Gifted experience: Palms Bar, Coventry

I have lived in Coventry for 8 years, and it still constantly surprises me. And to be honest it surprises me how I rarely go out of my comfort zone. I love independent businesses, but I somehow feel more comfy in the big standard chains. I find them comforting in their mundane regularity. But when I do try somewhere new that bowls me over, I want to shout it from the rooftops.

Palms Bar was established 11 years ago on Far Gosford Street. It serves traditional Nigerian food, and is very reasonably priced. It is popular with the local African community, and students, but deserves to be tried by all! It offers large portions of scrumptious food, all made fresh on the premises, and honestly I came out of the experience stuffed, but craving more!!

The Staff were very friendly and welcoming, and very happy to explain the menu. I do wish there had been less on the menu, and more description of the dishes. The menu could be much better designed to make it more accessible to all.

I have had African food before, but in a tourist setting in Kenya, and in a “fancy” London restaurant. This place is much more authentic then both. It was obvious that the chef has lot of love for food, and it was delicious, and looked vibrant and was fantastic value for money.

My safari in Kenya

Breakfast on the Mara

First up we were given Suya, spicy grilled beef marinated in a blend of African Spices. this was garnished with tomatos and salad onion. This was spicy and full of deep sexy flavour. It was beautifully cooked and rested. It was so tender and melted in the mouth! I loved this dish so much, I could have polished the bowl off all on my own! Tomatoes had been deseeded and nicely prepared so there wasn’t excess moisture being added to the dish, and the onions were sharp but not over powering as most raw onion is, showing that the chef really understands his ingredients.

Suya beef

Next we got the main event, and as we were a group of 4 bloggers, we got a good spread across the table, but Know that the portions are always generous at The Palms Bar.

Ed is a regular at Palms, and adores the food

Four of us went, including Ed, who is an author for the up and coming Coventry Bloggers website. Ed is a regular at Palms, and adores the food. He eats there most weeks. His enthusiasm and passion for the food, coupled with the flavours of the food, and the friendliness of the staff made the meal truly memorable.

Spicy turkey, the best ever peppers and two types of rice

My one of my favourite bits of the meal were definitely the Spicy Turkey, which was tender, and flavourful, without too much heat. They came with maybe the best peppers I’ve ever tasted in my life! They were soft with a little bite, and sweetens which complimented the spicy turkey beautifully. The second item of note was the Suya Beef, which I have already mentioned above.

The Venue:

While I cannot fault the food or staff, I did find the venue very dated. Although it only opened 11years ago, it reminded me of the social clubs and community centres of my childhood in the 1980s (which to be honest were throw backs to the 1970s). it includes various sub rooms, a dance floor, booths, and a roof terrace (which apparently is host to awesome barbecues in the summer.) The roof terrace is currently being reinvested ready for the warmer months, and the Bar etc is on the cards to be done up, but funds are not currently available.

Hidden alcove

The front of the building and entrance were a bit strange: small windows, confusing array of doors and a corridor into the order point, and menu written on white boards which scream “greasy spoon” rather then “fun place to eat awesome food.”

The front of the building

Not so welcoming entrance

The decor doesn’t reflect the type of place it is, as they have New York wall paper in parts, and brown leather benches along with the woven chairs. None of it is bad in its self, but means the place lacks a sense of identity. I really feel this place should really embrace its roots. Some consistency throughout, and opening out of the front, and some green plants would make a huge difference! But as with all businesses, money is needed to do this.

American diner or African Restaurant?

It is in an awesome location, right next to FarGo Village, and about a 10minute walk from Central Coventry.

So please visit the Palms Bar, try their brilliant food, and help them to created the venue of their dreams!

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Geek of all trades

I often describe myself as a “jack of all trades, master of none.” As an adult I have graduated from drama school with a 2:1 and worked as a Stage manager in professional theatre, and in education. I retrained as a chef and began blogging about food. I had a baby and trained as a Baby Carrying consultant and ran my own business as well as working for an online retailer. I found that social media and graphics grew out of my love of being online and my artisticness. And then finally had to accept that I needed to stop working for a while for my health. This lead me back to art and blogging as a way to have purpose while I go through treatment.

Both of my parents have worked within the same institutions for their entire careers, climbing the ladder, having 9-5 jobs, and I grew up believing this was the normal life that I was to expect. School, college, university and then a job. Not just a job, but a career followed by marriage and babies. I just was brought up to believe that this is the not so secret of happiness.

I have hit a few makers in my life. I got good GCSE, but dropped out of ALevels because I hated them, but loved the BTEC in Performing arts that I did instead. I went to university (a drama school in London who did degrees specialising in technical theatre disaplines.) and graduated with a good degree. I started my carreer in theatre and for five years I worked hard. I had a boyfriend, I owned a flat. We planned our wedding, and our life together. He had to take a permanent Job in Coventry so that we could buy a house and start our family. My job prospects dived. There was no theatre work locally, so from that point on my fortunes changes.

Fast forward 8 years and I’m nearly a year into the separation with my husband. I am Co-parent to a wonderful little girl who is totally the love of my life. I have been out of work and living on disability for nearly a year, while undergoing treatment. Which I have mentioned in a previous post; My perfect week (which never happens)

I have a cat, a new boyfriend, amd many wonderful friends, but I am still discontent. I struggle with family interactions, my illness leaves me unmotivated and unable to do things that most people can do everyday, and it sucks.

Being a part time mum gives the joy of my child, and time off to rediscover myself, recover from life and balance myself.

One of my major issues is my own self worth. I have always measured my “success” on the life template that was set up by my parents and society. I am not someone that has ever fitted in, so why did I try to “follow” the normal track of life!

I think the simple answer is that we all want to know the future. It’s why people read horoscopes and visit fortune tellers. We all want to be happy, rich, and be in love. But if we could just find inner worth and happiness, then surely it would be an easier life.

I have started thinking about my talents, and what makes me happy. And I think my loves reflect a lot of the life that I’ve had. I have a wide taste, but the majority of my true loves reflect magic and escapism.

Harry Potter

Generally literature is a massive part of my life. Theatre was an extension of this. I have dyslexia and stuggled with language and reading at a young age. Audiobooks and theatre (later film) opened up many rabbit holes I loved disappearing into to escape the mundane days, and made me feel less alone.

Harry Potter came into my life when I was 17, the summer I left ALevels. I’d had a nervous break down, been put on anti depressants for the first time and was lost. My mum suggested I read the books as something to do. I devoured the first three books in a weekend and Goblet of fire.

Studio Ghibli and anime

My best friend at uni introduced me to Studio Ghibli when she returned from a trip to Japan, and I instantly loved it. In particular My Neighbour Totoro. Became my favourite film ever. Looking back, it had beautiful artwork based on nature, young girls being guided through difficult times, and a large fluffy Forrest spirit who protected the girls in their times of need. Oh yeah and an awesome giant cat who happened to be a bus! I can see why I needed this film, and why I still use Totoro as my protector when I do grounding exercises.

I definitely lean towards the films with a young girl as the main character ( which is quite a big thing in Studio Ghibli anyway. my other Ghibli favourites are “Kiki’s delivery service”, “Arriety” based on “The Borrowers” and “Ponyo”. They all reflect the strong female spirit within.

There are of course others Japanese anime that have fallen into the same vanes, such as “Mary and the Witch’s flower” based on a British book named the same.

Eclectic clothing

In my twenties, I wore black. I hated my body, and slowly put on weigh. It wasn’t important what I looked like as I had a partner, and I concentrated on my work. Since becoming a mum, my life has been full of little girl clothing bursting with colour, and it made me think differently about myself. I started buying shoes that made me smile (irregular choice), stepped out of my comfort zone, and started wearing colour, and clothing that I truly love. I lost nearly three stone in weight through slimming word (which I have gradually put back on, but I don’t actually mind being curvier). I get compliments all the time now, dispite not being particularly pretty or slim. And I know this comes from within. Although I’m ill, I am no longer depressed, and the clothing makes me feel truly like myself. I wear it for no one else but me.

Funky jewellery

Over the last year, my love of clothing has expanded out to jewellery. Now this might sound expensive, but I find that the stuff I love are like little pieces of art. And to top it off fall into the catagory of “costume jewellery”. I love geeky pin badges, acrylic brooches and bold statement necklaces. They make me happy, and I love to gross up my outfits, jackets and bags with them to make them more me.

Art and writing

Art and writing is where I can truest express myself. And not use other people and stuff to hide behind. If I write something, I only do it because it’s something I need to express. If I draw or paint something, it has a purpose, wether it is simply to fuel myself, or share some beauty with the world. I love using photography, digital art, painting with acrylics to express myself. But I find that writing has very much got me out of my comfort zone, and pushed my limits. The blogging group has got me out of the house and led to new experiences. I have made new friends and found my brain still works. I have found a new thing that I enjoy through writing. I have rediscover my creativity (which I barely used for 10 years) and through this I am learning that it doesn’t define me, but nor does my illness. I am finally starting to understand how to make myself happy.

It really doesn’t matter wether you have one talent, or many. You can only be who you are, and do not try to fit yourself into a life that isn’t yours. Don’t try and follow a path that isn’t working for you. Be yourself, find your own happiness, what ever that maybe.

 

Addendum: over the past few days I’ve. Even considering one other area of my life. And That is Food and Drink. I struggle with this subject, as it causes both pleasure and pain for me. I had issues in my teens with food, as many do, and had many arguments with my parents about it, and had much bullying about my weight. After I left home, I discovered my love of cooking, entertaining and eating out in restaurants. In my early twenties I stopped giving most people presents, as I realised taking them out for a meal not only meant I got to treat someone, but that I got to try places that I simply couldn’t go on my own. I found many gems in London, and found “top table”, a website where you could go to top restaurants in cheap deals due to day, time or special menu. This me2nt I could afford Michelin starred meals on my theatre wage (which was a pittance).

2C3E9868-3624-4953-99D1-64D6D4450A61I enjoyed visiting markets, farm shops out in Kent, and places like Chinatown to get special ingredients to cook exciting meals at home. And I even put in a fancy kitchen costing a fortune in my flat, which I only got to use for two years before we moved out of London. (I planned to extend our new home and put in an equally impressive kitchen into our new house in Coventry, but circumstance being as they were, 8 years later this still hasnt happened.)

After the move to Coventry, I soon came to the conclusion that theatre work was not my immediate future. I started food blogging, and even applied for “Masterchef” (which I got through three rounds of Pre-television auditions.) I signed up for a Professional Cookery part-time course at the local college, and got a job at a cafe in Birmingham. The cafe was in a station, and it was mostly breakfast and sandwiches, but I learned how to use a proper coffee machine, and was trained as a barista by the manager. The coffee was so good, and although I had liked coffee since I was about 18, this is when I started to understand and enjoy its complexities.

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Three months later I got my first job as a commis chef in a gastropub, and started my 1 day a week course. This was the hardest job I’ve ever had. I lasted 7 months, and I cried nearly every day. I ended up being fired when a new general manager took over the pub and changed the entire team. It was a great thing looking back, as I had been too stubborn to quite. I went to the doctor and got anti depressants and took three months to recover and finish my course.

Once I started to feel better, I got a job in a cafe as chef and manager.  It was within a farm shop, and it had just had a grant to extend the kitchen, and this made it possible to add more complexity to the menu, and increase the capacity of the venue. This was a great job, but a few months later I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I was there for a little over 10months, and decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to go back to. Thus ended my chef career (although I do occasionally do relief chef work for a friend in her nursery when the usual chef is on holiday, and I really love doing that!)

The 8D99135C-AA4A-467C-BBD4-473C7F5286A7

I have run a training kitchen within Coventry university, but to be honest that used my skill Of organisation, food hygiene and the bits I had learned while attending “Slimming  world” more then anything that I did as a chef.

Now I find I spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, I much prefer being out of the house and try not to think too much about food, except to photograph and blog. I have trauma and issues that need to be explored still, so currently it’s something that is still difficult to think too hard about. Maybe in the future I will be able to share more.

My perfect week (which never happens)

I have complex post traumatic stress disorder (cptsd). I am currently living on benefits and am constantly in limbo. My week consists of a tightrope walk of nerve. I have shame; for not working, paranoia of what people think of me, and a need to please and be liked. I have come up with coping mechanisms of how to cope, and am slowly working towards a state where I can BE MYSELF.

Good advice

On a Monday I have therapy. First thing in the morning, I walk across town, past all the traffic heading into town, people off to work, school and universities. I walk because I means I have control. No traffic jams to make me late, no bus not running to timetable, no roadworks causing diversions. I leave an hour and a quarter before my appointment, menacing that I usually arrive to the centre at least 20mins early, usually with a coffee in my hand. I can’t cope with being late, and I can’t cope without caffeine in the morning. One reason I gave up smoking in my early 20s was because it ruined the taste of coffee.

COFFEE!

My therapy has been going on for just over 6month, and is called EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) therapy. Where through internal imagery and a an external stimulus ( a pen or light are most commentary used), traumatic memories which are being held in the wrong part of the brain are moved and correct, placed into the place they belong. It is coupled with compassionate reframing, helping me understand why things are the way they were, and how they were not maybe as I perceive them.

As you can imagine, over an hour of therapy is exhausting, I try and see a friend for lunch after, but have recently found that I just need sleep. I go home, and curl up on the sofa with the cat, and doze the day away. letting the processing settle in, and not worrying too much about anything.

Tuesday is a day of two halves, as I have to pick my daughter up from school in the afternoon, after her weekend with her dad. The morning usually starts late, as Tuesday is usually my only day where I can lie in. I love sleep, and my body usually wants between 9-12 hours sleep a day (which with a young child is just not possible without losing my evenings.) So I get up late, drink coffee, watch Channel 4 morning programmes, play silly games on my iPad, and relax. I usually leave the house at just before 4 to grab some supermarket shopping before picking my daughter up from her after school art club and head to Wetherspoons for tea. We have one tea out together every week, as it means that we get to catch up on the weekend, talk about school and generally enjoy each other’s company. It’s time I cherish.

Wednesday and Thursday can be interchangeable quite often, as school is 8.50-3.10. We have to be up by 7, but this doesn’t stop my daughter waking me up at any time after 5.30. Being on my own, I offer cuddles, suggest she reads a book, and if it’s after 6.30 she is allowed to watch something on the iPad until I’m able to pull myself out of bed. As I’ve said before, I need coffee and sleep to function, so mornings can be a struggle. I am irritable and mean in the morning, and it is definitely worse in the winter. Once I’m up, I’m usually in the kitchen for upto 1/2hour. I make coffee, sort breakfast, unpack and repack the dish washer, clean down the sides and wash up bits and pieces. I then sit down and enjoy my coffee. The rule in the house is, “don’t ask me questions, don’t expect me to do anything until after my coffee”. Then it’s a case of getting school uniform and clothes sorted, grab a shower, and put makeup on if I get time!

Playing games with my daughter

Sometimes I go into Coventry, meet up with friends, do some writing, draw or take photos. Other times I go home, veg in-front of the telly and play games. It all depends on my mood, the weather, and what I need to do. This might sound like an easy life, but down time is really important to my health. I get tired quickly, but if I do nothing I end up miserable. If I do nothing, then I end up in destructive behaviour. I pick at my skin, I strip my nails, I overspend online, and generally undo all the good work that I have. These are forms of common self harm that many people do, there is a good blog here if you want to eat more on the subject.

I am rubbish at house work, and have no motivation. I used to be obsessed with cooking, and even retrained as a Chef when I moved to Coventry, but with my illness and living situation I find it difficult to do. I also have the challenge of feeding a 5 year old, who generally wants pasta or pizza to eat. this means that if I want anything else I have to cook twice. Usually I just pimp my food with spicy cause or jar delights such as capers, jalapeño or olives to change the flavour of the same old. Sometime I miss lunch as I am on my own and just forget. On my own myself care slips, when my daughter is around, I always eat, I always make sure stuff is clean enough, and she always leaves the house in clean clothes and well fed. I should give myself the same courtesy, but I don’t.

I used to think of myself as an extrovert. But now I have found that I am an ambivert, a blend of both extrovert and introvert. This means sometime I feed off social situation, and people make me happy. Other times I need to be on my own. This is difficult with a child, especially one who is a pure extrovert, She loves spending time with me, and wants to always be busy or have cuddles. I refuse to push her away, and have tried to explain to her about how I feel, but she doesn’t really understand as she’s so young still. But I try to enjoy all my time with her, as she is a wonderful child, and I only have her 3.5days a week as I share custody with her dad who I split up with last year.

Art as therapy

After school on a Wednesday/Thursday, activities depend on energy, weather and mood. Sometimes we watch telly, sometimes we do craft projects and others we go to the playground. tea is usually simple, and bedtime is always 7pm. By 8pm I’m free to relax, play games, watch tv and wind down.

Friday is the day I work on my new project with my friend. I usually spend the morning catching up on bits from the previous meeting, before heading to her house for lunch. We usually talk for about an hour about the project before setting the weekly tasks. then I have to dash to school. After school, Friday usually means a play date, either at the park, over cake at a local cafe of round at a friends house. My daughter loves Fridays at school, as it’s “fish and chip” day, and she has dancing at lunch time. This usually makes her more excited and bouncy then usual! Bed time is less strict as she doesn’t have to be up early on a Saturday, so we usually have some time to chill out after tea before readying stories.

My daughter wishes she had been named Hermione

Books are really important to me, and I listen to audiobooks every day. I love fantasy and magic, and am a huge Harry Potter fan. I also love a good thriller. I use my audiobooks as part of my distraction and productivity. It makes me feel like I’m doing something, even when I’m not. I listen when I’m walking, when I’m washing up, and it helps me when I’m lonely. when it’s a gripping book, often I will listen instead of watching telly. I listen to books that are new, ones that I’ve listened to before and old favourites again and again. This has passed onto my daughter who loves stories, especially Harry Potter. She is being read the books at bed time (always one short book, and then a chapter or so. Stories are a great way to escape, a great way to learn and a great way to broaden your mind. they have saved me so many times, and I am so glad my daughter loves books as much as I do.

Saturday is a flexible day. I used to always have it without my daughter, but missed out on seeing my friends with kids from other schools. I always try and make the most of trips out on Saturdays I have my daughter, catch up with friends and enjoy the day. When I don’t have my daughter I can find it a lonely day as people are either working or with their kids, and the centre of Coventry is too busy to be comfortable. I often want to go to events on Saturday nights, but when I have my daughter this is not possible as I don’t have a regular babysitter.

Photography as mindfulness

Sunday morning is usually when Cathryn Dad picks her up, and as much as I miss her, I always look forward to her going so I can relax. I know she has a great time with her dad, and likes spending time with him. I forget sometimes that she doesn’t just live with me and visit him, she lives with him as much as me!

Sunday’s I always try and get out, wether this is just to the supermarket, or to Fargo village. I try and do something.

Blogging events to expand my social circles and step out of my comfort zone

This is the week that never happens. Something comes along and sends me into a spin, I don’t cope with conflict, stress or criticism well, and I am my biggest critic. I have a very strong inner dialogue. It’s not voices in my head, it is where I have conversations with myself. I have conversations as if with others, and sometime struggle to remember if people have said things, or if it was an internal conversation. I assume thing that are thought of me are negative, and that people don’t like like me or are judging me, so I always work extra hard for people to like me, and try to prove my worth. This can come across as “try hard” or just too much. And generally I think I over share, and try to justify myself….like in this blog. I am learning to just be. I am learning to take it as it comes, and coping mechanisms to not justify myself. My self worth is not based on others opinions and maybe one day I can be in a constant mental state of being ok. Between my therapy, medication and my personal work on mindfulness and grounding techniq , I hope to get there soon. When I am stable I really really look forward to being able to work again. That is the dream.

The Mighty, online forum for mental and Chronic health: link

TLC Foundation, online advice and help for skin picking: link

EMDR wizard, excersices I use in grounding and well as info on the treatment; link

Coventry, Veganism and Brexit

Now we all heard about veganisum in January. Veganuary was a big push in the food industry to promote Vegan menus, and get people to try vegan food who may not have done so before. A lot of my fellow bloggers have had great fun going out and reporting on special menus and events locally. Emily from Drained Beauty, visited the new Laura Ashley tearoom to try their Vegan Afternoon tea. Where as Lizzie Bee went to The Cosy club for an evening meal. Earlsdon based Street collaborated with Beer Gonzo (yes even the beer was vegan!) to create a special Vegan night of Asian fusion and beer which looked awesome!

Street and Beer Gonzo Vegan Night

Street and Beer Gonzo Vegan Night

Other places such as Wagamamas offer permanent vegan menus, but most places now will offer one or two items on their menus for those vegans amount us. There are a couple of brilliant Vegan Cafes in Coventry that cannot go unmentioned. Both Over by FarGo Village. First is The Pod, run by the council as a community project, they have been named by The Guardian as one of the best Vegan cafes in the country.

Totally Vegan is a lovely little cafe inside a small unit in FarGo Village, offering uncomplicated food at reasonable prices, and is open everyday.

Even Greggs got in on the Vegan-mania in January with their controversial “vegan Sausage Roll”. There was a fabulous competition locally where local businesses competed with their own versions. Backhaus&Co, also from FarGo Village, and run by the wonderful Jess, won the crown, and always offers vegan treats!

Now I must admit, I am no a vegan or even a vegetarian. I didn’t go to any of the events last month, but with the possibility of Brexit, veganism is billed to be on the rise. I thought I’d do a little bit of investigation to see what we might expect if Brexit happens.

We currently import about 43% of our pork products from Europe. And 25% of our beef comes from elsewhere. While we have a strong Poultry market, EU workers maybe forced to leave, and standards may drop as MegaFarms are already being talked about. Prices will inevitable rise and we will be flooded by substandard imports from parts of the world such as Thailand where the quality of life for both animals and workers is low.

It could mean we get more of our food imported from the east, Africa and the Americas. The loosening of food regulations set by the EU could mean more GM foods will become available, and food such as Tofu could drop in price. And with the Asian population in Coventry being approximately 16%, not including the students, we have a good selection of oriental supermarkets, as well as stalls in the market offering a plethora of options already available.

Tofu image from Pinterest

Tofu image from Pinterest

But of course with imports coming from further afield, of course the price will be the environment. Everyone is concerned with Air miles and carbon footprints, has to be weighed up accordingly.

I do feel that the recent years of grow-your-own trends will be well used over the next few years, and although few will get to the self sustained extreme, those that Already buy local, and buy British will hopefully be less affected by the changes then others. I personally try to buy British, but am always tempted by cured meats, out of season fruit, and beer from Europe.

Have you thought about a seasonal veg box?

Generally I think we could all eat less meat, our society has changed from one where meat was a luxury, to one where Meat is part of every meal, and a staple. I think that it will do our health a lot of good in general if we look at alternate forms of protein for at least some of our meals.

Image from Pinterest

While working as a food technician at Coventry University last year, I worked closely with Nutrition and Dietetic students in the training kitchens, and found that there is a big lean towards meat replacement in the scientific approach of Nutritionist. I found it fascinating viewing food from the angle of calorific, health benefits and person specific point of view. I have generally as a cook, and as a food professional generally thought of it more by flavour, texture and presentability. It is really interesting to think of how food affects your body, what you actually need to eat to create a healthy body for you, and how spoilt as a culture we are. Now I’m not going to go all sci-fi on you and suggest we all need to start having Food pills, but maybe we should all think a bit more about what we really need to survive, to power ourselves.

One aspect of veganism that affects our everyday life that I hadn’t realised till recently, is the substitutions that have slipped into our everyday eating. The removal of eggs and wheat flour from alot of baked goods, to be replaced with nuts, and oils. The dairy substitutions that are readily available in all major supermarkets and coffee shops across the country. But not many of these are made in the UK. Whereas the dairy in the UK can be pretty much be self sufficient. But we do import a lot of butter, yoghurt and cheese from the EU. These products may see a sharp rise in price compared the the substitutions.

From Pinterest

So over all I do think that a leaning towards more vegan products maybe on the horizon, with the price of meat and dairy on the rise, and alternative products imported from the east, being cheaper, and more abundant, shifting our diet seems like a real possibility. Locally sourced products should totally be the priority. Going to the local market, and food businesses to get produce made and grown locally is key for our post Brexit survival, but maybe having a few vegan meals a week with inspiration from the east is an exciting prospect to explore. I’m surprised by my own leanings toward this, as I expected that this would be a more expensive option, but it actually seems like a healthy, tasty and cheaper way forward if we leave the EU!

What do you think, is Veganism the answer to food issues post Brexit?

January is all about Art

This month , I have decided to do more art, and less blogging. “But you are blogging!” I hear you say! Well if you do see a blog this month, it will b about art or opinion, not a product or experience.

I love doing digital art on my iPad, and it’s also a brilliant tool for photo editing. But my first love is painting. I have always been a painter rather the. Someone who draws. In primary school I asked for watercolour paints, and my grandparents helped me to learn the basics. As I got older, I discovered other medium and a love of bolder colours, and mainly work in acrylics.

Lion and the Lamb

I love portraits, animals and fan art. I love the use of texture and words and symbols tangled into the paint, and try and use few colours in a painting, and use white to vary the shades.

Luna

I have had a love for impressionist artist from an early age, and my parents took me to Giverney, the house and Garden of Claude Monet which inspired painting series such as “Waterlillies“. The textured use of paint, and the light has been a big thing for me, even though I don’t paint similar subject matters, he is alway prominent.

Chuck Close, photo realistic portraits

my other major inspiration is Chuck Close. The year I did my GCSEs, my parents took me to New York, and I got to go around the Museum of Modern art where I found his supersized paintings of faces. Chuck Close had two major types of work, between 1967 and 1988, he work with airbrushing techniques, creating photo realistic portraits, which inspired the ink jet printers. in 1988 he suffered a major seizure, which left him paralysed from the neck down. he refused to let this stop him, and his style changes, but not the size, or subject matters. Interesting for such an incredible portraits artist, he his “face blind” ( Prosopagnosia) and remembers faces by painting them.

Chuck Close’s more recent work

Over the previous 10 years I haven’t painted. I lost faith and enjoyment in art, my career, and my family took over, and I forgot about how much joy painting has brought me in the past. So this summer, having more time on my hands, I decided to paint over a photo canvas. This painting turned out far better then I could have hoped, and has given me confidence to continue.

Ying-yang nifflers

This year I would love to stretch my art further. I would love someone to buy a painting that I’ve done. And I would love to create a fan art Pin badge champagne via Kickstarter. Also, I am hoping to create some local merchandise in a collaboration with a friend to celebrate the city I love, Coventry. so keep you eyes peeled for my new projects this year.

Cov painting

Brexit; food for thought?

Ok, I admit it, I’m worried. With no deal and the date set for 29th March to leave the EU, I am concerned firstly about the food supply. Although the UK can support the population, it will take a lot of time to re-establish the lost farms, repurpose land, make enough equipment and train farm workers. It will also mean a change in diet for the population, and a population used to a world of choice.

The Guadian back in October 2018 said;

While you can, for example, source British-produced flour, oats, sugar (from beets), salt (by Maldon, for example), vinegar (apple cider, say, as opposed to balsamic) mustard (although the Colman’s factory in Norwich is closing next year), Marmite (the Burton upon Trent factory isn’t going anywhere but, frankly, who can risk a run on their supplies?), lentils and more, you’ll want a stash of your high-quality EU goods, too. Start with olive oil, pepper, pasta and rice. For flavour, you’ll want spices, chilli and herbs, anchovies and tomato (paste, tinned and passata).

Then you need bulk and protein: canned and dried pulses (kidney beans, butter beans, black beans, chickpeas) and tinned fish (sardines and tuna). Add to that tinned olives, pickled capers and jarred peppers, and you’ve basically got a cheat’s Ottolenghi.

We have grown accustomed to cheap pasta, vegetables, rice and meat from Europe, not to mention booze, but import tax will go up meaning the overall price will increase. We have also no guarantee that VAT won’t go up.

The other concern is that the military have also been told be on standby to be deployed to ports to help control chaos. The Air Forces will be deployed to keep the vital medical supplies in stock, and the navy will be used to keep the food supply moving, and to police smugglers and people traffickers. I don’t mean to scare munger, they are currently only talking about 3500 personal, but these things could easily spiral, given that we are an island. Also the government has has spent £13.8million on a contract with Seaborne Freight, to run a ferry service between Ramsgate and Ostend to ease the issues, but Seaborne has no ferries currently as the have never run a ferry service before? Read this

But are we only worried about European products going up in price? No, every import is likely to be increased in price, as every place that we import from will have to be renegotiated, and as such a small country in the grand scheme of things, we are unlikely to strike a better deal then we currently have. And do I think the saving from the EU will used to subsidise this? Erm, I wouldn’t have thought so! ( Oh yes, and the UK is making no saving in the next 5 years due to the leaving fines etc that the EU insists we pay. Read this

So Today I got started on stockpiling food. I bought three 3kg bags of pasta, 20 tins of passata, 5 tubes of tomato paste and a packet of paprika. This cost me under £20 from Asda today, I plan to pile some more, including more spices, rices and jars. I will try and keep you all updated, and let you know about any dramatic price rises I’ve noticed!

So what do you think? Do you plan to stick pile food? What are you going to get? Comment below and let me know!

(As a side note, I also got £6 Cashback on QuidCo for placing an order as a new customer, and if you sign up you could get an additional £5 for doing so! I also use TopCashBack for similar offers for cashback on online shopping.)

The Botanist Coventry

The Botanist Is the hottest new venue this Christmas, in Coventry. It is the last in the Cathedral Lanes development on Broadgate. It is part of a chain of venues across the country which embrace fresh ingredients, interesting mixology and wonderful spaces.

Using the centre of the old shopping centre, they have made wonderful use of the glass roof, and turned a grotty space into a light, bright, glamours hot house! It is unbelievable what they have achieved with this space!

You enter through toast iron gates on the ground floor, and walk up stairs which are around a glass lift. On the way up you pass a wonderful balcony which overlooks Broadgate and the Lady Godiva Statue. This is going to be awesome I’m the summer, and I can just imagine people watching, Cocktail in hand on a summers evening.

Through glass-doors, is a warm waiting area with booths and benches. there is some lovely “reclaimed” light fittings and foliage to make this are feel cosy and welcoming. Then you enter the wonderland! Over the stream via a humpbacked bridge with gazebos at either side, you are faced with the vast space!

Because both times I went were opening weekend events, the Gazebos were set up. One was for live music acts, and the other was for drinks tasting. But I’m pretty sure that these will contain tables and will be available to book in the future.

The chain is famous for its mixologists who use premium alcohols and fresh botanicals. They also have a vast array of craft beers, spirits, wines, and soft drinks.

Generally the bar staff were knowledgeable and well trained, but I asked two bar men to make me the best gin&tonic, one just made one with a standard, readily available gin, with “tonic” from the soda stream, which I was sure was actually just soda when I tasted it. And the other opened a new bottle of Silent Pool Gin, and a bottle of double Dutch “watermelons and cucumber” tonic which knocked my socks off! It was garnished with mint and a slice of grapefruit. It was insanely good.

My favourite cocktail of the experience was the Matcha melon iced tea smoking cocktail. This was served in a glass teapot, and teacup. It was light and fresh, and had a certain sense of theatre that I loved.

The canapés that were handed around was lovely, and the staff were happy to e plain them to us. This was the best food I experienced at the venue.

We were also invited to Sunday lunch at The Botanist, and this meant we could see the venue in day light, experience more if the drinks, and try the roast dinner. Unfortunately the wait for our table was long, the choice was very limited on roast meats due to the late seating, and when the roast did arrive it was cold. Everyone else sent theirs back, but I was so hungry that I decided to eat it as it was.

The beef wasn’t as pink as. Would have liked it, and very thin. They had asked if I wanted it Well dome or rare. The braised cabbage and veg on the plate were tasty. the Yorkshire pudding was crispy. But I was disappointed with the potatoes which had no colour, and had no colour, and weren’t crispy.

The sides were tasty and the best part of the meal. I was a bit disappointed by the service upstairs in the restaurant in general. The food was slow, the drinks took ages, and every time any of us tried to catch the attention of a of staff, they seemed to ignore or avoid us. Also, I wish they hand split our party of 8 onto two tables. They knew we were coming, and it was annoying to be separated by the main aisle that the staff took the food through to the rest of the tables.

I was also very annoyed that by the time the food had been redelivered to the rest of the group, there was no dessert left. Not only this, the staff were asked twice before they told us that they had run out of dessert. I left the venue still hungry, and went across Broadgate to Greggs to buy cake to make up for it! So all in all I was very disappointed in the restaurant, even if the bar and venue where good.

* As a group were were invited Back to have another meal, I was unable to attend as it was mid week when I have my daughter. Unfortunately other bloggers said the food was nice, but small portions for the price, and the service was very poor. I was meant to visit on my own last week, but decided to skip it as the management had not citified the problem, and left most of the group upset.

http://www.drainedbeauty.co.uk/2018/12/the-botanist-in-coventry-good-bad.html

http://fashionistachic14.blogspot.com/2018/12/blogger-event-botanist-coventry.html

http://www.justgem.co.uk/2018/12/lifestyle-botanist-coventry.html

https://www.esmespurlingmedia.com/😁🇰🇷🇷🇼🍡🇸🇴🇸🇮🇸🇲

Over all I loved the place, somewhere to go to listen to live music, have a drink and enjoy an evening. But I wouldn’t go back for food. One bad experience is not grea, but hearing about the second incident with the other bloggers, I would not go back for food again. It is expensive, small portions, and staff need more customer service training. This makes me wonder how long it will last, the cocktails may keep it afloat for a bit, but there are two venues within Cathedral Lanes that offer good cocktails, and do 2for1 offers, which means that unless they do something spectacular, after the initial buzz wears off, it might not get the business to stay afloat. Only Time will tell.