mo'adore: cruelty-free beauty ∙ vegan food ∙ glasgow/dundee lifestyle: June 2016

28 June 2016

Why (and how) Bloggers Should Use Facebook



Whenever I take part in Twitter chats about blog promotion, a common question that comes up is "how do I use Facebook to promote my blog?". 

And one of the most common replies is "don't bother with Facebook". Then I squirm in my chair. Me and my blog owe a lot to Facebook. I can very strongly argue that I'd be on the radars of a lot less people if I hadn't set up the mo'adore Facebook page

You see, the thing that Facebook can offer that not many other platforms can? It's the chance to get on the radars of people who aren't bloggers. Think about it. Who in your network uses Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr during an average day? Probably other bloggers or marketers or people who just love social media. 

Who uses Facebook? Pretty much everybody, even if they're not a social media nerd. I mean, I bet some of you have grandmothers who are on Facebook? So unless your grandmother is a blogging pensioner (and fist pump if she is) it just goes to show that Facebook has a wider reach than more niche social media platforms.  

But how to use it? Well, Facebook is a bit of a tricky one, and Zuckerberg doesn't always make it easy for businesses (or bloggers). It took me a while to establish my Facebook strategy but now I'm a full-believer that the Book of Face can  help your blog reach a wider audience. Ready? Here's some of the techniques that have worked for me. 

Give it a mention on your personal profile
The preference to keep blog life and real life separate is still a concern for many bloggers (boy, do I still feel it myself from time to time). I don't promote every single post I've written onto my personal Facebook page because that would annoy people and I'd get deleted. But just a quick mention, or invite a few Facebook friends to like your page if you know they'd love the topic. If you're serious about blogging, remember to list it as a job - I got a few extra likes after doing this (I'd been blogging for three years at this point and some friends still didn't know, you learn something new). 

Advertise your page or boost your posts
When small business owners complain about 'needing to pay' to use Facebook, I cringe. Facebook Advertising is a fuckload more cost effective than advertising in any magazine, or even on another blogger's sidebar (and you can choose keywords so your advert is highly targeted). I, out of curiosity, decided to try a bit of Facebook Advertising one day. I didn't have a clue what I was doing and effectively just pressed some buttons and hoped for the best. The result? £12 got me 60 something new likes. Even better? Some of those likes turned in active followers. 

(If you're serious about your blog you're going to have to spend money investing in things like advertising. Or a camera. Or sound equipment.)  

Learn how algorithms work
You probably know by now that not everyone who likes your page will see your posts. Facebook algorithms learn what users want to see and dresses up their newsfeed accordingly. I, for example, see a lot of posts relating to veganism, feminism, Glasgow and....results of studies on human sexuality. YE GET THE PICTURE? So whenever I share a post on my page? I always use a keyword to help push the post through to followers who would enjoy my content. 

For example, instead of saying "Check out the latest recipe on my blog" go for something that indicates to Facebook what your post is about "Today's recipe is a vegan chickpea soup perfect for keeping warm during the winter". 

Join Facebook Blogger Groups
Aside from pages, another way to promote your posts in to join Facebook groups set up for bloggers to share links. Okay, this move will only get you on the radar of other bloggers so maybe doesn't apply to the main theme of the post, but it did help grow my blog reach. Some of my favourite groups are Scottish Bloggers, Glasgow Bloggers, Vegan & Vegetarian Bloggers plus my own groups Dundee Bloggers and #cfbloggers.

Word of caution: check the rules of any group before sharing your newest post. There is one blogging group on Facebook I have received a warning from because I jumped the gun. And act with caution when sharing your link into a group that might be on the topic of your blog about but isn't a blogging group (like Dundee Vegans for example - people go to these groups to chat not have someone's blog spammed at them).

Working with PRs
Again, if you're wanting to turn your blog into a for-profit business, you'll need to start looking for brand partnerships. Many PR professionals use Facebook groups to find suitable bloggers for upcoming projects so being a member is a must. Join groups such as UK Blogger Opportunities and reply to suitable opportunities (focus on the word suitable - you don't want to land yourself a reputation as a blagger rather than blogger). I've also had PRs and small businesses contact me through my FB page and some brands require you to have a minimum number of Facebook Likes before they'll even consider working with you.

Have you used Facebook to grow your blog? What are your favourite strategies? 

26 June 2016

Favourites from the GSA Degree Show 2016

When I first started writing this blog post, I was planning to make it part of my Top 5 series. But I can't narrow down the talent I seen at the recent Glasgow School of Art Degree Show to just that. 

This was the best degree show to date I've seen from Glasgow's flagship art school. The GSA is one of the smaller art schools in Scotland and thus, most years it's not been too difficult to pick five favourites (as opposed to picking five favourites from Duncan of Jordanstone, though Helen did manage that feat this year). But the talent from the small pool of 2016 graduates was just so damn good I could not pick. The displays were stunning - and I can see many of the designers finding success in the commercial market (I'm a marketer and my eye is always drawn to the commercially viable pieces - sorry, arty types). 

I've decided to split my favourites into each area of study. The only discipline I'll be missing out is architecture as I wasn't able to make my way that far in time. 

Silversmith & Jewellery: Evgeniia Balashova



I love jewellery with geometric shapes, and I love jewellery that uses pastel colours. Merge those two together and you have the work of Evgeniia Balashova. According to her website, her designs are inspired by the repetitiveness of office life: she takes regular objects and morphs them into a distorted shape. To bring her designs to life she applies 3D printing, lost wax casting and recycled IT parts. Imagine having a a ring on your finger inspired by a motherboard? Nerd jewellery dreams. 

Textiles & Fashion Design: Penny Hewitt



As we've seen from my favourite jewellery collection, I like geometric patterns and pastel colours. My favourite collection in the Textiles & Fashion show doesn't deviate too far away from this preference. Penny Hewitt designs textiles with 3D elements and non-repetitive patterns through hand embroidery - naming her collection Softly Structured. In particular it was this circular 3D pattern that caught my attention - I'd love to turn this into a skirt or a cushion. 

Out of all the collections available, it was the textiles where I felt the talent was strongest and I struggled to choose just one designer. So I feel some honorary shout outs are in order: Sarah Morris and her knitted cushion designs, Rochelle McGuiness who also designs beautiful 3D geometric textiles, Rosie Noon who designed this beautiful fabric, Hilary Macauley with her prints that remind me of doodles painted with watercolour and Emily Stopford with her bright printwork. 

Communication Design: Trudi Hannah


Communication Design is one I sometimes have trouble with. Artists sometimes create great visual pieces that are beautiful to look at, but leave you standing there wondering what the hell it actually is. Without an explanation handy some pieces in the communication design collection can be filed under 'confusing for anyone who doesn't have an art degree'. What I loved about Trudi Hannah's piece was that I understood it from the second I looked at it - without reading the accompanying text I already knew this was an impassioned piece about the effects of car pollution on young children. 

Another communication design project that I loved came from Megan Watkins. Her project was designing a website that helped break-down Alzheimer's so family and friends of those diagnosed could better understand the disease. Her concept was an alphabet where each letter represented a different visual and fact about the Alzheimer's. Not only was her project important, it was brought to life in a visually beautiful manner. 

Product Design: Paul Omoniyi


Product design is always one of my favourites. This year mobile applications were a big thing among the graduates, and as someone who is always looking for a great new app I was heavily nosing round. My favourite though was GSN by Paul Omoniyi, an app that allows students to search for other students who have skills they require for a project. I was a business student so for me personally, there was never much requirement for this. But - as you probably know - Abertay is famous for its games courses and I remember my friends who had an idea for a game, but needed a sound producer/artist/animator/programmer to collaborate with. For them, this app could have helped several projects get off the ground. 

Other apps that caught my eye were Worn Stories (a fashion app) and Cluster (a job searching app that focuses on non-traditional skills that employers might still want to consider). I also liked the idea behind Broken Records by Calum Macleod that celebrates the creation of music and invites music lovers to be an audience during the creation process. 

Interior Design: Merve Kirkpantur


As a foodie, my pick for interior design was the Molecule Restaurant by Merve Kikrpantur. I wasn't previously familiar with molecular gastronomy, but now that I am I want to try this exciting cuisine that is blended with science. The overall design of the restaurant was spot on and fitted the concept perfectly with a bar area with snacks for people who only want to dip their fingers into the menu. She also had a few mock dishes in her portfolio - many of them not containing meat. If she ever opens this restaurant for real in Glasgow I am so there. 

Another design that caught my eye was Danielle van Rhijn with her Box Set cafe/cinema concept

Fine Art: Ash Kitchen

I was never originally going to pop by the Fine Art Show. It was held in the Merchant City as opposed to the GSA main building, but I found myself in the area Saturday afternoon so decided to give it a try. Like Communication Design, it can sometimes make me feel confused as to what I am looking at - I'm firmly in the camp that a canvas with a blob on it is not art. So for me, only students who created something that was of a more traditional persuasion were going to end up on my favourites list. 

Enter Ash Kitchen. Her oil paintings had elements of pop culture so obviously that caught my eye, but they were demure enough so they wouldn't look out of place in an average person's house. I'd legitimately buy a print of her work for my living room wall. 

The Glasgow School of Art Degree Show has now finished but make sure you put it in your calendar for next year. If you don't live in Glasgow, check out when your nearest art school's degree show is - it's always a good chance to check out some upcoming talent.

25 June 2016

So, we're leaving the EU.

2016_05_260009 - Brexit

Well, this is awkward. 

Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post ranting about Brexit and how I thought it was a wast of time because no one in their rights minds would vote for it. 

Yeah...about that. 

Unless you've just woken up after a two day nap and my blog is the first website you've visited because you check it daily in anticipation (which, if you do, I'm flattered you lovely imagery person) you'll know that my prediction was wrong. 51.9% wrong in fact. The British public have spoken and they've voted ever so slightly in favour of leaving the European Union. And yeah I'm pretty fucking gutted. 

I didn't nearly campaign hard enough, because I honestly thought it was in the bag. I just can't understand - at all - why someone would vote to leave. I've had a keen interest in the European Union since we first studied it in primary school, I'm politically involved and don't cast any vote without thorough research and I have a degree in International Management where I wrote many essays arguing why globalisation is something we should hold onto for dear life. And I cannot think of one good reason why someone would vote to leave. Unless they hate things like workers rights, animals rights and anti-discrimination laws but enjoy filling out visa forms for a city break in Prague. Or they like Boris Johnson (ew). Or Nigel Farage (double ew). 

But what would it have mattered if I had campaigned harder? The bulk of the Leave votes came from Baby Boomers who live in England and Wales. I'm a millennial who lives in Glasgow. 

I'm not going to lie I'm scared. Really fucking scared. 

The thoughts that drove through my head yesterday morning as the news dawned on me. Will I ever get a state pension now? Will I ever be able to retire? Will the Tories and UKIP undo all the workers rights legislation the EU has implemented? What will happen to all my non-British friends? What about my cousin's Latvian girlfriend? What about travel? Will we need visas? Will the pound be the weakest currency going for the next ten years? What about the livelihoods of people working in the travel industry, of which I am one of them? Will we still have an NHS? What about my mum's job in the NHS - the secure and well-paid job she has that has made me one of the lucky millennials who, even though I was getting just as fucked as the rest of my generation, could still get by because my parents were in a good position. What will happen to the price of Prosecco and other imports? And Eurovision might be a tad awkward next year. 

Maybe it's time to admit that I channel negative emotions through sarcasm and humour. I like to think this fuels me to create political analysis with wit. But probably not.

We're the generation who will have to live with this 

Source.

The first thing I spotted about this graph is that I'm old enough to belong to the second group, and that means I'm officially old. Second thing I spot (which is the entire point of the graph) is that the people who wanted Brexit the most aren't going to live long enough to experience the potentially diabolical consequences. Basically racist grannies at the bus stop. 

I'll make it clear I was being flippant with this tweet. Very flippant. I do not want to start a petition asking the government the implement an upper voting age limit. Even if I don't agree with them, the racist grannies at the bus stop should still be entitled to their say. But this illustrates - to me at least - why 16 year olds should be given a vote. Aside from being old enough to get a full-time job and pay taxes, get married, consent to a sexual rendezvous, bring a child into this world, leave school for college or university, leave their parents house and face the world on their own, they are the generation who will have to live with this decision the longest. They were the generation who wanted this the least. So they should get to vote on important things that can't easily be undone.

When I started my business degree at university it was drummed into us that we were the generation who would have to fix the recession caused by the generations before us. That was 2008 and while things have improved a bit, they're still far from being fixed. And now there's this - something that's going to be very hard to fix if it turns out to be the worst decision that UK has made (and judging by the pound plummeting it could well be).

Scotland and England are two very different countries

There's was a misconception about people's motivations for voting Yes in 2014's independence referendum. The mainstream media liked to paint Yes voters as a bunch of rowdy William Wallace types at an England versus Scotland football match. While I'm not going to deny that there were Yes voters who had watched Braveheart one too many times, most of us weren't voting to leave the UK out of blind nationalism. It was because Scotland and the rest of the UK just don't fit together anymore and it was time to call it a day. 

The UK currently has a Tory Prime Minister (well for the next wee bit, but the next one is likely to be a Tory as well) but the Tories don't perform well in Scottish elections (at least not in the UK elections). Oh, and the UK as a whole just voted to leave the European Union by a small margin, but Scotland voted to stay remain by a large margin. We're different countries with different goals and this referendum has only made that blatantly clear. 

I love the UK and I will be sad the day Scotland breaks away (I say 'the day' so surely because it's almost inevitable now). But I believe we have to. I believe Scotland has the potential be a shining bright social democratic beacon for the world - but the UK and its separatist views are holding us back. I feel almost guilty about leaving the people living in England and Wales I care deeply about behind - but Scotland's doors are open if independence does happen and you want out of the UK. Scotland embraces the global world surrounding us; so much so that we allowed EU residents to vote in our referendum because it was about who had chosen to call Scotland their home (not who just happened to be born here). 

And for the record (because there has been confusion about this) it is not 'ironic' to be pro-Scottish independence and pro-EU. Westminster and the EU are two separate things with separate purposes - you can want to be a member of one but not of the other. 

And IndyRef2 looks likely

On the 18th of September 2014 I voted yes to Scottish independence. One of my primary reasons for doing so was the growing Euroscpeticism south of the border. Better Together assured voters that if Scotland wanted to remain in the European Union, we should stay with the UK. That a tiny country like Scotland would never be accepted into one of the world's largest trading blocks. We were told voting for independence from the UK, would mean independence from the EU. 

Awkward. 

I never believed it, and seen it for the Project Fear tactic that it was. But much of the Scottish electorate believed it and voted No out of fear that citizens of an independent Scotland would need a passport to get into France. As such the topic of a second Scottish Independence referendum is now firmly back on the table as the Scottish electorate realises they were fed lies by the Westminster led campaign. 

I'm not sure how I feel about IndyRef2. When Scotland narrowly voted no almost two years ago, in a way I thought it was a good thing (as much as I was also gutted). If Scotland goes independent I want it to be by a landslide, not by a slim majority that leaves just under half of the population pure raging. I've believed for a long time referendums that propose a drastic change - such as UK independence from the EU - should have a certain percentage turnout from voters, and be reliant on a super-majority. I only want another referendum if polling starts to suggest that it would be in the bag. 

Or Scotland could still be part of the EU and the UK simultaneously, at a push. It's been called the Reverse Greenland - once upon a time Denmark was allowed to join the EU but Greenland (who still belonged to Denmark) and the Faeroe Islands were allowed there own choice and decided to not join. Obviously that was a different situation: their main country wanted it but the extra countries didn't; Scotland and the UK are the other way around. And Denmark isn't physically attached to Greenland or the Faeroe Islands. The Guardian has a fantastic piece on what Nicola Sturgeon's options are and why Scottish independence is now almost inevitable

Other than that we can re-build Hadrian's Wall and become wildlings.

Apathetic voters - this was your wake up call

We've all seen the video of the Leave Voter who didn't think his vote would count. We probably all know people who since the vote are now vocal Remain voters - but didn't hear a peep from them before the 23rd. And given the embarrassingly high numbers of people who didn't vote, you probably know someone who couldn't be bothered. If anything good comes from this, we have learned what can happen when voters are apathetic. Heck, even I was slightly apathetic thinking there was no way in hell Leave would prevail. 

I've learned my lesson. 

Are you really that down?

Yes, I am. I'm usually an optimistic person. Weirdly optimistic. Right now, every bedroom in my flat (plus a utility cupboard) has a leak in it and I'm taking it in my stride. My flatmate can't understand my chill but I'm "yeah, there's a hole in the roof and my bedroom reeks of soggy carpet - nothing a decent builder can't fix". But Brexit isn't something a builder can just fix - even experienced economists aren't sure what to do. 

I'm not confident about this either. I blame bigotry, backwards baby boomers and racist grannies at the bus stop. Nigel Farage too. He can go to hell. 

19 June 2016

What common cocktails are vegan?

I've always been a cocktail person. 

Even when I was sneakily drinking underage I was still more likely to try and concoct a cocktail out of my parents drink cabinet rather than just nicking a bottle of cheap vodka. My parents are not massive drinkers and alas there was never that much alcohol in the house. It's only as I've gotten older that I've convinced my mum that more expensive alcohol is worth paying for (my mum drank Gordon's, I don't even drink gin and even I know no respectable gin enthusiastic recommends Gordons but, erm, I apologise if anyone reading this does drink Gordon's). The point of that anecdote was just to let you know that I like cocktails, so much that I even drank them when I a poor student who should have probably been drinking the promos. And that my parents house isn't a good place to go for piss up. 

Fast forward to legal drinking age (plus seven years) and I found myself working in bars. Now I'm going to tell you something that will make a lot of bartenders feel sort of confused: I liked making cocktails. They're daunting as daunting gets the first time you're tasked with making a drunk person a French Martini in a busy bar. But once you nail it? So good. Well I thought so (and people who order complicated drinks are more likely to tip well, so that's always a plus). 

But now I also know what is in all major cocktails. Which helps when you've got dietary requirements because not all alcohol is vegan or vegetarian (some of it is filtered using fish bladder...scrumptious). So I'm accumulating my knowledge from previous bar work and creating a handy to guide to what common cocktails are vegan-friendly!

N.B. Different bars will make their cocktails slightly, well, differently. This is only a guide to what cocktails are typically vegan. 

Woo Woo/ Sex and The Beach
The only thing that differs a SOTB from a Woo Woo is a splash of orange juice. All the other ingredients are vodka, Peach Snapps, cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime. All good to go vegan wise.

Bahama Mama
There's a bit of debate as how to make these. At Bunker we made them with Morgan's Spiced Rum, Malibu, orange juice, pineapple juice and Agostura Bitters. Some places stick to white rum, some only use orange juice and some use grenadine. Good news though? I've not mentioned one non-vegan ingredient in this entire paragraph.

Mojito
As a former barmaid I can tell you that these are one of the hardest to make, but as a cocktail-drinker I know they're one of the nicest to sip on (if it has been made correctly, as I said they're difficult to get right). Typically prepared with Bacardi, crushed ice, mint leaves, lime juice, sugar and soda water, the only thing you have to worry about is if they use a non-vegan sugar.

Long Island Iced Tea
A medley of several types of alcohol, everything that goes into this cocktail is vegan (luckily, as a lot is mixed into it). Cola, tequila, gin, vodka, triple sec, sugar, bacardi and lime.

Espresso martini
While this frothy cocktail might look like it has some kind of dairy mixed in, it's actually free of daitu (and any animal-product)! Usually made with a coffee liqueur, a shot of coffee, vodka and topped with coffee beans (though some places add a dusting of chocolate powder so ask to keep it off).

Margarita
I'm a snob when it comes to margaritas; and only order them when I'm in a classy upmarket bar. You see, they're meant to be blended with ice but many cheaper bars skip this step. And then there's the taste of cheap tequila. I can drink cheap rum and I can drink cheap vodka but NEVER pass me cheap tequila - it could be the last thing you do. Saying that, margaritas will likely be vegan; even if you're drinking a cheap (and not properly made) one.

Tequila Sunrise
It's vegan but you won't catch me drinking one unless I'm in an upmarket bar because of the aforementioned point: how can people drink cheap tequila?

Piña colada
Just like the espresso martini, a piña colada looks like it would have dairy in it and just like the margarita it needs to be blended for it to taste just right. The ingredients are pineapple juice, white rum, and coconut cream - good to go!

Cosmopolitan
Saving the best until last; this is probably my favourite cocktail. A mix of cranberry juice, lime juice, Cointreau and vodka - make yourself the fifth member of Carrie's girl gang. 

Try and avoid

White Russians
Probably obvious since they contain milk (in Glasgow you can get soya versions in 13th Note and Broadcast) but throwing it out there anyway. I haven't yet come across a coffee liqueur that isn't vegan-friendly, though some places offer White Russians with fancy adaptions so be careful if you're ordering a "Mint Choc Chip White Russian". 

Maverick Martini/Pornstar Martini
This is the one that comes with a little shot of prosecco (that you sip slowly as you drink the main cocktail, not shot it like I originally thought you did). Prosecco and wine is regularly not vegan because it's is filtered using animals, however the 'main' cocktail contains honey-infused Chambord. Unless you know they're using a different raspberry liqueur then this two-part cocktail is off the menu. 

Chambord Royale
A tall glass of prosecco with some Chambord layered at the bottom. Off limits to vegans for the same reason as above. 

French Martini
Similar to the Maverick Martini, unless you know brand other than Chambord that is being used as the raspberry liqueur then it's (very) unfortunately out. The other ingredients of vodka and pineapple juice are usually okay.

Mimosa
A mimosa is a cocktail built on Champagne, so just like it's wine-based cocktail friends above it is out of the vegan pub-crawl for a very similar reason.

Old Fashioned
The base ingredient of this manly cocktail is whiskey - an alcohol that will sometimes be filtered with animal ingredients. When drinking at home you can ensure you use a vegan whiskey, but out at a bar you can just never know what whiskey they chose when designing the menu.

Manhattan
Another whiskey-based cocktail, which makes it too risky a choice when trying to drink vegan. Manhattan's also contain red vermouth - another type of alcohol that can or can't be vegan.

Martini
Just like the Manhattan above, this cocktail contains vermouth. Sometimes vermouth is vegan, sometimes it's not. It's a risky one.

Bloody Mary
I've never had a Bloody Mary in my life; the whole concept just sounds...unpleasant. Even before I went vegetarian I never had any desire to try one and even if I did develop that said desire - I wouldn't be able to act on it (unless I made them at home). Bloody Mary's contain Worcestershire Sauce and it's a little known fact that this sauce isn't even vegetarian (let alone vegan). But psssst, there's a vegan Bloody Mary in the 13th Note if you are so inclined. 



P.S. I'm planning to write a lot of blog post based around my knowledge of bar work (and alcohol). So far I have a 'tips for your first bar job' and 'best places to get a cocktail in Glasgow' posts in the works. If there's anything you want me to cover, give me a shout. 

14 June 2016

Vegan eating at Paesano Pizza


The vegan pizza option at Paesano Pizza

If you've spoken to my friend Charlotte recently (or stopped by her blog, or any of her social media accounts) you'll have become accustomed to her raving about one of Glasgow's newest pizza places. Paesano Pizza in the Merchant City is a rustic Italian pizza joint with stylish decor, wood-fired ovens and, as Charlotte has promised, some of the most delicious pizza around. When myself, Charlotte and Hayley caught up in Glasgow a while back Charlotte naturally convinced us to try it out for ourselves. 

If you've been following my own blog (and social media accounts) for a while you'll know I'm always on the look-out for scrumptious vegan pizza (heck, it even says so in my Instagram bio!). Paesano Pizza by chance has their own vegan pizza offering so it didn't take much convincing from Charlotte to try the place out.

Hayley and Charlotte's pizzas


The vegan offering on their menu is topped with their signature tomato sugo sauce, garlic, oregano and evoo (it's basically olive oil, I had to look that one up). Admittedly, I did feel a bit disappointed that Paesano - even though they had something vegan on the menu - hadn't come up with something more interesting. When I ordered it the waitress reminded me that it didn't come with cheese - or anything else, really. And yes, when the order arrived it did look a bit under-privileged compared to Charlotte and Hayley's pizzas. 

HOWEVER, once my taste-buds became acquainted I totally forgot about my negative pre-conceptions. This pizza was BLOODY FUCKING DELICIOUS. Not even delicious for a plain pizza, just actual delicious. The base is a hybrid of yeast and sourdough and resulted in a stretchy thin base - I imagine this is what Italians eat. The tomato sauce was also as flavoursome as flavoursome gets - I'm not sure what they do to it in their kitchen but I want that recipe. I've since learnt (through the writing and research I do for work) that cheese-free pizzas are commonplace in Italy, so I was actually getting quite an authentic experience.

Sun-blushed tomatoes and artichokes side


As a side I ordered the artichokes and sun-blushed tomatoes. These were lovely though the tomatoes were a bit...chewy? The artichokes were spot on however and reminded me why they are one of my favourite vegetables. They also have a small but impressive beer menu with many brands that aren't commonly served in the UK. 

As for the rest of the restaurant, it was rustic, had benches, was dimly lit and perhaps a little hipster. It was stylish but the benches were a bit uncomfortable and the lighting )or lack of) meant I couldn't get a good photo (#bloggerproblems). The queue can also get long - which supports my review, really. So try and organise a visit during a slower time (our catch-up was right after I finished work but by the time we finished at 7pm the queue was at the door). It's located at 94 Miller Street just down from the Gallery of Modern Art and Royal Exchange Square.  

So yes it was a plain pizza, but because the base and the sauce were spot on I didn't mind at all and would recommenced it to the vegans of Glasgow. 

11 June 2016

Why I'm Voting To Stay In the EU



There's a large part of me that really can't be bothered with the EU referendum. For starters - and I really hope I'm not proven wrong here - I doubt the majority of UK voters are going to rock up on the 23rd of June and decide they've had enough of Brussels. And secondly, I just can't be even bothered trying to understand what the fucking problem is (other than OMG THE IMMIGRANTS, THEY STEAL OUR RESOURCES AND WEE JIMMY CAN'T GET A JOB BECAUSE THAT POLISH WOMAN STOLE IT). But alas no one quite predicted the Tory's win a year ago at the General Election, so let's play it safe and have a wee chat about the EU Referendum over some proverbial tea and biscuits.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I want the UK to remain part of the EU. The title of the blog post was probably a dead giveaway but in case you didn't know I'm massive lefty weirdo. And lefty weirdos are generally voting to stay in and righty (do we even call conservative types righties?) weirdos are voting to leave. Well, generally. The Tories (and quite a bit of Labour) are on the right and they can't seem to agree on their stance. You see the EU has pushed through quite a bit of policy that improves the lives of a lot of people - and conservatives types don't like things such as workers' rights. I like equality. It's nice.

OBVIOUSLY, there's the not needing a passport to get into France thing. Anyone who has ever travelled outside of the EU knows what a bloody pain visas and immigration queues are (that queue on my 2002 Florida holiday was killer). The EU also makes it a darn bit cheaper and accessible to travel between countries 'cause you know visas but also free travel of goods and stuff and all that. I don't have a crystal ball but I'd reckon travel would get trickier (and more expensive) if we had to fill out a visa form every time we wanted a city break in Berlin.

BUT THE IMMIGRANTS. I actually can't believe it's 2016 and we're still at a place in society where we tell people where they can and can't live - especially when they're fleeing a warzone. Stealing jobs you say? I need someone to explain this to me: how exactly can you steal a job? I know how you can steal a piece of tasty cake from a bakery (which I've never done, obviously) or take a sweetie out the pick 'n' mix (which I have done, rebel). But steal a job? What do you do? Break into a company's office, switch the names up, change the bank details and wipe everyone's memories so no one knows you're not the real employee? If an immigrant gets offered the job and you don't, it's because they were a better fit and offered something you didn't (like, you know, not being casually racist). I know the frustrations of job hunting and shitty employers and not being called for an interview again-and-again, but take it out on the right people: government spending money on Trident rather than creating a first-class education system, cuts to the public sector, the cost of higher education and further education, the shitty economic situation we're in right now and that, even though it's 2016, people who are born rich will still more likely be rich as adults (due to private education, extra-curricular activities, more books to read in the house, better health as a child).

But if you want to talk policy here we go. The UK opted out of the Shengen Agreement and that means everyone has to show their passport at border control. I've been to Amsterdam twice this year, once by plane and another time by ferry and my passport was checked both times coming back into the country. I can assure you that passport checks are in place and people can't just hop on over (the big gap of water makes that a little difficult too). If you're pissed with border control, take it out on the UK Government as they're responsible for it.

And then there's the animal rights. Now I realise animals rights might not be the top of everyone's important-things-to-consider-when-deciding-to-leave-the-EU list BUT since this is a blog who's primary readership is vegans or vegetarians I thought it was important to remind everyone what everyone what the EU has done for animal rights. That animal testing for cosmetic ban that came in back in 2012? That was an EU law. Within EU borders you cannot use animal testing for cosmetic purposes. You can also not sell any products within EU borders that were tested on animals (though the company can sell products that were tested on animals elsewhere in the world - it's just the batch coming into the EU). And you know what else? The UK introduced a lot of these laws first - so they're not being 'forced' on us. If the UK wants to be a step ahead of the EU on animal rights, they can easily do so. But being in means we definitely get to keep that animal testing ban.

While this blog post has been more ranty than poetic, I'm going to get serious and be a bit of a self-congratulatory asshole. My degree was in International Management and I work in the travel industry (an industry already being hit). The European Union and globalisation were primary topics during my course and I wrote a mini-dissertation on Switzerland's relationship with the EU (Switzerland has got a pretty jazzy relationship with the EU but there's no guarantee the UK will negotiate the same deal, but you can actually read a draft of the essay I found in my Google docs).

There's a lot wrong with the EU, that I'll never deny and I've had Eurosceptic moments myself. It's bureaucratic and is in desperate need of reform. However, it has also brought us a lot of good in the form of animal welfare (aside from the live-stock export, that's one flaw I do want to change) and equal pay. I believe in open borders and I quite enjoy visa-free travelling. Just like the Scottish Referendum we don't know what the future of either result will hold - we can only take what we know and decide what sounds like it will offer the UK (and the wider world) a better deal in the long-run.

Therefore, I'm voting to stay in.



P.S. If you want a poetic reason to stay with figures and statistics, here is a viral FB post that de-bunks a lot of the myths of the Leave Campaign