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ravenousveggie

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

Monthly Loves – February

Wow what a month February was.  It started with snow, and then a mini heatwave, then cooled back down to near normal temperatures.  I think this gave us all a pre-spring lift. So this month I was grateful for:

  • Signs of spring – Daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses have brought a lovely splash of colour to brighten up these winter days.  The longer daylight hours are also making the walk to and from work much more enjoyable.

Photo by Simon Moore on Unsplash
  • Bel and Dragon – this small chain of hotels and restaurants may not be the cheapest but the venues, food and service are lovely.  Not the best veggie menu in the world (very cheese orientated), but still worth it for a treat. I was lucky enough to be taken for a weekend to celebrate my birthday!
  • Quiet Time – As you will see from my blogs I have discovered the joy of quiet time and switching off.  
  • Lentil Dahl – a dish that is very simple to make, full of flavour and perfect to have as a main meal or a light lunch
  • Moving Office – my company has moved office to a much more modern, insulated building.  My morale has definitely lifted as I now don’t feel cold at work all day, and I have a window to look out of.

Sounds

I met up with a friend recently to have a catch up and also do some work together.  As the conversation lulled and we both went back to concentrating on our tasks at hand I became aware of the sounds in the room.

I became mesmerized and relaxed by one sound in particular – that of my friend typing.  She is a really good touch typist and the sound of her fingers on the keyboard, lightly drumming away, produce a satisfying tapping sound that I tuned into to.

It got me thinking of other sounds that have this effect on myself or people I know.  My sister will happily fall asleep to the sound of a vacuum cleaner. The sound of the sea will do the same for me.  If I wake in the night and my mind is racing I move to a room where there is a ticking clock. This monotonous sounds switches my mind off and usually enables me to drift off to sleep.


The sound of rain is also strangely relaxing to me – sometimes the heavier the better.  It helps my mind to stop, empty a little and stop whirring.

There are also some sounds which can be irritating.  The sound of people eating is a stress trigger for me.  As is loud music or angry voices when I am trying to concentrate.  I get a real urge to get away from these sounds.

It would be interesting to know what sounds make you relax and zone out, and which ones really irritate you.

Focus on the Positive

How often do you find yourself fixating on the things that didn’t go well, rather than looking at the positive things from your day?

I’m all for learning from mistakes, and reviewing things to see how to make them better in the future.  But focussing on the negatives (even if your aim is to correct them) can wear you down.

How often to you take time to out to review what you have done well, reviewed your strengths or your wins?

I expect that the answer is not very often, leaving you mulling over the things that could have gone better.



Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Try taking five minutes at the end of each day to write down three things that you did well, or went well.  This will help you identify your strengths and wins. It will also give you something to look back on when you are in need of a lift.

Don’t worry if you can’t think of three things every day.  Even one thing will help redress the balance of focussing on the things that could have gone better..  Hopefully this will give your confidence a small boost.

You could also do the same at the end of each month.What went well?  What did you learn from? What do you need to change ot meet your goals?  Just remember

You are capable.

You do have many strengths and talents.

You just need to remind yourself.

Mentoring Journey

I have recently become a mentor through The Girls Network.  This involves mentoring girls from the least advantaged communities to inspire them and provide them with a role model.

I signed up for this after coming across The Girls Network through a networking group I attend.  It seemed like a good idea – sharing my experiences to help girls become aware or, and achieve (hopefully), their full potential.  I currently mentor new business owners, so thought that this would be a good challenge, but something not entirely alien to me.

One matched with my Mentee I was excited at beginning our journey, but as the meeting grew closer I began to have doubts.  I don’t have children, and apart from my gorgeous nieces and nephews, I have no experience of dealing with teenagers.

Would I be able to connect with my mentee?  How will I inspire a teenager?

I did all my prep for the first meeting and turned up early, worried that my mentee would not turn up, or had the wrong day in her diary. Even though I had confirmed the meeting with her the day before. I was so nervous!


Mentoring
 notes

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

My mentee arrived and we sat down with our coffees, exchanging p;olive conversation.  I broke the ice by saying it was my first time at mentoring and that we are probably as nervous as each other about the meeting and what to expect.  That’s seemed to do the trick. We had a good meeting, set some actions around issues she was encountering and booked our next meeting.

I felt good afterwards.  It had gone well. I can (at this stage) talk to a teenager. She was lovely to talk to and seemed open to ideas on how to deal with certain aspects of her life.  

Now all I need to do is repeat this again at our next meeting, and hope it wasn’t beginners luck.

If you are interested in mentoring contact The Girls Network

Distrust

I work with a colleague  who is quick to distrust on the first error a person makes, hearsay, or sometimes something akin to jealousy, and often without knowing the full story.

Once distrusted he does his best to burn bridges with that person.  This may mean not working with them or not turning up to an event because they might be there.  If you mention their name, or ask if we should refer some work to them, you get a venomous reply of ‘no, find someone else, we are not working with them.’  I had an email forwarded from a potential contqact with just he word @I met this smug git today…’ Obviously on a GDPR level this could be a bit embarrassing if they should ever ask for any data/correspondence we hold on them!

I always find this frustrating, bewildering and a little short sighted.  How can you limit your interactions with people in this way? What if you need their help in the future?  Where does this anger come from?

However this attitude has started to bite back recently.

On a few occasions he has had to concede that the person in question is ok and that he didn’t know the background to why something happened.   Or the need of the customer means that we need the support of the ostracised person. So perhaps we shouldn’t be too hasty in cutting all ties.  

I have no problem of being wary of someone who keeps making mistakes, or whose working practices might not be as good as I would like.  We all meet people we don’t rub along with. However to cut people out completely for such reasons to me shows a lack of patience, understanding and self esteem.   

You never know when you will need their help, or how your actions have affected their view of you.  And who are they talking to about it? How will reflect on you?

There will always be people who do do something very wrong, but make sure you have all the facts first before writing people off.


Photo by Heather M. Edwards on Unsplash

Monthly Loves – January

January – the month of setting resolutions and getting back into work after the the Christmas break.  The days have been dark, and although the daylight hours are increasing, the temperature is dropping. It’s not my favourite month – the dark days do sap my energy, but there are the signs of longer,warmer days to come.  However I have come across a few lovely things this month…..

  • Beautiful lace like jewellery from Ruth Mary Jewellery.  Stunning pieces made by a very talented lady
  • Naughty but nice – my local corner store has started stocking a Mexican Mix by Silver Palm Foods.  I love the dried corn snacks you get and this has a mix of corn, dried beans and crisps in a spicy covering.  Naughty and very moorish!
  • The veggie/vegan options at Las Iguanas.  Great choice of food which made my meat eating friends a little envious!
  • Graze Veggie Protein Power Snack –  a much healthier option than the Mexican Mix with a great flavour.  A good go to elevenses pick me up.
  • Taking time out to have some quiet time.  A recent trip to a spa made me realise that there is too much noise and too many distractions in my life, which stop me concentrating.  But more of that in an upcoming blog…..
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Breakfast

Breakfast – seen as the most important meal of the day, and probably one that we often have the least amount of time to have.

In the hotel industry breakfast is probably the busiest time of day – the majority of your guests will book in for breakfast.  It is also the time when your guests potentially have the least amount of time. So breakfast needs to run smoothly and cater for all dietary needs.

So why does breakfast in a hotel frequently turn out bad?  I have seen a full hotel with queues waiting for breakfast because of understaffing and a lack of coordination.  

In some cases there seems to be a lack of attention to how quickly food needs to be replenished and tables cleared

I have been left hungry due to lack of communication of how long the vegetarian breakfast would take to cook – having to leave before it is ready.  

I used to attend a breakfast networking meeting at a 5 star hotel which has 89 rooms.  In our networking group there were usually about 20 of us each work. The hotel claimed it was too much work to provide 20 individual breakfasts (which were all pre-ordered).  Instead it was either a full cooked breakfast, or a continental offering (which was one pastry and some fruit). I always used to wonder how they coped if all the rooms were full and breakfasts not pre ordered if they couldn’t cope with 20 pre-ordered meals.

I understand that staff not turning up on time cannot be planned for, however managing expectations can.  As a guest if I know there is a problem in the kitchen, an ingredient isn’t available, or something takes slightly longer to prepare, then I can make my food choice  according to my time restraints. It is all about managing expectations.



Photo by Sonnie Hiles on Unsplash

I once worked in a hotel for a year.  Breakfast always ran smoothly as the head waiter would give training to the staff the day before and then watch like hawk as to what as going on.  He would give firm, but polite, instructions, so as to ensure smooth running and that guests left satiated and happy.

Looking at hotels now I rarely see anyone who appears to be in overall charge.  When there is they don’t appear to have the attention to detail and focus that I trained under.

I never know why there is so much secrecy over breakfast.  I’m not sue if there is a worse time of the day in which not be on top of your game, or not be communicating with your customers.

I’d love to know what your experience of hotel breakfasts has been.

Brain Meltdown

Some days you get home and just feel as though your brain is in meltdown.

Today was one of those days.

My first client today is a lovely lady who I visit once a month.  The main aim is to keep her up to date on dealing with her paperwork and supporting her to navigate a complicated financial situation and also sorting out care for her elderly relative.  Today’s challenge was to keep her on track.

Due to a family health scare, her mind was understandably elsewhere.  As usual I started by asking her what tasks were top of her priority list, and started working on these.

The first one was easy and soon dealt with.  The other was a bit more tricky. It involved confirming a seat on a flight and printing a boarding pass. Normally this is quite straight forward, however a strange alert came up when I tried to reserve the seat.  I rang the number on the site and soon all was sorted. I then went back in to print off the boarding pass. This time it showed the seats I had booked but still wouldn’t let me pass the seat reservation stage. Alarm bells started ringing.  My client then recalled an email she had received the day before saying that the flight had been cancelled. She had dismissed it as a scam email as the the email address didn’t look correct and there were numerous typing errors throughout the email.  Added to the fact that we could still go ahead and log on to confirm the flight, with no mention of cancellation, it was put down to being a scam.



Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

We found another phone number and rang it.  This took us through to a a customer service centre and a lovely chap who confirmed that the flight had been cancelled and apologised that he could not rebook the ticket for the time that was needed.  He also took on board that the email looked fake, and gully explained the reason for the cancellation. Not much help for my client who was travelling for work, and could not rebook to a different destination.  I was more taken back by the fact that one part of the same company did not know that the flight had been cancelled.

After this the rest of the tasks were soon dealt with and I was soon on my way to my next meeting.

This I knew would be more challenging.

I have a mentee who is just starting up a business. The business idea is sound, and my mentee has a lot of experience in the area.  But my mentee is an over-thinker. If any scrap of doubt can creep in, it will. Our first meeting was quite intense – my mentee swinging from complete confidence to giving up her dream in the space of every twenty minutes or so.

This meeting was to discuss the content for her new website.  I had previously had a panicked telephone call the week before as my mentee became over anxious about what she was writing and again felt like giving up.  Twenty minutes later I had managed to calm her down and get her back on track. It was her desire to get everything right first time that was holding her back.  And if she couldn’t think of the perfect thing first time then she seemed to go into a spin and start questioning everything.

So it is fair to say that I was going to this meeting with a little trepidation. My mentee was all smiles and looking relaxed when I arrived. She produced the pagers of copy for her website and I started reading.  It was all good stuff – covered everything it needed to, from the background of the company to services and charges.

I was half way through the first page when it started.  A barage of questions and doubts and ‘is this right?, or should I change this?’ To be honest I really wanted to shout out ‘will you shut up and let me read?!’, but I thought better of it – the genteel patrons of a Waitrose coffee shop probably wouldn’t survive it.

By this point in the day I was tired and trying to concentrate on what I was reading, whilst being asked questions about sections I hadn’t read yet, just didn’t work. I stopped what I was doing. My brain stopped. I just stared at my mentee – paralysed by the amount of things I was being asked to do and not managing any of it.

A few moments later I was back in the room.  Putting my game face on and getting my mentee to calm down.  We calmly went through each area she was having issues with and came up with alternative wording, or put her fears to rest.  An hour and half later we said goodbye and went our separate ways.

When I got home I just felt exhausted.  My brain felt soft and mushy. I looked at the kettle – I knew what it did but had no idea how to use it.  How could this have happened to me? I have had days where I have been pulled in various different directions by different clients (and the same ones!) and had to field multiple interruptions, but never had I felt like this.  Part of me wanted to feel angry at my mentee. Surely if she has this amount of doubt on the finer points of her business then she won’t be able to sustain the business. Should I tell her to stop aiming for her dreams and go an get a job?  But her background and experience says differently. And the business idea she has is really good.

I resolved to put it down to experience.  I can’t expect all mentees, or clients, to be calm and not sweat the small stuff.  Or to realise that things can usually be changed in the future – websites updated when the perfect wording comes to mind, or business cards and flyers changed when the first batch runs out.  I just need to find a better way of dealing with this situation in the future.

My biggest issue now was to tend to my mushed brain and get myself back on track.  A task which involved something slightly stronger than a cup of tea.

A Fair Price

As a vegetarian its fair to say a number of people have commented on how much cheaper it is to eat out than a meat eating diet.

Most of the time I agree – vegetarian meals tend to be cheaper.  They have cheaper ingredients and tend to be quicker to make. However sometimes I think vegetarians pay over the odds for what they get.  

Today I went to a pub for lunch with friends.  They fancied a proper Sunday Roast and I knew that the chosen place did good roasts and also usually has a good choice of vegetarian meals.The selection was good, however the meals are on the pricier side – roasts stat from £15 and the vegetarian mains from £12.

But what do you get for your money?  For the roast you get three veg, the most enormous Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, gravy and of course the meat.   For the veggie meal I had a bowl of pasta with mushrooms and a a sauce. Not the most exotic or expensive ingredients. I declined the parmesan that came with it on the  grounds that A) parmesan is not vegetarian and B) I can’t stand the taste of it. And that was it. No side salad or veg. No bread nothing. My friends thought I was starving as the food disappeared so quickly, but the truth of the matter is that it was really difficult to eat a bowl of pasta slowly without it going cold. And the size of the roast dinner portion meant that you needed a good twenty minutes to eat it.  I admit finishing my main and feeling hungry – longing for the desserts (if only I could be sure which ones were veggie friendly from the menu).



Photo by Adam Jaime on Unsplash

I have been to some similarly priced establishments where the size of the salad justifies the price and you do feel that you have eaten a satisfying amount, had more than three ingredients. and still paid less.

I pointed this out to my friends and you could see the penny drop and general agreement around the table.  When it came to puddings the vegetarian friendly options were the same size as the other. So why the discrepancy for the main meal?  People don’t mind paying more when they feel that they are getting quality and value for their money.

More and more as a vegetarian I feel I am loosing out in restaurants, and that the price I pay does not reflect the portions I receive when compared to the carnivores.

 Just because I am vegetarian doesn’t mean I am not hungry!

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