These past few weeks have been a rollercoaster. In a good way. I’ve been touring Ireland with my family and it has been utterly incredible.

Cliffs of Moher

But I’m currently on a zero-waste journey and so being out of my natural habitat was a challenge when it came to regulating my plastic consumption. At home, I believe we can all quite easily take leaps and bounds towards living with less waste. Or rather, consuming less waste, I should say. But that’s because we’ve learned how to do exactly that. We know where to go, what to do, and essentially which resources to use in our area. It’s the element of familiarity. It’s not always so easy when you’re out of town.

Travel is a sure-fire way to put you out of your comfort zone and force you to be present. The environment is new; the flavours, the smells, the dynamics and the language. You’ve got to stay focused in order to be able to navigate your way from A to B and digest those experiences you are encountering. So in that respect, being out of your comfort zone is incredibly satisfying. It’s also a potent way to grow and develop yourself.

But then, on the other hand it’s really difficult traveling if you’re trying to maintain a particular kind of lifestyle. For me, that’s vegan & low waste. I am always hesitant to say I live zero waste because in truth I don’t. I’m not sure that any of us actually do. But I am fully determined with every ounce of flesh and bone in my body to reduce my footprint on this planet. Every day is a new challenge and there are obstacles aplenty. But I want to know that when I leave this Earth, I’ll have made my very best efforts to have not left it worse off.

Plastic waste is the one. The baddie. Not so much the recyclables (although let’s be honest – they’re pretty ugly and horrid) but really the single-use stuff. The non-recyclable packaging that will go straight to landfill. That stuff is the bane of my life. And well, the whole planet really. And it’s everywhere I look: in every person’s hand and every supermarket shelf. It feels like all the odds are stacked against me, but by hook or by crook I’ll be damned if I give up the fight to live in a way that means I’m not having to consume it.

I’ve modified my lifestyle and consumption habits so that I’m using biodegradable or packaging-free alternatives to commonplace items. I’m still very much on a journey and learning of new solutions every day, but I’m trying. After doing my research and familiarising myself with where I can go for bulk bins, loose produce, raw materials for DIY cosmetics etc. I’d say that I’m bossing Bristol pretty well. But throw travel into the mix and it’s a bit of deer in headlights action. It’s also incredibly difficult when you throw family into the mix, or a group of friends who all have different priorities. You can love them to the moon and back, but still not see eye-to-eye on fundamental things.

So with this trip around Ireland (and our first family vacation in 2 years), there were definitely times when I had to refrain from getting angry about the consumption habits of my family. I didn’t want to rock the boat too much; after all, we were there to enjoy ourselves. However, there are some knacks to keeping the sea smooth while still living in alignment with your values. If you’re an aspiring zero-waster, these might just help you too.

  1. Do your research & offer to do the buying. It’s not that your family and friends don’t care about your values; it’s just that they have other priorities and unfortunately don’t understand the pressing desperation that some of us feel to not leave behind a large plastic footprint. To avoid confrontation and any defensiveness, it’s a good idea to offer to be in charge of the food shopping while you’re away. Ask them beforehand to put the money into a kitty if they’re happy to do so and let them know that you’re very happy to do the shopping. Chances are, they’ll be relieved that they don’t have to think about doing any grocery-shopping while on vacation and instead sit back and relax. You’ll have saved yourself the stress of a mountain of plastic packaging in the process.
  2. Prepare snacks for the day. If you get hangry anything like I do, then you’ll know that it’s not a pretty sight or any fun to be around in the slightest. Avoid stressful situations of feeling starved to death but having the inner turmoil of not wanting to consume plastic packaging by making sure to have a stash of loose fruit and nuts to keep you going until you can find a café or restaurant for something more substantial.
  3. Take produce bags with you. In some countries, supermarket produce must be put in plastic bags and priced before paying. Avoid this by being sure to have your trusty cloth bags in tow.
  4. Have your zero-waste essentials kit on you at all times. This is part of the daily life as a zero-waster, but when traveling be sure to have a reusable bottle, cup, tupperware, silverware and a stainless steel straw (if you can’t be without one when consuming your beverage of choice). This way, your family and friends can do their thing, but at least you know that you’re prepared. You might even spark some curiosity when they see your swanky little kit and see how easy it is to package take-away options.

For more zero waste tips, check out one of my latest on Peaceful Dumpling: Still Think Zero Waste Is Hard? 6 Easy Steps To Make It Work For Your Life

Are you passionate about low-waste living? What are your tips for making it work when you’ve got company?

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Josh Eggleton

This weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Bristol Foodies Festival. One of 10 Foodies Festivals across the UK this summer, the Bristol special took place on Durdham Downs. Three days of deliciousness against a backdrop of whispering park land and good grooves included everything from a cake theatre to demonstrations from top chefs. I had family in town for the weekend and all being enthusiastic foodies themselves, the universe really had aligned perfectly and so of course we spent Sunday scoffing our way round.

The weather could not have been better and we could smell the BBQs all fired up from across The Downs. Upon arrival we headed straight to the Chefs Theatre to sign up for Josh Eggleton’s afternoon slot. This local lad is a Michel Star Chef at The Pony & Trap down in Chew Magna. Having heard nothing but good things about said gastropub, I simply had to see what he would be wowing us with. The theatre tickets are free, but on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you attend one of these festivals, I recommend checking out the timetable ahead of time and getting your tickets upon arrival so you don’t miss out. The four areas worth paying a visit are: The Chefs Theatre, The Cakes & Desserts Theatre, The Drinks Theatre and Kids Cookery Theatre. See what appeals to you before you go so you don’t miss out. *Vegan readers: Sarah Sibley will be demonstrating a vegan chocolate & raspberry bundt at all of the festivals, so be sure to get a ticket for that one (swoon)!*

Until our 2pm Egglton-extraordinaire event came round, we were free to roam, tummy-first. The first port of call was melt-in-the-mouth liquid nitrogen sorbet from Whipsmiths. I opted for lemon & elderflower. It was fascinating to watch them create the treat right there on the spot and even better to taste. Post-ice, we did a recce of the site. This took us past coconut water, specialist liquors, a sexy cocktail bar playing an excellent selection of lounge music, stall-after-stall of street food and a yoga tent! Who knew this would be included?!

As I’m on the subject, I’ll mention that one of the things that rather quickly jumped out at me is how well-balanced this festival felt. I’m a plant-based eater and always feel quite put off when food festivals are all about the meat and not much else. I feel like it’s a cop out of getting creative with your cuisine. If you’re in the same boat as me, you need not worry at all. The Foodie Festivals do things right. There is plenty on offer that you can and will want to eat. Plus I really appreciated the yoga ‘wellness’ element thrown in here in Bristol. It was just one of the ways that this festival was able to add in something unexpected and wonderfully wholesome for you and your family to enjoy.

After a chillax in the sunshine, we headed into the cool of the Chef’s Theatre where Eggleton mesmerised us with his years of knowledge and expertise. I loved how he bigged up vegetables and emphasised the importance of eating local and natural foods. He’s opening up another Salt & Malt in Wapping Wharf soon and it sounds like he’s got great plans to give back to RNLI via specialist Monday-night menus. One more reason to love the guy, if his cooking doesn’t already blow you away.

With 8 Foodie Festivals left across the UK, I recommend planning a visit to one near you this summer. London kicks off on the Bank Holiday weekend (May 27th-29th) followed by Newcastle, Birmingham, Blackheath, Tatton Park, Edinburgh, Alexandra Palace and finally Oxford from September 1st-3rd.

Bristol Foodies Festival

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Bristol Foodies Festival

Bristol Foodies Music

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I was lucky enough to spend this past weekend at the London Wellbeing Festival. My thoughts on last year’s event can be found here. This was an important weekend for me, because while yes, I was looking forward to the actual workshops and pottering around the stalls, this marked a year since I had a total breakdown. I was curious how I would feel being in the Olympia Centre once more, but with an entirely different head on my shoulders this time. Would it trigger me, or offer relief?

2016 was one of the most difficult years of my life thus far (apart from 2006 which was also terrible…what is it about the ‘6’?!) and whilst I took a lot away from last year’s event, I truly did just float around totally disengaged. Eventually I made it back to Bristol and things just got worse. And worse. And worse.

But eventually, after months of therapy – and honestly I think a miracle – I woke up just fine one sunny morning earlier this year. Fine. Without a fluctuating numbness or anxiety, I woke up feeling normal. For over a year I’d woken up every single day with this kind of thick fog. This dullness. Nothing was inspiring, warm, or light. Everything was hard work and I could not see a point to any of it. But I told myself that eventually, somehow, it would get better. And it did.

I can’t tell you if it was the therapy, cutting caffeine out, or the result of a prayer that someone made for me in a time of desperation. But life works in mysterious ways and for whatever reason, I managed to get out of my funk.

London Wellbeing

Returning to the Wellbeing Festival in 2017 was an important milestone for me. Last year, I was acutely aware of what felt like crowds of mentally-unstable, self-help junkies. I felt overwhelmed by all these desperate people wanting help from whatever workshop they were attending. I felt claustrophobic and small. But interestingly, this year I didn’t see any of that. Instead, I saw like-minded, warm, kind, self-aware individuals there for connection, self-growth and improvement. The word projection comes to mind as I realise that what I was seeing both years was a direct reflection of my mental state at the time. When you feel cold, all you can see is frost. When you feel warm and complete, you see the good.

I spent my time at the festival realising that I’m really not introverted; I’ve just been spending my time with all the wrong people. And that’s a very powerful realisation to come to. My final workshop of the day with the incredible Sarah Rozenthuler proved just that. It was a workshop titled, ‘Living Your Heart’s Desire’ and used some key principles and partner work to help gain perspective on the difference between your inherited purpose, believed purpose and soul purpose. It was eye-opening and inspiring and the beautiful connections between strangers was something I’ll forever cherish deeply. We were a group of women of all ages and backgrounds who all understood the fire in each other’s bellies and the calling for a creative life. It didn’t matter that we’d only just met. We were all on the same wavelength and it’s in those situations that magic happens.

At times like these, I am reminded of my favourite quote by C.S. Lewis: “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but looking back everything is different?” A milestone such as an annual festival or event can be that solid, external indicator of how well you’re doing and how far you’ve come. If you need that extra push to remind yourself of your progress, use it.

London, for all its madness, did not strike me as a hostile place this year. I instead chose to see the colours on the walls and the dynamic melting pot of people and realised that this time round it made me feel alive.

 

 

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Glastonbury Festiva;

Oh, Glastonbury Festival. There’s nowhere else on the planet like it. I know, that sounds like it’s perhaps exaggerated, but until you’ve been, you can’t quite understand what I mean. If you have been, let’s hug and praise Lord Eavis for its existence.

When I first went to Glastonbury, I was armed with a tribe of veterans. This made it very easy. They knew how to handle the gruelling arrival, the best place to camp, when to go where, where was where, how to get from here to there and every other useful piece of information. I was one of the lucky ones. They told me what to pack. For example, we had been having a good few sunny says prior to the festival, so I casually asked my boyfriend, “do you really think I need to take my wellies?” to which he responded by booping me on the nose and wandering off with, “oh bless you…” (the answer is yes, BTW. WELLIES ALWAYS.)

I knew a bit of what to expect: epic sounds, lots of walking and all the hippies I could ever ask for. But truly, nothing could prepare me for what turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life and continues to be every year I attend.

Resales are this week and here’s why you should try for a ticket:

  1. Life outside the festival ceases to exist. All of your problems get left behind at the gate. Once you’re there, every sense is stimulated and the sheer magic so overwhelming that Glastonbury becomes home. It becomes community. It becomes life. It is sheer nirvana and should be experienced by every human at least once during his or her life.
  2. The music. I mean, this is the obvious one, but I find that Glasto-goers sometimes don’t prioritise it, simply because the festival atmosphere itself is often the highlight. But yes, the music. Having over 150 stages means that there is literally every type of music imaginable on offer. And one of the best things is simply wandering and seeing what you come across. It’s a great place to discover all those sounds that you never even knew you liked (as well as hear some of the greats, obviously).
  3. The environmental policy is on point. I have friends who refuse to go to large festivals like Glastonbury because of the dystopian wasteland the grounds turn into once the giant party comes to an end. I totally respect that. But the Glastonbury ethos is wholesome and pure at heart. Their motto is, ‘Love the Farm, Leave No Trace”. They try to drill into attendees at every possible opportunity that they have the responsibility of clearing up after themselves once it’s time to go home. They want you to enjoy the beautiful Worthy grounds and respect it enough to not leave it in a shambles. Unfortunately this doesn’t yet happen, but I have hope that within the next few years festival-goers will get their shit into gear and stop having a ‘one use’ mentality for their tents and fancy dress outfits. Aside from this, Glastonbury encourages people to travel to the festival by public transport, is using more and more renewable energy to power various areas of the festival, forces all food stalls to provide compostable serving dishes and utensils, explains why peeing on the land is bad for the river system and supports loads of charities including Greenpeace and WaterAid. That gets two excitable, dancing thumbs up from me.
  4. The food is bomb. The festival grounds cover over 1,100 acres. Yes, I know – t’s massive. And one of the best things about a festival that gigantic is the choice of everything. Food is up there. There is every kind of cuisine known to man and plenty of veggie options, of course.
  5. There are so many weird things to see. I don’t just mean on the stages, but as you’re wandering around you might see anything from racing grannies blasting dance anthems from their trolleys to giant aliens that make you do a double-take. Try not to get weirded out; just take it for what it is (and secretly wish life was always like this).
  6. The South-East Corner. The naughty, dirty, hedonistic south-east corner can only be described as Shangri-La – a name reserved for one particular quadrant of the corner. While there’s something happening 24/7 (or should i say 24/5?) at Glastonbury, Block9, The Unfairground and Shangri-La will blow you away. Installations that blow your mind when you consider they are temporary, politically-charged mayhem that makes you ask yourself, “is this kind of stuff even allowed in today’s PC society?!” and sights that you realise you’ll never unsee. Words can’t describe it; you’ve simply got to see it for yourself.
  7. The relaxed vibes of camp. One of the best things about Glastonbury is the policy (or rather, lack of) when it comes to arrival and camp. Bring all the booze you want, set up camp where you want and enjoy a nice campfire, should you wish. I understand the logic behind festivals that allocate camping and do not permit fires or BYOB, but you arrive at Glastonbury and realise that the freedom and respect of letting people have a bit more breathing room creates a kind, peaceful community.
  8. The Secret Sets. If you’re lucky, you just might catch a glimpse of your favourite band on the most minuscule stage: unannounced and with an audience of a handful. Radiohead, Franz Ferdinand and Pulp are just a few of the names who have surprised crowds over the years. I wonder who it’ll be this year? Who would make you just die if you stumbled across them at the bandstand?
  9. The Sacred Space Bonfire. If you’re an early-arriver, do not miss the bonfire over at Stone Circle on the Wednesday night. This kicks off the whole festival and is usually proceeded by something weird and wonderful and followed by a feel-good fireworks display to get you ready to party.
  10. The opportunity to try new things. I’ve left this until last because I think it’s one of the highlights of Glastonbury for me. Something this festival does so well is create opportunities for new experiences. Whether it’s trying out your skills on a giant trapeze or experiencing the powers of reiki, there are so many amazing things to pursue, simply for the fun of it. Make the very most of it.

So yes, you’ve got to at least give it a try. Life’s simply too short not to. Coach tickets go on sale 6pm BST 20/04 and General Admission 9am BST 23/04 and can be purchased ONLY here. Good luck!

Glastonbury Line-up 2017

 

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Tenerife

When I think of the word holiday, I kind of associate a lazy energy with it. I suppose that’s what a holiday should be really: a time to unwind, de-stress and relax. But I also feel like it means placing emphasis on the sunbed more so than the adventure.

When I think of the word trip, there’s a little fire that ignites in my belly. It feels like I’ll be pioneering, exploring and intertwined with the beautiful. Oh, and the epic – never forgetting the epic.

So a week off work to go on a ‘holiday’ I guess I did. Only, the way we did things was more trip than holiday. We flew across to the beautiful Canarian island of Tenerife and ventured far and wide.

Tenerife has always intrigued me. It’s got volcanic soil, it’s got the mighty Teide that can be seen from almost everywhere on the island it seems, great food and lots of outdoor pursuits. It is also incredibly relaxed once you get away from the swarms of tourists in the southwest.

I never did the whole package/all-inclusive thing growing up and I still don’t really understand the appeal. But hey, that’s probably just me being judgemental. If you like that kinda thing, go for it. I just never understood why people fly all over the world only to sit in a hotel and eat the same food they would at home, surrounded by people who probably don’t live very far away from them! But perhaps I’ve missed the point?

No, not my style. If I travel somewhere, I want to understand the way people do things there – in that part of the world. I want to eat what they eat. I want to live how they live. I want to at least try to understand what makes the people tick. Travel has taught me that it’s the best way to learn, about the world obviously but also yourself. There’s nothing that’ll make you feel grateful about being able to drink your tap water quicker than going somewhere where the only choice is bottled. There’s nothing that will make you more grateful for tarmac and pavement than shitty dirt roads with mega pot holes.

But it’s not really about going somewhere to suffer and thus look forward to going home (though, granted that’s one benefit). It’s about opening your eyes to how differently humans live around the planet. You might just learn a thing or two about life in the process.

For this trip, we Air BnB’d it up in Icod de los Vinos. Totally away from the tourists, our gracious host Andrés was a delight at the Finca de Bebedero. High on the clifftops overlooking the town and ocean below, we awoke each morning to orange trees, bird-of-paradise flowers and a happy purring resident kitty. It was truly paradise on earth.

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From there, with our trusty little hire car we had the perfect base to explore the entire island as we pleased. This included the lost villages of the northeast: El Benijo and Taganana, Teide, Masca, Los Gigantes, Puerto de la Cruz and Garachico.

The Northeast

The drive across the island from Icod to Anaga National Park is ridiculous. In a good way. As you whiz past Puerto de la Cruz you start heading up the mountains and into lush greenery. An island with 11 microclimates, Tenerife continues to surprise you as you explore further. Mirador Cruz del Carmen should not be missed for an incredible view of the towns below and right across the island to the mighty Teide in the distance. From there, the drive continues north east to the laid-back surf villages of Taganana and El Benijo. Think: long windy roads and Indiana Jones vibes. We’re talking off-grid terrain that screams to be photographed.

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From there we crossed to the south-coast where San Andrés meets you with its playfulness and Playa de las Teresitas wows with its imported white sand. Further down the coast Santa Cruz appears with its unexpected metropolitan sprawl as if out of nowhere.

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Teide

One cannot go to Tenerife and not either climb or cable-car up Mt. Teide. The highest point in Spain at 3,700 metres, this volcano truly is majestic. The drive through the national park up to either the starting route of the walk at Montaña Blanca or the lower cable-car station starts to look more and more like one would imagine Mars might look. Oh, and your ears will tell you you’re increasing in altitude, even if your eyes don’t.

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The cable-car takes you just shy of the top by a couple hundred metres. A permit is required to hike to the very summit during the hours the cable-car runs. These aren’t well advertised and a lot of people arrive disappointed that they can’t do this. You can apply here to avoid disappointment. They’re free but limited and often all reserved well in advance.

I was informed of this valuable piece of information too late for me to get my hands on one, however there was a way around it. The Refugio de Altavista is a hostel at 3,200 m where you can book yourself a night and get to the summit before the permits are required. So yes, at dawn.

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One can hike or cable-car it to the top, taking all food and water needed for a night there (though they do have vending machines that sell bottled water, coffee and a few snacks if you’re mega desperate). You’re plonked in the hostel with a bunch of other mountaineering enthusiasts (capacity is 54 people) and left to cook your dinner, chat with whoever speaks your language and watch the best sunset you’ve ever seen in your life. This is followed by the clearest night sky you’ve ever seen too.

After broken sleep, you’ll force yourself awake around 4:30 or 5:00am and prepare for the 500m hike in the dark to the summit, making sure to be there in time for the sunrise. You’ll be exhausted and struggle a bit due to the altitude and lack of sleep, but you’ll have never felt so happy as you reach the warm and smelly sulphur vents of the top. You’ll perch to watch the night sky be replaced by bands of red, orange and pink as the sun rises over the island. Slowly all the islands of the Canaries will be visible and you’ll warm up a bit and feel utterly high on life. It’ll be one of those moments you know you’ll always remember – ‘nowstalgia‘ if you like.

Masca & Los Gigantes

My friend Matt recommended Masca as a must for our trip. I did some research and it seemed that many people rated this as their favourite part of Tenerife travels. We got there and it wasn’t difficult to see why.

Masca

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Masca is an almost tropical park in the north-west of the island. It is rich in biological diversity, mesmerising and boats an awesome hike through the river canyon down to a private beach that can only be accessed by said hike or a water taxi from nearby town Los Gigantes.

Jonny and I parked our car in Los Gigantes after reading that the roads were pretty gnarly up to Masca. Boy were we glad we did. I thoroughly recommend doing this! We parked up and got a taxi to the start of the hiking trail for about 25 euros. Los Gigantes is pretty touristy and there’s a taxi rank right outside the main hotel, so you’ll have no problem reserving one. I would also recommend parking further up in the more residential area rather than trying to battle with the busy harbour.

We hiked the 2-3 hour trail down the canyon. It’s a really varied, picturesque hike that I can describe quite simply as fun. Teide was endurance, this one was fun. You get to do some river-crossing, rock climbing, scrambling through bamboo tunnels and eventually end up on a secluded beach with a perfect pier to cannon-ball off of.

We decided to kayak back along the coast to Los Gigantes rather than taxi boat it. I would recommend Teno Activo if you’re fairly confident with your Spanish. The guide speaks a few words of English though, so as long as you know how to operate a paddle, I can’t see it going too wrong. We spent a couple hours kayaking the coast, stopping for a snorkel along the way and it was sublime.

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Puerto de la Cruz

Puerto de la Cruz was our nearest major town, so we used it for the supermarkets and some good local food. Upon our host’s recommendation for great tapas, we ate as La Tasquita de Min and were blown away. Go there, please. Do yourself a favour and try the hot peppers!

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Icod de los Vinos & Garachico

This was home for the week and despite getting lost on the side roads of Icod numerous times, the place still captured our hearts with  its laid-back vibes and great views. Garachico was the choice for our last night. It’s a small town just along the coast to the west. It’s really scenic, has a great sea-front where you can wander all along the rocks amongst the crashing waves and has probably the best seafood restaurant I’ve ever been to: Casa Gaspar. It serves great local catches from the harbour and the service was exceptional.

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Tenerife is an island that has captured my heart and one that I cannot wait to return to. If you’re hesitant that its simply a resort-island, I encourage you to challenge that opinion and venture over there. You’ll be blown away.

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