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Review of 2016

I’m a little late with my review of the year this year, mostly because I was away from home over the festive period but also because I wanted to write up some really considered ‘resolutions’ for 2017.

I was pretty busy in 2016, although almost the entire first half of the year had a definite rowing focus.

– I went on rowing training camp to Gent, Belgium again, and was deemed ‘most improved’ at the end of it
– I was happy to be chosen to compete for my rowing club at the Henley Women’s Regatta and we made it through the time trials and two competitive rounds before going out in the semi-finals to the eventual winners
– I was asked to do the decorations for the rowing club annual dinner and managed to do some pretty nifty things on a very low budget
– My efforts earned me the Lady Rower of the Year trophy at my rowing club – all the blood, sweat, tears, DOMS, blisters, fatigue, hunger and doubts were worth it in the end!
– I volunteered at the Oxford Half Marathon for the third year, this time handing out medals at the finish, and also assisting with the local schools’ event
– I got my first ever work promotion
– I met my boyfriend!
– I went on a romantic vacance to Paris with said boyfriend – we visited the Louvre, Pompidou centre, Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, Montmartre and Versailles amongst other places
– I became a volunteer writer for the International Paralympic Committee
– I was a social media volunteer at the IPC Swimming European Open Championships in Funchal, Madeira
– I joined a Biobank and found out some interesting facts and stats about my body! (Thankfully all good ones)
– I finally managed to visit the Thermae Bath Spa – lovely on a cold, slightly snowy winter’s night
– I did another Creative Sprint in October 2016, and even got one of my creations featured on Instagram!
– Way back in January 2016 I won the Charity Award at my work’s New Year party for my efforts organising cake sales for fundraising
– I moved house (again)

So, to my ‘resolutions’ – though they’re not set in stone. After the continuing success of my resolution a few years ago to ‘be more positive’, these days I am all about making long-term, lasting lifestyle adjustments.

I’ll continue to improve the eco-friendliness of my life – I’m already seeing good results from this, it’s making me use my imagination more, be healthier, and be more mindful of how I go about doing things.

I was guilty last year of buying lots of things via mail order, mostly because, what with all that rowing, I very rarely had the time or energy to go to the shops. The trouble was I spent a lot of time and money sending things back, and the packaging that items are sent out in is often both copious and non-recyclable. Plus I was missing out on trying things on and experimenting. Last year my standout purchase was an amazingly flattering pair of dungarees (of all things) which I would never have bought via the website, but thought ‘why not’ in the shop! This is part of a ‘try new things’ kick which I have been on for a couple of years. The only time I am planning to make an exception to my mail order rule is when either the brand does not have a physical shop or offline stockists, or if I am able to support an independent Etsy seller by buying something from them.

I’m still working on finding some happy mediums with all of the things I do. I can be very much an all or nothing kind of person and I need to learn to exist in the middle ground a bit more.

What with all the being eco-friendly and kicking my mail-order habit, I’m hoping to be able to save some money this year. My stepdad pointed out the other day (if evidence of the above all-or-nothingness was needed) that I like to have Big Experiences. So instead of, for example, just going to the Winter Wonderland event in Hyde Park in London, I readily sold many of my worldly belongings to be able to afford to go to Norway to see real snow, real alpine forests, real Northern Lights. Similarly, he said, I don’t want to go to a mere zoo, I want to go to New Zealand to save an endangered parrot! All these wonderful experiences cost money so I’m going to make it my mission to save up enough to do another one soon.

Becky

Adventures in Baking: Paralympic Swimming Cake

Earlier this year I became involved with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the sport of swimming in particular.

When another charity cake sale came around at work, this time for Sport Relief, complete with sport-themed showstopper challenge, there was really only one way to go. I decided to make a swimming cake!

It’s a simple five (?) layer vanilla sponge like my Pink Rainbow Cake and a piñata cake like the one I made for my friend’s wedding. People seem to love the surprise centre in these cakes; certainly I have witnessed some very excited adults when the sweets tumble out!

The blue of the ‘water’ was achieved with a mix of blue and small amounts of yellow gel colour. The fondant was purchased in blocks of white and red and then coloured with a ‘fleshtone’ gel colour for the swimmer’s body.

(Please accept my apologies for the dodgy phone photos – my phone at the time was utterly past it and I didn’t have any batteries for my DSLR.)

Onto the pictures!

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The basic cake waiting for the exciting bits to be added

 

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The whole cake complete with Paralympic ‘agitos’ made from royal icing

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Royal icing piped ‘waves’ (an experiment which happily went well)

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The confectionery contents specially chosen to match the IPC logo colour scheme of red, green and blue