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ravenousveggie

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

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Lifestyle

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!

Day Off

So I have a day to myself.  A rare day off with nothing planned.  One of those days I dream of.

But what should I do with the day?  I have a list of mundane housework items that need doing.  Part of me knows they need to be done. The other part of me goes “no, relax, do something for yourself.  Take some time out”

I also have a long list of things I’d like to do.  Sitting in the garden and reading is always top of this list.  Now the day has come I can’t remember anything else on this wish list.

I’d like to do some gardening, but this is beginning to feel like a chore, rather than a joy now I have the time.    My front garden tends towards the more wild side and I suffer from gardeners embarrassment. I grew up in a garden that was completely surrounded by hedges.  No one could see you working. My front garden has none of this. The neighbours and anyone going past can see exactly what I am doing. I can hear them thinking “Oh at last she is doing something!  You don’t want to weed like that !”.

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

This gardening anxiety puts me off doing anything.

I know that I fancy driving to a lovely spot on the South Downs, taking a stroll and sitting down in the sun with a good book and some tea and cake.  But I spend so much of my time during the week driving between meetings, that I can’t face getting into the car.

I resolve to clean the bathroom and then move into the garden.  I may end up sitting and reading if the weather is good enough. I may attempt to tame some borders (but not in the front garden!) .

Photo by Tina Dawson on Unsplash


But whatever I do I will give myself permission to do what i want and not feel guilty for not achieving anything.

Veggie Abroad

I have just had the most glorious few days away in Spain.

A great trip with the right combination of relaxation, exploring and cultural delights.

When we arrived my partner and I were both exhausted.  We had worked or volunteered almost every day in the previous couple of months, so a break was needed.  We gave ourselves permission to recuperate. This meant having a decent amount of resting time.  This started on the first day fo our city break. We had breakfast and then went back to our room and back to bed for a few hours.  We slept solidly, so must have needed it.

Our days were filled with visiting the local tourist sites and then sitting in a local park for the last part of each afternoon – refreshment and kindle in hand.

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

The evening food foray was probably the most stressful part of the day.  Despite thoroughly search Trip Advisor, restaurants mentioned as being “vegetarian friendly” were not always so, and also the opening hours mentioned did not always tie up with reality.

The biggest thing that became apparent was that Spanish customer service is quite different to that in the UK.  Staff attentiveness to customer needs was quite rare. One restaurant we went into we were greeted and seated, and then watched as the same member of staff washed the floor before handing us a menu or asking if we would like a drink.  The arrival of another member of staff did not improve things. She merely washed the same floor as had been done when we arrived.

This lack of attentiveness was apparent is almost every establishment we went to.  As for the young lady in the local supermarket we visited most days, she did not crack a smile once.  She could give you a look of “how dare you interrupt me” as you stood patiently at the till. Her colleague on the bread counter was the complete opposite.  

Finding vegetarian food was a bit of a challenge.  Although there is a vast array of veggie friendly Spanish food it appeared to be difficult to track it down.  Tapas menus would be lengthy but veggie options often almost impossible to find. We did find food and it was lovely. I guess I always think it is a shame that in a large city it is difficult to experience the vegetarian food that fills the cookbooks.

This is something I have experienced on many trips.  I wonder if people visiting London find the same thing?

Another cultural difference was the size of the beer glasses. Used to ordering pints, we had to quickly get used to the smaller serving sizes.  Not wanting to resort to going to the usual Irish Pub we persevered with the local bars. Not once de we find a pint glass, or anything near it.  The locals seem very happy having small servings and having repeated trips to the bar. You could buy larger servings by going to the supermarket and buying cans or bottles there.

We were also intrigued by the fact that you could sit at the park and buy a beer at any time of the day. Perhaps these smaller servings of drinks breed a better respect for alcohol.  The smaller servings did not just relate to alcohol. After a particularly warm walk I sat down looking forward to a refreshing orange juice. Imagine my surprise as my juice arrived in a small tumbler.  Coffee also arrived in much smaller amounts than I am used to.

On the plus side the proliferation of coffee shops and the more relaxed lifestyle, meant that vey few people had take-away coffee and you rarely saw used cups in bins. In fact I saw very little plastic waste as we walked around the city. Where I live the increased number of coffee shops has led to an increase in waste.

I love to travel and experience different cultures. It does leave me wondering what visitors to England think of us. Is there anything they see that they would like to ee in their own countries? Or anything that they find more difficult when visiting?

Monthly Loves – May

May seems to have happened in the blink of an eye – it must have been all those bank holidays!

Zoom – this video conferencing software is transforming my life – giving me more time in the office and getting me out of the car.

Bagels – I had forgotten how good bagels are for lunch.  Avocado, tomato and olive is my current favourite filling

The British Library – They have an interesting mix of exhibitions and information, plus an excellent small business support hub.  Makes me wish I live in London so I could attend the seminars more easily.

Magnesium Supplement – transforming my sleep pattern and helping my recovery from a shoulder injury.

Green Stationery

In my bid to leave less of a footprint on the planet I have been looking for environmentally friendly stationery.  I am a great user of refillable notebooks, pens, recycled paper and making scrap pads out of leftover paper.

I have recently put together a new package for my clients.  It helps them write a robust business plan and then to review it every month.  My task was how to package it. I wanted to find a way that the package can be stored and added to each month.  To keep it neat and tidy, but also easily identifiable and looking good so it motivates you to use it. It didn’t need to be big either.

So I started looking. It turns out that there are no really smart, colourful folders that don’t contain plastic.  Document wallets are either fully plastic, or of a cardboard design that are too big and clunky, or look like something that an official in a stuffy office would use.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

I searched various green stationery sites.  Some items such as pens and rulers can be made from recycled plastic.  But not in the case of presentation folders. Even some of the ones that look nice and appear to be made from card have a plastic coating.

Now I  know that stationery should not be seen as a one use plastic, but a lot of people don’t see it that way.  My company recently moved office and in the move we reduced the number of files we needed. This left a pile of twenty plus hardly used ring back files.  My co-directors were happy for these to be simply binned and put to landfill. They can’t be recycled due to the plastic coating. I balked at the idea and took it upon myself to find a new home for them.  I am happy to say that a week later I had homes for all but three of them.

If the majority of people see stationery as disposable, or don’t think that others can use items at the end of their life, then we need to come up with more recyclable options.

So this is a call for designers out there to come out with an alternative to the clunky, dull card presentation folders.  

In the meantime I have asked my clients who are using the new package how they would like it presented.  It turns out that as I have raised the issue, they have thought about it and are happy to find their own storage solution for the documents.

A good solution I think!

I have recently put together a new package for my clients.  It helps them write a robust business plan and then to review it every month.  My task was how to package it. I wanted to find a way that the package can be stored and added to each month.  To keep it neat and tidy, but also easily identifiable and looking good so it motivates you to use it. It didn’t need to be big either.

So I started looking. It turns out that there are no really smart, colourful folders that don’t contain plastic.  Document wallets are either fully plastic, or of a cardboard design that are too big and clunky, or look like something that an official in a stuffy office would use.

I searched various green stationery sites.  Some items such as pens and rulers can be made from recycled plastic.  But not in the case of presentation folders. Even some of the ones that look nice and appear to be made from card have a plastic coating.

Now I  know that stationery should not be seen as a one use plastic, but a lot of people don’t see it that way.  My company recently moved office and in the move we reduced the number of files we needed. This left a pile of twenty plus hardly used ring back files.  My co-directors were happy for these to be simply binned and put to landfill. They can’t be recycled due to the plastic coating. I balked at the idea and took it upon myself to find a new home for them.  I am happy to say that a week later I had homes for all but three of them.

If the majority of people see stationery as disposable, or don’t think that others can use items at the end of their life, then we need to come up with more recyclable options.

So this is a call for designers out there to come out with an alternative to the clunky, dull card presentation folders.  

In the meantime I have asked my clients who are using the new package how they would like it presented.  It turns out that as I have raised the issue, they have thought about it and are happy to find their own storage solution for the documents.

A good solution I think!

Bathroom Design

Do you ever walk into a hotel bathroom and think, ‘ooh this is nice – roomy, nicely decorated, shower and a separate bath!’?

And then you start to use it and wonder what the designers were thinking?

Photo by Steven Ungermann on Unsplash

A vast expanse of wall to use but the toilet roll holder is put somewhere where you can’t easily reach it (usually behind you). Toilets wedged in close to the shower for no apparent reason. 

Towel holders are on the other side of the room to the bath/shower, even though there is ample wall space to have them closer.  I love staying at Mal Maison – they have lovely rooms and their bathrooms always look and feel luxurious. They do fall down on easy to reach towel holders.

Sinks are frequently designed to look good, but not to use.  At Champneys I had a lovely looking sink, however it was so wide that it took forever to fill as it was so wide.    Often you get those deep, but small square or oval sinks, with taps which come out so far into the bowl that you can’t  wash your face without headbutting the taps or hitting them with your hands.

Then you get the taps that were not designed for the sink.  Taps that don’t reach far enough into the sink so that you can’t  wash your hands under running water.

When you re-do your own bathroom you probably spend ages looking at how best to maximise the space.  You have a good think about what you are going to need where, and how you will be using the space.

Is it me, or does this not seem to happen in hotel design?

Portion Size

Do you ever go out to eat but feel let down by the portion size?  Now I don’t want you to think I am a greedy person with ‘eyes bigger than my stomach’ (as my mother would say).  Its just that sometimes the portion size of veggie food is so much less than that of the meat and fish options. It just leaves you feeling short changed. And hungry.

One of the first things you get asked by non vegetarians is ‘where do you get your protein from?’  Sometimes I sit in restaurants and ask myself the same question.

On a recent visit to Champneys one of the evening meal options was teryaki braised tofu.  I thought this sounded wonderful as I love tofu. So I ordered it. The portion of tofu that turned up was miniscule.  There was one small two inch strip of tofu on the top of some noodles. By contrast those that ordered the meat equivalent had 4-5 similar sized pieces of meat.  They looked at my meal and all commented on the lack of main ingredient.

This isn’t the first time I have noticed this.  Wagamama has done the same in the past. The tofu portion size has always been small in comparison to the meat equivalent.    I am glad to report that this has improved with the latest menu.


More tofu in the latest portions from Wagamama

A local Michelin starred restaurant I went to served up one duck egg in a jus with a baby leek as a vegetarian main. The meat eaters had two slices of meat, plus veg and potato.

But it isn’t necessarily about protein.  Eating out one Sunday at a local gastro pub I ordered a main of pasta.  My other half ordered their famous roast dinner, which cost £15 – only £3 more than pasta dish.  The extra £3 made all the difference – the roast dinner had 3 times the amount of food. My pasta dish consisted literally of a plate of pasta.  No side salad, or bread. And it wasn’t a big plate. I finished my dish quite quickly and watched my other half continue to wade through his pile of food.  My pasta dish was about the size of the side of veg he had. And, apart from feeling hungry, I was left feeling slightly ripped off. £12 for a plate of pasta that probably cost £5 to make.

I don’t know why some restaurants seem to think that vegetarians have smaller appetites. I have not met one yet. Vegetarian food is much cheaper to buy so why charge the same for smaller portions size, and often less complex dishes.   Is it a lack of understanding and thought or is it greed – of the money kind?

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