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

Monthly Loves – August

August seems to have gone in a whirlwind.  My plans to have a bit more time to enjoy the lovely weather didn’t seem to come to pass, however it didn’t stop me having some great experiences, trying some new products and revisiting some old favourite. Here are some of the things that topped my favourites list in August…..


  • Belfast – great place to visit for a city break



  • The Ginger Bistro, Belfast – lovely food, friendly staff and especially loved the separate vegetarain/vegan menu


  • Love Corn snacks – great snacks on the go


  • One Stop Corn Chips – made simply from corn, oil and salt – lovely!   None of the extra ingredients of Doritos (MSG, cheese powder etc) and half the price  












  • Grilled sweetcorn with salt and lemon or lime  (I love this so much I tend to have it all year round – not just for BBQs)





  • Grilled Portabello mushrooms with horseradish sauce (another BBQ favourite)


  • Green Woman Fit Pit Deodorant – at last a vegan deodorant that works for me!  They do a men’s version and travel sizes.  It comes in recyclable glass jars so another step towards ditching our reliance on plastic

Fit Pit Vegan deodorant


Attention to Detail

Attention to Detail

As you may have seen from my Twitter feed I have recently enjoyed a few days break in Belfast.  Belfast? Yes Belfast. Not a place you often hear of on the top city break destinations. I too was a bit dubious when my other half suggested it.  

I was pleasantly surprised.

Belfast has so much going for it – architecture, shopping, history, great  vegan and vegetarian food (at almost every restaurant!), The Titanic Quarter and interesting walks taking you through the troubles from both view points.  And the people. They are lovely and friendly and really do give you a warm welcome.

Our hotel was brilliantly placed – close to transport links, the heart of the city and in easy reach of the sights.  We had pushed the boat out for this trip and booked a five star hotel. On entering it was plush, inviting and very organised.  Suitcases disappeared, maps handed out to help with our planned excursions, we were made to feel welcome and comfortable. It felt like luxury.  But to an extent that is where it stopped.

Attention to Detail

At breakfast each morning we were left searching for spoons to eat cereal with, or  jam for toast. The restaurant was designed with booths and larger tables.  The booths were lovely – giving you some privacy, however also putting you out of sight, making it easy for staff to forget you had asked for something, or were ready to order.

The designer rooms were great and very comfortable (decorated in the current fashion for dark colours) but some items left us wondering.  The light system was so confusing we usually had a short disco sequence trying to switch them on or off. A tea tray in a cupboard which was too heavy to pull out and manoeuvre from the small space it is stored in  And the only place to put it down is on the other side of the room. The bathroom was beautiful and spacious but in some cases impractical – only one flannel for two people, toilet roll holder in one of those positions that make you feel you should take up those yoga classes. A candle holder with matches in it, but no candle to light, until our last day. At the evening room turndown it was pot luck whether or not chocolates turned up.  OK some of these are first world problems and not the end of the world. But they are below expectations. And all of it down to a lack of attention to detail.

But the bit that really made me angry was the waste.  The compulsory leaflet saying please help us save the world by not wanting your towels washed every day was superseded by changing the small soap bar everyday.  A small bar, in a plastic wrapper, inside a cardboard box was replaced everyday even though we never got close to using it up. It would have quite easily lasted for the whole of our trip. And we would not have minded.  In addition we would come back most days to find the air conditioning on full, the windows open and all the lights on.

Honestly do they think that washing towels less is going to make the difference? 

On looking at the hotel website there is no published environmental policy, so I haven’t been able to check reality against their goals in this area.

I know the hotel star rating system is mainly judged on the amenities at the venue and the mix of rooms, however I think we all expect service to go with it.  A little more thought, joined up thinking and attention to detail at all levels could have really made our stay special.

Instead it was good.

But not special.

And I think special is what you aim for when you pay over the odds for any product or service.

Goodbye Old Friend

I recently changed my car. It was a decision I have been slowly making over the last year. My car was over 11 years old and I had always promised myself a new car every ten years. I had worked hard and saved for it during those 11 years. I knew the time would come. This year would be that time. I kept telling myself.

I had just about made peace with my decision, but still felt troubled by the decision. It finally struck me that my difficulty was around letting go of an object that had been with me through the 10 most difficult years of my life: My constant, unfailing, un-grumbling companion through great days, amazing days and some very, very dark days.

Valentines Day Incoming - Miniature Red Car Carrying Heart

This sounds crazy doesn’t it? It’s a ton of metal with a great heating and sound system. A functional item taking me and my belongings on all my journeys. I realised that changing the car was the end of an era. An era during which I had taken my mother to hospital, watched her die, then dealt with my father’s illness and subsequent death, redundancy, starting a company, divorce and finally a heap of happiness.

My car was the biggest item still left from a time that I have mostly been trying to get over and let go of.

My car was with me when I visited amazing places, witnessed beautiful events, and cried my eyes out with grief and anger. My car listened to me without complaint as I ranted, raved, sobbed and sang. Sang a lot. Like the friend who is always there for you but you don’t speak to every day, my car was there for me. Bonkers.

The need to change my car came as I realised it was going to need some major work on it. So I took the plunge and went looking for a replacement. I initially even felt bad discussing my new car whilst driving the old one. I confess I had a conversation with my old car about the need to change it, and what good times we had had together. Bonkers

Having chosen my next car I spoke to the salesman about how people react when they hand over the keys to their old car. He confirmed that for some people it is a big wrench – almost like saying goodbye to a member of the family or close friend. The longer they had had the car, the harder it seemed to be. I didn’t confess to him that I had worried about handover day, but at least I knew it wasn’t just me.

When I went to pick up my new car I was nervous. Had I made the right decision? Would the new one be right for me? As soon as I saw it sitting there gleaming away I knew it was right. I said a proper goodbye to my old car and collected my new one.

The drive home was weird (new car, handled differently, lots of gadgets to get to grips with, worried about the paintwork etc), but overall it felt ok. I had a brief twinge of abandoning the old one.

Now a few weeks on I know I made the right decision. My new car has the feeling of my old reliable friend and hasn’t complained about my singing once.

Here’s to the next ten years my new friend.


Eye on the Tip

Does anyone remember the Third Rock From The Sun episode where Dr Dick Soloman arrives at a restaurant and tells the waitress that the pile of cash has has put on the table is the starting point for the tip.  For everything she does right the pile will be added to. And for anything that goes wrong cash will be taken from the pile?

It didn’t work out for theEuros coins change money in restaurant on metal tray paying meal check.waitress as Dr Soloman  became more pedantic and kept taking money away.  But it did get me thinking about was this a good way to think about adding value to your customers?

We set a price to complete a task or provide a service.  If we think of the extras we can bring to the job – adding in some extras, doing a bit more tidying of the accounts, databases, or filing than was  required, packaging the product well – this can then equate to a virtual pile of cash.  The client may be impressed at the attention to detail and the care you have put into the job.  The virtual pile of cash could appear in the form of further work from the client, or a referral.

So perhaps having an eye on the ‘tip’ money is a way to help you think about what added value you can bring to each client?

Business Bully

About a month ago I was threatened on a private social media group for making truthful statements about a company I know of, but have not had direct dealings with.  My dealings with the company have been via a company I work for, and also information received from people who have had to deal directly with them.


In all circumstances the company have been bullish, made payments late, or not at all, threatened legal action, and have been unprofessional with their clients.  Following my comments I too was openly threatened with legal action and slurs made against my character.  I was also told that I had no evidence, without asking for the basis of my remarks.

Business Bully
A giant hand of boss points a finger down at employee Nearly high cliffs fall. Funny vector

  On top of this I received private messages threatening the same legal action.


I stood my ground and eventually the person in question was blocked from the social media group (he had also sent messages to other members of the group threatening them with legal action for any comment against his company that was made)


So with that out the way I started to wonder how these bullies can be found out and dealt with.  This particular chap is a managing director of a company and also a County Councillor.  I wonder what those who had voted him in would think if they saw his quite viscous outburst.  His reaction on this social media site was not out of character for how he has spoken, and written to my friends.  I also knew that on his Facebook page he had put some quite racists remarks after the Brexit vote.


The fact that he gets away with this on so many occasion makes putting in an official complaint a daunting task, as you know deep down he will get away with it and you will be left to pick up the pieces and his wrath.


Luckily in this case he managed to get himself taken off a social media site, as his outburst was enough to make a few people aware of what a bully he is.  This would have had the knock on effect of him loosing out on work opportunities – the one thing he was threatening me legal action over because of my comments.  Although this feels like a small victory for me, I doubt it will make him change his ways.  Buyer and supplier beware for anyone else.

Morning Light

Driving to an appointment at 7am this morning I found myself stopped in traffic and I suddenly noticed the sky.  It is still quite dark at this time of day however it struck me that it felt like a ‘different’ type of dark.

The dark felt fresh – the start of a new day, positive and full of possibilities, fresh and clean. I know the morning air is cleaner as pollution drops overnight, however I felt really motivated by it, and any worries that I had about my day suddenly disappeared.

Silhouette of a man with city lights.

It was strange then to find myself driving home in the dark, and instead of feeling positive about a good day at work, and looking forward to my evening, I felt tired and wishing that it wasn’t so dark.

Could this just be down to naturally feeling tired after a long day at work, and lack of daylight from the current shorter days (roll on Spring!) and being indoors most of the week.  Do shift workers going to work in the evenings as we are coming home feel tired or inspired by the new day ahead.  Does the early morning journey home find them tired, or does the daylight motivate them?

Whatever the answer I will enjoy the early mornings more from now on, and also take time to look at the sky each day and take a few moments out to breathe and relax.


Making The Most Of My time 2

So its been a while since my last post where I was mulling over how to better use my time.So what have I been up to? (Apart from having a break!!)


I have been getting up earlier and doing some mundane tasks each day.  This is proving to be a good thing – filing up to date, washing and ironing up to date and giving me more time to relax in the evenings.  And I feel like I am accomplishing a lot more each day.


Of course there have been some days when I haven’t felt like doing anything, or just decided to stay in bed for an extra half hour.  But part of my new routine is saying yes to doing what I feel like doing rather than feeling too pressured to complete things  (unless they really need to be done!).  Giving myself permission to do this has been a revelation and has made me feel refreshed and re energised on its own.  So far I haven’t missed any deadlines, or got behind with anything and don’t feel guilty if I decide to have a slightly lazier day.


I am doing the half on Linked In each morning, which is paying dividends.  I have made many more connections, read some really interesting articles, been able to share my knowledge and experience and so far have two new clients from it.


The added benefit of this is it means that I can spend a little more time at work dealing with clients and running the company, rather than worried about getting to every face to face networking meeting.  This half hour each morning won’t replace the face to face networking I do, but it is showing rewards quite quickly.  And of course it is much cheaper and less disruptive during the day.


So all in all my routine is working well.  I’m hoping to add in some time to learn new things, and currently trying to identify a course to do.  And yes I am feeling happier!


Making the Most of My Time?

Over the last 18 months I have felt that I need to make more of my time.  This need is a little confusing as part of it is the wish to relax and have more me time, and the other part is to get more organised and fit in some learning.


Since becoming self employed a few years ago I haven’t missed the early morning commute to get to the office, or the slog home with hundreds of other equally tired drivers.  I have enjoyed some slightly more leisurely mornings, fitting in housework whilst working from home, then

the ability to walk to work most days. However I don’t feel as motivated as I used to and I don’t feel that I am getting much done.

Planning Time Concept

I was at a networking event and started chatting to a personal trainer who suggested I read Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning.  She has read it and adapted his idea to suit her own lifestyle,and is now feeling more energised and in control of everything.  I am a bit sceptical of self help books but thought I would give it a go. As feared the book was quite evangelical and salesy in that way that Americans can achieve – a bit like having an over excited puppy to make sense of,  however the underlying message seemed good, and from further online research, it turns out most of my Llinked In contacts are trying it/swear by it.


The main thrust of the book is that you need to get up earlier.  Something which kind of grated against my new found freedom of a leisurely morning.  However I knew that something had to change.  So I tried Hal;s advice.  It quickly became apparent that I don’t really enjoy exercise that early in the morning, and I can’t concentrate enough to learn anything/  I didn’t get any overriding feeling of wanting to get up any earlier so i could do more either.  Even the lovely warm weather we had in June/July couldnt get me out of bed and feeling motivated.  The meditation and affirmations sections didn;t really appeal either.


So after  a few weeks I remembered that you need to make your morning routine fit for you.  I still wanted to make more of the mornings and need to find out a way to do this.  I am a weird soul who craves routine and variety so whatever I end up doing it will need to fit this.


I spoke to a friend who said that she had read the book and was now getting up at 5.30 each morning and was was going fir a run and then coming back and starting work.  This way she was completing a lot of work before the family was up, leaving her with more time when it came to the afternoon school run.


So this week I have come up with a compromise.  I am getting up at 6,15, getting a drink and then going back to bed, where I am catching up on social media and doing more networking  on Linked In In until 7am.  At this point I am going off to do a task for half hour or so..  Today it was filing and tidying my office. When I finished at 7.30 I felt good.  I had achieved a lot, my office was tidy, and I felt awake and in a positive mood.  I also achieved a lot more during the day than I thought I would, and this energy continued into the evening.


So perhaps I need to be doing mundane tasks in the morning – filing, laundry, sorting, decluttering.  We will have to see.  This is after all day one, and there are seven days to fill.


Practice What You Preach

I am lucky to know a lot of people who are aware of and concerned about the environment and our impact on it.

Increasingly I am beginning to realise that for some this is all talk and there is little/no action.

I have a friend who is concerned about the environment and buys  environmentally friendly cleaning products,  her cleaner, however, uses the main brands, so defeating the main purpose of buying the eco friendly products.

I have recently met a lovely lady who lectures on climate change, and what we can do as individuals to lessen our impact on the Earth.  It turns out that she doesn’t source any of her electricity from renewables, her latest car is a diesel, and she is just in the process of looking at installing solar panels.  Looking around her house there are a few eco friendly/ethical brands appearing but not much.  However she wants us all to be kinder to the planet.

I see may parents worrying about their children’s future and the environment, but who find it difficult to do basics such as simple doorstep recycling, or picking goods with less packaging.

Its as though they want the best  but don’t want to have to put the effort in.  Why is it so difficult for people to take actions in accordance with their environmental beliefs.  Or is it that by making the right noises they can gloss over the fact that they don’t practice what they preach?

Practice what you preach to look after the planet
Crystal Planet In Green Forest With Sun

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