Below The Line to the Finishing Line

Hello all,

So as I’m sure you know last week I was tackling my Live Below The Line challenge, where I had just £5 to feed myself for five days. I wrote a food diary about how I got on, and here it is…

I’ve found this week more challenging than I thought I would, not really because of hunger, but more because of the repetition and lack of flavour in my food. My budget didn’t allow for my usual ‘luxuries’, such as balsamic vinegar or herbs, and certainly after only being able to make my porridge with water instead of milk, by Thursday I just couldn’t face it again. 
I think it was also the restrictions of not being able to have what I wanted, when I wanted it.  The snacks that I always carry with me to keep my energy up such as a bag of grapes or chicory weren’t available to me, I had a limited few ricecakes with a bit of honey or marmite, and if I was desperately craving sugar I had three 15p chocolate bunny lollies I had to carefully ration out for those quick fix moments.  The rice was a bit more varied as some days I would have it with a tin of tomato sauce, others with a tin of low cost beans.  My lunch every day bar Friday was the cabbage soup I made a huge pot of at the beginning of the week, and every day I’d add a little more of my stock cube ration to enhance the flavour, so by Thursday it was actually quite tasty!  I more than missed my daily morning espresso, but thanks to my cunning use of the fresh mint free from the garden, I got by on fresh mint tea, and I definitely think a week off the coffee did me good.  My only worry was how to get my ‘five a day’, and were I to do it over again I’d try and work out how to get more fresh fruit and veg into my meals, possibly making smoothies or having a jacket potato with cottage cheese as a one off treat. 
It’s by no means impossible to do, but its by no means fun, and really brought home just how much I take for granted with my food, the money we as a family spend on a weekly shop, not even including what we spend on eating out.  It’s definitely made me more aware when picking up items in the supermarket just how much things cost, and I certainly will be on the lookout for bargains when I next head to the shops.
I’d urge everyone to do a week ‘living below the line’ to get a real sense of the unimaginable poverty 1.4 billion people worldwide are living in, it gives a true understanding and you will want to help, however you can. If you are thinking of taking up the challenge or are already doing it, I’d love to hear from you about how you got on, and any ideas or recipes you came up with. 

You can still donate to my Malaria No More UK, Live Below The Line challenge here.

So that was my week on £1 a day, and I have to tell you on Friday night at exactly midnight I was down in the kitchen stuffing my face with grapes, tangerines, chicory and of course a bit of chocolate and all of it had never tasted sweeter! 

That Saturday morning I was still chomping through bags of fruit and veg as I made my way out to the Park Royal studios for the last time (yay!) to watch the final run through of Starlight before we hit the theatre.

The show is looking in fantastic shape, and I can’t wait to get to Wimbledon on Wed for the final push towards opening night on Friday! But more about that next week, I’ve still got a very exciting Saturday night to tell you about…

I was thrilled to be asked alongside several other celebrities from the worlds of sport and entertainment to be involved in the official opening of the Olympic stadium.  I was taking part in a tug of war, and then possibly if my team won, a tandem race!

I ran out on to the pitch alongside Jason Gardiner, Iwan Thomas, Sir Steve Redgrave, Mark Foster, Matt Johnson, Mel C, Sam and Mark, Rav Wilding and the Hairy Bikers just to name a few. Of course it was freezing and I felt ridiculous in my electric blue tabard, so much to everyone’s amusement came running out with my big fake fur jacket over the top! Sadly we lost the tug of war in about 5 seconds which meant no tandem riding for me. Can’t say I was too disappointed though…

The evening culminated in me running the 400 meters being spurred on by Matt Dawson which was quite exhilarating, if not exhausting, but nonetheless a real honour to say I ran it at the Olympic Stadium.
All in all it was a fantastic night, only marred slightly by the 45 minutes it took to get out of the Westfield carpark, grrrr.

Here are some pics from the day:


The Olympic Stadium



The ever gorgeous Mel C and I



I love the Hairy Bikers, I wish I could cook like they do.



Two hunks in the shape of Iwan Thomas and Rav Wilding.



Team Blue.



Kenny Logan, or should I say, ‘Kenny Bolt’.



With the amazing Mark, the winner of the Olympic Stadium event.


The rest of my bank holiday was spent on the sofa with food, family, and several episodes of Poirot. Heaven. 

I’ll be back next week to tell you all about the lead up to the opening of Starlight, (you can still get your tickets here!) and the fantastic musical morning I spent in the kitchen with Levi Roots!

Have a wonderful week,
Much love 

One comment on “Below The Line to the Finishing Line

  1. amanda smith says:

    I think you are so brave! Living on just £5.00 for the week.I didnt think a celebrity would take this challenge,so wow and well done. I do my shopping monthly and try to only spend £100…and make it last. Mostly meats and veg but tins too.Im lucky enough to grow my own veg,and I have a herb garden….again it saves money.

    One basic recipe I have that makes a lot of different meals is….

    1 or 2 cloves of garlic,
    1 onion
    tin tomatoes

    Basically fry them all together and use as a pasta base,pizza base,rice base.Its also great for those munchy nights. Simple cook it all up,put it in an oven proof dish. Throw in crisps (or doritos,if cash is there) grate cheese over it and wait to melt. Yummy!

    I bet you hugged your fridge the day after the challenge.Well done again,you are fantastic x

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