52 @ 50 no. 49 - Going Away To Winchester
Every year I go away with my group of girlfriends for an evening out, a night in a hotel and a bit of Christmas shopping - we call this event 'One Night Only'. This year we went to Winchester and, as I'd never been there before, it was a whole new experience for me and therefore a 52 @ 50.
Winchester is an historic town in Hampshire, only an hour's easy drive from my home in Surrey. It's famous for its Great Hall which was built in the 12th Century, the Round Table which hangs on the wall of the Great Hall, its Cathedral, its medieval buildings and its more modern attraction, the Christmas market. (I'm sure there are some things I've left off the list of its attractions but these are all I had time to explore on this visit!)
When I was a teenager I was really into the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table - I loved the magic of Merlin, the romance of Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot and the mystery surrounding Camelot and Avalon. So while I was away I had to go and have a look at that legendary table. The story goes that King Arthur and his 24 knights sat around the table (made circular to show the Knights that they were all equal) discussing tactics to keep the Saxons from invading Britain. King Arthur is thought to have lived in around the 5th or 6th Century but the table apparently isn't that old. It was built around 1280 when King Edward I and his court were greatly enamoured with the folklore and the chivalry of the old story. Although this table is not quite the real deal and could not have genuinely been King Arthur's, it is magnificent nonetheless and definitely counts as an antique!
I had a lovely wander round Winchester - it's very picturesque with its lovely old buildings. I could see the Cathedral in all its glory from my hotel room window and, although I didn't get time to go inside, I did walk around the outside to see the Christmas market, all lit up and with a very festive atmosphere. Our 'One Night Only' was a great success and everyone said they'd love to go back next year - so I'll look forward to doing a bit more exploring of this lovely city then.
The round table hanging on the wall of the Great Hall - it's bigger than it looks in this photo!
The lovely view from my hotel room
This Week's Recipe... Avocado Pesto Spaghetti
It was lunchtime and I was hungry. There was an over-ripe avocado in the fruit bowl and a half-used packet of parsley in the fridge. Could I make something with these meagre ingredients? A quick Google search revealed some recipes for Avocado Pesto Spaghetti. Perfect! Quick and easy and healthy too....
If you want to give it a try too you will need:
1 ripe avocado
a large handful of flat-leaf parsley
1 heaped tablespoon of crushed walnuts
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons of olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of chilli flakes
a handful of rocket to serve
And here's how to make it:
Put your pasta on to cook as per the pack instructions.
Put the avocado, parsley, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, chilli flakes and olive oil into a blender with a pinch of salt and whizz into a smooth paste. Check for taste and add seasoning and more lemon juice if necessary (I added a bit more chilli flakes to boost the flavour).
Drain the pasta, saving a little of the water. Put the pasta back in the saucepan, add the pesto and stir, adding enough of the saved water to make it smooth and creamy. Add a handful of rocket and a few more crushed walnuts and serve immediately.
This Week's Musical Offering... Coming Home by Chinmaya Dunster
I often play this track in my classes - it has a good steady rhythm which seems to fit with a lot of the sequences. The title fits well with the season too - lots of people are coming home for Christmas - including my children. It will be lovely to have a full house again.
This Week's Video... Eye of the Needle Pose (Sucirandhrasana) and how it helps stretch your piriformis muscle
This pose is often offered to people with sensitive knees as an alternative to Pigeon Pose but it's a fantastic posture in its own right (it's also sometimes known as Reverse Pigeon Pose). It's great for stretching the glutes, releasing tension in the low back and increasing mobility in the hips. This video shows how it stretches a little muscle called the Piriformis deep within your buttock and offers an interesting insight into your anatomy (I didn't even know I had such a thing as a Piriformis muscle until I started yoga!) And it's such a satisfying stretch too. Try it - you'll feel the benefits if you incorporate it into your practice on a regular basis.
And finally, as we approach the shortest day and start to tilt towards the light again, I thought I'd share some lovely pictures with you. They remind us that, in the natural world, winter is a time for resting up. In our modern-day world we are often too busy and stressed to pause, but maybe you can use your yoga practice over the next few days to help you restore and tend your inner fires. Take some time out to sit quietly and meditate or read a book, cosied up in a blanket. Think of it as your Christmas gift to yourself to rest, nurture and recharge a little.
Wishing you a very Peaceful Yule and a Happy Christmas.
Winter Protection by Wendy Andrew