represent precisely the way that I, personally, approach food - me, Beyonce and Jay-Z apparently. Flexitarians eat both animal and plant materials, but which they choose is dependent on ethical and environmental factors. For example, flexitarians eat grass fed animals, but not those fed on a supplemented diet of soya and grains, flexitarians eat line-caught fish from high stocks, and flexitarians eat seasonal, locally sourced vegetables. The focus of the flexitarian diet is on low food miles, low impact, and reduced cruelty - so you know that factory farming is out, as are eggs from caged hens. Where a flexitarian can not be sure of the background of their food stuff (i,e - when eating out) or can't afford to make the most ethical choice, they're most likely to opt for vegetarian or even vegan options. 

Pescetarians

Surprisingly common, pescetarians tend to identify as "vegetarians who eat fish", as opposed to "omnivores who only eat fish flesh and not that of any other animal" - and personally I think they've got it wrong, they're omnivores, not veggies. However, there are plenty of these "vegetarians who eat fish" among us, in fact, I reckon about 25% of the people that I know who identify as vegetarian, eat fish on a regular basis, they also eat eggs, dairy etc.

Vegetarians

It's once someone's made a conscious decision to cut animal products out of their diet, that things get a bit complicated. Vegetarians do not eat any meat/flesh, this would include animal fats, gelatine etc. or anything made from the body of an animal. However - things made by the body of an animal, where production doesn't involve death, is on the menu - so predominantly, eggs, milk and honey. Some vegetarians wear leather, which might seem odd to many, and most will wear wool, silk and other animal by-products, they also differ on where they stand in animal products in cosmetics, household products and other odds and sods. A vegetarian does NOT eat fish though.

Vegans

Considered the "hardcore" ethical stance on food, vegans live on a plant based diet, which includes grains, nuts, seeds etc. To clarify though, vegans do not eat animals, and they don't eat anything made by animals, including milk (and cream, cheese, yogurt etc.) eggs, honey, bee pollen (fast becoming a popular ingredient in super-food smoothies), and other associated products. Vegan lifestyle also extends a long long way past diet, and includes cosmetics, household cleaning products, and fabrics. Vegans do not wear leather, wool, silk, or other materials made from or by animals. I recently saw an infographic which claimed to prove that there is "no such thing as a vegan" by highlighting the number of things that animals are used to produce, including adhesives, dyes and inks, and candles. I have to defend vegans here to say that whilst I'm sure every vegan accidentally and unintentionally uses stuff containing animal products, most that I know, genuinely look in to almost every purchase - including having tattoos performed at parlours that only use vegan inks (these are more common that you think), not buying shoes where the soles are stuck on with animal glues, using natural hair colourant, burning soya candles (remember, bees wax is not suitable for vegans) and even using vegan contraceptives and so on and so forth. Many vegans are very knowledgeable and this info-graphic (which I've included below) does seem to suggest that this is "news" to the vegan community, which I'm almost certain it is not!


Why The New "This Girl Can" Campaign from Sport England is Important

Anyone caught the new campaign from Sport England yet, "This Girl Can?"

If it hasn't by the time you read this, then I do hope that the video and other campaign material goes super-viral, because the message is a simple, but vital one.



As I read someone else say, this campaign shouldn't be revolutionary, but it is - simply for saying, "you know what - people that work out aren't all super fit, it doesn't matter if you have cellulite, if you've had five kids and it shows, or if you have a thing for donuts (who doesn't right?) what matters is that you find something active that you love doing - and you do the do out of it."

75% - a whole 3 in every 4 - of women say they would like to exercise more, but they don't because they're worried about how they'll look, about being judged because they're not obviously fit. 

But exercise doesn't even have to be about getting fit, it doesn't have to be about losing weight, working off calories, or getting a "beach body" (what even is a beach body for hell's sake?) - it should only ever really be about kicking arse and having fun whilst you're at it. 



So you hate gyms? Loads of people hate gyms, but get your mates together and go to a Zumba class (who cares if you go for cocktails afterwards?)

The message from this campaign shouldn't be a gender specific one but more women avoid exercise because they "don't think they're fit, or atheletic enough, or because they won't be good at it." NEWS FLASH - your body came with muscles, tendons, joints, it's designed for movement, and if you're able bodied and have all of the bits you need, then nobody can be bad at going for a walk around the park, hey, there are plenty of people who aren't conventionally able bodied and have bits missing who still have a laugh being active.



If you haven't seen it already, watch the Sport England "This Girl Can" video on here.

Review: LUSH "Toothy Tabs" - Vegan toothpaste tablets

There are a number of vegan toothpastes on the market, and if you prefer to use cruelty free cosmetics, then your best bets as far as conventional toothpastes are concerned include Sarakan, Kingfisher, and most Colgate pastes (although not all). However, if you're also keen to limit the amount of plastic and aluminium packaging that you throw away, then finding toothpaste that comes in a more readily recyclable packaging, and that has a low impact on the environment, can be much harder.

Enter Toothy Tabs from good old LUSH. Available in a range of flavours from simple spearmint to delicate rose, and even jasmine and Earl Grey - toothy tabs are a solid alternative to pastes, meaning that they can be kept in a cardboard matchbox style container, with no need for the harmful products used to preserve and store paste teeth cleaners. 



When brushing your teeth with a Toothy Tab, you simply take one mint, crunch it between your front teeth and then brush with a wet toothbrush as usual. 

I've been using LUSH Toothy Tabs in "Dirty" (spearmint) for about three weeks, and one point of major note is that they're very foamy. You get a lot of frothy action from one tablet. I use a manual toothbrush.

As far as effectiveness is concerned, they certainly freshened my breathe, and my teeth feel super clean after brushing, I wouldn't say that there is a stand out improvement in performance compared to paste, but it's certainly no worse - as usual, once I've brushed my teeth, my teeth are squeaky clean and my breathe is minty! 

Where Toothy Tabs score points over conventional toothpastes is obviously in the environmental factors. Many toothpastes contain animal products, so if this isn't your thing (fishes, are surprisingly the most common animals found in toothpaste) then Toothy Tabs are 100% vegan, LUSH also have one of the strictest not-tested-on-animals policies known to man! There are zero chemical nasties in Toothy Tabs, unlike most tooth cleaning products, the ingredients are natural or safe-synthetics (such as bicarbonate of soda), non-toxic, and won't do any damage to the environment once washed down the plug hole. The fragrance in toothy tabs comes from essential oils, and not artificial perfumes. 

Most toothpastes come in an aluminium tube, coated in plastic, which can not be recycled (boo) - and these can sit in landfill for over 500 years. Aluminium itself is a non renewable resource and one to be avoided where possible. The boxes that Toothy Tabs come in are made from 100% recycled cardboard and can be recycled or composted again after use (hurrah.)

It's worth noting that Toothy Tabs have also undergone dentist-lead tests to compare them against pastes and have been found to be equally, if not more, effective at maintaining or improving dental hygiene.

Having swapped from pastes to LUSH's Toothy Tabs I can't see myself swapping back again any time soon, there is certainly no obvious benefit to using a paste over a solid tablet, and yet the cost to the environment is significant - I can't imagine the amount of waste we'd take out of landfill if everyone swapped from paste in tubes to tablets in boxes! If you haven't tried Lush's Toothy Tabs, I recommend grabbing a box at £2.00 a pop (unlikely to break the bank), either from your local Lush shop, or here.

Fave New Blogs

Just recently I've made an effort to widen my blog reading net. There are so many brilliant blogs out there, with new ones being created every day. I thought I'd share a few of my brand new favourites, why not let me know if you've discovered any great blogs recently, and check out some of my suggestions. 

Bleubird

Oh what can I say about this blog that does it any justice at all? The design is simple and beautiful, James, the writer is equally gorgeous, and her content is bang-on every time. The photography is out of this world (as is James' show stopping Bengal cat by the way). 

If you're a British reader who tends to avoid American blogs because you find it difficult to relate, get over yourself quickly and head over. For me, Bleubird isn't about relating, it's just about immersing myself in something really really pretty.

You can have a read of it here.

Cruelty Free Kitty

More bengal cats! Cruelty Free Kitty is a genuinely tasty little beauty blog. Weird confession - I have no idea where writer Suzi is based - I've trawled the blog and social media and can't find reference to a country - let alone a city or area but as most products are referenced price-wise in dollars, I'd hazard a guess at this being another American blog. 

With products being so easy to get your mitts on regardless of a transatlantic divide however, this shouldn't be a problem, for example - Suzi's recent post on cruelty-free foundations prompted me to order the Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation, which is easy to grab from the QVC website. 

If you like your beauty green and PETA approved, then this is a great hang out.

Amber's Beauty Talk

Whilst I'm on the subject of cruelty-free beauty, I found Amber's blog thanks to Zoe Newlove's recent post on "Going Green" (which is lovely and you can enjoy it here.)

Amber's (British) green beauty blog is a wondrous place. As I believe all the best beauty blogs do, Amber's Beauty Talk offers the occasional bit of lifestyle reading outside of the bog-standard product reviews, without going wildly off-topic. She also writes a series for Green Beauty Newbies, if you're just beginning to swap your regular cosmetic products for cruelty free, natural alternatives. 

Amber also features recipes and DIY tutorials for home made beauty products - cheap and effective - double thumbs up! Check out Amber's blog here.

Seeds & Stitches

Unlike many of the blogs that I usually read, Seeds & Stitches is maintained by two bloggers, Hannah and Davina, but it definitely has a single, and perfectly consistent identity, which I love

Hannah and Davina describe their blog as being about "living creatively, celebrating the seasons and adventuring" and say that their goal is to "inspire others to live a creative live that's more in tune with the seasons and prove that anyone can be creative". 



The blog is full of personal stories, crafty projects and inspiration for ethical, sustainable family life - I have lost so much time to this blog already; if it sounds like your cup of tea, head straight over (to here) and get lost! 

Wrapped In Newspaper

This is another double-blogger blog, run and maintained by sisters, Veronica and Amy. Wrapped In Newspaper follows the sister's journey as they learn to live a more sustainable, green, "eco" lifestyle, from keeping their own (beautiful) hens, to sharing their first vegan Christmas. 

There's also an adorable focus on bees (and I LOVE bees) so this gets Wrapped In Newspaper and extra vote from me. 



If you like lots of nom-worthy vegan recipes, English outdoors-ness, and the occasional Bombus Terrestis (that's a Buff Tailed Bumblebee, as I learned from Wrapped In Newspaper today!) then I urge you to give the girls some love over here.

Oh Dear Drea

Back to America, and have you ever seen such a lovely looking blog?

I found Oh Dear Drea by accident on Bloglovin and instantly hit that follow button because despite the fact that she's on the other side of the globe, Drea's blog is so far up my street, it's at my front door. 

There's vegan cooking, gorgeous home decor, plenty of yoga, and all sorts of features on natural living, including regular dollops of beauty content. Basically, it's a bit of a dream. 

Another one that I encourage you to make a point of visiting (over here). 

And so that rounds up my latest discoveries, but there's always room for more blog-amazing-ness so if you've found an awesome new blog lately (or even better, if you write one) please please please drop me an email, a tweet, or a comment below so that I can check it out.

What's In My Fridge?

Dawn recently asked me to take part in her "What's In My Fridge?" series; and as I'm relatively well stocked at the moment I thought I'd thrust the nose of my camera in to the fridge and share what's chilling in there at the moment. 

NB: Don't do this, sitting with your fridge door open is a horrible waste of energy. You should always open your fridge door knowing what it is that you're going in for; thus reducing the amount of time the door is open as much as possible. Your fridge is probably one of the biggest eaters of electricity in your home so never make it work any harder than it needs to!

My fridge is probably the cheapest fridge that you can buy new on the British High Street, I'm almost certain of it. It came from Argos when I first moved in to the flat, makes up part of their "Basics" range, and doesn't even feature any branding anywhere on the appliance - but you know what - despite being quite a small under-the-counter fridge (there's only me and a four year old though!) - it works much the same as every single fridge I've ever met. At the time of writing the Argos Value Range Under Counter Larder Fridge (catchy!) was £99.99 here.

So what's inside? 

That mess down the side is my collection of re-usable shopping bags!

I'd like to say that some thought went in to the organisation of my fridge, but basically, the vegetables are all in the bottom (I very rarely actually use the salad crisper) The middle shelf has some stuff that wouldn't fit elsewhere, and on the top are dairy products. The door has everything sort of jar or bottle shaped in it.


In the bottom of the door there's a carton of Jax Coco raw coconut water, which I drink on it's own and add to smoothies and juices, as well as slugging it in to various dishes. There's also a jar of home-made cranberry and balsamic sauce, left over from Christmas dinner but it will be used up as it goes with pretty much any meat, a jar of goose fat - again from Christmas, and a bottle of Raw Health Blossom Honey. 

When buying goose fat I look for products made from geese that have been able to feed naturally. A lot of goose fat products are made from artificially fattened (force fed) geese, using the same methods as those involved in foie- gras production. Raw Health honey is never heated above the natural temperature of a beehive, so none of the good stuff breaks down - presenting a number of additional health benefits without the price tag of other "health" honeys such as Manuka. 



On the middle shelf in the fridge door I have a selection of glass jars. There are green jalepenos (I can never get enough of those babies), lime pickle (one of my favourite things), tahini - which is a sugar free, vegan paste made from sesame seeds and is often used as an alternative to soy sauce, I use it in stir fries, risottos, curries, in baking and in salad dressings, it's so versatile. There's also a jar of red currant jelly left over from a big venison dinner that I cooked a while back, and my "must have" ingredient; Very Lazy chopped chillies (saves getting chilly fingers, which inevitably leads to chilly eye.)


There are a couple of odds and ends on the top shelf. I keep coconut cream in the fridge because it takes on a consistency much like ice cream, coconut ice cream, that's sugar and dairy free. Winning. Next to the coconut cream is a jar of beer and black peppercorn mustard, strictly belonging to Bradley, I'm not sure how it worked it's way in to my fridge but it's very nice. There's also tomato purée because - there's always tomato purée.


I'm still planning to give up dairy entirely, for my skin and for my conscience, but at the moment you will still find a few of my favourite milk based products on the top shelf of my fridge. I love natural yoghurt, and this Straight Up Honest Yoghurt from The Collective is lovely, entirely unsweetened, natural, proper yoghurt with no added sugar. Halloumi and Feta are two cheeses which feature heavily in my diet, so you'll often find plenty of these lurking, and there's a big block of cheddar there for Seb too.

Below the dairy is a bit of a miscellaneous shelf, currently home to a punnet of strawberries and a punnet of cherries. Nothing beats grilled strawberries and avocado on toast with black pepper - trust me. 

The green concoction is some leftover juice that I made in the Nutribullet, this particular variety is green banana, spinach, mint and chia seeds, with coconut water, turmeric and raw honey.



The vegetable mess at the bottom of the fridge doesn't live in the salad crisper because I find that once I condemn things to life in the drawer, I'm less likely to get them out, meaning that more often than not, they turn to juice all on their own. I like to leave the veg where it's more "grabbable", and therefore more likely to get thrown in to a juice or salad. 

At the moment there's baby spinach, loads of cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, celery, ginger (which probably shouldn't live in the fridge), pre-sliced onions, a couple of green peppers and half a lemon in this pile. Ordinarily I don't stop at supermarkets for veg - I prefer to use the greengrocer but I made an exception this week as I was sent vouchers, and as I explained previously, whilst I'm keen to shop local as much as possible - if the supermarkets want to give it to me for free - I'm not saying no.

There's no meat in my fridge because generally speaking I don't buy meat in large quantities for immediate consumption. I either buy meat from the butcher to cook the same day, or I buy from the butcher when something's on offer or heavily reduced, and it goes straight in to the freezer. 

There are a few usuals that aren't in my fridge at the moment, Seb would usually have some jelly or fromage frais in here but I need to a) make some jelly and b) buy some fromage frais. I also usually have oat milk for porridge, and I need to make some nut butters when I get a moment. 




The Next Big Thing

After I shaved all of my hair off at the beginning of November to kick start my fundraising for Mind - the mental health charity, a few have asked what's next on my agenda. 

First things first, thank you to everyone who donated towards my fundraising efforts with the head shave. A huge percentage of those donating were readers of this blog, and some of the messages and emails that I received from you guys were really lovely. I'm certain that I managed to thank as many people individually as I was able to at the time but if I missed you out, thank you so much! 

Now, with Christmas out of the way and my hair beginning to sprout back to life (I went for my first post-shave haircut today - huge thanks to Jess at Evolve for rising to the challenge - I love it!) it's time to start planning my next adventure - and it's quite a big one. 

Training is now (sort of) under way for the longest walk of.my.life - don't get me wrong - I love walking, but this route is a grand total of 72.9 miles, to be attempted on April 10th-11th (which would be my late Dad's 76th birthday) without sleep. If I were to walk continuously, covering 72.9 miles would take 24 hours, so this is very much an all-nighter, especially given that whilst I'm not sleeping, I am going to have to stop to rest, eat and drink, use the occasional toilet etc. With a starting point at the Turner Contemporary Gallery close to my flat in Margate at around 5:00pm on the Friday evening, I should expect to finish at Tower Bridge, on the Thames in London, at some point on Saturday night in to Sunday morning.

Photo: unknown source


I've decided to break the walk down in to slightly smaller chunks, which look a bit like this:

Part 1: Margate to Canterbury - This will be the most familiar part of the walk for me, obviously, being closest to home. It's a pretty straight forward walk out of Margate, through Westgate and Birchington, and then out to Sarre, Upstreet, Hersden and in to Canterbury through Sturry. All towns and villages that I know really well. My plan is to walk straight through which should take between 5 and 6 hours, meaning I'll hit central Canterbury at about 10-11 in the evening for an hours rest.

Part 2: Canterbury to Sittingbourne - This is a straight line, not the best of roads but fear not, I'll be in full safety gear with regards traffic safety (flashing lights and stuff I imagine). The only downer here is that I'm not doing this section in daylight, because some of the views after Faversham are lovely. This section of the walk is another 5-6 hours, taking me through Ospringe, Teynham and Bapchild (still an area I know pretty well) and finding me in Sittingbourne town centre at somewhere around 5-6 in the morning (what a treat!) - if anyone knows of anywhere in Sittingbourne that a girl can get a decent breakfast in the very early hours of a Saturday - holla. Failing that, I shall settle for tea. 

Part 3: Sittingbourne to Rochester - Hello the Medway towns! Jewel in Kent's crown and all huh? This is the section of the walk most realistically likely to concern my breakfast. This stretch should only take 3.5 hours walking continuously but as it takes me through the centre of Newington, Rainham and Chatham, before I get to Star Hill in Rochester, I do expect to find an open cafe at some point before about 11.00am when I expect to finish this stretch. 

Part 4: Rochester to Gravesend - This section I know nothing about, I was last in Gravesend when Disney's Pocahontas was released in cinemas (1995) - but I'm told it's beautiful (cough). It should take approximately 3 hours to walk this section solidly, through Strood, a place I've never heard of called Higham, and in to Gravesend to the Gravesham Hospital for about 3:00pm (I don't intend to stop off at the hospital, it's just an arbitrarily chosen central point).

Part 5: Gravesend to Dartford - I'm quite guilty of forgetting that Dartford is an actual town and not just a toll crossing. People live there and everything. It's another 3 hours to Spital Street in the centre of Dartford from Gravesham Hospital so I hope to get in to the town for about 6:00pm-7:00pm - now over 24 hours since leaving Margate, and find something to eat, because there are places to eat in Dartford too!

Part 6: Dartford to Bexleyheath - This is the shortest section at only 1.5 hours, meaning I intend to get in to Bexleyheath at about 9:30pm-10:00pm. I've made a point of ending this part at Bexleyheath (at the Asda in the centre of Bexleyheath, in fact) as this is the first bit on my route that seems like London to me, we can all debate where London technically starts (a long way before Bexleyheath I'm certain) but this is where I'm considering myself to be well and truly in London. Lovely!

Part 7: Bexleyheath to Tower Bridge - This is another big section, at 3.5 - 4 hours straight walking. Given that I probably won't leave Bexleyheath until gone 10, I'll be lucky to make it to Tower Bridge before 3:00am on Sunday morning - possible, but highly unlikely. This will make the total walk about 34 hours long - and almost 2 nights without sleep. Can you even check in to a hotel at 3:00am? Is that a thing? (It is, I've checked). 

So that's that! Is it weird that I'm actually really excited? I now have just three months to significantly improve my fitness and general well being to ensure that I'm in the best possible shape for the challenge - I've thankfully been able to nab myself some free time with a personal trainer to put together a training plan to implement between now and April, which should at least point me in the right direction.

If you would like to walk a small portion of the route with me (go on!) please just drop me an email at ashleighlawrenceryeblog@gmail.com and we can arrange to get together - you don't have to commit to one of the seven sections above, even if you can just wander half an hour with me, the company will be golden! Failing that I need playlist suggestions....

As always, you can sponsor the big walk (I might come up with a catchier name later) via the Mind website here.