Friday, 3 January 2014

Day out in Exeter - Visiting my mum's old friend Deborah...

This was something of a challenge for me for several reasons, but something I felt was the right when/then time. On the Thursday 2nd January, my mum had asked me whether I had fancied going with her on a day trip to visit an old school friend who she hadn't seen for quite a few years now; simply due to the lack of time people have on their hands these days. I thought this would be quite a nice day out yet in the back of my mind I was sort of saying 'Nooooo!', simply due to the fact that I just feel too out of my comfort zone. Especially after being told a while later after contacting her that she had offered to have us stay over for a night! Oh dear. I said it would be okay for my mum to go on her own but she said she wants me to go with her. I'm just worried about the whole food situation which I did inform her with and now she looked as if she was stuck as to what to do. Oh dear.

However, luckily Deborah had got back to mum to say that their family had to get up early on the Saturday morning to go up to Bristol as her children (Alana & Aryanne) are attending a friends party at @ Bristol. This felt more managable for me and so I agreed to go up with mum to Exeter. I still feel anxious as this would mean I will need to have lunch out and potentially supper! Ah. Too late, I just thought to sleep on it but it was odd how I need to obtain some comfort through looking up what was written in the stars before I had gone to bed. I was quite atonished as it mentioned about taking a road trip and travel! So I am on the right path I guess.

We had to get up early on the Friday morning around 7.00am to leave for around 9.00am. I made sure I took food with me but it was only something managable like an Apple, 2 oranges and Green Tea! Luckily mum did mention that Deborah is quite health concious like me also so this made me feel quite optimistic that she may have tea there anyway. I got a bag ready too with everything but the kitchen sink such as books and pads and planning sheets ect to help fill the travel time; doing things which I perhaps 'never had time to do' when I am at home which does not require the internet.

Off we went.
It was quite a bad day to go too considering that the british weather hasn't been very settling as the news has informed us with warnings of storms, winds and rain with risks of floods! We travelled across town to head to exeter yet can to a stand still just under the Clifton Suspension bridge. It seems to be haulted due to flooding! We turned around and took another route and went along the sceanic route which I quite enjoyed. Considering alll warning of storms, all seemed not too bad on our journey so I guess we had missed it all. As we got to Exter Deborah had phoned to check if we were okay as she had just had the biggest rain pour with drains overflowing ect, but as we answered the phone all we could see was sunshine! We let her know all is well and we took the remaining 15 minutes to navigate to her house which we both have never been to before.

We arrived at her house at around 11.15am.

We pulled up behind her car on her drive and my our way to the front door.

Wow, her house is lovely! Much bigger than what I was expecting. We knocked on the door and she answered. "Hello! You alright my flower!" Awh bless her she is still as lovely as I remember =]
I felt quite anxious as I was very self conscious of my appearance and health but was very understanding and we took off our coats and shoes in the hallway and shown through to the kitchen where I was able to have my daily dose of Green Tea! =] It was nice as she too had a fruit tea and so the whole situation didn't feel too much like I was singled out. Just able to enjoy being out and finding out how her and her family were =]

Mum called Alana and Aryanne as they seemed to be hiding from us and then came out to meet us. I have never seen them before but mum had around a year ago on one of her racing days. It was nice to hear Deborah mention how the two girls had been asking of us such as "When will they be here?" "Can I show them our Guinea Pigs?" "Are they here yet?". Awh Bless. They shortly showed themselves as they emerged from hiding behind the door to introduce themselves. I was astonished really how confident they were in speaking in front of, what I would have considered, as strangers. I was quite embarassed as I just felt quite shy to speak anything at all. Simply because of all of the thoughts going on in my head really.

As time elapsed, I gradually settled down a tad to interact with the children as I sort of had to as I had to respond to them as they asked various questions about me.
It did make me laugh as they asked things like "Are you a big child?" as opposed to being an 'adult/ grown up' which in fact is what I actually am but they saw me to be this 'Big Child' and they themselves were 'Children'. Haha. It did rather strike them as I replyed to their question "How old are you?" with "20"! Because no way do I look my age at all!

Mum brought the children some of my handmade cookies to try and they seemed to really enjoy them! Aryanne had the three Stars and Alana had the Barn Owl. Deborah too had one and had the less iced gold snowflake. She seemed to like them also.

Aryanne got out the Guinea Pigs to show us and Alana showed us her Christmas present she received from Santa which was a child's iPad.

After our Teas we put on our warm clothing and took a leisurely stroll into their local town and went to get lunch. Oh dear, I was pretty much dreading this but as long as they had Jacket Potatoes I should be fine. We took a stroll down a couple of street to reach our destination; a small family friendly cafe

called 'The Book Rest Cafe'.

It was quite unusual. At first I must admit that I thought it was quite a 'old fashioned' shop whereby they had the ground floor consisting of a range of books on offer to buy at reasonable prices. I wanted to just have a little browse through them all however there was no time to spend reading as it was now coming on for 13.15.
I followed Deborah and the girlies who must come here quite frequently as they new exactly where to go and where to sit. I followed them to the back of the store to make my way up the staircase to the first floor whereby the small cosy cafe was located.
I was astonishingly surprised by how busy it seemed to be, considering such a small little business to which the small handful of staff on shift were working away to serve all the orders made.
As me and my mum entered to make our way to find a place to sit and retire, it was quite luxurious to see the rather 'homey' sofas on offer to us to which were available for us to sit on. 'How lovely! I feel as if I am simply at home' and so this made the whole situation seem a tad less stressful. I was also quite reassured as as I had walked through to the building to reach the seating area I caught a glimpse of the Lunch menu in the form of a chalk board which stated 'Jacket Potatoes' - Bingo! Just what I had planned... or so it thought. Just as Deborah had asked me what I fancied I heard the women serving over the counter mention that they were all out of Jacket potatoes! Argh typical - however a part of me felt this was a sign that I should be using this opportunity to challenge myself - well after all, how often do I really have lunch out?? - whatever I have will be okay - I am simply enjoying the experience of going out with friends after all! Okay, I found myself confused as I read the menu - decisions decisions.
My mind was conflicting. Initially I would go for something I have had before and considered to me as being 'safe' which would be the 'Beans on Toast - no butter'. However I felt like I wasn't making the most of this opportunity to try something new - especially as I was very impressed by the fact that this cute little cafe provides a service I am so supportive of which consists of supplying food that is free range, locally supplied, home-made, seasonal and organic wherever possible. Offering food to suit all in terms of providing gluten free products and vegan friendly =] 
Mum and Deborah had ordered the board special of 'Spicy Parsnip Soup' served with a slice of wholemeal bread. I was thinking of trying the soup however my head was considering all the ingredient which may have been used. Or should I have the cous cous with roasted Mediterranean vegetables on a bed of fresh salad leaves topped with cheese. I think I was drawn to this dish simply due to the fresh salad incorporated - yet I couldn't manage the cheese aspect of the dish or roasted veg =[
So I went safe - 'Beans on Toast' it was. Which was a shame but I guess this is something I have not had for lunch for a very long time now. I was anxious by how this would look and self conscious about what Deborah would think of me eating ect. Deborah said this would be on her so she went to get it and mum went with her to ensure she said to not butter the toast. I sat down and waited whilst they both ordered the food and a pot of green tea which would warm me up. I sat with Aryanne and Alana for a tad whilst I took off my coat and gloves and then returned to sit down to have a chit chat. It wasn't long before our food came. The friendly staff came over with cutlery and my 'Beans on Toast' and then followed by the girls 'cheese sandwich, crisps, yogurt and Rocks organic squash' and then the 'adults' meals came along of hot 'Spicy Parsnip Soup'. 

Instagram Time!
I was quite astonished to know that this was a child's portion consisting of one piece of thick cut bread. It was ample sufficient and I indeed got through it. I always feel anxious afterwards but luckily I had Aryanne there to distract me as she talked about the 'invisible mice in her free magazine gold jewellery box'. It was so sweet how she is so imaginative in her ways. Alana was happy to just sit and read the magazine we had got from WH Smith before we reached this destination. I think I was able to allow mum and Deborah some time to have a chit chat of their own which was nice as they enjoyed their hot, warming soup. 

I asked what mum thought of her soup and she said she thought I wouldn't have mind it as it didn't taste creamy at all but just fresh and warming - as if I were to make it at home. Oh dear - did I make the right decision after all? Too late. Whats done is done.

I noticed too that on their menu there was a mention of their 'Facebook' social network page. I was so impressed by this businesses approach to providing truly healthy friendly food that I just wanted to 'like' immediately.    

The Book Rest Cafe        

"We are an independent, family-owned and family-run cafe. Our mission is to provide you with a comfortable and relaxed environment. We strive to provide you with the best food, the best service and the best drinks with the absolute minimum of air miles."
"Wherever possible we use local suppliers, we always use local free range eggs, we buy our food from local suppliers and we make as much of our produce for sale as possible. It’s not just about the food, it’s about you the customer."

Their food is described on their website as:
"Locally sourced, home made great food is what we offer"
"Our baker/head chef Christian is responsible for creating all our wonderful home made cakes, salads, three bean chilli and Organic* fresh soups and big fat deep filled Quiches with seasonal veggie fillings."
"We also have specials that change weekly such as home made New York Cheese Cake, Pumpkin Pasties, Pecan Pie and more."
"Plus this simple Victoria Sponge, with locally picked strawberries and fresh double whipped cream."

A regular special on the board seasoned with tlc.

"Honey roast Butternut, rocket and and mature Cheddar cheese quiche, topped with toasted pine nuts on a bed of slow cooked buttery onions in a short crust butter pastry made with a hint of nutmeg."


Well. Now fully stuffed and full of tea we went downstairs to leave the building to do some small errends Deborah needed to to and just take time to take in the surroundings of Exmouth. It was a lovely little town centre to which Deborah headed to a small local grocery shop which sold all local produce which really appealed to me. Its amazing how much better it is for you to have organically grown fruit and veg and to have it on your door step is even better! They had rather large onions and their pomegranates were only 50p compare to £1 in sainsburys! Next we headed to the cash point and then to Greggs the bakery to pick up a loaf of bread. 
Off we left back to Deborah's house which took at max around 10 mins to walk. Got back to sit in the lovely living room for another cup of green tea to warm me up and watch the flickring of the wood burning fire - So lovely and traditional! I was in aure of their range of books situated on their book shelf to which I just wanted to get up from my chair and have a good educational read! Haha. But I didn't. Deborah, Mum and me had a chit chat again until we were pleasantly interrupted by a couple of visitors - Deborah's Dad and partner. 
Just as they turned up I was whiskedd away by Aryanne who wanted me to go up stairs to see her and Alana's bedroom. Awh bless, just as you would expect from a 4 and 7 year old their were toys everywhere - most evidently was LEGO! haha. 
I had prevviously mentioned to Aryanne that I needed to repaint my nails and she said that she had some nail varnishes for christmas and is willing to paint my nails for me. Awh bless her.
Here is the finishing masterpiece...
Awh bless, well not exactly a nails Inc manicure but I guess their is potential! =]

I returned back downstairs to attend to my green tea before it got cold and join into the conversations between the 'adults'. Saul later joined us from working upstairs (Deborah's husband) and I just listened as they talked of 'Sherlock Holmes' and TV programmes watched.
Aryanne and Alana return to the lounge - again with the ipad - and had the praline chocolate fingers which my mum had brought round. Aryanne snuggled in next to me to watch some programmes on the ceebeebies channel. A couple I was introduced to involved:
Katie Morag
Old Jacks Boat
Not really the kind of programmes that I remember when I was younger but Aryanne seemed to enjoy them anyhow. I think it has been the longest she has spent being quiet! Haha.

Now coming up to 6.00am I was asked the dreaded question - Will I be staying for tea? 

Oh dear. Well what is she going to be preparing?
She said a cottage pie with vegetables. Oh Vegetables are okay but I would give the cottage pie a miss. I'm a veggie. Or shall it be better to head off?
I neogociated with mum and in the end asked Aryanne if she wanted us to stay whereby she replied 'Yeah'. So the the desicion was made. I stayed in the lounge as Debbie sorted out the food in the kitchen.

I came to sit up at the table. Oh right. Vegetables was only a small dish that is shared between three. Right. I don't think this is going to fill a hole =/ and I think mum knew this too. Ah well. I guess I will need to cook something else when I get home.

The kids had their meals first and then had another one of my cookies - they seem to really enjoy them =] I'm quite tired by this point and so me and mum made a move to pack up and go home. We said our goodbye among the commotion Deborah had in getting the kids to get changed and stop squabbling. It was a really lovely, chilled day out I thought and at least my mum was able to do something productive on her day off of work =]

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