Vegan cakes in the Lakes

Are you a city person or more at home in the countryside? Last week I got to go from my home in rural Cumbria down to London for the night and then back up for a night in remote Lake District. Talk about contrasts!

The trip down to London was a whistle-stop visit to see Adele at Wembley Stadium with my mum (potentially amongst the last people to see her perform live as she cancelled the two remaining nights after ours!). Whilst I’m not her biggest fan, Adele can certainly belt out a tune with her voice and her interaction with the crowd is some of the best I have seen. Plus my mum was happy so that for me = time well spent.

Being in London is odd for me now. Being a south-eastern girl, I used to visit London all the time. It felt comfortable. Now it is quite alien and uncomfortable. And I’m not quite sure why. I don’t think it is the current countryside living I am indulging in. I felt this way about London when I returned back from our travels. London has changed for me.

Whatever the reason underlying this odd unhappiness with London, I was relieved to be away from it again (though it was lovely to see my little mum!). Excited too as we were heading to my first vegan festival the next day and a night away in our little camper – always one of my most favourite things to do.

Cumbria Vegan Festival was a bit of a mixed bag for me. There was so much tasty food there to try. I had my first experience of jerk tofu, pulled jackfruit and a vegan meringue that was utterly amazing. Too amazing. It is seriously a good thing I don’t live near the bakery. This was all good. Thing was though if you don’t have much money to spend, there was not much else there. A few talks and films showing and that was pretty much it. I was kinda hoping for more advice and information on the vegan lifestyle. Paying an entry fee to then just buy things seems-well-a-little-rubbish to me. Maybe I expect a little too much.

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The good news was that the shop in the centre has an amazing selection of beers including the Samuel Smith brewery which does vegan beers! So we stocked up and then set off for Haweswater Reservoir on the edge of the Lake District. Bumping along single track roads in search of a spot to spend the night reminded me so much of our travels in Scotland as part of our Big Adventure – oh I want to do that again! We had hoped being a little cut off from the rest of the Lakes would mean it wouldn’t be so busy there. We were wrong.

Thanks to a little bit of patience and some fast manoeuvring, we got ourselves a perfect little spot overlooking the reservoir tucked at the end of the valley. Once the walkers (people who were walking the fells not the undead I hasten to add) had cleared off, peace and isolation reigned. And the weather rained.

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Tucked up in our cosy little home, this didn’t seem to matter and we chatted the evening away over our beers. We woke up to spells of sunshine and people arriving to enjoy the hills by foot, bike, 4×4 and motorbike (some nutters even turned up at 4am!) as we packed up and headed home.

Strolling up the hill/mountain/steep thing behind our camper was the perfect antidote to the unease of being in London and gave the perfect opportunity to take some more Haggis and Horse photos too. I regret that it has taken us till now, when our time here is running out, to explore and sleep more in our little house on wheels.

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Introducing Haggis and Horse

 

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Yes I know I am an adult. And to some people that may be too old for soft toys. Especially soft toys who travel with you. Well I am here to say no it is not. Why? Because I said so. So ner. *demonstrating my point with a seriously grown up response*

So who are Haggis and Horse? Or should that more be why?

The story starts with Horse. Well actually before Horse. The story starts with the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Thanks to our obsession interest in all things Japanese, we started collecting little squishy Japanese versions of the zodiac animals. We always had the animal for the current zodiac year on show. It was the year of the Horse in the year we started travelling. So we took Horse with us because that is obviously what you do when you go travelling.

Horse lived in the camper keeping himself to himself…until we meet Haggis in Scotland. This little fluff ball of a wild haggis starting creeping into photos and encouraging Horse to do the same. They became part of our adventures and made us smile.

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They kept fairly private until we all got bored at our airport motel in Auckland. A ceiling fan got involved and the cult of Haggis and Horse was born (cult = slight interest from our family and friends). Ever since then they have clamoured for more recognition and so we have started a page over on Instagram for them. (this has nothing to do with having way too many photos of them that amuse us).

Take a peek and give them a follow. You will want to. I mean look-at-them. See Horse’s jaunty angle and Haggis’s bemused, confused face. How can you resist?

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If we were having coffee right now…big news time!

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Hello! How are you? It is good to catch up again after 5 whole weeks since our last coffee and chat. What is your drink of choice for today? I feel a slight fraud with the title of this post as I am actually sitting here sipping a cup of tea…

If we were having coffee right now, I would be bursting to tell you our big news. We are going to be on the move again – yep – finally! The roots we put down in Cumbria have turned out to be only surface deep. First planned stop is back ‘home’ to Tokyo. Where we go after and whether we do head there first remains to be seen. ‘When?’ I hear you ask. Fingers crossed October – November time this very year!

If we were having coffee right now, we would talk about how this time round it is going to be different. How this time we will not be storing our possessions. Well not many of them anyway. I would tell you how bogged down we felt after our travels by the sheer amount of stuff we have. How tied down and overwhelmed. So this time we are selling most of what we have accumulated in our 22 years together. If or when we settle again, we will start again. Start afresh. I would tell you to let me know if you have your eye on anything of ours!

If we were having coffee right now, I would sadly tell you I will be closing down Mr B’s Button Jamboree in the next few months. Partly because of our plans. Partly because I feel too stretched with the writing, blogging and microstock photography. I would share my disappointment that I never got to develop it in the way I planned and pride in actually doing it in the first place. It took more courage than I actually thought I had. I would tell you this may not be forever, we shall see.

If we were having coffee right now, I would finally give you my exciting news about my blog. I have chosen its new name and am now designing its new look! No you are not finding anything out about it now! Patience!

My! What a catch up this has been with all sorts of big news from me! I feel I have monopolised the conversation slightly…what’s your news? What have you been up to?

 

Photo by ColobusYeti

Strolling and Street Art in Sheffield

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We went to Yorkshire Cosplay Con in Sheffield a few weeks ago so Phillip could do his thing and take lots of awesome cosplay photos (check out his ColobusYeti Instagram feed to see some of his work!). He got two press passes so I went along as the plus one. Now I like a little manga, anime and sci-fi, 2 days of it though is kinda not my thing. So one of the days I took myself exploring the streets of Sheffield so I could see some of its famed street art. Visual art means lots of photos and not so many words…a change from many of my posts. Hope you enjoy!

 

Charles Street:

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Brown Lane:

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Brown Street:

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On the wall of the Rutland Arms

 

Sidney Street:

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Even the skips are arty!

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Sylvester Street car park:

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Arundel Street:

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Here I found a suitable arty place to stop for lunch called ‘The Holt‘ where I had a rather scrumptious TLT (smoked tofu, lettuce and tomatoes with vegan mayo) and a lovely soy cappuccino.

 

 

Street art is not for everyone and some will see this as plain old grafitti possibly. I’m not a fan of someone simply lazily spraying their name without any real effort put in to it. This though felt like it gave character and life to this part of Sheffield and I for one loved it.

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Harry Brearley – inventor of stainless steel

 

 

Sunday Sunrise

Took ourselves off in our little Bongo for an overnight stop at Tan Hill Inn ~ the highest pub in the UK last night.

We had a slight food issue which was a little grrr.  Phoned to ask if they could cater for a vegan, they said yes, got there and they said no!  This inn is on the middle of nowhere and we had already sampled a couple of beers so we were driving nowhere.  Luckily we had enough breakfast with us to eek out 2 meals.  Oh and some frazzles!

The surroundings of the peaceful Yorkshire Moors with sheep and birds more than made up for it and this beautiful sunrise would have been worth missing a meal for (*possibly*).  Beautiful spot, beautiful morning.  Happy Sunday everyone!

In Love with a Map


Day Seventeen: A Map as Your Muse


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I have a confession to make.  I once fell in love with a map book and still have feelings for it.  There, I have said it.  I hope you don’t think any less of me…

Maps have always been kinda fascinating to me, all those lines everywhere, all those different places and things out there to discover.  They seem to hold endless possibilities for exploration and adventure.  Maybe they appeal because they show the way and to someone still trying to find their way in life, that attracts.  I had never though got as excited by a map as I did with this one.

As part of our Big Adventure we travelled round New Zealand in a motor home for 4 weeks.  Tucked away in the glove box was this map book, quietly unassuming, waiting for me to pick it up.  Once I did, I was hooked and would often exclaim ‘this is such a good map book’ (often = daily…possibly more than once…)

Although we had a plan of where we would be travelling to, we chose places to stay as we went and this map simply had all the information we needed – DOC campsites, dump stations, sightseeing spots and of course the roads!  We learnt names of mountains and lakes, saw spots used in the Lord of the Ring films, changed routes because we saw something interesting on the map, found random places to stay.

The map book became as much as part of our travels in New Zealand as the motor home was or we were.  I can’t think of our time there without thinking of it.  I fell in love with it so much that I didn’t want to part with it.  Asking anyone for anything is not really in my comfort zone especially if they might think I’m odd or there is a chance they might say no.  This map book pushed me to do something I am very anxious about and I happily carried my map onto my onward flight from Auckland.

I may never return to New Zealand and may never ever need to use that map again.  The sight of it though makes me happy, it brings back memories of that trip, reminds me of freedom and most of all it reminds me that I can be brave.  Who’d have thought a map book could do all of that.

My Disney World top 10 ~ Vegan Adventures in Orlando (part 2)


Ooops got a little distracted with my ‘Everyday Inspiration’ posts and almost forgot I promised you part 2 of my vegan adventures in Orlando….yep it’s Disney World time!

So let’s dive right in and have a look at my favourite places to eat.

1. Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

Boy did we luck out staying at this hotel for our Disney stay.  It meant we had the super tasty all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant Boma to make use of…and we most certainly did!  Boma is an amazing place to eat as a vegan with personal tours of the buffet from a chef (some of which seemed happier about their role than others ~ our favourites were Arol, Ricky and the super smiley Lieu), lots of choice and specially made items such as vegan Mickey waffles and scrambled tofu at breakfast or tofutti ice cream with mini cakes or cookies at dinner.

Vegan Mickey waffles

Yeah I know I have used this photo before on my blog, seriously though can you blame me when they look this good?!

Heading to Boma for breakfast would keep me going for hours.  I would get either the waffles or scrambled tofu (okay sometimes both…I would always share though honest!) and add in some quinoa cooked in apple juice, sweet plantains plus tons of fresh fruit.  Topping off with a yummy jungle juice and coffee ~ no dairy free milk was available though which was a bit of a disappointment, good job I am happy to drink my coffee black.

There was always tons of choice in the evening including pasta with marina sauce, various rice and couscous concoctions, hummus, salad bits including a really zingy watermelon rind, harira soup as well as a tofutti ice cream for desert ~ if I had any room left that was!

2. Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC (Disney Springs)

If you are a vegan with a sweet tooth, this place would probably be your number 1 place to eat in the whole of Disney World ~ it was pretty close between it and Boma in my favourites and I am certainly way more a fan of the savoury stuff.

This place though = cake heaven.  The cakes are vegan, gluten free and delicious…my mouth is watering simply at the memory of them.

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The cakes in this box are the red velvet and vanilla with lemon frosting cupcakes plus a vanilla slice type thing (okay I *may* have forgotten what it was).  I can confirm that the French toast, chocolate with mocha frosting and chocolate with mint flavours are pretty damn tasty too.

Oh and they serve totally amazing soft serve ice cream too.

Yeah we *may* have gone there a few times….

3. Trail’s End Restaurant (Fort Wilderness Resort)

We booked a table at Trail’s End in the hope of getting the amazing Chef TJ who has an excellent reputation of creating wonders for those with special dietary needs.  We were seriously excited when we saw that it was indeed one of his nights to be working the kitchen. Now this is not something I ever usually say but OMG!  The creativity of this man and the food he produces is seriously awesome.  He personally bought out 6 courses…yep I said 6…and I had to keep eating even though I was more stuffed than an overflowing stuffed pepper because I knew I would not get this opportunity again.

Course 1. Vegan nachos – fried onions, chillies and a coconut based nacho cheese

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Course 2: A lovely fresh and simple tasty salad dish…all I can tell you about it is that is was delicious….must remember to make notes in future…

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Course 3.  Samosas and a creamy coconut mushroom soup.  This was my favourite course and I could have eaten this every day for the rest of the trip…..actually I could happily still be eating it now…

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Course 4: Magical smoked corn.  Hidden under this were some mini slices of corn and a smoke that smelt so good I wish I could have bottled it!

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Course 5: Tofu, rice and vegetable platter.  By this point I was completely stuffed and barely made a dent in this dish as gorgeous as it was.

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Course 6:  Candy floss tower complete with mini chocolate cakes, ice cream and fruit.  Of course I managed to make some room for this!

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This was without a doubt the best meal that I had at Disney.  The normal buffet eaters on the next table were incredibly envious of my special dishes that kept appearing!

To top off an already fantastic night, the Magic Kingdom fireworks started as we caught our boat back to the Magic Kingdom across the lakes, and we saw the start of the Electrical Water Pageant ~ a truly magical moment!

Why did it not come higher then I hear you ask?  Well I was kinda relieved that I didn’t need to get anything from the buffet as the choice was pretty limited to plain baked potatoes and a few salads.  I know the chef would still provide something tasty, I am just not sure it would be worth the effort it takes to get all the way out there.

4. Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (Magic Kingdom)

This place on Main Street USA makes it this high up on the list for one reason and the clue is in the name…yep ICE CREAM!  Vegan options here were my personal favourite Tofutti as well as the rather tasty Rice Dream.  So two options…heck I would have been excited about one!

Ice cream in front of Cinderella’s castle…maybe dreams do come true at Disney.

Tofutti ice cream from Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in Magic Kingdom, Disney World

5. The Mara (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

Although this little quick service restaurant at our hotel wasn’t overflowing with vegan options, what it did have was tasty fast food and friendly staff happy to tweak meals or get an allergy chef through from Boma.

It was our go to option most mornings (unless we decided to overindulge at Boma) where we would get oatmeal with raisins and fruit salad or occasionally ask an allergy chef for waffles or scrambled tofu from next door.

Lunch and dinner options were a mixed tomato flatbread which had obvious cheese plus some sneaky cheese too.  First time I ordered I asked for it without the ricotta in the description only to find mozzarella on it – not listed anywhere on the ingredients.  To be fair though I hadn’t checked first plus the staff made me a fresh one with extra toppings to make up for it.

My go to option though was usually the falafel burger without the yogurt sauce.  I always intended to go for it with the couscous options yet never seemed to manage it…the fries tempted me every single time…

And I failed to get a picture of the thing I ate the most in the entire holiday…

6. Aloha Isle (Magic Kingdom)

Tucked in Adventureland, this snack place serves the mighty Pineapple Float ~ vegan and just the ticket for a hot day in Magic Kingdom.  This little kiosk is all about the pineapple and the description reads Dole® Pineapple Juice with Pineapple Dole® Whip…I think it maybe has something to do with Dole?!  The Dole Whip is so tasty and fresh that I had to feature it fairly high up on my list.

Dole Whip Float in Magic Kingdom, Disney World

7. Tangierine Cafe (World Showcase in Epcot) 

One of the many vegan options available in Epcot, this quick service restaurant in the Morocco section serves light and filling mediteranean and moroccan style dishes with one very lovely option for vegans.  The vegetable platter comes with couscous, hummus, olives, taboleh and lots of other tasty goodness.

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I did read that the pita that comes with it is not always vegan so it is probably best to ask.

It was great to have a proper and healithy meal option at a quick service restaurant that wasn’t a snack.  What with Sunshine Seasons in Future World (I had the vegan korma which was pretty good) and the many options at the snack places, Epcot is the vegan place to eat at Disney World.

8. Blaze Pizza (Disney Springs)

This build-your-own pizza chain is remarkably vegan friendly and the pizzas are pretty fine too.  There are some signature pizzas you can choose from but hey where’s the fun in that?  Choose your base and toppings, get it cooked and enjoy your creation.  They have Daiya vegan cheese and both bases are vegan.  Staff change their gloves to do your pizza so let them know at the start.  Really liked my pizza and the choice available, shame we had an issue with two of our pizzas going missing…

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9. The Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)

We had a really good experience food wise here and got to meet Eeyore!  As I said in my An Introvert in Orlando post, I put aside my general uncomfortableness with character encounters to enjoy meeting Winnie the Pooh and his friends.  It was a bonus that there was quite a good choice at the buffet and we had a really good tour from our chef Brandom who went the extra mile and made us some special extra food as well.

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I would have put this higher if it hadn’t been so damn cold in there which made it quite an uncomfortable experience…take a sweater if you eat there, actually no take two.

10. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (Magic Kingdom)

At the far end of Frontierland, the menu for this Mexican themed restaurant doesn’t offer much hope for vegan food.  Luckily though thanks to my advance research I knew there is a secret vegan option available if you ask ~ the Roasted Vegetable Rice Bowl!  Ask for this with plain white rice, pile it high with bits from the topping bar and you have a filling bowl of goodness.

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A little summary of other places we ate at:

Although those were my favourite places, here are some of the other places we tried (we did find time to go on the rides honest…it wasn’t all eating…)

B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Co (Disney Springs) – Italian Veggie Sausage in a roll

Tusker House (Animal Kingdom) – buffet with reasonable vegan choice, character dinner with Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Mickey (didn’t realise this at time of booking!)

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (Magic Kingdom) – after speaking to staff who made a real effort to help me out, I got a surprisingly nice falafel burger (without tzatziki and the bun) plus fries and my own little bowl of toppings.

Wolfgang Puck Express (Disney Springs) – had the whole wheat hummus wrap without the feta.  It was okay and did the job, wasn’t overly impressed though especially given the reputation of the chain.

Nine Dragons (World Showcase, Epcot) – I had the vegetable and tofu stir fry which was okay but fairly bland.

And the park that lets the rest down….

Without a doubt, Hollywood Studios was a real disappointment compare to the other Disney areas.  It was the only place I really struggled finding food that wasn’t fries and ended up being a kind of making do day.  Maybe once they finish all the development work there for the Star Wars area, things will improve.

There was so many places I didn’t get a chance to try out ~ oh well, we will just have to go back then eh mum!  Have you been to Disney World?  What are your experiences of vegan eating in Orlando?  I’d love to hear from you!

In case you missed here, check out Vegan Adventures in Orlando – Part 1