Welcome To My Travel Site
Me On The Nullarbor Plain Higher, Western Australia, December 2004
This is my travel website chronicling my various travels and adventures around the world.
I literally chucked this thing together and the result was a most top, tasty and delicate home-made pie!
try it out and impress your friends!
Serves about 2 people.
1 x cooked chicken breast *
2 x carrots (peeled and sliced)
1 x large onion (diced)
1 packet of ready rolled filo pastry – or about 4-5 sheets!
Cooking oil – be it olive, sunflower, whatever, to brush over the pastry
2-3 tablespoons Bisto gravy granules
sprinkles of black pepper, Herbes de Provence
some thyme to garnish (if you have any spare)
1 x medium saucepan, 1 x medium oven dish (to bake the pie in), a wooden spoon to stir, a knife/fork/plate to serve 😉
Cooking time ~35mins :
20mins boiling the onions and carrots
3mins boiling the gravy
15mins baking the pie
* if you haven’t cooked the chicken breast and don’t know – it takes about 20-25mins to oven cook at 200degrees a chicken breast or two. Perhaps put the chicken in the oven, whilst you’re boiling the onions/carrots.
Last month I ended up making a filo pastry “white wine, chicken and artichoke pie” that I got from the Good Housekeeping Cook Book. Did this for the church group I lead for an end of year meal, all because my friend Alanna suggested why don’t I make something – so I did that and was majorly surprised at the result.
Until the panicked cooking time before cooking this group meal, I had no idea about Filo pastry – but soon discovered it costs about £1.45 a packet from Sainsburys and is very easy to use! You can use either the 12 x sheets Sainsburys or 6 x Jus-roll brand sheets – the sizes are slightly different, but really it doesn’t matter, I know because I bought both types just in case!
Anyways today I realised I still had 2 packets of filo pastry in the fridge + some chicken breasts – so I thought why not attempt to make my fave dish – some kind of chicken & gravy pie! here’s how to make it…
Cooking Steps :
- Half fill the saucepan with water and put on stove to boil.
Peel carrots and slice them. Add them to pot (aka saucepan).
Peel and slice/dice the onion and add it to the pot.
Boil carrots/onions for 20mins. Stiring or swirling occasionally.
- About 10mins in turn on the oven to 200degrees – pre-heating for the baking part!
- Hopefully by now there’ll be enough water left to make some gravy, if not add some extra. You don’t want thick gravy, you want medium thin.
Add 2-3 tablespoons of gravy granuels to the pot. Stir it all round.
- Cut the chicken breast into small chunks – I used my hands to do this or you can slice it however you like. Drop it into the pot.
Add some black pepper and herbes de Provence if you like.
Stir it all up a bit, not too much though.
Continue boiling for a few mins longer, until gravy has thickened a bit.
- Pour a bit of the oil into the oven dish and rub round with your hands.
Place a couple of layers of the filo pastry around the dish.
Empty the saucepan into the middle of the dish.
Wrap the pastry around the mixture, so it’s covered – pie-style.
Pour/rub some more oil all over the top of the pasty.
I had gravy leaking through the pastry at the point, so place another couple of sheets around and then glaze it with more oil.
- Put the dish in the oven and bake for about 15mins!
Apparently the UK is deeply elitist and you can’t get a ‘top job’ unless you are one of the ‘cosy club’ which mostly comprises of private school types.
Now I went to Rutlish School, an ex-grammar in Merton Park, Wimbledon, SW19. So my real question is, are we #Rutlish School boys part of the ‘cosy club’? Let’s look at the facts – John Major PM is an old boy of ours, we have an Old boys club called The Old Ruts + we were all boys + we have a “Speech Night” whereby a famous old-Rutlish boy does a speech and presents prizes(John Major in 1991) + we had ‘houses’ + we have a ‘head boy’ + we used to play ‘fives'(a game generally only played at private schools) + we did had Latin lessons at GCSE and A-Level!
Inspired by this article, I’ve now made some art work!
The problem with iTunes is you simply cannot copy files, photos, images, videos directly to and from your iPhone or iPad. I wanted to copy some specific .MOV video files to my iPhone and copy some camera roll photos off it and found this became a bit of a nightmare. I really couldn’t be bothered with syncing and all that malarky, I just wanted to copy the files and go. Anyways, after several hours of playing around I’ve concluded the following, hope it helps somebody : I found I needed 3 programs to maintain my iPhone as I wanted.
iTunes – which we all know and think is ‘alright’ – I use this to create entire backups of my iPhone.
iFunbox (free) – an excellent utility that allows you to directly access and transfer the files on an iPhone. You can view the filesystem on the iPhone directly, BUT it also has a “Quick Toolbox” tab which allows you to easily copy to and from the iPhone photos,music and video – and puts them where they should be. This means they are viewable in the “Videos” and “Music” standard iPhone apps. The only downside is that it doesn’t add the metadata for videos or music – so you get blank thumbnails and cover art when looking at them in list view. Note: I use version 2.7 of iFunbox as the v2014 beta version didn’t work properly for me)
PhoneTrans (free) from iMobie – another excellent utility that allows you to upload or copy music and video to/from the iPhone. This DOES create metadata and so for videos/music you get the thumbnails and cover art! It is somewhat confusing that this program leaves out the ability to copy photos, but hey. Note for Mac Users – iFunbox doesn’t have the Quick Toolbox yet, so you’ll have to use direct copying. PhoneTrans is called AnyTrans and is annoyingly limited to 100 uses.
Backing up the iPhone – full backup as well as individual photos, video, music, camera roll
If my iPhone blows up I want some kind of full backup of it, but I also want to be able to do ad-hoc backups of photos, the camera roll, videos or songs maybe too. My solution is to use iTunes to keep a backup of the entire iPhone – that way you can get all your stuff back. Then for the ad-hoc backup and copying use iFunbox. Using the ‘Quick Toolbox’ tab you can backup your photos, videos and music very quickly and easily – just click Export photos, pick a folder and viola. For individual items, navigate the explorer to the
Copying Photos to/from the iPhone
I use iFunbox to copy photos as it does this remarkably quickly and easily. Either copy from the phone using explorer tab for the Camera Rolls or use the “Quick Toolbox” tab to Import/Export your photos either way.
Copying Videos and Music
I’d like to use iFunbox for Videos and Music, but I like the thumbnails to appear when I click the “Videos” or “Music” app and these need metadata and for some reason they’ve left that functionality out of iFunbox. Therefore I found PhoneTrans the best way to copy across videos and music. It’s not a big deal as it’s incredibly simple to do – just click “Music” or “Movies” on the side bar and click the Add button – DONE!
Technical tips for iFunbox :
In the explorer, turn off “Thumbnail View” by clicking it – then you can see the path and size of the files. iTuneControl/Music – where the MP3’s and videos are stored. Search .mp3, .mp4 to find your music or movie files from Raw File System.
My latest youtube video! London’s Royal Exchange filmed over 2 years – Nov 2010 – Jan 2013. On my way home from work each day/night I started taking pics of The Royal Exchange from outside Bank station. Eventually making this stop-motion movie from them – it’s a bit jerky at the start, but hope you like the video anyways. Watch out for the Olympics logos/barriers – taken during the men’s marathon and wheelchair marathons.
My contribution to the Mo Farah Runs Away From Things craze!
Take bus 747 from Montreal airport, it runs 24/7.
Travel card costs $8 and lasts 24hours after 1st usage on bus and metro + includes a ride on the 747 bus. $16 for 3 days usage.
Montpelier Highlights for me were:
1) visiting the Skinny Pancake shop for good/different food
2) pick up a free town street map from the Info stand a bit along from Subway, on the way to the state Capitol. this is highly useful.
3) tour the State Capitol building, very friendly and helpful guides there.
4) visit the Hubbard Park tower – about 20mins walk.
5) you can walk back down from Hubbard Park to the town via either path. the higher path is nicer, the lower path goes steeply down the ‘mountain’ and ends up.
6) visit the Uncommon market – reminds me of Bailey and Sage in Wimbledon village
The Greyhound Bus stop is on Main Street just by the Fire station, it’s on one side of the road only, The other side are for municipal buses.
The supermarket is the south end of of mainstreet.
You can take Bus 29 and 6 from to Greyhound station.
Get hold of the B&B map.
Visit the Capitol, found very interesting, we don’t really have this kind of thing in the UK.
Decided I needed a break after 6 months of no holiday (what with the marathon training and everything) and so took a trip up north to tick off a visit to Leeds (Beflast now remains the last major town I haven’t visited in the UK according to my list). Needed an excuse to go and happened upon a lecture in Halifax (never been there either) that interested me. After a quick glance at some tennis at the Roehampton Wimbledon qualifiers, I set off about 2pm. Finally reaching Halifax a whole hour before the 7:30pm start. The lecture was by Ed Stafford, the first man ever to walk entire length of the Amazon river! It took him 2.5 years – 860 DAYS! to do and he saw Piranahs, Anacondas, waded through head high water, thousands of mosquitos, was called Pela Cara (face peeler – some Amazonian tribes think white men steal people’s faces and body parts and will kill without hesitation) and even sat on the back of a motorbike driven by a 5ft tall Peruvian lady one time whlst holding her miniture dog! It was pretty interesting, along with the various slides, maps and video of the trip he showed us, there’s going to be a 2 part doco on TV too. Following the lecture was a Q/A session and I got to ask Ed what kind of physical training he’d done to prepare for the trip – ‘Not a whole lot to be honest’ was his reply Also bought his book Walking the Amazon and got to meet the man himself, can’t wait to read it – a really good bloke – a true adventurer and explorer.
TOOK 5hours right on, well 5:01:20 to be precise!! whoop whoop
Woke up wide awake and somewhat hyper at 5:15am, but forced myself to lay in bed trying to rest and got up at 6:40am just after my alarm went off. Had my Shreddies, but was too nerve-racking to eat the eggs and bacon I’d cooked the night before, so only ate bit of the eggs and made sandwiches. Caught Wimbledon to Waterloo train, along with loads of other marathoners and we then took the packed Waterloo East train to Greenwich station.
Wandering through Greenwich Park at 8:30am to the marathon area was quite a sight with the thousands of other runners all getting ready with their red Virgin London Marathon kit bags and brightly coloured shirts. As it was so warm I took off the bright red £3 top I’d bought from TK Max the day before (they suggest buying a cheap top to throw away if it’s a cold start) and showing off my running number of 46685 walked into the runners area to be greeted by Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.
Still a bit tired, sat in the park listening to the funny Geordi announcer guy and ate my egg/bacon sandwiches + some crisps and Muller Rice pudding before noticing it was getting very close to 9:45am. So following a bunch of runners, I walked through a fence opening to the start line queue. Looking around, downing a Gatorade, I seemed to be surrounded by this bunch of very fit 3:30hr club athleteswell except for the guy in the big furry outfit a few metres behind me
The race started and off we went, took about 10mins to cross the starting line and was very exciting and great feeling from the start.
Wanted to pace myself with about 10 or 11minute miles, which I stuck to rather well. Got overtaken by millions of people for the first few miles, including Horny Paul the Rhino, but this didn’t really concern me as I had an idea I’d catch up with many of them later on, which I indeed did, including poor Horny Paul the Rhino just before 21miles where upon he looked rather hot , tired and bedraggled (massive respect to him). Fellow Save the Rhino runner Dave Curnick also said hi on the way
Running The Race
Words cannot describe how good the crowd were – their cheers really do keep you going, they give you motivation like nothing else. Also just knowing your friends are out there is a great boost. What is awesome too is that for the first 12 miles or so the roads are a bit more open and the thousands of people lining the route and cheering are just wonderful. Tons of kids/randoms hold their hands out and you can slap them a high or low five as you go past. Thanks to them all hugely. Big thanks to Terry too for telling me to put my name on my shirt, as you run along people sometimes shout your name and again it just keeps you going like you wouldn’t believe.
Seeing my friend Ben Hall at Surrey Quays 8.5miles in and his shout of ‘James Reed’ and then again at Tower Bridge and again at 21 miles was off the planet, mate that was someting else. Also the Rachel + Gina shouting like maniacs along with dad and his rhino placards and the rest of the family at 11.5mile mark in Bermondsey ruled and then on the Embankment, so good, so surprising and so enlivening.
The live music played along the way and the loud speaker music is also MASSIVE help, so good of the clubs/pubs/people to do that. Put it this way at one point, we’re talking about 22miles, they were playing Jump Around and I actually jumped past them it was so energizing, yeah at 22miles, lol.
The mile markers really do help too, really did find myself counting them down. Found the worst mile was mile 15, you’re a bit past half way and the going is starting to get tougher, it’s less populated, plus it was on somewhat of a hilly area and I desperately wanted to hit 16 (prob cos of the Epsom run). Once you hit 16 you know it’s two miles til 18 and once there it’s only 8 miles to go which should be possible, even walking.
The weather was warm, sunny and hot at points, nice suntan in the end, but cool enough to run (officially described start as ‘perfect conditions’) but I must’ve literally drunk about 10litres of water, I had countless bottles of water + lucuzade sports drinks handed out on the way and must’ve just sweated it out. The sports gels were also incredible. I’ve never tried a sports gel (liquid carbohydrates + glucose) before but they had Lucuzade gel stations at 14miles and 22miles, so I tried them and the result was remarkable, just seemed to propel you along.I also carried one of them(third taken at 23miles + at 24miles) and a couple of carbo-bars with me(consumed at 9 and 18 miles) which helped push me onwards.
Crossing The Finish Line
Whereas many say they can’t feel their legs the last 6 miles, I actually picked up speed during the last 3 miles(seriously surprised at my own fitness), I mean I was properly running it, hitting 11kmph apparently. Meant I overtook hundreds of people, including some really old and some really in-trouble runners and Sprinted over the finish line!
Received my medal, goodie bag and got one of those silver foil capes I’ve wanted pretty much my whole life and was one of the main reasons I did this thing Then hanged out with the Save the Rhino team, thanks so much Adam and Lucy you guys are the best, had a leg massage from two very nice blondes and was met and greeted by the old folks, Gina, Stephen, the Rachel, Ben, Henry, Jackie and the QRC bunch. I waited until the last Rhino came in (about 7:30hrs, a lady who’d run the Brighton marathon the week before!) and then headed to Wagamamas for a chicken Katzu curry. The finale being a pint of Guinness with Mr.Hall in Wetherspoons in Wimbledon! Zzz
Other Highlights Of The Race
- My running battle/war with none other than Mickey Mouse! the pesky mouse kept repeatedly running fast, overtaking me, then slowing down a bit and so I’d overtake him, then the menacing mouse would do the same again and I couldn’t do anything cos the crowd loved him and kept shouting “Mickey!” all the time!
- Being chased by a tiger, he was very funny
- Racing a couple of Elvis’s
- Being well overtaken by Dino the dinosaur and the Flintstones, then seeing them doing some interview later on.
- Seeing the guy in the green Tinkerbell fairy outfit who was kicking a football all the way
- Seeing the two firemen walking at about 12miles in FULL UNIFORM + BOOTS, they must’ve been ahead of me by a good way until then! wow!
- The Knights in full armour jogging past me at points.
- Txting facebook and friends “At 24miles!” when gone through the tunnel at 24 miles
- Seeing a big hairy Lion right at the end
- Watching the Rhinos come in – wo those guys are crazily brave running in those things!
- Lots of other moments…
I have to say the whole thing was organised extremely well from start to finish and All in all was a brilliant brilliant day!
Finally thanks again to super runner + running expert Nico, all credit to him for telling me to run this thing in the first place!
And so my London Marathon 2011 training blog warms down to a close, thanks for reading
Tonight I got to run round the sights of the capital city with a London Marathon Winner! 1983 London Marathon Winner 'Mike Gratton' in fact. oh 1983 you say, well this guy ran the Marathon in 2:09hrs!!! that's faster than the elite Brit runners run today, pretty good, no?! Save the Rhino had most excellently organised this run with Mike for us and it was brilliant – about 12 of us turned up inc Adam who'd set it all up, though he refrained from running with us cos he had to 'look after our stuff' hehe. We met in a gym in London Bridge and after Mike showed us how to warm up properly, we did about a 5.5mile circuit from London Bridge up and over Westminster Bridge and back to London Bridge where we started. A bunch of the guys sped off ahead of us at the start and were obviously aiming for a quick run, but a group of 4 of us hanged back so we could chat to Mike, plus we were prob lot slower than the guys ahead, am not going for 2:09hrs this yr, perhaps next . There were a couple of other girls too, but they went the wrong way down an alley half way and somehow ended up a bit behind us. Mike gave us some running tips and told us stuff about his training back in day – lots of repeated 400m's sprints etc!! It was a very nice run, taking in Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, the Wheel, glimpse of St.Pauls etc running over the Thames was cool too, pollution didn't seem too bad either. We finished with a drink and a superb pasta meal in the bar next to the gym. Mike gave us some very useful and interesting running tips. It was good to meet some other Save the Rhino guys too, really nice bunch, cheers Tristan and the girls for running with me and Thanks so much Mike for a very inspiring night.
Check out 2:09Events which Mike runs – they do fun events like a marathon run over three days between vineyards in the South of France, yes lots of wine too!