The Exercis-s-s-e

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My body a-a-aches with lack of purpose

Joints rusted from weary practice

I lay

Uneasy , unwilling,

and tired-d-d.

Fearful of a creak, ug,

or crack, ah,

if I move.

My organs obese with fatigue,

My muscles sat-t-t-turated

with lardy laziness.

Mind inactivated,

Thoughts dread-d movements,

Each breath a

*Twitch*

Dreading thought.

I wince and lay,

My bulging heart expands,

Betrays my every

Apprehension.

My exertion ah,

A naivety.

My application-n-n,

Deceptive.

*Gasp*

Why did I run?

I lie,

Burnt, slumped,

A failing-g-g

initiative

An aimless intention.

A barfly’s revolution,

When stars bedazzle and turn

epiphany’s to crystal.

But the morning,

The run,

Is in fact trampling on broken glass.

Shattered purpose-e-e.

Why did I run?

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Review Number Seven

7) Lydford Gorge – National Trust

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There are many things my boyfriend and I have a mutual passion for; cooking absurd amounts of food, watching our childhood programmes, rambling down country lanes and championing castles.

So it comes as no surprise that my darling boy thought it a grand idea to take me to Lydford Gorge to enjoy a long walk together.

A long walk isn’t even close to what I had to endure!!!

I am not a seasoned walker and I had nothing but a vague idea of what I was letting myself in for. It wasn’t until I reached the front desk to hand over my membership card that the realisation struck hard. The kind lady behind the counter issued instructions to us; suggesting pit stops and recommending a variety of routes that weren’t quite so steep. I was stunned.

‘It’ll take you about 2 to 3 hours to finish the entire walk’ she signed off.

WHAT?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

I ran to the toilet to take a breather before my gallant knight dragged me off to begin our journey down the one way track. I was hesitant and could but think of the halfway point where my darling said we would be stopping for a tea break.

But my body surprised me and for the first leg of the trail I was mostly alright, the valley was beautiful and I only really struggled with the uphill parts. We took no pit stops except when we spotted a view that was camera worthy (which was often) and I felt triumphant every time I passed a bench feeling well enough to trek on. The constant gush of water created a mystical atmosphere and it felt as if we had stepped into a Peter Jackson movie. The stunning views were accompanied with the potent smell of wild garlic and a consistent drilling sound from a covert woodpecker; I was enthralled and healthily out of breath.

I wasn’t expecting the waterfall to look as serene as it did; you are used to seeing these great walls of crashing water but the White Lady (so it is aptly named) simply skidded down the valley like a children’s slide.  When we reached this halfway point we had a difficult decision to make; stay and dine? Or press on and earn a well deserved treat at the finishing line?

We chose the latter and continued on our expedition.

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We soon realised, however, that I seem to have a cut off point; a point where I rapidly lose the ability to speak and become irritably desperate to just give up and go home. I had found the end of my tether after an hour of walking. I was an uncommunicative zombie who could but grunt and moan at the views being presented to me by my fresh faced exuberant companion. The devils cauldron zapped the final ‘awes’ I had in me and mumbled notions of dinosaurs scampering about the horizons of the valley ridge (I speak truth my Bandicoot caught it on camera). I had meant to say that the scene had a Jurassic essence about it and that I could easily imagine a T-Rex leering over the crest of the gorge; I guess the roaring noise of the cauldron drowned out my senses.

I dragged my feet into the tea room and near collapsed on the cashier. He was a very very very nice man and was understandingly sympathetic of my exhaustion and fatigue. We found a park table outside, away from some ghastly loud children and waited for the kind man with a feathery blonde beard to bring us our well deserved prize.

Even in my zombified state I was still able to consider the cream tea that was presented before me with a respectably critical eye.

No I lie. I’m sorry …

I was so thankful and desperate for them that any serious evaluations of the subject were lost, forgotten and discarded. I ate with the primeval instincts of one who had nothing left to focus on.

So here, my review, in the words spoken at the time of consumption;

‘Icing sugar?! What?! Amazing! Raspberry jam?! Yum! Omg it looks like tadpoles, no you know what I mean … frog spawn! Tasty frog spawn! Wow there is SO much cream! Look at those nipples! Omg this is so good. Awe and the buns are warm! Man I needed this, I’m drinking this tea like its water, agh you know when you are just thirsty and tea is like water? It quenches my thirst just as much as water! Aww no! The icing sugar is all over my leggings! Ketchum did you notice the jam and cream is local? Look the jam has won awards, tasty frog spawn though it’s a little sharp … maybe that’s why they gave us icing! Cream is so good though. Wow. Just. Nom.’

So yes they had sprinkled our buns with an unconventional layer of icing sugar and were presented to us on charming oval plates. They were warm, fluffy and substantial. The generous amounts of cream and jam enabled us to greedily mount the buns with several layers of the stuff. I had immaturely made my scones to look like nipples and childishly giggled at the icing sugar mess I had made on myself.  The jam did, admittedly, look like frog spawn, but it tasted as fresh and as fruity as if we had picked the berries ourselves and had placed them on top. The fact they gave us a choice in jam won bonus points in my eyes and they had NO fruity scones, not one …

BANG ON THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!

There was a generous pot of tea for us with an added topper of hot water, which I was most grateful for, because I downed my first cup of the milky brew instantly and was in need of plenty more.

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I admit that my state of fatigue may have acted as a ‘rose tinted glasses’ effect and made me perceive the scones in a much better light than I might’ve done, had I not just undergone a 3 mile walk. After a ‘stroll’ like that I doubt anyone could look at them in any other way. You will certainly not be disappointed when you enjoy them at the finish line and that I can bet my life on.

My only advice to Lydeford Gorge would be to add markers on your map of where all the benches are during that walk; would be great for those who are less robust than my Aladdin; using them as motivators to reach the next rest stop!

We did the walk in approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. My legs didn’t thank me for it but it was well worth it in the end; the sights were magnificent and the cream teas were, well … like I said well earned and damned tasty.  Hoorah.

A Confession at 14:37

Dear Tesco,

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I have written to you today because I have been left with no alternative, I have tried to move on and just forget what ails me but, I’m afraid, I cannot. Now, I am not the kind of person who goes around making formal and outlandish complaints all the time, no sir! I’m the type of person who usually bombards her boyfriend’s ears with her superfluous moans and petty grievances or shouts loudly, indoors, where no one else can hear. So you can imagine then what kind of monstrous act could’ve driven me – a common benevolent bystander – to my laptop to write up this letter of complaint.

I was a loyal customer to you back at University which was two years ago now. Your Egham store was, thankfully, conveniently close and I enjoyed those days of freedom purchasing the food I fancied whenever I wanted. I grew fond of your own brand of food and I soon had particular favourites which I could only get from your store. I shall now get to the point of this letter – I was absolutely in LOVE with your bakery’s own Finest cookies. I was hooked. Addicted. Crazy for them. Especially the raspberry and white chocolate ones. They were my luxury items which I made sure I had money for within my budget.

Unfortunately when I left University so did go my freedom to shop. The closest store to my family home is a Sainsbury’s and their cookies don’t even compare to yours. They were in no way a suitable supplement for my cravings. So from once being a loyal and dedicated customer I become a T-Total cookie consumer. It has been hard.

So when I had the opportunity to visit your store a week ago you can imagine just how excited I was. I had my list all planned and prepared before I arrived and headed straight for the bakery as soon as I got in. I had exclaimed to my partner throughout the whole car journey –

‘I can’t wait to finally have those cookies! Do you know how long I have craved them? Almost a whole year! I am so so so so ready to sink my teeth into them! I am going to buy a whole packet for myself and maybe reserves!’ and so on and so forth.

But when I finally reached the counter, when I was finally so close to my prize, they were not there.

They were nowhere to be found.

I have never ever felt quite as disappointed as I did in that moment.

My stomach felt like it had been vandalised and humiliated. The whole trip was a futile endeavour.

WHY DON’T YOU SELL THEM ANYMORE?

Was it just that one store that didn’t have them or have they been completely scrapped? THEY WERE THE BEST COOKIES IN THE WORLD! They were perfect. I loved their soft texture and their chunky pieces of chocolate. Why on earth would you get rid of them? I even checked online and they aren’t there! I am distraught.

You unceremoniously removed them without giving me the last chance to say goodbye!

I DEMAND that you either bring them back or for goodness sake give me the recipe because I cannot deal with them being absent in my life. I know that is lame but those cookies were HEVEANLY! I cannot express enough how much those cookies meant to me. Without them I really have no reason to visit your store ever again and I know it probably doesn’t mean much to you, I am now one of those infrequent customers, but on those rare occasions when I do grace your store with my presence I would love to know that they will be there. Waiting for me. One small symbol of consistency and love from your behalf.

The least you could do is send me the recipe if you don’t think it’s worth your while putting them back on your shelves, no? Anyway, that is why… that is why I just had to write to you and I hope at least that you hear my plea and do something about it.

Yours sincerely,

Alexandra Neon – Finest cookie addict since 2008

Review Number Six

6) Boston Tea Party – Exeter

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On Friday the 26th of April I had the pleasure of experiencing what Boston’s had to offer, by way of a cream tea, with two of my fellow connoisseur’s; my Aladdin and my Becca.

It was an odd experience because I never usually go there for that particular beverage. I always tend to order a delicious white hot chocolate with one of their blackberry and apple flapjacks smothered in a generous layer of yogurt. Yum. Yum. But today we had planned to make an exception. Bandicoot and I had conquered an empty table (which by the way is really hard to do during the lunch rush hour) and were waiting for my less than punctual friend to arrive.

We were starving, eager and uncommunicative by the time she graced us with her presence. So you can imagine how quickly we rushed through the pleasantries and forced her to accompany Ash Ketchum with our order.

We, the couple, decided to share a cream tea (after the last episode at A La Ronde I wasn’t going to ruin myself again) and to consume some of their toasted sarnies. Becca, however, decided to go for a brownie instead… WHAT?! I know, right? Apparently she was too full from lunch and couldn’t handle a whole one to herself! Disgraceful!

BUT, I had to forgive her, chastising a girl fresh out of work from a long shift is unfair and cruel. So I gave her a warning that if she did it again, next time, I wouldn’t be as … understanding. It would be wise for you to remember that Becca, that a one time offender is all you can be, perhaps I shall text you daily reminders … would you like that?

Constant Cream Tea Rejecters are rogues and fiends; not to be trusted – remember that all!

So once that unfortunate matter was settled we moved on to the most important concern of all – eating the cream teas.

These were the notes I made whilst gobbling (pictured below on their comment slip):

1)      Not enough sauces

2)      Toasted without permission

3)      Pre-sliced

4)      Small teapots, but good tea

5)      Cheese Droplets

6)      “It’s not emulsion” – several layers

7)      Spreads well, not flaky nor brakey

8)      No choice of Jam favours

9)      Moist

6/10

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I feel some of these points need to be explained …

For some reason they had decided to pre-slice and toast our scones for us, I have never come across such a heinous act before and was confused as to why they felt this was necessary. I am not incapable of cutting a scone in half, no, in fact I’ve had plenty of practice! And the toasting thing? Baffling. The only benefits such a function gave us was that it made spreading the cream on top easier and prevented the scone from excessive crumbling, other than that; pretty redundant.

The presentation of the food was nice enough though; the buns came to us on a beautiful plate of blue china and the sandwiches in these funky looking terracotta bowls with tissue. For one this cream tea would be decent enough, but it was a lucky thing I ordered my own pot of peppermint tea because there wouldn’t have been enough for Ketchum and I from the one pot they gave us. Tea was of excellent quality but I wouldn’t have minded some more. And the sauces…? There was not enough, not enough at all. I mean what we were given did cover each of our halves but it didn’t feel like an indulgence. Instead it was pristine, neat and somewhat flat. I spread and spread layers and layers of cream and jam but I felt forced to hold back in case there wasn’t enough.

Oh and number 8) is self explanatory.

As far as looks go I was dubious and unimpressed, I was worried that because they had toasted the buns they would be dry and crispy.

Lucky, my criticisms stop as soon as they got into my mouth.

What? Really? Yep!

They were… MOIST and NOMMY! Totally not what I was expecting at all. The jam was sweet and the cream was nourishing. It was certainly a ‘Boston Tea Party’ in my mouth … (ha ha get it? … ahem …) The Moroccan mint tea I had went SO well with it too, I had my happy cat face on every time I took a bite and a sip, I enjoyed having my expectations altered. All those apprehensive feelings I had, prior to my mouth party, dissolved along with each morsel that was being devoured by digestive enzymes.

So, ya, on the scale of ‘orgasmic to nauseating’ it hit the satisfactory mark. It did the job. A 6/10 according to my lover is what it deserves.

Oh and number 5)? Well those cheese droplets came from our delicious Sandwiches; Aladdin had an Eldorado and I had a Hot Chick – super tasty and super crispy – they toasted them to the max…

Perhaps they just really love their toaster? I accidentally breathed out while taking a bite of my Chick and this embarrassing cloud of crumbs blew forth from my lips! It went everywhere! In my tea, in the jam, in Ketchum’s tea, in Becca’s face, on Bandicoots lap and ALL over the table … I don’t think anyone could’ve missed it. Reminded me of that scene in the Little Mermaid when Ariel blows Grimsby’s smoking pipe and the tobacco covers his face …

Almost AS embarrassing as the jam knife incident when it jumped out of my hand and stabbed my side on its way down to the floor (that happened on this very same occasion by the way – Boston’s obviously wanted to humiliate me this particular trip). So unfair.

Anyway, back to the cheese droplets, they were just droplets of cheese from our sandwiches which I ate. Even Bandicoots droplets… yeah that’s right I ate ‘em.

To sum up – deceptively good but I recommend don’t share one between two unless you buy an extra pot of tea. Also don’t feel threatened by the seating upstairs, just because you have to share a table with a stranger doesn’t mean they will bother you, but if it makes you uncomfortable avoid going at lunch time and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to land a sofa!

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Oh! They also like to promote local artists in their tearooms so keep an eye out! Jane Perkins is currently on show and her work is amazing! (I’ve tagged her website if you want a looksie!)