Daily Archives: September 1, 2010

Nike Women’s Ultimatum Rucksack

I’m a lady of bags. Better than saying I’m a bag lady right? But the reality is essentially the same. No matter how hard I try I always seem to be juggling a bulging handbag, gym bag, an extra shopper for my Tupperware and balancing a bike helmet/jacket/coffee on top. Lugging around various baggage stresses me out, but I rarely seem able to travel light.

This week I’ve been testing out the Nike Women’s Ultimatum Backpack. The last time I had a rucksack (aside from a giant backpack on travels abroad) was at school. Even then I opted for a rainbow striped canvas one as opposed to a sturdy, multi-functioning kids one.

I’ve never really been one for a jack-of-all-trades, zip-tastic, sport-style rucksack. But the pink and purple upper of the Ultimatum caught my eye, so I throw caution to the wind and unloaded my life into it’s many compartments.

The rucksack is a triumph for people who like their belongings to have specific homes. There are sections galore, all illustrated with dinky symbols to let you know what is intended as cargo. My favourite bits are the foil-lined area for food and drink (or as I discovered – lipstick on a hot day), the velveteen section for jewellery, the ventilated compartment for trainers and the reinforced pocket for a laptop. Handy with a capital H.

I managed to consolidate the contents of my daily life into this perky rucksack with ease. I enjoyed knowing exactly where my keys and phone were each time I wanted them – rather than aimlessly rummaging around, feeling for the familar shape of something in the depths of my overflowing handbag. And when walking between meetings it felt amazing to be able to talk on the phone, sip a hot drink or just wave randomly at people (doesn’t everyone?) without fear of dropping my stack of belongings.

I wore it on my back when cycling and the thick, padded straps felt comfortable even over a thin tshirt. But given the option I’d still cycle with it in my basket, as I found wearing it on my back it made me pretty sweaty – in this muggy weather at least.

In the bag …
Lots of handy compartments • Foil compartment for storing handy things like chocolate • Waterproof • Comfy and so far as backpacks go, cute.

Out of the bag …
Encourages me to pack extra things ‘just incase’ • Chocolate in a gym bag – the irony is not lost on me. A small drink/gel could be stored here too, but too tiny for lunch. Unless you’re Nicole Richie. • It’s still a rucksack at the end of the day – as snazzy as it is, It won’t be coming with me to fashion week.

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Harissa Carrot Salad

The rain seems to be having a positive effect on the roof garden. The little pots are now overflowing with green foliage. We’ve accidentally broken the padlock that gives access to the roof, so getting out there now involves climbing out of the skylight in the attic. Both things together mean the vegetables have been left to their own devices for the past week.

We nipped out yesterday morning to pull up some crops and it seems that leaving them alone to guzzle water has given a prize-winning harvest. Obese carrots, plump spring onions and chubby tomatoes were the fruits of no labour.

The carrots were turned into a delicious Eastern inspired dish that goes deliciously with grilled lamb, roasted courgette topped with grated parmesan and a dollop of tzastiki. I don’t have a name for the dish but I’m going to call it Harissa Carrot.

How to make Harissa Carrot Salad

• Whole garden carrots, boiled until just soft

• A pinch of cinnamon, salt and pepper and cumin

• Four cloves of roughly chopped garlic

• A healthy smattering of harrisa or red chilli if you have none

• Pulp the carrots, throw in everything else and stir/mash with a fork

• Drizzle with olive oil, a generous squeeze of lemon and a drop of rose water

Garnish with fresh mint if you fancy. Crumbling feta over the top makes a nice alternative too – taking it from a side dish to a main event.

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