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Knebworth House Garden Show

Knebworth House Garden Show

Last weekend I headed to Knebworth House for their Garden Show. I am a sucker for garden shows, events and centres. I do have one slight issues however, I can’t garden.

My Granddad was a keen gardener, focusing mostly on fruits and vegetables. He was a pro at it, trying to teach me for many years but I never did pick it up. Without getting my hands dirty I am pretty terrible, I don’t think my Granddad ever trusted me to lay my hands on his crops. I always let him work his magic whilst I sat and watched, then ate the rewards afterwards.

My Nanna is a pro in the flower department. Now my granddad is sadly no longer with us, the vegetable patch has reduced significantly and the rest of the garden is my Nanna’s colourful paradise. In an attempt to live on my Granddad’s skills, I started with a very small patch of herbs and kale (obviously). The flower department however, I think I will leave that to my Nan.

Whenever I have tried to grow plants I simply kill them off in a matter of weeks. I had a beautiful in-house plant that needed watering once a week; killed that off. I even had a cactus once. I wouldn’t say I killed that one, but fair to say it had it’s way with me. After far too many pricks in my hand, legs and arms, he had to go.

Now I go to garden shows, centres and events just to admire the pretty plants and dream of one day being able to grow my own plant paradise. The thought of being able to grow all my own vegetables, at least, would be absolutely amazing. Call me quack-ers, but it’s true. Nothing beats home-grown produce. Satiety, nourishment and fulfilment, let alone money saving! The flower department would be beautiful, but I think I’ll start with the produce. If you have any tips or advice I would be very grateful.

 

Vegan friendly chocolate

Vegan friendly chocolate

Vegan friendly chocolate.

There seems to be a misconception that when you turn vegan you suddenly stop eating chocolate; this is not the case. There are many brands of chocolate offering dairy free options which don’t have to come from the “free from” section. If you like dark chocolate then you will find the transition easy. If you don’t enjoy dark chocolate it could take a while to make the transition however over time you will get used to the taste and start to love it.

It is possible to get milk and white vegan chocolate however it does have to come from the “free from” section because it isn’t naturally made dairy free. As a result the cost will be a bit higher than your regular chocolate bars.

Things to note:

  • not all dark chocolate is vegan so always double check the label.
  • dairy products are mostly always in bold however “butterfat” is sometimes not highlighted; so again double check the label.

Some facts about chocolate:

Chocolate is made from the cacao plant which in its most natural state is actually a health food. Not to be confused with cocoa, cacao is naturally high in antioxidants and has numerous health benefits. Alongside a healthy diet, cacao has the ability to balance blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduce arterial plaque and ultimately reverse heart disease.

Other health benefits:

  • Its high in magnesium which increases energy levels and protects against osteoporosis.
  • Cacao boosts serotonin levels and endorphins which improve mood and balance mood swings.
  • It contains healthy fats which create chemical reactions for growth, immune function and metabolic function.

I have accumulated a section of photos on my trip around Tesco, finding all the vegan chocolate I could. Other supermarkets and health shops have more choice so you’re never short of options. These are mainstream brands, where as health shops have great raw chocolate varieties (and more!) but at a higher cost.

Other alternatives include raw cacao powder (to create your own great vegan desserts/ treats) and cacao nibs (to add to snacks, smoothies and oats).

Find some of your mainstream varieties below.

Green & Black’s

Tesco’s Own

Lindt

Green & Blacks Thins

Tesco Finest

Bournville

Ritter Sport (not their mint variety)

BENDICK’S

 

To find out more about how chocolate is made, go view my post on how I made chocolate in the Amazon!

Finding happiness with food

Finding happiness with food

Finding happiness with food.

There have been times in the past year (well, 2016 until now) that I have just sat back and realised how far I have come.

As you all may know, 7 years ago almost to the day, I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. The whole ordeal was a nightmare and I really was at rock bottom. Depressed, malnourished and my body giving up on me, I didn’t know what the future had in store for me.

Time passed and although the physical effects of the Anorexia had gone, the mental effects lasted around 5 years. I had to retrain myself to eat normally and not to be afraid of food. Not to be obsessing over what I’m eating or feeling extremely anxious in public environments where food was present; it was painful.

After spending days, months and years researching nutrition to the fullest I could, it wasn’t until I found veganism that I noticed changes. I knew that eating a plant based diet I could eat healthy nutritious food and it was giving my body goodness. I was able to eat and thrive. I could eat food in abundance and not worry if it was going to make me sick, if I was going to binge and purge, along with all the other mental and physical issues it would result in.

18 months into eating a plant based diet I am not only thriving physically and mentally but I am finally at peace with food. I am able to sit in social environments and feel comfortable. I am happy with my body because I know I am healthy. I don’t care that I have fat on me because I know I am healthy.

I enjoy the occasional sweet treat and that is fine. The fact I can eat a cake (albeit vegan) and not feel guilty or binge out because “I’ve blown being good” is something I never thought would ever happen. I can sit in a room of people all eating cake and not stare at it thinking “should I have some or shall I be good?”. These things that some people may think are normal or little things feel like a miracle to me!

For years I spent my time obsessing over the food I put in my mouth. Worrying over what I was eating and constantly questioning what to eat, how much to eat, if I should eat it or not. Now however, these questions are not there. I eat three main meals a day, I eat what I like and all guilt has disappeared. I snack on healthy foods but these foods I enjoy.

I enjoy eating healthy. I don’t miss dairy or meat because they don’t make me happy. When I think of meat and dairy I don’t get the excitement that other people may get. This may be because of my eating disorder background but that’s ok. I do what I do for me because it makes me feel good.

Not everyone understands what I do but that is fine. I am happy and I am content. I’ve finally found peace with food and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Now I just want to share the amazing benefits of a plant based diet and encourage everyone to just try and eat better so that they can find peace too.

Whatever makes you happy is what you should do. No one has the right to tell you otherwise because it’s only you who has the power over your actions.

Thank you for listening to me and I hope this gives you more of an insight into why it is I am so passionate about this subject.

 

Ashridge Estate – Hertfordshire

Ashridge Estate – Hertfordshire

The Ashridge Estate and Autumn Colours Trail

What a place.

As a fully fledged National Trust member, I love to take advantage of this and find new great places to visit. This week I woke up to a gorgeous foggy day, not too cold, and with Autumn is full bloom I wanted to get outdoors and explore. Also, with the dark nights now setting in I am determined to get as much day light as I can. As Winter approaches it is far too easy to stay in and get depressed from a lack of Vitamin D!

I went onto the National Trust website and found places to visit in my county; this lead me to Ashridge.

The website has a selection of walks you can do but as it’s Autumn, it made sense to do the Autumn Colours Trail.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ashridge-estate/lists/self-led-walks-at-ashridge

5.9 miles (9.4 km) – Moderate Level – Dog friendly

The walk is absolutely stunning. One moment you’re immersed in colourful woodlands of oranges, greens, yellows and browns, then you turn a corner and you’re welcomed by great open fields. Want to see Deer? Five minutes into our walk we saw our first herd! I couldn’t believe it. By the end of the walk we had seen a total of four herds.

The walk was beautiful and we got to see deer, cows, squirrels and riders on horse back. It was stunning.

Unfortunately there is one downfall to this walk and that is the signing.

Online and in the Store you are able to get a copy of instructions and a map. The problem is that the trail isn’t well sign posted so it is quite easy to get confused as to where you are going. We stumbled across many other confused walkers, on the same route as us, whom we had to confer with as to where we should be going. Although much confusion on the walk, we did end up completing  the trail and made it out before dark.

It is a bit unnerving being lost in a woodland, especially in the Autumn when daylight is short, but with so many other walkers around I’m sure you couldn’t get completely lost.

Overall the Estate and surrounding areas are absolutely stunning. It is a great location for walking, a picnic, a dog walk and so on. I will definitely be returning again and I will be less anxious about getting lost.

If you are in the Herts area or near by, it’s definitely a must see. There are lots of people there exploring the woodlands, it’s free of charge and is a brilliant day out for all.

P.S. If you happen to get lost and stumble across this cute house, turn left and you’re almost at then end.

Enjoy and thanks for reading 🙂

Tips for Travelling South America

Tips for Travelling South America

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Tips for Travelling South America.

I spent just over three months travelling South America and there were a few things I wish I had known before going out there, and things I did know but chose not to listen to. Now I have been and experienced it myself I realise I was stupid not to have taken note and am now offering advice that I ignored, plus some extra bits I wish I had known before hand. Please don’t do what I did and ignore this, it’s all important and it will save you a lot of stress, money and time in doing so.

Enjoy your trip and stay safe.

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Yellow fever/ Vaccinations: One of my biggest, most recommended pieces of advice is to get your yellow fever injection! Don’t do what I did and leave your injection to the last week. Your yellow fever injection is only valid 10 days after you have had it done and for a few countries in Central and South America it is essential for you to have it to get in to the country. If you don’t have a valid certificate with you (this is provided when you get your injection) you will be refused entry into the country and sent on a return flight home (this happened to a girl when I was there!!). So go to your Pharmacist (Boots do it) or local Travel Clinic and get all medications and injections you need; way in advance!!

Learn Spanish: This was advice I heard from everyone before leaving for South America and did I listen? Nope! Should I have listened? Yes! In South America the people do not speak English; I promise you. If you want to get around, use public transport, order food, get directions, book a room etc (which of course, you will) then you need to speak Spanish. Even if you know a few basics, it will help you out A LOT! Get yourself a dictionary, phrase book, some phone apps and/ or take some classes. It will definitely be worth it.

Get a money belt: these are fantastic for keeping your valuables safe. Pop it under your clothes and keep your money, cards and passport in it. These are great for when on public transport and if you fall asleep especially. They are hidden and no one can access them apart from you.

Keep your valuables on you: when on public transport always have your valuable on you, i.e. not in your main backpack that is in storage. Keep a padlock on your day pack and keep all items you don’t want stolen in here. Keep it close to you and always take it with you, everywhere you go.

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Carry minimal items on you: this is really important, especially when in big cities or going to the beach for example. When you are out and about you don’t want to stand out and you don’t want to look rich. Leave your valuables in a safe in your hotel/ hostel and only carry the necessary items with you. Don’t wear nice jewellery because that will make you a target and if you’re going to the beach only bring essential items with you. The last thing you want is to have you camera stolen or any of your important possessions.

Be prepared for all weather: the weather can change a lot in South America, not only in the day but between countries. Come prepared for wind, rain, sunshine and ice. Wooly hats, warm gloves, hiking shoes, flip flops, rain coats, jumpers, bikinis; the lot. It’s annoying but you will need them all!

Bring a Go Pro or Waterproof camera: I didn’t bring one and I wish I had. My DSLR was fantastic but when it’s raining or if you visit waterfalls, lakes etc, a waterproof camera would be ideal.

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Bring a dry bag: As noted above, I didn’t have a waterproof camera but I did have a dry bag. This came in handy as I could keep my phone, camera and other valuables in it when on the water / or near water and I didn’t have to worry about anything getting damaged.

Get a decent day backpack: very helpful and useful. A decent day bag about 25ltr is ideal. You will be carrying a lot of items around with you for safety and convenience so a decent and large day pack is essential. Think about sun cream, waterproofs, camera, water bottle, food, change of clothes etc. Also handy for shorter trips you will do as you can leave your main bag in storage and just take your day pack with you!

Look away if you’re a male for this next one…

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Always carry tampons/ sanitary towels in your hand luggage: You will be out and about a lot on your trip and will probably be on a lot of public transport for many hours (think of them night busses). The last thing you want is to have you’re tampons/ sanitary towels in your backpack stored away and then nature calls. I don’t need to say much more about this but just be prepared…

Use buses over taxis when possible: Buses in South America, especially the big cities like Rio, Quito and Lima, buses are a lot cheaper than Taxis. Buses are also a lot safer and in some cities they are a lot quicker also as they have their own road (like a tram). You will save a lot of money this way.

 

Those are some of my top tips. Don’t be afraid or put off, it’s an incredible and diverse country. You will love it, just be smart, be confident and enjoy each moment.

Travelling is tiring

Travelling is tiring

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Travelling is tiring.

I know it sounds ridiculous to many, but travelling is tiring. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Oh come on! You don’t have to work, you get to see awesome places, have freedom” etc. Yes, that’s true and I am not complaining at all. I am very grateful for all the travelling I have been able to do and I absolutely love it with a passion! But there are times when I just want to stop. Stop thinking about: where I’m going to next? Where will I sleep tomorrow? What great places should I explore in my next destination? Will I get good wifi to research the next destination, book accommodation, etc. It’s a completely different type of tiredness to the day to day “normal” living.

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Travelling is amazing but it is important to stop and be present in your environment. When you’re moving from one destination to another in a matter of days, that is tiring and that is when you just need to stop. Allow yourself a break. Feel fresh and motivated for your next hike, your next long drive, your next mini adventure; whatever it may be. You want to enjoy the journey and for that you need energy.

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I just wanted to share that for anyone considering travelling because some things you just need to be aware of. Yes, it is fantastic, you’re free to do what you like when you like but some times all you want to do is stop. Have a day doing nothing, reading, writing, watching television or just pigging out with a movie! It’s totally fine and you need days like that to recoup and start fresh again. Don’t get so tired that you miss out on something incredible.

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I just wanted to share that with you, and if you’re off on any travels then ENJOY! Just remember, it’s ok to take a break.

Love,

Hannah ✌🏼

My favourites of North Wales

My favourites of North Wales

I am no expert in travelling Wales at all, however, I do know that it has a LOT to offer. I lived and studied there for two years and during my road trip of the UK i thought i would show my Australian friend how beautiful it is.

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Snowdonia National Park: home to Mount Snowdon

Whilst we were there the rain clouds decided to hang around the entire Snowdonia Mountain range which was a big shame as we only had one full day there. If you do head to North Wales, then of course Snowdonia is a must see and do. The National Park is beautiful and a mountain range like no other. The mountains are made of slate, the sheep wonder the roads like they own the place and if you head to Llanberis (the village at the base of Snowdonia where you can get the train up to Mount Snowdon) you get a beautiful view of the lake with the mountain range in the background, reflecting on the lake. It is all pretty gorgeous, even when the storm clouds are there (as shown below..).

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We drove through Snowdonia, stopping to take photos in the rain (stop, jump out of car, take photos, jump back in, dry camera, drive, repeat…), then headed off to Beaumaris.

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Beaumaris: the beautiful coastal village.

Beaumaris is a quaint, small village with lots of character and stunning views. Facing the ocean with the mountains in the background it is the perfect place to sit out and enjoy some lunch, but beware of the seagulls… they are out for your food and they aren’t afraid of the consequences. Maybe you’re best off eating in a nice cafe or restaurant (there are many) overlooking the ocean instead, or if you like a Chippy or ice-cream just look out for the seagulls, ha ha! It is a great spot though; you won’t be disappointed.

Note: I didn’t get any pictures because I forgot my camera! But Google will help you out I’m sure 🙂

Leaving Beaumaris behind, the weather was looking beautiful and our parking time was up so we headed to the beautiful Newborough Beach.

Newborough Beach: time for a stunning coastal walk.

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It’s funny. I lived in Menai Bridge, Anglesey, for two years and visited this beach numerous times. Little did i know that there was an absolute gem sitting right at the tip of the beach. With the sun shining brightly (and storm clouds lingering over Snowdon still) we took a walk along the beach. The tide was out and the rocks in the distance had always left me curious but I had never been that far down before, for reasons i have no idea. I think it’s just the natural beauty of Newborough; it is so distracting. The ocean is calm, the stretch of beach is golden, far and wide, the Snowdonia National Park stands bold in the horizon and the lush forest sits parallel the beach.

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Days when I used to visit here we just used to sit and admire it, relax after hours of studying, take a swim in the water, just do the normal student things (whatever that may be…). This time however, we were going to walk and explore, see what lay ahead.

This, is what we discovered.

The beautiful, coastal walk; absolutely breath taking. I still can’t believe it. How did i not know about this?

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The tide was out which was great, meaning this walk was easily accessible. When the tide is in i am not so sure how accessible it is? But anyway, the path is fairly flat and many people of all ages were walking it. It’s about a 30-minute walk from the start (not the car park), but allow an hour for stopping and taking photos etc. As you come out of the carpark onto the beach, turn right and curry on to the end. You can’t miss it…

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The walk is amazing and you’ll get some cracking photos. I’ll let the photos do the explaining but if you are ever up this way, do not miss out on this. If you can only fit in one thing to do in North Wales then of course do Snowdon but even if you can squeeze this in just for a visit to the beach at least, it is well worth the visit.

Side Note: every time i had visited here we didn’t have to pay for parking, this time however we did and it was 4 pounds for all day so be prepared just in case.

 

Beautiful Paraty, Brazil

Beautiful Paraty, Brazil

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Beautiful. Colonial. Quaint. Different?

Paraty is all of the above and so much more.

Paraty is the first place I visited when entering Brazil and it gave me such a different view of the country. Before visiting South America I had a lot of expectations of Brazil, as would many others I  imagine. It is possibly the most well known country out of all South America, known for: tiny bikinis, attractive locals, fantastic sights and culture. We all know something about Rio, right? But let me tell you, Brazil has so much more to offer and Paraty is just a small piece of the magic.

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Driving along the Brazilian coastline into Paraty is absolutely gorgeous. Driving on extreme winding roads capturing glimpse’s of the calm, crystal blue ocean between the trees on every bend and turn; it is absolutely stunning. As you enter Paraty it’s a very small, village feeling town with narrow cobbled streets, colourful buildings and a calm hustle of people. Yes, a calm hustle; it is a thing, and I love it. It has so much beauty and culture and it is a place where you will want to return to time and time again.

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What did I do in Paraty?

Well, apart from photographing every street I turned on to, I ate great food! (Thai Brazil – GO! It is incredible), I went on a stunning boat tour, wandered the streets just admiring their beauty, partied in the street with the locals, and spent a lot of time mooching around the cute little shops!

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Background:

It is set between beautiful rainforest and the clear blue ocean, and the buildings date back to the 17th and 18th century, so as you can imagine it is pretty stunning. The streets are quite the challenge to walk on. The streets are cobbled to stop cars from accessing the roads and the only “vehicles” you will see here are the horse and carts. Another fun fact is that at each full moon the streets will flood. I didn’t get to see the floods but just some pools of water left as remains and the reflections of the colourful buildings in the water. It is pretty beautiful. (How many times have I said beautiful in this description? Have I made my point? Ha ha!)

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Street Party:

Each Monday the locals hold a Samba event; incredible. It is a non-profit organisation which was set up by the community to provide some entertainment to the quiet little town. Members of local bands grouped together to provide the music and song then they play non-stop all night to tourists and locals. The community all get together and dance Samba with one another, including professional dancers, and the local guy who has been practicing Samba for years and still doesn’t quite get the hang of it (the hosts words, not mine! Ha ha!!). For me though, he was my favourite… or was it the super cute professional male dancer? 😉 Toughie…

The group/ host/ locals were super friendly and wanted everyone to have the best time.

At the end of the night the host collects donations and this provides the weekly event with soup, food and water for the crowd. I honestly had the best night of my life here thanks to this organisation and the kindness of the community. The energy was amazing, the dancing was spectacular and the band were incredible. You can’t beat kindness, music, dance and laughter.

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Sold?

I don’t know if I have sold Paraty to you or not, but please, if you ever visit Brazil or South America you must check this place out. 2 days at least to get a feel for it, and try to be there on a Monday to experience the Samba party in the main square at around 8-9pm. Wonder the streets, watch sunset at the ocean, take a boat tour to neighbouring islands, snorkel the crystal waters, dance samba, eat great food and buy lots of local craft souvenir’s.