Sunday, 19 March 2017

Best of Bosnia :: Mostar

During my trip to Sarajevo, before Vanessa arrived arrived, I took a day trip to Mostar by myself. It was mostly a success, although I ended up heading the wrong way from the station so went the scenic route to the main town. 

I did manage to get to the main bridge area (from the opposite side than I had intended) and enjoyed a day walking around the small town. It is pretty small, and can be 'done' in a few hours. I was lucky with the weather as the sun come out, although I had decided to wear boots so that wasn't the most suitable footwear choice. It was also very difficult to walk around the main bridge area because my boots didn't have very good grip and the stones over the bridge are very smooth and slippery. The other areas were paved with round stones and it was quite uncomfortable to walk over.

I went into the small bridge museum which was interesting and ended with great views over the bridge and town from the top of the tower. Whilst I was at the top I also saw someone jumping off the bridge which was fun.

Most of the day I wandered in and out of the small tourist shops, I visited the Muslibegovic House, a 17th Century museum showing traditional ottoman style rooms of a noble family house. It was only a small complex and very rustic but a sweet little break from the city.

Mostar was definitely worth the visit from Sarajevo, and I'm sure if you stay for a day or two it's a nice chill out place although I couldn't see a whole lot of things to do in the town. I believe it is close to caves and waterfalls so also a good base for other day trips around the country.












Tuesday, 7 March 2017

My Vegan Diary

For lent this year, I decided to give up all meat and animal products, essentially becoming Vegan (although not giving up honey). Last year and the year before I was vegetarian, and I wanted to have more of a challenge this time. For the past year I have been adopting more of a plant based diet, for environmental reasons; since 18% of  greenhouse gases are produced by animal agriculture and this is more than exhaust emissions from all transportation (which is 13%). 

Although I've not been cooking as much meat, and have started having soya or nut milks, completely vegan is much more restrictive. So that's why I'be adopted it for lent.

So far, it's been a bit mixed. I'm five days in, have had a bit wobble in Tesco when I wasn't sure I could find anything and might have to resort to a cheese sandwich, had vegan afternoon tea and a bit of a disaster with pancakes. I thought I would document my vegan experience on the blog. So here's my first few days...


Three bean chilli and baked sweet potato, sea salt pop chips and a Deliciously Ella energy ball from Planet Organic. This was a pretty good lunch at work although the pop chips were £1!






These pancakes were terrible... They broke up in the pan, had a weird consistency and didn't really cook very well. They also burnt on the pan a lot turning it VERY brown and making it difficult to clean.


Remembered to request no straw in Bill's and whipped my own metal one out! :-)



Vegan choices at Bill's in Oxford were not as varied as I had hoped, but this root salad was good and I decided that I was ok with the sweet potato fried being cooking in the same oil as vegetarian products.




Porridge for the win; with berries and some almond butter which was surprisingly nice!



Couldn't really believe it but these nachos didn't have any animal products in the ingredients!



On a day when I fancied a sandwich, but couldn't find anything suitable I settled for falafel, carrots and hummus. Very filling which was surprising.



Seriously always surprised how full I feel after eating essentially just a plate of vegetables. This spicy roasted cauliflower was really good (although next time I will be a bit less liberal with the cayenne pepper!)



Roasted tomatoes were a nice little extra for my breakfast on Sunday. Also avocado <3 font=""><3 font="">

:: Have you given anything up for Lent? Ever tried to adopt a more environmentally friendly diet? ::


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Wanderings Lately :: February

February is my favourite month. It's my birthday, which obviously helps! But it's a short month (so pay day comes quicker!), it tends to be when the days start getting longer and you can finally start finishing work when it's still light. The weather starts to throw you a few sunny (but cold) days that remind you that it won't be cold forever and did I mention that it's my birthday? :-)

This month had been full of outings and experiences.


Running



For my birthday, I decided to sign up for a 10k race. It's a bit of a random thing to decide to do, but I had wanted to push myself to a 10k for a while, since finishing the 5k colour run last year. I enjoy running, but I'm also lazy and find it difficult to push myself to do it regularly. Having a goal to aim for, and a reason to train means I need to get myself out. I probably didn't give myself enough time to train for this one, as I over exstimating how often I would be able to get out and run after work in the 6 weeks from New Year to my birthday.

Amazingly I managed to run the whole thing, albeit slowly, and got to the end without dying! It was pretty difficult as the race was in Greenwich Park which is very hilly! I haven't been for a run since though...

I saw the advert above on the tube after my run and it reminded me that it doesn't matter that it took me 1 hr 13 minutes to finish the run, or that I often get overtaken on my cycle to work, I'm still getting out and being active.

Friends













The main other thing that characterised this month is friendships. We managed to keep our work new years resolution and headed out for a few drinks (and Polly and I went to the cinema), plus we have set up a regular pay-day drinks date.

I went to watch my housemate in her cheerleading competition in Stratford (which they won btw!) and I spent a weekend visiting my friend Vanessa in Leeds, where she moved last August.

Leeds was great fun, we signed up for a workshop to learn about making your own body scrub and butter (I like to add more beauty recipes to my repertoire), took a Tai Chi class and walked around a little of Yorkshire's countryside at Boston Abbey.










Saturday, 4 February 2017

Wanderings Lately :: January

January... I didn't have many photos to include in this post, and I didn't really spend a lot of this month doing much other than work and staying at home. That was intentional because December and a lot of last year, was taken up going out and about. 

This month I relished turning the page in my diary and seeing there was nothing planned. I have tried as much as possible to get out a run (even if this was only for 10 minutes) as I am signed up for my first ever 10k next week.

Looking at February and March, I am much busier with birthdays (mind included) and the start of my work trips to Oxford. Thinking on that, I'm glad January was a calm start to the year.

Cycling 

I bought a new bike this month, with some money I got for Christmas and money from my Christmas bonus and it's really so much better than my old one! Although cycling to work at this time of year is a bit depressing, but it does also mean if the weather is clear the light bathing the city can be gorgeous. Particularly as it starts to get lighter, the light bathing the city can be gorgeous. This month, on one of my rides, Tower Bridge was still lit up and the sky behind was beautiful. 

Studies


This month, I FINALLY finished my MA! I haven't got the result yet, but fingers crossed I pass this last essay and then it's all over! 

Hello Fresh






This month, I wangled a free hello fresh voucher (courtesy of my friend Jasmin) to try out their meal box delivery service. I opted for the vegetarian box - which was more restricted than the other boxes as you don't get a choice of your meals. I was also a bit disappointed that two of the meals were unimaginatively based around cheese. 

Having said that, they were tasty and easy to make. It was nice having them ready and waiting each evening, and since they were designed to make two meals, I was able to use the left overs for lunch the following day.

I think it's expensive (£36 for the veggie box), and not really suitable for one person to regularly order. It would be useful after a holiday, when you don't have time to go food shopping and I was glad to try it out as a novelty. 

Lunar New Year



Lunar new year was the end of January this year, and I was glad to join my Chinese friends for an afternoon of hot pot. We stuffed ourselves full in celebration of the year of the rooster.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The story of a keepcup 2016

For Christmas in 2015 I was given a keepcup, I talked about wanting one in a blog post and then directed my mum to that for present ideas. :-)

I decided that I would take a photo over the course of the year, each time I used the cup, so that I could see how many disposables I was able to save from landfill for the year.

I was fairly successful in this, although there were a couple of occasions that I use a disposable cup - two of these being when someone in the coffee shop forgot to use my cup, and another when they decided to make the coffee in a paper cup before pouring into my keepcup (!) 

There were also a few times when I forgot to take a photo of my cup - one being in Berlin which I was disappointed about!

Well, the year is up, and I'm still using the cup, but no longer taking a photo each time. Below is the end result of my little project!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Wanderings in 2016

Every year, in December, I write a letter to my future self. In it I reflect on the year that's just been and think about my plans for the coming year. When I open that letter a year later, it's strange because the words filled inside describe times that are now two years ago. I like it though, because it's fun to see what things I had predicted for the year and to think of things I did or places I went that I had no idea would happen at the beginning of the year.
These posts are another way to look over the year that's gone and recognise how much I have crammed in. Even when the year has been tough or seemed uneventful or were filled with adventures or even when I wrote about the year in review in September!

These posts help me remember all the things I did, but also put into perspective when these all happened. They have a tendency to blur slightly into one, but going through the photos, I realise that my afternoon tea down the rabbit hole was actually before my visit to the switch house at the Tate Modern and that I went to the Hampton Court Flower show in July, not August.

This year was characterised by one main event; handing in my dissertation. In my 2015 letter, I wrote that I hoped I would get this done but I remember when I wrote that it was so far from my grasp that I didn't think it would ever be over. As I write this I am 1,100 words into my final MA assignment. It's been a hard slog, but it's finally nearly done and I couldn't be more relieved. I am already making plans for post-MA stresses!

Onwards to 2017, Happy New Year!

January

I returned to Berlin with friends Jasmin and Siobhan to celebrate Jas turning 30. This trip was very different to my last - when I visited during my inter-rail trip. Much less pub crawl/hangover and a lot more actually experiencing the city (with a bigger budget to boot!)



I never got round to writing a post about this trip, which is pretty much the theme of this blog and all my trips this year. Re-reading my reflections here, I stand by what I wrote. This is actually interesting as it relates to one of my trips later on this year too.


February

Ah, birthday month! By this time, we had just entered the period of lent through which I had decided to give up meat and be vegetarian. This meant, that I had a special order for the afternoon tea that I went to at Fortnum and Masons to celebrate turning 31. Ne big deal though, because there's no meat in the cakes (or scones that we took home by the box load!)






March

Once again I was up in Oxford, my second student group arrived and we headed to my brother's house for mother's day celebrations. Needless to say, I am fairly familiar with the city now!






April

Jasmin's birthday present from us girls; Alice in Wonderland inspired Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson hotel. I wrote about it in detail, and have a draft post about London's best Afternoon Teas waiting for me to actually finish writing it (in 2017 maybe?!) Anyway, this was really one of my most favourite!





May 

Hmm, May... firstly I had a great little work treat on the 5th May when one of the girls suggested ordering burritos for Cinco de Mayo. It was a lovely day so I wandered out to one of the nearby squares and slipped off my shoes whilst enjoying a little spring sunshine. 

On the 17th I handed in my dissertation. Much to my own amazement I finished it, and even managed to pass which was a miracle in itself!

Finally in May I took my mum for her Mother's day surprise at Hever Castle in Kent (Childhood home of Anne Boylen). I also made a video of this little trip.













June

We managed to pull off a surprise offspring reunion for my mum's birthday, and ended up at a French restaurant on Bermondsey Street which was so great. I can't wait for another excuse to go back.

My netball team ended our losing streak by finally winning the last game of the season. I was totally ill-prepared to run a 5k but managed to drag myself over the finish line at the colour run.






July

I took my Dad to the Hampton Court Flower show on the final day, and watched the chaos of people at the end of day hussling to bag a bargain. I came away with a lavender plant that I have since managed to kill and a lovely picture of restored pages from an old Winnie the Pooh book.

I took a random day off and visited the newly opened Switch House gallery at the Tate Modern and wandered around the galleries sometimes impressed, sometimes disdainful.

In July I also broke my finger at Netball but didn't realise for a few weeks and subsequently have a bend in the end of my finger forever more.









August

I took a solo trip to Greece, and mostly had a relaxing break in the sunshine. I say mostly, as it was punctuated by various people's amazement that I was alone and generally being a bit lost in the evenings. Basically I wouldn't recommended a solo trip to a small Greek Island.

I got about a bit in London in August as well - going Barmy for Sarnies with Siobhan, having afternoon tea at the Houses of Parliament, and using my bonus work holiday to explore a very sunny Kew Gardens.



















September

I had a bit of a disappointing Open House weekend in London. I chose the Treasury to explore, only to find out that you actually don't get much access and by the time you realise this, the queue for the Foreign and Commonwealth office  - where we wanted to visit next - is massive. Next time I will be more prepared and plan correctly ahead of time!

In a complete turn around from the previous season, we were unbeaten in our netball league and got a shiny medal to prove it!



October

My plan had been to visit Bosnia in August, but plans got changed and I finally got myself there in October. My friend Vanessa joined me there and we had a lovely couple of days in the city. I took a day trip to Mostar where I was blessed with wonderful blue skies and managed to meet a couple of nice ladies from Singapore who I chatted with over lunch.

I was able to delve a little into the sad history, walked through a small remaining part of the tunnel of hope (which kept the city alive during the siege), and had an eventful night at a quirky local pub where a German man was celebrating his birthday by buying us drinks of (cheap and questionable quality) wine served in metal goblets. As I always say to Ness, when I'm out with her we ALWAYS have a random encounter with strange characters!

We decided to stay in a hostel in a private room, but this was right next to the common room where people were extremely noisy. This was a reminder that I would rather stay somewhere not as cheap and quiet than in a hostel in future!








November

Fireworks at Southwark Park as part of a very large and international crowd was the best!

Dinner in an old tube carriage was fairly cold but exceptionally cool!

Letting my brother choose the film we went to see at the Electric Cinema in Shoreditch was a mistake! (snooze!)








I look weird because I had just woken up. Ha!

December

And so to the final month of the year.

Mum and I headed off to Switzerland to discover the Christmas market of Montreux. We had a lovely room at a big hotel in the town with a lake view. Unfortunately we didn't get (what were likely) wonderful views of the lake, as the weather was foggy for the whole 3 days. 

We made the most of the trip, despite the rubbish weather. Visiting the nearby castle and nearest town Vevey. I had not heard of this part of the world before, but apparently both Charlie Chapin and Freddie Mercury were frequent visitors and Chaplin is even buried in Vevey.

The end of December has been a whirlwind of Christmas parties (how could we not win the fancy dress prize as the Holly and the Ivy?!). I'm looking forward to my New Year's celebrating with friends and heading into 2017 with positivity!