Keeping Myself (mentally) Afloat

I have never lived so close to a big body of water and oh boy, what a body Lyme Bay is.

I can hotfoot it from my street door to the chilly English Channel in about 90 seconds and in an ideal world where I didn’t have rent, bills and mouths to feed I’d be in there every day. Unfortunately, the reality of work and kids dictates otherwise, but I do try to go down there three or four times a week.

Yesterday, as the late afternoon sun cast alien-like shadows on the sand, I sat on a cushion at the end of the groyne on Lyme’s Sandy Beach and contemplated my navel as I shared some hot, non-fish nosh from the chippy with my husband Simon. The tide was on its way in at a bit of a pace and for a while I sat mesmerised by the rhythmic continuum of saline water lapping up onto the concrete. It felt as though the salt on my seaside snack had been laced with mind altering drugs, because somehow, all the worries of my week were being sucked into the ocean by some benevolent force of nature – it was welcome bliss.

Mind emptied and belly full, I contemplated the stimulating joy of doing a great big swim across the bay. There are a bunch of keen local swimmers who go in for regular dips come rain or shine and there are two seriously hard-assed girls who indulge in a daily dip in their swimming costumes from about February while we mere mortals are still clad in vests, socks and cardigans – and that’s in bed! They go in the water looking sort of pinkish and come out red raw from the neck down, their blood desperately sloshing around just under the surface of their skin, flashing like a beacon telling them not to do it again.

I absolutely love being near the water, but much prefer being in it and thankfully, I have a relatively high threshold for chilly H2O. The old adage of, ‘You’ll be fine once you’re in’, is true, but the needle pin pain that envelopes your body as you give yourself over to the water makes you wonder whether you are being assaulted by a smack of jellyfish (and yes, that is the right noun)…

I can cope with being in far colder water than Simon and think this might, in part, be due to having lived in several bloody cold houses that had no form of central heating – even the mice wore jumpers. This is surely aided by having a super protective layer of woman lard, particularly around the midriff, bottom and top of leg area. It’s handy to be honest, not only does it slow down the signals of the real temperature reaching the brain up my frozen synapses, but like the disgusterous stuff I used to find in the washing up bowl after cooking sausages, fat floats and so does anyone that has a bit!

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Vegan Decisions: the chicken & the eggs

If you’re looking for a straw-to-break-the-camels-back reason to go veggie or vegan, read on.

I start with a statement (NB: conscious choice of words there, it’s not a confession. History is history, guilt is futile). When it comes to meat, for many of my first 40 years on this cosmic football, I’ve eaten and enjoyed it. Life long vegans or veggies, don’t beat me up – I’ve seen the light and all that.

Since being a grown up in charge of my own shopping decisions – and to the best of my financial ability – I bought organic, locally reared and I made sure every morsel was consumed: “Something died to be on your plate”!

For a few years, I kept chickens and at the height of it I had about 43, 10 of which were ex-battery and many had been hand reared from eggs from friends/farms that I knew. However, upon wise reflection I’ve realised that some of the chicks I bought from a local market, may have come into existence as a result of commercial rearing. All I can do this side of my freshly found out facts, is sigh.

Commercial rearing generally favours female chicks over male, because of their guaranteed retail value in their egg laying capabilities. Freshly born male chicks have little or no value whether they are free range or factory farmed and they are killed almost as soon as they set foot out of their tiny shells. Chick culling is a serious business and chicken sexer salaries of around £40,000 pa, sadly reflect this.

I hadn’t realised there were so many horrific ways to despatch the unwanted gender and I thank Wikipedia for saving me the pain of having to rewrite the copy that describes the methods. There are several other reliable sources for finding this information out and I encourage you to do some research. Here are a couple of articles that back these facts up to get you started from the Telegraph and the Guardian.Continue Reading

Is it Vegan?

I hadn’t realised that vegan living was quite as layered as it actually is.

I mean, I have a complicated enough life but hey, don’t we all, balancing kids, work, wine, but when it comes to ensuring that only the foodstuffs I want to pass my lips do, there are simple and obvious changes I can implement.

“Don’t eat meat” doesn’t take a lot of thinking about but as with my earlier post about shellac on apples and citrus fruits, who’d have thought they’d be plastered in dead bug juice?

To make my life a bit easier by taking some of the mystery out of it, I favour shopping in purely vegan venues but unfortunately, they are almost as hard to find as an honest Tory. There is, however, a cracking shop in Exeter called Seasons which takes about an hour to get to in our little electric star buggy and it is the only place I can fill up a basket without the irksome necessity of having to reach for my reading glasses.

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Veggie Quote: Martin Luther King

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“Never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we choose to look the other way.”

Vegan Recipe: Spiralised Beetroot & Rice Salad With Tofurkey Sausage

A heavenly, colourful salad that your insides will thank you for and is more filling than it looks. Visually it’s at it’s best when freshly combined, rather than mixing it all up in a container and poking it in the fridge, because it’s just like when you put a brand new bright red bra in the wash, the colour will run and everything will go pink.

You need:

Cooked rice of your choice (I did Basmati)
Cooked, cooled and sliced Tofurkey Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Sausage
1 per person is plenty)

Mint dressing:
Plain yoghurt
Mint sauce

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Veggie Quote: Sir Paul McCartney

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“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”

Veggie Quote: Emily Deschanel

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“I’ve been vegan for 15 years, and it turns out it makes a very big impact on the environment to eat fewer animal products, which cause more greenhouse gases than all of transportation combined. The United Nations did a study just over two years ago, and that blew my mind. I started thinking that if people are vegetarian for just one day a week, that makes a huge difference!”

The Year of the Orange

Age is a funny old thing and trying to recall what you were doing at certain points in your life, can dust off some bizarre memories.

I can remember at the age of 5 being rushed off to hospital, sweating and doubled over in pain, wrapped in a red tartan car blanket with twiddly tassels around the edges (standard issue Ford Cortina boot contents). It was mid-December and the fruit bowls in the house were all bursting with tangerines. I sneaked down in the dead of night, stole as many as my tiny hands could carry in one mission and retreated to my single bed to unwrap the juicy flesh, consume, then hide the peel under the mattress.

The coincidental timing of the worlds biggest belly ache and acute appendicitis was inopportune and I tried desperately hard to curl up and go to sleep through it, believing all I’d need the next morning was a good poo to clear the orange onslaught I’d treated my guts to in the wee small hours.

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