Thursday, 22 June 2017

Wandering Lately :: April/May

Well, I have not done very well with this recently... but I want to get this post out before the end of June to get back on track (and also to stop my mum going on about new posts!)

So, here are my wandering for April & May!


The nice weather hit London and I happened to have a meeting out of the office one of the sunny days, so I was quite chuffed with that! Whenever I have to get to tube during work hours I'm always surprised how busy it is - not rush hour busy but still. I suppose this is other people heading to work related things (and tourists) but still interesting to see how many people are using the tube in the daytime!

I also headed to Brighton in May, and we were incredibly lucky with the weather. I didn't take many photos as I've been so many times before. Always impressed by the Pavilion no matter how many times I visit though!

London Marathon

The London Marathon route passes very close to our house, so my housemate and I decided to head out for a little bit to cheer on the runners. Very impressed by all of those running as it's such an achievement; and even more so to all of those people running in crazy costumes!


My brother put on a gig this May, and we all headed down to the Beehive in Bow to watch his music video and listen to some of his songs. The room was quite small so it was a very intimate gig but we all had fun. Hear more of his stuff here.


I think Brenda from Bristol spoke for most of the country after Theresa May called her snap general election, which aimed to secure her a greater majority and succeeded in ruining her political reputation and ending up with a hung parliament. For some reason the Liberal Democrats decided to inundate me with leaflets canvassing for my vote practically daily much to my annoyance. Since this started to get out of hand, I took the decision to keep all of their letters and pamphlets and sent them back to them just before the election asking to be taken off the mailing list. In any event, their aggressive campaign was unsuccessful as Labour was voted in again in our borough.

Cooking Success

After my disastrous  first attempt at these pancakes, it turns out that it was in fact the dodgy pan I was using that made them such a failure as we invested in a new frying pan and I gave them another go to the above triumph! However, the peanut butter sauce that you see above did end up burning in the microwave when I tried warming it up a second time. Opps.

Bike Rides

In May I finally decided to join one of the Southwark Cyclists 'healthy rides' and since then I have joined on a few different bike rides around southwark/south-east London on a Saturday morning. I first heard about these from a lady who was volunteering in the Surrey Docks Farm Shop but it took me quite a while to actually join in a ride. I'm really enjoying them though and an planning to head off on another this Saturday which is going to Brixton to search for some street art. It's nice to get out on my bike, particularly in the nice weather, and it not being just to get to/from work.


I attempted to grow things in our garden again... since I took these photos the sunflowers have all died and the green house was knocked over in the wind so I lost at least one of the tomato plants. Fingers crossed for the rest of them though!

Bank Holiday

Of course the bank holiday was full of rubbish weather. On the Monday I spent the afternoon with my housemate in our living room reading our books. Not exactly exciting but very relaxing!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

5 of the best snacks to eat in the library

I wrote this post over a year ago, and never finished it properly enough to publish. I wanted to finally get some of my draft posts on my blog, so I am revisiting this now, although I have been free of library days for near a year now!

I've spent a lot of time over recent weeks in my university library. Since we all know that the library is a quiet space it can be annoying when the person sitting next to (or just near to) you pulls out an apple and starts noisily munching away at it. If your work is flowing and your writing going well, you don't want to get up mid flow and go out to eat something so you just need to eat whilst you're in there. As I spend so many hours in the library next to inconsiderate people chomping loudly on their snacks I've given a lot of through to alternatives foods that  don't make loads of noise distracting your fellow students.

1. Brownies

I bought this brownie in Pret, after I was craving one and didn't want to buy a pack of three from Tesco. I was a little skeptical about whether it would be good or not, since it came packaged in plastic and didn't seem like it was baked fresh that day (unlike the croissants etc that are displayed unpackaged at the counter). Although I do wish it wasn't packaged in plastic (bad environmental karma there) it was the BEST brownie I've ever had. Quelle surprise! I couldn't really believe how nice it was! AND great for the library because once you've undone that plastic (I do this outside the library to avoid all the rustling) it's not crispy or crunchy so not as likely to disturb anyone around you.

2. Cashew Nuts

Cashews... although nuts aren't generally the best snacks to eat when you're trying to be quiet, I've found cashews are soft enough to get away with. Particularly if you are studying at an individual desk. You're not as close to other people then and can discreetly munch away!

3. Raisins
Usually in a cardboard bow (or you can decant from a larger pack at home into your own quiet packaging). Raisins are the number 1 silent snack!

4. Banana

Slight noise when you first peel the skin but after that, bananas are so soft you'll get away with eating as many as you want!

5. Sweet Potato Fries

These are a weird choice maybe, but I've enjoyed these quite a lot recently. It takes some preparation at home but they are a decent


Chocolates - maltesters, minstrels, m&m's,

You need to be careful about the packets (open outside!) but once you get these bad boys open you can just let these melt in your mouth rather than chewing and unless you're slurping all over the place no one's going to know!

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? ::