Interests

Oakley

Oakley is a seven year old Swiss Hound, a rescue dog from Skiathos.

 

Because of his gentle nature Oakley was assessed by Sussex Caring Pets to become a Therapy Dog and passed with flying colours.

 

Sussex Caring Pets take animals (mostly dogs) into hospitals, residential care homes, hospices and schools to help those in need. In schools they have a scheme called "Reading with Ronald" where reluctant readers, children who find it difficult to concentrate or are anxious can sit with a dog and read to him or her.

It's important to be able to commit to the same school for a whole year so that children can bond with the dog and not have him or her taken away from them part-way through. Because of this, Oakley is not currently assigned to a school.

Triathlon
Lanzarote

Paul began competing in triathlons in 1990 during the very early days of the sport - the International Triathlon Union only began in 1989 - when races were very small events run by enthusiasts and small local clubs. He usually competed in the more common "Olympic" distance (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10k run) and considered the Ironman distance (3.8km, 180.2km, 42.2km) far too difficult. However in 2004 he was persuaded to have a go and in 2005 competed in the Lanzarote Ironman, just squeezing in under the 16 hour deadline.

Klagenfurt

Three years later and with much better preparation Paul competed in the Austrian Ironman in the beautiful town of Klagenfurt. This is one of the most picturesque events in the world with the swim in lake Wörthersee, the cycle in the surrounding hills and forests and the run through the beautiful town, with tens of thousands of spectators, hot air balloons and television helicopters adding to the spectacle.

Nice

In 2011 he competed in the Nice Ironman. 35 degree heat and illness meant missing the run deadline unfortunately, but it's a fantastic event and standing on the beach at dawn waiting for the cannon to fire is very special. 

Baking

A recent convert to the joys of baking, Paul bakes his own bread and often bakes cakes and biscuits too. It also gives him the opportunity to do a bit of food photography. Here are a few of his favourite baking treats, all simple to make and great to do with children.

Shortbread thins

325g plain flour, 200g chilled salted butter, 125g golden caster sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 large egg yolks.

Heat oven to 180C (160C fan)/Gas 4

 

1. Tip the flour and butter (cut into small pieces) into a food processor and whizz-up until it's like breadcrumbs.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and whizz-up again until it becomes a dough.

3. Roll the dough into a long sausage about 5cm in diameter.

 

At this point you're supposed to wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for an hour but I find it gets too hard so I just move straight on to the next stage.

 

4. Slice the roll into disks about 5mm thick and arrange on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20mins until they begin to turn a pale gold colour and cool on a rack. Dust with icing sugar.

Peanut butter cookies

This is an American recipe (unsurprisingly!) so it's in cups not grams. I've given the conversion but it's not very accurate for the peanut butter, so you might need to experiment a little. It also varies a little depending on the type of peanut butter.

 

1 cup (200g) of granulated sugar, 1 cup (approx 225g-300g) of peanut butter, 1 egg.

Heat oven to 180C (160C fan)/Gas 4.

 

Mix all of the ingredients together into a dough, roll into small balls and place on greased baking sheet, then press down on the top with a fork to give a criss-cross pattern. Bake for 12 mins and allow to cool on the tray to firm up, then transfer to a cooling rack. 

Peanut butter cups

Not strictly baking, these are grown up versions of the famous Reeses Cups and really easy to make.

You'll need:

2 large bars of dark chocolate: Go for the 90% Cocoa if you like the really dark stuff, but you can use others.

Peanut butter: Smooth works best

Coarse salt: For sprinkling over the top.

Really small paper cases.

 

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie and then spoon a small amount into each case, using up about a third of the chocolate. 

Put them in the fridge and once set, bring out and add a dolop of peanut butter on top of the chocolate.

Now spoon the rest of the chocolate over the peanut butter, add a sprinkle of salt and cool in the fridge again.