30 September 2014
Nothing to Show - Arliss Nancy
Girl From Mars - Ash
Winn Coma - Boss Hog
Perfume - Britney Spears
Disturbia - The Cab
Call My Name - Charlotte Church
Mindset - Every Avenue
Midlife Crisis - Faith No More
Sally - Kerbdog
Pictures of You - The Last Goodnight
Rudderless - The Lemonheads
Zombie Love - Lou Hickey
Slowly, Slowly - Magnapop
Politically Correct - SR-71
Everything Flows - Teenage Fanclub
P.S. Charlotte Church came to my attention again when she gave her support towards Scottish independence so she's getting a mention.
29 September 2014
When I tell people I'm vegan one of the most common responses is "What do you actually eat?" (just behind "What exactly is a vegan again?"). The question can come from vegetarians wanting to make the switch to the politely curious and then there's arseholes who say it whilst screwing up their face.
24 September 2014
Two weeks ago I was raving about the Pacifica perfumes which I absolutely love (even more that I now know I can sniff them down at Wholefoods rather than rely on website descriptions). Whilst on my Wholefoods shopping trip (watch my haul video here) I picked up some other bits and bobs from their range and today I'm going to review the Solar Mineral Palette (the rest will be done in one post but as this is a palette I felt it needed a more in depth review).
20 September 2014
It was the day Scotland rejected its own independence.
It was the word rejected that cut me. I could deal with the headlines "The United Kingdom remains" and "Scotland votes to stay" but headlines that used the word rejected cut me right across my heart. Rejected.
10 September 2014
Love SoapThis brand has a website statement than encompasses many ethical themes such as organic ingredients, recyclable packaging and free-from products. They do mention that they don't test on animals however it wasn't a big long statement including issues like China and ingredients. They e-mailed me back quickly however the ingredients question remain un-answered but they did confirm that they only sell directly in the UK and any customers in other countries have to get it shipped. Due to their UK base and the use of natural ingredients I do doubt they have tested ingredients and believe it was an honest mistake to not answer the question. They also confirmed that all their products are vegan suitable.
Added to: cruelty-free (though I understand if others still question them)
BalmologyBalmology is another UK company which prides itself on natural ingredients. The owner got back to my e-mail quickly and went into depth. She only has stockists within the UK and any overseas customers have to get products shipped. She's currently applying for Soil Association Certification and looking into Leaping Bunny, however this is a small company so everything is moving slowly. Unfortunately most of her products contain beeswax but she has told me that the The Beauty Oil is vegan suitable.
Added to: cruelty-free
Green PeopleI, and some other cruelty-free bloggers, have assumed Green People are a cf brand due to their Vegan Society accreditation for some time. I only recently got in contact to check and they got back to me with a comprehensive e-mail which included a cut-off date and confirmation that they do not sell in China. All products are vegan par their accreditation.
Added to: cruelty-free and vegan suitable.
White RabbitIf you're part of the CFBloggersChat you'll be aware of this brand as the owner regularly takes part. Even though I was already convinced it was cruelty-free brand I sent her an e-mail like all brands and she got back to me with a very convincing response. She does use beeswax but I was informed that she is experimenting with plant-based wax with the aim of making it a vegan brand.
Added to: cruelty-free
Dash SkincareThis is a brand that touts natural ingredients but doesn't mention animal testing on their website, which is red-flag. They have also not replied to my e-mail.
Added to: no statement.
Pour Le Monde
This is an American perfume brand which uses natural ingredients but also doesn't have a public animal testing policy. I did e-mail and, as I am used to in these situations, I didn't receive a response.
Added to: no statement
Added to: no statement
Soap and Glory
There's been discussion about Soap and Glory amongst the cruelty-free community about a change in statement. I can't quite see where this change of wording is (from now on I think I'll snap shot brands website statements for reference) and even though I haven't contacted them myself, Aimee got a good response which she published on her blog.
Remaining on: cruelty-free
Remaining on: ambiguous statement
Remaining on: cruelty-free
TopshopI've listed Topshop as a grey area for ages and even though their website statement now reads a bit more clearly, I'm still hesitant to list them as CF as they've given out different statements in the past (read the comments on this post). Do what feels best for yourself - and I won't piss on anyone who uses their products - but I'm personally still avoiding.
Remaining on: ambiguous statement
Have you ever researched these brands? Have something different to add? Let me know!
9 September 2014
Last week I wrote a very lengthy post on why I had been brought round to vote yes in the upcoming Scottish referendum, despite having originally been a no. The words in that post came from my heart but I mentioned that even before Zara's talk my Unionist beliefs had been slipping. This post is going to be exploring some of the other reasons why I'm voting yes and this post will be coming from my head, rather than my heart.
For me personally, I've considered myself British and Scottish my whole life so I've never supported independence in its principle and the emotional arguments were never going to win me round. However since the start of the year more and more has been written on the subject and as I did my reading I was discovering logical reasons as why to voting yes would be the best choice.
- Scotland and Holyrood have shown themselves to be more progressive than Westminster in many areas (public NHS, free higher education) and if we were to become independent we would be allowed the possibility to become even more progressive.
- All the parties that support independence - SNP, Scottish Greens and Scottish Socialist Party - have more progressive policies that involve public services and a safety net for society's vulnerable. The parties that are Unionist - Labour, Tories, Liberal Democrats - have not had such a good record on such matters (despite what two of these parties traditionally stood for).
- We have a more democratic voting system to elect MSP than MPs. Since the creation of the Scottish Parliament we have moved from a LibDem-Labour coalition to an SNP majority. The last time there was a Prime Minister who wasn't Labour or Conservative? 1937. Though you could argue it was 1922...
- And this voting system means we don't necessarily need to have the SNP as our government post-independence.
- Also, imagine a country where the chances of the Tories ever be elected is minimal. Imagine...
- I'm not an economist or accountant and the discussion around the Barnett formula hurts my head, but it has been reported that it is possible it will be re-jigged and if Scotland gets a smaller share we're going to have to cut costs somewhere (could be the NHS, free education, or anything else).
- If we're independent we'll be allowed to devise our own tax system - we can't say what kind of tax system we'll have (will depend on who the elected party is) but combine it with Scotland's generally progressive left-leaning attitude we can assume it will be fairer (such as council tax devised on income) and spent more fairly.
- We've been told Westminster won't allow us to use the pound but they allow Gibralter and Jersey to use it. Ireland used a currency linked to the pound after independence and New Zealand used the British Pound until 1937. Again, not an economist but it's unfair to say we can't use the pound but allow these countries to.
- We've been told we will have to pay to use the BBC, but the last I checked we pay for it as part of the UK. And to say we won't be allowed it? Well, one look at the Republic of Ireland TV guide and the Swiss TV Guide makes it obvious, yet again, that they are allowing other countries to use British services but saying we won't be able to.
- As for putting up a border, why do Westminster say they'll put up an English-Scottish border but there isn't a UK border between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland? (Can't imagine passport checks going down too well in Scotland or England).
- If devo plus was on the ballot I'd take it and I still prefer the sound of it. However, it was Westminster that kept that option off the ballot paper! (Why should we believe they'll offer it in the event of a no vote?)
- The rise of UKIP and the rowdiness of the Tory backbenchers are making an in-out referendum on the EU more and more possible. I have no solid answer as to whether Scotland will get back into the EU (and when) but there's no guaranteeing rUK will remain in the EU either. (And Cameron might not get to renegotiate Britain's current relationship)
- On the topic of the EU, the mainstream media has only been reporting on the viewpoints of people who say we won't get back in but some non-mainstream media has different things to say. (Essentially different people say different things)
- Scotland going independent could (and probably will) be the biggest kick up the backside Westminster will ever receive. There are English people who support a yes vote for this very reason. Independence will give campaigners for change in rUK a new argument to run on: "Scotland were so sick of you they would rather take the risks of independence if it meant they didn't have to live one more day under your rule" - but possibly more eloquently. Not to mention it could strengthen Plaid Cymru in Wales (Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland has officially remained neutral on Scottish independence).
I'm voting yes because Westminster looks like it's just going to get worse whilst the majority of independence voters are painting a picture of a country I'd like to live in. As I said earlier, I consider myself British and it is going to be a heavy heart that I vote to leave (and I doubt I'll celebrate either outcome) as I really want to believe that the UK can get out this mess. Honestly, if the vote went no this time I'd live with it and if the UK government gave themselves a long hard look and fixed the issues that caused Scottish independence to gain popularity, I'd probably forget about the 18th of September and focus on some other issue. And if a referendum on the issue came round again within my lifetime I'd sit down with all the facts again and make my decision with a new clean slate (and it might well be a no).
But right now, weighing up everything that's going on on Westminster and a political landscape which is different in Scotland, I'm going with yes.
8 September 2014
Pictures in order: 1. Overview. 2. Thyme close-up. 3. Coriander close-up. 4. Basil close-up.
It's been three months since I posted an update on my balcony garden. Not long after that post I planted 'stage 2' where I added coriander, thyme and basil whilst deciding to finally chuck the rocket which was getting tangled up within itself.
By the time I started this stage I had gotten into the habit of watering the herbs each day so these all grew through reasonably quickly and I was able to make use of them without waiting too long. You might spot from my pictures that the basil isn't looking particularly healthy! This is because I forgot to water them for close to a week and the basil took the hardest hit, but I can assure you that at one point I had a massive bush of basil and was unsure whether the container I had was big enough (I just can't find photographic evidence of this green-fingered goddess-ary!). The thyme didn't look overly thankful at that point either however I was able to save them by picking up a routine for watering them again (thyme limps when not watered but then jumps back up when given water). The coriander was very similar to the rosemary from stage one as it took a bit longer to come through, there's not much of it so can grow in a small container, but is quite a sturdy little herb and difficult to kill.
I don't plan to plant any more herbs before the end of the year - instead I am going to concentrate on working out what I'm meant to do with these herbs over the winter period, and also maybe put some money into buying more containers for next spring. I hope to move onto vegetables next year but I want to do more research on which are easier (I'm imagining lettuce, spinach and anything mainly made up of leaves but I might be wrong) and will require me to buy bigger containers (I'm thinking of going for brackets to hook over my balcony railing).
P.S. I don't blog much about my balcony garden however I do post quite a few photos of its progress on my Instagram.
7 September 2014
With a few of my younger friends (and even friends more within my age range) about to head off to university, I thought it would be a good time to write a post that had been floating about my head for a while, to go along with my decorating a dorm room post and my money matters post I did a while ago. It's been over two years since I graduated and whilst I'm definitely not a regrets person, there's a few things that I would do differently if I could do it all again.
And I'm going to share my wisdom with you all, naturally.
Look at all universities/courses available
In hindsight, seventeen was a young age to move out and I was scared to move too far from home even though my parents had agreed to financially support me if I moved anywhere within Scotland. I love Dundee and it's where I feel most at home, even to this day. However being scared to study anywhere further south wasn't a good reason to not read the prospects from somewhere such as Strathclyde.
Be very very very sure its what you want to study (and know what you want to do with it)
I studied International Management and I still can't really explain why. I only decided upon a business course when I crashed Higher Business Management in sixth year. My opinion now is by 'really sure' you've wanted to study this, or something similar, from around about the time of your Standard Grades. Nothing wrong with taking a year out to work or do a course at college which has slightly less commitment or even do more Highers at college. And there's nothing wrong with not getting a degree at all! Zoe London wrote a great post about this.
I personally don't regret going to university, however in hindsight I should have studied marketing to begin with (and ignored that silly guidance teacher) and taken into consideration league tables and reputation of the university (I'm very passionate about sending kids to state schools and not battling to get into certain ones, but universities are independent and can set their own modules and there can be a big difference between a good university and a bad university etc).
International Management was a very 'open' degree with quite a few career possibilities from it and you'd be surprised how transferable some degrees are (my flatmate is a speech therapist and I was amazed at how many other careers were possible with her degree!). So if you do the wrong degree it might not necessarily be the worst thing, and if you continue to do extra-curricular stuff its possible to build yourself other options alongside your job.
First year is the year to join every society (fourth year isn't)
Maybe it's because my confidence was higher when I was 21 compared to 17, but at my first fresher's fayre I signed up for dance and netball, then left. By the time fourth year came round I was heavily involved in the student body and founded my own society, helped run another, was a member of a sports team and was a class rep. It should have been in reverse. Join everything in first year, then tone it down as you progress and find out where you really belong.
Second year is the best time to start a society (or become the President of one)
After being heavily involved for a year, you now have enough knowledge of the student body to work it. But you're not piled under with coursework quite yet. Not in fourth year like I did....
Fourth year is the time to be in the library
I didn't slack off but I never went above and beyond the average levels of studying that was required. Because I was spending my time running societies and doing freelance work and other stuff that had nothing to do with my degree (kind of says how little my heart was in it) I ended up with a 2:2 which could have been a 2:1 if I had just achieved one more B grade...
Met more people
My first year halls had 144 students living in them, and I think I can name about 20 of them. There were personal reasons during first year as to why I didn't attend every party going, and as my confidence grew entering third year (and I wasn't *cough* part of a *cough* unhealthy relationship *cough*) I did make up for time but I still wonder...
Stayed in contact better
Since leaving university I've kept in contact quite well with my close friends from university. However, I speak to very very few people I went to school with and a lot of it is because I didn't truthfully make the effort. I truthfully didn't like that many people at my school but as I've gotten older I realised most people I didn't like back then have grown into sensible human beings as they've matured themselves (and as I've matured myself as well!).
Worked during the summer between school and first year
The summer between first and second year my parents marched me up to the local golf club to ask if they had any waitressing jobs going, which turned out to not be such a scary experience as I had anticipated. I could have had a lot more money if I had just bit the bullet earlier...
I said at the start, I wouldn't change my past and for me things kind of worked out in the end anyway. However these are little nuggets of though for anyone starting university this year or the next!
6 September 2014
Whilst my parents were down a couple of weeks ago for the Commonwealth Games we decided to make use of the rare summer sunshine and escape the sporting madness by driving out to the west coast of Scotland for some fields, the mouth of the River Clyde and some aweing at the natural landscape. I have no memories of having ever visited this part of Scotland and despite my love of cities this was a very beautiful part of the country to go mooching in.
We started out driving away from Glasgow on the motorway before going through Paisley and hitting Inverclyde and then moving through Inverkip, Greenock and heading back up when they road loops back up just after Largs.
Despite my general proclamation that I'm a city girl I've always liked the idea of living in a seaside town (or city with a beach within walking distance of my house - such as the Broughty Ferry area of Dundee) or with a lake just behind the house with a boat. I remember growing up I was jealous of my cousins who lived in an Aberdeenshire town which is on the coast whilst I grew up in a village four miles inland. A lot of the towns in Inverclyde and North Ayrshire presented this romantic idea of countryside living which appeals to me - boats, having a garden to grow loads of vegetables, owning a car (and campervan) and owning a dog (but then city life wins with vegan food, getting to try clothes on before buying, walking distance of work, things to do).
As mentioned we also stopped in Largs for a bite to eat. There were plenty of places looking over the sea but given that we were in the countryside and I've been aware for ages that the further you move away from a city the harder it gets to find something suitable for a vegetarian, let alone a vegan, we were short of choices. We stopped by a place called The Bagel Basket - which had the best veggie offering - for some veggie burgers. I won't review it in it's own post as my parents ordered the same as me and we even sat outside so I couldn't get a feel for the place itself.
Whilst in Inverkip we did stop by the harbour to have a look at the boats for sale and only one of them was less than my annual salary. So maybe that daydream will very much remain a daydream.
I do like being in the countryside and I absolutely love the ocean/rivers especially the non-polluted area of the Clyde, but I'll always head back to the city. It's the same when I visit my parents in Aberdeenshire - it's nice for a bit of a break but I really can't ever see myself settling down in the countryside. Back to the city for me for some restaurants and stuff!
But finally one more picture of some rocks on a beach overlooking the mouth of the Clyde:
5 September 2014
It's long and truthfully a bit boring but for-love-of-Pete read the White Paper.
The same goes for the draft Constitution.
I'm not a fan of either of the two main campaign groups but Yes Scotland and Better Together have loads of information on their websites.
Remember that the SNP aren't the only party in favour of a yes vote, the Scottish Green Party also support it.
As do the Scottish Socialist Party.
There's also Indies for Indy made up of two MSP's who don't belong to any party!
And some traditional Labour voters support independence, and well as people who tend to vote Liberal Democrat.
Also Wealthy Nation is a group of people on the right of the political spectrum who support independence.
Reminder: It was the UK government that decided to not have the devo max option on the ballot.
Here's something in the Herald which says the same thing.
And again from Socialist Worker.
As far as mainstream media goes The Guardian independence section has been the most fair (not perfect, but better than the others).
Arguments that should die from the Scottish independence debate (both sides)
Five Million Questions is a resource I found this week launched by the University of Dundee.
LGBT Yes release their 'rainbow paper' in support of a yes vote.
This is LGBT Together's statement (can't find a paper per se)
My friend Charlotte has been doing her own series on Scottish independence on her blog (she has told me she may have one more post coming) and even though it looks as though we might vote different ways she was one of two people I felt comfortable discussing the topic with.
I've shared this before but it's still one of my favourites: Scotland isn't different, it's Britain that is bizarre.
Bright Green is a progressive political blog/magazine that has a section on Scotland.
I've not had time to really look through it but for any English people living in Scotland: English Scots for Yes.
In a similar vein: Wales for Yes and Irish for Yes.
Also a Facebook page for EU residents living in Scotland who are pro-Indy.
This Guardian article was posted around about the time I was losing grip of my Unionist beliefs and it still cites the reasons better than I could.
One of the reasons I've been tempted to vote yes is because I feel like Better Together/Westminster are bullying us to stay, this blog post compares their behaviour to that an abusive relationship.
The Scottish LinkedIn, KILTR, has been running events and various other types of discussions and the site is full to the brim of food for thought.
A perfect response to the Better Together advert.
A unionist blog where I can understand where they're coming from.
Though here is something regarding central banks and EU member states.
Sweary but funny: the fucking referendum.
A former NATO commander has said that an iScotland's future in NATO would be questionable but then a former UK NATO ambassador has said it shouldn't be affected and that she is voting yes.
Stock market analysts back Salmond on oil.
An American podcast of the referendum is incredibly informative.
This is pretty much the text version of the link above.
One of the industry magazines I get at work had a segment on Scotland Decides relating to the utility industry, I've uploaded the PDF so other people can get it for free.
Scottish Energy News also have an independence section which has been fairly balanced.
Women for Independence doesn't have much information/analysis but has stories from women about why they are voting yes.
I'm yet to read it but The Wee Blue Book is the guide from Wings Over Scotland. (I can't pick a favourite post from this blog and instead I'll recommend that you should go right through the archives yourself).
I've also not had the chance to read Blossom by Lesley Riddoch but have heard pro-yes people speak highly of it.
A big demographic trend in voting habits has been class.
From earlier this year: The Financial Times stating that there's no financial reason Scotland couldn't go it alone.
I've not been overally impressed with what National Collective has written but this piece about the difference between Britishness and the British State hit a cord.
I disagree with the term 'England' being used (I use the term Westminster) but here is a letter from a Finnish national who has spent time in Scotland.
It's a paid event but Lawyers4Yes are having a panel debate on Tuesday in Edinburgh.
If you live in the Wrexham area there will be a talk about Scottish independence from a Welsh perspective.
There's a London for Yes event tomorrow.
There's now a Yesbar in Glasgow and they are having a DJ's for Yes event on Sunday.
I can't agree with the rhetoric 'if Scotland had been an independent nation' cause we don't know, but I loved the part about proving Scotland does pay it's way!
Someone's story about why they are voting yes.
Won't get English TV or BBC in an independent Scotland? Here's the Republic of Ireland TV guide. Looks, is that Emmerdale?
I can't speak German but I think I'm on the Swiss TV guide website and I'm sure I can the BBC logo. It's definitely a foreign website with the BBC logo on it regardless.
Other places use the pound too.
Strong words in a Japanese website about Scottish independence.
The Green Party leader in England and Wales explains why a yes vote would be good for the rest of the UK.
Tracking the independence voting by postcode (the distribution doesn't surprise me in the slightest).
If you're looking for a Yes Group near you: Yes Glasgow, Yes - Glasgow Cathcart, Yes Aberdeenshire, Yes Dundee, Yes Aberdeen, Yes Orkney, Yes Shetland, Yes Shettleston, Yes Perth & Kinross, Yes Edinburgh, Yes Edinburgh West, Yes Edinburgh Central, Yes Borders, Yes Dumfries & Galloway, Yes Clarkston, Yes Fintry, Yes Kirkaldy, Yes East Renfrewshire, Yes North East Fife, Yes Dunfermline and West Fife, Yes Lesmahagow, Yes Islay, Yes Highlands & Islands, Yes North Ayrshire, Yes Moray, Yes Inverclyde, Yes Giffnock, Yes Inverurie, Yes Midlothian, Yes Livingston and probably many many more.
And the Better Together groups: Better Together Shetland, Better Together Orkney, Better Together Aberdeen, Better Together Dundee, Better Together Dumfries & Galloway, Better Together Dunbartonshire, Better Together East Ayrshire, Better Together East Lothian, Better Together Moray, Better Together Inverness, Better Together Glasgow, Better Together Perth, Better Together Lanarkshire, Better Together Scottish Borders, Better Together Dumfries & Galloway, Better Together Livingston, Better Together Lewis & Harris, Better Together Inverclyde and probably many more.
And for closing, the independence debate told through arty posters.
Some non #IndyRef links that will go out of date if they don't get shared now:
The Glasgow School of Art Graduate Showcase is starting tomorrow.
Some words on not looking at naked pictures of Jennifer Lawrence.
Some more words on not looking at naked pictures of Jennifer Lawrence.
P.S. This is biased towards the Yes vote but I urge everyone no matter what their guts say to do plenty of research and go in there on Thursday and cast an educated vote. I know people on both sides who can't seem to get basic facts straight (like the estimated date of independence, or that the Green Party support yes). It's a complex issue with plenty of reading to do and I urge you find more links than just the ones above (and send them my way too!)
4 September 2014
If you follow me on some kind of social media account you'll have maybe predicted this glowing review. Pacifica is an American brand I had heard of through the likes of Tashina of Logical Harmony and had been curious since it's 100% vegan and contained a perfume range which is a very difficult product to get cruelty-free let alone vegan.
I had however passed it off as a brand that I would have to purchase when my parents wanted to lovingly treat me to a trip to the States (or pay ridiculous amounts in shipping) however on my first trip to Wholefoods in Glasgow I discovered that in fact some of the Pacifica is available here in the UK.
It's not the whole range that is available however I was able to try out most of their perfumes, some make-up and I also found some make-up remover wipes. (Note: the products are not all lumped together in one stand - perfume is with general perfume and I randomly found the face wipes whilst looking for body wash). I picked up a wide range of stuff but even after having tried the products I'm still the most excited by the perfumes!
I currently own five of their perfumes (I can see this number increasing) and picked them up in a variety of sprays, roll-ons and solid perfume tubs. In general, the perfumes are 'summer scents' and the type of thing that might be a nice cheaper perfume to pick up for a holiday. The scent I've been wearing the most has been French Lilac which is a gentle floral scent - which all my favourite perfumes are! I've also been wearing a lot of Island Vanilla which is the gentlest of all the scents I own with a very delicate vanilla smell and is one I have been putting on for work as it ins't too over-powering for the office. Those are both in roll-on form and the final one in that kind of packaging is Mediterranean Fig whose smell reminds me of being in Majorca but I can't quite explain why. I really like it and I think it's the perfect summer scent but I don't think it would be appropriate for winter or work. The solid perfume I picked up is a slightly peculiar scent Waikiki Pikake which uses jasmine and sandalwood and smells like a cross-over between a fruity scent and a musky scent but is still very delicate. Finally I also have the Hawaiian Ruby Guava which I bought as a spray and is a very fruity scent and maybe isn't for everyone. Like the Mediterrenean Fig I do like it however I would be picky as to when I wear it - and would reserve it for holidays and summer BBQs.
In terms of longevity I put my perfume on at 8am and I would say 11am is when I usually realise I need to reapply. The roll-ons have been my favourite type as they're easy to slip into my hand bag but sprays are good for spritzing onto clothes (I'm not a big fan of solid perfumes in general). They're also all less than £20 with the roll-ons being the cheapest clocking in at £12.
I own a few other Pacifica products which I hope to review within the coming weeks but the perfumes have been the highlight so far. My review and the general branding of the company has suggested that everything is quite summery - the name Pacifica conjures up images of the Pacific Ocean and its islands whilst a few product names make reference to Hawaii. If you're away somewhere hot over the Autumn (or further down the line) I'd say picking up a Pacifica perfume for that climate would be perfect!
3 September 2014
Since moving to Glasgow almost two years ago one of the restaurants I have frequented most regularly has been Bar Soba located just beside The Lighthouse in Glasgow's city centre. It's quirky, has a great veggie selection and has a great collection of cocktails. However, when Hayley was through two week's ago for a Science Centre visit I used it as a chance to visit the West End branch of Bar Soba.
The West End version is definitely in a similar vein, though that is definitely not a bad thing. The menu is the same and the decor is strikingly similar. However the vibe of the place feels quite different. Everytime I've been to Bar Soba in the City Centre - even during the day - it has been busy and buzzing and definitely has a 'bar' vibe to it. When me and Hayley went along at roughly 4pm on a Friday we had the place almost to ourselves, the layout was more akin to that of a traditional restaurant (the City Centre has the bar in the middle with tables circling it) and had plenty of natural lighting coming in through the big windows looking out onto Byres Road (perfect for food photos).
Even though I've been to Bar Soba a few times I still managed to find something I hadn't already tried - the veg version of the Japanese Katsu curry with some wok fried Asian greens as a side. I find it very difficult to pick a favourite dish at either of the Bar Sobas and the only way to describe my rating is to say it was just as lovely as some of the other dishes I've tried and that Bar Soba (both city centre and west end) is a place I keep recommending again again and again, and is one of my 'safe' restaurants if taking someone out to dinner I don't know very well or if I'm not sure what I want and I am in the area anyway.
City Centre, West End - and I imagine the branch in Edinburgh - are all worth a visit!
1 September 2014
Photo belongs to the Scottish Green Party
We're now one day into September and unless you've been living under a rock for the last two years (or you're living in a different country, though I've heard it's hard to not know about this across the globe) then you'll know that in eighteen days time Scotland goes to the polls to decide whether to become an independent nation or 'break-up' a 300-year-old union.
The title of the post probably gives it away anyway, but I'm planning to vote yes. Not a gigantic enthusiastic yes, but still a yes. For some people this may come as a surprise. I was a strong Unionist long before the referendum date had been declared (I was studying Higher Modern Studies at the time the SNP became elected in 2007 and I began thinking about the issue) and even though I had been slowly losing grip of my Unionist beliefs for the past year, it wasn't until the past month that I was finally given enough conviction that a yes vote would be in Scotland's best interests.
In order to explain my reasons for voting yes, I think I have to reverse time to when I was a firm no. And explaining why is the reason I was considering not posting this as I'm basically going to sound like a privileged middle-class brat. And I hate admitting I'm wrong, that too. But here it goes anyway.
I use the term middle-class but there seems to be a lot of of debate as to what it means, but essentially I had a comfortable upbringing. My parents didn't own yatchts and diamonds and my dad isn't some rich oil executive (despite the stereotype of Aberdonians) but they owned a house in a nice mid-range area with low crime, I went to a school nobody looked down on, I got to go abroad, I took part in extra-curricular activities, my parents love me and understood a good education didn't end when I left the classroom.
Don't get wrong. I wasn't a raging Tory who looked down their nose at working class people. My parents were Labour voters, most of my family are employed by the NHS, I have two people in my family registered disabled, and my parents were both born working-class and I have other relatives who could be still be considered as such. But my own upbringing was nice, and let's be honest that checking you're own privileged isn't easy (and properly checking it and understanding the full sociological aspects at that!).
Combining that with too much mainstream media, a national identity which was (and still is!) both British and Scottish and a period in time when the UK was in a better state equalled a sixteen-year-old Unionist.
I'm now 23. Between the ages of 16 and 23 I've finished the state education system, gotten a degree, rented shitty flats from shitty landlords who just wanted my money, dated misogynistic men who didn't respect me, risked not going back for third year of university due to homelessness, felt unfairly treated by employers, gotten fucked over by SAAS and also burgled. I met people of different backgrounds to my own, was introduced to different political ideologies, became a pissy hippy vegan type, and got more and more involved in feminism. Somewhere along the lines with some more life experience I got better at checking my own privilege and questioning 'the way things are done'.
There was also a coalition government formed during all this too and all sorts of shit came with that. (Note: I'm young enough that I have no memories of living under Tory rule before the coalition, my earliest political memory was Tony Blair winning in 1997) (Also note: I once considered myself a Lib Dem voter, and we all know how that worked out).
But it was only until a few weeks ago that I made my switch and I can remember the moment. My unionist beliefs had been slipping for a while as the reasons for a yes vote were stacking up (which is another blog post in itself) and many people who's political beliefs I respected were out on the Yes campaign trail. But for me the moment came when I went to a Republic Scotland event to listen to a panel debate about the possibility of not taking the monarchy with us. On this panel was a Green Party member called Zara Kitson, and for the first time independence was spoken in a way that resonated with me.
I knew the Greens supported independence - and I was aware of other pro-independence groups such as Radical Independence, National Collective and Business for Scotland - but the SNP and the mainstream Yes campaign dominate the conversation. I had read the White Paper and could find things that were attractive but wasn't enthralled by it. The same with the draft constitution. I have never voted SNP despite having lived in more than one strong-hold constituency. And Alex Salmond wasn't the kind of person I wanted to invite over for fennel tea and a slice of vegan cake.
What Zara and the Greens did was put forward a vision of a country I wanted to live in. Proper democracy! Republicanism! Decentralisation! Sustainability! Equality! It appeared honest and free of saying things just to get the votes rolling in. And Zara seemed like the sort of person I wanted round for fennel tea and vegan cake.
I still have a few reservations and I've not switched my vote based on what Zara said alone. I do wonder what might happen to the rUK clients at the company I work for. I work in the utilities industry and that is an industry which will be difficult to separate from rUK (or come to an agreement to share). I've always considered myself British just as much as I am Scottish and it's going to rock my national identity. There's assholes on both sides who I'd love to see the faces of if they wake up on the 19th and find out their side has lost. I sometimes even wonder if this blog's readership might change. But then we move back to what I was saying about checking privilege and these are insignificant worries compared to people having their benefits cut, those living off food banks, or pensioners who can't heat their house (things that are controlled by Westminster).
It could go tits-up. We could be using rocks as currency, we might get a Tory revival, Nicola Sturgeon might throw eggs at poor people and we might not get to watch English based TV. But there's no guaranteeing that the UK won't go tits up either if we stay - cause it kind of looks like it is heading that way anyway. Maybe on the off chance that when we're plotting how to illegally watch Doctor Who in 2016, rUK might have an economic break through, maybe George Osbourne might learn how to count, maybe the Labour party will get back to their socialist routes, maybe a fairer voting system will be introduced and maybe, just maybe, Nigel Farage might fall into the River Thames and drown. But those are also big maybes. Just like independence is. And I'm beginning to guess which maybe I'd rather take.
If we stay, it won't affect my life much. I'm not on benefits, I don't rely on food banks, I'm not struggling to make ends meet, and as much as I'd never vote Tory their policies don't make my life a misery. But I can't ignore people for who Tory rule is a living nightmare and my concious is telling me I need to take into account what is best for the majority. And even if I was to selfishly only think about myself: it only takes an illness, a car accident, a change of heart from my landlord, my boss to decide he doesn't like me, a divorce, my able-bodied privileged to be rocked and, possibly the most important when checking privilege, my parents to pop their clogs and leave me without my parental safety net that has bailed me of several situations (and could still do in the future).
Any yes-voters who like me aren't voting for the SNP but for an alternative Scotland and an alternative system to what we have in Westminster knows we'll have to make a massive racket during the negotiations. And probably longer. On feminism, on the monarchy, on equality, on decentralisation and on whatever else takes our fancy. We know the conversation doesn't stop at a yes vote, and some of us will need to challenge some of the points in the White Paper.
This has been an emotional debate and it's a difficult one to vote for using only your head. I want to believe the UK can push through equality and that separation isn't the answer. However when I logically think about the whole thing it looks that if I want to live in a country that is a progressive beacon for the world it looks as though I'll have to vote yes on 18th of September. Sorry UK.
We're now 18 days away from one of the biggest decisions our country will ever consider:
- look outside your own personal circumstances and consider what is best for society as a whole
- what kind of country do you really want to live in and could a yes vote deliver it or start the conversation?
- read/watch/listen to everything you fucking can (Linkables is going to get political) and make sure that your vote (even if it's no) is an educated vote
- when I say everything you fucking can, I mean including stuff that isn't the BBC or anything with an HQ in London
And to my sixteen year old self: I know this could come as a shock to your core but you also decided avocados were delicious at some point too. But you still try to convince the world you're really a red head and you eventually did go vegetarian (and then vegan, which you didn't see coming). You were onto a few things.
P.S. This post was written from my heart, but I plan to write one from my head with some logical points on why independence would be best and because this blog is generally seen a vegan cruelty-free beauty/lifestyle blog type thing I'm going to write a post about veganism and independence (I'm going there).
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