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ravenousveggie

Thoughts on veggie food, work, play and life in general

Monthly Loves – August

For the first time in many years I managed a short break in August. Normally I have been the one who is happy to work whilst others have holiday with their families. Its less crowded and cheaper out of season! But this year was different and it was good!

On our trip to Dorchester we went to Vivo Lounge.  One of a chain of ‘Lounges’ they have a very good vegetarian and vegan menu and fabulous cocktails.  Definitely worth finding your nearest one for a good night out.

The King and Thai – an excellent family run Thai restaurant which caters really well for vegetarians and vegans.

The Hendover Cafe – another family run business offering breakfasts, lunches and tapas evenings.  Great friendly service and good quality food. 

We finished off August with a visit to The Woking Food Festival.  This was well run and had a multitude of stalls selling lovely vegetarian and vegan food.  From sauces to pies there was so much choice! Although being surrounded by so much food made me loose my appetite, I can recommend the dosa, sauces and pickles from Ollo Foods.  

Woking also has a lovely food walk in between the two parts of the Peacock shopping centre (Market Walk).  A great range of food stalls and a lovely fruit and veg stall selling everything from broccoli to kohlrabi and mooli.  A real treat and a good reason to go back to Woking!

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Monthly Loves – September

Another busy September, however this year I managed a  week away and came across some lovely things:

  • Bel and the Dragon.  This is one of my favourite boutique hotel and restaurant chains.  On a recent visit to the Windsor branch I was pleasantly surprised by their veggie/vegan range of food.  In the past it has always been a bit lacking but now the choice is really good. Not the cheapest place to eat or stay, however for a treat it is definitely work seeking out.

  • Windsor Castle – we went here to do the tour.  I admit I baulked at the entry price, however once in it was well worth it.  A great look at the history of the monarchy. My only slight quibble is that there is not much on our current Royal family.
  • I love curry and whilst visiting the NEC we found this great Indian restaurant not far away.  Jilabi had the most amazing range of food.  The waiter asked us our likes and challenged us to try new things.  The food was fresh and tasty, and just kept coming. On top of this it is very reasonably priced.  Well worth a visit. Only thing to bear in mind is that when we went they didn’t have an alcohol licence.  Not to worry though – there is a Tesco in walking distance!
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
  • Sainsbury’s Avocado Sandwich – In our week off we inevitably ended up buying  a quick lunch from a petrol station. The one we went to had a Sainsburys supermarket at it, and I found the most wonderful avocado sandwich.  It was such a relief in the endless sea of cheese and egg mayonnaise offerings!  
  • Beefeater have got a new menu out and I was really impressed by the vegetarian chilli.  I am a bit of a purest with my chili and prefer it with kidney beans, however this offering with lentils and beans stood up well.

My Mentoring Journey’s End

As my social media feeds fill up with the faces of embarrassed, frightened and smiling faces as the back to school frenzy gets underway, my year of mentoring with The Girls’ Network  is coming to an end.

It feels a bit weird.  As most people are starting something new I am finishing.

When I began mentoring back in January I remember worrying that I wouldn’t be of much use.  I don’t have children and my lovely nieces and nephews are either in their last year of university, or are successfully making their own way in the world.  

I don’t have much contact with teenagers.  Will I be too out of touch? Do I really understand the pressures they face?  Can I remember being that age?

I had little knowledge of why my mentee was on the programme, or why we had been matched.  With the other mentoring I do I know why we are meeting.

At our first meeting I was really nervous and I came a way half expecting my mentee to drop out, or not turn up for the next session.  But as the months went on we made a connection, shared our experiences, fears, failures and successes.

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

We even made it on to the local news in a piece about The Girls’ Network.

It was our last meeting this week and we have a good discussion around how we had found our few months together.  What we learned and liked. Where our strengths and improvement areas lie. I had been of use and made a difference in my mentee’s life.  How much we had laughed and enjoyed the sessions each month. also what we learned from each other and from the mentoring process.

As we said goodbye I realised that I would miss our meetings.  On the drive home I wasn’t sure if I would want to mentor again at this stage.  Would I get it right next time? Would I like my next mentee as much? Would I be asked to continue?

When I got home an email came from The Girls’ Network talking about the next cohort and hoping we would sign up again.  

I have learned a lot from this experience – from improving my  communication and organisational skills, through to realising that although a lot has changed since I was a teenager, a lot of things haven’t.  And that is where I can listen, challenge and provide support and guidance.

Halloumi Burgers – Just a Posh Grilled Cheese Sandwich?

Readers of my previous blogs will know that I am not a massive fan of cheese and halloumi and feta are at the bottom of my list of cheeses I do like.  I simply don’t like the taste of them. Sorry.  

Strong flavoured cheese can also trigger my migraines and I know that if I avoid it, I don’t get them.

My problem with cheese is that,  having been a vegetarian for so long, and knowing that there is a vast array of foods I can eat, when you eat out every veggie meal seems to have cheese with it. 

And yes I have been offered the halloumi burger without the halloumi in it by a new waitress who had very little understanding of the menu.

If you look through The Vegetarian Society Magazine the majority of recipes contain cheese of some sort.  And if you are vegan well vegan cheese is rife.

One of my other bugbears is the price of vegetarian food when eating out.  Last week I paid £12 for a bowl of pasta with a mushroom sauce. No salad. No bread.  Just a bowl of pasta. It was delicious, but when it comes to portion size I wasn’t that impressed.  It didn’t feel like £12 of food and skill to cook it. Especially when compared to the meat and fish main courses which were £2 more but had a third more food on the plate.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

So imagine my joy at the halloumi Burger.  A frequent menu item where restaurants want to cater for vegetarians, and dished out at a pound or two below the price of a meat burger.  There is not much that goes into a halloumi burger. It is a bit of grilled cheese in a bun with some dressing and salad.. Meat burgers can have a much more complicated preparation, especially if they are made on site.  They can contain different flavourings and different types of meat (which we know is expensive). 

It is a glorified grilled cheese sandwich.

And why charge so much for a slab of cheese in a bun?  I can go to my local cafe and have a toasted cheese sandwich with garnish and chips for less than half the price of a halloumi burger (in fact their halloumi burger is generally half the price you pay elsewhere).

I like eating out with friends and realise that it is difficult to put together a menu to please everyone.  I am just hopeful that the current trend for halloumi and feta (all those salads!), changes soon. Or that the people compiling the menus step back and look at their menu and go ‘is that value for money, and is there enough variety?’

Monthly Loves – July

July brought us incredibly warm weather, which I always enjoy – even the very hot weather made me feel slightly more alive than usual!  The month left me on a negative note as my Aunt passed away (hence no post last week). She was a lovely lady who led an interesting life.

Journaling – I attended a bullet journaling course at The Britih Library.  I quickly fell for this way of organising your life and being creative at the same time.  I will spending August looking for new pencils, pens and stickers!


Friends – It’s been a difficult month but I have been so well supported by my partner and friends.  They all know exactly the right type and amount of support I need, and were there when I needed some support

Line of Duty – I know I’m late to the party but I really enjoyed the latest series of Line of Duty!

Measure for Measure – Another excellent RSC Live performance and a chance for me to expand my knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays.

Baked Avocado – First time I have ever eaten avocado baked and it was delicious

Reducing Travel

My job involves meeting people and therefore travelling.  Where I live and work is well connected to London, but not so much to the South Coast or the surrounding towns and villages.

I go to a lot networking events, plus I like to meet clients in person.  This means I spend a lot of time in the car travelling between appointments and events. Although I have a hybrid car and try to drive efficiently, I am still concerned about the impact of my travel on the environment.

I’d like to take public transport more, but the journey times and the cost start to make it look more prohibitive.  A thirty minute drive to Brighton equates to just under two hours by either bus or train. The bus is the cheapest option but the WiFi is not stable so precludes much working on the way. The train costs twice as much as driving and is generally unreliable.  

Of course I am looking at this cost in terms of time and money and not the impact on the environment.  

But I need to have a mindset change.  A lot of my client conversations can be quite personal  and detailed. I like to meet face to face as I can see their full reaction to questions and suggestions.  In my previous corporate life I used to use video conferencing a lot. The picture quality was ok, but time lag could make conversations difficult.  I have tried Skype over the years but always found that the system drops out after about 15 minutes.

Recently I was introduced to Zoom.  I joined a group call and was amazed by the quality and stability of the system.  So I have started to book Zoom calls with existing and potential clients. This has so far been met with enthusiasm.

Using video conference to reduce travel
Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

Looking at my diary this is freeing up much more time in the office and means I can walk to work more.

There will still be days where using the car will be the only practical option, however I am committed to making these days the exception rather than the norm.

Recycling

I tend to see lots of eyes roll in my office if anyone mentions recycling.  Many years ago I was a volunteer for Greenpeace. I would spend my weekends standing in town centres across Sussex speaking to people about how they make less of an impact on the environment, highlighting the  issues around nuclear power, GMO food, melting ice caps, BP drilling for oil in the arctic and the dangers of drinking water from plastic bottles.

So you could say I have an interest in working out what can be recycled and where.

To this end I am able frequently to enlighten my colleagues on where you can recycle things they thought couldn’t be recycled – pens, crisp packets, cat food pouches etc.  The reason they think they can’t be recycled is that they get all their information from what the local council can recycle on the doorstep.

Recycling
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

In this climate of increasing calls for everyone to do more, I find this lack of wanting to find more solutions quite depressing.  From a selection of people who don’t want to be over controlled by the state, they are looking to the council to provide the information they need to make changes that could help the planet.

Ask them about buying a new car, then they are all over it.  But ask them to do something to look after the environment then there is a severe lack of motivation.  Why is that? When asked they say it won’t affect them. But they are not thinking of their children and grandchildren.  I am the only one in my office without children, but I still care about the future of the planet.

Their lack of care for the world around them leaves me feeling frustrated, despondent and thinking I should not bother myself.  Luckily this doesn’t last very long, but I still don’t understand why they are not motivated to do more.

Monthly Loves – June

June was a busy month at work, but I also managed a cheeky weekend away.  It was good to get some warm, dry weather at last, and so I managed some time out in the garden.  I can definitely feel my energy returning with the warmer weather. In June I loved the following:

  • Earth Kind – In my effort to cut down my plastic use I am always on the look out for hints and tips.  Earth Kind provide a consultancy service to help you reduce your plastic use.  Definitely worth getting in touch if you would like a helping hand in moving towards a zero waste lifestyle.
Jason Leung – Unsplash
  • We managed a few days away in Cornwall and were taken to The Coddy Shack in Looe.  This is a fish and chip shop which also has a fully licensed restaurant.  It sells more than just fish and chips and has a really good vegetarian menu.  The cakes are good too!
  • Brewers Fayre – On our few days away we ended up staying at a Premier Inn with very little food choices nearby.  However I was pleasantly surprised by the Veggie/Vegan offering from Brewers Fayre. The price and portion size were good, and there were even starters I could eat (one for Beefeater to take note of!)
  • Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll – another reflection on time spent out and about!  I finally succumbed at a motorway service station and tried the vegan sausage roll.  I have to say I was not expecting to like it, but now if I am hungry, and in a hurry, it will probably be my go to ‘on the run’ snack.  The first time ever I have liked something in Greggs!

Would You Hide From A Client?

Have you ever hidden from your client – even when they are coming into your office or a meeting?

This occurred recently at work.  Following a particularly difficult meeting with a client and their adviser my colleague decided to stay away from the office completely when they can back to resolve the issues.  This left our member of staff, who had been quite upset at the previous meeting, to deal with the client on her own.  

I was quite shocked at this.  The adviser had been quite rude and are to the meeting gunning for a fight.  But to avoid the situation after and leave a member of staff to pick up the pieces astounded me.  I do not know what my colleague is hiding from, or what the full issues are, but to me this is not leadership.

The previous meeting had been intense. Our client had not stood up for us in front of her adviser. I wonder if she had enough knowledge to do so, or if she just kept quiet –  bemused by the whole episode.

It turns out that following this episode my colleague has decided not to take on any more clients for this specific service. They are also avoiding talking about what happened.


hiding from the client
Photo by John T on Unsplash

One thing strikes me though – you can’t garner, or mend, good client relations by hiding.  Things go wrong. Mistakes get made. But keeping away so you don’t have to face them is wrong.  I have never been given this option since starting this company, and even if I had I don’t think I would have shied away.

Facing up to mistakes and client problems help you grow as a person, improves your skills and shows leadership.  If you want to hide then you may as well not have the client. If my colleague had faced the issues head on perhaps they would have learned how to change the offering going forward, and how to avoid this mistake in the future.

Would you hide from a client?

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