Monday, 8 May 2017

Find your why

I watched this video the other day and I thought it had a valuable message. It's really hard to live more consciously of the waste you are producing, to remember you need to keep aware that many of the things that you no longer want to use will find their way to you out of habit. Breaking habits is hard. So you need to really have a reason to do it.

On Friday night I went out for dinner and drinks with some friends, and I remembered to ask for no straw with my drink. (yay!) I had ordered a mojito, which will automatically come with a straw. I have a metal one in my bag, so I don't need the single use plastic one. As I gave my order, the waitress thought it a strange request but clearly wrote a note on the order. A different staff member brought the drinks over, and he gave over the drink, clarifying 'no straw?!' So I said yes, and he asked why. I just said that they are very bad for the environment and I don't need one. Clearly still not understanding my reasoning, he left a straw on the table instead.

The friends that I was with asked more about why I didn't want the straw and what's wrong with them. I tried to explain, but it didn't seem like the were convinced. 

Going back to the video linked above, I have a few different 'whys' for trying to reduce my rubbish. But for straws, it's all down to this video (warning this is difficult to watch and contains strong language). Since I watched this, I have also seen other videos where people are pulling plastic straws out of turtle's noses. It's very upsetting to watch, and I realise that I really don't need a straw that much.

I don't set out to change other people's mind about this particularly, I really believe that you cannot force anyone to change their habits or beliefs. We have to come to our own conclusions about these and find our own why. Until you have that you won't really make a long term sustainable change in your life. That's ok, I've found my why and maybe you will too some day. Or maybe you won't. I do not have control over you, but I do have control over me.

So this is why I will try my best to remember to refuse plastic straws, explain to those who ask, and I do hope that more people will come to this conclusion on their own.

Friday, 14 April 2017

But how can you be vegan at a BBQ?

Last weekend in London the weather was fabulous. Lovely and sunny, warm with a slight breeze. On Saturday morning my housemate and I decided we'd take advantage of the weather and have our first BBQ of the year! I sent a message around to friends to invite them and the general reply was 'But what are you going to eat??'

Before I started taking the steps to become vegan I never thought it would be possible to really enjoy food living without meat AND dairy. During lent, and adopting this diet full time, I've had some highs and lows. Mostly I've not had too much trouble with it. The BBQ was no exception! In the end there were only three of us at the BBQ, the other two ate meat and we all shared the other dishes. We actually had far too much food and I was able to pack a lot of the leftovers up for a picnic in the park the next day.

Whilst I've been fully vegan, I made the decision that during this time I would eat plant-based food but if these dishes were cooked alongside meat or dairy that was fine. So at the BBQ we used to same grill to cook my vegan 'pulled pork' burger, coconut sweetcorn and the sausages. In reality there really wasn't much contamination and since this isn't something I am sticking to because of an allergy it was more practical this way.

So, vegans at a BBQ... we can eat just as much as meat eaters, and we can all enjoy food together!

What did I make? Hummus, guacamole, falafel, coconut corn, baked baby potatoes & plantain chips (mostly Deliciously Ella recipes). We also had vegan friendly flavoured crisps, olives, bread, carrot/cucumber sticks & vegetable skewers & salad. I had a Linda McCartney 'pulled pork' burger and the others had special German sausages. 

:: What's your favourite thing to eat at a BBQ? Could you ever imagine giving up meat? What would you miss most? ::

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Wanderings Lately :: March

I'm really quite glad March is over. It was a month of travelling around and not spending a lot of time at home. Although I appreciate having a change of scenery and variety in work, this year my two trips to Oxford were one after another with only a few days in London in between. So rather than only a week away, this became most of March. 

I have ended March with a sore throat and chesty cough, which I am hoping does not end up as a full on cold. I haven't been ill for quite a long time, and I think this is because I have quite an active life - cycling to work most days and netball-ing twice a week. Whilst I was travelling, I couldn't do either of these and only managed a couple of at-home work outs.

Nevertheless, March gifted me the opportunity for a couple of afternoon teas, lots of strolling around Oxford, a trip to Leeds Castle and some ups and downs of my vegan adventure through lent!

Books & Printing

Just before the first week of the program in Oxford, I visited the Oxford University Press museum. It is very small and you need to make an appointment to visit but it was very interesting. Above are some pocket prayer books (how small!!) and correspondence with the writers of the Oxford English dictionary suggesting new words to be included.

The only weird thing about the museum is that a member of staff stays with you throughout your visit. Since I went alone, it was just me walking around reading the information, and a man from the OUP sitting at the entrance waiting for me to finish. A little awkward to say the least!

Vegan Life

Well, vegan life has been a bit up and down to say the least. Photos here are my particular highs and lows... Firstly some terrible pancakes that did NOT turn out the way they were supposed to. A great salad that I added some flair to with croutons, and a second attempt at baked plantain which turned out a better second time round (although still a little burnt).

I've found that it's not been as hard as I thought and there are still options at most places I've been to. The only problem with this is that you get even less options than as a vegetarian - for example last week in Pret I had two options. It's a shame but I think this is a good step and will probably only grow as time goes on.

Good things

 This month I received a new donor card for giving blood. This signifies 5-24 donations which is quite exciting. Now that they have my phone number I also get a text to tell me which hospital has my blood!

I also went to a talk this month with Bea Johnson this month. She is credited with starting the Zero Waste movement so it was great to hear what she had to say. It's inspiring but also intimidating as I don't think I could ever get to her level. It did make me want to continue with the things I have started and try to remember to ask for no straw particularly!

Tasting Tea

For Christmas 2015 (!) I bought my brother a tea tasting experience at Twinings, and we finally booked it this March. We were given six different teas to try, and then we had to identify flavours and tastes. It was fun and we tried some really different teas that I had no idea existed.

Something new in London

For work this month I was in charge of organising a staff training day. For this we visited a few places that students can visit in London or check out new locations for possible visits. I saw on the news a few weeks ago that The Charterhouse in Barbican had opened for the first time in many years. So I organised to have tour of the building. It was really interesting and a beautiful old building - parts from the Tudor period and newer areas too. Many notable men attended the school; Baden-Powell, Roger Williams (founder of Rhode Island state) and William Makepeace Thakeray to name three.

We also witnessed some very early graffiti on the windows and pew seats in the Chapel from the school boys which was cool. Especially since we had just finished a street art tour of East London looking at modern graffiti down Brick Lane. Some things don't change over the years!

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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.