A change of scene

You may have noticed a period of quiet, perhaps some tumbleweed blowing through my little slice of the internet. Its been far from intentional, I still enjoy cooking and finding new spots of food, but I find lately my quest for a full stomach is not as all consuming. When I first started this blog, I was almost a different person. Almost a shadow of who I am now, having just moved to a new place, starting to make friends and not really wanting to admit that my university relationship was nearly over. Not as confident to pursue hobbies and ambitions and to be honest not really knowing what I wanted.

Anyway, time heals many things and having some stability at home (thanks boyfriend! thanks parents!) and more disposable income (thank you work!) made it easier to pursue more interests. But I found I was posting less on here and I don’t want to neglect what was perhaps my first adult passion. Blogging and writing in general. I do still love writing about food, writing new recipes and taking restaurant recommendations. In some ways I actually prefer writing about food now; I feel like I found my rhythm as a writer, quick and (usually) healthy recipes for people pushed for time, with the occasional longer recipe to enjoy over a weekend. Crowd pleasing recipes when you have larger groups to entertain. Stuff I as a woman approaching 30 would want to read myself.

However, life is so much more than food. I want to wax lyrical about the books I read, about the raw elegance of music on vinyl, why you should consider taking part in a Park Run, fashion preferences. Life through the eyes of a food lover, rather than a life led entirely by food.

D and I have discussed remastering some of the older favourites and starting some sort of youtube channel based on this blog. Simple recipes to appeal to cooks of all abilities. So the food writing and learning how to cook with more skill and precision won’t really be going anywhere, I just want this venture to keep growing and developing the same way I have over the years.

Plus, you know, food always did taste better when life was lived enough to work up an appetite.

An ode to moving to a new place

I felt like given that it is around the time when a lot of my younger audiences are contemplating moving to a new university town and some of you might be in that horrible place between graduating and finding a job. Whether you find yourself moving to a town 10 miles up the road, or to the other side of the globe, relocating somewhere new can be daunting, especially on your own.

I am naturally shy and even as a little girl I was never one for going to something on my own. Whether it was hiding behind my parents and especially my older brother or being scared to go to a new activity; I have to admit I was pretty bad when it came to meeting new people. The first few weeks of university I was horribly homesick for my friends and family and it took me weeks to get the courage to actually get to know people. (I feel compelled to mention that the people I know from university were on the whole, wonderful, I was just scared to come out of my shell.)

However, this couldn’t continue and upon graduating from my MSc the recession actually, possibly helped. I mean, finding a decent job in my industry was pretty stressful and my confidence was pretty low because of this but in terms of lifelong confidence it helped. Between September 2010 and February 2012 I had 5 different temporary jobs in a variety of shops, offices and a research post. I also volunteered for my local hospice doing a phone based job. It was tough but the combination of having 5 different first days in a new working environment, meeting a lot of new colleagues and encountering customers forced me to talk to so many new people. Talking to people on the phone about a charity I felt strongly about stopped me being so afraid of asking for things. Then the last interview I went to in a scientific role before I gave up forever came up and I got the job and it was too far away to stay living with my (lovely) parents.

So I ended up moving to Harrogate, while its not massive I knew approximately 3 people, my Uncle, Aunt and my then 16 year old cousin. So in some ways I had a little support system already in place who fed me Sunday dinners and helped me out a lot when I didn’t know anyone else. It was still scary though the prospect of making friends. Luckily my friend ED and I started the same job in the same department on the same day and even today we are close friends. Then DC and Miss S started working and we formed a little friendship group which gradually got slightly bigger as we all got to know more people.

(This post has snowballed into a life story but bear with me). Times did get hard and it wasn’t all rosy. I spent a lot of time watching tv in my room feeling pretty lonely. I had housemates who were untidy, ones who had scary boyfriends and finally 2 girls who were plain lovely and I was very sad to leave. A long term relationship crumbled but while it was the most painful few months of my life I think it actually benefited us both in the longer term. Holding onto something that isn’t working any more, even when you still care deeply about somebody is emotionally draining, exhausting and everyone ends up hurt. The best advice I should have taken long ago from my parents was not to live in 2 places at once.

Pretty often I find myself now in situations where I think, “how did I end up having fun with you here? 2 years ago I didn’t even know you exist.” Its pretty amazing to think that if I hadn’t moved I wouldn’t have started blogging ergo wouldn’t have bonded with D over writing, I would never have had our pets or met all the people I did through D. I would never have had the opportunity to see so many bands, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start doing theatre stuff again after so many years and I certainly wouldn’t have hugged as many famous musicians.

I suppose what I’m trying to get across is that sometimes the most wonderful parts of life come from the scariest feelings of the unknown. I was lonely that first night in my first house here, I was so terrified of going on a date with D that I required a pep talk from my housemate and my poor parents got multiple tearful phone calls about people using my toothpaste, ex boyfriends and finding the initial stages of adult life difficult.

I think the best advice I can give to anybody who finds themselves in a similar position to me is to start saying yes to people. In the earliest stages of friendship go along to everything you get invited to, keep in touch with old friends, be the event planner of your friendship group from time to time. Please don’t let nerves be the reason you don’t join in with a new activity. I wholeheartedly speak from experience when I say somebody will make an effort to make you feel welcome.

Although I miss my family and friends from home a lot at times relationships with people who really matter won’t change if you take a new opportunity. If you do move for work university I think throwing yourself into somewhere new, even if you feel sick with fear makes your life so much more than just a job, or a course.

2014 – the year I inadvertently got a healthier attitude towards food

I generally don’t delve into my personal life too much on here; despite the slight change of pace and direction on here thebunfight will always primarily be a food blog to me, with various lifestyle, home and craft posts. However, I had a conversation with my mum over the Christmas period and it crept into my mind to write a post dedicated to something important, this being my improved attitude towards food in general (and mostly my increased appreciation of eating carbs with my meals again).

Up until I graduated from university I was slim to average and I was generally perfectly content with how I looked. I’d been brought up eating healthy, home cooked meals by two parents who absolutely doted on me. During my MSc year weight started to creep on and unfortunately during that period of feeling like my career had no direction (that is so common for a lot of us upon graduation) my weight increased to a point in which I was unhappy with how I looked.Fortunately, I ended up moving to a new place for a job related to my degree. Rather more unfortunately I was now cooking for myself and I have a bit of a sweet tooth and a major love for cheese. In addition, an unexpectedly horrible few months led to an unfortunate cycle where I gained even more weight and tried to lose weight eating a low carb diet which I couldn’t maintain and desperately unhappy I ended up comfort eating on sugary, fatty food – exactly what you want to be eating when you’re trying to lose your bingo wings, eh? I still dislike looking at photos of myself from Spring – Autumn 2013 knowing how desperately unhappy I was.

Anyway, I’ve depressed you all enough and this story has a very happy ending. So my life, and self esteem were improved by several things in 2014 which will forever be known as my unexpectedly lovely year. The first one was getting more involved with the right sort of exercise for me – gym classes and running with female friends. If ever there was a lazy woman who needed peer pressure to get off the sofa it was me. I will forever be grateful to my friends from work for barking at me as I ran round various routes in Harrogate (even if i whimpered all the way!) Exercise is so important for your physical and mental health, and although I was going to the gym before I don’t think I really understood the full benefits of fresh air and a more demanding workout.

The other thing that has helped was starting a new relationship and changing living situation. Not for any major reasons to do with looking nice, or obtaining a more positive body image. Have you ever tried to tell a 6ft 3 man with a healthy appetite that his tea that night is a salad? What about fish and vegetables? So, for the ease of cooking for two I started making meals that were a compromise – so things that were relatively healthy but more filling. So starchy carbs such as rice, pasta and bread have all returned to the daily menu and I eat until I feel comfortable.

I no longer snack as much – I get far less hungry between meals generally. I feel more awake and I don’t get as much of a 3pm slump where i feel sluggish. For a number of reasons I feel happier and my general mood has improved. We have dessert as a treat, not a nightly occurrence and neither of us is as bothered about snacking every night. I think when lower carb diets are suggested to people trying to lose weight, we forget that it is difficult to maintain this in the long term. Its not as sustainable for most people. Its far less easy to say no to a chocolate biscuit when your body thinks its missing out by not having porridge for your breakfast. When you’re trying to keep to a lower carb diet, everything outside of this dining experience becomes something of a naughty snack and we start to associate eating things we should be eating less of as a pleasurable experience. I personally have noticed gradual weight loss happening since I unconsciously changed my eating habits.

I still adore cooking and baking and I regularly bake on a Sunday afternoon and I still love blogging and writing about food. However, I don’t feel the same guilt for enjoying treats and I tend to bake more with fruit or make things we can take with our packed lunches or things that will keep during the week. Funnily enough there is a Ferrero Rocher Tart post in the pipeline but this sort of bake has become something I like to make when I have more time, at special occasions.

To summarise, this post feels like an awfully heavy topic for somebody who gets excited by Kinder Egg toys and Moomin pyjamas but diets and body image are partially related to food, right?

Anyway, after a post heavy on feelings rather than cake possibly you’d like to see a few pictures from my year?

D and I at possibly one of the worst restaurants in North Yorkshire

D and I at possibly one of the worst restaurants in North Yorkshire

Hen Do with some of the wonderful people who make me run

Hen Do with some of the wonderful people who make me run

There is so rarely a nice photo of us both

There is so rarely a nice photo of us both – Hallowe’en photobooth fun

Th

ith female friends