The herbivore who came to tea…

My new year’s resolution is to stop being such a bitch.

No really, I’ve been truly awful recently and there’s no excuse. We can only use old Aunt Flo once a month after all… I may have a solution. It may be the lack of blogging.

Why haven’t I blogged?
A) I got an actual job, got insanely busy and remembered that amongst the paper work, performing like a monkey all day, there is no time for hobbies, writing or doing anything worth blogging about.

B) I got an actual boyfriend who has made blogging about dating awkward.

C) Both the above.

The Summer of Tinder seems such a very long  way away. I’m glad it happened though, something to tell the grandchildren.

Today I had an epiphany. I will become a Food critic (capital F) that would solve all my problems. I would no longer hate my career or long to write AND it would also serve as a yoga for the soul and all my annoyance at the world could come out in bitchy little columns in the Times. Move over A A Gill.

I’d argue the merits of cider over craft beer, sample various types of pigeons, find the new pulled pork and best of all, be paid to eat. Being paid to do one of life’s saving graces. I mean, it’s definitely a better deal than becoming a personal shopper for example, or, you know, a sex worker.

Then I remembered, like the fact I can’t drive, my other big social failing.

I’m veggie.

When you tell someone you’re vegetarian, people either:

Suddenly seem very concerned about your health (since when did anyone ask anyone else about their protein levels, except maybe bodybuilders comparing guns at the gym?)

Decide you are naive, cutesy, into Animals or if you have outgrown the age where pigtails still look sexy, then consider you one of those animal rights nutters, the dating equivalent being a crazy cat lady.

or they yawn and prepare for your inevitable speech on the moral, spiritual and physical reasons for being one.

And there’s always someone who just seems to pity you and your lack of bacon fuelled weekends.

images (6)

Having become veggie in my early teens, yes for ethical reasons but no I don’t need to rant about it right now (potential to change this rests with a glass of red), I am used to this kind of behaviour.

A close friend once came over for dinner and exclaimed “Oh so this is what you eat” when presented with mexican fajitas and homemade dips. I was slightly surprised, I thought everyone spent the hour after dinner lamenting their overuse of sour cream and guacamole.

Another person recently chatted to me about being vegetarian and referred to vegetarians against the “normal people”. So there you have it, I am not normal.

I am a herbivore, except I am not a vegan and I do feel a tiny bit guilty about that fact. I also love to eat, another misconception about vegetarians. Yes there are fat vegetarians. We live off cheese, nuts and avocados. And don’t forget the oreo (<– vegan) chocolate.

download (16)

Ooh this entire fridge’s contents are “Suitable for Vegetarians”

Bristol is a great city for veggies. Brighton, maybe even better. After having spent a weekend there and indulging in an incredible lunch at Terre a Terre, I am tempted to up sticks and move. However, it also made me consider my own veggie options when out with my more meat loving friends…

The Maitreya Social in Easton is always worth a mention for amazing veggie food, but it’s a train ride away and it is of course, veggie which is great for me and other veggie, vegan friends but perhaps less appealing to others.

Mmmm what to eat ? Halloumi and mushroom burger. Goat’s cheese and mushroom burger. Red pepper and goat’s cheese sandwich. Brie and cranberry sandwich (eugh). Mushroom burger, cheese unknown. Bean burger and Hummus. Hummus and mushroom. And that’s the good places.

Veggie options can be rather bland, so here are some of my fave veggie meals in “normal” restaurants, pubs etc…

Fave burger. When a girl needs more than a half cooked soggy mushroom in a brioche bap…

The Kings Arms, top of Whiteladies.

Menu: Queen burger. It’s big and juicy, full of flavour and includes fat chips.  The beetroot makes this for me and the size. It’s the kind of burger that doesn’t leave you feeling disappointed about not being a meat lover.

 

Meat Liquor, Stokes Croft

And now a surprising entry… I just came back from the chain, Meat Liquor. Now whilst I am a strict veggie, I liked the other half of the name and my boyfriend had heard about it so we gave it a go. Naturally the veggie options were thin on the ground, but I actually had a surprisingly tasty halloumi burger with a delicious sauce and pickles. Possibly the halloumi was dipped in meat fat, who knows. I shan’t question it. I also shan’t go back, as the beers were 4,00 for a 330 ml can but alas if you are not a liquor lover, go and eat until you are stuffed.

The misspelt graffiti everywhere was also rather offputting, I kept wanting to get my green marking pen out…

The White Bear, Michael’s Hill

Menu: Whatever the veggie burger is called. One of the only veggie burgers I’ve had out that is both breadcrumbed and delicious. A goats cheese breadcrumbed with various accompaniments. With chips for a fiver. On Wednesday. I should have gone there.

To be continued…whilst I go into a cheese-induced coma…

download (17)

 

 

Sicilia, the beauty and the beast

Before going to Sicily, I had heard it was a place of contrast between extreme beauty with stunning landscapes and impressive architecture set against the ugliness of the industrial sprawl of highways, wealth disparity and general disrepair of many of the cities.

An island with two sides then, the apparent beauty and the beast of Sicily.

Nothing could prepare me for how true this was.

Picture the scene:

Beautiful wedding. On our way to watch Carmen at the Ancient Theatre (open air, stunning). Wandering along the clifftop roadside with my mum, we spotted a wedding down on the beach front.

We discussed the lights and flowers that appeared to be floating on the water, mused about what a fantastic place this was for a wedding and then…

I noticed, over the wall, a man’s head jerking in an odd erratic manner. Oh dear, I thought, is he having some sort of fit? As I quickly walked along to the gap in the wall, I see that no, he was not having a fit. His problem was not medical. This man had his trousers and pants at his ankles and was pleasuring himself over the rail of the pathway. Worse still, with a perfect view of the wedding below…From the beauty of Italian opera, classical architecture, palm trees and wedding bouquets to the Sicilian beast.

Imagine the wedding photos.

I managed to discourage my mum from throwing the contents of her water bottle at him (in retrospect, a mistake) and we moved on, partly in shock, horror and partly giggles.

What we did…(besides spotting perverts) 

Having met up with a friend last night, I have discovered that this is not an uncommon occurence and she herself has seen pleasure-seekers of the aforementioned kind in Portugal, Spain and France. Very continental, and perhaps a reason to holiday in Cornwall next time. Despite this unsavoury experience, Taormina was a beautiful, fantastic holiday and has quickly found itself on my top list of European holiday destinations.

The weather (mid 30s upwards) and intense humidity, as an American on the cable car drawled to us “I can cope with dry heat, but this humidity arghhghg…”, meant anything too strenuous was off the itinerary. However, my mum is of the school of thought that a holiday does not involve relaxing or lie-ins, so we, complete with a 3 euro fan, visited the following during our week in Sicily…

Ancient Theatre

I may be biased, having done an Ancient History degree, but I thought this site was fantastic. There isn’t much left of the actual original structure, the many different cultures and regimes of this illustrious island have left their mark, but it is worth it for the view alone.

We saw it in the early evening and watched Carmen and I was in awe of the setting rather than the operatics, impressive as they were.

Sicily 23

Public Gardens

Boasting a beautiful view of Etna, set in the centre of Taormina and overlooking the sea, are the stunning public gardens. Complete with war memorials, fountains to drink from, a few caged😦 parrots and some absolutely adorable cats.

Around the corner are a few different mini markets where you can get tasty sandwiches filled with mozarella, olives and herbs (as well as salami etc)

If you have a crush on Indiana Jones and let’s face it what red blooded female doesn’t, there are also some very Indiana-esque buildings and structures around, which make your holiday pics look more like you visited Thailand but without the food poisoning or annoying gap year students.

sicily 12

Etna

It had to be done. I only have one other volcano to make a comparison to, another Italian, Vesuvius. Whilst Vesuvius is fairly easy to reach the crater and we got nowhere near the peak of the active Etna, for sheer size and stunning views over the fertile volcanic earth, Etna wins hands down.

We booked a tour which drove up the pollen filled air of the lower parts of Etna, going past several smaller craters and then you are dropped off at the “station” which is predictably touristy with pizzerias and the feel of a small, outside airport. There is then an option to get a cable car which takes you up to 2500 ft and then you may hire, at further expense, a jeep and guide or trek yourselves. We chose to trek ourselves and had a great time scrambling around rocks of a lower crater and had a good slog going as far up the main stretch as we could in the time we had.

The guided tour didn’t seem to offer much more and a lot less freedom of where to go, but I would definitely suggest taking the cable cars, otherwise you don’t get the real sense of being on a volcano.

We were warned that it would be cold up Etna, so wore the mandatory trousers and carried cardigans along with us. It is not cold up Etna at the end of July, during a heatwave. I don’t really believe it could ever be cold in Sicily but I’m sure if you go out of season, it’s another story.

sicily 39Sicily 53

The guide bus on the right hand pic gives a sense of scale!

Other sites: Isola Bella- Along the coastal road, a beautiful little island which you can pay to walk around (it’s very small indeed with a few rooms containing an odd museum collection of taxidermy). My favourite part of this area was the beach which has lots of rocks you can sit on and paddle if you don’t fancy a big swim. Appeared to be popular with Italians too.

Castelmola – A sort of village at the top of Taormina, it looks best from below, a tottering collection of houses resting on the edge of a cliff face. We got a tour bus up there and were impressed by stunning views of Etna and the sea below. We weren’t informed that the bus stop changed halfway through the day though and spent a while waiting for a non-existent bus before, following some better informed tourists, we found the new bus stop. Typical relaxed Italian approach to information!

What we ate… 

I am glad we only booked a 7 day trip as I spent most of this scoffing Sicilian delights. From lemon drenched olives (low on calories, high on taste) to mounds of ice cream, cheese, pizza, pasta, I think I’ve probably put on a sicilian stone or two.

This carbohydrate coma is not an uncommon occurence in the wonderful foodie heaven that is Italia.

But Sicily had a few extra treats for my bulging waistline,sicily 5

1. Arancini.

sicily 69

So bad it’s incredible. Like the culinary gods decided to get the best food ever, risotto and make it even better by deep frying it.

It sounds horrific but it is delicious. The contents of these fried goodies, which look like Scotch eggs, varies.

We had spinaci arancini, filled with yummy cheese, risotto and seasoned spinach.

I have just read about a London based company the Arancini brothers, and I think I will be heading there soon to get my risotto ball fix.

2. La Parmigiana di Melanzane.

Aubergines are always a bit hit or miss for me and often turn out bitter. Sicily is renowned for doing aubergines well and that includes this delicious cheesy mix of calorific culinary heaven.

3. Caponata

Another aubergine triumph, a kind of stew. Very tasty and felt, probably misguidedly, to be a lower calorie option. Very tasty, very fresh and just another tick for the vegetarian visting a place renowned for its seafood.

4. Gelato. The less said about this the better. I did manage to have two sorbets which made me feel a little less guilty. Everyone knows Italians do ice cream and love best, well I LOVED every single flavour especially the prevalent nutella. Except the mint, which compared to our mint choc chip, did actually taste of toothpaste.

And if you are an omnivore, the world is your oyster, especially in Sicily where seafood is apparently exceptional (being an island and all, not sure if this rings true in good old Britain with fishfingers and soggy chips).

Having bumped into my mum’s cousin and family (lovely surprise, although slightly nervewracking as my mother kept referring to “FAMILY” in what I think she believed to be Mafiosa-style but sounded more Eastenders, sorry mum!)  One of whom ordered fish and was given a tray of the oggly eyed fish to pick from. Not an expert myself but they looked fat, fishy and erm edible? She seemed to enjoy it.

I may be a self confessed Italophile but I really do think Sicily has something for everyone and is too stunning a place not to visit.

So my key tips for a successful stay in Sicily:

-Insect spray. Despite being near the sea, there were an alarming amount of biting insects so do cover up. If you get a handy sized one this can be carried around for beasts of another kind.

-If you book a hotel down on the beach, invest in a cable car ticket at 30 euros a week. That hill is not worth it for the amount of times you will want to explore the centre of Taormina. Think sweaty thighs and just get a ticket already.

-Continue to apply suncream during Etna trip, even if it feels chilly. My back is not thanking me.

-For some reason, me and my mum took a shine to the man who seemed to run a tiny little supermarket just off the public gardens. Perhaps because he politely tried to understand my poor attempt at Italian, especially when I had word vomit and could not say Vegetariano. It’s called Venuto mini-market.

bonjourno

So we put on several stone (worth every pound ((kinder bueno gelato)) and had our English sensibilities shaken by as my cousin put it, “rustic sicily”.

But despite this, we had no dealings with the Mafia, only got slightly burnt going up Etna and weren’t frisked at the airport (although we had mixed feelings about this, Ciao Italian security guards)

All in all, an excellent trip.

The itch of 26

In three days time, I will be 26 years old.

The big one.

Screw 30, everybody knows the real shocker is 26. You are just out of that 18-25 bracket, no longer a young person, excluded from that ticking that lucky box of youth. If that isn’t bad enough, you suddenly have to pay full fares on trains. You are officially an “Adult”.

I’m not expecting anything particularly magical or distressing to happen. No new wrinkle will appear nor will I suddenly start receiving e-mails about life insurance but alas, I will know that I am now older than a quarter of a century and that genuinely freaks me out.

So whilst this is probably not a good idea for my current fragile state of mind, I often see blogging as a kind of therapy so here is my list of what I expected to happen by 26 and what the status quo actually is.

Expected:
My social calendar (and I’d have a calendar, possibly on a blackberry ((those were very in when I was considering 26-dom)) and it would be filled with wine tastings, dinner parties and lunches.

Reality: I have a phone that is so smart, it seems to know where I am going before I am. However, this just further reminds me of how unorganised I still am.

And surprise, surprise I still go to/host house parties that look appropriately (for Bristol, not my age) like Skins and just pure squalor really. Our household seems incapable of keeping more than four wine glasses in tact and our cupboards are filled with stolen pint glasses and festival cups, amongst other more unsavoury items.

Expected: This makes me cringe to write, but at the tender age of say 12, I had assumed that by 26, I would have at least one of the big three: you know CAREER. HOUSE. MAN (or woman, although my 12 year old self was not that progressive)

Reality: House? Well more of a squat, honestly worse than my old student houses (shouldn’t living conditions be improving?)

Career? Well the jury’s out on this one. I always wanted to be a vet as a child and whilst my current job holds similarities (Never work with animals or children), I am not entirely sure I’m doing what I want to be doing. For a while I was getting those job website adverts after every youtube clip I watched (mostly Jonathan Creek episodes, naturally) but this helped me decide I don’t actually hate Mondays. So maybe this one is half way there.

Man? Ah I promised myself I would never blog about this one. He is lovely. He is younger (a whole school year! :O). He also works away a lot and like most 25 year old males, isn’t thinking about any of this stuff. Well, he may have a point.

Expected: The dreaded C word…no not Christmas, children.

Reality: This seems rather mad now. I still feel much more like a child than a “grown-up”. I fully concur with those memes: I panic when someone asks for an adult and go and look for an adultier adult. Exactly that. Often at work I feel like it’s all some weird dream and I will wake up responsibility free with no-one expecting to gain an A-level from what I say.

Still I was young and thought 26 was ancient, which it is, but still not quite old enough for babies.

Doesn’t mean I’m not still holding a grudge at Gwyneth Paltrow for stealing my idea of childrens’ names inspired by fruit bowls (It honestly wasn’t Apple)

Expected: A grown up wardrobe, complete with sensible yet stylish designer dresses.

Reality: Not even an actual functioning wardrobe, currently using the boyfriend’s (much to his annoyance) and looking on gumtree for rails (Seriously, how can I be 26 this week?!)

One Matthew Williamson handbag and most of Zara’s current collection are the only silver lining of this otherwise chaotic excuse for fashion.

So whilst I am inclined to agree with the Sex and the City, bit part character who cries out on her 25th (!) birthday, whilst Carrie looks on with disdain, “FUCK, I’m old!” Here’s still hoping that I get a lot older and a lot better at dealing with the ageing process.

I recently bought an anti-wrinkle cream but hey, by next year I might have a fully fuctional wardrobe.

Fingers crossed.

Cup of tea then, Bristol?

My, oh my, have I been a lady of leisure recently… From breakfast, lunch and supper out to random stop offs for coffee and cake, my waist band and wallet are unforgiving. But it does mean I have some excellent suggestions for a friendly cuppa, coffee or a tantalising baked good in Bristol.

Having been a late bloomer to the baking game, I usually rely on shop bought cakes as my own baking adventures always end more burnt than Berry.

tumblr_ncggqqADzv1rkeh8to1_500

You and me neither Mary. Thank god for the end of the days of Tinder (TSOT)

So where to make like Alice and enjoy the tea party… (Mad hatter optional)

BBC+Lewis+Carroll

“What do you mean you don’t do almond milk?…”

The one with the to-die-for cakes.

Whilst we might not judge books by their covers, the artistry of cakes from the icing to the sprinkles or even the odd edible flower, just adds to the best afternoon tea experience in town.

Not only are the cakes works of art but this little gem is found in one of my favourite parts of Bristol, shopping paradise of St Nicholas market – Ahh Toots, a lovely cake and coffee stall, found amongst the falafel and flowers of the main stretch. The snuggly little cubby holes make for an awkward work coffee or, more optimistically, a cosy date.

11349046_10152892119307055_979164579_n11282141_10152892119237055_1895209773_n11287171_10152892119272055_1972280933_n

Yup it even does bacon cupcakes. I look forward to their fake-on one…

The one I can’t stop blogging about.

I hate repeating myself but I am a self-confessed Deco advert, and their brownie is the best brownie in Bristol.

                                     11328975_10152891984417055_1197121827_n11350165_10152891984527055_1845819394_n
If that doesn’t get your sweet tooth going, then how about the salted caramel bubble bar? I don’t have a picture of this one as I have never had enough self restraint to take a picture before having a nibble. YUM. Calories what calories?

The one for the tourists.

I had to get over my dusty-old-lady phobia for this one. A charming find, on the long trek (from town) between Stokes Croft and Gloucester, is the epitome of a charming English tearoom. And because of this charm, it was full of tourists wearing out their instagram on the cute teapots and quirky cups.

Hell if you can’t beat them, join them.

Instagrams:

                         11350382_10152892084352055_1460381985_n11267660_10152892084757055_307096014_n

A highlight of this place, from a reluctant tea-drinker, is the yummy loose blends, one of which includes white chocolate chunks and strawberries.

The most amazing cafe in the world.

Now I don’t want to get your hopes too high, I am known for my exaggeration and general over excitement, but if a guy took me on a date here he would definitely be getting a post-date kiss.

The aptly named The Playground Coffee House, found just on St Nich’s Street, is a dream come true for a childish 25 year old like myself.

I was told off for taking too many instagrams during my date here (was with the bf, so phone use was socially acceptable I feel, we still are yet to agree on this) and for not paying attention to the game of drafts. I subsequently lost the game, which meant the bf was happy, and I was also happy because I was on a SWING.

Yes several chairs in this cafe are actually swings. At first it felt mildly dodgy a la SATC and some sort of sex swing but then I just embraced that nostalgic summer park feeling and swang. Good fun, lovely fruity coffee, tasty cakes and a whole lot more exciting than your Boston Tea Party.

Swing away.

For take away treats…

Lynda’s Loaf on Bristol harbour, for huge doorsteps of baked goodies.

I and my tummy roll know there are many more yummy places so expect an update soon.

Disclaimer: I have only ever recommend places I have personally stuffed my face at.

Supermarket sweep state

I cannot wait for my Facebook newsfeed to go back to cats, Lad bible (ugh) links and pictures of various cocktails and whatyoucookedfordinner. No really. I love politics, in that I believe in democracy and actively want to take part in the democratic process but enough is enough.

A7B5L_eCQAED8Y6

If it’s not the hate Murdoch-media campaign against Miliband (I’m sorry but who does look good eating sandwiches- this is why I don’t go on dates to Pret) then it is that horror of realising people you went to primary school with, and felt obliged to accept their friend request, are actually UKIP supporters. Or even worse one of your family members is. And yes they’ve read the manifesto and actively believes in using immigration as a scapgoat for climate change (or something equally as ridiculous)

I used to tease my history teacher about the colour of his tie and cheekily imply his yellow silk meant he was a lib dem (“I always put you down as a Tory, Sir…”) and my students have asked me, to which I declared “I do not wish to influence you in the slightest”. However when they made parallels between UKIP and various Nazi policies, I kept quiet.

As that sandwich shot of Miliband keeps re-surfacing, it got me thinking of food…and as food is never disappointing, unlike our corrupt MPs, how much more fun to consider an election supermarket.

maxresdefault

If political parties were supermarkets…

Waitrose

Elitist. Expensive. Probably went to Eton.

The supermarket that calls brioche essential has got to be the haunt of the Conservative party.

Don’t get me wrong I love a trip around Waitrose but like Conservative policies, it’s not the everyman supermarket.

I knew I was in waitrose when in a drunken moment, I wondered off without my money and was politely chased by a woman thrusting the money in my hand. Would never happen in Tesco. #Toomuchmoney

If you are planning on voting Tory or indeed visiting Waitrose, you may be interested to know they are offering a free bottle of champagne for every customer who spends £100…So you can celebrate the latest coalition deal in style, or drown your sorrows appropriately, with overpriced fizz.

Tesco

Every little helps…

I may not sympathise with all Labour’s policies but I am starting to feel a bit sorry for old Miliband.

We did all prefer his brother, the Tesco’s finest, whereas Ed seems to be more of a Value man.

The international food aisle may reflect their immigration policies, in Hull, Tesco had two whole aisles dedicated to Poles (as in Polish food not for strippers…although it was Hull)

It doesn’t help that probably all three of the main parties shop in Waitrose or somewhere even more exclusive. Harrods food hall anyone?

Sainsburys

The middle ground shop. This store screams Nick Clegg to me. Still a certain type of establishment, the oxbridge or at least Russell group type of supermarket.

It’s the kind of shop you’d take your parents to. The supermarket you can get olives, artichokes and other luxuries but also this:

0000001180893_L

35p mustard. Now that is worth voting for.

It’s the shop I shopped at as a student.

But alas this year I doubt many students will be putting Lib Dems in their basket.

Well done Clegg.

download (15)

That health food store with all those buckets full of cereal and lentils.

As I come from the land of hippies, I am accustomed to these sorts of food shops with vegan cheese and gluten-dairy-fun-free products galore, but the original “ecological” party of the Greens is definitely most suited to this sort of place.

Whilst in an ideal world the Greens have got it right, them shaking off the hippy image and being taken seriously is unlikely.

Natalie Bennett has not improved any chances either, proving to know as much on her policies as the health food store workers do about Macdonalds.

However, Bristol is embracing the Green party probably not due to its lefty manifesto but more because the hipster look of stokes croft wouldn’t be complete without the Green vote (and you know the trust fund from their tory-voting parents)

vote2

I’m not even going to include Farage and his bongo-bongo land-hating Ukippers, because that would be to take them seriously as an actual party.

Besides, I’ve only got Lidl left …

smell-something-nigel-farage-adds-voice-calls-stop-parliament-sleaze

England keep my bones…

….and other Shakespeare quotes.

Moving on… It is an absolute cracking day, weather wise.But alas, I am sat inside marking rather than out in the sunshine enjoying a cold pint…Well when I say marking, I am definitely just blogging and watching re-runs of Greenwing.

I decided I should contemplate today, 23rd April, St. George’s day.

Now two of the things in my opening sentences were very English. I accidentally mentioned the weather and I suggested my innate desire to drink. So far, so English.

It seems rather unfashionable to like England or be, God forbid, patriotic. It’s kind of like admiting to voting for UKIP.

While I certainly won’t be downing bitter in the local with Farage nor crossing his box on May 7th, I am happy to say I love England. Particularly Bristol… but nonetheless, I love living in England and on this day of dragon slaying, I thought I’d consider the best places to go or “English” things to do…

1. Tea…

It had to be up there but you know what. I hate tea. I genuinely think tea smells like old ladies or old ladies smell like tea…I am yet to find a socially appropriate enough experiment to decide.

However I do love a good bit of cake. So try not to feel too guilty imagining the imperialism as you sip your English Breakfast, as afternoon tea is really rather good.

I suggest…

11158139_10152809920072055_205296601_n11082680_10152809920212055_831737494_n

http://www.coxandbaloneytearooms.com, for a delectable stop on that long walk between the arches and town in Bristol…

And for that matter… cocktails in teacups is practically tea. We are renowned for our drinking and why not embrace two of our national stereotypes in one.

11157932_10152809926477055_267702554_nCocktails in china, at Jersey Lily on Whiteladies Road. You are most welcome…

2. The National Trust

I used to complain to my mum that we just went to NT places when everyone else got to go to theme parks. Now I could not be more pleased that my childhood was spent roaming around castles, gardens and breathtaking cliff tops. It is almost certainly the reason why I chose to take a History degree, which I loved. It is also probably part of the reason I love nature so much and can tell the difference between thyme and mint, unlike my boyfriend😛.

From following a grown man dressed in a Easter bunny outfit around a stately home estate to having a peacock eat my marmite sandwich and, obviously wet child that I was, bursting into tears, the National Trust has given me so many memories and we are very lucky to have someone protecting these places.

So go fly a kite or take a picnic to a NT place near you.

I recommend Stourhead or for a very close trip, Tyntesfield (they also do very nice tea and cake)

3. Breakfast.

Now we’ve done away with the tea, even vegetarian me cannot escape the beauty of a full english.

Whether you are hash brown happy, the egg poacher or a tomato sauce all over the plate type, no one can deny that we do breakfast well. As a character says in my favourite Poirot, “SO glad they do a proper breakfast here, none of that brioche rubbish!”…

And if you can’t manage that? Three words: Marmite on toast.
Britain on a plate.

4. Vegetarians

Britain is the only place in the world I don’t feel like some sort of freak when I say I’m vegetarian.

From France with the added jambon on everything from margarita pizza. Italy, when the man at our hotel just slid the meat off our plate (yum :P). or Australia, worst of the bunch, where I genuinely think they thought me and my mum had, had some sort of mental breakdown when we weren’t gnawing into flesh at the BBQ. They did also ask me why I was reading a book, so y’know…

Anyway. Britain is great for vegetarians. From my own small home town of hippies where vegan, gluten-free, coeliac meals are easier to come across than a KFC. In fact we did actually burn down the Mcdonalds (not me personally, but I can’t say I disapprove) to the michelin star restaurants across the country (like the amazing terre a terre in Brighton)

a68bfc0be62ae7d7ab8e47de8a3f6930

Summer for a vegetarian…

Let’s not forget:

Great comedy, such as Greenwing (still watching) and…

enhanced-buzz-14184-1362665849-3

Music… The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Oasis, Queen, Blur, The Cure…I could go on?
For a small country our musical talent is pretty remarkable. On the other hand, I really would remove Oasis as the Gallaghers are definitely not something that makes me pleased to be English. Particularly as the one and only time I saw them play they had a strop and walked off… Charmers.

The language… Our sarcasm, cynicism, overly polite remarks, fear of getting into too long a conversation and this guy:

download (14)

And even though we will certainly get a muppet, at least we get to choose which muppet to vote for and are free to tweet to said muppets about their muppetdom. Freedom of speech, democracy, protest, letting Russell Brand rant…

So take a moment to appreciate the fictional dragon slaying…

And it hasn’t even rained in days.

Best of the fest…

Sun’s out and amongst the guns, and oh God that perpetual fight with the epilator, we can look forward to festival season. (Note: I still am in that happy place of prioritising festivals to weddings, I’m thinking I have 4 years tops until this changes)

As I hail from one of the best festival sites in the world, I have been pretty used to festival living. The overflowing portaloos of the aforementioned event, never stopped me enjoying the festivities and I have to say I am at my most content with a cold Brothers in my hand, sat by the stone circle with my home friends.

Ever the style queen, I remember wearing a handknitted (thanks, nan) black jumper with a huge red star on and my legs wrapped in bin bags (it was one of the muddy years), turning my sensible cords into cool leather and feeling like a rockstar. Albeit an 11 year old one.

I’m not entirely sure I can pull off raiding the cleaning cupboard for plastic bags so instead I suggest my absolute classics for a foolproof summer festival without a flower headband or pair of hunters in sight…

The bag

I hate to be practical. But after years of festival bags, I finally succumbed and decided to opt for one which has what every festivaller needs, a zip.

For the emergency debit card, phone (my virgin-festival-instagram is going to implode this summer) and essential hip-flask. I am a G&T girl  through and through, but for a festival it has to be vodka and cranberry, the only alcoholic drink that can be slightly warm (thanks tent) and still taste OK.

5820323250_w_2_1_2

Pull and Bear, bargain @ £9.99

This one is my own personal fave. It’s easy to wear but more secure than my usual saddle bag and comes in lots of funky colours. White might not be the best choice for a mudbath, I opted for metallic silver. If you can’t shine at a festival, when can you?

The dress

Me and my housemate have an ongoing friendly rivalry. I say she wears too many pastels and she declared my colour palette was “musty” but funnily enough I always thought of myself as a huge fan of colour when the sun shines. I always say I’m a classic girl and I do still bring out the white, in the same way my inner goth screams for black from September onwards.

 I remember being ambushed by a guy at a festival who unashamedly mmm-mmmed me. Needless to say I was both horrified and slightly pleased (this dress was amazing). But dresses, regardless of cat-calling, are the easiest, stress-free outsift, easy to pack and perfect to take you from day to night (with the addition of tights).

Boots and slightly hippy dress screams let’s dance in a tent and see where the night takes us…

Trim Insert Pinafore Overlay Sundress62N54HGLD_normal10L01HBLK_normal

Left to right: White lace dress and for the Gold dress, and finally black hippy-esque playsuit, all from Topshop.

If you don’t fancy these I usually find anything from the beachwear section will be suitable for your entire festival wardrobe.

The footwear

Alongside having to put a bikini on, men in flipflops and the constant burnt nose, the thing I hate most about summer is the hellish welly rash.

For those of you not familiar with it, this occurs when sweaty, danced out legs rub against your totally hygienic and classy wellies. I would always have endorsed a good sturdy pair of wellies but now I think a pair of hiker boots may be more appropriate and stop the inevitable rub and red patches of wellydom.

Someone used to mock my own “heavy duty booties” as she termed them. But when you are facing disgusting overflows from toilet blocks alongside crazy heatwave weather, heavy duty boots are the only way to go. They also help maintain the balance of your outfit, no one wants to look too sweet and elfin like in floaty white dresses, but don some workmen boots and you are pretty much achieving your old embarrassing hotmail account (mine was moshing fairy, *cringe*) Embrace your festival fairy with boots that can mosh with the best of them:

timberland 2timberlanddune at john lewislaceys-london-laceys-london-odele-womens-leather-chelsea-boots-tan-brown-p44439-60554_medium

Top to bottom: From traditional Timberlands in black and tan to black Dunes or if you can guarantee a less messy festival and good weather say Coachella or Rock en Seine, then it has to be a classic chelsea boot. These are from Scorpioshoes.com

The accessories

Glastonbury banned the Native American feather headdresses last year due to cultural appropriation (say what?!) and even though festivals shouldn’t be a catwalk, I still think we can maintain some grace and avoid the old fairy wings.

I remain positive about glitter.

But here are some colourful bits and pieces to get you into the festive spirit without making you look like a Hen-do bride on halloween…

1856057050_1_1_16869033050_1_1_14646004051_1_1_13280001050_1_1_1

Left to right: Bright and beautiful necklaces, feather-earrings (festivals should be the only time after Secondary school that you attempt to wear feathers)

0247034615_2_1_1

Top it off with a huge colourful scarf like this paisely one. Not only protects shoulders from sunburn but if large enough can be used as a pillow for a handy midday nap. Pull out a wooly bright one from winter for the chilly evenings and drape over yourself for that ultimate ethnic chic (if a suitable sized scarf cannot be found, pick up a cheap throw at Ikea. It is likely to be sodden in mud and goodness knows what by the end of the weekend after all…)

All from Zara, the shop I would save from the retail fire or recession, over any other.

Other tips? Keep it safe. Have fun, stay hydrated (not just with the vodka hipflask cocktails) and avoid the she-pees at all cost, or don those bikinis for potential accidents, don’t ask…

Hot dog, sauerkraut and chili…

Guesses for what this post is about ?

No?…

I always thought the opening lyrics to Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the city” were “Hot dog, summer in the city”…

download (5)

Googling the song for my post on summer in my city, Bristol, I found that this is a common mistake and others have misheard it as, “Hot dog, sauerkraut and chili”. Alas, the vegetarian is not qualified enough to talk sausage (steady) so we’ll stick with the beautiful weather we’ve been having, delightful and a very British topic of conversation.

I feel a tad woozy today and no, I haven’t been drinking. I did, however, fall asleep in the sun for a couple of hours and yes I have, ridiculously, gained a slightly reddened forehead. Typical English rose (ha) goes out in 15 degree “sunshine” and gets burnt.

I may be slightly embracing the summer, but I am NOT wearing any shorts or skirts without tights until the 1st of May, mostly to make a point to my embarrassing housemate and boyfriend. I refuse to be one of those “spring w**nkers” who decides to don the wife beaters in February just because it hasn’t snowed for a week or two. He, who probably hasn’t given up the flipflops, I knew a guy at university that wore flipflops all year around and completed his look with a sprig of tinsel at xmas.

8aac30fa99186dbec52f2aced6b902029afc49c7c843976e25061320ee67158a

Anyway, personal preferences for flesh exposure aside, here are my tips on what to do if you happen to be in Brist this Summer…

Vegfest

Date: May 23rd- 24th 2015

As we’ve moved away from hotdogs, here’s to a vegan friendly event “Vegfest”

Enjoy: the typical harbourside festival chilled vibe.

-the great food, even if you aren’t veggie, from Indian curries to Biblos wraps to random faux-meat products (and none of that “Why not just eat meat rubbish” just because I’m veggie doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a sausage, not a euphemism)

-the actually helpful cooking tips and various guest speakers, I learnt how to make different yummy veggie stock a few years ago, sorry OXO.

-some good music, with often local bands on the tiny stage.

Personal highlight: Once got a free wrap and a wink from a very cute member of staff at a local Bristol food stall.

And for you soul-less (heh) carnivores out there… I believe there is an event called Grillstock later in the summer when you can fill your chops with well, chops to your heart’s content.

970540_10151437653282055_1188793881_n

A sunbathing shot from the 2013 Vegfest

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Dates: 6th-9th August 2015 

Had to mention this one as people seem to flock to it and we are pretty famous for our balloons so……

Enjoy:

-the balloons… I mean seriously if you aren’t keen on those hot-air filled things, do not go.

On the other hand… despite balloons, there are also a wide range of fairground type things and again lots of yummy food stalls (but obviously, less veggie friendly or varied than the above Vegfest) and places to get drink.

It seemed to me, a mid-20s female, to be fairly family friendly. Take that as you will.

If the weather is good, Ashton court estate is a beautiful place to spend the day, unlike last year where me and my housemate spent most of it crouched under an umbrella whilst I drank overpriced cider and he ate liquorice (don’t ask)…Definitely bring your brolly!

The light show, or seductively named night-glow, is nice and vaguely romantic and so this could be one for a date. Although again, it is literally balloons being lit up to a generally Radio-1 esque soundtrack…Perhaps if you ply your date with cider and liquorice, it may still be a success.

St Pauls

Date: 4th July 2015

Another now locally famous event, it may not be Notting Hill but it’s always a good night out.

Enjoy:

-Dancing in the street, dancing on walls, dancing in tents, dancing on your friend’s shoulders, dancing on various makeshift stages. It is all about some good music and good times.

-Carribean culinary fare and cans from bathtubs, sinks and the trolleys being pushed about.

-The festival feel.

Personal highlight: With hindsight, I am not entirely sure I’d class it as this, but it was at a late, after-St Pauls stop in Stokes Croft that I met the Italian of this fame. (He does actually know I have a blog now, so ciao A ;))

Anyway, I have always wanted to go on a date with an Italian so TICK.

10393783_10152209702337055_4857709489830109432_n

All my “good” pictures of St Pauls include friends so here’s a random bad yet anonymous shot.

To be continued …

Attempts to avoid awkwardness…

I am usually the most ridiculously honest person ever. I have no secrets. People always joke that I’d make a bad spy and or murderer because straight away I’d crack and be like “Ooooh do you want to know how I did it? I have photos!” Ready for instagram, #guilty.

And yet I have told very few people about the most embarrassing story in my life. A story I am not about to share on a blog where it could be used against me in the future. But basically it involves a wheelchair user, a dancefloor and me setting the fire alarm off… Horrific. It makes me shudder just thinking about it.

I am not the most socially awkward person I know (that award goes to a lovely fellow housemate, she knows who she is) but I certainly seem to get into more than my fair share of awkward situations.

8
For example… I am the only person I know that could get stuck in a hedge, with my hair, and just pretend it was all fine whilst several groups of joggers ran past.

Last night, I actually hung up the phone (terribly rude I know) because I didn’t want to tell the Indian man on the other end that I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I, then, tried to change my voice, when the same man (after my friend re-booked the table) came to take our order.

Definitely need help. Definitely an awkward turtle.

The worst situations for awkwardness and my various attempts to save the situation:

Situation: Bumping into an ex.

ex2

This has to be one of the most awkward and horrible situations ever. Luckily the only ex I’d not want to bump into is on the other side of the world but I have had that heart-sinking moment of seeing an ex when you really didn’t want to.

Solution: Make the other guy hide behind the tree.

After my most recent ex, I had a bit of a crush on a housemate’s friend and we’d been flirting. My ex was coming to pick up his stuff and this guy made a joke about introducing himself. All very awkward. I was stressed as we were all outside my house at once, so convinced the guy to hide behind a tree. Which he, graciously, did.

It just shows how far an awkward person will go to avoid certain situations.

As to future ex-meet ups, as a preventative measure: Always look hot. (or at least brush your hair and maybe some mascara) because it seems to break the laws of science that you’d ever see an ex when you were looking good. I feel this theory is foolproof…even if you end up walking into a post or something. Just laugh doing it and shake that shiny hair. And he’ll think damn, there goes my hot (crazy) ex.

Situation: Bumping into a ONS/ person you once got with.

images (3)

Solution: It is like the supermarket thing. If you try and avoid someone in a supermarket you will ALWAYS bump into them because God has a sense of humour or something…Anyway if fate is against you and you bump into an old lover or cringe ONS, I suggest just going for the greeting (see below), something simple like “Hey” or a smile/wave (if you can manage to look sane whilst doing so) but never, ever engage in conversation. That’s when it gets weird and they drop in their new girlfriend and you go bright red even though you really don’t fancy them and they definitely looked better in the dark after a whole load of martinis.

Situation: Meeting the parents.

tumblr_lheecySMjB1qh7mflo1_400

Solution: Break up with the person (extreme but definitely would avoid the situation)

I met one of my ex’s parents whilst working as a waitress (not in a cocktail bar) but it was made more awkward by the fact I’d already served them before they revealed their identity. My boyfriend at the time was in Africa on his “gap yah” and I was not expecting to meet them until his return.  I was a shy 17 year old who ended up being like a quivering wreck whilst simultaneously serving many customers on a busy Sunday morning. It was hellish. I ended up getting on with them really well but they did always used to joke about how awkward that first meeting was.

So…for future meetings, I will definitely make sure it is a planned visit, ensure my boyfriend is actually there and be sure to not be the one serving the coffee.

Situation: Greeting someone

why-do-dogs-sniff-other-dogs-bottoms-52ecd80bb701a

I’ve never done this

It should be natural and easy. A greeting. Handshake. Air-kiss. Smile. But unless they are good friends, I pretty much fall apart at this basic social etiquette.

Are they an Ab-fab darlinggg-esque, kiss both cheeks kind of person? If you go for a kiss and they go for a handshake…

204769

I mean it is such a mine field, it makes me actually consider hermitage.

I met an ex’s grandma over a week stay away in their country house and every night she wanted a kiss. Those pink lipstick smears could not be seen on my redder-than-red face.

I could go on, for hours…awkwardly.

Like that time I spat (like camel style) all over my friend during a conversation and just ignored it.

Even when he had to wipe his face…

download (2)

My advice, even the best of us have awkward moments. Shake it off… especially if it’s spit.

Dear John…?

Breaking up is hard to do. The song speaks the truth.

It isn’t you, it’s me … or my favourite new classic from the one and only Samantha Jones:

anigif_enhanced-buzz-12697-1382635782-4

That sounds more appropriate. Anyway… after multiple chats with a friend of mine who is going through the shall I, shan’t I dilemma, I decided (with her permission) to open it up to the blogging world including guy-blogger (from Ask a guy posts).

Her problem: 

“What do you do when the spark goes? When you still love your boyfriend, care about them and want them to be happy, but you realise that the butterflies have gone . I always thought that love was everything and would always be enough but now I’m starting to realise that you need more than that to have a good relationship. Can I be content with what we have got or accept that we should part? What if I never love someone this much again?”

Guy-blogger’s insights:

I think this is felt by everyone at some point or another, it’s feelings like this that make or break relationships, and it’s moments like this that really highlight the difference between ‘love’ and being ‘in love’. I would disagree and say that it is enough, love is a very powerful bond, in whatever context, it’s enough to make people put themselves through hell for the sake of another human being, that’s rare in this day and age. Whether it’s to come home to that person every night, or once a week, or not even that often it is most definitely enough to put yourself through a lot of hell. If it isn’t like that, then I’d be inclined to say it’s not true love, just the closest thing to it so far.

The notion of that grass being greener is true in every aspect of life, personally, professionally, you name it. You might meet up with other couples and see how in love they are with their puns, in jokes and finishing each other’s…sandwiches, but remember that’s just what they choose to publicly share. Every couple has fights, arguments behind closed doors, it’s no use comparing and thinking it might be better some where else just because it looks it. Seeing is not believing, after all. I’d say if you think you’re better off on your own, go for it, reclaim some of that independence that is nearly always lost when you give yourself wholeheartedly to another person. But if this is just a rough patch, a lull before the eventual rise into those happier times, stick at it a bit more, I don’t know about all the circumstances, but make a bit more effort than normal, and try and get your partner to as well, if things look up, great, if not, then maybe one or both of you have been taking the other for granted, or maybe, yes, that spark really is gone.

My own thoughts: 

I am so tempted to Mrs. Mills this and write something pretentious about table settings or sex with the milkman (never!) but as I know the girl in question, it’s actually even harder…

I think the key point here is the questions you are asking don’t suggest to me that you are holding on for the right reasons. And, I may be no Mystic Meg, but I’m pretty confident that you will find love again and that someone who is in their early twenties should not be “settling” already. If it’s not fun now, how will it be 5 years down the line? 10?

You started thinking about this before Christmas, if you are still thinking about it in two weeks time ie our next commercialised Christian holiday then I think you know your answer.

PS. you did mention to me that you’d enjoy Tinder, please make sure you’ve read my thoughts on this

Alternatively you could think like a swiftie, WWSD?

603299_4064764694827_100177814_n