What chews my cud – Bread Boards

You would expect somebody who is going to moan about bread boards to comment that it may fill you up too much before your starter or main course but my perspective on this is different!

I have been to many restaurants and I love a good bread board. My frustration with some (not all) restaurants is that you don’t get enough bread, and god forbid you get a tiny dish of Olive oil with Balsamic vinegar in the middle! What is with those tiny dishes? I need, I want! The whole damn bottle please!

When a bread board is a good bread board it works well, it’s a delight to see the waitress bring over a bucket of bread white, brown, granary even rolls! Maybe a jug of Balsamic vinegar? Even better when it’s already on your table in preparation for the gorge of a week’s supply of bread. To be provided a kilo of bread for a table for two is my idea of a satisfying aperitif! God I love bread! Unfortunately I am one of these folk that see bread as bad so I don’t have it at home or eat it daily; my restaurant bread board is my carbohydrate fuelled treat, and hence my somewhat addiction to a mean bread board.

I recently visited a lovely restaurant and to be honest I cannot criticise the food, atmosphere and service it was top notch. But the bread board…

For a table of 4 we were provided with a plate, yes a plate of 4 slices of white and brown crusty bread. The slices were small I was able to fold it over and eat it in one hit, there was no oil provided just a tiny slither of butter – yuck. It actually came to the point that I tried to keep people talking while I slyly took the remaining extra 3 slices, (I think others noticed but didn’t think to question) then politely and quietly I caught the waitress’s attention and asked for more. She looked puzzled as it was clear nobody else had eaten anything just me. The 2nd helping arrived and I had to force myself not to make eye contact with it. Those carb filled delights kept shouting at me “eat me; I am so fresh and crunchy”. Luckily for me bread came with my starter too, so I was out of the woods by then.

But is it right that bread addicts need to go through the torment of sharing bread, or fear being judged by ordering a bread board for oneself (I did this once and was served a mini bread board, there were tears). Can’t we live in a world where a bread board is constantly restocked throughout a meal? Or shall I just bring a loaf of with me in the future?

What chews my cud – Store Cards

Store Cards
So I love shopping and the concept of a discount or money saving is always welcome. My only issue is nearly every shop now comes with a points card, which in concept a great idea to bring your custom back but I think this has become slightly out of hand.
My purse for example is bigger than my handbag, I counted today how many points/loyalty cards I have. I have 10! Statistically talking this takes 80% of my purse. When do I visit these shops? About twice a month if that!
So there is me staggering to the shops under the sheer weight of my purse, full of pennies and plastic of course! You then get to the till and the cashier asks “do you have one of our loyalty/points/ you’re a great customer/ super duper saver card?”. Warning cashiers you need to give me 30 seconds to realise I do, only then leading me to delving through the pit of my purse to find the right card which would take a good 5 minutes minimum. All that for 2 points which equate to about 0.05pence! There have been times I have given them the wrong card “sorry mam that’s not your super duper saver card that’s your loyalty point system card”. Face palm moment!!
The consumer struggle to gain enough points to make it worth it takes potentially years, when finally the day comes you have £5 from the £6,000 you spent overall trying to get it, the sense of achievement when you purchase your “free” sandwich or bottle of bleach is beyond amazing! Is it really worth it?
Then come the vouchers! There was a day and age when you received post that had meaning like a birthday card somebody has sent to you 3 months before your actual birthday, with the joy of finding a ten pound note in it (thanks Gran). Weekly, Monthly letters now come through “Hi you are valued customers so here is a 100 point bonus voucher if you buy this tin of cat food”. This would help if you had a cat, if anything it embeds that inner struggle and constant wondering “I wonder when I can get my next free sandwich”.

 

What chews my cud – #Instagram

This concept is beyond me, I downloaded the app once had it for a day and got bored pretty sure I still have an account on there but I wouldn’t know squat about getting access to it.
If anything I have learnt from this Instagram/#selfie nation is that you should always take photos from above as far above as possible (in my case google earth distance). That way your face looks thinner and with that pout your lips look plumper, plus you look really “cool”. Take a photo face on and you look like a moose.
Once you have the process of making a relatively good photo of your face (because everybody wants to see that) you must then decide what filter you want. Please note if you don’t use a filter you must announce it #nofilter just so the world know if you are looking up and pouting you look good.
Filters come in all kind of styles you can choose to make yourself look mega huge and your teeth like daggers but strangely most people don’t go for these. The popular filter seems to be this one whereby you have flowers in your hair and your eyes are made ten times bigger.
Once you have your chosen filter you must then decide where you want your photo taken so you can show the world what you do. From what I have seen the gym seems to be a popular location it doesn’t matter if you go once a year with the flowers in your hair, big eyes and from above you can look proper good in the gym, even if you have completed 5 minutes on the cross trainer. Don’t forget the hashtags #gymtime #fitness #proteinshake!
Another popular attraction seems to be the ladies toilets of a club or bar although this is a whole new arena. Selfie groups emerge from this location like hyenas to a fresh carcase. It seems everybody is celebrating what you have just produced #number2, I think it is suppose to show how much of a “good time” you are having. From my perspective it portrays an evening of diarrhoea, constipation or if you are still suffering from that bacon sandwich you had that morning. Why else would you spend that amount of time in the toilets?

What chews my cud – Work Christmas do’s

The hatred for the word festive links into the sheer lack of enjoyment during Work Christmas do’s.
Its August, a meeting at work and the dreaded suggestion is announced we must book the venue for our Christmas do, everybody sits there waiting for that one person who has a hint of willingness/insanity to volunteer to arrange it. Little do they know this will take weeks out of their life to arrange.
Its August, an email comes round please can you confirm by C.O.B Friday if you are free on the following three dates 2nd December, 4th December or 16th December. Did I mention it’s august!
After this the whole Christmas do thing pipes down until you bump into that poor colleague who is arranging it, they mention we need a £400 deposit everybody needs to send money to them now or its not happening, It’s so stressful, If somebody doesn’t pay they are not coming, the venue has limited capacity etc.
Nothing more is heard of this and you start to ponder where did my £20 deposit go? Did they run off with the money?
October arrives and you bump into that colleague by now they are fully grey and chain smoking outside the building. You don’t know whether to mention the dreaded Christmas do, but you go ahead and ask. As you are half way through your question you see the sheer lack of enthusiasm in their eyes, like their soul has been drained out of their pupils and they no longer care for the world. To which they mutter quietly yes an email is coming out asking for you to choose your food. It’s October.
I’ll fast track now to December as this 4 month stint has lead the organiser to complete demise, you are sitting in an overcrowded restaurant, sweating and have ended up with the colleagues you don’t really know here comes the small talk. A strained looking waitress comes over and shouts “who ordered turkey” to which everybody looks blankly, we made our choices in October.
Nobody ends up with the right food and it is not always the best quality when cooked in bulk. Everybody pulls a cracker which is so cheap the whole thing collapses in your hand and a small plastic frog flies across the room, you are made to wear a paper hat that doesn’t fit your head, need I mention the jokes…
You finish your meal quickly as you overhear the waitress saying we are coming up to our time limit on our table and then we are set free into the bar area which is already full. You get separated from your work colleagues and feel forever trapped in the mosh pit of drunken mayhem. Once you locate your colleagues nobody is open to going to the bar as by this time it’s about 50 people deep. We all make our excuses and abruptly leave. The organiser is never seen again.

What chews my cud – The word “festive”

A personal annoyance of mine, in December everybody must feel “festive” plus everything you do comes with the word “festive” E.G Festive Drinks, Festive food, Festive get together, Festive dog.
So no matter what you are doing you must be “Festive”, if your car broke down and your boyfriend left you it doesn’t matter it’s the “festive” season we must be Jolly, cheerful and high-spirited.
What defines a festive drink? This normally consists of friends meeting up in London during December for Festive Drinks. This probably doesn’t sound too bad but when you head to a pub in central London or any city in December you will encounter some festive problems.
Ladies and Gentleman I introduce the drunken office lunch, those who left the office at midday probably had an overpriced festive sandwich and by 5pm had about 8 festive beers. These folk will be jolly until about 7pm when the drinking binge kicks in leading to a variety of outcomes such as projectile vomiting, talking complete rubbish to strangers (I attract these people), arguments on the phone to there partners saying they are already on the train, festive fights, festive tears and festive falls.
The pubs are full, I like a good sit down and a nice beer but in December this is not achievable even on a Wednesday night you will see yourself stuck in a swarm of festive cheer. Yes somebody will put a paper hat on you and make you try a festive drink such a mulled wine which is absolutely vile.
Festive food put it this way if you are looking to go for a normal meal, this is impossible because all restaurants and pubs have their festive menu. There is only so much turkey one can eat, mix that with the mulled wine and you’ll be begging for that Bacon Sandwich in the morning.
The word festive should be banned and people should just use the word Christmas. When asked are you in the Christmas spirit? If it’s anytime before the 24th December the answer would be no, leading to the ability of having a nice drink with your friends a few weeks before without the anarchy.

What chews my cud – Bacon Sandwiches at work

If you work in an office environment you will totally understand my qualm. I’ll paint a little picture.
It’s a warm Thursday evening by the Thames at a local watering hole having a couple of pints with some work colleagues. It’s a relaxed evening and you return home about 10pm. Your alarm goes at 6am and up you are ready to finish the week in style but you already feel the effects of those pints.
Sitting on a hot (normally delayed) train, you feel the beer sweats kicking in. It doesn’t help that you probably ran to the station in a mad frenzy as your ever so slight hangover has slowed you down.
Finally arrive to work maybe slightly later than usual but still before 9am to find that somebody had volunteered to go on a breakfast run. It’s normally the same person who would do anything not to work and find an excuse to leave the office for a while, likely to be a smoker and is always disgustingly upbeat.
Now your initial thought is this will be great, greasy food is just what you need when you are feeling a bit sensitive, the idea of how much this will lift your spirits kicks in, and you can sense the excitement in the air! You bypass all your loyalty cards in your wallet and locate those vital pennies towards your £1.99 bacon sandwich. You find that some people go large and get Bacon and Egg or Sausage and Bacon – the dare devils. Plus that dilemma Ketchup or Brown Sauce? Choose the wrong one and in your mind this is a game changer.
An hour later your colleague arrives, you knew this because you could smell the fragrant scent of the grease and a recently lit cigarette as they entered the building, you are on the 4th floor. By this point your stomach has serious issues from the alcohol consumption and I guarantee nobody has got coffee yet. You are desperate for some food.
After 15 minutes of trying to work out whose sandwich is whose you end up with a moderately cold sandwich, the grease has leaked through the paper and is now all over your desk and hands. The sandwich is eaten within 30 seconds leaving you feeling uncomfortably full and dying for a drink. At this point you clock that one person who eats half their sandwich and keeps the other half for later, some people have serious issues.
3 hours later, nobody has done a coffee round yet and you can still smell that lingering bacon fat stench along with the grease that no matter what you do is now a permanent feature to your desk for the next 2 weeks. You have been to the toilet about 6 times as it just keeps coming, you are not hungry for lunch which means dinner is delayed. That Joe Wicks diet has gone out the window, and all that for 2 pints on a Thursday evening.

My Survival Guide to camping at the British Grand Prix

The British Grand Prix is one of the biggest sporting events in the country but if you are camping you will need to plan your adventure, don’t get caught out.

This survival guide is a good starting point to plan your F1 experience.

My first camping experience at Silverstone was fantastic so much that I now go every year, if you can relate to me this will save you!

Bio.
Location – 2014 British Grand Prix Silverstone.
Age – 27
Gender – Female
Attendees – Myself and my best friend Charlotte who had never camped before!
Camping Experience – Can deal with living in a tent but was never actively involved in the organising or tent pitching (Lasted 1 day at V Festival).
F1 Experience – Numerous Grand Prix’s hotels and day trips.
Supporting – Me – Lewis Hamilton, Charlotte – Jenson Button

The Camp sites;
I have always stayed at Woodlands Campsite but I have recently spoken to a few regular attendees who mentioned Hamilton Fields which is nice too. There are plenty more campsites in the area so its worth a google.

· Lively or Family?
Well if your choice is lively this isn’t as crazy as you think its not like a festival, yes people will be playing music and yes you will hear a few drunks screaming the name Alan at 2am in the morning but you will manage to get a relatively good nights sleep. Saturday night is always quiet as majority of campers will be waking up at around 6am to get to the track for the race. Friday and Sunday nights can get a bit loud although by Sunday evening you will find the majority of your camping neighbours have gone!
I spoke to a lady this year who choose family camping, unfortunately she said this isn’t much different to lively. She advised there were a few drunken parents talking loudly into the night.

· Woodlands http://silverstonewoodlands.co.uk/
A main pro for this campsite is that its about a 10 min walk to the track if you are in the nearest field add an extra 10 minutes if you are in the field further away. There is a regular shuttle tracker/bus which can pick you up and take you straight to the entrance free of charge. Please note if you meet friends at the track you cannot take them back to your campsite, you must be wearing your Woodlands pass on entry if not they won’t let you in. Personally with 2 girls camping we felt very safe and secure.

· Hamilton Fields www.hamiltonfields.co.uk
Cannot comment but have been advised its nice, further away from the track compared to Woodlands.

If you have never camped before the links below gives you a good insite what you will need to bring (except the portable toilet that’s a bit extreme).
http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/expert-advice/camping-checklist

When to get there & When to leave.

You can camp from the Wednesday before the race where you will get very close to the track with no queue to get in but bear in mind you will be camping for a minimum of 4-5 days you will need to be prepared.
I tend to arrive to the campsite Friday around midday still manage to get very close to the track and the queue consists of about 5 cars so no waiting.
If you are arriving Saturday or Sunday be prepared to queue, best advice get there really early. In F1 world 6am is early, 8am is probably too late.

If you can help it don’t leave straight after the race on a Sunday. I have been stuck trying to get out of the circuit for 4 hours before. If possible leave on the Monday morning there will still be a small queue as you get closer to the exit but you are only looking at around 45 minutes worth. Leave before 9am or after 10am, everybody seems to leave just after 9am I would then expect 45 minutes to be extended!

Race day
If you are general admission you want to get there as early as possible between 7.30am-9am. Get there after and you will struggle to find a good spot.
Take some time on Friday or Saturday when its quieter to pick your spot too as the last thing you want to be doing at 7am on a Sunday morning is battling crowds trying to find your viewing area. You will be shocked how busy it gets on race day!

If you are lucky and rich enough to get a grandstand seat you can roll up at anytime.

What to look out for.

– Silverstone Radios, these little gems are for sale round the track they cost around £10 but during races they are brilliant as they keep you up to date with live commentary. I bought a radio from Amazon a few years ago but it was too quiet I couldn’t hear it over the cars.

– Event leaflets these are free and give you a full schedule of the weekends events, look out for these on entry to the track, don’t waste your phone battery by constantly checking the schedule online.

– Free earplugs pick these up with your leaflets, you may not need them but always worth taking just in case.

– If you forget a portable phone charger you can pay for a charger at woodlands camping, the price depends on how long you want to charge for.

The Weather!

The great British weather can provide you some sheer delights and disasters.
I have experienced downpours of rain to blazing hot sun in the same day – check the weather before you leave.

The toilets

I can only relate to Woodlands Camping where I have always camped and unfortunately the campsite facilities are not in male and female blocks. As the weekend goes on the toilets get worse even though they are cleaned on a regular basis with the sheer amount of people using them the cleaners cannot keep up.

My best advice for a nice toilet experience at Woodlands Campsite is to take the short walk to the shower block where the toilets are split between male and female. The Showers are kept clean you get 5 minutes for a shower and the water is always hot, the toilets are much more pleasant too.

Do not use the campsite toilets first thing in the morning it will smell of what people were drinking/eating the night before, there will be a huge queue and there is a 90% chance there will be no toilet roll.

Do not use the campsite toilets late at night, those staggering from the Petrol Heads Pub or beer tents will be using these for emergencies, need I say no more.

Toilets at the track are thankfully well kept although they tend to get really busy between races.
Plan your pee! Try and sneak out just before a race/qualifying finish or begin if you have a weak bladder. If you need to wee before the Grand Prix starts good luck as that is what everybody is trying to do for obvious reasons!
If you are in the F1 fan zone and queuing do not be surprised if a cleaner lady tells you to follow her, there are some ladies toilets which nobody knows exist and she will guide you. I have encountered this 2 years running she is like a toilet angel!

Handbag Heaven;

When I say handbag I mean rucksack or a seriously big bag! I have seen people at the track with tiny hand bags and I shudder to think how much money they are spending on food, drink and staying alive!
Here are some high priority items I suggest you take with you to the track, if you are a weakling like me I would suggest some weight lifting a few weeks beforehand! Although it seems a lot I didn’t struggle too much with my bag;

– Tickets!
– Suncream
– Make up, including a compact mirror (you will either sweat or get drenched , the mirrors are limited in the toilets)
– Sunglasses or a hat (also good if you are experiencing a bad hair day)
– Toilet roll
– Hand wipes/Sanitiser
– Money (take your money out before you get to Silverstone)
– If you are lucky enough to look young for your age take your I.D
– If its hot still take a waterproof jacket you just don’t know with this weather, a jacket will keep you warmer than an umbrella too.
– Binoculars (if you are like me and want to see the screen)
– Your alcohol/drink for the day (Race day I managed to carry 4 beers to the track and bought 2 in the evening)
– Food of your choice, crisps, sausage rolls, maybe a left over bacon sandwich from breakfast.
– Your event leaflet will keep you updated with what’s going on.
– If you are general admission take a campchair.
– Portable phone charger (you can buy them for around £5 in Halfords)
– If you have any room left a little jumper to keep out than wind chill

What clothes to bring;
You need to be ready for anything so turning up in shorts and a T-Shirt will rarely work well for you at Silverstone the weather can be very unpredictable. Of the 6 British Grand Prix’s I have attend in my life there was only one where it was so hot it was unbearable and that was in 1999!
I don’t mean to rant here but do not wear flip flops or heels unless you are in hospitality. The campsite and the circuit you will be walking through mud, long grass, puddles and uneven surfaces. Yes heels and flip flops may look lovely but I consider them a hazard here you can still look the bomb but be safe with it!

– Walking boots or wellies if it rains, a pair of hunters do look good!
– If its definitely going to be warm wear converse type shoes, something with a thick sole standing on stones and pebbles all day in flimsy shoes can really hurt after a while.
– Again if its definitely going to be hot bring shorts.
– Skinny jeans, Jeggings always work well for me
– Vest tops as many as you can pack
– Favourite F1 shirt
– Light jumper x 2
– Towel
– Hoody this will be your life saver in the evening when the temperature drops
– A waterproof jacket (a cheap one from Primark will do the trick)
– Toothpaste & Toothbrush
– Shower cream
– Shampoo and Conditioner
– Plastic bag to store your dirty laundry
– Pants & Bras
– Socks, bring extra as you may want to wear these to bed it can get cold.
– Something warm to wear to bed, a nightshirt won’t do it. This is where a onesie may be useful.
– Hair bands – its can be windy and wet your hair will not be glamourous the whole time if you can pin it up or get a hat!
– Hairbrush

Food – There are no salads at Silverstone!
Campsite food and track food is expensive and you are normally looking at a £8 Burger or £8.50 Burrito! Do not be put off though as the food is tasty but if like me you can’t eat this food all the time it’s a good idea to look at other options.

– Eat well
Pack Fruit with you even if its just a couple of apples and bananas your body will be screaming for these after your 2nd day, I managed to attempt to make my Burrito slightly healthier by asking for it without cheese, sour cream and all that good stuff I know it sounds boring but sometimes your body just needs it.

– Save Money
Pack a cool bag with some bacon, sausages or burgers cook these up on a disposable BBQ in the morning, also bring a pan to heat up some water so you can enjoy a coffee or tea for that caffeine hit. This will already save you around £10.
There are some shops at the campsite which will sell the basics if you forget but they tend to be slightly more expensive than your local Sainsburys. If you forget your bacon do not panic.
There are some local pubs/shops nearby too I have not experienced these first hand but I am sure you can purchase some cheaper food there too.

http://www.conveniencestore.co.uk/stores/retailer-profiles/nisa-local-silverstone-northants/348836.article

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/RestaurantsNear-g504028-d2267842-Silverstone_Race_Course-Silverstone_Northamptonshire_England.html

– Alcohol
Bring your own! Its around £5 a pint everywhere and if you are looking to have 4 throughout the day that’s £20 down the drain! Plus during busy times the beer can be warm, a large queue and your favourite tipple is likely to run out.
Pop to your local supermarket beforehand and buy your favourite beer/tipple and take these to the track with you – no glass bottles they are really strict on glass on campsites and at the track.

– Bottled water
Just take as much water as you can possibly fit in your mode of transport, little bottles and big bottles.

Other Camping life savers!

– Dry Shampoo
– Beach look hair spray – there is no room for straighteners
– Lucozade or Red Bull you may need an extra caffeine boost come race day.

My last bit of advice is enjoy yourself, the Grand Prix is all about having fun and watching talented drivers race at 200 MPH. The fans at Sliverstone are friendly and sometimes drunk. You will laugh, you will potentially be hungover but you will love every minute! It gets better every year!