Sunday 1 July 2018

March - May 2018: Cheesefest Leicester and Much Wenlock in Shropshire

Hello lovely readers, I hope all is well with you!  This is (only) my second post of 2018 - and we're already more than halfway through the year!  Apologies that this is somewhat later than expected, I meant to create this post at the end of May but was somewhat overtaken by events.  My next post detailing events that took place in June and July is due to appear at some point in August, then we should be back to a regular bi-monthly posting schedule.

For this month I decided to set myself a challenge and do DECHOX to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation - the original idea was to give up chocolate for a month but I decided to make it more challenging and give up all foods with high levels of added refined sugar - including biscuits, sweets, jam, sugary cereals, cakes... in other words all the good stuff you like to treat yourself with!  It was very challenging, especially towards the end as Easter approached and the shops were full of rabbit and egg shaped sweet treats.  However I did have an advantage in that my Dad has been sugar free for a while now, so if Mum does any baking she'll use Splenda, fresh or dried fruit in place of the white stuff.  So I wasn't completely deprived of something nice to have with a cup of tea!  As the 1st of April (Easter Sunday) approached I readied a glass of chocolate milk (I'm a sucker for the stuff, like the woman-child I am) and toasted in the start of the new month at midnight.  The following day I broke my chocolate fast with a yummy Easter egg.

We were supposed to see two ballets this month: Prokofiev's  Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake.  However we only made it to the latter performance because of the unseasonally huge amount of snowfall - we got out on the roads and had to turn back because it just wasn't safe to drive through.  It was rather gutting for Mum because Romeo and Juliet is one of her favourite pieces of music and she was looking forward to that performance most of all, but I'll just have to keep my eyes peeled and hope they come again another year.

The certificate I received at the end of my fundraising, I raised a respectable £55.00.

There were more cultural activities this month as I went to my first ever opera - in fact, two in two days!  The first night we were treated to La Traviata which was very moving and powerful, and then the following night we saw Madame Butterfly.  I didn't enjoy Madame Butterfly as much as I felt it didn't build up to such a moving climax as La Traviata, but I certainly felt a lot of sympathy for the young protagonist in the story and both performances were very skillfully executed.

I bagged us tickets to Cheesefest at The Athena in Leicester as soon as they became available - an entire festival of cheese sounded right up my street!  There were more flavours and varieties than you could count, and we tasted and picked up a lot of cheeses to take home with us, including (allegedly) the favourite cheeses of James Martin and Gorden Ramsey.  Most of the cheeses we chose were continental as they prove harder to get hold of in this country, but I think my tastes must be changing - French and Italian cheeses used to be my favourite, but the cheese I enjoyed most of all was a humble cheddar!  Black Bomber by The Snowdonia Cheese Company, to be precise.  We also took the opportunity to try some much-celebrated halloumi fries while we were there, which deserved their reputation for being delicious.

Chutney stalls at Cheesefest Leicester.

Cheese stalls at Cheesefest Leicester.

Cheese and cured meat stall at Cheesefest Leicester.

Cheese stall at Cheesefest Leicester.

There were more performances to see this month which provided good excuses to catch up with friends: we saw My Dad Wrote A Porno Live (hilarious), The Crucible and Fleabag (loved the TV series, had to see the live show where it all started).

We also had a very big reason to celebrate: my dear friend Holly married her long-time partner and university sweetheart Jools!  The wedding was down in Shropshire, so we took the opportunity to stay in Much Wenlock and see a little of the surrounding area.  We explored Much Wenlock town centre, as well as taking a trip out to see Buildwas Abbey and Benthall Hall.

Raynald's Mansion, original Tudor manor house in Much Wenlock.

The Corn Exchange in Much Wenlock.

The Guildhall in Much Wenlock.

The Clock Tower in Much Wenlock

An antique and vintage shop in Much Wenlock.

Buildwas Abbey.
Buildwas Abbey, cloister ruins.

Original tiles remaining at Buildwas Abbey.

Windows at Buildwas Abbey.

Archway at Buildwas Abbey.

Benthall Hall.

Table setting at Holly and Jools' wedding.

Finally, we rounded off the month with a trip to Alton Towers for my partner's son's birthday treat.  We tried out the new Wickerman ride (a modern reimagining of an old-fashioned wooden rollercoaster - swoopy bits were rather fun) as well as old favourites Air (renamed Galactica with the option of wearing a VR headset during the ride) and Nemesis.  We also went on The Smiler for the first time, which I was trepidatious about given the awful accident that happened on there some years ago but actually enjoyed that most of all the rides - the twists and loops were such good fun!  I was also pleased with my frugality that day - I brought a packed lunch and a refillable water bottle, which the staff were happy to top up with tap water at kiosks throughout the park.  All in all a very pleasurable day out.

That draws events to a close for now, check back in August for my next post!  Thank you for reading as always!

Emma x

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