During my blogging break, I thought a lot about why I wanted to write, and what I wanted to write about. I thought about how much I love looking back over my travels, my days and my life over the years. I thought about how friends ask for tips and advice on where to eat and what to do in various places across the world, and I can send them to my blog. I thought about how much I rely on blogs and vlogs for my travel research, trusting their recommendations. I look back on my own blog for the same advice. So really, I want to keep writing in this place. I want to find the time (seriously, broken record…) to keep sharing things, because I really do love it, and I hope you do too.
So – here it is, my first ‘proper’ blog in a while, and it documents our trip across Canada and the US, which we did in the first two weeks of September. We flew into Calgary, and essentially drove to Vancouver over a few days, stopping off at Banff, Golden, Kamloops and a couple of other places along the way. From Vancouver we got the bus to Seattle, and from Seattle we got the bus to Portland, then flew to LAX and then home. It was actually pretty tiring (I know, first world problems, right?) but it was an amazing trip. We originally planned this holiday around spending a few days in Vancouver as two of my best friends moved out there in April, and I’ve missed them terribly. The rest of the trip kind of fell into place.
We spent our time in a combination of Air BnB’s, hotels and motels, and at our friend’s flat. It’s the first trip we’ve really used Air BnB (aside from a week spent in Greece a few years ago, which was amazing, but organised through a friend’s account). This time it was a bit hit and miss – Calgary was incredible, Seattle was a bit gross, with an incredibly loud fridge.
Canada is a beautiful country. Breathtakingly beautiful, it makes you stop and take 100 photos of the same place, from various different angles. It leaves you silent and overwhelmed and excited all at the same time.
Calgary was our first stop, where we spent essentially a day-and-a-bit before driving to Banff. To be honest, we didn’t find much to do in Calgary – there was the Tower, the head sculpture, some amazing tacos, plenty of iced Sangria tea and iced vanilla lattes, some poutine, lots of walking and a few episodes of Stranger Things to make the most of our incredible condo.
Floor to ceiling windows, the best bedding upon a truly comfortable bed, the most stunning kitchen, beautiful bathroom, walk-in wardrobe (like Carrie’s in SATC!!) and Netflix. There was a supermarket around the corner that sold these vegan waffles that you toss in the toaster for a couple of minutes to heat through, which made for the perfect breakfast.
The view from our window. As stunning as the mountains were, there’s something beautiful about city lights. Maybe it’s just me.
The Wonderland Sculpture was really nice, I love interactive art that’s so accessible in a city.
It had to be done! Poutine. The weirdest food. Trout got the traditional option, whereas I got a nachos bowl which came with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and jalapeños (I won!), as well as gravy and Daiya. If you’ve not had it, poutine is chips, gravy and cheese, and one of the things Canada is known for. Bonkers. We went to The Big Cheese Poutinerie.
Amazing ice-cream in that amazing bed. The other good thing about Air BnB is that you’ve got a freezer, and you don’t have to eat the entire tub in one evening. Even though I pretty much did.
After a day or so in Calgary we left to drive to Banff. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
These photos are a combination of Lake Minnewanka, Johnson Canyon, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. They’re not edited, the view really is that breathtaking. The water, the snow, the mountains. Wow.
When we got to Kamloops it was late Sunday afternoon, and everything seemed to be closed as it was a day of holy rest. I did a quick search and found an ice hockey game that started an hour later, just round the corner. I was so happy to be seeing a game while we were in Canada! It was basically a non-league pre-season friendly, and it was mostly the players’ families there – but it was so much fun!
A sport that needs a ‘naughty’ box for players who have been too naughty. Referees who allow fights. This sport is bonkers. I love it!
So that was our time in Calgary, Banff and Kamloops. I’ve put together a separate blog post for the rest of our trip; Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, including the Kettle Valley Trail, which was incredible, and probably my favourite part of the trip. Have you done a similar road trip? Anything we should have done?
Sidenote – I’ve never really had jet lag before but oh my gosh, I had it so bad coming home this time! We flew budget (like, super budget) and I think the combination of an uncomfortable flight and getting two hours sleep on the way back, left me a confused mess. We’re talking 2am wake up calls and lying there for three hours willing myself to go back to sleep. It was really strange – I can sleep for England (last week I slept for 11 hours, for no reason at all), and I can usually sleep anywhere, at any time. Not this time.
Things that I’ve been enjoying lately:
- My Favourite Murder. Have you listened to it? My sweet friend Ashley recommended it to me, and I am OBSESSED. I’ve listened to 11 episodes since Sunday evening. And I’ve been trawling their Facebook group, too. SWOON.
- Hanging out with puppies. Is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?! I’ve been trying to spend as many Sunday afternoons at my parents house as I can, because these two are growing up so fast.
- We went to Canada! And America. I’m putting together a couple of blog posts on our trip, but it’s taking a while. Watch this space.
- We had a wall knocked down in our house! There are dust and bricks everywhere.
- Natasha Bailie’s YouTube channel. I’m not a mum, and don’t plan to be any time soon, but her videos are so good.
- The colder weather. Autumn coats, moody grey skies, roast dinners. Please can the weather stay like this forever?
Thank you to everyone who subscribed while I had a massive blog-break! It means a lot, and I’m sorry that it’s been a disappointing few months. Can you believe it’s been over three months since the last time I bothered you all? Here’s hoping that it won’t take me another three months to finish these travel blogs. What have you been up to? What have I missed?
The past few months have been a struggle for my body and my mind. An endless search to calm both, and the seemingly impossible task of getting them across the finish line at the same time. It seems so hard, I forget how it used to happen.
Living with chronic illness changes the importance and value placed on yourself. It means changing plans when I really, really don’t want to. It often means feeling like somewhat of a recluse, feeling trapped and frustrated. It means doing things that before would have seemed too indulgent, too selfish. A waste of good, productive time. But now these days have crept over into a necessity, and it’s difficult (so difficult) to adjust and understand that.
I’ve found that becoming aware of sight, sounds, smells, has been a huge comfort. Hot baths filled with marshmallow bubbles, a candle on the side, music playing in the background. A vase of flowers in my lounge; bright, fresh flowers that bring a smile to my face whenever I see them. Bright, in contrast to the stark white that surrounds them. Sweet candles. Hand cream, applied throughout the day, with the comforting scent of orange oil. I can’t recommend this hand cream enough. I’ve found hot yoga to be incredibly helpful. An hour (or more) spent alone in a room full of people, focusing on letting go, and letting my body learn new things. I’ve had another hot stone massage.
My body is tired but my mind is not, and guess who wins? I’ve always found sleeping difficult when I have a lot on my mind. Everything seems a little clearer in the morning, it seems that a lot of my worries simply slip away as I sleep, but those hours before it arrives are intense. Breathing techniques learnt in yoga have helped a lot. During the day, if I find stress building up, I’ve put together a playlist of music to listen to. Music like The Wild Reeds, Micah P Hinson and Laura Stevenson.
Although sunshine is so good for the soul, dark clouds and wet skies make for justifiable afternoons spent at home, on the sofa with almond hot chocolate. Bad weather doesn’t take away all of the should’s, but it silences some of them, and right now I’ll take that.
What do you do to relax?
Any tips for an over-active mind at night?
Last weekend my family and I were with my Grandad as he took his last few breaths. It was a strange day, difficult to take in and fully understand, and it still doesn’t seem quite real. Afterwards we came back to our house for a BBQ, and I looked around the table at our small family, and loved that this could be such an intimate moment. We told stories from the past, talked about my Grandma, the funeral.
As Trout and I lay in bed that evening, I said, if I took a photograph of my Grandad as he died, and showed it to the younger him – the him with so much energy, and loved by so many – would he believe that that would happen? Surely not.
Age is a strange notion. I think to some extent we all believe that our lives will end differently – that it won’t be so terrible. I like to think that too, but in reality it just isn’t true. It’s best to not think about, though. Live your life now, make those trips, write those letters, throw yourself into huge changes in your life that seem overwhelming. Those are the stories that will be left behind, and cherished by your family, sat round a table, after you’ve gone.
Here are a few of my favourite photos of my Grandad.
In all of these photographs, he looks like he was the most popular one in the bunch – that people were drawn to him, that he made them laugh, that he had a bad side (!!!).
^^I hope that now they’ll be planning a few more trips to Greece. It’s been a long time.^^
Goodbye Grandad x
A sweet friend reminded me over the weekend, you don’t blog anymore. No, I don’t. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to leave it so long, I didn’t mean to stop at all, but it happened, and it happened for a few reasons, but I want to get back on track. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to lately.
Δ Hanging out with this one. Δ
Δ Going to see my favourite band, The Flatliners. Δ
Δ Spending time in photobooths with the most amazing friends. Δ
Δ Eating Italian street food in Camden. Δ
Δ Chocolate peanut butter pie with an espresso at Cookies & Scream. Bliss. Δ
Δ Club Mexicana! ‘Fish’ tacos, pulled ‘pork’ tacos, nachos, cheese sticks. Oh my! Δ
Δ More sweet treats and more espresso. Δ
Δ Catching up with friends and celebrating an engagement! Δ
Δ The most bonkers cocktails with tapas. Δ
Δ Goodbye lunch with this one, after a morning of charity shop shopping. Δ
I’ve been thankful for good friends and good food and good music these past few weeks. I’ve been making changes in my life that have had a negative and a positive impact on my body. I’ve been trying to make sure my kitchen surfaces are clean every evening, and I’ve been watching more films. Can you believe I hadn’t watched Lost in Translation until yesterday afternoon?! I went to the cinema alone on Sunday, to watch Demolition. I’ve been drinking more smoothies and fresh juices. I’ve been eating salad and white chocolate peanut butter cups. I’ve been making plans.
What have you been up to? Fill me in x
Happy Good Friday, everyone! Life has been filled with good food lately. Good food, and this whiskerface getting sweeter by the day; since we came back from Cuba he has been even cuter than usual (I think his tiny cat ears must have been burning as he just jumped up on the sofa and is blocking my view of the computer!). Here are a few things that I’ve been eating lately:
Pain au chocolat. Another Loving Hut opened up in Brighton last year, about 30 seconds from where I work, and it’s getting dangerously tempting to go there all the time! Their ocean burger is SO.GOOD. I keep meaning to try other dishes, but that burger… oh my. Anyway, I picked up this pastry on my way out last time we had lunch there, and it was perfect for a lazy Saturday morning in bed, with a hot cup of coffee. Bliss.
Giant crumpet. This was really fun! It’s made by Warburtons, and makes for a cracking start to the day. One of my clients is working with them at the moment, and it’s made me want to experiment with them – what can I pile on top!? Scrambled tofu with fried mushrooms and onions, plenty of garlic. ‘Bacon’, rocket and tomato. Use two as burger buns?! The possibilities are endless.
Burgers at Mildreds in Soho. I can’t resist a good burger at the best of times, but THIS burger is SOMETHING ELSE. I had the Polish burger, and Trout had the regular burger (I won) and both come with the best mayo you could ever ask for – basil mayo. It can be tricky to get a table there sometimes, but totally worth the wait.
Burgers and beers at Troll’s Pantry, served at The Hobgoblin, Brighton. A friend organised a birthday party at the pub and we had these burgers while we were there. They were pretty good – very filling and tasty, but I’m not sure I would rush back. The vegan mayo was strange – not really mayo, to be honest – but on the whole they were nice.
Chinese takeaway. You can’t beat it! Trout had been travelling all day so when we came home we picked up a takeaway, got cozy on the sofa and caught up with Take Me Out. This is a pretty standard order for us, vegetable spring rolls, boiled rice, vegetarian rice noodles (no egg), tofu in kung po sauce, veg in black bean sauce and crispy seaweed (no crispy pork on top!).
Arancini balls. This is one of my favourite meals! Trout makes a big pot of risotto, we eat half and then save the other half for the next day, roll them into balls, coat them in batter and breadcrumbs then deepfry them. Oh my! Trout makes this incredible sauce to go with it – some kind of brandy, mushroom, garlic, cream sauce of dreams. Swoon.
Yorica! This place opened up a few weeks ago, and it’s been on my must-visit place ever since. Everything is vegan, gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, egg free and nut free, and they serve fro-yo, ice-cream and shakes with a bunch of different toppings – follow Yorica! on Instagram to see their amazing creations. I finally got the chance to be in London a couple of weeks ago, and it was my second stopping point, after dropping in to surprise a sweet friend while she was at work. I went for a scoop of cookies and cream, and a scoop of no-nut butter (it’s like peanut butter ice-cream, but without the peanuts. I know!). I also had a drizzle of caramel sauce on top. Yum! It was pretty tasty, but it wasn’t anything compared to Boho Gelato in Brighton, which always tastes incredible. There are few things better on this planet than their sea salt caramel peanut butter ice cream. Holy crap is that stuff good.
What have you been eating lately?
Have you eaten at any of these places?
Whoops, sorry for the long wait for part two of our Cuba trip! Here’s Viñales and Varadero – you can find Havana here.
Viñales was a really special place. I would definitely recommend taking a day to enjoy this cosy town – take a tourist’s tour of the tobacco plant and factory, a boat through the caves – and visit the zip wire! We hadn’t planned on this bit, but when a Danish family jumped into our cab and told us where they were heading, we decided to join them. The views were incredible, we sailed across the wonderful landscape, through trees and across the valley. It was incredible.
This was the view from our room. Not bad, huh?! It reminded me a lot of the Azores, it was so beautiful.
You know what wasn’t beautiful? Having this GIGANTIC frog/toad/what’s the difference, leap towards us and land just inches from my head. Ugh!
^^Rolling cigars. We bought a bunch of cigars from this guy for around £20 – much cheaper than the beautifully packaged famous brands!^^
^^We made it to the end of the zip line! There were four lines in total, and before the first one I was like, Why am I here?! I didn’t enjoy Go Ape, why did I think I would enjoy this?! But after that first line I loved it so much – I could have done four more!^^
This was probably the best meal that we had in the whole trip. There’s a ‘vegetarian’ restaurant on the main street in Viñales (I say ‘vegetarian’, because they also served pork, chicken, beef… By vegetarian they mean they are a vegetarian restaurant that also serves meat, as a way of introducing veggie food to more people. Which is quite a nice concept) and they had some vegan options. This is where the Vegan Passport came in handy – our waitress went through the checklist of ‘no’ foods to help us order. This was mashed beans and yams with rice and salad. Doesn’t sound great but it was beautifully seasoned, and a very welcome spot of healthy food, when you’ve really only eaten pasta and pizza for a few days! I also had an amazing smoothie, another kick of health!
After Viñales we got the bus to Varadero, where we stayed in an all-inclusive hotel by the sea for a spot of relaxation and down-right laziness! At first I felt way out of my comfort zone; going from quite a poor city to an expats dream, where we were greeted with a flute of sparkling wine, felt surreal. It was definitely needed after a crazy few weeks, and a crazy few days of travelling, so we soon relaxed into it. I’ve never stayed in an all-inclusive resort before, it felt very strange to order drinks without paying! But lounging by the pool with a glass or two (or three…) of fizz and a good book was pretty perfect. I absolutely loved having so much time to read while we were away. With no internet I had no distractions, and over the past couple of weeks I’ve read three books.
One of the things I loved most about the trip was seeing different parts of Cuba, and the contrast between each of them. I loved the lively streets and smiling faces of Havana – there’s music everywhere, on every street, people dancing in their homes, blasting music down the street. I loved the beauty of Viñales, and the chance to relax amongst such beauty, and Varadero, for its stunning white sand and blue sea, and endless free fizz. I recommend getting the bus to each place – they’re more like National Express buses and cost around £8 for the two of us to travel a fairly long distance (around 3hrs at a time). They’re really comfortable and air conditioned – and depending on the driver, some stop off at some pretty beautiful places. The bus we got between Havana and Viñales stopped twice, I think the driver wanted a snack and then a drink and a cigarette, but the drivers between Viñales and Havana, and Havana and Varadero, didn’t stop at all, thankfully! Be sure to book your tickets in advance (if you’re organised you can book them online up to a week in advance of travelling, but if you’re not, like us, buy them as soon as you possibly can, otherwise you have to join a queue a mile long to chance it. This worked for us when we went from Havana to Varadero, but we were lucky and 5th in the queue. You’re basically just hoping that someone hasn’t turned up to the bus that they’ve bought a seat for). You also need to check-in, which usually opens around 30mins before the bus leaves, but you’re told to be there an hour before.
There are direct flights between the UK and Havana, but these are very expensive – we went via Mexico with a 4/6hr stop-over, which wasn’t so bad. Once you’ve collected your luggage, gone through passport control, dropped off your luggage for your connecting flight, gone back through passport control, and cleared into the terminal, the time goes fairly quickly and there’s quite a lot of food options to choose from. Remember to buy your visa before you go! It’s £25 each (for UK citizens).
Have you been to Cuba before? Where did you go? Any recommendations I’ve missed?
Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear what you thought of this beautiful country!
We’ve just come back from an amazing few days in Cuba! It’s one of the most beautiful, humbling places I think I’ve ever been to, and it was a whirlwind of a trip which saw us spend time in Havana, Viñales and Varadero. I’ve got so many photos I’ve had to split them up into two blog posts – here are a few (ahem) photos from our time in Havana.
The contrast between the abandoned and the refurbished is stark across the capital. Although it’s wonderful to see an investment in the city’s future, there’s something beautiful about the old, tired buildings, and cars that are loved and cared for in such a devoted way.
^^The Museum of the Revolution. Definitely a must-see!^^
One of the few plans that I really made was to visit La Bodeguita del Medio and La Floridita – two of Hemingway’s favourite bars.
La Bodeguita del Medio was constantly packed with people, but one sunny midday we fought our way in, stood at the bar and watched as the barman made row after row of mojitos, grabbing 10 CUC notes from people as they embraced the tourist’s pitstop and paid far more than they should for the experience. As my body was gripping onto the final few days of the flu I managed about an inch of the cocktail, of which I could barely taste, before giving up and ticking the experience off my to-do list. No regrets.
“My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita.”
The Malecón is an 8km stretch of road along the seafront that was the perfect route into the Old Town for us. It’s usually buzzing but I guess because it’s their ‘winter’ (pah!) it was quieter than usual, as there were just a few determined fishermen in the mornings!
Here are just a few of the cars I snapped photos of. There were so many amazing ones whizzing by, I could happily dedicate an entire blog post to them!
On our last day in Havana we took a tour in this cute car. The driver took us to quite a few places that we hadn’t read about – like an amazing forest in the middle of the city! – and a few that we hadn’t gotten around to visiting, so it was definitely worth the money. I think it was something like £25 for an hours tour.
Before we left I was a little worried about food. I packed about 75 sos rolls and a ton of flapjacks, but thankfully we didn’t need them (actually, that’s not true – the flapjacks were great for a sweet treat, and we did eat a few of the sos rolls, but they definitely weren’t the only things we ate). We packed our Vegan Passport – if you don’t have a copy, get one! It’s a tiny book that lists all the things that vegans do and do not eat, in pretty much any language you’ll ever need. It came in very useful during this trip, where English-speaking was limited.
We stumbled upon this cafe (above) in the middle of a square in Havana, and couldn’t believe our eyes when it listed a vegan baguette on the menu! Amazing. We shared a baguette filled with roasted vegetables, and another with loads of hummus and salad. I was so happy I forgot to take a photo!//This was our first meal in Havana (below), and the start of our Italian adventure. We pretty much relied on Italian food entirely, and this was a brilliant start. As you can see, we used a combination of Spanish phrases and vegan translations. It worked!
So that was our time in Havana! It wasn’t as crowded and busy as I thought it was going to be – especially as February is a very busy time for Cuba; the weather is cooler, and relations with America are becoming more agreeable, which has seen a massive spike in tourism for the country. Havana has a really relaxed, warm pace of life – everyone I met was so friendly, with no ulterior motive or hidden agenda. It’s a beautiful city.
Have you been to Havana? What did you love about it?
Today the weather felt entirely different. It felt like the first dark night after summer, when the rain and cold have set in, and you start looking towards the next chapter of seasons. I’m not even quite sure why – perhaps it was the cold sunshine that stretched across our back garden, or the way it gave up so easily to the clouds, as though it knew its time wasn’t there, its place was elsewhere.
With a lengthy to-do list, the type that makes you quite nervous, with a pinch of determination and a hard slap to distraction, I balanced this list with making the most of a no-alarm-set morning. I surprised myself by going to bed at 1am and waking up at 8am refreshed. I refused to move for three hours. Trout brought me a bagel in bed, one side covered in marmite, Ras’ favourite. He bounded onto the bed trying to dive straight in, and while I pushed him away I ran a finger through a puddle that had fallen through the middle, and held it up to his nose. He really loves marmite.
The rest of the day has been a satisfying blur, the best kind of day for a Sunday, the best way to approach a new week. I believe that Sundays are for breakfast in bed. They’re made for making no plans at all, just a day at home with your to-do list. I believe that to-do lists should include things like catching up with last week’s newspapers and cleaning out cupboards. I believe that Sundays are also made for the occasional roast dinner at a pub with friends, and that you should always stay for at least another beer after your plates have been cleared. I believe that you should watch that extra episode of the Netflix series you’re watching, and that you should give up the idea that you should bake bread on a Sunday, because if you’re forcing yourself to make it, it just won’t taste good. That’s part of the science of baking.
I’ve been very quiet lately, and I’ve been trying to find the time to think, so here is what I thought about today. Forgive me for my absence.
To celebrate the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, Trout and I headed up to Glasgow for a long weekend. It was grey and rainy, but I wouldn’t have expected anything less. I pulled on a hat and big coat and braced the elements, and we made sure it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm (didyouseewhatididthere). I got some great recommendations before we left, and over the three days we ticked them off one by one.
There are so many restaurants in Glasgow! I couldn’t believe how many there were. And they all looked so beautiful. It was amazing for vegans – we were spoilt for choice, and luckily we made some delicious decisions. Here are some photos from our trip.
We found that there wasn’t a huge amount to do in Glasgow (apart from museums and galleries, which were sadly closed given the dates we were there). I really enjoyed the Necropolis, we found a lovely indoor market, and the Cathedral was beautiful – but there weren’t quite the number of independent shops that I thought there would be. Thankfully there was plenty of food to make up for it ;)
Stereo cafe. I could have quite happily eaten here all day every day – the food was so.good. 100% vegan, and with a cracking beer menu, this was the perfect start to our trip. We arrived at around 3pm, dropped off our bags and headed out the door. I had a Turkish wrap – basically like a delicious kebab-type-thing with HAGGIS IN. Bloody brilliant. Trout had nachos with haggis on (we really got into the Scottish spirit of things!) and we shared a portion of buffalo cauliflower with garlic mayo, which was INSANE! Words cannot describe how good it was.
Mono cafe. Another 100% vegan menu, the food was really good (but not quite as good as Stereo). I had a garlicy Portabello mushroom burger with beer battered onion rings and Trout had the Banh Mi. Both were very good but the onion rings were so greasy, which was a bit gross. I would still definitely return, though. It’s opposite 13th note, another vegan cafe/bar/venue, which I wish we had had a chance to try but alas, New Years Day got in the way!
A beer flight at Brewdog. Such a fun idea!
Ushas. A street food inspired restaurant, the food was really good but it was let down by the service. We had the menus whipped away before we’d even finished ordering our food, and abruptly told that two side dishes and a portion of rice was enough for two people (it wasn’t) and we shouldn’t order a 2nd naan bread because one was enough (fair point). We picked the restaurant because they served vegan biryani (unheard of!) and vegan naan bread (the holy grail!) so we were really disappointed that we weren’t allowed to try the biryani. They mixed up my wine order, assumed that our change was to be kept as a tip (hate it when restaurants do that) and the naan only came halfway through the meal, after I’d reminded the waitress. Saying all of that, I would still go back because the food really was good – get the bullet chillis to start! – just be firm with what you want to order…
Have you been to Glasgow? What else would you recommend?
Looking back, 2015 was pretty amazing. It might have ended on a bum note, but putting together this blog post has really made me see that even though the shitty things were really shitty, the amazing things really were amazing. I travelled to some truly incredible places, and made some massive life changes. 2015 you were brilliant. Here’s why.
^^Packing up and moving out of Brighton. Buying our very own house. Moving in, having the locks changed, finding places for all of our things, slowly making our mark on the place. It was an amazing milestone to reach.^^
^^Getting stuff done around the house. That horrid scratching post carpet went as soon as it could have done, but not before we used it as a sanding area for our desk (which still isn’t finished, whoops).^^
^^Skipping forwards to March, a surprise trip to Bergen for our 13th anniversary. What a beautiful place – and we got to see some snow!^^
^^This guyyyyy *heart eyes*. Teaching his two nieces, and Ras, how to make pesto from scratch.^^
^^Spending as much time as possible with these two <3.^^
^^A day on the railway with my family.^^
^^Easter celebrations. I love having dinner at lunchtime!^^
^^Loving our garden and BBQ. It might not have been the sunniest of summers but we still got out there as often as we could.^^
^^Celebrating Trout’s 30th birthday in Cheddar Gorge and Bristol, going flyboarding, eating pizza and lasagne in bed, and walking around Bristol in the rain trying to find a roast dinner.^^
^^Saying goodbye to this guy. Even though I didn’t actually get to say goodbye to him before he left us for doggy heaven. Miss you Jasper x.^^
^^Catching up with Laura and meeting Finley.^^
^^Summer and Sultans Delights. Highlight of my Friday.^^
^^Working on the Moretti Gran Tour and the Tech4Good Awards. It was a stressful juggling act, but very rewarding and exciting.^^
^^The wedding of the year!^^
^^A Wilhelm Scream. I waited so many years to see them again! Plus all the other amazing bands I got to see in 2015.^^
^^Chicago. Such a cool place.^^
^^The food in Chicago. Still dreaming about The Chicago Diner. Swoon.^^
^^A trip to the Llama Farm with my family (yes I know these are goats…).^^
^^Hallowe’en. One of the best days of the year!^^
^^A weekend in Manchester. Another city in the UK ticked off my list!^^
^^Thanksgiving dinner. This was delicious, even if I do say so myself, and I managed to whip it all up in about an hour and a half. I know we don’t celebrate it in the UK, but any excuse to eat something a bit different!^^
^^Our trip to Marrakech. One of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to. That holiday will always be really special to me.^^
^^Vegan Baileys. One of the best discoveries in 2015.^^
So those are my highlights! I’m sure I’ve missed loads of really good bits, but for now these will be enough to share with you. What were your highlights? How was 2015 for you?
Here were my resolutions for 2015:
Ethical clothing. Tick! I’m really happy with this one. It’s been tricky at times, and I’ve mostly just not been buying new clothes, but it was the most interesting, exciting and positive thing that I did in 2015, and something I’ll certainly be continuing.
Be patient, mindful and thoughtful. Maaaayyyybe. Or not.
Healthy living. Hmm. On the whole I would say no…
Cook more. Tick! Trout is so busy that I do most of the cooking, and I’ve been enjoying it so much! I’ve even whipped up a few of my own recipes, which I’ve loved.
Save more. Tick! I’ve been really militant with my savings, putting 10% of my paycheck in my savings account, and all of my freelance income, and it’s been a great way of having that bit of comforting money to fall back on. Plus buying a house is expensive, and it takes all of your money, so getting my savings back on track has been really important.
Here are my resolutions for 2016:
Clean little and often. Get rid of all the ‘stuff’ I don’t need. Invest in some baskets to keep all my shit tidy. Revamp the study from dumping ground to dazzling study/man cave.
Re-evaluate my blog. Why do I have it, what do I want to do more of, what do I want to do less of. Write more. Take more photos. Spend more time on it. Publish those drafts.
Use my time wisely. I think there is immeasurable value in letting your body do nothing, but there has to be a line and I’m creeping into lazy territory, and not enjoying it. My productivity needs a big boost.
Buy flowers more often. Because they really do brighten up the place.
Wear more grey. Branching out into a new colour palette in 2016.
Get back to charity shop shopping. I used to do it ALL the time, but stopped while I was living in Brighton as the charity shops, on the whole, are pretty crap. Haywards Heath is much better!
Keep saving, and be thrifty throughout the month. Does anyone else tighten the purse strings as the end of the month approaches? I’m going to try to pretend every day is the day before pay day, and see what kind of impact it has on my finances.
Be less negative, and kinder to myself. Positive thinking, please.
Read more books. I did really well (for me) in 2015, but I’m going to try to read at least 10 books in 2016.
Get rid of the coffee table in the lounge. Words cannot express how much I hate it. I’ve had it for six years, it’s the cheapest, crappest IKEA table you can imagine (I think it was £6 or £8…) and it’s marked and old and gross and I JUST WANT IT GONE. But we keep it because there’s not much point in replacing it until we know what kind of layout our lounge will have. Which makes sense. I suppose.
Phew, that’s rather a lot!
I can’t help but think that 2016 will include some amazing changes. I would love to crack on and get some more things done around the house – there might even be a wall coming down! Decorating it will be so cool. Au revoire boring pale yellow. Also, let’s get the garden tidied up.
Happy New Year! What are your resolutions for 2016? Do you do anything special as a new year begins?
WEEKS 51 AND 52 OF 52
Happy 2016! This year is finally here (I’ve been counting down the days, it was a much needed change), and here’s the closing photos from 2015. I’ve bunched them all together, right up until the very last day of 2015, because in 2016 I won’t be putting together these weekly round-ups. Although I’ve enjoyed capturing daily moments over the past two years, I’ve found myself, sometimes, reluctantly putting them together, often later than I would like, occasionally rushed, and usually with a strange sense of duty. I’ve also decided to focus more on ‘spontaneous’, inspired blogging, and writing, rather than weekly (or fortnightly…) photo dumps. It’s just one of the changes in progress as I embrace this nonsensical ‘fresh start’.
I think that I will probably put together a reflective blog post of 2015 (yes, it’s been done before, by everyone, but there’s something very reflective about considering what you want to do more of in the new year, and what you need to let go of and leave behind in the year that has passed) – it was fun to see my most popular Instagram posts from 2015 (you can find it on my Instagram page here), and I would like to hold onto some good memories from the year, as right now December was shitty (come to think of it, so was some of November) so let’s change it around. Here’s what I got up to at the end of 2015.
^^Our office Christmas party. The place we went to made a special menu for me, which was pretty darn good. Those three dips were yum! The party finished ridiculously early (7pm? Really?) so a few of us took ourselves into town for a couple of rounds of cocktails, which turned out to be one of the funnest evenings of the year. Got to love random nights like that.^^
^^Homemade gingerbread cookies. Perfect for Christmas.^^
^^Vegan Baileys! Served in my super cute Dooley’s tumblers. A sweet friend bought these for me around 10 years ago – do you remember Dooley’s? It was my obsession when I was around 18 – and it was amazing.^^
^^Breakfast in bed. Nothing super exciting, but sometimes you need to be brought a buttery slice of toast and hot coffee when you have a cough that won’t. leave. What WAS amazing, was being treated to smashed avocado on toast, courtesy of Mr T the next day. What a dreamboat.^^
^^Homemade hot chocolate, using one of my Christmas presents from Trout – Montezumas hot chocolate discs laced with orange and ginger. Holy moly this was good! Enjoyed wearing my new Esprit jumper, a gift from my parents.^^
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, filled with good food and sweet presents. What are your Christmas traditions? Do you spend it in a family-only zone? I’ve made the most of this time off work by getting on with cleaning and tidying around the house. I really need to get better at cleaning little and often, rather than spending an entire day cleaning all three floors of our house at once. 2016 is the year I become a domestic goddess.
How was your New Years Eve? We spent it in Glasgow, and I’ll share some photos in another blog. Happy New Year!
LOVE. Looking forward to 2016//Vlogs!//Making life goals.//
LISTENING. Youth Decay//Off Camera series on YouTube//Muskets.//
LINKS. Natasha Bailie’s YouTube channel. It might be a ‘Mum’ channel, but I still love her videos//
LAST WEEK(S). Christmas parties//Hot chocolate//Wrapping up projects before the end of the year//NYE.//
THIS WEEK. 2016!//Back to work//Making plans.//
WEEK 50 OF 52
How is your Christmas shopping going? There’s still some time left, but I can’t help but feel some mild panic! Thankfully I’ve got a bit more annual leave left, and only a few more gifts to buy, so it should all be ok (she says, trying to stay calm…).
Here’s what I got up to last week.
^^I tried Fry’s new battered ‘prawns’, and cooked us a homemade Chinese takeaway, including peanut oil noodles, tofu in hoisin sauce, thai crackers and these prawns. They tasted like chicken nuggets, though!^^
^^Christmas dinner with friends. Every year we organise a Christmas dinner to exchange gifts and wish each other a merry Christmas. This year we went to Food for Friends, and it was really good. Any meal that starts with Prosecco and ends with port is going to be good though, right?! I was so sad that Trout couldn’t make it, but we all faced time him before the meal and passed him around the table, which was fun.^^
^^The last few weeks have been hard, but I decided it was time to make an effort and dress up for the evening. I had a voucher for a free style at my local salon, so I asked her to pop in a victory roll, and I love it so. Plus the curls held all night!^^
^^A few of the candles from my Advent Calendar. I bought a plate to keep them on from a charity shop, and although you can’t really tell, it’s so beautiful. Cream with a gold trim, perfect for my candles.^^
^^Our Christmas tree <3 Trout came home on Sunday night and we pretty much went straight out and bought a tree. We spent the afternoon drinking mulled cider (me) and red wine (him), decorating the Christmas tree, eating twiglets and watching the worst of the Christmas movie channel. It was kind of perfect.^^
LOVE. Slowly getting through my Christmas shopping//Our Christmas tree//Annual leave.//
LISTENING. Youth Decay//Gnarwolves//Serial.//
LINKS. New series of Serial!//30 Things I Know Now That I Didn’t Always//
LAST WEEK. Everything Christmas-related//Sleeping until 10am//Glitter nail polish.//
THIS WEEK. Taking part in Gabriella’s series, ‘What Vegans Eat‘. Keep your eyes peeled!//More Christmas parties.//
WEEK 49 OF 52
Week 49! Can you believe it? Christmas is so close, and 2016 is creeping closer, it’s crazy. But then I’m pretty sure everyone is saying the same thing ;) Everything’s getting a little festive around here, and I am absolutely loving it. I’ve been so lucky to be invited to so many Christmas gatherings already, including a cookie decorating party, and hosting friends for a Thanksgiving II dinner with some of Heston’s toffee apple mulled cider (!!!).
Here are some photos from last week.
^^What a cutey.^^
^^Our Christmas set-up! I’m on the hunt for some Christmas bunting to hang across the mantlepiece – any tips? Maybe I should make my own? You might spot Rasputin’s stocking on the right – I mentioned last week that Ras broke into his stocking, which is why it’s no longer hanging up. He keeps meowing at where it once was though. Silly cat.^^
^^Yankee candle advent calendar! Yankee candle advent calendar! My Mum is the best. Trout is also the best – he got me a Moo Free advent calendar, aka the best vegan chocolate.^^
^^Caught in the act. Bloody cheek.^^
^^On Wednesday Trout and I went on a little mid-week date to see Black Mass at the cinema, and then to eat hotdogs from Beelzebab at their newest residence – at The Hope. It was the perfect evening. The film was pretty good – I love anything that’s based on a true story – and anything that ends with pulled ‘pork’ fries and battered pickles, with the best mustard mayo. I highly recommend.^^
^^This guyyyyy. A lazy morning/afternoon spent in bed with my two favourite boys. I love it.^^
LOVE. C H R I S T M A S //Mulled cider//Being really lazy at the weekend. No shame.//
LINKS. Naomi’s morning with her sister – it looks so much fun!//This recipe for S’mores hot chocolate (!!!). I’ve had such a craving for hot chocolate lately!//
LAST WEEK. Countdown to Christmas officially beginning//Having a cold//The start of so many Christmas parties!//
THIS WEEK. More Christmas parties!//Some much-needed time off work//Ghost Stories for Christmas .//
Are you in full-on present buying mode? I am. Whenever I’m in town or browsing online I’m thinking, could that make a great gift for that person? What else can I get for that person? Have I bought enough?!
To help those of you out who might not be vegan and don’t know what to buy you vegan loved one, or it’s your first Christmas being vegan and aren’t sure what you should put on your Christmas list, I’ve put together a gift guide for vegans, young and old. There’s anything from stocking fillers to gifts for the men in your life, or a treat you should give to yourself, because Christmas can be stressful. I hope it helps!
^^How amazing is this magical cracker by Jealous Sweets! I think it would be super fun to use as both a place setting and as a gift. Definitely a stocking filler.^^
For those that prefer chocolate over sweets…
Personally I prefer both. All together in a bowl. Here are a few sweet treats that you cannot go wrong with – I have tried all of them and cannot pick a favourite.
I thought for a long time about whether I should divide the men and women gift guides, and in the end I did separate them – but feel free to look at them as just two gift guides filled with beautiful products.
As you can probably tell, I’m a sucker for packaging (hello #2, swoon) and a sucker for bamboo anything.
If you prefer not to buy children chocolate and sugary treats, I’ve put together a gift guide especially for them.
This post was written in partnership with Ethical Superstore.
A couple of weeks ago two sweet friends came over for dinner. They had exciting news, and we had curry, so it was the perfect evening really. They are two of the most inspiring and driven people I know, and it was an exciting evening of talking business, family, friends and news. Recently they launched This is Your Cookbook, which is just such an amazing idea. You design your own cookbook, including the cover artwork, the name of the book and a personal note in the front, and then you choose a whole bunch of recipes that you think they will love. It’s perfect if you’re a crazy mix of vegan/non-vegan/gluten free/dairy free/just love food!
I was so excited when they gave us our very own cookbook – look how beautiful it is! They also included a photo of the four of us in the front of the book, which is so nice.
Go and check out This is Your Cookbook – it’s perfect for Christmas!
WEEK 48 OF 52
I hope everyone’s enjoying the start of December, and the countdown to Christmas! Oh I do love this time of year. Picking out gifts for family and friends, organising Christmas parties, drinking mulled wine and mulled cider, eating mince pies. It’s such a special time of year. Have you decorated your house yet? Trout won’t let us decorate until at least the second week of December (*sob*) but at least I have the advent calendars to cheer my up. My Mum bought me a Yankee candle advent calendar – best idea ever!? – and Trout bought me a Moo Free calendar, so I’ve got the best of both worlds this year. I didn’t buy Ras one as he is chubby enough already, and I always forgot to give him his daily treats anyway (I know, bad cat Mum) so I decided to pop a couple of pouches of Dreamies into his stocking and give him a few every so often. Big mistake – he’s usually so good when there’s any food around – but he yanked his stocking straight off the mantlepiece and ate almost an entire bag of treats. Ugh! No more stocking for him.
Anyway, here’s what I got up to last week. It’s entirely food – what else would you expect?! – so enjoy, and I hope it doesn’t make you too hungry. Happy December!
^^Happy Thanksgiving! The day before we randomly decided to celebrate thanksgiving, either with a traditional meal or an NFL-junk-food meal. I decided to go the traditional route, and whipped up ‘turkey’, mashed potato, green beans in garlic with almonds and breadcrumbs, roasted carrots and sweet potato in maple syrup, cranberry sauce, stuffing and biscuits. Yum!^^
^^Lunch at Street Diner, courtesy of Sultans Delights. Yum!^^
^^I spent Saturday morning running a few errands in town, and came home to this amazing bowl of soup. Trout made a hearty cream of mushroom soup, and it tasted so good – the perfectly lunch for a cloudy afternoon.^^
Perfect comfort food as the temperature has dropped and the wind has picked up.
LOVE. Spending time with my camera//Making an effort in the kitchen//
LISTENING. Laura Marling//A Wilhelm Scream//Cat Power.//
LAST WEEK. Marrakech//Moving out of our office//Birthday fun with friends.//
THIS WEEK. Christmas parties!//Sleeping//Advent calendars!//
In my final year at university I lived in a house that had no heating. Not in a ‘we’re-students-just-thrown-on-another-jumper‘ kind of no heating, more like, ‘gas-does-not-exist-in-this-house-so-deal-with-it‘ kind of no heating. I soon learnt to get changed incredibly quickly, to switch on the little electric heater in my room 30 minutes before I planned on going to bed. To congregate around the slightly larger heater in the lounge, and to try not to burn yourself on it. When I got the deposit back from the previous flat we lived in, I invested in a blanket from John Lewis, and it’s still one of my most prized possessions. I love it so.
During the darkest winter months, shivering around the kitchen table in a desperate bid to finish my dissertation on time, whilst waiting patiently for the end of January to arrive so that I could pick up Rasputin, I discovered mulled winter punch. Every morning, before I had even picked out an outfit and planned which coffee shop I would be picking up my morning latte from, I made myself a warm mug of winter punch. And every evening before bed I would make myself a mug to send me to sleep, and fight the cold that set in once the sun had gone down. These were chills that not even Rasputin’s sweet kitten fur could remedy.
Shortly after graduating and moving to a (slightly) warmer home, I had long forgotten about it, and when I did remember, I couldn’t find it. Finally I managed to track it down on Ethical Superstore! I was so happy to see its sparkling label looking back at me. I dilute the punch with hot water, and it’s the most comforting wake-up call you could ask for, and the perfect goodnight kiss. As winter progresses, and we approach Christmas, treat yourself to a bottle. You won’t regret it.
This post is written in collaboration with Ethical Superstore.
WEEK 47 OF 52
This week’s Photos of the Week is dedicated to Marrakech! We hopped over to Africa for a weekend of winter sunshine, and I absolutely loved it. It’s a truly amazing place. I didn’t take a lot of photos – most of the time it felt as though as soon as you took a photo, someone would claim that they owned whatever you photographed and would demand payment! I turned my phone on flight mode and didn’t connect to the WiFi in the riad – and I have to say, it felt really good. Arriving at Gatwick and getting in the car, I braced myself as I turned aeroplane mode off, but it wasn’t as painful as I thought it was going to be, and I saved a lot of work-related ‘stuff’ until Monday, which helped.
Here are a handful of photos from our trip. Oh how I want to go back!
^^We stayed at Dar Akal, a traditional Moroccan riad about 15min walk from the main square. Seriously, if you go to Marrakech stay at this place. It was so beautiful, romantic and special. The host was amazing – when we arrived we had tea and sat with him while he talked us through a map of the area, highlighting places to visit, how to get to places and some general tips on the best way to enjoy Marrakech. It gave us a brilliant start to the trip, giving us context for where we were staying and where we wanted to visit first. The road had a stunning rooftop terrace and pool, where we enjoyed breakfast when the weather was sunny, and a peaceful private lounge where we enjoyed a meal in the evening. Breakfast was included in the price of the room, and we paid extra for our meal in the evening, which was traditional (I think!) Moroccan food, made vegan especially for us.^^
^^The main square in the Old Town. This was amazing during both the day and the evening. During the day it has market stalls and traders, plus monkeys in football shirts and nappies, and snake charmers. It’s buzzing with life. In the evening you’ll find much of the same, plus food stalls, magicians, storytellers and more.^^
^^Tea and an espresso in a cafe on the main square. I had spent most of the afternoon fighting nausea, but two espressos sorted me right out. See, coffee really can solve all of life’s problems.^^
^^The view while I sipped my espresso.^^
^^One evening we decided to have dinner in our riad, and it was probably the most romantic meal we’ve ever had! The table was scattered with rose petals, the fire burned next to us and candles were dotted around the room. After our meal we played draughts and card games, it was the perfect evening.^^
^^We had a trio of these antipasti/dips – courgette, tomato and aubergine. They were all really good.^^
^^Next up was a tagine, and finally fresh strawberries, all washed down with a beautiful bottle of Moroccan wine. ^^
^^On the first day we stumbled upon Earth Cafe. I had researched it before we arrived, but quickly realised that it would be fairly impossible to try and find anywhere so we didn’t bother. Fate brought us together! The food is all vegetarian, with a vegan menu, however it was only OK. If you’re concerned about eating out then this is a safe bet, and fairly traditional. We had filo pastry in various shapes with grilled vegetables and dates.^^
^^A stork! They nest on the top of the building (GIANT nests!?!) and it was pretty cool to see them so close.^^
^^So many beautiful tiles.^^
^^Beautiful tiles, everywhere!
^^Because the weather wasn’t super warm, I was completely covered up anyway, but I didn’t get any hassle while I was in Marrakech. I don’t know how different it would be if you were out in a vest top or shorts, but as it was 15c while we were there I always had trousers and a cardigan on. Definitely bring some kind of espadrilles with you – the roads are dusty and a bit grubby, and you need some sturdy footwear while you pound the streets all day.^^
^^On our last day we took a taxi to the New Town and explored Yves Saint Laurent gardens, which were really beautiful. It was good to explore this part of the city, but I have to say I definitely preferred staying in the Old Town. It felt more ‘real’ and exciting.^^
So there’s Marrakech! Have you been? What would you recommend?
LOVE. Travelling. I say this every week, though…!//Making Trout’s advent calendar//Cooking some yum food.//
LISTENING. Fiona Apple//Dan Andriano//Regina Spektor.//
LAST WEEK. Marrakech!//Getting back into the swing of things at work//Countdown to Christmas!//
THIS WEEK. Putting together lots of new blog content//Working with some great brands//Moving offices (again!).//
WEEK 46 OF 52
Happy Wednesday! I hope you’re having a lovely week. Well, as much as we all can given last week’s awful events.
Looking through my pictures it seems that all I did was eat last week! Not complaining, it included some pretty delicious dishes. Here’s what I got up to.
^^Soft tacos, one of my favourite foods. I roasted up some squash in cumin and coriander, and made some guacamole, and we had some hot sauce on top and tortilla chips on the side. Yum!^^
^^Churros! Tesco sell these in the frozen section and they’re really good. I baked them in the oven then I tossed them in some golden caster sugar mixed with cinnamon, and melted some chocolate to dip them in. Yum!^^
^^The new and improved Jus-Rol croissants. They’re so much bigger! And the texture is better. When I saw the ‘new size and recipe!’ stamp on the tube I was worried that they weren’t going to be vegan anymore, but I’m pretty sure they are. Perfect weekend breakfast, yum.^^
LOVE. Getting the chance to work with some amazing brands//Accidentally vegan products (please see above)//Celebrating birthdays.//
LISTENING. Fiona Apple//Farewell Dear Ghost//Gnarwolves.//
LINKS. This competition with Great Plains – you could win a trip to Rome! Return flights, two nights’ in a hotel, breakfast, wine-tasting, spending money, hotel transfers and travel insurance. Wowza!//This sticky toffee pudding recipe. I made it for friends at the weekend and it was so good! Pretty easy to make, and great for a dinner party as you can make it ahead of time and re-heat it before serving.//Espirit have a vegan shoe collection!//
LAST WEEK. Dinner with friends//Lots of birthdays//Paris…//
THIS WEEK. Marrakech!//Rasputin’s birthday//Searching for summery trousers. Wish me luck!//
Lately I’ve been trying out plenty of new-to-me products, from hair to skin to nails, and a lot of them I will definitely be buying again once they’ve run out. You can find my previous blog posts about vegan beauty products here, here and here, and below is what I’m currently using, and loving:
This foaming cleanser from Superdrug is amazing, and cheap! I highly recommend it. I think all of Superdrug’s own brand of cosmetics are vegan and cruelty-free, which is just fantastic given that the quality and price are so good.//I was given this tube of JASON brightening apricot facial scrub for my birthday and I’m in love with it – I’ll definitely be picking up another tube once this one runs out – it works really well, it’s all natural and it smells really good.//Tara Smith shampoo. I was given a set of her hair products for my birthday and really love them. I’m so sad that I’ve used them all up! Her range is completely vegan and cruelty-free, and it smells like you’re at a salon, bonus points.//
B. at Superdrug is an entirely vegan and cruelty-free range of cosmetics, and I’ve been using them ever since they launched. I’ve mentioned the Day Cream before, but I’ve also been using the Night Cream and the two together are fantastic – my skin is really soft, and they last for a really long time. Also, they’re often on special offer, making them even more affordable.
Barry M products are almost all vegan, and all cruelty-free. They list their vegan products on the website, which is super helpful, and all of their nail polish range is vegan. A friend gave me this top coat for my birthday (don’t I have the best friends, ever?!) and it works just like having gels at a salon. This seems to be the only similar product I can find on the Barry M website, but as you can see it doesn’t look like the bottle above. I think it’s the same, though.//
Here are my nails after two weeks. Two weeks! It’s true love.//
I’ve written about Eden Perfumes before, and here’s the bottle of faux Viktor & Rolf that I bought at VegFest. As you can see, it’s nothing exciting, but the main things is it’s vegan, cruelty-free and £15. What more could you ask for?! OK maybe a lid that isn’t wonky, but really, who cares.//
Hurraw lipbalm! I was given this lip balm for my birthday (seriously, best.friends.ever) and I love it almost as much as the coconut one. This one gives you a slightly tinted lip, which I love, but it does soak in much quicker than the coconut, which is a shame because I would like the tint to last a little longer.//
DISCLAIMER: I’ve been using this Fudge heat protection spray, BUT I can’t find any details online of whether it’s vegan. It’s definitely cruelty-free, and smells amazing, but I don’t want to tell you it’s definitely vegan, because I just can’t be sure.//
So, that’s what I’ve been using lately. Which vegan and cruelty-free products do you love? Any recommendations?
WEEK 45 OF 52
At the weekend I went home to see my family and to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. We went out to the Llama Park near where they live, aka my sister’s idea of heaven. It’s a really fun place to visit – you can buy food for the animals and feed them, and there are loads of super excited llamas (obv), alpacas, goats, donkeys, birds, sheep, horses and REINDEER! Here are a few photos from our day.
^^Goats! Did you realise their eyes look like that?! So creepy! They were clambering on top of each other trying to get food, and you can kind of see the babies being trampled on. Mean goats.^^
^^There’s a llama on the loose! It was kind of scary//kind of amazing to see this one sitting in the middle of the path. As we approached her/him we weren’t sure if he/she was going to be scared/angry/happy but he/she ended up being really friendly. Maybe they were trying to be a bit gangster like this guy and managed to clear the fence? I hope they weren’t hurt!^^
^^More little llamas. It’s so fun feeding them!^^
^^Rudolph’s feet! They were so cute. I don’t know why I’d never noticed before, but reindeer have the most amazing feet. I learnt so much yesterday.^^
^^Chilling out with Ras and a bowl of sweets. Perfect way to relax!^^
I hope you all had a lovely weekend! Did you go out to see any fireworks? We ended up staying at home for the evening – it was awful weather here, and we both got home so late from work, so excuses excuses excuses. On the plus side there were some more fireworks on Saturday night, which played out at exactly the right spot so that we could watch them from our bed. Perfect!
LOVE. Finally buying a new book (The Ice Man by Philip Carlo) and giving up on the one I’ve been forcing myself to read for weeks. Have you ever done that? It feels so unhealthy to force yourself//Starting my Christmas shopping//Trying to get back into meal planning.//
LISTENING. Johnny Cash//Conor Oberst//Counterpunch.//
LINKS. I’m a complete YouTube-er novice, but there’s something I love about Ingrid Nilsen’s videos. She’s so cute! Her video on DIY room scents + sprays is perfect for Christmas presents//I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I LOVE Hurraw!’s range of raw lip balms. They make the best lip balm I’ve ever used, and the coconut one smells incredible. Again, perfect for Christmas presents.//
LAST WEEK. Evil Dead Trilogy//Llamas//Narcos. Have you watched it? It’s on Netflix and it’s AMAZING. We smashed the entire season in a mere matter of days (this is very fast for us. It’s the first time we’ve ever ‘binge-watched’ anything!).//
THIS WEEK. Dinner with friends//Catching up with family//More Christmas shopping!//
WEEK 44 OF 52
^^On Monday I took the day off to spend with my sister in her classroom, and helped decorate it for the new term. I made this owl! Can you tell I have a degree in fine art? It’s SENSORY!^^
^^Well-earned vegan caviar and Champagne. Champagne was lovely, caviar was rank.^^
^^Reason 147,562 why I love Brighton. Waiting at the station for Trout, a guy sat down at the piano and played a few tunes. The guy to the left joined in to sing, and then produced a guitar out of his bag, and the two women on the right joined them as backing vocals. It was amazing! The best way to end the day.^^
^^One of my favourite meals, tortilla bowl. They’re so much fun to put together! I made roasted squash, coriander rice and guacamole, and when Trout came home he made these amazing refried beans and baked the bowls. Pile everything on with some hot sauce and tortilla chips on the side – yum!^^
^^I LOVE HALLOWE’EN. It’s such a good excuse to dress up, chuck on a load of blood, eat weird food and celebrate everything horrific. I was counting down the hours before I could start getting ready on Saturday!^^
^^Dressed as Madeline O’Malley from The Innkeepers.^^
^^Patrick Bateman from American Psycho and Madeleine O’Malley from The Innkeepers.^^
^^We took some photos out in the field. It was so foggy, when the flash went off it created this amazing illusion.^^
^^I think this one might be my favourite!^^
I hope everyone had a fun Hallowe’en! What did you dress as?
LOVE. My new diffuser. It’s oatmeal & vanilla and sitting in my bathroom and it smells SO GOOD!//Meal planning//Writing.//
LISTENING. Regina Spektor//Cat Power//Flatliners//The Menzingers.//
LINKS. Fanny Zanotti’s countdown to Christmas. Get ready for advent!//
LAST WEEK. Hallowe’en//Christmas music//Joanna Newsom.//
THIS WEEK. Beelzebab’s Big Winter Fair in Brighton//Going home to see my family//Extreme Film Society post-Halloween review meet-up.//
Christmas is approaching (Christmas! Christmas!) and I’m starting to think about parties and what to wear. Ever since I began my quest for ethical-only clothing I’ve been super selective about what I buy. Generally I’ve been working with what I already have, mixing things up and trying out new outfits, but this year I think it’s time to treat myself to something special. I always try to pick pieces that will work in a number of ways, and for a number of different occasions, so being able to dress up an outfit for work or a party, and dress it down for a cinema date or Sunday roast with friends, is exactly what I’m looking for.
I’ve got quite a few Christmas parties to go to this year (our office Christmas party, my freelance Christmas party, Christmas dinner with friends and, of course, the big day (week) itself) so I need an outfit that will work for all of them, or at least some of them. Obviously I’m not complaining!
I love the quilted geometric design on this dress – the colour is beautiful and the shape is really fun. This dress would work really well paired with a bright pair of tights, or with classic sheer or black tights and a pink heel. It’s definitely on the smart side, but I think the grey gives it a subtlety that means it’s still versatile.//
You KNOW I can’t resist an oversized dress! There is something so cute about this one – the sleeves are a great length, as is the skirt, and the polkadots make it really fun.//I love this look – short trousers, ankle boots and a smart top. It’s casual, it’s smart, it’s cool.//
This coat looks perfect for both day and night. The colour is classic (and called toffee!), the pockets look amazing (that totally changes everything, right?) and it works with both jeans, black leggings or layered over a dress and tights. Plus it isn’t wool!! It’s like a dream.//Nothing like a bit of sparkle for a night out!//I love the cut-out design in this fairtrade necklace.//A pair of classic black heels. Can’t beat them.//
And of course, you also can’t beat coming home after a night in heels and getting straight into some comfy pyjamas…
Buying ethically can be tricky at first – it’s kind of like going vegan. When you first embark on the adventure it can feel like you’re constantly researching and checking and sighing, but I’m slowly gathering a bank of brands that tick all the boxes. Everything I’ve featured above, as far as I can possibly tell, is ethically sound. Let me know if you have any other suggestions in the comments below. Happy festive shopping!
This post was put together in collaboration with Great Plains.
WEEK 42 + 43 OF 52
Where did the past two weeks go?! I feel like I’m being so slack with my weekly photos – they seem to be piling up quite quickly. Must remember to get my act together sooner. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to over the past couple of weeks. OH! And it’s only a few weeks until Christmas. Can you believe it!! Time to start making my Christmas cake and planning our annual trip to Liberty with my sister.
The weekend before last we went to Manchester for a brief visit. It’s been on my to-visit place for so long, so I was really happy that we were finally ticking it off. We just happened to be there at the same day as the Northern Vegan Festival (were Trout’s vegan-senses tingling when he booked it?!) so we popped in when we got there and had a look round. We happened to be staying at the hotel the event was being held out, which was even more of a strange coincidence! The hotel, however, was AWFUL. Let me just say that you should never ever stay at the Saches hotel. EVER.
Anyway, here are a few photos from before, during and after our trip.
^^A simple dinner and research for our next trip.^^
^^Pain au chocolate and coffee in bed. Yum! We picked up some pastries from the Fair and they were amazing. I don’t know who made them, though! Any clues?^^
^^I LOVED the architecture. All those empty factories and warehouses. Oh to live in one *sigh*.^^
^^Lunch from V Revolution. I really liked this place but Trout wasn’t too keen, so it’s a mixed review from us.^^
^^On Saturday night we ate at Mowgli, an Indian street food restaurant. Everything tasted so good, and they had their own separate vegan menu. I would definitely recommend eating here if you’re in Manchester or Liverpool.^^
^^Coffee//Tea//Cake//Loaf at the Arts centre.^^
^^Lovely street art found on the way to a gig in the evening. We went to see Kathryn Williams, who had been asked to write and perform an album of songs in response to the 50th anniversary of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. It’s one of my favourite books, and Kathryn certainly did it justice. Afterwards she had a Q&A with Rachel Cooke, another brilliant woman in the arts, so all in all it was a lovely evening. AND it was in a church, which is my favourite way to see any live music. Have you been to the church in Highbury & Islington in London? Wowza, that place is incredible.^^
^^Last Saturday a friend organised a girls-only afternoon tea. It was so much fun! Catching up over homemade vegan sausage rolls, sandwiches and scones, as well as champagne and fizzy fangs. This girl knows how to put on a good spread!^^
^^Autumn-cleaning our bedroom. It always feels so good to get rid of all the magazines that pile up and old cotton wool balls and plaster wrappers and other bits + bobs that sit around for ages.^^
LOVE. Travelling//Catching up with emails (sorry if you’ve been waiting…)//Making plans.//
LISTENING. The Bronx//Mariachi el Bronx//Green Day.//
LINKS. How one man shook up his daily routine//Hey Natalie Jean documenting her move to the country. Makes me want to do the same! Kind of…//London Grumblr. I’d forgotten how brilliantly funny it is.//
LAST WEEK. Manchester//Nerd Nite//The Great Fishless Steak Crisis of 2015.//Back to the Future Day!!//Girly Day on Saturday//Extra hour of sleep on Sunday *yesss*.//
THIS WEEK. Hallowe’en!!//Joanna Newsom.//
I hope everyone’s having a great week!
WEEK 41 OF 52
I hope everyone is having a great week! The clocks will be rolling backwards soon, so I’m soaking up as much pre and post-work daylight as possible. It’s already dark as I creep down the stairs in the morning, and as I walk home in the evening it’s starting to become darker. I’m not complaining too much though – I’ve been wearing my favourite jumper dresses, and looking at my boots longingly, promising that I’ll wear them soon. Whilst sipping on hot apple cider. And finally opening that box of iced mince pies. Here’s what I got up to last week.
^^I tucked myself away in bed the other night to watch a documentary on Broadmoor, and Ras came to join me. He is getting cuter as the days get colder. Especially if I feed him when I get up, rather than before I leave – then he loves a good purry cuddle on the sofa while I have my coffee. Heaven.^^
^^Vegan cheese toastie using our beloved Daiya. I can’t get enough of them at the moment! That might just be my laziness speaking. And my love of Daiya.^^
^^Meat Liquor in Brighton, dinner with friends. Might sound like an odd place for a vegan to go, but they list their vegan options on the menu and they were pretty good! A burger, buffalo seitan wings, fries and onion rings (which were amazing! The garlic dip was rank, though).^^
^^Pa amb tomaquet for breakfast, made with home-grown tomatoes from Trout’s Mum. I also made bruschetta with these beauties – now if only I could grow my own!^^
^^Vegan caviar! The only photo I took at VegFest, because I was too busy stuffing my face, and this was too bonkers not to snap! Did you go to it this year? It was huge! We were queueing for so long, but it was worth it. I was cheese toastie heaven with Follow Your Heart, and picked up some chocolate, a cookie sandwich from Ms Cupcake, and some perfume from Eden Perfumes.^^
^^Drinks in Soho with the Zombie Walk, and curry on Brick Lane with friends after VegFest. I’m sad I missed the Zombie Walk in Brighton, it’s always amazing! I look forward to finding some photos.^^
LOVE. Eden Perfumes*//Home-grown tomatoes//London//
LISTENING. The Ordinary Boys//This new video from Gnarwolves//Cat Power. So gutted I missed out on tickets for her London dates, and we’ll be in Manchester the weekend before she plays, where there are tickets available. *Sob*//
LINKS. This list for a new decade, by Meg Fee//
LAST WEEK(S). VegFest//Dinners with friends//Rain/Sunshine//
THIS WEEK. Manchester (any recommendations??)//Catching up on rest//A random lecture on Thursday. I’m sure I’ll report back next week as I can’t remember the details right now!//
*I’d heard so much about Eden Perfumes – they’re a 100% vegan perfume company that don’t test on animals, and can re-create pretty much any fragrance. I was a bit skeptical, especially as I don’t really like the idea of ripping off other people’s fragrances, but at the same time it’s almost impossible to find cruelty-free perfume. I sniffed a few samples at VegFest and wasn’t too impressed, until I tried Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb (one of my FAVOURITE perfumes) – and it was amazing! I snapped up a 30ml bottle for just £12. Definitely check these guys out – they are based in Brighton and Hove, but you can order online.
I recently read Bleubird’s list of things that she was looking forward to about ‘fall’ (autumn), and goals for this period in the year, and thought it was a lovely way to welcome in the new season. Our months seem to blur into one long year of miserable weather, punctuated with the odd spell of sunshine and sandal wearing, but this autumn I am hoping to embrace what is soon becoming my favourite season.
(If it even ends up being a season, and not a wet and windy run-up to Christmas.)
(Christmas! Christmas! I am so excited!)
Eating // Roast dinners and home-made soup
Drinking // Warm spiced apple cider and gingerbread lattes
Practicing // Yoga
Mastering // The art of planning ahead. Over the years I’ve gotten much better, but I’m not great…
Learning // To switch off my phone more (difficult in the job I’m in!)
Trying // To get my Christmas shopping finished as early as possible
Playing // More new music
Finishing // All the books I’m halfway through!
Reading // Christopher Berry-Dee, Meg Fee, and more about gangs
Remembering // To keep to a Christmas spending budget ;)
Wearing // Tights and thick dresses.
Cooking // New dishes. Not sure what yet
Working // On my blog more
Travelling // A lot. Over the next year we have so many plans, and I am beyond excited
Wanting // To learn more, to read more, to try new things
Watching // More documentaries
What are you looking forward to over the next few months?
WEEKS 38, 39 AND 40 OF 52
Here’s another round-up from the past few weeks – at some point I’ll catch up with everything and post them up weekly, as I should be!
^^I went to my very first professional rugby game! And witnessed my very first haka! It was very exciting.^^
^^After the rugby we went to The Prince George, a veggie pub in Brighton, for a good old roast dinner. This was pretty darn good!^^
^^My most recent read. I really enjoyed it – the writer has a great ‘un-bias’ position with the twins, even though they asked him to write their biography. Plus any excuse to have Tom Hardy in bed with me.^^
^^Trout’s Mum bought me a voucher to get my nails done at The Final Nail for my birthday, so I decided to squeeze in a manicure before we flew to Chicago. I absolutely LOVE it! I was initially thinking of just getting a smart and simple colour, but looking through their Instagram page I spotted these cats and knew I had to have them. I think this might become a regular habit…^^
^^A Pornstar Martini. I felt like a bit of a pratt ordering this, but it tasted so good! Vanilla vodka, prosecco, passionfruit – what’s not to like?! It also came with a chaser of prosecco, which was quite random.^^
^^More cats. Look at their little feet!^^
^^Don’t judge me… I am so excited about Christmas!^^
LOVE. To-do lists. More than ever, especially as I’m starting to think about Christmas presents//New books//Skittles.
LISTENING. Sex Jam//Fucked Up//Ian Fisher//
LINKS. This piece of writing by Meg Fee, on ageing.//This piece of writing by Sophie, on running a creative lifestyle blog//These cat print loafers (!!!)//
LAST WEEK(S). Rugby//Cats//Food//
THIS WEEK. Dinner with friends x 2//Bake Off Final//VegFest London!//
I hope that everyone is having a lovely week. Autumn is here, isn’t it? I feel my way to the bathroom in the darkness when I get up in the morning, and am a bit on edge as I walk home alone in the evening, in darkness, and I’m testing the water with an extra layer here and there. We’ll be changing our clocks very soon, are you excited? What are you looking forward to in autumn?
Now let’s get onto the good stuff – what we ate! Chicago is a super vegan-friendly city with so much choice. I loved being able to order what I fancied and try new things, rather than the only vegan option available. And Americans do their junk food RIGHT! Here’s a round-up of what we ate…
^^The Chicago Diner. From the minute I discovered it, I was so excited to try this place. Any time I asked someone what they recommended we do in Chicago they would say, You know about the diner, right? Oh yes indeed. We ended up going to both locations, and a total of three times. No regrets.^^
^^The Breakfast Combo with a pancake. I normally frown upon the whole sweet/savoury thing Americans have going on with their food, but they gave me an extra plate so I really just got a massive cooked breakfast AND a pancake, so it was a win/win situation for me. Plus, free coffee refills! Heaven. By the way, underneath that giant pancake is a whole heap of cubed potatoes with fried pepper and onion (or ‘hash’ as they described it. It’s not hash! Whatever. It was good, either way). Oh, and Trout had a chocolate cookie dough peanut butter shake. You can only imagine how good that was… He also got a salted caramel shake on our third visit which was amazing, too!^^
^^A few days later we stopped off for lunch – I had one of my favourite meals in the world, a reuben. Swoon. The third time we went I had the Mickey Muffin with extra seitan bacon (which was insane, by the way) and Trout had the steak and ‘eggs’ (tofu). You basically can’t go wrong with this place.^^
^^The next stop for us was Handlebar. How have I never had fried pickles before!? They are so good! And ranch sauce – why don’t we have this over here? I couldn’t find a vegan version in Whole Foods but I’ll certainly be making my own on a regular basis.^^
^^I had the Sambal Tofu (it must have come with at least an entire packet of tofu in it!) which was really good. Quite heavy on the sriracha, and very filling, just like everything else we ate in Chicago…^^
^^Next on the list we have Kitchen 17. This place was kind of strange. They only have room for 16 people to eat at one time, so be careful when you choose to go there. I think we must have picked a bad time to go because it was a bit of a mess, everyone was cleaning their own tables, and people were waiting a long time for their food. We must have gotten lucky because we grabbed the last seat and got our food pretty quick – unfortunately it wasn’t that great, though. Not awful, just not as good as we were hoping. We shared a plate of nachos, Trout had a philly cheesesteak sandwich and I had a chicken club sandwich, which confusingly came in a bun. It’s worth a visit, but if I came back to Chicago I probably wouldn’t make another trip there. Saying that, the pizzas did look gooood.^^
Not pictured, but certainly deserves a mention, is Native Foods, one of the best places I’ve eaten in America (we went there a lot on our last trip). I’m still dreaming of their oatmeal cookie sandwich. Holy yum that was good. And their ‘chicken’ – crazy similar to how I remember chicken being!! Because all of the portions were so big we only ate one – maybe two – meals a day, and usually didn’t finish either of them. I forgot what hunger felt like! We also did not manage to get to Fritz Pastry, which was a real shame as I had heard rave reviews of their espresso creme filled donuts. Never mind. And of course there’s Whole Foods and Trader Joes to stock up on Daiya and Field Roast goodies and vegan ‘fluff’. We dropped $50+ on our last day…
So that’s where we ate! Anything I missed that you would recommend? Add them in the comments!
We’re back from Chicago! I am jet lagged to the eyeballs but wanted to sit down and write a bit about our trip before we have dinner and fall asleep again. We landed at 7.30am this morning (1.30am in our brains), picked up Ras on the way home (he pooped in his box as we were pulling up outside our house. Thanks for that…) and then headed up to bed for a ‘strategic nap’, as Trout put it. A few hours later it’s been a confusing day but we’ve done a big food shop and the laundry is on so we’re slowly getting back into the swing of things. Kiiiind of regretting not taking tomorrow off work, but let’s see how it goes…
6.30am on our first morning in Chicago. We ended up going to bed at 7.30pm on the evening that we landed, we couldn’t keep our eyes open a minute longer. We had dinner at Native Foods and I stared at the menu for about 15 minutes unable to read it or make any kind of decision, so we knew it wasn’t going to be an eventful first night! And by the way, their ‘chicken’ is amazing. Seriously. It freaked me out how much it reminded me of chicken. But food will come in another post – for now, here’s what we got up to.
My dream car. She’s a beaut!
^^Us being total punk-venue-tourist-geeks outside the Fireside Bowl!^^
^^One evening we went to see The Sandlot being played on the top of a Whole Foods roof. It was so much fun! I’d never heard of this film before, but it was really good and obviously a classic I completely missed!^^
^^The view from 360 Chicago.^^
^^Nosebleed seats for the ice hockey!^^
So that was our time in Chicago! It’s a great city, with so much to do and see. I definitely recommend going to see some sports – the ice hockey was crazy! There were fights, everyone stood up for the national anthem, and the Blackhawks one so everyone was super happy. Is there anything else you would recommend that we missed? Stay tuned for everything that we ate while we were there!