Burning off Christmas calories

A baby-sling hike to the winter wonderland of Ansteys Cove.

Bec’s has requested a walk to the seaside and having overdosed on Christmas food festivity, I’m more than happy to oblige. We’re off to the place we fell in love on our arrival in Torquay, Ansteys Cove.

The summer months present Ansteys Cove as a sun drenched, azure paradise so the transformation to it’s winter guise is astonishing. A fog hangs low in the naked tree tops, the path down is damp and the undergrowth frosty with Old Mans Beard. There’ll be no sun bathing today but it’s a mysterious, winter, wonderland and the walk is just what the Doctor ordered.

ansteys cove winter
Winter at Ansteys Cove
Burning the Christmas calories…

We are dressed for the Arctic, Huey too and as we set off over Stoodley Knowle park I’m convinced this chilly hike will undo the excess food damage. I can’t have done too badly this year anyway I’m thinking? I reason that you need the actual Christmas dinner to live, so it’s only the deserts and snacks that are the waist-line offenders, so let’s take a look at those?

  • Yule tide Log………………………………………………..670
  • Mince pies and cream (x6)…………………………..2862
  • Banoffee pie  (x2)…………………………………………1340
  • Chocolate assorted, 1kg…………………………………5000
  • Raspberry pavlova???…………………………………….580
  • Crisps, nuts and savouries……………………………..1500, (this one’s a guess)
  • Cheese and biscuits (x3 sit-downs)………………..1620
  • Booze……………………………………………………………..1350

Like I said, not done too badly this year!

You’ll probably not have a calculator to hand as you read this so I will tell you now, that lot totals 15’000 calories!!! All consumed over a 5 day period.

That’s OK, we’re hiking in the cold and carrying Huey, we’ll put paid to that count in no time wont we? Knowing Google would have the answer I found this handy list detailing calories burnt whilst walking, playing with or carrying a baby.

Consulting the list and making some adjustments due to cold, severity of hike and weight carried I suspect we are burning 500 calories per hour. With no further math’ required I realise with horror that I’ve maybe not, ‘done alright this Christmas’.

15’000 / 500 calories equals 30 hours of Huey hiking (90 miles!), just to break even. On todays hike we manage about an hour and a half, so that’s the Banoffee pie burnt off…

Just in time for New Years Eve indulgence!!!

Happy 2017 reader; Ollie, Becs and Huey.

New years resolution…quality over quantity on the Chocolate. What’s yours?




Brandy Custard (and mince pies)

Christmas gift inspiration from a surprisingly successful shop along Totnes High Street.

I loathe Christmas shopping and this year to add to the insanity we of course have Huey in tow, ( I know, bah humbug). To clarify though it’s not the madding crowds I hate, or even the parting with money. What kills me about Christmas shopping is trying to get a gift that wont be discarded the moment boxing day arrives; something original, something the recipient will unwrap and say ‘wow, thanks I really love that!’.

Take my Dad for example. Here’s a man who basically buys anything he needs and wants for nothing else.  If your gift to him is used / loved even once, even for one moment, that’s more than success.

My mum on the other hand, well I could fall through a shop door and stand up with something she’ll love; chocolates, scented candles, pet shaped draught excluders… The problem buying for her is originality, that new gift shop you’ve seen, she’s been there and scrutinised it all long before your arrival!

christmas hamper
Christmas gift hamper, Wild Fig Cafe, Totnes (NOT available in Torquay).

Our new home town of Torquay is pitiful for shopping, so we are pinning our hopes on neighbouring Totnes. The town is littered with independently owned stores and we arrive with fingers optimistically crossed.

In Totnes it’s pissing down with rain and fifteen minutes after arrival we’re still sat in the car park watching the rain. We’ve a lot to do so bravely I volunteer to go to a warm pub for a brandy and some peace and quiet head out into the rain to shop alone.

I head straight for Inspired Buys with a Dad present in mind and after a little warming up achieve great success; two gifts that I believe will be greeted with something more than indifference! I’m feeling the Christmas cheer…

christmas wreat on cottage
Happy Christmas from Totnes

The rain has now nearly stopped and I’m soon joined by Bec’s and Huey in the buggy, which turns out to be the only buggy in town. Every other baby is being carried in a recycled, fair-trade, vegan sling and I get the feeling we could be strung up (with hemp rope) for bringing this plastic obscenity into town.

Totnes has a reputation that’s somewhere between Hipster and Hippy. I could poke fun (I do a bit to be fair), but there’s a genuine community here and the lentil loving population are responsible for the amazing food to be had here.

Lamb Road Gardens Totnes
Tinsel decorated Community Gardens, Lamb Road, Totnes.

Our first food stop is at Hill House Cafe which provides a warm welcome, buggy and all. They’ve put up a lovely Christmas tree which nearly sends Huey over the edge with excitement, (shiny twinkly ball-balls), so he has to have a close-contact tour in a vain attempt to placate him. Distracted with food we get Huey in his high chair to join us for lunch; Homity pie Mum, Turkey stuffing and Cranberry Baguette, Dad. Both excellent.

Bah humbug? Maybe not. We’re well fed, we’ve got gifts and we’ve not been strung up for buggy ownership.


Turkey and Tinsel

Torquay greets Christmas season tourists by the bus load and Huey creates a fan club…

I have to admit, I’d never heard the expression ‘Tinsel and Turkey’, till now. When I do, and the penny drops as to its meaning I find myself laughing out loud. Torquay already has a reputation for entertaining Hen and Stag Do’s and now at Christmas it seems my new home town will be welcoming glutinous hordes looking to drink and eat their own body weight, (it’s all inclusive!) all whilst wearing a Santa hat.

If I thought there was no more to Torquay than that I’d not be here. I will put forward my case for Torquay elsewhere, however, I will say that I’m actually glad that this town is not completely behaved, not entirely gentrified. Hangovers and sunburns aside, there’s a lot of people who come here to let their hair down and just have a good time…and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Point in case today at the Hotel Balmoral. We are here to see Bec’s folks who have come down to see us, (uhum, their grandson!). Whilst the gang gets ready for a walk into town I sit in the reception and find myself in conversation with one of the Balmoral’s patrons. We strike up some easy small talk; where are you from, who are you with etc. I find that she is here with friends, family and work colleagues…I stop fiddling with the glass chess board to give the conversation more attention.

‘Whats the common connection here?’ I ask. The answer it seems is tradition. This group of friends, connected by family, work and associated friends have been doing this for a whopping 15 years! As we chat they start to appear; tinsel eyed and looking for turkey. They are a really happy bunch all sharing introductions, Huey somewhere in the middle and the hotel reception completely overtaken.

Leaving Huey with happy grandparents we all say our goodbyes, not knowing that we’d meet a second and third time during their stay. The second time was at evening dinner in the Balmoral; Santa hats in full effect, (in fact as we entered the dining room not a single dinner was without one), then the third time today at Meadfoot Beach.

It was my suggestion that they come down here, (it’s a stones throw from the Balmoral, you’d be mad not too). However the wind chill is spiteful so I hope they didn’t regret it. We meet by chance at the Ice Cream van which masquerades as a hot drinks outlet during the winter months. There are smiles, waves and stories exchanged as we meet up. Despite the winter weather the atmosphere is warm and cheered with a cup of hot chocolate.

Meadfoot is a transformed beast from the summer. Right now it’s bitterly cold, the force of the sea against the wall has hurled great waves and stones over into the road. Nobody is bothered though. It’s bracing but restorative and dramatic. Huey, as ever, also completely un-phased by the elements. He sports multiple layers and a built-in buggy sleeping bag…and if that wasn’t enough, now here’s his adoring fan club of ladies! No wonder he smiles.

Turkey, Tinsel and Torquay. I hope our new friends from Stroud keep their Christmas vacation alive for decades to come. Stay in touch if you read this ladies; maybe we’ll bump into you next year.