Spring Lamb Dinner at Rotunda

What a find.  Rotunda Restaurant & Bar in the swanky new Kings Place behind Kings Cross Station hosted a very special foodie evening last night.   Spring Lamb Dinner.

Our evening started with delicious canapes and wine on the terrace and a short talk from the farmer.  (I love knowing exactly where my food comes from).  How refreshing to hear about a farming practice where they truly farm in an organic style.  No pesticides or nasties that can affect the meat product.  He was also hugely enthusiastic about his family farm and proud as punch with the lamb we were shortly to eat.

Next up we had a butchery lesson.  The chefs talked us through butchering a whole lamb followed by a Q&A session.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t know some of the cuts of meat nor the best way of cooking them.  I’ll certainly be ordering parts of lamb at the butchers that I’ve not ordered before.

Rotunda SpringAnd finally, the dinner.   Oooh, food heaven in every course!

Spring Lamb menuIncredible.  Thoroughly recommend the annual Spring Lamb dinner.  Or if you can’t wait until next year, there’s a number of other events coming up.  Rotunda Events

Super Eleven Shake – Super Green Cleanse

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Early morning on Tuesday I took delivery of this parcel.  I’m trying out the Super Green Cleanse by Super Eleven Shake Ltd

First impressions.  Panic at the small size of the parcel!  Eek is that ALL I’m having for 3 days?

15 well packaged bottles with uber amounts of sellotape around the lid of each are in their own little compartments.  There’s a small amount of bubble wrap around the bottles.  Fortunately as this box is delivered by courier I suspect it hasn’t been out of their fridges for long and each bottle is just below room temperature.

Quickly decanted into the fridge (as per instructions):

IMG_6397There’s a leaflet in the box explaining what is in each bottle, when to drink and what to do for maximum results during the 3-day cleanse.

IMG_6431I’m quite sure ‘newbies’ to juices and cleansing would be horrified by the bland greenness of the juices and the ‘gunk’ at the bottom of each bottle.  However, for me, this lifts my spirits.  I’ve missed green juices and I’ve missed seeds!

Despite it being mid-morning, I’d only had hot water with lemon so far so decide to start the cleanse straight away.  My initial taste of the juices told me it was melon juice!  How odd… but super tasty.  Even with lots of vigorous shaking before opening the juice I’m aware that the seeds are gathered at the bottom of the bottle.  A little water added, another swirl of the bottle and I got them.  Obviously a little to learn about drinking this concoction but by the end of the 3 days I’ve mastered it.

Was I hungry during the cleanse?  Sometimes but I know it’s just in my head.  I managed to keep on top of drinking lots of water as well as the juices which helps.

Did I get congested?  The seeds and ‘gunk’ have helped with the fibre aspect of juicing too (TMI?).

Would I do it again?  Yes but not at full price.  Once again I used a Groupon offer so the 3-day Super Green Cleanse was £59.99 which works out at £4 a bottle.  The full price is £249.99 which works out at £16.66 a bottle.  I don’t see how this cost could be justified for 15 green juices no matter how the juice is extracted.

Does the Super Green Cleanse bottles last in the fridge?  Yes, there doesn’t seem to be any oxidising and the lids are securely taped down with layers of sellotape.

Would I recommend it?  Yes but only at an offer price.

I’ve loved this cleanse.  Probably partially because they were green drinks.  Overall I feel lighter, energised and have dropped several kilos.

Soulmatefood ‘Perfect Cleanse’ – My Results

‘Perfect Cleanse’ for 3-days.   Finished last night with a nighttime tea.  This ‘cleanse’ was only 5 small juices a day with lots of water.  I have completed the cleanse but now are craving sweet foods and breads.  Although some would argue that is due to my stating that I worried with all the fruit content that I would crave ‘bad foods’ and I’ve set myself up.  Maybe so… but I do!

I feel lighter but I don’t feel totally cleansed.  I’m a little surprised that the cost of the package (if I’d paid full price) is so much when in real terms it’s just 15 small juices.  Ok so it claims to be the ‘world’s first hypostatic cleanse’ but what does that really mean to me?

Was I hungry during the 3 days?  Yes.  Not only hungry but craving sweet foods.  I distracted myself with some tennis, pilates and DIY but can’t help but feel by just ‘suggesting’ lots of water that perhaps I needed more specific instructions or, as with the Juice & Cleanse detox, the addition of bicarbonate of soda or lemon juice which made me drink more water.  Simple yet it worked.

Did I get congested?  Yes and bloated.  Once again I took some digestive stimulator capsules but not much movement.

Do the juices last in the fridge? Yes.

Would I do it again? No. The majority of the juices were fruit based and I personally felt that the sweetness of the juices didn’t help me feel lighter, stimulate any detox and also left me craving for bad foods.

Would I recommend Soulmatefoods? At full price, No.  With an offer, maybe but to someone starting out on juicing that isn’t ready (mentally) to do a more vegetable based juicing regime.  I also felt the instructions and care were slightly less than I’d hope from a package that is trying to encourage people to continue with juicing and healthy eating.

I did note however that Soulmatefoods do a range of healthy food plans delivered to your door.  These look great and appear to be balanced menus perfect for a busy lifestyle.  They have a 6-day trial menu for £150 which looks good.  Have you tried them?  Or perhaps if you do, let me know what you think?

Oooh and the all important question….

Did it work and results? As a ‘cleanse’ I’m not feeling it.  I did however lose another 1kg.

Issy’s ‘List for Life’ continues….

I’ve mentioned my friend Issy before and fulfilling her List for Life now also known as her ‘Phuck-it List’.  Whilst we were away in Verona last year we plotted how we would achieve a number of other adventures on her list.  One of the things she said she’d love to do would be to dine at The Square in London’s Mayfair.  How fortuitous that the very talented 2 Michelin star chef is my cousin (well 1st cousin once removed but who’s counting), Phil Howard.

Since our Verona trip we have spoken of this dinner on many occasions but the urgency of organising it was brought to the fore a few months ago when it was decided that Issy’s treatment was to cease.

Rather than being a small intimate dinner for Issy and a couple of friends we asked Phil if Issy could have the private dining room at The Square.  This would enable Issy to invite friends and family to share the magnificent dining experience with her.  During chemo Issy, like so many others in treatment, had found it difficult to taste food properly and certainly to enjoy or savour it.  With no further treatment Issy has been enjoying tasting food once more and at every opportunity in the most glamorous of places, however her appetite is much smaller.  So Issy thought a tasting menu would be perfect!

I cannot express how truly wonderful and kind Phil has been in orchestrating a tremendous and memorable dinner for Issy.  Phil spoke with Issy directly to discover her ingredient/food loves, likes and dislikes.  He then created dishes based on their discussions and sent Issy the menu for approval.  I could almost hear the joyful whooping from her when she shared the menu by email with tonight’s dinner guests.

We met early at The Square in Mayfair.  A glass of bubbles enjoyed whilst the party arrived.  A buzz of excitement from our dining posse.  It was very evident that each of us had put a little bit of sparkle whilst dressing and so honoured to be sharing this experience with Issy (and to dine at The Square!).  We were then shown to our private room where Issy had laid out our name cards.

During the incredible amuse bouche we took turns to introduce ourselves to the table and say how we know Issy.  What a perfect spectrum of guests from her childhood, from school, London, work, partying, cancerland and, of course, her family.  The guests had travelled far and wide to be at this dinner – from Cheshire, America, even one chap from Hong Kong and of course London and surrounding areas.

Issy's Square Dinner peopleI know that chefs hate ‘public’ taking photos of food.  I’m an uber amateur and no ‘food stylist’ so apologies as the next pictures truly don’t do any of it justice.

Issy's Square Dinner foodBelieve me when I tell you each and every mouthful of the entire tasting menu was utterly incredibly deliciously beautifully unique and special.  Phil had also paired each and every dish with wine… spot on with every sip.

I can’t thank Phil enough for creating such a perfect dining experience for us all.  For allowing Issy to share it with her friends and family.  For making it such a special memory laden evening for each and every one of us.

Thank you Issy for inviting me to your exclusive dining experience and allowing me to, once again, be part of your List for Life.

If you’d like to follow Issy’s journey, she’s writing for the Huffington Post.  Follow her progress here.

Pure Viva Cleanse – 3 day Juice Cleanse

This morning saw the arrival of a new juice cleanse from Pure Viva Cleanse.  An offer from LivingSocial meant that the 3 day juice cleanse was reduced to £59 (normal value £99) together with a £10 delivery charge.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 09.04.38The ordering process was a little cumbersome.  Firstly you are required to make your booking online via the website.  I would have then expected something further about arranging delivery but you’re left hanging with your account indicating that it is ‘on-hold’ but no further explanation.  FYI despite my order having been delivered this morning this order in my account remains ‘on-hold’.

I waited to see if the status would change or anyone would contact me – they now had my details in my account.  A few days later when nothing had changed, I telephoned the number on the website.  My call went through to a mobile and I felt was answered in an abrupt fashion.  I enquired about how to set up the delivery date and was quickly told to give this information and order number over the phone together with payment details for the £10 delivery cost.  When I asked about the ‘on-hold’ reference on the website being misleading I was told this was how the website worked.  Not great customer service for a first time sale.

Packaging – The juices are grouped into ‘daily’ heat-sealed plastic bags which are rammed into a chill bag.  The contents are only mildly cold and the bag barely able to close.  I’m also acutely aware that there are no instructions, leaflets or information within the package.

Viva CleanseThere are 6 juices a day, each in a 330ml bottle and numbered to make it easier.  In addition there is a bottle of ‘lemonade’.  I’m unsure if this is a separate drink or like other detox juicing programmes contains lemon juice for adding to the first hot or cold water of each day.

I have looked at the website for programme instructions, more particularly with reference to the ‘lemonade’ but feel the most informative programme instructions to be on the LivingSocial offer page.

It appears the lemonade is an additional drink and I will need to buy some fresh lemons for my morning water and lemon ‘wake-up’ drink.

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EssentialGreenJuiceJuice 1 – Essential Green (daily)
Kale, Cucumber, Apple, Celery, Lemon, Ginger

Enjoyable green juice.  Not too ‘green’ in flavours for those new to juicing!

 

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Juice 2 – Essential Red (daily)
Beet, Dandelion, Apple, Parsley, Lemon and Carrot

 

 

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Juice 3 – Garcinia Essential Berry Extract (daily)
Garcinia Cambogia, Acai Berries, Blueberries, Goli Berries, Raspberries, Green Coffee Extract

 

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Juice 4 – Energiser (daily)
E3 Live AE, Coconut Water, Pineapple, Mint, Ginger

 

 

Juice5VivaCleanse

Juice 5 – Refresh Tonic (daily)
Romaine, Pear, Mint, Cabbage, Cucumber

 

 

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Juice 6 – Skin Deep (daily)
Strawberry, Kiwi, Lemon, Apple

 

 

LemonadeVivaCleanseJuice 7 – Lemonade (one per detox)
Lemon, Lime, Cayenne Pepper, Raw Agave

 

 

 

I’ll let you know how I’ve got on with this cleanse in a few days.

Bellevue Rendezvous

I am so very very sorry… that I’ve been past this restaurant many many times and not actually eaten here…  until tonight.  I’m sorry because quite frankly I’ve missed out on some extraordinarily fabulous French cuisine.

This unassuming French restaurant is situated on the Trinity Road, a busy road which goes from Wandsworth to Tooting.  Not a great place of note for fine food and not, perhaps the most enticing exterior.

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However one peek inside and you’ll see the typically French decor.  The simplistic layout of the interior.  You’ll probably notice that there’s always someone dining.  If you’re within earshot you’ll no doubt hear French being spoken by the staff AND the diners.  It’s always a great sign to hear native speakers in any restaurant.

Tonight I met with some girlfriends here for dinner.  They do a Prix Fixe menu of two courses for £20 and three courses for £24.  Each of the courses has a choice of three well balanced and chosen options.

We chose the 2 course menu and between us had the delicious prawn and beetroot salad starter; charcuterie; and fish soup. All well balanced, perfectly sized and so very delicious. The choices of main course was a roast chicken with smooth mash and peppers; mushroom risotto; or sea bass on a bed of asparagus. Great choice and all perfectly cooked.

BUT…. then…. the cheeseboard…. Oooh how happy would any cheeseoholic be with this vast selection of goodness?

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The wine list is great with a good variety of reds, whites, fizz, rose in a variety of sizes, glass, carafe or bottle.

The staff were friendly and knowledgeable. The interior was comfortable, clean and French chic. Reasonable prices for great ingredients and well prepared food. Excellent all round.

We will be back so very soon, perhaps for a long leisurely French brunch or lunch.  I am however kicking myself and am truly sorry it took us so long to discover it!

Cerviche

images-16I’d never tried Peruvian food but am now a convert!  Ceviche was buzzing on a Tuesday night in London’s Soho – we were pleased we had booked a table!

The food is all excellent. Between the four of us we chose a lot of different small plates to share and think we did a pretty good job of trying most dishes. All great but my particular favourites were Don Ceviche (sea bass) – so fabulously fresh. Choclo Corn Cake with Avocado. Sakura Maru (salmon sushi-esque style). Pollo en Panca (chicken in chilli, orange and pepper jam).

The staff were friendly and the tables relatively well spaced. There appeared to be some high long tables where you could join up and eat with others as a two or solo diner.

Definitely returning here.

Foodies Festival in Clapham South

I didn’t know there was a food festival on this weekend.  Of course I’d noticed a few marquees being erected on the Park but no obvious signage to tell me what it’s for.  There’s often sporting events starting and ending there so marquees are regularly on the Park.

Apparently I wasn’t alone in not knowing what was going on.  Very disappointing on the part of the Foodies Festival‘s PR/marketing team.  I found out late on Friday when I received a tweet from an exhibitor asking if I was going.  It’s my local tube station and I pass that spot regularly.

However today I went along at midday having tweeted, texted, facebooked and spoken to a number of friends who live nearby or are foodies that I know would enjoy the event.

tumblr_inline_moi7wxQrkO1qz4rgp.pngOn arrival I was met by a very old friend, Andy Fussel who owns Fussel Fine Foods.  They produce some incredible rapeseed oil together with a number of infused oils, dressings and sauces.

Fuss&VerityHere’s Andy and my friend Verity at his stand.

I also met up with another friend, Nova, whom I met whilst doing the Leith’s Food Writing course.  Nova said she already uses rapeseed oils to cook with and particularly to create homemade mayonnaise.  Nova couldn’t resist buying a bottle and tweeting a picture of the glorious yellow mayonnaise she made when she got home today.

From this:

Fussels Rapeseed Oil

 

to this:

Rapeseed Mayonnaise

 

 

 

 

 

The ladies and I decided to wander  around the food outlets to find out what’s on offer and then to purchase some lunch.  The smells of wonderful creations was too much for any mere mortal to resist.

There was plenty to choose from… in fact probably too much choice!  We felt it would have been wonderful to have smaller plates and perhaps to lunch on a couple of choices.  Verity had roast pork sandwich; Louise chose a Lebanese wrap with felafel, hummus, halloumi and salad; Nova and I both chose the crispy duck wraps from The Duck Truck.

Having now eaten lunch we wandered up and down the stalls, sampling all sorts of goodies on the way.  Lots of chutneys, chilli oils and wines.  But also some interesting cheeses from No 2 Pound Street including a blue from Alex James’ farm and a delicious goats cheese and chilli from the Wobbly Bottom Farm.  I loved it so much I had to buy some for supper.

We made a quick stop at the Nitrogen Icecream stand:

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Verity and Louise had to then leave us and head off to the theatre.  Leaving Nova and I to explore the rest of the festival.  It’d be fair to say that we sampled something from most stands and managed to resist buying too much to take home… well except the most delicious chocolate from Doisy & Dam.  If you look at the ingredients, it’s really quite healthy and damn it’s tasty!

IMG_5586We also found the most delightful young chaps who were selling their dressing, or should we say ‘Granny Tigg’s‘.  A really rich dressing that I could imagine accompanying many more food types than simply salad.  Fish, meat, cheeses etc.  I just loved that the product was named after their Granny too.

There was plenty of entertainment at the Festival, ranging from DJ music, live bands and singers and, of course, the Rock Choir.

IMG_5582 There were also cookery theatres demonstrating Aga use, cake and bake, drinks, children’s cookery and BBQ.  We only poked our heads into the demonstrations but the audience certainly looked hooked!

Nova had a wonderful idea that she would love to do – cookery demonstrations at these festivals that showed off the produce being sold by the exhibitors, signposted the audience to buy the products there and also gave them a couple of recipe cards that incorporated the use of these products.  A great way to encourage people to cook with new ingredients and also help the exhibitors get their niche products to a larger customer base.

All in all a very wonderful day.  I left with a large bag crammed with goodies – cheese; chocolate; Fussel’s rapeseed oil and a couple of bottles of Fussel’s awesome chilli oil.

Juicing Retreat – Juicy Oasis, Portugal

I believe in juicing.

Wow I never thought I’d actually say that out loud! All those of you who’ve been following me on twitter, Facebook or reading a few posts here will know that I’ve been ‘giving it a go’. However I NEVER expected that I’d be making the above statement after only a few months. If my Mother was alive, she’d probably refer to me as a ‘juicing crank’, say I’m turning into my Granny or juicing as a ‘fad’. If Tish and Kerry were still alive, we’d be crazily swapping recipes and learning about the benefits of each ingredient.

So armed with the experience of my recent 7 day juicing programme (and how I felt during and after the 7 days), I wanted to take it further. I wanted to understand more about how I can maintain the level of health gained, understand more about the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, pectin, etc etc that can be obtained via just juicing. Is it sustainable for longer periods. Indeed is it advisable for longer periods. Although I know with the lifestyle I lead that practically it isn’t possible but how can I incorporate it best into my lifestyle? As I’m about to enter the world of full-time employment again I also want to know that I can continue to do it and feel fabulous whilst working a full week.

I looked around at different programmes and read many articles and information. However I knew that I realistically needed to immerse myself in it, with the experts on hand, to fully understand it.

I then found Juicy Oasis in Portugal. A Yoga, Fitness and Juicing Retreat.

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Fortunately there was a place sharing a room with a stranger in the Retreat in less than a month. Before I headed to the Retreat I wanted to make sure that I was prepared – mentally and physically. I read lots, continued to juice twice a day with one small healthy meal for dinner or lunch. Last week I also joined in with the Big Juice Spring Clean – a 5 day programme of juicing as a community – via Facebook and twitter, all participants can keep in touch and also watch daily videos from Jason Vale (The Juicemaster) about the daily juices.

My flight left early on Saturday morning. As I packed my bag with lots of sportswear, a couple of pairs of trainers, swimsuits and a tennis racquet, I contemplated slipping into the case an emergency supply of nuts (ooh how my tastebuds have changed since juicing – previously it would definitely have been chocolate). However I decided that the only person I’d be cheating would be myself and carefully put the packet of nuts back in the cupboard.

The cost of the Retreat isn’t small however is good value for money. The Juicy Oasis itself is wonderful 5* luxury. The property has been recently refurbished to a truly high standard. The furnishings carefully selected and feel luxurious. The price also includes (as well as the juices and supplements) a programme of activity that keeps you busy both in mind and body throughout the day. I reduced the cost slightly by being able to use my BA frequent flyer points for my flights to and from Portugal.

I was met at the airport and ushered into a minibus with another ‘Juice Retreatee’ for the 1.5hr transfer. The journey flew by as we chatted but not without noticing that the vista changed from City to country to beautiful wilderness. As we cross a bridge, our driver pointed out the Retreat nestling the other side of the river. Wonderful.

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Milly, the lovely Retreat Manager, met us at the door, checked us in and after dropping our bags into our respective rooms, took us on a quick tour of the Retreat. Wow Wow Wow! I just knew instantly that I was going to love it here. AND the sun was shining.

It didn’t take us long to settle in, meet 2 others who were there for a 28 day programme (including my roommate, Sati), enjoy our first juice and then head off to the gym to work off the ‘flight legs’.

Throughout the week you are able to join in with any or all of the activities. For some it was an escape from a busy life with a detox. Others joined with every activity. Most however dipped in and out.

Below is a little video of the ‘daily activity boards’ to give you an idea of our itinerary.

As you can see the activities were varied and filled our days.  You could choose what you  joined in with or indeed opted out from.  I tried everything.  With the exception of the final day I did the early morning walk. Leaving the Retreat and seeing some of the beautiful vista outside was a morning jewel for us all.

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I couldn’t get the hang of rebounding…. any of you who’ve done any aerobic-type classes with me, will know that my balance and coordination can leave other exercisers bashed and bruised. What I will say, is thank heavens for the post on the exercise platform that I was able to hang on to as I bounced off the rebounder!

We were extremely fortunate that Jason Vale (AKA The Juicemaster) was also at the Retreat for most of the week. Ordinarily people pay to be at the resort with Jason and hear first hand why he’s got the name the ‘Juicemaster’, listen to his story and see first hand the energy and enthusiasm he has for creating a healthier society. Truly blessed to have some of his time. Oooh and play some tennis with him – boy is he competitive!

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The films each evening were yet more education into healthy eating and juicing. Obviously there has to be an element of objectively watching them as they’re filmed by advocates of juicing and perhaps not as two-sided as they could be. I certainly learnt an enormous amount from them though and indeed if every you needed the motivation and encouragement to truly join the Juicing Revolution, I’d recommend watching all the films.. in that order!

Another truly wonderful thing about Juicy Oasis Retreat is the Eden Spa! In the ground floor of the Retreat is a special place. The main spa room smells and feels relaxing. Just entering the space sort of puts a spell over you. There’s a small warm pool to lounge in. Beds to lounge on. And the most wonderful Cacoons.

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I so wish I could afford to have one of these in my garden. Within minutes of lying down in a Cacoon with the gentle rocking motion created by your breathing, I was asleep. Amazing naps which were so refreshing and deep.

Also in the spa were treatment rooms offering a plethora of pampering, sports and detox treatments. During my week I took advantage of the spa for both pampering and detox purposes. I’ve never had a colonic, despite a number of friends trying to persuade me previously. Before I left for Portugal I read up about the health benefits of a colonic. I read comments and reviews about any pain/discomfort etc. I attended the colonic talk on my first day and this confirmed that I would ‘try’ out this treatment whilst I was there. I won’t lie, the first one was a little uncomfortable – although I realise that I was a little more tense than I needed to be! I won’t go into more details but suffice it to say that I ended up having three colonics during my week. The first two with coffee (hey I had to have some coffee during my week’s Retreat!) and the last with wheatgrass. It’s difficult to explain how I felt after a colonic except to say lighter and more energised. Perhaps too much information for many of you and I’ll leave my comment there but suffice it to say that I do recommend them and will have more (when I find a good practitioner).

I also had a reflexology treatment booked with an English lady call Aoife. Wonderful treatment. Absolutely blissful, relaxing and clearly this lady has magical hands. During this treatment I mentioned problems with my knee since my fall in Australia and that I’d noticed that Aoife offered Myofascial massages but that I understood her appointments to be fully booked this week. Kindly she offered to work for another hour on Thursday so that I could have treatment on my knee. Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue that provides support and protection for most structures within the human body, including muscle. Myofascial release is a soft tissue therapy for skeletal muscle immobility and pain massage.

It didn’t go unnoticed to me that Phyllodes is a soft tissue sarcoma that is within the connective tissue of the body either.

OMG Aoife really does have magic hands. For an hour she gently manipulated the skin, gently massaged and touched my legs. I can’t explain more about what she did except to say that whatever it was it felt fabulous. After the treatment I rushed upstairs to join everyone for soup i.e. ‘warm juice’. I suddenly stopped at the top of the stairs stock still as the reality dawned… no pain in my knee! For over a year I’d been unable to walk up steps and stairs without shooting pains. It’s gone. Totally. For the rest of the week I cautiously walked up and down stairs waiting for the pain to return.. so far it’s still missing! Wow – what a joy. Incredible. More information about UK practitioners here.

Finally I also indulged in a deep tissue massage. I hate touchy feely massages. If you’re going to massage, then get right in there1 Oh Boy she knew how to do that. Fantastically and skilfully manipulated and pummelled.

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Juicy Oasis – Walk to Dornes – 10 April 2014

 

JUICY OASIS wc 3rd April 2014

Group Photo at Juicy Oasis – FABULOUS NEW FRIENDS

 

As a solo traveller to the Juicy Oasis Retreat I was unsure who my fellow Retreatees would be. Shortly after arrival I realised that we’d have a ball all week. A grand mixture of people from Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Dubai, Spain and, of course, England. I’d not, however expected there to be four of us from within a square mile of my house!

We made up a mixed bunch of lovelies. Ranging in age, both men and women and, of course, levels of fitness and health. But what we definitely were also was supportive of one another. We had a jolly good giggle too! The daily schedule of activities meant that there were many times when we you busy doing something and seemed to only catch up with some others at juice times! Or me and my roommate at bedtime.

Oh and to answer the question that seems to be most asked about my Retreat. Did we just have juices? YES! As you can see from the programme they were spaced throughout the day. Varied in deliciousness. Full and balanced with nutrients and vitamins. As we were on the ‘Winter’ programme at the Retreat, our evening Juice was warm… i.e. Soup! On our departure day we were allowed to order food for lunch or takeaway for our journey…. every taste of my salad was an explosion in my mouth. Amazing how much I craved good healthy salad food.IMG_5023

So what did I ‘gain’ from doing the Juicy Oasis Retreat?

I strongly suspect that you’ll be seeking the answer to ‘how much did she loose’ question… I would too. However what I actually gained (and lost) was so very much more than that. Weight-loss is a by-product of the experience… a welcome one.. but not one that is anywhere near the top of my list.

My headaches are gone. At least I’ve not had one single headache/migrane since part way into my first 7 day juicing experience. There’s a part of me that is constantly checking that they’re still not there. Certainly there’s a part of me that’s celebrating that I wake up when my body wants to wake not when the ‘nighttime’ headache gets too bad to bear. Finally I’m able to think more clearly without the drumming in my skull. I don’t need to lie down in a darkened quiet room. I can read without feeling as if I’m looking through a windowpane in the rain. I’m also no longer popping prescription and non-prescription medication to find some relief from the continual headaches. Gosh if I’d known I could shift them with juicing months/years ago, I’d have done it in a heartbeat… Hmmm maybe I should tell the neurologist, Dr, MRI team etc how I shifted the headaches?

I no longer have shooting pains in my knee when walking up steps – thank you to the myofascial massage skills of Aoife.

My skin is glowing with health (and noticed by quite a few people).

My eyes are brighter and the whites truly white!

My teeth are whiter.

My energy levels are soooo much better than they were before. I now wake up earlier and have a list of active jobs to achieve each day that no longer seem ‘impossible’ to do.

My digestion has improved.

I feel lighter and less ‘clogged’.

I’m feeling ready to take on new activities. Looking for a bike. Joined a tennis league to accompany the tennis coaching sessions.

I work out how I can fit in a walk to the shops/friends/activities into my day rather than leaving it until the last minute and jumping into the car.

Oh and yes I did lose weight. 😉 2kg (4lb) lost – however given the exercise that I was doing on the programme and in the afternoons playing tennis, I wonder if some weight was gained in muscle! I did however take four measurements before I left (waist, bust, belly and thigh) – total lost was 28cm!

Would I recommend it? Would I go again? Hell yeah!

PS I think Jim Carrey’s clip on YouTube explains a lot.  There’s a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to live and a time to juice!

Bucci

I’ve heard good reports about Bucci restaurant in Balham. Described as a favourite local Italian restaurant often and recommended widely. I was therefore looking forward to trying it out and tonight we did. Our reservation was at 8.30pm and we, unusually, were on time!

I was so pleased that we’d booked a table as when we arrived there wasn’t a seat to be had in the place. Obviously a very popular choice. There was a large party of Italians on two of the big tables – clearly a family gathering of some sort as the ages ranged from a few weeks old to Papa! What became evidently clear however was that this family had priority in the restaurant tonight.

We quickly ordered a bottle of wine from the comprehensive wine list… not too many but a great selection to choose from. Shortly after the wine arrived we sought out a waitress to order our food. Orders placed we waited, watched and chatted amongst ourselves. It was quite some time when we needed to replenish the wine on our table and it was at this time that we started to hear our tummies rumbling. Service was slow to our table but I was able to see that the family party were being well catered for! It didn’t really matter except that we were now very very hungry and getting a little pissed! Somewhat annoyingly after waiting for an hour and a half from when we ordered our starters I had to approach the ‘serving’ area to find a waitress and ask how much longer we would need to wait before our starters arrived. Told a few minutes I went back to the table. Some minutes later another waitress approached our table and asked if we were waiting for our main courses – she seemed somewhat surprised when I said we were STILL waiting for our starters! Another bottle of wine was ordered. Disappointing that there wasn’t any apologies for the delay.

Following this our starters arrived and shortly after clearing the plates away, our mains. We were offered desserts and coffees relatively quickly afterward too…. but by then the large family party had left the restaurant (as had many of the other diners). It wasn’t long until we were the only ones in the restaurant.

What a shame the food took so long to arrive and we felt somewhat neglected by the staff. The food was fabulous. We all commented that our choice of dishes was exactly as we’d wanted. Great flavours, good portion sizes and, tasting, authentically Italian.

I’m sure we will return… but perhaps not on a busy Saturday evening!