Sponsored; Zero Store

Last year, Birmingham saw its first Zero waste supermarket, The Clean Kilo open in the Custard Factory in Digbeth. It has been successful, but for me it was just to far to regularly travel to. So when I heard that others had had the frustration, and set up a mobile version in Coventry and Warwickshire, I was beyond excited! Zero store is the brainchild of two wonderful women, Charlie and Marisa.

Zero was born from the two teachers passion for all things eco-friendly and reusable. Their pop-up shop has it’s own challenges, and the two have been lucky to secure several small venues who stock a small amount of their eco ranges on a permanent basis. These include Turnips Cafe in Binley and The Nest in Rugby.

I visited the pair at a Saturday afternoon pop-up in Warwick. The venue was rather impressive, The Court House on Jury street, which houses a museum and tourist information. On the day I visited, It was hosting a #LoveLocal event, hosting arts and craft stalls form local businesses.

These Ladies are hardcore, they had already run a pop-up in Rugby that morning, and were busy from the moment they opened! Their customers were eager, and excited to see them. Most had turned up with their containers ready to fill from one of the many jars that adorned the table. From pasta and dried fruit through to dishwasher powder and hand soap, the shop has plenty of well considered products. Many of the edible offerings are organic, Charlie and Marisa are still on the look out for new products which are ethical and local as possible.

One area I chatted to Marisa about, was Pasta. Currently they stock Italian organic pasta, but are currently In negotiations with a Nottingham based producer which would reduce the air miles, and would be better in view of the possible Brexit issues on the horizon. Also the company have a better packaging system which dues to use plastic, which is always a plus!

Both women are mums, and use their own products at home. When I chatted about my issues in finding an eco dishwasher product that works well for me, they suggested I tried a sample of the one they stock. For 40p I got a jar full, and look forward to seeing how it works. They were very honest that these products are dependant on what type of water you have, what is being cleaned, and the type of dishwasher you have.

I tried to get a diverse selection of products during my visit. I had been given a £10 voucher to spend, and I spent about £11.50 in total (but to be honest if I’d bought everything I wanted, then I would have spent much more!)

It was brilliant to see a few brands that I recognised. Tea was from Queen of Camillias and coffee beans were from Monsoon Estates both who I met at the FarGo Village Coffee Festival last year.

I won’t go into detail about my purchases in this post, as I want to properly road test them, but I will review each and post links at the bottom!

Zero supply Backhaus with Fill handsoap

Fill

We also discussed eco-transportation and future ranges that the ladies would like to stock. What would you like to see them carry?

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Sponsored; Go Ape Coventry

This Easter, Go Ape at Coombe Abbey country Park is opening. I was lucky to be invited along for a preview of the course on Friday with other press and bloggers from in and around Coventry.

Coombe Abbey is a beautiful country park on the outskirts of Coventry, which is a wonderful place to go for a country walk, do a bit of bird watching, or just relax. It has good network of paths, and is popular with families and dog walkers. It has a small array of shops near the car park, a wonderful play area and picnic benches and a cafe.

The park is also home to Coombe Abbey Hotel, which has long been considered one of the Best hotels in Coventry. This stunning hotel offers events like medieval banquets, host regular weddings, and is known local as a great venue for Afternoon tea.

Photo taken from Trip adviser

Although there is a bus (no. 585) that goes to Coombe Abbey from the centre of Coventry, I decided to use an Uber to Get there. It cost £8.21 to get there, and was easy for the two of us (although the car could have seated up to 4 people.) It must be noted, that the Uber on the way back was not as easy, and took nearly 15mins to book one as every time we tried thhe driver kept cancelling.) IF you drive, there is a big car park, and parking is £3.

After that, walk past the visitor centre, past the Duck feeding area which gives wonderful views of the hotel, and over a wooden humpbacked bridge to the entrance of the course.

When we were there, the site was still under construction, so that we checked in to a reception within a portacabin, but there was a lovely wooden cabin under constuction just by the bridge.

We gathered in a group, and were all handed a harness and instructed how to put it on. Then the instructor went around and fitted each persons harness properly. our instructor Sam, was very clear and informative in the briefing, and had moved from another site elsewhere in the country to be part of the Coventry site. He was really good at explaining what we needed to do. He then took us around a mini course about 1/2m off the ground, so that we could be sure we knew how the safety systems worked.

As someone who has worked within the technical side of theatre, I know how important it is to instruct people of the importance of safety systems, the upkeep and uses of equipment when working at Height. The staff were professional, enthusiastic and meticulous. I was very happy to note how much care was taken.

Next we went to the beginners course, which was pretty easy, and not very high. As someone who is not overly keen on unstable heights, I was relieved to find that we were eased into the experience. Plus there were a few people who admitted to be scared of heights, and pushed through their fear and enjoyed their experience!

I did all the courses that I was offered (6, 7 and 8), but decided that I didn’t want to do the 12m vertical drop. This was done by others in the group, and they stepped off a platform and dropped vertically towards the ground, and a bungie cord then took their weight, lowering them down to the ground. People seemed to really enjoy this challenge, but I decided it was just one thing too much for me.

Course 6: the Adult beginners course. Not very high, and a good ease into the systems.

Course 7: a medium difficulty course. This is much longer, and higher then the other. was complicated bits, but nothing that was unbeatable.

Course 8: this course started with the Tarzan swing, a long rope swing into a cargo net, followed by a more complicated course which contains many more ziplines and challenging obstacles. Longer obstacles and much higher off the ground. I loved the Ziplines, and the views from this course, but was quite tired by the end!

Although I have done similar things when I was a teen growing up in the Lake District, this was more then 15 years ago. The planning, the location and the overall entertainment value was very good. It was so much fun, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is up for a challenge! I found that although I am not the fittest of people I coped with most of the course without a problem ( the Tarzan swing cargo net was the biggest challenge! But an alternative route is offered). I would love to got again, and my cousin has already booked me to go with him, as his parents are not up for the challenge!

Further information about accessibility plus up to date pricing and details are available available on their website. Click here for more details.

A big thanks to Trevor Price aka Tv Trev for being in many of my photos.

Trevor

Also to Nic Tricklebank aka Paladin9lives for inspiration, moral support and jumping in with both feet!

Nic

Monstera x flamingo

I have been posting some pretty heavy stuff recently, so thought I would do a fun post today, about a trend I love!

Even for someone like me who doesn’t follow “fashion” , fashion of course influences what is in shops. I have never been one for coordination, and prefer an eclectic style over matching or overly styled outfits.but this trend has been building over the last few summers and I am totally in love.

Flamingo statement necklace from CherryLoco

I have not been a floral fan, ever, but I adore plants (even if I haven’t got green fingers.) I grew up in a house full of plants, and a large garden. My Dad and brother have really bad hay fever, so I grew up around leafy plants rather then flower. Since becoming an adult, I have tried the whole grow-your-own thing, but haven’t got the patience for it! So seeing prints of botanicals, and plants such as Monstera (commonly known as Cheese plants) has me hooked! They seem less fussy then floral prints, and are bold!

Dress from Lady Vintage.

Earrings from Coventry Based Sassy x Spandex

I have slowly started edging towards colours that I disliked when I was young, and this is a classic example. I have always leaned towards blues and purples, so this trend being Greens and pinks seems more daring to me. I think they are colours that haven’t been used much together in fashion, and actually work rather well!

Hair band from Miss Cherry Makewell

Flamingos along with Llamas, cactus and general South American stylings have been on the increase over the past few years on the kitch side of the market. This makes me happy because it reminds me of the family I have In Chile. They are all jolly images, and they add an element of the exotic to outfits, which work so well in the warmer months.

Fakelite bangles from BowCrossBones

Despite the tropical look, I have only featured brands based in the UK, as we must support small local businesses! #buylocal #madeintheuk #designedintheuk

Flamingo pin by ElleLetters

Of course I wouldn’t wear all of this stuff together, but each one would compliment other outfits. And could elevate a simple outfit into something special! These are the type of things that really make me happy! I really wish I could afford to splurge on all of them! (Any companies fancy sending me any freebies? I’d be forever great and happily promote and review!!)

Irregular choice shoes

Wear your heart on your lapel

With Brexit fast approaching, many of us want article 50 to be revoked and for us to remain in the European Union.

I have found myself writing more politically, and chatting to more people about my political views. It’s lovely to see jewellery makers along with illustrator, writers, thespians and other artist that I love standing up to be counted.

Although it is a small gesture, it is important to be heard. The only way to change these things is by trying! Remember Democracy isn’t democracy if we can’t change the our minds once more facts and figures are released! We must not give up, we must fight to the bitter end!!

Just Dandy EU heart

Already the exit date has been pushed back so that a deal can be struck, as leaving Europe without a deal in place would be a disaster that even the government and the PM are aware could be a disaster (erm maybe they should have been working harder on this earlier?)

Gov advice on EU Exit

With more then 5 million of us signing a petition at the end of last week to make the government discuss a second referendum, there is still hope. But propergander has been flying around about bots being the majority of the signed, this is highly unlikely!

Vote Leave won 51.9% of votes in the EU referendum, with a standard deviation of 10.4% across UK local authority areas. A total of 46.5 million voters were registered, and 72.2% of these turned out. Thus, 17.4 million voted for Leave and 16.1 million for Remain

Tatty x Me & EU

More then a million people marched on parliament at the weekend, including some of my friends. This fight is not over, and we all need to do everything we can to be heard on this subject! I would love to hear your opinion on this subject from whichever side you are on!

Link to the Revoke article 50 petition.

Food; my pleasure, my pain.

Over the past few days I’ve 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 “Toptable”, 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).

I 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.

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 10 months, 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!)

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.

 

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!

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:

 Food; my pleasure, my pain.