I never appreciated growing up with the Lake District on my doorstep as a child. Long walks out with the family to me meant eating soggy sandwiches while negotiating sitting on a precarious looking rock, wishing I was at home watching Hey Arnold! One view never seemed anymore impressive or stunning than another, they all looked the same to me, and my brown walking boots gave me blisters.
I remember when I first moved to London, telling a friend I was from Cumbria she made a comment about how lucky I was to live in the Lake District, and how I must miss going walking every weekend. I remember awkwardly nodding my head at the time, and it was at that point I realised that actually those mountains are pretty damn impressive and you don't see any of those in the big city.
But it's still only now, 4 years since leaving London and 9 years since having that conversation that I'm actually genuinely starting to appreciate the Lake District, and want to start ticking off fells I've climbed. Admittedly, I'm still going to be a fair weather walker, the thought of trudging around in soggy boots and waterproof trousers, with those all-impressive views hidden by grey clouds doesn't appeal.
This Saturday, me and the Mr had a plan-free day, and the weather was looking to be good. So we got up early and headed to Keswick...I say early, we were up and out the house by 9am, which is pretty good going by my books on a Saturday, and donned our finest walking gear (read: adidas leggings, inappropriate trainers and a warm woolly hat).
I'd read Jo's 'Walla Crag Walk' post a couple of months ago, and it had been on my list of walks to do (I say that like I actually have a list, my list is non-existent now I've ticked this one off) since then, it seemed to be a good distance, a relatively easy climb and provided those all impressive views I now have learnt to love.
Despite Jo's good directions, and this National Trust Walking Trail, we still managed to successfully go wrong on several occasions. As a pair, we're rubbish at directions and never carry a map so somehow managed to miss the Ashness Bridge section of the walk, but it was all good, we made up our own route, found ourselves back where we started, and didn't add an extra 2 hours to the walk like the last time we got lost.
For some reason I'd been expected a 'gentle climb', and it may have had something to do with the fur lined puffer jacket I was wearing, but there were sections of this walk which definitely required some effort, so I'd make sure you're feeling fit if you're planning on giving this a go, or perhaps just leave the winter coat at home.
With stunning views of Derwent Water, dense woodland into open fields, and crunchy snow underfoot (my favourite kind of weather) it really was a beautiful walk and I genuinely enjoyed it. My dad, a long time lover of the lakes, would be proud.
And after 3 hours of walking, 1000 calories burnt according to our watches and stomachs rumbling, it seemed only sensible to stop in Keswick for some lunch.
We headed to a cafe called Merienda, an old favourite of mine which used to be in Carlisle but one day they just up and left (I still mourn for it!) however I was pleased to see they still had the same menu and ordered the slow cooked boston beans served with chorizo, feta, spinach, poached eggs and grilled corn bread. I'd spotted the Guiness and Bailey's cake on my way in, so made sure I went for a smaller meal to leave space for a slice. And the food was every bit as good as I remembered, and the cake? Well let's just say I'll be dreaming about that cake for months to come.
And that was that, a perfect Saturday, an appreciation of the Lake District and a damn good slice of cake. I will be back.
This time last year, I picked up my pen opened up my laptop and started blogging again. I was feeling determined, you know the usual January motivation, new year, new you. It seemed like the perfect platform to write about my health and fitness journey, my workout achievements and running diary. And that's exactly what it become, a weekly check in, with not just myself to answer to as I knew others were reading it...not that any of you were stood waving a cane waiting to give me 10 slaps on the hand, but by sharing it, it was harder to get out of it.
I started reading other health and fitness blogs, I've bought every copy of Women's Health this year, I've made protein balls and you name a fitstagrammer (that's 'fitness instagrammer' for those not in the know) I probably follow them.
And I had these visions of me becoming one of them, one of those bloggers with tens of thousands of followers, with abs you can grate cheese on, and the ability to recite inspirational quotes at the drop of a hat, or go one further, make up my own!
I've quickly become to realise that I'll never be one of those people, so I thought I'd put together just a few of the reasons why:
1. I hate peanut butter. Actually all nut butters. In fact I don't particularly like nuts full stop, unless they're wrapped in chocolate, and only then I'm eating them because they're the last left and I'm needing chocolate.
2. See point above - chocolate always comes first which means I'll never have that defined flat stomach I dream of. I'll even eat chocolates I don't really like if it comes down to going with, or without.
3. I don't know anything about lifting weights, the horror that is leg day or what even is the 'glute' muscle. I go to classes where teachers shout and tell you what to do, give me a gym and I don't know where to start, and without a plan, I'd probably finish ten minutes later... I certainly won't be putting any recommended workouts up on here any time soon.
4. Don't hate me for this one, but I don't like avocado's, actually it's not even a dislike, it's just a complete indifference towards them, I just don't get it. And if I sliced into one, I wouldn't know if it was perfectly ripe, or completely rotten in it's own skin, so don't expect any #avocado pics over on my Instagram feed any time soon.
5. 9 times out of 10, I don't co-ordinate my gym kit, it's hard enough to find leggings, a sports bra and a top that are all clean when you're working out 4/5 times a week, so finding pieces that actually match, that's just unheard of!
6, I don't count macros, and I don't know what they are, and I don't really want to weigh every piece of food I consume, just so I know if I've 'hit my macros'. Although, if counting macros means I get to eat those mega flex bowls are they called? Which are topped with all the good stuff, then maybe I should start counting...
7. I also kinda claim to follow the Lean in 15 diet, I mean, about 60% of the meals I eat do come from the books, but generally my days consist of three carbohydrate fuelled meals instead of three reduced carb meals, not to mention 1, 2, 3, could be 4 or 5 snacks I'll consume inbetween.
8. I drink protein shakes, not because I've done a bad-ass workout, but because they taste like milkshakes.
9. I look really unattractive after I've exercised. I'm talking red faced and sweaty haired, with heavy 'I think I'm going to die' panting to go with it. Occasionally I'll share my post-workout face on Instagram, but generally it's best kept a secret.
10. And finally number 10, I can't take a decent photo for love nor money. The Mr got me a new camera for Christmas so I'm hoping they are going to improve slightly, but beautiful flat-lays, steaming bowls of porridge and bright white backgrounds are a mystery to me.
So it would seem, I'm never going to be that health and fitness blogger that gets to write a cookbook, produce an e-guide or bring out my own range of fitness gear, instead I guess I like to think of myself as more like Deliciously Stella, only a lot less funny, and one day maybe I'll bring out my own brand of Nutella and encourage all of you to eat it out of the jar with a spoon, because that's my kind of workout.