On Saturday, Phil went to Witney to have a mooch about Rapture record store. While he was there, he popped into Beanbag Natural Health shop and bought me loads of vegan goodies. One of the best things was this amazing vegan chocolate bar, which as a new vegan, is simply out of this world.
(Apologies for the crap pic – it was late and the rugby was on!) Chocolate and hazelnut bars have always been a favourite of mine and the Vego bar means it will remain so. Some vegan chocolates are okay, but lack the creaminess you get with regular chocolate. This has not such problem. It’s the closest taste to regular chocolate I’ve had so far. Plus, it’s fair-trade, so ticks my ethical boxes too. (Oreos, you really need to sort your ethical shit out, m’kay?) I had the mini bar, but don’t be fooled by the name. The mini bar is almost a bit much in one sitting, as it’s quite a chunky bar, but I struggled on through, with a delicious glass of Terreo Malbec vegan wine from Ocado to wash it down with. Delicious!
A few weeks ago, we decided that we’d like to have a go walking the length of the River Thames. Not all at once you understand, but going from lock to lock. While we’ve walked parts of it before, we’d like to make sure we walk all of it. We aren’t planning to do it in any particular order, as it all depends on how far the distance is between locks, how far it is and where the pubs are!
We decided to start in Abingdon and walk through Culham lock to Clifton lock. We didn’t want to walk back the way we came, so we parked one car at Rye Farm car park in Abingdon where we started our walk and another at the Barley Mow car park, as we planned on eating lunch there.
I love walking by the locks with their lock keeper cottages. They always make me thing of ‘times gone by’! It’s fascinating to think of the locks being built to help boats get about and I’d love to travel along the Thames by boat and wave at dog walkers walking on by.
The walk from Abingdon lock is a lovely one. It’s easy going with beautiful views across the river and fields. There are loads of pillboxes hidden all over the place along the Thames, as well as loads of different wildlife and plants. We even saw a heron in the middle of a field!
Be wary of other people using the path, especially at points where the path becomes narrow. We met a cyclist coming in the opposite direction and it wasn’t easy to pass them, especially with Poppy trying to get close to them, wanting to get a chin rub off them!
We aren’t doing the locks in any particular order. I can’t wait for the next installment!
The Walk: The walk along the Thames path is fairly easy, just about 6 miles (I think). There are a few sections that can get muddy and slippy, most noticeably just after the Culham lock, near the firing range. Cost: Free Car Park: We parked one car at the Rye Farm car park for three hours for £1.50. That was enough time for us to walk up to the Abingdon lock to start our walk. We parked another at the Barley Mow car park for our return journey. Refreshments: We had lunch at the Barley Mow in Clifton Hampden, sitting outside with Poppy. While vegan options are limited (I had a jacket potato with baked beans!), the food can be pretty good here. Toilets: There is a toilet at the start of the walk just under the bridge in Abingdon, but you do have to pay for it.
I often thought that autumn was my favourite season. After a long hot summer, autumn would break winter in gently, all the while reminding us why we love layers and tights without giving us frostbite. And the last few autumnal days have been a real treat. Bright, chilly mornings; warm sunny days, evenings spent wrapped up on the sofa under my blanket.
I’ve since realised that I’m happy with any season, as long as the weather is how it’s supposed to be. For example, I’m happy with winter, as long as it’s cold and you can wrap up warm in bobble hats and scarves, sit by the fire drinking mulled wine. I’m equally happy in summer, as long as the sun shines and it’s lovely and warm. All autumn has to do is help us transition from one (lackluster) season to another, as gently as possible. I for one can’t wait to heat up the mull and light the fire!
After my first few weeks of being vegan, I thought I’d do a quick round up of some of the meals we’ve been eating. I’m not going to lie, there have been times where it’s been difficult. This is mainly because I’ve been busy back at school, have become tired, and this past week, I’ve been ill with a cold. Normally, I’d revert back to old, lazy food habits of just getting a pizza from a supermarket, or having a lasagne from Cook. Lack of convenience is the hardest part of being vegan. We can’t even pop down the pub for a quick bite. It has got me down a bit, as we need to eat a healthy balanced diet. For this to happen, we need to be organised and accept the fact that we need to cook, from scratch, most nights. Not something either of us is keen on, but it’s the best way. I also need to make enough dinner so that I can have leftovers for lunch or make myself something filling for lunch. I don’t always have a lot of time to eat during lunchtime, so what I do eat needs to fill me up until dinner time.
Here’s what we’ve eaten:
Roast Veg wrap
This was something I made at home for lunch. I roasted up some peppers, courgette, red onion and squash, put some Sacla Free From pesto on an Crosta & Mollica Classic Piada wrap. It was amazing! The best wrap I’ve ever eaten. I’ll definitely have this again. And it would be handy for school too.
Golden Cottage Pie
This was an absolute winner of a dinner. I got the recipe from Little Miss Meat-Free and it was so easy to make. We had peas and sweetcorn and plenty of gravy with it and there was enough for both of us to have left overs for lunch the next day. I will definitely be making this again soon.
Vegan Sausage & Mash
You can’t beat sausage and mash can you? This one isn’t hard to veganise. I always use soya milk in the mash, but this time I used Pure Spread. I wanted to ramp up the veg a bit so quickly fried some mushrooms and onions to go with it. Delicious. We tried some of Dee’s sausages, but we weren’t keen on them. Next time, we’ll be going for some Linda McCartney sausages, as they are always a winner.
Vegan Cooked Breakfast
Beans, mushrooms, cherry toms, fried tofu, vegan sausages and a bit of bread. The perfect start to a lazy Sunday. I replaced the egg I would normally have with a bit of tofu and it was delicious. I didn’t miss the egg at all and was suitably stuffed.
Roast Veg tart, corn on the cob & sweet potato fries
I’ve written about the roast veg tart before. This time I put loads of veg in and we had it with corn on the cob, cooked in the oven, and some sweet potato fries from Waitrose. This was a great dinner, plus look at all that veg!
Ann’s Vegan pasty, oven chips and peas
This is my go-to lazy, comfort dinner. Oven chips (or if I’m feeling like a treat, I may even pop to the chippy and get some chip shop chips for us to share!) and one of Ann’s vegan pasties with a generous helping of peas is one of my all time favourite dinners. The pasty takes an hour to cook from frozen, so you can bung it in the oven and go off and get yourself in your jammies while it’s cooking. You can’t go wrong with this one.
I know what you’re thinking – there’s a lot of chips there. I like chips. A lot. But I do realise that, even oven chips, aren’t very healthy. We’re still in a transition period at the moment, finding new meals that are quick, easy, simple and healthy. I’ll add more when I’ve found them.