Snowdrops in Hatton

I’m a little achey after the up and downhill of the end to end walk in Malvern on Sunday.

It’s currently precisely midnight on either Monday evening or Tuesday morning (depending on how you view it) and I’m lying in a warm bed within an unusually warm house whilst the world outside turns into an icicle.

On days like today I don’t care about the cost of heating. It’s worth it.

Monday was a day I had decided to a while back to just take off work and had no plans in particular other than chill out and recover after Malvern.

I suppose that I could have done that – but where’s the fun in sitting down?

It would have been super easy to melt into an armchair and just veg out – but nature (at least in my case) seems to abhor a vacuum and events rushed in to fill the spare time.

I’m not complaining mind you. I couldn’t sit still if my life depended on it these days – and my first hook up of the day was meeting a friend in the local Mecca of consumerism -Touchwood in Solihull.

Oddly – as small as this place seems now, a while back it felt like it was almost more than I could deal with. Despite having convenient parking right underneath the Apple shop that I used to visit from time to time I really struggled with moving around the place.

Typically I parked up and waddled to my destination and then back to my car before collapsing wheezing in the front seat while I struggled to get my seatbelt on.

Once I even moved my car from the Touchwood car park after going to Apple and then re-parked in another nearby car park to go to another shop less than 500 metres away.

Sigh.

Those were the bad old days…

In contrast this morning I was there extra early to meet a friend for coffee in Starbucks and idly wandered up and down the length of the Mall as I passed the time by calling my Dad and window shopping.

As I strolled I couldn’t help but notice a relief motto on the ceiling.

Maybe the designers had a sarcastic side – or the builders were feeling whimsical as they bolted these words of wisdom to the wall in one of the richest boroughs of the county (outside of the M25 area).

I’m sure there’s more than a spoonful of irony that this is hanging above the nearby Nespresso, Apple and Tesla shops – however far be it from me to judge.

If I did I’d be throwing stones whilst standing in a glass house.

Whilst I’m generally very frugal I do like Apple products (despite their usually ridiculous price tag) and sadly (although many may disagree) I think quite a bit of what they sell is actually worth the extra money.

Apple Watch for instance has been instrumental in changing my life. I wouldn’t be without it – or my iPhone.

I can’t help but buy things from there when I’m in the mood to treat myself and today my credit card stepped in to perform the heavy lifting as I left the shop with a pair of Apple AirPods.

The assistant knew she had a sale after I had inserted a test pair and jumped up and down for five minutes like an idiot as well as shaking my head like I was at a heavy metal concert whilst I tried (unsuccessfully) to dislodge them.

Annoyingly they refused to fall out and appeared to defy gravity with each lurching movement whilst still sounding totally awesome. You can barely feel them in your ears – which is seriously disconcerting.

They’re just… there – like little earbud ghosts…

Amazingly once you pair them to your phone (all you have to do is open the case and a prompt appears on your phone) they’re also paired to everything else in your Apple eco-system.

Later in the evening I was playing music on my watch, iPad and MacBook just as seamlessly as I had on my iPhone. When I opened my iPad it too paired with my buds and immediately gave me to option of using them. I didn’t have to unpair anything on my iPhone or faff about in any way.

In contrast my other (largely unused) Bluetooth headphones are a pairing nightmare.

The playback is also capable of shifting almost immediately between the player on my Apple Watch and my iPhone without any re-pairing or faffing about. Just press play on one in the middle of the other playing and the AirPods switch over.

Press play on the other device and it swaps back.

They’re irritatingly good.

I say irritatingly because I’m supremely aware that cost wise there are other (possibly more capable from an audiophile perspective) wireless headphones out there with lower price tags – but the heart wants what the heart wants and today these were my birthday gift to myself in the absence of alcohol or food.

These will accompany me on many many walks and get a lot of use on the way to and from work.

There are times however when I’m never going to use them and those are when I have real live twalking buddies to spend time with.

Today I had filled the rest of my free time vacuum by arranging a walk to Hatton with a friend – and it turned out to be during a rather nice (if flipping cold) afternoon with hints of sunshine and occasional blue skies.

The weather was not like this the whole way though – and temperatures were definitely not shifting above zero.

Several times snow threatened to arrive and stick around – but thankfully (the news suggests bad things are on the horizon) it disappeared as soon as it had arrived – but for the brief time it was in residence proved to be very pretty!

There’s sometimes a trade off with inclement weather however – because while it’s chilly and uncomfortable it can also produce some incidental beauty in the hedgerows and roadsides.

I haven’t seen icicles in ages – but today they were in abundance.

Also – everywhere along the edges of our route were the most delightful little snowdrops, framed perfectly amongst a sea of brown leaves under a completely absent canopy.

By the time we reached the Hatton Arms I was most definitely ready for the loo and a coffee though.

I think I need some thermal pants because I think I now know where the engineering inspiration came from for Newton’s Cradle.

However although elements of my anatomy and the outside world may have been freezing this pub never seems less than warm and inviting.

I do rather like their approach to hanging mirrors as well. I think there motto is ‘you can never have too many’ and I definitely agree.

Their wall looks funky.

After a coffee and a quick natter we headed back to our respective homes and into the waiting arms of central heating heaven.

Upon returning to my man cave the only thing to do was make something warming and hearty – so I decided upon a chicken and baked bean soup.

Since I rarely follow recipes this was just thrown together at the last minute and contained

  • 500g chicken breast
  • 1 drained (but not rinsed – they still had some sauce in) can of baked beans
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 diced potatoes
  • 500g Carrots
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 2x chicken stock cubes
  • A generous ‘glugging’ of Worcestershire sauce
  • A large Courgette
  • 500g of sprouts

Let me tell you right now that this was darned nice and it’s also going to supply me with a very hearty lunch at work (today – it’s now 1.30am!) too.

So – on that note I’m going to sign off internet.

Hopefully it won’t snow as badly as the forecast suggests – but if it does fear not. I’m prepared dear reader. It’s going to take a lot to stop me walking.

Aches and pains and complaints about crappy weather are for the weak. Slimming World target members (and those that want to become one) walk to work regardless!!!

Davey

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