mo'adore: cruelty-free beauty ∙ vegan food ∙ glasgow/dundee lifestyle: December 2015

31 December 2015

2015

My Whimsical To-Do list!
In 2010, this was a quote in my Filofax. I needed that quote then, and I needed it again in 2016. 

So 2015 definitely had it's mishaps. 

My Great Uncle died, my Grandmother moved into sheltered housing (after a shaky phone call from my dad regarding a bad fall and a trip to A&E), I had to put up with a shockingly awful/bizarre/childish/bratty flatmate for six months, more and more of my university friends left Dundee, one of my best friends in Glasgow moved to China, and I got made redundant.*

So, yes, I have had better years. 

(It's also a reminder that you only see what people choose to put on the internet).

At the end of this year I like to remind myself of 2010. That was also a bad year for me. I lost my flat and had to camp at my then boyfriends, had a close friend wrong me, broke up with my first boyfriend (in fairness, that was my choice) and then had a nasty break-up with my next boyfriend (which wasn't my choice). But then 2011 ended up being one of my best years to date, and I think it was largely because the bad events of 2010 pushed me to better my life (which included starting my blog, giving up meat, securing my first marketing job and finally standing up to my chronic shyness)


So here's to a new year, because sometimes we really need one. 



P.S. I know this post is a bit sombre, so I'm adding a note that everything is looking *thumbs-up* for 2016. I have three (!!) new jobs (more on that soon) and my social life in Glasgow took off in 2015. For the first time in years (maybe since 2012) I am genuinely excited at what the future holds. And not excited in a 'I keep writing daily mantras telling myself everything will be okay' kind of excited - I'm genuinely in a good place and don't need to pep talk myself in the mirror any more.

*I actually hated my previous job and my new years resolution in 2015 was to finally get the fuck out of there. Which I did, in a more roundabout/stressful way. Every cloud. 

13 December 2015

Trying out the Laura Ashley craft sets

Laura Ashley home craft kits

For someone who has a love/hate relationship with crafting, I sure do seem to find myself receiving invites to a fair few blogging events which are to do with exactly that. The latest event I rocked up to with an attempt to take home something decorative was the Laura Ashley* craft event at the Butterfly and Pig. 

Laura Ashley are primarily famed for their beautiful country-chic homewares, however they have now branched out into creating DIY crafting kits. Perfect for folk like myself who have always said they want to do more crafts, but still need an instruction box with all the materials included. Or if you have a wannabe crafter on your Christmas to-buy list. 

Laura Ashley decopage craft kit

First up on this crafting afternoon was making a Pinterest-friendly decopage home sign. Not since trying tore create some of masterpieces that Neil Buchanan drew up on Art Attack have I got friendly with paper, glue and something to stick it to. But how hard can it be if children do this routinely in art class? A bit harder than I expected, apparently. Let's just say I was a bit overenthusiastic with the glue. Which you're apparently not meant to do as it makes the paper a wee bit fragile and slightly transparent. However, you're not meant to be neat with this kind of craft and can go over it with more paper.

And the kit comes with the word HOME and a heart, so I cheesily put together my blog name

After all that glueing and sticking, it was time for a quick break. The last time I was in the Butterfly and Pig they didn't have a vegan suitable cake however this time I was in luck and sat down to munch on a courgette and pistachio cake. And then drink tea out of their pretty teacups (with saucer!). 

Butterfly and Pig cake

After our lunch break it was time to move onto the next craft box: needle felting. Now, needle felting is something I have zero experience in. Not next to nothing, or very little experience. I have absolutely never sat down to felt anything in my life. And I didn't even know what the concept was. 

Well, apparently - according to what was in this box - needle felting involves taking loose felt, a bed of needles and hitting them really hard with more needles until the threads join together in a desired shape. We were meant to be making Christmas decorations but when my Santa's boot was questionable and my starry night ended up looking like a Scotland flag (and was subsequently turned into a Scotland flag), I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own version of The Little Mermaid: 

Laura Ashley needle felting
And won a Laura Ashley throw for my spare bedroom. 

Laura Ashley throw

See I'm not that bad at crafting, though having a nice little box made up by the folks of Laura Ashley probably helped a lot! 

7 December 2015

A (vegan) weekend in Newcastle

Gateshead Millennium Bridge

As you might have gathered from my last post, life hasn't been too peachy for me recently. Redundancy is still in full swing and I'm yet to find a full-time salaried job, just little bits and bobs here and there to keep me going. At times like this you really do learn how to count your blessings, and one blessing came my way recently when Travelodge* popped into my inbox asking if I'd like a weekend trip to one of their hotels in Newcastle. With everything that's been going on recently I think a weekend away is exactly what the doctor ordered! 

Newcastle is somewhere that I've only ever stopped by briefly when travelling on to somewhere else (it was actually one of my stops on the Jailbreak I took part in right when I started blogging). However, it has always been on my list (maybe from around the time Girls Aloud were formed *cough*). It's popular for a night out and has plenty of culture, and it is the first English city you hit when you travel south from Scotland. 

But obviously, being me, when I visit any new city I always hit up the local vegan scene. And my blog post is pretty much going to be about food (but at the end I've thrown in some extra non-vegan attractions to check out!).

Herb Garden vegan pizza

Admittedly Newcastle doesn't have the massive stretch of vegan places that Glasgow has, however what I did find was of incredibly high quality. The first place I stopped by on Friday night was The Herb Garden, on a side street not far from Newcastle Station. I was originally only going to check out 100% veggie places but when I found out this omni restaurant had two vegan pizzas on the menu, I knew I had to bend my rules slightly (as I'm always on the hunt for the perfect vegan pizza). Was I impressed? The base was the thinnest and crispiest in the land, but the topping could have done with a bit more flavour. But aside from that I couldn't fault it (as they did also have a vegan dessert and a vegan option on the specials board, and the service was impeccable). 

Bohemian fruit jack pitta

For lunch on the Saturday I popped over to The Bohemian, a vegetarian restaurant which was built using a wishlist of things my ideal café would contain. A cool atmosphere? Check. Vegan wine list? Check. A cocktail of the week? Check. Delicious but not stereotypical vegetarian food? Check. A mini record shop in the corner? Check. I can't the fault the place and if I lived in Newcastle you'd struggle to get me to go anywhere else (I had a pulled jackfruit pita btw). 

If you follow me on Snapchat you'll have witnessed my videos moaning about the weather. In order to keep warm (it is December after all) I popped in by Tea Sutra Tea House to try one of their 30 something teas. With everything under £5 a pot who could actually say no to something such as chilli and cherry tea (you certainly won't find that in your local Tesco!). The best tea I've ever had (and I've drank a lot of tea). 

For my final meal on the Saturday I nipped into the only 100% vegan place in Newcastle: The Painted Elephant. A small place hidden from view with a menu that changes daily, I opted for the sprout, orange and truffle gnocchi. And some white grape juice. But obviously you might have something completely different...

And bonus: I found a vegan friendly place in Newcastle Station. So I had a hot breakfast role from ÜGOT before getting on my (delayed) train. 

MetroCentre

Other things I got up to (and what I didn't quite fit in): 

The Travelodge I stayed in was located very close to the Metrocentre, the largest shopping centre in the UK. I don't think there was a single high street name I didn't see whilst walking through the four malls. There's also a train and bus station on site for handy access to the city centre. 

As with all my trips to any UK city I always check out the local Forbidden Planet. The Geordie store is small but the memorabilia contained within is exactly up my street. It had a more mainstream and accessible feel to it than other FP stores with lots of Buffy, Harry Potter and a wider selection of Vinyl Pops. Also: plenty more Batgirl than this fangirl is used to seeing. 

I also stopped by Geek Retreat. Only two exist in the UK (the other is in Glasgow) and the Newcastle store is the bigger of the two (and not in a basement, and has a bathroom door covered in Magic the Gathering cards). 

Independent shopping still stands strong in Newcastle. Some of the Geordie stores I stopped in by included the Newcastle Arts Centre, Hip Cat and UpSide Down Presents

Any city with a river always has magnificent bridges to stand in awe at (just think of London and Glasgow). The Millennium Bridge is a piece of architecture not to be missed, and the views from the High Level Bridge at night are breathtaking (even if it was a bit too windy for photography). 

The Newcastle Gateshead Walk of Fame is hardly the Hollywood Walk of Fame by any means but it's still fun. As voted for by locals in 2013 it hosts small plaques alongside the river commemorating some of the individuals who made Newcastle what it is from celebrities to community activists. 

St James's Park is the home of Newcastle United, and whilst I wouldn't consider myself a massive football fan I can't deny the sheer impressiveness of this stadium (as I said on Snapchat it makes Ibrox look like a "small fucking box"). You'd need to attend a game to get inside but you can access their official store which includes all the memorabilia you'd want including away kits, dart boards, aftershave and dummies for babies (in case any of you know any babies who are avid Newcastle fans). 

Just to the west of St James's Park is Chinatown: a red-bricked street lined with Chinese restaurants and lanterns. I popped in by the Chinese supermarket and found Hedgehog shaped red bean paste buns (amongst the foods you'd normally find in a Chinese supermarket). 

If you're a bit of a history geek, there's no shortage of historical sites to visit. Newcastle Castle (you knew there had to be a castle somewhere!) is only £6.50 for adults but I actually managed to see quite a bit of the Black Gate before I was stopped by the paying customers only banners.

If time had been on my hands I would have stepped in by Seven Stories, a museum for Children's Books, to satisfy my pop culture nerdiness. 

If you have a car - or just a bit more time on your hands - you can head south to see the Angel of the North in person. 

Being there myself did mean I wasn't in the mood to do any bar hopping. However, I can see why Newcastle is a popular destination for stag dos and weekends away. There was a wide selection of bars open when I was walking along after my evening meal. 

Travelodge Newcastle Gateshead review

The logistics
For my stay, I was in the Travelodge Gateshead which is further east of the city and not far from the MetroCentre which had train and bus links into the centre. I also travelled down by train, and managed to get a straight through train each way. Obviously travel sickness is a factor for me, but the Megabus is also an option for people who can cope with that journey! And Newcastle wasn't an expensive city either! And it has a Metro service similar to that of the Glasgow subway. 

My final verdict? 
Even though my stay in Newcastle was brief, I got a good feel for the place and it's honestly one of the best UK cities I've visited so far. It was cultured, down to earth and has a strong identity, which are all things I look for in a city. But when I tried to sit down and decide which other UK city I'd compare it to, I couldn't think. Maybe as my travels of the UK widen I'll find a city that is similar, but all in all the land of Geordie Shore was something within itself. Newcastle, you've not seen the last of me...



P.S. Should be getting my vlogs up soon too!