To Shanti cat, my best friend

To Shanti Shants, my best friend

You brought so much joy into our lives in the 2 3/4 years that we knew you.

From the timid, unsure cat who hid under the sofa when we first got you – forcing us to feed you through that tiny gap – you blossomed quickly into the third and equal member of our family, often yelling at us in your silent way when you considered it was time for more food.

Walking through the front door will never, ever be the same again without you waiting just inches inside for dinner – or just for company from your humans.

Even when Frazer was already home, you almost always walked up the hallway to greet me when I came home from work and seeing you was so often the highlight of my day.

I’ll miss you every time we eat pizza, knowing that our Pizza Cat is no longer there. I’ll think of you when we get Byron delivered, remembering the time when we left the rubbish on the table and you mauled it, licked the containers clean and took the rubbish all the way to the bedroom to your bed (which you hardly ever slept in, of course, preferring to lie on our jumpers and in some really random places). I’ll always remember how you ate an entire bread roll one night, you fought through cling film to eat Frazer’s mum’s homemade fruit cake, and you got very sniffy and interested whenever Frazer had Sainsbury’s brownie bites. Continue reading

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Going vegan: Week one

I’ve been vegetarian for around 12-13 years, since I bought a Goldfinger album which contained some brutal information about slaughterhouses in the sleeve, and heard their songs with animal rights messages like Open Your Eyes and Behind The Mask. I declared to my parents as I returned home from that same shopping trip, having read the album booklet on the way back, that I was now vegetarian. (They were fine with it, except my dad was understandably mildly irritated that he had just been to Sainsbury’s and now had to go back out so I had food to eat!)

For years I’ve been a very happy and content vegetarian. I haven’t missed meat at all; in fact, I barely liked it anyway (I practically only ate chicken) and so it was an unusually easy transition for me. Throughout my vegetarian years I’ve found it easy to be quite strict, eschewing fish, gelatine and non-vegetarian parmesan. But I always held off from taking the next step to veganism, thinking about how much I love cheese and chocolate snacks like Minstrels and Maltesers.

Suddenly, though, practically out of nowhere, I’ve been filled with a new resolve. It partially came from watching Cowspiracy and What The Health last week, the former helping to remind me of the environmental impacts of dairy as part of the wider animal agriculture industry. I felt that not eating meat or dairy is the simplest thing I could do to help the environment. Plus I’ve always been aware in the back of my mind that dairy farming is just as cruel and often inhumane as farming for meat, but now I feel less inclined to ignore it. Continue reading

It’s the little things that matter when it comes to self-care

January is traditionally the time for self improvement, new life goals or big changes, with New Year’s resolutions and trends like Dry January and Veganuary. But it’s also the deepest darkest month, the glum period after Christmas, and the time when it’s acceptable to stay in all weekend and be cosy on the sofa.

So I gradually begun making some small changes at the end of the month and start of February instead, largely in an attempt to stop myself falling indefinitely into indifference and laziness outside work hours.

These are things I began doing, or continued doing with increased purpose, which I believe are good for both mental and physical health. Continue reading

How to ‘do’ Brussels on a budget (ish)

I’m a journalist in my mid 20s who lives in London. Not a combination which traditionally implies lots of disposable income!

Yet everyone needs a holiday sometimes, so my boyfriend Frazer and I whizzed away to Brussels for three nights at the end of September.

We got (I think) fairly good prices for our travel and accommodation, and spent less than €150 when we were out there, which could easily have been reduced further if we’d not brought back gifts for our catsitters or sampled plenty of beer.

In fact, we loved Brussels even more than Paris, which for many UK travellers seems to be the pinnacle of European city breaks.

Here are a few tips on how to enjoy Brussels without spending half your savings.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – a gif review

The most hyped up show in London’s West End at the moment is undoubtedly Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre.

Tickets have been booked up more than a year in advance. There’s a script book for Potter fans so those who can’t make it into London can get stuck into the story too. There’s a #keepthesecrets campaign to stop spoilers spreading uncontained across the internet.

But does the play actually live up to expectations?

I went to see it on Sunday October 15, 2017 after booking tickets in August 2016 and I have quite mixed feelings. Here they are, represented mostly in gif form.

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Why we can’t let the terrorists win in London, Brussels, and around Europe

I live in London and I’m going on a city break to Brussels this month.

I got thinking about this after two police officers outside Buckingham Palace in London were injured by a man with a large knife on the same night (August 25) that soldiers on patrol in Brussels were attacked, also by a knifeman.

Both incidents are being treated as suspected acts of terrorism.

These events follow horrific incidents in recent months and years throughout Europe, in places that feel very close to home. London, Brussels, Manchester, Barcelona, Paris, Nice, Stockholm and Berlin have all been targeted.

Brussels_after_the_attacks_(4)
Tributes in Brussels after terrorist attacks in March 2016

But we can’t let the terrorists change our way of lives; that’s what they want. We must keep doing what we want to do in our home cities and go on holidays, supporting our fellow Europeans and their cultures and economies.

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Yes, the new Taylor Swift song sounds bitter as hell – so what?

Anyone with internet access has probably noticed that Taylor Swift dropped the first single off her first album in three years this week – Look What You Made Me Do.

Response to it, from what I’ve seen on Twitter and various news sites, has been extremely mixed.

It’s thought to be an obvious revenge track aimed at Kanye West and Kim Kardashian after their much-documented feud (and possibly also at Katy Perry too, thanks to all their ‘Bad Blood’).

Continue reading