PSA: Pumpkin Spice is back!!

Nothing signals the start of Autumn more than the return of the pumpkin spice latte. Or just pumpkins in general really. I must admit I can’t remember the last time I actually ate a pumpkin – they’re normally only available during Halloween and even then, they’re the HUGE pumpkins that are made for carving – but there is just something so comforting about pumpkin smells and flavours.

Unfortunately though it is at that weird time of year in the UK, where it is 2 degrees in the morning and then 20 at midday. So I decided to try the frappaccino this time. The pumpkin spice is vegan friendly, and you can have the frappaccino mixed with any non-dairy milk you like – I went for almond to add to that Autumnal flavour combo. At some Starbucks as well you may also be able to get vegan whipped cream: My local one doesn’t stock the whipped cream though so I had to do without.

This will definitely wake you up. It is weirdly sweet – I’d say a lot sweeter than the hot latte version – but is also very refreshing. Almost like a pumpkin smoothie. Come to think of it I don’t think it had a single drop of coffee in it at all, although I am sure if you asked they would happily add one for you. It made me feel excited for Autumn to arrive, but also let me feel like I had enjoyed some sort of summer at the same time. Naturally it did nothing but rain all through the actual summer, so frappaccinos were the last thing I could think of in torrential downpour.

Starbucks is of course really expensive: £4.50 for a drink?? Mate….no. As someone who is not a big coffee drinker, Starbucks is not really somewhere I go to very often. That being said, a pumpkin spice latte has become a tradition for me. I feel like I can’t really enjoy Autumn until I have had one. It also signals to me that Autumn has truly begun and I can finally break out my fluffy socks, cosy oversized knit jumpers and all the fuzzy beanies I can get my hands on. So £4.50 once a year (maybe twice if I feel like splurging a bit) is pretty manageable.

Would I have the frappaccino again? If the weather next year is still as oddly hot as it is currently, then absolutely. However the latte still wins overall for me.

Overall: 8/10. Not as good as the latte, but a pretty good pick-me-up for the warmer Autumn months.

T xxx

Can vegans support zoos?

I want to have a discussion with you all, because it is something that I have been very interested in for some time. When I was at university I actually did a whole dissertation on whether zoos were good or bad for animal welfare. I went in thinking that there was no way that zoos could be a good thing, however through my research it actually turned out to be a very grey area of animal welfare. I am therefore very keen to see what all of your thoughts are on this subject.

Now this is by no means a comprehensive essay: My dissertation was 10,000 words and even that required a lot of editing down! But I wanted to bring to light some of the main arguments for and against zoos, and the issues that come with them. I have tried to include as many links as I can to articles and research, but as I say I cannot include every single piece of research that I have ever done on this subject. If you have any other interesting or useful reads, please do leave them in the comments below!

Animal welfare

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, any animal in captivity is covered by this act. Zoos and aquariums are also covered by the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 although this act was amended in 2002 to create more obligations on Local Councils when deciding whether or not to license a new zoo, as well as to ensure that animal welfare practices were more in line with the EU directives. In summary, the animals are to have a suitable environment, prevention and protection from harm, suitable food supplies and their living must be as close to the wild as reasonably possible to achieve.

The issue with legislation though is that it is a blanket. It has to cover so many different species, situations and objectives that it can fail when it comes to practically applying the rules contained within it. A study carried out in 2002 by Clubb and Mason found that elephants die far younger in captivity than they do in the wild. One suggestion is that these animals especially have very complex social structures, one that can be hard to recreate in a captive environment. Their social structures are also constantly changed by the zoo, either to keep groups small or to trade members for a new member to either increase chances of mating or to bring in new visitors to the zoo. Elephants are known to create lifelong bonds with the children and other members of their group, and to constantly have your social group changed undoubtedly has a negative impact on the animal’s emotional and mental well being. They are also huge creatures that are used to walking miles everyday – roughly the same distance from London to Oxford! There is no way any zoo are able to create an environment that really allows for this amount of exercise, and when they do not have the adequate amount of exercise, they can develop a number of physical conditions which they would not have had they been in the wild.

There is also the common knowledge that highly intelligent animals struggle to cope mentally within captivity: If you have not yet watched the 2013 movie Blackfish, I would highly recommend it. It shows very graphically what can happen when a highly intelligent animal is stuck in an stimulating and unrewarding environment. The film highlights very clearly that not only is animal welfare needed for the safety of the animals, but also for the safety of the staff, handlers and keepers who look after these animals. There are countless articles about zoochosis, whereby animals in captivity begin to show symptoms of mental and physical illness: This can include pacing, biting and headbutting the environment around them, heightened aggression towards keepers and other animals in the enclosure, swaying and over grooming to name a few. Some animals, such as great white sharks most infamously, do not even survive a year in captivity: The longets a great white was ever held in captivity was for 198 days.

However this tends to be most common in the larger (usually hunting) animals: bears, killer whales, elephants, big cats and primates. Prey animals, such as meerkats, giraffes and gazelle, tend to do quite well in captivity and are less documented in exhibiting signs of zoochosis. The logical conclusion to this information is that prey animals undoubtedly live longer in captivity because they are not being constantly hunted by bigger animals: they do not need to run and hide at every noise, they do not need to be on alert while eating. For many captive prey animals, the ones born in captivity have probably never even seen a predator. Granted some of this nature will be innately woven into their DNA – to be skittish and scared and on edge at all times – however if you have never seen a lion before, would you know to run? Are these animals still suffering? Of course there is a lack of research surrounding this area and the affect it can have on every animal, but it does make you wonder and is something to be contemplated.

Conservation

A paper by William Conway suggested that while conservation efforts were needed, regulation still is not universal enough to ensure that every single zoo does the same level of work and to the same standard. Every country has their own legislation in place to ensure that zoos carry out a degree of conservation work, however this varied largely across the world. Conway suggests that work needs to be done to create a more cohesive world wide plan, since zoos rely so heavily on other zoos for their animals.

London Zoo, for example, spend a large amount of their profits carrying out conservation efforts, with Woburn Safari Park carrying out multiple conservation projects at their own zoo as well as fundraising to support the efforts of conservation charities abroad. A large part of conservation though is understanding the animals and their natural behaviour and this may not always be possible to monitor in the wild. Zoos allow scientists to observe animals around the clock, to check on their psychical and mental characteristics so that this information can be published to other zoos and experts, and better conservation efforts can be made to suit the needs of the animal in question. Conservation methods can be made to be specific and measurable for that exact animal species in question, rather than trying to use a blanket method for a number of different species.

Education and awareness

This is probably the biggest reason why zoos exist, especially nowadays. I remember going on many a school trip to London Zoo and getting to spend all day hearing about the animals and their different characteristics. As a massive animal lover, there is something truly magical about seeing these amazing creatures in real life. I imagine for some people, it gives a real life animal to put to the horrible stories of deforestation, poaching and climate change that we see on the news. It is one thing to see images of a poacher standing proudly over their kill of a wild lion, but quite another to see that same lion standing before you in a zoo. You see the animals that we as humans are affecting and impacting with our actions and it can really drill home to you the changes that need to be made worldwide to protect them.

A large part of zoos (and I know in some of them they do this anyway) should be to show the impact that we humans are having on these animals. Yes these animals should be in the wild, however these are why animals cannot survive in the wild anymore: orangutans are losing their habitats to deforestation and rhinos are being poached to extinction for the belief that their horns hold medicinal remedies. More awareness needs to be raised around these issues, and it is up to zoos to not only educate the general public to take action, but to also step up and demand better protections are granted to these animals so that they do not end up in zoos as the only means for these animals to actually survive. In 2020 alone, roughly 50 species of animals went extinct (not including the 100s of species of plant life which also went extinct), and the number of animals classed as endangered rose by 16,000 in the last year alone. There are now around 40,000 endangered species around the world, and for many people the only time to ever see these endangered species in the flesh will be at a zoo.

Animal trade

This links very closely to conservation and animal welfare, because unfortunately the trading of animals amongst zoos is necessary for conservation efforts: The European Endangered Species Programme is made up of a number of zoos across Europe, who all work together to increase managed breeding within their endangered species. It is quite obvious therefore that animals are constantly being traded between each zoo, especially when you think that without trade between these zoos, the risk of inbreeding heightens with every new generation born – and this is clearly not going to be helpful for conservation plans.

Now I think we all know that the animals are not transported in first class accommodation: of course there are laws in place to say what an animal must be transported in, but I doubt they are in a luxurious plane all to themselves with entertainment and food available whenever they wish. They’re not on Qatar Air right? Unfortunately that is just a reality of the industry, and way more work needs to be done to ensure that these practises are improved and sustained for the future. But as with all of these things it is a work in progress and it will take more than this blog to kick the whole world into implementing change.

Is the trade industry necessary? For conservation plans, yes, undoubtedly it is. Without these trades, managed breeding programmes would not be able to exist past the first new generation as the risk of inbreeding becomes far greater and harder to manage in one zoo on their own. However, would the entire EEP even exist if better measures were put in place world wide to stop the unsustainable killing, deforestation and poaching of these animals in the wild? Another debate for another time but it is something that needs to b e weighed up when discussing this issue.

Economic/tourism implications

Something that also needs to be considered is the economic impact that zoos have on a city. London Zoo alone have roughly 1.25 million visitors every year and with a day ticket costing around £35.00, that is an obscene amount of money being raised. That doesn’t even include the amount of revenue brought in for the food and drink, plus donations from supporters. The taxes that they pay must be in figures that the likes of us may never even imagine. Zoos are also a massive tourist draw, with people travelling all over the world to see different animals. San Diego zoo on its own is an entire day out – look at the size of this place! Every country in the world relies heavily on tourism to bring people into their country and to show off their what their country has to offer, and a massive part of that may be their world renowned zoos.

This also doesn’t even begin to cover the amount of people it takes to run a zoo and the amount of jobs that a zoo creates: Aside from the actual keepers and handlers, you also need to account for chefs, waiting staff, retail assistants, security, account teams, corporate managers, HR staff, garment makers for the clothes on sale and the toys which can be bought, the graphic designers for the zoo signs and information boards and the architects and labourers who build the exhibits and the enclosures. Millions of people world wide are employed by zoos, so to get rid of them completely would mean millions of people lose their livelihood. Even I worked at a zoo while I was studying at uni, as a part time waitress, and I was just one of a team of 50 people. Zoos are a massive industry and for many keepers, I imagine their entire life has been in training to work at a zoo, to care for these exotic animals that very few people ever have the chance to see let alone care for.

My thoughts?

Personally, I am still so conflicted. I know that zoos are important and I think it would be incredibly damaging to abruptly close down an entire industry. I also believe that zoos are beneficial for some animals and actually provide a better quality of life than they would have had in the wild. But that does not mean I am happy that these animals can’t live in the wild. In an ideal world, these animals would all be left to live, thrive and enjoy their environment without us humans barging in to take from them. I try my best to always advocate for animal welfare, but it would be naive of me to ignore the impact that zoos have on this work. The donations they provide to other charities that carry out real groundwork in other countries is fundamental in helping create change.

Now would I chose to go to the zoo if I had a day off and nothing to do? Probably not. But if my nephew or my family wanted us to take a trip to the zoo as part of a family day out? I would go, not only so that I could spend time with my loved ones and see these beautiful and majestic creatures up close, but also because again it is the education and awareness that zoos can create that can inspire new people to take a stand to protect an animal they have just fallen in love with. I hope one day every animal can be at peace and at home in the wild, but until then I want to support conservation and education efforts.

As I said, this is by no means meant to be comprehensive, and it is only meant to provide you with a basic overview of some to the main issues surrounding zoos and the work that they do. But I hope it has at least inspired a thought in you, and has inspired you to do more research into what you as an animal lover can do to help protect them – both in captivity and in the wild.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments, and if you guys have any other interesting articles to read, then please do leave those in the comments as well!

T xxx

Slug and Lettuce chocolate orange tart

Another little treat from my Slug and Lettuce venture the other day. As I mentioned in my mac’n’cheeze post their vegan menu is pretty good and also just a bit more decadent than your usual pub food. Needless to say I was very excited to try this little baby!

Now I don’t know if it is because most places make vegan desserts using dark chocolate, but they are always so rich! This was no exception. This tart was more like a really thick cheesecake….it had a very rich, creamy and thick texture to it, but way thicker than your usual tart filling. I didn’t get any orange flavour from it, because that dark chocolate was so rich it completely overpowered anything else. The base was like a brownie – whether intentional or not, I can’t say – so really added to the chocolate shock of it all.

I couldn’t finish it. Trust me….I really wanted to. But it was so rich and so filling that my stomach could barely handle half of it. Granted it probably didn’t help that I had also just had mac’n’cheeze. Maybe next time I should stick with either or and not get too excited. The filling was also very very thick – almost like caramel in that it genuinely felt like my mouth might glue shut there was so much thickness to it. You will definitely need a drink to help wash this down.

Price wise, it is actually a steal. This dessert alone was £2.99. TWO NINETY NINE. For a really big portion of very decadent tart. That alone makes it worth while, because normally for this level of dessert you’d likely have to go to a specialist baker or very posh cake shop. It also meant that I don’t feel like I have really wasted money when I can’t finish the whole plate. I still felt wasteful, as I left at least half of it (before my stomach burst) but at least I didn’t also feel the guilt of spending a lot of money on something to not even finish it. If you fancy something special though, I would recommend maybe sharing this one.

Overall: 5/10. It was lovely for the whole 3 mouthfuls I could stomach. Way too big a portion.

T xxx

Vegan Kit Kat

I finally found the motherload!! I have heard that these were a thing but had never been lucky enough to find one. The only reason I even got this one is because one of my lovely work colleagues got lucky at her local Sainsbury’s. Apparently you should be able to find them in m,ost supermarkets, but either they are too popular or I am just unlucky because it seems to very hit and miss as to which stores actually stock them and which might get a lucky delivery every so often.

I forgot how good a kitkat is. For those of you who do not know what a kitkat is, it’s a stack of long crispy waffle layers covered in chocolate. They come in long strips as you can see and there is only one correct way to eat them: You split the bars apart, and eat each finger one by one. Anyone who just takes one big bite out of a kitkat without breaking them apart first, is clearly on the brink of mental collapse and you need to run away from them immediately.

The vegan version is identical to the original. I honestly could not tell you any difference in them. They are crunchy, and rich and the most moreish chocolate bar out there. Honestly I could eat these non stop. Aside from a Bounty and a snickers (I am still praying to the plant based gods to finally make a vegan version of both), Kitkats are easily one of my favourite chocolate bars. I nearly forgot how much I love a kitkat and yet one bite and I feel like I am back in secondary school studying for exams or working on coursework: Kitkats and 2 litre bottles of Diet Coke were all that would get my through the really hard subjects some days!

The only downside to these is of course the vegan tax that has to be paid. This bar was £1, which I know is not much at all, but the non-vegan version is only 70p so it does feel a bit cheeky of them to charge more. Surely they contain the same (if not less in the vegan version!) ingredients so why charge me more?! But alas, at the moment you will find that most vegan options do tend to be slightly pricier than the non-vegan options. Not by much, but it can suck having to pay 50p more for an item purely because it says ‘vegan’ on it. Hopefully as demand continues to grow and sales start to even out between vegan options and non-vegan options, the prices will start to become more uniform.

And if to lower the prices it means I have to increase demand and eat these kitkats on a regular basis…I shall do my duty.

Overall: 10/10. Identical to the original and therefore an instant winner.

T xxx

BOL spanish bean and Veg Paella

Another hectic week thanks to the British bank Holiday, so I had to grab myself a lunch in between client meetings. I am currently trying to focus on more whole food recipes, and to eat less processed goods, so I thought this BOL pot would be better for me than a Pot Noodle.

I was pleasantly surprised. You can tell it is a microwave meal – the veg doesn’t have much crunch to it and the rice is just slightly too soft to be fresh – but it didn’t taste like a microwave meal. The flavours were lovely, and the paella aspect gave it quite a nice, rich undertone to it. It has a slight spicy kick to it, but it worked really well with the rest of the veg and greens so no flavour overpowered the other.

There isn’t really much more to say on this matter. It literally is what it says on the lid.

This was £2.50 when I bought it, so is obviously a fair bit more expensive than your Pot Noodle type meals. But this meal also filled me up for the rest of the afternoon – no need for any pre-gym snack or 3pm pick me up – and got me through a 30 minute run so it clearly had some sort of nutrition inside it all. Now I am usually really good at making my meals at home for the next day, but should I ever be caught short again I think I would rather splurge slightly for the better quality option than the cheaper options out there.

Overall: 6/10. Definitely not something to have regularly, but a very good option if you ever need a fast meal

T xxx

Little Moons mochi ice cream: mango and passionfruit

I have never had mochi before, but I have seen everyone online raving about how great these little ice cream mochi balls are. Now I know that mochi is usually made from rice, and is mixed with sugar, fruit or other sweet things to make little dessert balls. They are originally from Japan and in recent years have had a real surge in popularity here in the UK. The regular mochi always look so appealing, so I thought I would take a chance on these.

Maybe it’s because I was expecting a more rice like texture, that these things really threw me. I am still not sure if I actually like them. The outside is almost like a gum – I was sort of expecting it to be somewhat doughy – like a dough ball but a bit softer – but it was more like a soft haribo gummy bear. It tasted like icing sugar though. So naturally my brain did not know what to do with it all!

The actual ice cream inside was delicious though. I could eat passion-fruit and mango all day every day so this ice cream was haven to me. It was rich and creamy and really woke you up with the amount of sharp flavour you got. I am not sure if the outer part sort of diluted the ice cream a bit – whether it is meant to or not I don’t really know – as the flavours were definitely more muted when you first bite into it, compared to when you’re about half way through.

They also were somewhat messy, as it did feel like the ice cream wasn’t actually connected to the outer coat by anything – I feared I’d take a bite and the whole ice cream part would just fall straight out. The outside also got quite sticky, no doubt as it melted slightly from the warmth of may hands as I ate it, so it did feel even messier. The package did say to take them out of the freezer and leave them for 5 minutes at room temperature before you start eating them, so maybe that it what makes it so gelatinous? I think next time, I may ignore the advice of letting it melt a bit first and see if that holds it together and makes it a bit more appetising texture wise.

As I said, I still can’t work out if I did like these. Perhaps it is more because my expectations were for something a bit more solid than what I actually got. I almost expected something similar to an ice cream sandwich than the ice cream candy ball I did get. You do get 6 balls in a packet though, so I do have some more to try later on to see if I enjoy it better now I know what to expect. Perhaps it’s an acquired texture? Like with mushrooms?

They are somewhat expensive – I picked these up for £5 – but I guess that does work out to be about 85p (I am not doing the exact math) per ball which actually sounds like quite the bargain. I had two, and it was more than enough. I think anymore than that and you’d just end up feeling very sick. I imagine this pack will probably last me at least 2 more servings, and as they keep in the freezer they don’t have any real expiry date to them. I am using these at the moment as my one weekly dessert (I am trying a new training programme which also includes quite a ‘clean eating’ meal plan to go with it) so one packet can easily last me a whole month. So I guess in that regard it is actually quite affordable.

Overall: 5/10. Jury is still out….more research needed.

T xxx

In the Mood Cafe: Passionfruit cake

This little cafe is located around the corner from where I work, and yet every time I go past it, it is either absolutely rammed busy or closed. They are a completely vegan cafe, serving cakes, drinks and various hot meals which I believe are changed seasonally. When I visited they had some curry dishes and some superfood salad bowls.

But we all know I was there for the cake….

The selection was huge! They had brownies of various flavours (oreo and biscoff for starters), various cupcakes and about 4 or 5 different tray bake cakes to choose from. I think I spent about 20 minutes just trying to decide what to go for. I decided to try their passion fruit cake, mainly because I have never seen a fruit cake on sale anywhere before.

So I have realised that I am really not a fan of icing on cake: it’s way too sweet and overpowering and ruins any other flavour that a cake or cupcake may have. This icing at least had a bit of passion fruit drizzled throughout it so it did have some tartness to it to stop it being too sickly sweet. But in the end I did just scrape the icing off and enjoy the cake.

Now yes, there is a layer of icing in between the cake layers, but it was so thin that it was actually a nice bit of sweetness to compliment the cake, rather than overpower it completely. The sponge was weirdly refreshing: It was moist and bouncy, like a sponge cake should be, but it tasted like a passion fruit smoothie. It was very yummy to say the least!

The cake was £3 per slice, and honestly that doesn’t sound too unreasonable. Especially when you can find something in Costa or Starbucks for around the same price, and not even get the same quality. I will definitely be going back on a lunch break to test out their entire menu….slowly but surely!

Overall: 7/10. I will have to keep a running rating of the cakes/meals as I try them.

T xxx

McDonald’s vegan burger

I know I know…McDonald’s is terrible. But sometimes it is the only option available to you, especially when you need something quick and cheap. There is also a McDonald’s every 200 metres in most places so it seems that they will always be available. This is also the first McDonald’s I have had in…years. Literal years. McDonald’s has always been quite cheap and cheerful food, but I swear their quality has gone down (hard to believe) and their prices have definitely risen over the past few years. In today’s society, there is no way I would ever choose a McDonald’s over a Subway or a Pret.

Unfortunately though I found myself somewhat short the other day. We had a super busy day, rushing around with errands, and on barely little food to keep us going. We found ourselves at one of our local super centres and the options available to us were either a Costa or a McDonald’s. At the time we wanted something a bit more substantive than just coffee and cake and we also wanted something hot that would hopefully keep us going until our very late dinner.

There is much debate at the moment about whether or not McDonald’s chips are suitable for vegans due to how they are cooked: In the UK though it seems that they are 100% vegan, and have dedicated separate fryers to cook in. I do not know if this is a country wide practice, as it appears that in the USA the fries are cooked int he same oil as meat products, same way that the vegan products at Burger King are also cooked on the same grill as meat products. But I decided to take the chance and order a full McDonald’s meal.

Oh boy…it’s so lazy. You’d think that one of the biggest fast food chains in the entire world would put a little bit more effort into their vegan options. The ‘burger’ is really just two vegetable fingers in a bun. Separately, the veggie fingers aren’t that bad: They tend to be very crispy on the outside, soft in the middle and overall taste ok. They taste exactly like a fast food veggie finger. I think if there is ever a next time I may just have them as a separate meal and not as the ‘burger’ option.

The bun is very dry so it does need sauces to stop the whole thing collapsing as you bite it. The vegan burger does come as default with mayo (not even vegan mayo) but you can easily change it for ketchup. It also comes with a few leaves of lettuce, but other than that it is pretty plain. Again, I don’t expect ground breaking meals from McDonald’s but….they haven’t even tried with this! At least make the veggie fingers into an actual patty.

Perhaps it is because I haven’t had one in so long that I forgot how they taste. But everything was very greasy. Again, not surprised – it’s what I expect from McDonald’s – but has it always been like that? My chips were quite limp, and I remember McDonald’s chips being the best ones around. I could happily have eaten those chips for every meal some summers, but I couldn’t even finish my portion this time. It was also all REALLY salty. Again, I expected some level of salt as it is fast food, but like…all I could taste was salt.

I remember reading a conspiracy theory once that most food places add salt to all of their food, as it means you need to drink more and therefore order extra drinks, and since drink sales is where most places make the most money, they get to earn even more by keeping you super thirsty. I don’t know how true that really is, but after this meal I completely see where the theorists are coming from.

Overall: 3/10. Fine if no other option, but it’s easily one of the worst options available out there.

T xxx

The Enchanted Tearoom – Vegan afternoon tea

There is always something so decadent about an afternoon tea. I always feel like a true Lady when I go to one, and it makes me feel all posh and regal: Like I am in my very own Bridgerton episode. Since going vegan though I have only been able to find one other vegan afternoon tea, and this was at Fortnum and Mason’s in London. So really a bit too posh for me! It was very lovely but it was also very expensive – but it was to celebrate me completing (and passing!) my masters degree. So I guess it was justified.

I found out about The Enchanted Tearoom while searching for a venue for my friend’s hen party. But because it all looked so good and I am impatient, I took my mum here for her birthday. For a little afternoon tea to celebrate and catch up after a year of very limited outings. They are based in Redbourn, Hertfordshire and this is the most English town ever: there were many a thatch cottage and lots of tiny winding roads. It really did look like a postcard. Now I am not a country strong type of girl: I need to be in the centre of a city and any town I live in must have a population of more than 10,000. Otherwise I feel I am stuck in the outback somewhere with no sign of civilisation. But every now and again a break to the countryside is a really nice change of pace.

I don’t think it’s possible to do a bad afternoon tea. The principle is so simple that it should be b very easy to follow, right? The Enchanted Tearoom absolutely nailed it. Now while it may not be the most extravagent of teas, it had everything you would have wanted and did a lovely and simple afternoon tea. I did have a fully vegan option, so the standard version did include clotted cream for your scones (scone as in gone – not scone as in cone) and a macaroon.

Side note: I would literally give my kidney if it meant I could have a vegan macaroon. They were my absolute favourite thing before going vegan and I have never seen vegan ones on offer. If anyone can hook a girl up, I may cry with delight! I will also owe you a life debt.

The sandwiches were your standard cucumber sandwiches, but even then they were still very yummy and refreshing. There is also something so extravagant about having a sandwich, with the crusts cut off and cut into little finger strips, that just make a sandwich feel elevated. Isn’t it odd that I would never ever make myself a cucumber sandwich at home, but put tiny versions on a china plate and I am all for it!

The scones (again – scone as in gone. A debate for the ages I’m sure) were delicious. They melted in your mouth and had that wonderful crumble to them that you want with a good scone. The jam was also lovely – a nice, smooth strawberry – and you had some vegan butter. There was no vegan cream but honestly I have never been a fan of mixing jam and cream together. The Queen may do so but I cannot live by such anarchy. You were given two and I always forget how filling scones are. Two was definitely enough – I would have loved more but then my stomach would have literally exploded.

The cakes were also very nice. The types of cake that go perfectly with a cup of tea, so it was a lovely way to end the meal. I had a walnut and raisin slice and I believe the little cupcake was carrot cake. I think their cakes change depending on what they have made, so there is a chance you get a different cake each time you go. Which is a good excuse to go back multiple times just to see what other cakes they have on offer. The walnut cake was delicious, although slightly stodgier than you would expect. The carrot cake was also lovely: The icing was very rich (but I personally am not a fan of icing anyway so I may be a little biased) but the cake itself was light and fluffy and was a lovely end to a lovely meal.

They also had a huge selection of loose leaf tea and it is bizarre how much a difference loose leaf tea makes. I stuck with a standard English breakfast tea but even that tasted lighter and fresher than it usually does from your PG Tips teabag. I would love to have been able to sit all day and go through every type of tea they had on offer, but alas time was not on my side. The decorations are that charming shabby chic aesthetic, with lots of vintage style pictures and paintings decorated throughout. The building is adorable – I believe it is an old Tudor building as you can still see all of the supporting beams across the ceilings and the walls and the ceilings are slightly lower than modern buildings.

Price wise, I believe the afternoon teas were £22.95 per person. Which while it sounds expensive, that is actually not a bad price at all for an afternoon tea. I also argue that it is 100000% worth the price as it was genuinely the cutest little meal I have had. It is a lovely place to visit and the staff were all helpful, polite, professional and just overall made the whole day really enjoyable. While afternoon tea may feel a bit ‘extra’ for a weekly event, I stand by the idea that if you enjoy something then do it. Instead of going for coffee and cake, why not go for a cream tea with your friends as a catch up?

Overall: 10/10. Would highly recommend this place to visit to everyone!


T xx

Gregg’s vegan cheese and ham baguette

My local store has finally stocked the vegan cheese and ham sandwiches! I had heard that these were coming sometime in early June but it is only now that I have actually found one.

Now strictly speaking it is not anything special at all. It is literally Quorn ham and violife cheese slices. So that is exactly what is tasted like. I think I would prefer it heated up, as the bread was quite stodgy and Violife cheese is normally a lot better when it is slightly melted. But other than that it is a good sandwich option.

It is also HUGE. I couldn’t even fit it in one picture it was that big. So for £2.50 this is easily one of the better options out there for a lunchtime sandwich.

I am more excited because it means that there is now a cheap and easily available option for me should I forget my lunch or want something a bit more filling. It is also nice to see a vegan sandwich that is plain and simple: no fancy ingredients or special sauces, just your run-of-the-mill basic sandwich. Which is also good if you are out with fussy eaters or are on a tight budget and don’t want to spend £4+ for a really posh and complicated sandwich.

Hopefully as time goes on and veganism begins to be more and more widely catered for, simpler options will start to be available. Plus it is also nice to have a break from the sausage rolls and steak bakes!

Overall: 5/10. It’s nothing special, but being cheap and easy to find what more could you want?

T xxx