30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 18

Today’s smoothie was the Strawberry Orange Iron Booster. Here’s the pre-blended ingredients, with spinach, hemps seeds and coconut water in addition to the obvious:


In the mix:


The delicious result:



This was definitely one of my favourites. Unlike the other two times, I didn’t substitute strawberries for something else, opting for Moroccan strawberries at £2 for like ten of them. A bit concerning how they didn’t seem to perish in the slightest. We’ll let that slide. Apparently, having vitamin C foods together with foods containing iron, it increases the body’s ability to absorb the mineral.

Today was the last day of my mini-kind-of-retreat since new year’s eve, choosing to start the year alone. I don’t think I realise at the time how deeply I’m working with the meditation and yoga when there’s no one else around to pull me out in between. A bit like when a ten day meditation retreat is on its last day and everyone can talk again, and so we think we’re back to normal, not realising how deeply we’re still working.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 17

Behold: the Pineapple Mango Digestion Soother:

day 17

I held back on the coconut water to create this gloopy agaesque chlorophyl-tastic masterpiece. The green comes from the kale and the only other ingredient but for those in its title is ginger.

Went for a walk along the Itchen from Martyr Worthy, through Easton, and under then back under the M3, in glorious winter sunshine. Here’s the church at Martyr Worthy:

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 15 & 16

New Year’s Eve’s smoothie was the Peach Cobbler: Peaches, lettuce, ginger, cinnamon, hemp seeds and almond milk. Pretty good, mild in taste and appearance, aided by the party straw:

Peach and lettuce smoothie

Today’s was the Digestion Cleanser: Blueberries, pear, lettuce, ginger and coconut water. I used frozen blueberries which weren’t bad at all. Perhaps more of a watery result than fresh ones. Look at this dark, mysterious beauty, quite the contrast to yesterday’s:

Blueberry and lettuce smoothie


A quiet and restful New Year’s Day. What better way to start the year? Slept as long as I needed, meditated an hour, made smoothie breakfast, leisurely drank it over about 45 minutes, listened to music (Ghostface Killah), had a snooze, then stir fry and rice for lunch, watched Graham Norton recorded from last night, got some logs in (my only step outside on this wet and windy day), browsed a bit, another hour’s snooze, then an hour’s yoga, twenty min evening meditation, then posted this. Tomorrow, perhaps surfing. A healthy and wholesome new year to everyone!


30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 14c

Another make my own smoothie day, but I have now been to the ‘super’ market so normal service resumes tomorrow. Today I used: pok choy, banana, orange, a little almond butter, hemp seeds, coconut water, mint and parsley. Just whacked it all in the NutriBullet and as usual it tasted great.

pok choy smoothie


Check out the super frosty morning outside – nice!

It’s like I’m getting a head start on the new year, with over two weeks of breakfast green smoothies under my belt and in my veins and cells and whatnot. And lots of flowing yoga, full breathing, reaching gently, touching all parts. Stronger and looser. And an hour and twenty minutes of meditation every day for months now, even if for the most part lying down, centring and understanding the mind. Come the new year I’ll not lie down but make that initial minimal effort to sit. I actually want to do these things, having finally found practices I like and daring a bit to work through the awkward feelings that can come as things get uncovered in yoga and sitting.

This eve’s meditation, after yoga, noticing all attempts at direction or doing, getting subtler and subtler. Then like a gnarly area of tension in the brain and it being gently bundled and carried away someplace, without my doing. Fighting anything does not work, nor resistance. A sense of burning away of the unnecessary very apparent.
Got my new wetsuit. After disappointing results with a zip free Rip Curl I sold it and bought an Xcel Infiniti 5/4 2015:
Xcel Infiniti 2015
It’s a medium tall and fits very well. Looser under the armpits than I’m used to but nothing to worry about. Really soft neoprene, very secure chest zip system, and the lining is something else with its Thermo Dry Celliant technology and infra red print:
Xcel Infiniti 2015 Lining
I can’t wait to try it out! Maybe there’ll be some channel swell over new years, otherwise it’s waiting for a spring trip or perhaps Morocco.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 14b

Ah, well, umm, didn’t have the ingredients I needed for today’s smoothie, so am improvising. For a couple of mornings, until I can get to the shop tomorrow evening. So, using up leftovers from previously, I made a pineapple, lettuce, hemp seed and almond butter smoothie, with a little coconut water. My first concoction and a delicious success! Can’t really go wrong I reckon. Here is the pale beauty:

Pineapple and lettuce smoothie

The now-usual clear headedness all morning. The little nut butter kept any hunger at bay.

Back to the yoga this evening after not doing any over Christmas. A great after work work out with the Strala ENERGISE routine. Then twenty minutes of mediation, returning fully to centre, ready for the eve – watching What We Do In The Shadows with some friends.

Lunch was rice and chilli beans and supper was baked potatoes and baked beans. The only sugar-free baked beans I’ve found are the Whole Earth organic. Why is sugar in almost everything shop-bought? I can handle fructose and honey no problem but refined sugar sends me loopy a while, then crashing big time for a day or two, achy muscles and lethargy, pale skin. So I learnt quite a while ago just to ignore anything with refined sugar.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 14

Such a good one today: the Calcium Booster. It contained: oranges, banana, kale, tahini and almond milk. I didn’t have the last two ingredients, so substituted almond butter and rice milk. Nut butter in a smoothie is a revelation! Highly recommended, especially if you want the full feeling to last a while or need a bit of a calorific boost. It also looked a treat:

Calcium booster kale smoothie

So, I’m two weeks in, going strong. It doesn’t feel like a ‘challenge’ at all and I look forward to breakfast every day. Even in the cold winter, I don’t fancy anything else for breakfast. A reminder that I’m following the challenge from the Young and Raw app, which seems to vary from the one on their website, for some reason. It’s giving me a lot of ideas from when the challenge is over, and I’ll probably settle into a dozen or so of my favourites.


30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 13

Today’s smoothie was the Strawberry Creamsicle. I’m not sure what a creamsicle is but the ingredients for the smoothie are: strawberries, orange, celery, cucumber, hemp seeds and coconut milk. I didn’t have any strawberries so I used frozen raspberries. I didn’t have any coconut milk so I used (again, vegans look the other way) organic whole milk and a little coconut water. So mine was much changed from what it should be. I didn’t taste the raspberries beforehand but I suspect they were rather weak in flavour, as the smoothie lack punch, kind of watery despite the milk. Well, it was okay, just not great. It looked smashing though: Raspberry smoothie This was at 10am as I’d been up at 0245 to give C a lift to Heathrow. Here’s my facebook status once I got back in around 0600: Up before three, drive into the morning over and around fallen wood, no one on the road until the bread lorries of the motorway. Hovis. Taking the racing line, the road is mine, to the shining airport. A fond, loving farewell after check-in, tears my side, nearly always my side. Then back three hours after leaving, the homes still sleeping and the greengrocer in town setting up for his Saturday as I drift gently back to sleep.

Later I went into Winchester on the bus, having walked into town from Old Alresford. I used my Narrative Clip and here’s a selection. I’m not sure I’m going to keep that gadget long. As for the NutriBullet, for sure I’m keeping it as it’s doing me the world of good. 2015 I intend to spend my money only on those things that allow for wellness.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 12

Behold the Apple Pie Smoothie:

Apple Pie Smoothie


It tasted as good as it looks and sounds. Apple, banana, kale, cinnamon, ginger and almond milk. Vegans look away now: I replaced the almond milk with organic whole cows milk. It made a really filling and nutritious breakfast, boosting my levels of acetylcholine and flavonoids.

A bit of a hangover day from the Christmas foods, but the usual familiar sluggish feeling has been kept at arms length by these healthy smoothie breakfasts.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 11

The Christmas Day smoothie was the mighty Kiwi Omega Booster, which consisted of a delicious blend of, yes, kiwi, with spinach, cucumber, coriander (forgot to put it in) and hemp seeds (making the other part of the name). It was very good, may have been even better with the coriander.

Kiwi Omega Booster

So, not so very Christmassy but a very good way to start the day, having been up until 0200 for the midnight mass, and also to cure the headache from my first caffeine a few years, one cup of green tea. Was truly buzzing on that in the church last night. While waiting for the service I meditated for a while. The vibes were pretty good. Interesting to observe the Christian rituals of my youth once again. The best bits were the singing and the sermon, during which distance and division between me and the vicar seemed to vanish and there was a pure listening. The petitioning prayers I think we can all do without. We may go again.

The actinidain in the kiwi will help my body digest protein molecules. Good because I have been having more than usual, given the Christmas fare.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 10

The Tropical Vitamin Booster was great! Pineapple, mango, lettuce, lime. I didn’t need to add any liquid thanks to the juicy fruits and I like my smoothies thick.

Tropical Vitamin Booster Smoothie

I had to take my time drinking it, so rich it was. Usually I take about 45 minutes. Today I took it with me when we went to get a few last minute Christmas things in town, and wandered round The Long Barn shop sipping it through my straw. The small town Christmas feeling was homely and spirits high, and we got a good walk from where we parked. Swedish style, we had our Christmas dinner today, on Christmas eve, and opened a present each, the rest will be British style in the morning. Tonight we’re going to midnight mass at Portchester Castle’s church, near my brother’s.

Merry Christmas everyone! Peace.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 9

Not much to report today but for a super yummy Blackberry Antioxidant Rescue smoothie. This beauty contained blackberries (replaced by mixed summer fruits, frozen), orange, spinach, coriander and ginger. I’ve been having my smoothies quite thick after Day 2’s too-diluted attempt but today I needed to add some water as it got too gooey in the blender and wouldn’t reach down to the blades. A few dashes of coconut water did the trick.

Antioxidant smoothie

Just look at the colour. Just look at it.

After a week and a bit, and with the Strala yoga, my skin seems to look more alive, almost as if I have a tan, and my eyes and teeth whiter. The whites of my eyes that is, white anywhere else in the eyes would just be weird.

Apparently today’s breakfast was rich in anthocyanin and rutin. Way to go!

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 8

Green Pear Fibre Booster. Well, I’m not sure my fibre needed boosting! It was the greenest smoothie yet, with pears, lettuce, parsley and hemp seed. Except I forgot the hemp seed. (Had some in my made-up smoothie tonight instead, same as last night’s.) The GPFB was pretty good. I ‘don’t like’ pears, one of those fruits I’ve pretty much ignored after tasting one when young. (Except in pear drops!) It’s like the parsnip to the potato, the pear to the apple, not as good so what’s the point? That’s how I used to think and there it stuck – noticed how that happens? So I plunged right in. Not bad! A bit gritty like I remember pears to be, but a full, pleasant flavour.

Green pear fibre booster smoothieNotice the straw? It’s my new stainless steel one. Not as nice on the teeth as plastic but I didn’t like throwing one away each day.

So, into the Christmas period we go! I’ll continue with the breakfast smoothies throughout. We need to get our Xmas food in and so have opted for late tomorrow evening. I’m hoping for decent stock and far less people. By all accounts it’s hell out there.


30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 7

Today’s smoothie was the first one I didn’t really like: peach, rocket, celery, ginger – the so-called Peach Perfect Ginger Delight. Too rockety and celery-y and odd with the peach. But this evening I made one up: spinach, peach, banana, grapefruit juice, cashews and hemp seeds. This one was marvellous. Anyway, here’s this morning’s delight:

Peach Perfect Ginger Delight

Tried the Strala RELAX yoga video for the first time tonight, a mellower variation on the lunges sequence theme. I like the encouragement to keep it soft and to experiment, making a non-rigid practice. During meditation afterwards I was able to include and accept distractive thought loops instead of dismiss them as ‘wrong’ when they finish. This made a big difference. Meditation seems like unlearning a sense of right and wrong, as far as the inner world is concerned.


30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 6

Today’s smoothie: Healthy Orange Julius. Ingredients: Orange, spinach, banana, lime, almond milk. So good! Really zingy and enlivening. I had to look up what an Orange Julius is and apparently it’s a US chain selling less healthy versions of a similar drink. Drank it in the car on the way for a winter walk on Harting Down:

During the walk I tested my new Narrative Clip (used to be called Memoto but they ran into trouble with Motorola). You wear the tiny camera and it takes a photo every 30 seconds. The above was taken this way and here’s a few more from the South Downs:

IMG_0018 IMG_0019 IMG_0020 IMG_0021 IMG_0022 IMG_0023 IMG_0024 IMG_0025 IMG_0026

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 5






Today’s smoothie: Banana Berry Energy. Ingredients: Blueberries, lettuce, banana, cucumber and coriander.

smoothie day 5

As time went on, during the drive to Alton station it browned and began to look unappetisingly like mushroom soup. But still tasted lovely. Fresh and light but packed. A bit of a test – the other mornings I’ve just been working in the office, smoothie-powered but today I was out and about, which always makes me a bit hungrier. But I rode on through to lunchtime, no problem. Had a winter vegetable soup for lunch: swede, potato, kale, onions. Stocked up for the next five days, taking us towards Christmas. I wonder what Christmas Day’s smoothie present will be. The app is pretty good, grouping ingredients by type and you can tick them off the list as you go, and it means I don’t have to look at the individual smoothies ahead of time and so get a nice surprise.


30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 4

Today’s smoothie was the Mango Mint Digestion Soother: Mango, celery, mint, ginger. Rather strange combo I’d never have dreamt up. It was the most vegetably of the smoothies so far, because of the strong taste of the celery shining through the delicious mango. Could add more mint next time, and the ginger gives a nice kick.

Mango Mint Digestion Soother Smoothie

Felt very good today, detoxy feeling over, expansive rather than shrunken. I took a cold blast at the end of my shower which really helps to warm up, ironically, and wake up for work. I didn’t get the cold I thought I might, but the slight sore throat continues.

Back to normal levels of thirst today, I guess being back to full hydration. I didn’t get hungry before lunch. Again the clear headed focus all morning.

Went to see the new Hobbit film in the afternoon. It was pretty good but the hour long battle (more?) made me very tense and wasn’t satisfying – some orcs killed with a stone, some worse than end of level bosses. Kind of glad it’s all over. I felt obliged to see it rather than really really wanting to.

Tomorrow I’ll stock up for the next round of five days blending.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 3

Today’s was the Banana Soother: banana, pok choy, parsley, hemp seeds and ginger.

Banana Soother Smoothie

I’m really enjoying these smoothie breakfasts, and makes a real change from my usual Dove’s cornflakes, granola and grapefruit juice. Today’s was quite large, so I made it in two batches (one of which you see above), one an hour later than the first. The luxury of having a flat upstairs from where I work! Really tasty today, satisfying and nutritious. This evening before supper I had another Green Dream Pineapple, like day one’s, as there was some pineapple left over.

Thirst is back to normal – around 4 litres today of water today – and digestion has settled – only one number two. Meditation and yoga felt very smooth and centred this evening. But over all I felt kind of shrunken and weak, detoxy.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 2

Another Big Thirst day. I’ve had over five litres of water and it’s still only early evening.

Today’s smoothie was a Berry Blast which is blueberries, cucumber, ginger, almond milk and strawberries. I used frozen mixed berries instead of weird winter strawberries. So, I learnt not to use the NutriBullet when a bit sleepy and trying to show someone how easy it is. I didn’t quite tighten it enough and some deep wine smoothie leaked out into the top of the blender. Mop up time. Used tissues to reach under the transparent spinny thing. One of the white edge pieces inside the blender is now stained as the juice got behind it. Moving on… the smoothie was good again, perhaps not as nice as yesterday’s Green Dream, as it had a slight ‘watered down fruit’ quality to it. But it looked like something else:

Berry Blast Smoothie

Look at that colour!

Again two number twos instead of the usual one number two. And I may be coming down with a cold, C having brought one back from Sweden. I’ll see if the nutrient and vitamin-rich breakfast smoothies can help my immune system ward it off. The runny nose comes and goes. Again clear-headed and light all morning. I got a little hungry in the last hour before lunch, probably because this was only around 200 calories.

30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge – Day 1

My NutriBullet arrived while I was away at the weekend. Saturday afternoon I went shopping for the first five days’ supply of wholesome fruits and veggies, buying organic where I could. The only thing I didn’t get were strawberries, it being winter, so I have some frozen mixed berries instead. Last night I washed up the blender cups and blades ahead of this morning’s first use. What fun! Pile in the ingredients, fill with water up to the max line, screw on the blade base, insert onto the blender and off it whirls. Less than a minute and it looked ready, and it was true, all the produce was no longer produce but blended into… well a very smoothie:

Smoothie challenge day 1

I’m following the 30 day challenge from the app, which seems to be a bit different than the one on the Young and Raw site. The basic idea is to have a nutrient-packed smoothie for breakfast instead of one’s usual brekkie. Today’s ingredients: Pineapple, lettuce, coriander and lime. There was a little too much of it to fit in the NutriBullet large cup, so I had to do it in a couple of blends, hence way above the max line in the photo. Apparently, blend too much at once and it can leak – I guess it forces the liquid out through the blade axel on the base. I then just took it to work in the same cup, with a straw. Which was too narrow. Have ordered a stainless steel smoothie straw for a couple of quid.

It easily kept me going until lunch and I felt lively and clear headed. Some pleasant tingles inside my skull at first. I sipped it during a half hour or so, It affected my digestion and I needed two number twos instead of the usual post-breakfast one. Later I had a few brief crampy pains in my bowels. I was also soon very thirsty and have had about five litres of water today. Late this afternoon I felt a sharp headache. Not too strong but like something was different, as I don’t normally get obvious headaches. Nothing too off-putting and I look forward to tomorrows.

Downloaded Strala’s GENTLE class to compliment the BASIC class I was doing last week. A combination of the two should work well. It’s so good to stretch after being in the office much of the day, and also to remember to do some stretches during the work day.

Tired this evening and I’m sure I’ll sleep well.

A Pointless Experience

From St Pancras, I took the Thames Link to Elstree. A 10 minute walk through the town centre – or was it Borehamwood’s centre? – led me to the famous Elstree TV and film studios where a small queue had already formed. After a short while the gate was opened and we were led into a function room (think wedding discos) and allocated sequence numbers for studio entry.

Pointless priority ticket

We waited about 45 mins before we went into the studio itself, grouped by our priority numbers and managed by the floor manager (I suppose he was). Once leaving the back of the function room, a short corridor with life size models of R2D2 and C3PO led us to the semi-outdoors, with many portacabins and other buildings housing recording equipment, in between bigger studio buildings. I had a big excited smile in anticipation, having been really enjoying the show for the past few months.

And then we were inside quite a small studio. It’s less flashy than on TV, almost looking lacklustre and even a bit grubby. I noticed many contrasts with how it looks on the telly, especially the big pixels of the countdown stack thing, the black floor vinyl that looks so much liquid, and the lingering dry ice for the backdrop lighting. Also everyone looked less glamorous than on camera; the lighting and the angles set up for the cameras not the audience.

Pointless studio lighting

I was seated in the front row, about 6 meters from Richard’s desk and a couple more from Alexander’s podium thing. We were told explicitly No Photography or recording but I couldn’t resist a few surreptitious shots taken from my lap before filming began. Views from the front row:

Pointless studio contestant podiums

Pointless studio

A warm up guy got us laughing and livened up, and led us through different levels of applause: 30% polite applause, 70% more enthusiastic, 100% full on clapping, whooping and yeahs. Also fun was the audience sounds for the countdown ticking down towards pointless. The front rows had to be in a lower key than the back rows: oooooOOOOOOOOOOOOh! – into applause when it stopped. You can hear this oooh on TV but low in the mix.

The warm up guy then introduced Alexander Armstrong who came on to big applause, then same too for Richard. This wasn’t the start of the show, more like acknowledging their arrival in the studio, but they both said some words of welcome to us, including that it was their 800-and-something episode. Then they prepared their things – mic adjustments, while other technicians made final adjustments. I saw an oversized Pointless trophy and wondered what that was, along with a Blankety Blank chequebook & pen and a Countdown clock. It was announced that it would be a Pointless Celebrity filming and the contestants were named: Nina Myskow & Giles Brandreth; Matthew Kelly & Henry Kelly; Des O’Connor & Jenny Powell; and Nick Hancock and Ulrika Johnson. The guest theme was game shows.

There was some more, quite dry, jokey warmups and quite soon after the celebs were in the studio, the show began. The theme tune played and A & R tapped along on their podium and desk. I was surprised to hear it, but I guess it was just for us in the studio, to provide more atmosphere and familiarity. I could feel the nerves in the room, but it faded as the hosts and contestants got into their stride. Well, except for the 200-club entry in the first round.

Recording proceeded much like on TV but took a couple of hours in total – there’s much more celebrity chat than you actually see, more time to think about answers, and a delay before the countdown begins and sometimes a delay before a wrong answer indication. There were also pauses in between the rounds, while the warm up guy a bit half heartedly kept people amused and those on set had their make up touched up and quiet conversations and catch-ups took place. A & R talked to the producer, I guess. Also sometimes A had to do little continuity pickups to be edited in.

Near the end, we did to audience shots to be patched in as needed. So when you see the audience on TV, that’s not actually in response to what’s just happened, it’s filmed separately. But all the audio is actual, probably faded down or up accordingly.

It was much harder to get into the actual consequences of the game while there live, like the actual quiz didn’t really matter and everyone was just having a bit of a laugh making the show. Richard mainly took the piss, but cleverly and with warmth. Alexander was more nervous than he comes across on TV but he has a smooth assuredness about him. They have to cut so much out! More I suspect with the celebrity shows as there’s a lot of mickey taking, as is the British way. Richard enjoyed giving out a prize to the winners of each round, mascots from other quiz shows that I’d seen earlier. During each round he hid them behind his laptop. The laptop is not on, by the way, it’s just a prop.

Then at around 19:45 it was all over and we were ushered out. Alexander said thank you to us all. I asked a studio manager if that was it for the day for them, any more episodes? All done, he said. They are currently filming a sequence of Celebrity versions for 2015, apparently. Readying the set for the next episode:

Pointless BBC studio

Sorry about the blurry photos, I had to be quick and sneaky. I was spotted at one point but they let it go.

A fun and interesting experience, probably pointless. And free!