I’ve been reading Sharon’s Bit of the Good Stuff blog for several years and always enjoyed the practical guidance and recipes that have helped me to follow a plant-based diet. Sharon’s blog is an inspiration, demonstrating that following a vegan diet isn’t difficult and this movement grows, it gets easier and easier to eat in this way. Once you’re in a routine, eating day-to-day is easy. We all have our tried and tested mealtime favourites. We know where we can go for vegan-friendly lunches and snacks.
I’ve found it more challenging when I step outside of this routine, perhaps working away from home or visiting new places. However, with a little extra thought and preparation, it’s not hard to overcome any potential difficulties and continue to eat healthy, plant-based food wherever you are.
Last July, I took a road trip to France with a few (non-vegan) friends and below I share a few reflections on what was a fantastic trip. The tips I offer on going on a road trip are perhaps obvious enough but, hopefully, some of these words might show how it is to maintain your plant-based diet, even when you’re the only Vegan in the Van…Continue reading “Vegan Man in a Van; Mountain Bike Road Trip to Tignes, France”→
Last week Lil’ L celebrated his 12th birthday, and we decided to mark the occasion with a special overnight trip to London. Even though I grew up in Essex – just half an hour’s train journey from the Big Smoke and worked there for a year after college – I’ve never actually been ‘sight seeing’ in London. So I was just as excited as Lil’ L about the impending trip.
My ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots look the wrong way round as I started the race soaking wet and finished it dry. As we set off for Bath city centre, there was a cool breeze, the sun was shining and the sky was clear blue. I kept calling out to the family how it was the perfect day for running… no sooner had I uttered these words than the sky went dark and there was the most almighty downpour!
Stupidly, I hadn’t packed a waterproof coat or an umbrella, so I ended up soaked to the skin and freezing cold. Instead of heading to the runners village, I popped in Cafe Nero’s to try and warm up. At least I managed to stop shivering! Luckily, the rain stopped just before the race began and the sun started to peep out.
With thirty minutes to go until ‘the off’, I headed up Great Pultney Street to the ‘starting pens’. It felt surreal to be part of the running crowd. I couldn’t quite believe I was there! Suddenly the race started, and the only sound I could hear was the ‘pitter patter’ of thousands of feet. It was such a unique sound. I found it mesmerizing.
The first four miles went really fast, then it started getting tougher. I tried to keep up with ‘Pound Coin guy’ for a while. I did manage to say hi to him, but even his pace was too much for me. To ignore the fact my feet were screaming, I focused on the crowds and ‘hi fiveing’ all the kids I passed. Seeing their smiley faces definitely kept my spirits lifted.
Another highlight for me was being lapped by the winner, Paul Martelletti and runner up, Dean Lacey. I can’t believe how fast those guys can run! If I’d blinked I would have missed them! Paul was the first British guy to win the Bath Half in twelve years, finishing in 1 hr 5 minutes.
That’s a whole hour faster than me! I ended up finishing in 2 hours 5 minutes, which is quicker than expected. I even managed a kind of hobbled sprint finish 🙂
Once over the finish line, my body pretty much refused to move. I could barely bend over to reach the time chip on my shoe. I hobbled my way through the exit pens and collected my medal, finishers t shirt and ‘goodie’ bag.
I loved the t shirt but the ‘goodie’ bag was pretty dismal. I was kind of expecting a protein bar or energy drink. Something to rejuvenate me after the big run. But no, here’s what was inside…
Dairy milk bars and a Dairyfine Titan. Glad to see they catered for the plant-based runners 😉
But joking aside, I’m so glad that I took the plunge and signed up for the Bath Half. It was a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for me, and one that I’ll never forget.
The fact I got to run for such a worthwhile cause was the icing on the cake. Thanks to you guys, I’ve raised £436 for Mercy In Action. I have been so touched these past few weeks by your kindness and generosity. I can’t thank you enough. As promised in this post, I’ll be picking three sponsors at random to win some of my home-made chocolates. Since donations are still coming in, I’ve extended the deadline until this Friday, March 6th March. I’ll notify the winners by email.
Thank you once again, to everyone that’s donated and offered words of advice and encouragement. I couldn’t have done it without you ♥ xx
During May half term, we headed off on the Eurostar to spend a few days in Paris. Our buddies are living there for a year, so it was wonderful to see them and share in their amazing adventure! We stayed at their fab apartment in Issy for two nights, then moved to the heart of the city and spent two nights in Montmartre.
We were determined to make the most of our short visit and packed a lot into each day. We visited the classic Paris sights – Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Galerie Lafayette – as well as a contemporary art market and Marvel Super Hero Expo (much to Lil’ L & M’s delight!)
Most of my visits to Paris have been in Autumn/Fall, so I’d forgotten just how busy the city can be during the summer months. After quick stops at the tourist hotspots (which were heaving with people), we took up our favourite activity which is to simply wander the streets (or “flâner” as I think they say in French). For me, this is the best way to truly experience Paris.
As well as soaking up the Parisian atmosphere and admiring the stunning architecture, we had lots of fun spotting street art by the infamous French Invader. Apparently, there are over 1000 pieces of his art in Paris alone!
I also loved spotting all the love graffiti that’s sprinkled across the city. I wish all graffiti had this sentiment!
Lil’ L has never been to Paris before and he was most excited about seeing the Eiffel Tower. I was keen to take him at nightfall so he could see the tower lit up. I didn’t tell him about the hourly ‘sparkle’ as I wanted it to be a suprise 😉 We were on a bus heading to the tower when the 10 o’clock sparkle happened. Luckily, the bus turned a corner just in time, and we caught the whole show. I loved watching Lil’ L’s face as it sparkled. It was really special ♥
We also caught the 11 o’clock ‘sparkle’ from the Trocadero. As an added bonus, the Paris Slalom World Cup Inline Skating battles were taking place and we got to watch the top three men in the world battle it out for first place. The Korean guy that came first was totally awesome! He wasn’t even phased when some idiot kept flashing a laser in his face. If you’ve got a keen eye, you might even spot me, M & Lil’ L in the background 😉
We made sure to balance the walking and sightseeing with plenty of chill-out time at cafés, parks and the apartments.
If the sun’s out, Jardin du Luxembourg is a great place to spend an afternoon. I loved watching the sailboats gliding across the pond. Very relaxing indeed!
And of course, we spent a fair amount of time eating too 😉 I was amazed at the amount of veggie options that are now available in Paris, catering for all kinds of dietary choices from raw, macrobiotic, gluten-free through to hamburger joints and fast food. There are also ‘Bio’ (organic) supermarkets where you can stock up on health foods.
If you’re planning a visit to Paris, I highly recommend checking out the restaurant reviews on HappyCow and Trip Advisor. We tried a few places (including M.O.B. vegan burger joint and Pousse Pousse), but there were two clear favourites. For a quick lunch option, we loved Maoz Vegetarien near Notre Dame, which serves falafels stuffed in pittas to which you add salad and dressings from the self service bar. There was a great selection of salad options, including yummy beetroot and cumin-spiced carrots.
In the evening, we enjoyed a visit to Vegebowl which serves Asian cuisine. We arrived as it opened and the place quickly filled up (always a good sign!) 90% of the dishes are vegan and those including dairy are clearly marked. A 3 course meal cost 12 euros, which is cheap for Paris. The dishes are named after their meat counterparts (which me and Lil’ L found a bit creepy) but the ‘meat’ was essentially tofu. We tried a whole range of dishes and all bar one (the Lemon “Chicken”) were really tasty. We especially loved the Basil Stir Fried Tofu, ‘Cashew “Chicken”’ and ‘Sweet and Sour “Pork” balls’.
After reading Vegan Miam’s review of the Gentle Gourmet Café, I’d really wanted to check out their vegan French desserts. Unfortunately, the two occasions we happened to be nearby it was mid-afternoon and the café was closed. Next time!
Finally, to round off what was an incredibly special trip to Paris, in the departure lounge at Gare du Nord, we spotted Hannah and Dan from our favourite band, London Grammar. They were on their way home after playing at the We Love Green Festival. I’ve listened to their album ‘If You Wait’ hundreds of times and it still sends shivers down my spine. I couldn’t resist popping over and saying hi to Hannah. She is so lovely! ♥
I don’t remember a year ever being as wet as this one! Here in Bath, rarely has a day gone by without rain. In the press, there’s talk of an impending heatwave. Hmm I’ll believe it when I see it.
Last weekend we finally had a break in the weather and we were itching to get outside and make the most of it. It was actually a Bank Holiday here in the UK and we had three days of warmth and sunshine ♥
We were pretty much outdoors for the whole weekend. On Saturday, we headed out on our bikes along the Kennet and Avon Canal and rode the Two Tunnels circuit. This is one of my all-time favourites cycle routes. I love riding through the Combe Down Tunnel. It’s got such a cool vibe! Just over one mile in length, it’s the longest cycle and walking tunnel in the UK.
On Sunday, we met our friends for a drink in Marlborough then headed to West Woods at Clatford, North Wiltshire. English bluebells bloom in late April/early May and you’ll find many woods are literally carpeted in them!
We timed our visit to Clatford just right. By going later in the day we found that everyone was leaving just as we arrived. For most of the walk, we were literally alone in the woods. It was an incredible experience. Truly magical! ♥
Of course there were plenty of sticks and climbing to keep Lil’ L and our friends’ grandson happy 😉
On Monday (our bonus day off), we went for a hike along the Bath Skyline. We did the circuit back to front and started at Bathampton Woods. Another magical place, filled with mossy trees and stones ♥
It’s super steep in places, so a great workout!
The official circuit guide says that, on average, people burn 735 calories on this walk! Luckily M had stuffed his backpack with leftover pizza and trail mix to keep us going.
The climbs are worth it as you’re rewarded with the most spectacular views of Bath city. It was pretty hazy on Monday but the views were still incredible!
We finished our walk in the city centre, which was abuzz with tourists and locals. It’s amazing how a spot of sunshine can totally transform the vibe of the city. It actually felt like summer had arrived! The bars and cafes were packed with people drinking and dining al fresco. Sadly it was short lived as the rain started again on Monday night, but at least we made the most of it while it lasted!
How’s the weather where you are? Today it’s so dark and rainy that it actually feels like winter’s returned! Not great weather for us, but perfect if you’re a slug or snail 😉