I wish the title of this blog post indicated that I was on my way to New York, or at least planning a trip there, but sadly I’m still in Sussex dreaming of our next trip away, which we haven’t even booked yet. Although it won’t be New York.
At the weekend I popped into Marks and Spencer to try out a few of their new fragrances. A friend recommended them to me, and since they’re all cruelty-free I was really excited to give them a sniff. I ended up leaving with a 25ml bottle of New York, New York, and an Autograph Matte Velvet Lipstick in Blush Pink. This is the second lipstick I’ve bought from the collection, and I absolutely love them – they are really subtle, quite long-lasting and don’t dry your lips out. I kept putting off buying another lipstick as they are £10, but every time I looked at my sad, pretty-much-empty lipstick I knew I had to re-purchase it! Almost all of M&S make-up is vegan and cruelty-free, and their food range is expanding by the week. So exciting! Thank you Marks and Spencer.
I hope everyone had a lovely Valentine’s Day! Trout bought me the most amazing box of cupcakes from What Leila Bakes – you can see a photo of them over on my Instagram page, and I can confirm that they are as tasty as they look. You should also check out Leila’s cruelty-free beauty section on her blog, which has so many gems. I’m currently eyeing up Evolve, because I’m a sucker for good packaging.
Here are a few other things that I’ve been loving lately:
- Re-discovering Ella Masters’ blog – I read it years ago, and don’t know why or how but it fell off my radar. It’s firmly back on it now.
- Still loving Lydia Elise Millen’s YouTube channel.
- I am desperate to go to Temple of Seitan! Have you been? I hear you have to turn up as soon as it opens, as they sell out almost immediately…!
- These studs from Oliver Bonas are dreamy. I’m so happy to be back wearing earrings again – I had one stretched ear for about 8 years and only recently took it out. It’s slowly going back to normal, but coupled with a slight allergy to cheap metal I’ve been earring-free for such a long time. Not any more!
- This article on About Time, on taking note of the things you actually enjoy doing, and the things you only enjoy doing because they look good to the outside world – like going to the gym, avoiding carbs, and other horrendous activities like this.
What are you loving at the moment? Let me know what you’ve been up to, and how you spent your Valentine’s Day, I’d love to hear about it.
My current weekend obsession is to spend a bit longer in the shower, and really pamper myself. I’ve never been the type of girl to spend a lot of time using beauty products – I’m still not quite there, and use 4-in-1 make-up remover wipes in the evening – but over the years I’ve added a few more products to my regime and am enjoying finding the best brands for me, that are also vegan and cruelty free.
This parsley seed cleansing masque by Aesop is so lovely. It leaves my skin so soft and smooth, and I’ll definitely be investing in a tube of this once I’ve used up the samples I was given with the products that Trout bought me for Christmas.
I’ve also been using the Shea Moisture 10-in-1 renewal system hair mask once a week, which leaves my hair so soft. I keep it on for as long as possible, and in the meantime I enjoy a full body scrub, give my legs a proper shave (sorry, TMI), and leave the Aesop cleansing masque on for around 10 minutes. Once I’m out of the shower I moisturise myself into a body butter mess, re-paint my toenails and enjoy a bit more time with the book I’m currently reading; It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning. I do love my weekend mornings.
James White’s organic ginger zinger. I picked this up from Sainsbury’s for £1.80 and it was so good! I absolutely love ginger added to juice, and this was SUPER gingery. Perfect start to the day.
I try to go to hot yoga at least once over the weekend, which I find really relaxing, and the class I usually go to is a mini-workout so it’s like a double-bonus, but it really depends on how much work I have to do, and the plans that I’ve made are.
For when I like to think I can afford luxury, I sit and stare at these Stella McCartney beauties. It’s also for when I believe I would ever be able to walk in them outside of my house, or keep them clean and the soles white. The plain black flatforms are £580.
A bit more affordable and practical, these gold espadrilles from Beyond Skin have been in my thoughts as I long to book a holiday somewhere hot, beachy and relaxing. These are currently on sale for £49, and the only size left is my size. Is it meant to be?
Do you have any weekend rituals? What do you do when you need to treat yourself (or dream of treating yourself)? Have you tried any of these products or brands?
So the world is a pretty sad place right now. I’ve been *this* close to crying pretty much every day, whether it’s because of another piece of legislation that Trump has pushed through, or an incredible story or protestor fighting back.
With the help of my sweet, talented and smart friend Ashley, I’ve put together this list of Donald Trump’s achievements thus far. It kind of puts this whole shitstorm into perspective:
19th January 2017
▶︎ Trump said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programmes, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Minority Business Development Agency, the Economic Development Administration, the International Trade Administration, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership,the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, the Legal Services Corporation, the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Office of Fossil Energy. That’s a lot of cuts to a lot of vital, life-saving organisations.
20th January 2017
▶︎ Trump ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen, and ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.
▶︎ Roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.
▶︎ A member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.
21st January 2017
▶︎ Trump brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.
▶︎ White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period”.
22nd January 2017
▶︎ White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.
▶︎ Trump appeared to blow a kiss to FBI Director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.
23rd January 2017
▶︎ Trump reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organisations that even mention abortion as a medical option.
▶︎ Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.
▶︎ Trump repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.
▶︎ It was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle was released without charges, despite turning himself in.
24th January 2017
▶︎ Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing Trump the popular vote.
▶︎ Trump tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is curiously dated 21st January 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.
▶︎ The EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press, and to freeze all grants and contracts.
▶︎ The USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorised and vetted by the White House.
▶︎ HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.
▶︎ Director of the Department of Health and Human Service nominee Tom Price characterised federal guidelines on transgender equality as “absurd.”
▶︎ Trump ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalise hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.
▶︎ It was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on the 20th January, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources.
25th January 2017
▶︎ Trump directed the Department of Homeland Security to begin construction on a wall on the US-Mexico border to, “secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border”.
27th January 2017
▶︎ Trump executes the order: ‘Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States, to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the country.
28th January 2017
▶︎ On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the White House released a statement which failed to mention the six million Jews who perished in the war, and instead signed an executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.
▶︎ 20,000 refugees from across the world will be immediately affected by this executive order.
29th January 2017
▶︎ Trump sacks Sally Yates as acting Attorney General for refusing to defend his executive order on immigration, replacing her with Dana Boenta for the time-being, before appointing Jeff Sessions for the role, whose political career has been littered with allegations of racism – including being unable to serve as a federal judge because he was deemed ‘too racist‘.
30th January 2017
▶︎ Trump suspended the US refugee admissions program for 120 days, Syrian refugee admissions program indefinitely, and blocked immigrants and visa holders from seven majority countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan — from entering the US for 90 days.
▶︎ Trump brings in “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs” orders, meaning that for every new regulation implemented by federal agencies, two existing regulations must be cut to offset the cost.
▶︎ Trump removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence from the National Security Council, replacing them with Steve Bannon, who has no government, intelligence, or high-level military experience; his experience is leading a propaganda outlet (Breitbart News) that peddles nationalist and white nationalist viewpoints.
So, sit with friends, eat pizza and talk about the things that are happening in the world right now. Start those conversations, read more articles, share them, write about what’s happening, attend protests, donate money, write angry emails – this is not a time to sit back. It’s not a time to watch our prime minister hold the hand of a racist, sexist, xenophobic bigot and pretend that’s it’s ok. Because it really, really isn’t. And if we stay silent then we are agreeing with all of these things, because sometimes silence can cause more harm than good.
If there’s anything that I’ve missed or is incorrect, please let me know in the comment box below – and I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this mess.
2016 was the most amazing year for travel. We started the year in Glasgow, February we were in Cuba, July I was in Barcelona, and in September we spent a couple of weeks in Canada and the USA. I feel so lucky to have been to places that have been on my to-do list for so long, and to create these memories with my best friend. 2017 is looking a little more restrained in terms of travel plans, but I’m sure we’ll be off somewhere nice at some point. Any recommendations?
2016 also saw friends get engaged, my parents get two puppies, me spend time with good friends in photobooths, a lot of good cake and espresso, so many of my favourite bands, summer sunshine, and so many other treasured memories.
Some moments weren’t quite so happy. I lost my Grandad, and one of my dogs, Jake. Brexit happened. Trump happened. Terrorist attacks took place across the world. War. Human crisis.
I don’t mean to join the ‘2016 was shit’ bandwagon, but the end of 2016 really was shit. I hate moaning, but I’ve been ill since the 22nd December, and waking up every morning and not feeling better is getting really tiring. And not just in a, ‘I’ve got a cold, ugh’ kind of way. Maybe one day I’ll share more in this space, but it’s safe to say that the last few days have kicked my arse. We ran out of time to celebrate Christmas properly, and combined with illness and being bed-ridden, new year kind of went out the window, too. So here’s to a fresh start, a (hopefully!) speedy recovery and some resolutions for 2017:
Eat more fruit. I am terrible at eating fruit – I think because I’m so fussy about it (it needs to be miles away from being ripe – the firmer the better), that I just generally avoid it because it’s safer that way.
Read more books. I saw someone on Instagram say that they read 106 books last year – how is that even possible?! Here’s to trying…
Sort the house out. We’re working through each room slowly, but we still have a lot of ‘stuff’ to get rid of and tidy up, especially since we knocked down a wall.
Use my ‘proper’ camera more. It’s big and it’s heavy, but it’s worth it.
Make more time for social media. This might sound strange, but because I spend all day on social media for my clients, I leave little time and enthusiasm for my own accounts – and I really miss them!
Enjoy gifts, rather than saving them. Do you ever save things for special occasions, and end up never using them?
Go to the cinema more. We used to go quite often, but I can count the number of trips this year on one hand!
I hope you had a great Christmas and new year! Do you have any resolutions?
Happy New Year! It’s 2017!
With a new year comes another Veganuary – a fantastic initiative offering advice, support, ideas and information on why you should give Veganuary a go, and how you can eat amazing food every day. I thought I’d offer up some advice and share what I usually eat in a day – hopefully it’s useful if you’re thinking of giving it a try. I think the best possible way of enjoying this month is to find a way of veganising your favourite meals, so that they work for you, and try out some new dishes along the way. Here’s what I love to eat:
When it’s colder, I love porridge whipped with banana and topped with fruit and peanut butter – or Dorset Cereals’ Gingerbread Porridge. And when you’re feeling a little tender in the morning…
… it has to be a full fry-up! Linda McCartney sausages, hash browns, toast, grilled tomatoes, garlic mushrooms, beans, scrambled tofu and toast. Delish! Oh, and don’t forget the Vitalite.
During the week I’m a bit of a saver, so I don’t spend too much on my lunch. I usually have soup – Glorious! thai carrot soup is my favourite, and I’ll have it with a bread roll. Sometimes we make something like creamy mushroom soup at the weekend and I’ll bring that into work.
Otherwise I’ll have salad made up of tubs of couscous and bulgar wheat that you can find in all supermarkets, grilled artichokes, croutons, hummus and pitta bread, or I’ll make sandwiches with roasted veg, hummus and iceberg lettuce, or ‘ham’ and marmite. At the weekend we might have bagels stuffed with cream cheese, sausage, red onion chutney and rocket, or hot dogs in buns. Healthy stuff, y’know ;)
We’ve both been vegan for a long time now – over 10 years – so I would say that we’ve probably settled into a routine of our favourite dishes during the week – spaghetti bolognaise, stirfry, risotto and arancini balls, roast dinner, peanut butter curry.
Love burgers? You’ve got to try these Linda McCartney quarter pounders. They’ve fooled meat eaters ever since they launched! I personally love meat-replacement products – they mix things up a bit, rather than eating just veggies, but they’re not for everyone.
^^Mock-duck pancakes, with VBites ‘duck’ (you can find this in most Holland&Barretts).^^
^^Pizza made with Crosta & Mollica pizza bases, topped with VBites ‘chicken’ pieces, onion, vega cheese and BBQ sauce.^^
I love these Clif Builders bars – they can usually be found in independent health food stores, or online. This year I’m really trying to eat more fruit, so that’s going on my list of snacks, too.
These white chocolate cookies are the best you’ll ever taste. Pick up Ms. Cupcake’s cookbook for full-proof recipes vegan cakes, loaves, cookies and more. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll love Choices Caramels, which you can pick up from almost all supermarkets. Free From sections have come a long way lately, and you’ll find anything from white chocolate to vegan pesto, snack bars to
As a general rule, it’s best to check with the restaurant what their vegan options are. Here are some basic guidelines for what to check for, depending on what you fancy:
Chinese and Thai: Shellfish, fish sauce, oyster sauce, egg
Indian: Ghee, cream, yogurt
Pizza: Papa Johns (bases are vegan, as are the potato wedges and special garlic dips). Pizza Hut and Domino’s are not vegan-friendly. Zizzi have their own vegan menu – including wine, and vegan cheese!
I hope that offers some help if you’re struggling to decide what to eat this month. Please leave a comment below if you’re looking for a vegan alternative to anything in particular, click through my posts tagged ‘vegan’, or email me for support – I’m always happy to help!
This crazy cat lady is home alone with her cat, so what’s a gal to do, apart from take photos of said cat? This week has kicked my butt. My health, both mental and physical, has been tested, and I’ve done a lot of deep breathing, a fair few attempts to slow my mind down and remember the good things that have happened, and how much they outweigh the bad. Sometimes it’s hard to trust our minds, though.
Things that I have been enjoying this week – Jenny Mustard’s YouTube channel.// This amazing post by Laura on WholeheartedlyHealthy on being the healthiest version of you, regardless of whether that’s confusing to you or to other people.// Heal’s marble collection. Swoon.// I upgraded my phone and have finally got InstaStories! I love it! https://www.instagram.com/paperbagblog/
I’m heading off to bed to try and fight this illness, and am already looking forward to a much-needed lie in and brunch with friends tomorrow. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend! What are your plans?
It’s official. Summer has left, but it’s OK. I think we’re ready for autumn. I spent Monday in the park, without my coat on, in disbelief that it was really October – but now it’s the 6th October, and the chill has set in and my winter coat is calling me, and I’m considering the chunky scarf and wooly hat for tomorrow. But it’s OK.
Looking back over the summer, it’s been a good one. In July I went to Barcelona to see one of my best friends and two of my favourite bands. It was a fleeting visit, just two days, but it was so much fun.
A few people asked me why I flew hundreds of miles just to go to a gig, which is a perfectly reasonable question. Strike Anywhere (above) are one of my favourite bands, but the last time I saw them was 2007, and they haven’t played the UK since 2009, so when they announced a short european tour with no dates in the UK again, I decided – if they won’t come to me, I will go to them. They were supported by another one of my favourite bands (A Wilhelm Scream, below), and the show just blew my mind. You can watch Strike Anywhere’s full set here, and A Wilhelm Scream’s full set here. I urge you to go, if you can, to see the bands you love, in whatever country they are playing in.
A few weeks ago I spent the day in London with one of my best friends, hanging out by Camden lock, and eating a lot of food – including this delish lunch at Veg Bar. Then we went to see Bouncing Souls for afters. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday. Not bad at all.
More food? OK, then. Have you tried Meat Liquor’s vegan offerings? The seitan wings are pretty good!
Another high street offering – Zizzi’s vegan cheese. Delish! Even better when it’s served outside, in the warm evening sunshine.
Summer evenings in the garden, soaking up the last hour of sunshine and catching up with some reading with Ras. We ate as many meals as we could outdoors, it makes everything taste better.
Thanks for reading and liking and not forgetting me while I took a blogging break! It means a lot x
Our house looks a lit like this at the moment. We’ve been living life in the kitchen and our bedroom, with the odd afternoon in the study, and I’m missing my lounge and dining room! We’ve been eating on a fold-up camping table. It will be so worth it in the end, though. Trout left me for Switzerland a few days ago, but he gets back this evening (yay!) and for once I’ve actually made the most of this time to myself! Usually I have all these plans and just end up being a crazy cat lady, scrolling through Instagram. Not going to lie, there was some (quite a bit) of scrolling – but plenty of other good things, too.
Dinner in bed, in my pyjamas, catching up on YouTube videos with Ras, and a love letter left from Trout *heart emoji face*.
I essentially spent a lot of time in bed with Ras. And sweets.
Yesterday I took the train to Hastings for the day. I haven’t been for such a long time, maybe 15 years, so I thought I’d pop down for a catch up. I arrived around 1ish and headed straight to the True Crime Museum – I was so happy when I spotted it on a map a few hours before I left! It was really good – possibly even better than the Black Museum in London. Maybe. I had planned on going to the Jerwood Gallery too, but ran out of time. Saving that for my next visit!
Interview snippets with a few of my favs.
After the museum, and a wander through town, I met up with my parents and the dogs, and it was one of the best afternoons I’ve had in a long time. Spending time with my family is so important to me, and I try to see them at least once a month. We had some lunch on the seafront (well, I had a belated lunch at 3pm and my parents had tea & cake and mostly tried to stop the dogs knocking everything over), walked through the Old Town and then headed down to the shore to introduce the boys to the sea. It was their first time and they were terrified. Of the stones, the people, the seagulls, the sea. They did enjoy an off-lead runaround, which didn’t last long after they ate someone’s sandwiches. Sorry about that!
And finally, when you wake up alone on a Sunday morning, make sure you have a good breakfast to look forward to. Hope you’ve had a great start to the week!
Next stop – Vancouver! This was probably my favourite part of the trip. Mostly because I got to hang out with two of my best friends, who (selfishly) moved to Canada in April, and we missed them so much we had to travel thousands of miles to see their faces. It felt surreal meeting from the Greyhound bus station one morning, a couple of hours outside of Vancouver. We popped into a supermarket to grab some lunch bits and headed straight to the Kettle Valley railway trail for a 20km cycle through the most amazing views. It was so, so nice to catch up whilst we cycled along the trail and took in the landscape around us.
Trout took a panoramic of me on one of the bridges, which resulted in this rather excellent bouffant hair. Expect my country rock album in the fall.
After the trail we drove to Vancouver to drop off our luggage at their apartment and headed out for cupcakes on the beach and a wander through the town, before heading back for a dip in their hot tub (absolute bliss after you’ve been travelling for so many days!) and a swim in the pool, before getting ready to go out for dinner at Meet, an amazing vegan restaurant. It took me so, so long to decide what to order! Very glad I went for this burger, holy yum.
The rest of the trip was spent soaking up stunning trails, spending time at food markets, another dip in the hot tub, more good food and craft beer. I was so sad to leave their apartment in the morning :(
As soon as we arrived in Seattle and found our Air BnB we headed straight out to visit the famous market. I didn’t actually go to the very first Starbucks (ever!), which is apparently somewhere in or near the market, but I wasn’t too fussed. Apparently it has original branding and everything. Meh. The market was really nice – flowers, seafood, people making trinkets and crafty things and jewellery, plus a bunch of food stands. It was fun to walk around.
Just outside the market is Pike Place Chowder, which is a famous, award-winning chowder cafe that has one vegan option. It was pretty good – except for the fact it was filled with sweetcorn (food of the DEVIL) – and I’m sure if you eat fish the other kinds taste amazing.Worth a visit, even if you just share a small pot like we did.
After the chowder we walked around the corner to El Borracho for nachos and quesadillas (yes this was a food tour). Both were really good!
We got up early the next day to go to the EMP Museum, which is probably the best museum I have ever been to. Seriously. We originally went just to see the Nirvana exhibition (which was a-m-a-z-i-n-g), but ended up spending a good couple of hours in the museum exploring their guitar history, interactive music production, horror movies and wearable art exhibitions.
After a tiring morning at the museum we headed to Wayward Cafe for the biggest lunch I think I’ve ever had. I really try to finish every meal, but this one beat me – and it made me skip dinner, too. These mozzarella bites were insane! Worth the $14 Uber to get there… It was in a cool neighbourhood with lots of vegan shops, too. Do not miss this place.
We had a lot of fun in Seattle. It’s a cool city, with loads of culture and history, and some really awesome vegan food. It was a very fleeting visit – we got there Friday lunchtime and left Sunday morning – so I’m sure we missed a few gems in the city, but I’m so glad we got to go to the EMP Museum and eat those mozzarella bites. Priorities.
I really loved Portland. It had a really relaxed atmosphere, and we were so lucky with the weather – beautiful blue skies and sunshine.
Wraps and beers in the sunshine at Victoria.
We queued up round the shop at Voodoo Doughnuts, and they did not disappoint. And yes, Trout’s is as rude as it looks, and cream filled. I had a peanut butter chocolate cookie doughnut, and oh my gosh it was amazing!
Yep, I went back for another doughnut the next evening. This place is so good!
A lazy morning in our hotel one morning. I drank a lot of shitty hotel room coffee on our travels, and this was no exception – but I absolutely loved the faux fur bed runner at the end of the bed, so that made it better.
It might not look like much, but this was the best food I ate on our whole trip – Homegrown Smoker, a food truck (and also a deli).
The Japanese Rose Garden, a haven within a city. A lot of places we visited had these amazing ‘retreats’ where you can forget the city and imagine you’re somewhere calm and quiet. That’s the beauty of a lot of these cities. We also visited Powell’s Books, which I could have spent an entire afternoon in. I restrained myself and only bought one book and a souvenir bag. There are so many beautiful shops in Portland, that are far beyond my budget but beautiful to look round.
So that was our road trip across Canada, with a couple of stops in the USA. I hope you enjoyed it! We’re already planning our next big adventure, and we’re thinking somewhere in Asia. Any tips? I basically just want to travel to all the places Rick Stein films his cookery programmes.
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?