A few weeks ago, before the heatwave and following deluge of rain, Phil, Poppydog and I headed into Oxford to visit Bitten Street. This is a street food event that happens monthly and is run by Bitten Oxford. We’ve been before but haven’t been in ages, mainly because I became vegan and there was very little on offer for me so we didn’t bother going in. However, we noticed that Rupert’s Street was going to be there and everything they due is suitable for vegans. Finally, I could eat something! So we planned a little walk that would mean we could arrive at Bitten Street in time for an early lunch, and I’m glad we did, as Rupert’s Street did sell out. We parked at Hinksey Park car park and walked along the Thames into Oxford to Oxford Castle. It was a lovely walk, tired Poppydog out and avoided the hideous car parking charges.
We headed straight for Rupert’s Street to check out their vegan offerings. I had the tofu salad, which was amazing, and Phil had the beetroot latke, which was really delicious. The food was healthy, tasty and reasonable. It was so nice to see vegan food on offer and I really hope that it’s the start of things to come and that there will be many more vegan offerings. To see what’s coming up at the next Bitten Street event, check out the Bitten Oxford Facebook page. If there’s vegan food to be had, then you might just see me there!
So I’m back after a bit of a blogging hiatus. Things got pretty busy for a while there, between work, redecorating and getting sick so something had to take a back seat. It wasn’t planned, just unavoidable, and I did let the busyness get to me. I forgot how important it is to take time out for myself. I’ve been down that road before and it didn’t end well. As a result, this post is a little note to myself, a reminder to take care of myself, that’s its just as important as any job or chore that’s on my to do list.
- Make time for myself. I know, I know, this sounds ridiculous. How can you ‘make time’ for anything, especially if you’ve got an ever increasing list of things to do, which is probably pretty much everyone I know. But it is important because it can make you feel better, give you a more positive outlook on what’s going on and help you feel more organized and in control, which for me, helps reduce my anxiety. For example, I like to do a diy manicure/pedicure once a week. Nothing fancy, I don’t even have to paint them, though that’s lovely to do too. I used to do this religiously when I was less busy and it was simply part of my routine, but a lot of the time, it’s something that gets pushed down the list and doesn’t get done. It’s not the end of the world, but not doing it often means I don’t feel as in control as I could and I often feel like I’ve myself down a bit. I therefore need to make sure I prioritise this kind of thing and do it on a Friday evening and not leave it until the last moment on a Sunday, when I’m too tired to do it. I need to make sure I’m higher up on my list of priorities.
- Do something I love. I usually try to leave school reasonably promptly on a Friday, just to avoid getting caught up in rush hour traffic, though it doesn’t always work out that I can. A few weeks ago, I managed to do this. There were lots of things that I could’ve done, lots of urgent things on my to do list, but instead, I ran a hot bath, dropped in a gorgeous Lush bath bomb and lounged about in the bath for over an hour, watching Scandal & Grey’s Anatomy on my iPad. It was bliss! It was the perfect antidote to everything that was going on and I felt sooooo much better for it. It didn’t cost much (I always try to have a selection of bath bombs on hand) and it meant that I could put the week behind me and be in my jammies and on the sofa when I was done. It was just what I needed and I must remember to do this more often. I need to get out in the fresh air and walk. I need to veg out in front of my favourite film and do nothing. I need to lay on the sofa reading a decent book. Anything that’s not work or jobs.
- Junk food is not my friend. When I get busy and tired, I want to cook less than normal. So instead of healthy home cooked meals from scratch, it’s oven chips and beans or takeaway. Instead of a healthy, vegetable packed lunch made at home, it’s a white bread sandwich with crisps that repeats on me all afternoon. All this means I run on empty, feeling crap, a little heaver and feeling all kinds of guilt. When will I learn? I’m not saying no junk food or takeaways ever, but toast and crisps for lunch for two weeks is not balanced. It’s lazy and a sure fire way to feeling worse. In order to have the energy to keep going and not feel like crap, a balanced diet is essential. Take the time to cook properly (as properly as I can!) and make sure there’s plenty of vegetables.
When I first thought about writing this post, I had no energy whatsoever and was coming down with my first cold in ages. It hit me pretty hard. I knew that I hadn’t been looking after myself properly and felt really guilty. I’m hoping that I learn from this and make sure that I do these things as best as I can, if for no other reason than being worth it.
It turns out that lots of restaurants are surprisingly helpful when it comes to identifying vegan dishes on their menus. One such place is Barbucci in Tenby, where my mum, sister and I went a week or so ago to celebrate mums birthday. My sister, who is one my biggest vegan champions, had got in touch with them to ask about vegan options. They had said that most of their vegetable curries are suitable as they are cooked in vegetable ghee. Music to my ears. Barbucci is in the basement, so it has a kind of secret James Bond lair feel about it. Service was excellent from the moment we arrived and at no point did we feel hurried or rushed, despite it being very busy, especially as they also do take aways. After demolishing an obscene amount of popadoms, my starter arrived, which was four delicious onion bhajis. Make it clear when you order that you do not want the mint yoghurt. I had completely missed this on the menu, as it states that it comes with the yoghurt. Fortunately, only one of the bhajis had the yoghurt on it and my sister was happy to trade me one of her yoghurt free bhajis. Then came the curries. I had ordered the vegetable laziza curry, upon my sisters recommendation. It did not disappoint! (Apologies for the rubbish photo below. Bad lighting, accompanied by being in a busy restaurant and wanting to tuck in meant I didn’t hang around trying different camera angles!)
This curry is delicious. You know how sometimes, you can’t tell different types of curries apart? This was not like that. It was full of flavour, not too spicy but tasty enough to make you sit up and take notice. It was so good that I kept thinking about the next day. And my mouth is watering as I write this! I would go as far to say that this was probably the best curry I’ve ever had and would happily go back for more. I also had boiled rice and a chapati so you can imagine that I was completely stuffed by the end of the night. If you’re ever in need of a really good vegan friendly restaurant in Tenby, then Barbucci is the place to go.
I love every bit of being vegan. Well, sometimes going out to dinner can be tricky. Okay, okay, going out to dinner at a non-vegan place fills me with dread. Will the waiters and waitresses know what a vegan is? Will the chef? Will I be served a plate of veg or have to make do with chips and salad? I worry quite a bit while dining in Oxfordshire, but I was quite concerned with the prospect of eating out in my native Pembrokeshire this weekend. It’s been tough to be vegetarian in Pembrokeshire at times, so I was a little apprehensive. Fortunately, my sister is incredibly supportive of my veganism, as is Phil, and between them, I was well catered for.
First up was Saturday lunch and my sister decided on The Brewery Inn in Cosheston. Having eaten there herself before, she knew it was a lovely, relaxed, dog friendly inn, with great food and service. She got in contact with them to find out what vegan offerings they had and they replied promptly, stating that as they cook everything from scratch, they could whip anything up, including a pudding. Well, with the offering of a pudding, I was more than happy to try there.
Hello, my name is Crafty Chai and I am a burger addict. I’m not 100% sure what the burger was, other than is was vegetable based (I’m thinking squash or sweet potato) and delicious. It was in a wholemeal bun (not all burger rolls are vegan *side eyes at M&S*) and had generous portions of sliced tomato and lettuce. It was lovely. So much so I barely said a word while eating it. Always a good sign of a content Crafty Chai. I was offered triple cooked chips, french fries or sweet potato fries. No contest really – I went for the triple cooked chips. OMG. They were to die for. I felt thoroughly spoilt. Plus virtuous, as my burger was basically vegetables meaning PUDDING! A chocolate mousse, no less. It came out of the kitchen in this rather large cup and saucer. I had pretty much given up on the idea of pudding, with the exception of sorbet (which I will never have. It’s pretty much a grown up, boring version of a Slush Puppy, without the capability of turning your tongue blue) so anywhere that offers a vegan pudding, I’ll be more than happy to dine in. This was a pretty epic pudding and it did defeat me. It was chocolatey, and velvet smooth. I will definitely be going back there. It’s got a lovely feel to it, it’s been decorated to a high standard and they had a cosy log burner on the go in the bar area when we were there. Plus, the staff were lovely, but not intrusive. I didn’t feel out of place at all (and I have done in some other places). Nothing was too much trouble. They had quite a few vegan mains available, you just have to give them advanced warning of your arrival. Their website is in the process of being updated, but they update their Facebook page regularly. So why not treat your vegan valentine for a tasty, cruelty free meal?