Goals 2018

So it’s that time again to start looking looking at what I want to achieve in 2018. In 2017 I had ten goals and there’s lots of those I want to carrying on doing this year, but in terms of new goals I want to try and achieve the below.

1. Learn to ice skate (properly)

I can get round an ice rink without holding onto the edge ok, but I’m not that confident and I’m always worried children will grab on to me or the teenage boys will knock me over! Our new leisure centre including ice rink is opening in February so I’m going to sign up for some lessons. Once you’ve signed up you can use the rink for free at any other time so no excuse not to get some practice in!

2. Complete a 10k run

I’ve signed up to take part in my first 10k at the end of March so I need to get back into running after the winter lull. My parkruns should help me along and I’m hoping to extend the length of my runs in the evenings to increase my stamina.

3. Use Amazon less

Unfortunately Amazon is so convenient! We gave up our prime membership last year so there is less tying us to it. I have recently discovered Hive where you can buy books online and support local independent bookshops too. If there’s a third party seller on Amazon I will try and contact them direct to by-pass Amazon. You may ask what’s wrong with Amazon, but they have suffered controversy due to their tax arrangements as well as their treatment of workers.

4. Start bulk buying

In 2017 I pledged to use less plastic and in order to continue that I want to shop at bulk stores more. There is Bulk Market in Hackney which isn’t too far from me and As Nature Intended near my work. So neither very close to home but I think I could get a few things in my backpack.

5. See more of the UK

I have a trip to Norwich booked for my birthday in February and I’m visiting my friend in Bournemouth in the first weekend in January. I would also like to spend a weekend in Edinburgh in the summer. It’s so easy to travel by train in the UK (costs permitting) and there’s a few cities I’d like to tick off my list.

So there you have it. A shorter list than last year but I think these are all achievable.

What’s on your goal list for 2018? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Goals 2018

Year end review of Goals 2017

So how did it end up? Let’s see how I did with my goals for the year.

1. Continue to jog/run

I am proud to say I completed 20 parkruns this year. My running has fallen off a bit in the winter as I don’t like running in the dark after work but as our new leisure centre opens in February I can run on the treadmill when it’s dark outside.

2. Take up yoga again

This started well but dropped off very quickly. Again with the leisure centre opening hopefully I can attend some sessions.

3. Eat more wholefoods

I have been eating more veg with our veg box although as my Husband has been eating less meat he has been having meat replacements so I have had those with him. I have been taking my lunch to work almost every day so I have had less processed food out and about.

4. Use less plastic

I have taking my re-usable cup everywhere and by taking my lunch to work I have been using less plastic. Riverford who deliver my veg box have also committed to using even less plastic than they currently do in the next year. I’ve converted to a shampoo bar and using soap. I love Lush’s new naked range which uses solid concentrated versions with no plastic packaging.

5. Be more politically active

I have been taking part almost weekly in Earthlings Experiences with Havering Vegan Action, I’ve also taken part in Southend Anonymous for the Voiceless first two cubes of truth as well as the March for Animals and a few events in London like the Canada Goose protests. I can’t wait to take part in more events next year and I’ve even asked for a flask for Christmas to see me through the winter!

6. Support more independent shops and traders

I’ve only had one drink from Costa and Starbucks each which I’m really proud of. I’ve used Etsy to buy from independent traders online and I want to start using Hive as an alternative to Amazon.

7. Continue “no new clothes” and expand on it

I have done well on this with barely any new clothes at all apart from a few vegan themed clothes which I have also tried to get from ethical, carbon neutral producers. I haven’t bought any big items of furniture but when I do I will try and source these second hand.

8. Attend church more regularly

I have switched to my local church rather than the church I grow up in which means it’s been easier to attend more regularly.

9. Watch less television

This is also something I’ve done well on and just picked particular series to watch rather than just seeing what’s on at the time. I’ve cut down on the reality TV I watch as well.

10. Continue to blog

Apart from a few weeks hiatus in the spring I have continued to blog frequently and my stats continue to improve month on month so I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon!

So there you have it. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved this year. I’m not sure I’ll have as many goals for 2018 but I’ll be sure to continue the good work I’ve started in 2017.

How did you get on with your goals for the year? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Year end review of Goals 2017

Hackney Downs Festive Vegan Market

This weekend Hackney Downs Studios hosted Fat Gay Vegan’s three day Christmas Vegan Market extravaganza so we certainly couldn’t miss out.

My Sister-in-law Gemma decided to drive so we missed the pushing and shoving on the bus, tube and Overground and parked near the downs.

We started off with a mulled wine to warm us up. I’m more of a mulled cider person but this went down in a treat in my travel cup.

We were hungry so we quickly headed over to Temple of Seitan. They had two Christmas subs on, I went for the beef wellington with bacon, mushroom duxelles and mustard and Gemma had the chicken with stuffing, cranberry sauce and crispy onions. Both were delicious and the hot English mustard really cleared my sinuses!

After that we needed something sweet and I had been looking forward to having Vegan Delice’s fresh hot doughnuts. We went with one lot with chocolate and nuts and the other with raspberry sauce and both were fabulous!

I also bought my Husband an Oreo cupcake and I enjoyed this gingerbread person with a cup of tea later at home.

I’m already a convert to bamboo toothbrushes but Gem had to pick some up for her and my Brother. This enterprise started as a uni project and is now a full blown ethical business that plants a tree for each toothbrush sold.

She also picked up some make up as a present and was gifted a little extra too! I won’t show the items in case the receipient sees this!

Viva La Vegan were selling Eden Perfume on their behalf so I brought my empty bottle to get a refill (and a discount!), I went for 78 which is similar to Paco Rabanne’s Lady Million.

I also picked up a candle from Vegan Bunny. I had seen these as Gemma had got some for her birthday in October. I love rose scents so I had to go for the rose blossom variety, I also loved the jasmine scent which I might go for next time.

I also grabbed one of Fat Gay Vegan’s tote bags which I love as the text can be read up-side-down as well. I also caught up with the man himself and congratulated him on his recent appearance on the Chickpeeps podcast which I would recommend you listen to straight away!

We finished up with some cheese fries from Club Mexicana. These are gooey and crunchy but don’t leave you feeling heavy and greasy like dairy cheese does.

We had a fab time and it was lovely speaking to all the vendors and being introduced to some new ones.

Did you go to the market this weekend? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Hackney Downs Festive Vegan Market

Violife Cheese Board

My Husband has been mostly dairy free for a while now so he was excited to see Violife bring out a cheese board for the festive season, so much so he bought two, one for us to taste test and another to take to my Brother’s on Christmas day.

The cheese board contains three different cheeses each 150g and cost £5.50. We have a blue, cranberry and mature cheddar varieties. We tried these with Ritz crackers.

The packaging does seem quite big for the size of the cheese and when you have two packs it takes up a considerable space in the fridge.

I am not a great lover of blue cheese but I think this a fair approximation and tastes similar to the Bute Island Sheese version.

I was really disappointed with the other two cheeses. The mature is anything but and apart from the cranberries the other cheese lacks flavour as well. I have heard some people describe the texture as plasticky but that didn’t really bother me. We’re going to try the mature later in the week melted on chicken style burgers but you would expect the best was to enjoy a cheese board is simply on crackers.

I would not recommend this but would be interested to see what other people thought. Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Violife Cheese Board

Vegan Adventures in Cornwall

My friend Charlie recently visited Cornwall so I asked her if she would let us know what the vegan options were like in that part of the country.

So over to Charlie…

“So the last time I went to visit my friend in Cornwall (about 3 years ago) she said there wasn’t many vegan places to go out and eat. Cornwall hadn’t quite caught up to the idea of veganism yet. Either that, or we just wasn’t aware of what was available. 

Well on this trip, we were determined to go out and explore some vegan friendly eateries. And we did just that!

The Cornish Vegan, Truro. 

This was the first place we wanted to visit on this trip. My friend, also a longterm vegan, had heard great things about this little cafe, but had never quite made it there.

We walked into this tiny little cafe, with painting on the wall of pigs and cows. We were immediately greeted by a lovely American lady, who directed us to a quiet table and gave us menus.

Straight away I had a tough time deciding what I was going to get. The ‘TLT’ sandwich or the BBQ jack fruit burger. I decided to go with the ‘Chikin’ burger with handcrafted chips, served with salad and homemade sauces. It was gorgeous.  Reasonably priced and filling. I them choose from their assortment of homemade cakes, a white chocolate and strawberry slice, which I took home for later.

The atmosphere was lovely, the staff really chatty and polite. I would definitely visit here again.

The Stable,  Falmouth. 

The little town near the fishing lake was a place I didn’t expect to see any vegan food. But after a bit of a shopping we passed this bar/resturant with a massive sign saying ‘vegan options available’.

This place offered 4 vegan pizzas, two salads and a side of garlic bread (with vegan cheese option).

Anyone who knows me knows I won’t ever turn down garlic bread, so cheese galic bread was a definately and I choose ‘The Bute Island Blazer’ and my friend ordering the ‘The Allo Aloha’. 

The cheesey garlic bread was FANTASTIC! Really stingy, melty cheese with the right amount of garlic. 

Wasn’t sure I’d be able to fit in a whole pizza after that, but actually when it arrived the smell hooked me in. Really delicious, just maybe a bit hot for me. Having scraped off a few chillies I was able to enjoy another round of bread. Would definitely recommend. 

Nice staff. Quick service. Very satisfying. 

Warrens Bakery

When in Cornwall, you must get a Cornish Pasty! It’s an unwritten rule.

And Warrens in Hayle do 3 vegan pasties! I had the curried mixed vegatables….and it definitely hit the spot. Great for lunch if you are on the move and filling.”

Thanks Charlie! I’ve visited The Stables branch in Bournemouth and I would agree their pizzas and garlic bread are pretty special. I haven’t been to Cornwall myself but now I wouldn’t be worried there would be a lack of vegan options.

If you’ve had some vegan adventures and want to share your finds please don’t hesitate to contact me for a guest post.

Have you been to Cornwall as a vegan what options did you find? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Vegan Adventures in Cornwall

So Pure Café

Mama Plumes and I arranged to spend our pre-christmas day out at the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum in London. Mama Plumes had an offer for a £10 three course lunch from Timeout so we decided to head there before the exhibition. If you’re not already signed up to the Timeout emails I would recommend you do as they regularly have offers from veggie and vegan restaurants.

So Pure Café is a veggie café situated in Triyoga on the second floor of Kingsley Court. I wasn’t previously aware of Kingsley Court which sits between Regents Street and Carnaby Street. The space was really nice and looks like a lovely place to just hang out and have a hot drink. As it’s off Regents Street this is very handy if you are attending the Canada Goose protests.

For starter we both went for the tomato, chickpea and coconut soup which was so tasty and lovely and warming on a cold day.

For main I went for the smashed avocado on toast (the only vegan option) and Mum had the tart. Both were really tasty and I loved the seedy bread.

We both went for the matcha and spirulina protein ball out of the three available for dessert.

Our meal also came with a Nix and Kix carbonated drink and we both chose the peach and vanilla which was great and only 50 calories. This whole lunch was very virtuous and I’d really recommend you go there if you are in the area.

Have you visited So Pure or the Winne-the-Pooh exhibition? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

So Pure Café

Christmas Lunch @ Bill’s

I had two days of Christmas company do’s in a row and after the abysmal display from Ipswich Town FC (basically just a plate of vegetables for both lunch and dinner) I knew things could only improve when we went to Bill’s in Shoreditch for our team Christmas meal.

I had pre-ordered the 3 vegan options for starter, main and dessert, no choice but better than some years where you have to ring up in order to negotiate a vegan option.

To drink I had a hot elderflower cordial. I’ve been suffering from a cold the past couple of weeks so this was really nice.

For my starter I had ordered mushroom soup, unfortunately mine and my colleague’s soup were both cold so they had to be sent back. Once they returned the soup was lovely tasting and the bread with it was great too.

For main I had the vegan roast, again the vegetables weren’t incredibly warm. I enquired about a vegetarian gravy and the waitress took so long I was almost finished by the time she came back. The roast was really moist and flavourful though and I think a lot of effort has been put into that.

For dessert I had the rice pudding brulee. The sugar had a good crack but the rice was a bit claggy and didn’t have much sauce. Saying that I did manage to finish it.

I think this dinner looked really nice on paper but was decidedly average on eating. I’ve never eaten in a Bill’s before and this just may be the pressure of the Christmas period and all the work meals going on. It’s not the worse Christmas meal I’ve had as a vegan but no where near the best.

Have you been to Bill’s? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Christmas Lunch @ Bill’s

Wagamama Noodle Lab

Tonight we were heading out to see comedian Sofie Hagen at the Soho Theatre, so as the theatre is directly opposite Wagamama’s noodle lab we knew where we were having dinner.

The lab is where they test new dishes on the public to receive feedback and decide whether to roll them out to the rest of their branches.

I had seen on other people’s feeds they had seitan katsu curry and panko breadcrumbed aubergine and mushroom buns which sounded fabulous. I took a look at the lab’s menu online to see what other treats there were.

We both had the seitan katsu and shared the steamed buns and pumpkin onigiri. My Husband isn’t a big fan of Seitan although he is always willing to try. He ate all of this dish but he wouldn’t get it again. I really enjoyed it my only advice would be that it could do with more sauce.

I’ve had the buns before which have a great texture, the non-vegan version comes with a wasabi mayo and I definitely think you miss a sauce as this is just omitted rather than replaced with a vegan alternative. I cannot fault the onigiri, these were gorgeous fried balls of deliciousness with a sweet dipping sauce. I could eat these all day!

For dessert I had the mango and matcha millefeuille. This was a really delicate little cake and I loved the sticky mango sauce. I thought this needed a bit more matcha as I am a huge matcha fan and struggled to find it underneath the strong flavour of the mango.

At the end of the meal we were given a tablet to answer a survey to give our feedback. I really like that Wagamama are incorporating their customers into the menu creation process and wish more companies would do similar.

I hope all these dishes make it onto the main menu. The lab changes its experimental dishes every few months so there’s always something new to try (hopefully vegan!) 

Have you been to the noodle lab? If not, what would you like to try from the menu above? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Wagamama Noodle Lab

A Vegan Meal @ Toby Cavery

You wouldn’t think a cavery would be the most vegan friendly restaurant but Toby Carvery may surprise you with its 4 vegan mains and an additional veggie main. As a vegan you must remember to ask for separate steamed veg as the regular stuff is glazed with butter.

Our waitress was fabulous and bought our mains of Portobello mushroom tart with steamed veg and roast potatoes so we didn’t have to go up to the buffet counter at all. We enquired about the stuffing and she clarified this was also vegan and brought us a plate of it out. We just had to go to the sauce station for clearly labelled vegetarian gravy and I added on some mint sauce.

I really enjoyed the mushroom tart, the pasty was crisp and the filling was very tasty. All the veg was nicely cooked although there was so much I couldn’t finish it all!

For dessert there is a clearly marked cherry and chocolate torte for vegans.

This was great too. It’s nice to see a proper dessert available rather than a fruit salad or sorbet, to make it 10/10 I think they could serve with some vegan ice cream or cream.

I think Toby Carvery have gone to a lot of effort to make sure vegans are included and this is a great option when you are eating in a mixed group of vegans and non-vegans like we were today in a large family group. 

Have you eaten at Toby Carvery as a vegan? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

A Vegan Meal @ Toby Cavery

Blue House Yard Vegan Market 

I saw this event on Facebook and thought I would give it a go. Blue House Yard is situated in Wood Green. I have never really visited there so it was nice to see a vegan market popping up in a new area. I jumped on the Picadilly line and I was there in no time.

The market was smaller than I was expecting, but there’s only so many vegan burgers and cakes you can eat! There were also a number of shops housed in sheds which are a permanent feature. There was a stationary store, a plant store, a vintage clothings store, a cake shop, a wood engraving and sculpting store and a craft beer store. 

I got there just as it was starting and the main food people were setting up so I started with an apple drink which was lovely, sweet and hot.

I then stopped by Viva La Vida to pick up some bits. I love their stuff and chose a badge, patch and zipper pull. I can’t wait to put the patch on the top pocket of my jacket.

For food I decided on Jake’s Vegan Steaks as I’ve seen them at lots of events but never tried them myself. They were serving a dish called “The Christmas Cracker” which came with mayo caramelised onions, Brussel sprouts and crisps parsnips on a ciabatta roll. The steak has quite a neutral flavour but I think this lends itself to lots of different toppings like this Christmas one. 

For sweet treats I went for a couple of cookies from Kizzy’s Cookies, these are seriously the best cookies I’ve had, nice and soft. I also bought a chocolate cherry cake from Vegan Sweet Tooth to share with my Husband as it was huge! I always pick something up when I see these guys at fayres and markets. 

There were another couple of stalls I haven’t tried from before Pig Out and Nanny Bills which I look forward to trying in the future.

I had a look at the Blue House Yard Facebook page and it looks like they have regular craft markets here with occasional themed ones like this vegan one. If this is local to you I’d definitely check it out or if you’re visiting the area for the day.

Have you tried any of these vendors? What did you think? Have to been to Blue House Yard before? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Blue House Yard Vegan Market