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I went to Lisbon and ate some vegan food




It feels as though Lisbon is the place to be seen right now. And with good reason: it's pretty, it's warm, it has tasty Mediterranean food, and it's cheaper than most other European cities.

Tbh, though, it wasn't actually on my list. A long-distance bff who I don't see very often was attending a conference and asked if I wanted to join her (not at the conference itself mind, she's studying for a PhD in neuroscience....and I couldn't even pass a first-year high school physics test #humanitiesuntilidie). Obviously, I said yes. It's still a holiday and it beats going to Manchester (where she lives) any day.

I liked Lisbon a lot more than I thought I would. Admittedly it's not the fast-paced city break full of famous sights that I usually opt for. It's much more relaxed and two full days did me just fine for some casual wandering.

I also ate some vegan food, obviously, because this is me and food is my love. I work in the travel industry and spend a lot of my days writing travel guides. One of the first guides I ever penned was a food guide to Portugal. Admittedly I couldn't eat a lot of what I was writing about, but one or few things did stand out to me and I couldn't wait to get stuck in.

So, without further ado, this is the vegan food I ate in Lisbon.

Giallo Gelados

Gelato bars are everywhere in Lisbon, and this is just the first of two that made the list. The branding and storefront is a cutesy yellow, so between that and the vegan sign, I knew I had to have a look. I opted for a cone with three different flavours: guava + cinnamon, wild berry, and lemon + mint ice cream.

Restaurante Esperança

My favourite Lisbon was Lisbon at night, especially alfresco dining in the warm Mediterranean climate. On our first night, we found this Italian restaurant, Esperança, which offers vegan cheese on its pizzas (saying that, I still opted for a Marinara). While I've never visited Italy (boo!) and can't comment on what "real" Neopolitan pizza tastes like - this was definitely the nicest pizza I've ever had. The base was skinny-mini thin and the topping was spot on!

Pop Ceréal Café 

Yes, classy Lisbon is home to a hipster cereal bar. So obviously I had to check it out. I don't know how many cereal brands this place was home to, but it was a lot. And you can pick your milk (I went for almond). The decor was also very Instagram worthy.

daTerra Bairro Alto

For dinner on our second night, we visited a vegetarian buffet near our apartment that we had walked past a few times. I have mixed feelings on this one. I loved that it was a buffet and that the food was filled with Mediterranean goodness. But it was a bit...simple. Don't get me wrong, simple can be good. But it's not somewhere I'd head if I was looking for something special. Though the glass of Duoro white wine I had was lovely! And the veganised version of pastéis de nata!

Sorbettino


Told you that sorbet would make another appearance! There's not much you can say when it comes to reviewing sorbet (I mean, it's sorbet) but I'd commit a crime for some of that pistachio again. 

If you've been to Lisbon and ate some vegan food, let me know!
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The consent condom hurts more than it helps




You might have noticed that I went on a bit of a Twitter rant the other day.

Okay, I go on Twitter rants a lot - but this was bigger than usual.

An Argentinian company Tulipán has created a "consent condom" that can only be accessed if four hands simultaneously press buttons on each side of its box.

GIRLS, WE CAN STOP GIVING OUR FRIENDS THE FULL NAME AND ADDRESS OF EVERYONE WE GO ON A TINDER DATE WITH. THIS CONDOM WILL BE THE END OF ENTITLED MEN.

A few situations where this consent condom is an impractical pile of trash:
  • You are consensually tied up
  • Someone is amputated or disabled in another way
  • Someone prefers a certain type of condom (do they come in different sizes? latex free?)
  • There are more than two people engaging in intercourse
But really, the reason I'm so pissed off is not because of the practicalities of having to solve a fucking Rubix Cube to get some, it's because it does fuck all to fix the problem society has with consent. 

In fact, I think it actually adds to society's fucked up ideas of what consent actually is. 

If you're wondering what the fuck I personally mean by consent and how I see it operating in the perfect world, please read my 4,000-word rant on the subject. It's great, if shouty.  

I'm not going to go over what the fuck consent is, because the aforementioned blog covers that. What I will do however is rip this consent condom to shreds.

First up: coercion


In a perfect world consent would be a simple yes or no answer to the question "would you like to bang me?". But in the shitty, real world we actually live in people can be pressurised into saying yes to sex. Alcohol, drugs, power imbalances, mental health problems, and lack of assertiveness can all create environments where someone might say "yes" when what they really mean is "okay because I don't really know how to say no". 

That is not consent. 

Because: THE ONLY CONSENT THAT MATTERS IS THE ENTHUSIASTIC KIND.

The consent condom might get Agree To Press The Button Consent but that's not the same as Fuck Me, I Want You So Bad Consent. 

Second up: changing your mind

"I want to stop"

"Aww babe, but you pressed the buttons on the consent condom so you've consented until I blow my load"

Okay, I am being facetious with my dialogue. But this is an important part of consent that the consent condom doesn't cover: someone is allowed to withdraw consent at any time. 

You can say yes to sex, and you can click a fucking button or sign a piece of paper, but you are always allowed to change your mind. The consent condom flies in the face of that rule.

See also: consent apps on your phone where people fucking sign away their consent. Shudder. 

Third up: you still need to consent to the individual sex acts


Sexual intercourse is a broad term that covers a lot of sexual acts. When you're getting jiggy with it, you need to make sure the person you're with (and yourself, of course) are consenting to the particular sex acts that are being acted out. 

This is where so many of us (my younger self included) fail to grasp consent. There are many sex acts out there, and you'll meet very few people are happy with all of them, all the time. There are a few mainstream sex acts that I don't enjoy, and I have ended up in arguments mid-sex with people gobsmacked that I might know what my body likes sexually more than they do. 

Consent isn't just about getting that initial, overarching yes that this person is down for getting naked. It's about making sure that they are comfortable with whatever you are doing - from relaxed missionary with the lights out to an anal-centric threesome.

Fourth up: men hate condoms already


During my big 4,000+ rant on sexual consent, I mentioned a hill that I am prepared to die on: condom use, STD testing, and contraception is a consent issue. But I've never had a man turn around to me and ask "what are your feelings on condoms use? Are you comfortable going barrierless?"

Condoms aren't sexy and, yeah, sex feels better without them (don't @ me). But that doesn't change the fact that I'd rather lose a bit sensation than risk an STD or pregnancy (I'm not going to put my body through hormonal contraception while I'm single, so I rely on barrier). I only feel comfortable going barrierless when I'm steady with someone.

Making condoms more difficult to use isn't going to change that. They are already fiddly things: sometimes you need to spend 5 minutes finding one, the packets can be difficult to rip into, and sometimes you roll it on the wrong way.

I rest my case. 

Fifth up: it doesn't get to the root of the problem

Granted, the creators of the consent condom have said themselves that this is designed to fix the world - but it's to get people to stop and think about consent. I say bollocks to that, because (as I mentioned above) this condom reinforces the confusion society already has around consent. 

The problem isn't that society doesn't like the idea of consent, it's that we can't grasp it. A lot of people who have committed sexual assault don't even realise that they have. If I was to go back in time and pull up past partners for crossing the boundaries of consent, they would probably justify it one way or another (in fact, some of my past partners have been pulled up for touching me in a way I did not like - in some cases I had verbally said no - and they defended themselves rather than apologising and vowing to change). 

People are thinking about consent. We're having national dialogues about it. You can't get away from the topic right now. 

If you're a left-leaning, rich person who can do some good for the world, I don't want you to make products that encourage consent - because consent is not a gap in the market that needs to be filled. I want you to funnel that money into a campaign for better sex education, go buy 100 copies of some incredible feminist-leaning books about sex and give them out for free, or buy advertising space on a billboard and fill it with a banner that says "people are allowed to give consent and then change their mind". 

You know, something that gets to the root of the issue and makes people stop and think about their attitude to other people's bodies. 

Sixth (and last up): it sides with preparators more than victims

I know the creators probably had good intentions when they brain-stormed the consent condom. 

But the thing with the consent condom (and the other forms of 'proving' consent, such as filming your partner saying yes) is that it's more about people covering their backs than it is about making people feel safe. 

Because, as I said earlier, this condom doesn't actually guarantee that real consent was given. It just proves that a box was opened. 

Hypothetical situation: 
  • You consent to sex with someone
  • Open the box to get a condom (and prove your consent)
  • They start doing a specific sex act that you don't want to be done to you
  • You ask them to stop
  • They don't, because you gave consent (duh)
  • You end up assaulted, feel violated, but can't take legal action because they have 'proof' that you consented. 
I know men are scared right now (and you should be because too many of you are personified trash cans and you're getting your comeuppance). But if the conversation around consent scares you and you have a massive fear of being falsely accused, you need to sit with yourself about why that is. 

Why do you so desperately want proof that all your sexual encounters were consensual? Do you look back at some of your previous sexual encounters and realise that you could have practised better consent? Do you not believe all the stories from women that are currently in the media? Do you think false accusations are more common than they actually are? Do you actively want to assault women and think this is a good way to avoid prosecution? 

As far as I'm concerned, someone with solid communication and empathy skills shouldn't need to partake in a weird condom-opening ceremony to prove that their partner has consented. Consent, at the end of the day, is largely a communication and empathy skill.

And if you don't know how to communicate and empathise with sexual partners than you're probably going to cross a boundary at some point - consent condom or not. 

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My favourite shows of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival (aka, another instalment of Morag attends an arts festival and reviews it after it's finished)


The Wedding Singer

"I really wish there was a blog out there that reviewed live shows after they've finished their run"

Said no one ever. 

But when have I ever let other people's expectations stop me from living my best life?

Never.

First, it was The Fringe and then it was the Edinburgh International Improv Festival. Now it's the turn of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival to get a classic little-bit-too-late review from me. I'll never change.  

I'm a massive fan of comedy (including local, indie comedy) so I was there: multiple times, usually front row, and filled last weekend with a show a night because who needs sleep, really? I would have been at every show if I could duplicate myself, didn't have bills to pay, and didn't decide to book a holiday to Lisbon in the middle of it all. Because I was there so much though I've decided that I don't have the time (or the energy, or the patience) to write up mini-reviews of everything I attended. I saw some really funny shows but I also watched some questionable ones too, and I'd rather not hurt anyone's feelings. So instead I'm hand-picking my top 5, 

And, yeah the festival is over (boo!) so I've included at the end of each review the next performance by that act that I'm aware of. Because I need to write this post with some kind of purpose and a Call to Action.

Michelle McManus: Pop Goes the Idol

Remember Michelle McManus from Glasgow who won Pop Idol in 2003? I had totally forgotten she existed until I spotted her show on the event listings. Anything that involves 00s pop culture is up my street, even better when it involves a cheesy one-hit wonder. And I knew that even if it was awful, it would awful in the most perfect way possible. 

It wasn't awful. In fact, it was my favourite show of the festival. She was camp, adorable, and knows how to take the piss out of herself. Becoming a forgotten reality tv pop star probably wasn't the most fun thing that ever happened to Michelle and I think it's amazing that she's made something incredible out of it. Plus, she sang All This Time (and yes, I loved every second of it). 

Next time you can catch her show: she mentioned performing it at the Edinburgh Fringe, so keep an eye out when the programme is released in two weeks time.

The Wedding Singer

Full disclaimer: one of my best friends starred in this show and I bought a slightly discounted ticket. It was her first show in a few years and I had to show my support because I was very proud of her getting one line in her role as Waitress 3. 

Truthfully, I enjoy musicals but I'm not in love with them. So it says a lot that I'm choosing this as one of my favourite performances. I love the film The Wedding Singer and they did a great job of bringing it to the stage with infectious energy and fun dance routines (little known fact: I'm an ex-dancer, and my eye is still trained). The casting was also spot on and you can see why people were cast in their roles. 

Next time you can catch the show: keep an eye on the Theatre South Productions website for their next production.

Absolute Improv

If you know me, you know that improv is my favourite form of comedy - so you can bet your ass I was at all the improv shows. TBC Improv has been on my radar for months but they are Edinburgh-based, so I was excited to finally see their show Absolute Improv. And they did not disappoint. They did an hour of short-form improv (which I would take any day over longform) and I was howling throughout. The audience was also on top form. 

Next time you can catch their show: keep an eye on the TBC Improv website for their next show.

Improv Killed My Dog: Magnum P.I. 

Ever heard of Magnum P.I.? A cop show from the 80s? I hadn't until Improv Killed My Dog announced their show. But apparently only one person from Improv Killed My Dog has seen it, so I was good in company.

Yes, they decided to do an improvised episode of Magnum P.I. live on stage based on audience suggestions when 3/4 of the team have not seen a single episode. It sounds like an awful idea on paper, but Improv Killed my Dog are my favourite improv team so I decided to trust that they had thought this through. 

They did pull it off. And I laughed. A lot. Despite not really understanding half the references because I didn't exist until 1990 (I've been feeling really old with 30 only 18 months away, but writing that sentence has put a spring in my step). 

Next time you can catch Improv Killed My Dog: they put on a monthly improv show on the second Monday of every month, so like them on Facebook to keep up to date.

Improv Thunderdome

This event was described as "competitive improv" and to be honest - despite attending about 467893837 improv shows a month - I didn't have a fucking clue what the fuck that meant. Would there be an actual Thunderdome? Would Tina Turner show up? Would there be points? Does the audience decide the winner? All I know is that I love improv and I've seen the participants in multiple other shows, so I was confident it would be a good night. 

There were two teams (Merchant Kitty, and Neil Buchanan Street because....why not?), along with a host, a neutral extra improviser to take part in some games, and someone to keep track of points. All games were short form and had a point scoring system: such as the first team to run out of witty statements, a Spelling Bee competition, and another where someone had to leave the room and guess the audience suggestions when they came back. 

The show was high-energy and didn't disappoint. It was my favourite of the improv shows, and I would see it again if they brought it back for the next festival.

Next time you can catch Thunderdome: (to my knowledge) it was a one-off event, but the participants were a mash-up of two members from Improv Killed My Dog (next event here), three members of Trojan Hearse (next event here), one member of The Clap (Facebook here), and one member of Couch (Facebook here). So, uh, if you want to start watching as much improv as I do, I've given you a head start.

Were you at the Glasgow Comedy International Festival? Let me know in the comments and tell me what your favourite show was! 
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