My Mystery Dining Experience

Writing

Sherlock Holmes eat your heart out for I think you’ll find that I’m the true detective when it comes too all things ‘mysterious’.

Well, atleast when it comes to secret dining that is. Having recently signed up to a mystery dining program in the last couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure of casting my judgmental beady eye across all sorts, from bitching waiting staff to rather greasy grub and everything inbetween.

‘Mystery dining’, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is the task of eating free food and whinging about the customer service of the waiters. Just kidding, it’s much much more than that. It involves adopting an analytical eye, if you’re a natural people watcher then this job will be right up your street. You basically go out for a meal, acting as you would normally do and then write up a short report at the end of it noting the obvious stuff like the quality of the food and friendliness of the staff. Although the scheme I’ve signed up to doesn’t pay you,it does reimburse you, it isn’t about the money! It’s about improving the standards for the hospitality industry, right?

It’s a good means of enjoying meals out while doing something good for the industry on the whole. Who hasn’t had a bad dining experience? Wouldn’t it be good if you were a part of making this a more rare occurrence than it may currently be?

With dining under the spotlight, let’s have a look at some of the internet’s most shocking alleged dining experiences:

Unsanitary napkin

Liam: That would be the time I pointed out my dirty fork to the waiter. He picked it up along with my own napkin, rubbed the fork, then plonked both items back down and asked if we wanted starters.

Read more: METRO

This diner was disgusted to find maggots in a meal he had ordered at a restaurant - and he was still forced to pay the bill

Read more: Dailymail

One former restaurant worker recalled that cockroaches and flies were commonplace - unbeknownst to the diners

Read more: Dailymail

HOT TO THE TOUCH

“A few years ago, I was at a Mexican restaurant with some friends.

The waiter brings our food, and warns everyone that the plates are very, very hot.

So, of course, the first thing I do is touch my plate.

I burn my thumb on the hot plate, and my automatic reaction is to stick it in my mouth so it will stop hurting.

Just then, the woman at the next table starts yelling at her five-year-old son.

‘Stop sucking your thumb, Bobby! You’re a big boy, and big boys don’t suck their thumbs.’

The five-year-old points at me and screams, ‘They do, too!

He sucks his thumb! Look! He sucks his thumb!’

Everyone in the restaurant turns to look at me, and I try to vanish behind my menu.

Read More: Oola

 

 

Have you ever had a bad dining experience like these? 

 

 

My Michelin Star Experience

Writing

More accustomed to the taste of my mother’s burnt toast and beans combo, I was hoping and praying that a trip to a 1-Michelin starred and 4 AA Rosetted gourmet restaurant in the heart of one of  London’s most affluent hotspot’s – Green Park would be able to suppress those charcoal tasting memories of mother’s best dishes.

Team at Seven Park Place By William Drabble

Did it do the trick? Let’s find out, food critics eat your heart out at my review to follow:

73165981_983151448701887_2824833989540315136_n.jpg

Here’s me with a piece of bread.

 

Initially when I walked into the restaurant I thought I’d actually entered the wrong place, for it looked more like the Louvre in Paris than a place you’d get stuck into some lamb’s neck at. Anyhow my state of confusion quickly dissipated as I followed the overly nice and handsome waiter to the table for two beneath the beautifully painted piece of art, it was done with much ease I can assure you of that.

The menus arrived, my brother and I went for the 3 course option (as you do) and decided to go halvsies on each dish, as there was a choice of two for each course.

72647725_433260760660710_1164483788495912960_n (1).jpg

Can you guess what this was? Yes, liquid gold. A little teacup of deliciousness in the form of fish broth frothed so lightly the clouds above us were jealous. Sprinkled with crispy little croutons complimentary of the chef.

With our appetites well and truly wetted from the soup + bread pairing I was ready for the starters!

Starters

Which appeals to your more from the below choices:

72396560_472586356667250_7872593234441011200_n.jpg

Seared fillet of mackerel with spiced apple chutney, spiced apple and fennel remoulade

This had to be my favourite dish of the experience to be honest. The saltiness of the mackerel worked so well with the sweetness of the apple, and the crispy onion rings topped it all off with a little ‘crunch’. Delightful, however being carby me, I couldn’t help but think ‘where are the chips at?’

 

73395384_398948197452800_4017843941498945536_n.jpg

Open ravioli of pumpkin and aged parmesan with sage, pine nuts with nut brown butter

A tasty little parcel of pumpkin and Parmesan, the pine nuts gave it a crunch so that it wasn’t to reminiscent of baby food. But being a fan of umami flavouring, the mackerel stole my heart. But overall even though I’m not a huge pasta lover, the ravioli damn near converted me.

Mains

73248944_2540986739464615_550140058842169344_n.jpg

Roasted fillet of cod, cep mash, roasted celeriac emulsion

Cod is quite a bland fish to me, like alot of white fish but I have to say, somehow they injected some taste into this one. It wasn’t dry which is another reason I tend to give white fist a wide berth. Nice chunky piece with mash and a fishy gravy, what’s not to like?

72643924_403917777213018_4446311322056916992_n (1).jpg

Assiette of lamb with rosemary jus

Look at the shine of that sauce! You can almost see me taking the picture in it! I loved the fillet and the neck, not too fussed on the meat pie, all I could hear the waiter say was heart and liver which almost turned my stomach. Other than that, a tasty dish.

Desserts

74363285_1343978272428994_5219445782259695616_n (1).jpg

Chocolate and Hazlenut

As a fan of chocolatey desserts, I can’t lie when I say I was looking forward to this the most when I seen it on the menu. It looks great doesn’t it, apart form that chocolate smear on the bottom, can a chocolate smear ever look appetizing?

The chocolate droppings were suped up with hazlenut, the little chocolate platform was composed of smooth chocolate paneling, which encased a hybrid like texture of cake and mousse. If that even makes sense, I don’t know what it was exactly, I just know it tasted good! Finished off was the sugar work which  I accidentally snapped off and swooshed onto the floor in one fell swoop as I reached for a spoon seconds after this photo was taken (better after than before).

 

72824114_540512530057727_3235478235072430080_n.jpg

Lemon Meringue with a sable crumble and yuzu lemon sorbet

Thank goodness we didn’t have sensitive teeth, for the sorbet was as cold as the arctic, the chilled temperature mixed with the tartness made for a zesty explosion of refreshment. The only negative thing I would say was – where was the meringue?! It was so flat to the plate 😦 But anyhow I loved the flavours. Great dessert to end on, for it really cleansed the palate after the several courses of rich, intensely flavoured plates of food.

So what did we think of the food, should you give William  Drabble a go when you’re in London?

We’ll let this image be the deciding factor for you:

72609201_511409959408308_3458855266479505408_n.jpg

Week 1 – The Menu of A Moron

Writing

So if you’ve been anticipating this update based on the post  I made a few days ago, let’s just take a moment to celebrate that week 1 is almost up, on a scale of 1 – 10 (full to the gills) – (about to turn cannibal) my hunger level is a solid 9.987. If you’ve ever been in this position you’ll know it’s at this stage where you realise things have taken a sudden turn for the worst. When you’re sitting at your desk at work and your stomach is squealing like a pig about to be brought to slaughter. When fellow workmates start looking like personified everyday food items and when you start Googling ‘ways to fill yourself up with air alone?’ And ‘how to copy that Jesus fellow and make that picnic with the fish, bread and wine?’ . 

 

Yes hallucinations and hunger-driven questions are just the tip of my iceberg of misery as I scraped together the pennies to see me through this fortnight. You’ve heard about my public transport shenanigans to save costs. Now let me open your eyes and your mouth to the world of  eating sh*te (trust me, what I made this week I’ve no doubt tastes worse than eating real sh*te (not like I’d no first hand or anything but…..let’s just move on))!

 

If you want recipes which are bordering on inhumane then keep reading:

 

Day one was as filling as it got, with out of date eggs and bread (the cheap white kind that embodies cardboard when toasted) for breakfast.

 

Lunchtime made for a real treat with a baked potato that was indecisive as to whether it wanted to be poisonous or not, it had that green like hue which makes a person with half a brain cell lob it as far from their being as possible so to not ingest it as I did. I cut off the sprouting parts and slathered it in a slab of butter. That really elevated the dish, I must say. 

 

Dinnertime was the other greenish potato, because one a day of those things just isn’t enough.

 

Days 2 and 3 pretty much mirrored each other, unwilling to stomach another expired egg I instead chose to try and choke myself to death on a nibble of some Ryvita biscuits. Absolute deathtraps they are. Coupled with some trail mix, and this combo made for a coughing fit at 9.30am in the office for two consecutive mornings much to the enjoyment of my coworkers.

 

Lunch – I resorted to boiled rice, sweet chilli sauce and a generous scattering of onions for a treat. This  became dinner also as I struggled to east more than a measly few mouthfuls at 1pm that day.

 

Day 4 I figured I can’t take another wholegrain husk, I’ll have to for the first time this week stick my hand very deeply into my pocket for a few coins to spare on cereal. And in doing so made the whole breakfast experience somewhat more pleasant for the remainder of the week. 

 

That was ofcourse the plan if I didn’t feel like I was the host to an unwanted tapeworm. I fearfully theorise that this parasitic pest has perversely made  itself comfortable within the lining of my little intestine. Because the level of hunger I feel some days knows no bounds. Surely it’s a tapeworm, or else I’ve ate my twin in the womb who’s now doing jumping jacks in my duodenum.

 

So with cereal not quite pacifying my aggressive enfamishment, and being now £1.25 down I had to resort to desperate measures. Yes, for lunch it was time to bring out the pasta no sauce recipe. A real one for any bargain hunter out there, simply boil some spaghetti that you find in the back left of your kitchen cupboard under the tin of beans. Boil that, in some salt water, and sprinkle with pepper to serve. You’ll be crying yourself to sleep for weeks after a bowl of this trust me. Lunchtimes for day 4 was truly one of the highlights.

 

Dinner for Day 4 – my saving grace, beans on cardboard  toast.

 

Day 5 –  run of the mill cereal first thing in the morning.

 

Lunch was whatever was in the kid’s lunchbox sitting in the seat infront of me on the bus to work. Kidding, lunch was soup that looked like the declogging of a dishwasher. It was begging for another go in the blender I’ll say that much. 

 

Dinner – Nothing, I went to sleep early to try and preserve energy. 

 

After this week’s ‘meals’, if you can call them that, I truly fear for what lies ahead in week 2. Pray for me.

 

I thought I’d be feeling like this by the end of the week:

4AkiO

When actually je suis:

Just throw me in the damn spaghetti water Peter, willl you!!

voldi

The 24th of August couldn’t come any slower!!!!

Poem: Collapsing

Writing

Collapsing,

My last breath feels inevitable. 

Food, a phrase once so fruitious,

Now feels so forgettable.

Picking the apple from Eden,

An action so regrettable. 

 

I claw and I clamber,

You believe that I committed perjury 

One measly morsel of food is all that I ask for.

Yet you deny me this luxury,

I am no cardinal sinner.

Let God be my judge,

 Lord above, please listen to my prayers.

Try Something Different In London

Writing

In preparation for my night of silent discoing  this weekend I wanted to keep the theme going and share with you some quirky activities you could try while here in the capital:

  1. Dans Le Noir

Fancy eating in a restaurant? Hell Yes! In complete darkness? Um…..? If you don’t fancy your date, or still do, but just don’t fancy them seeing steamed spinach sitting pretty on one of your big buck teeth then this is up our street for sure. With the aim of the night being that you devote all of your attention and senses on the food, and not any visual distractions, this should make you enjoy the act of ‘tasting’ much more. Plus it’s quite a fun experience, start a food fight, noone will ever know it was you!

Dans Le Noir, Farringdon, EC1R 0DU

silhouette of person holding glass mason jar

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

 

  1. The Clink Brixton

Would you eat a meal cooked by convicted criminals at a prison restaurant? The suspicious part of me fears they’ll poison my confit duck but obviously noone has been poisoned yet, nor have any of the diners choked to death on an overly large shard of ‘misplaced’ glass, so I guess the prisoners must be doing something right. Infact so good is the system they’re running at the Brixton joint that it’s been reviewed highly on Tripadvisor. Infact the whole ethos behind the restaurants functioning should be credited. The prison restaurant aims to rehabilitate offenders, giving them a responsibility and a goal to work towards their City & Guilds NVQs, with the aim one day for them to assimilate into society a changed person, a better person. Maybe I’ll give it a visit actually (though stick to ordering a coke, kidding).
The Clink Brixton, HM Prison Brixton, SW2 5XF

silhouette of a man in window

Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

 

  1. House of Dreams Museum

Or shall we say nightmares, yes if you’ve got OCD or a sane bone in your body for that matter this place may leave you scared and scarred. For this guy’s house is like a hoarder on ‘shrooms holy grail. You visit his house and leave with tears of both joy and sadness in your eyes, flabbergasted at the thought that every inch of a house could be covered in everything from dolls heads to clown masks. All I can say is bring your camera and a loved one for some emotional support.
House of Dreams Museum, East Dulwich,  SE22 8RG

girl doll in white fur dress holding blue handkerchief

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

  1. Silent Disco Tour

You know I had to throw this one in the mix! Why make a fool of yourself in a closed confined space when you could do it in the centre of one of London’s most bustling tourist hotspots  – the West End! Yes, you and a bunch of other fun-lovers will walk in twos on a guided audio tour of theatreland, punctuating the facts and figures about the famous area will be brief yet savoured moments of ‘Simon says’, where you will have to throw some serious shapes as you gallivant past the home of Kinky Boots and Dreamgirls. Move well enough and you may even find yourself on one of their stages (or the asylum).

West End Musical Tour, London’s West End, WC2

man in gray shirt walking on pathway

Photo by Ben Herbert on Pexels.com

 

5. Be A Member of The Knitting Kittens Club

Knit Jumpers For Kittens at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home. Knit something your granny would be jealous of, like some little mittens for kittens at the adoption centre. Killing two birds with one stone – you get to learn a new skill and secondly you are putting that skill to good use. Plus you may even get to meet the kitten you knitted something for afterwards! Who doesn’t love animals, who doesn’t love little mittens? Only psychopaths. So don’t be one today and instead help a kitten in need. Remember, the best way to feel better about yourself is by helping others. If you’re ever feeling a bit down maybe give this or something similar a go.

The Knitting Kittens Club, Battersea, SW8 4AA

adorable animal cat close up

Photo by HM hmw on Pexels.com

I hope the above gave you some inspiration to try something a little different here in London!

Pet Peeves

Writing

We all have them, even those amongst us who have the patience of a saint can fall victim to loosing their tranquil facade in the blink of an eye when faced with the the continuous grunts, chews and swallows of the gluttonous pig in row G. Oblivious to the world, they munch their way through what can only be described as the meal deal combo, all before the opening credits of the latest Tarantino flick has even begun.

 

Don’t pretend you don’t temporarily hate people too!

 

What inspired me to write a post on pet peeves you ask?

 

Browsing the junk food  aisle down at my local supermarket a few days ago couldn’t have came  to a more abrupt ending than with the aggressive sounds of the ‘snot sniffing stranger’ lurking over my shoulder like the grim reaper himself. That has to be one of my biggest pet peeves – the sniffler. Although it’s one thing having the sniffles, it’s another thing snorting with conviction and then making that terrible gulping sound afterwards. Like nails on a chalkbard, this was the noise I was greeted with by a fellow supermarket customer. It’s safe to say I made a haste exit to the checkout while giving him daggers. Blow your damn nose you unhygienic freak (I mutter internally ofcourse)!

 

This experience  got me thinking of all the different pet peeves that either I have or that people have in general, from the suggestions below, which of the two scenarios would you rather be stuck with:

 

1) The Coach Journey

 

The constant cougher who sits beside you for the whole 3 hour journey, never thinks of clearing their throat once and for all. Instead, they mix things up with a timely selection of tiny dry coughs inbetween the whooping hacking kind.

 

Or

 

The continuous knee shaker, restless leg has gotten the better of them, they keep shaking their leg so much it makes your chair shake also for the entire travel time.

 

2) Standing In A Queue

 

The guy infront of you just can’t stop yawning and as a result everytime he yawns you reciprocate. But that’s not all, he has to make sound effects each time, and finishes each one with ‘cutesy’ mouth smacking noises.

 

Or

 

The wind-bender, they’ve ate something bad and make sure you know about it, if they’re not burping into the back of your neck they’re sending a wet one up your two nostrils. The line isn’t moving, have you got any air freshener handy?

 

3) At The Restaurant

 

You’re at a friend’s birthday meal, problem is you don’t know many of the people they’ve invited. And it seems like you don’t want to either, for as you try your best to strike up a conversation with the person opposite you you’re met with a mouth full of teeth, tongue and 30-day matured steak churning around at the speed of light as they bang on about the weather. Yes, they’re one of those, the criminals who chew with their mouths open.

 

Or

 

The other suited stranger to your immediate left still at your friend’s birthday meal, he answers his phone call, you soon find he speaks with one of the most obnoxious tones of voice you’ve ever heard. I stand corrected, he’s not speaking he’s a phone ‘shouter’. Not only do you know that he’s just landed the new job, which promotes him to a six figure salary but so too does half the restaurant. Keeping things mute isn’t in his forte, although deafening you certainly is.

 

Us humans are so great in many ways, but nature’s little flaws have made us test what it means to be patient to the max, I’m sure you would agree.

How To Feel Better About Yourself

Writing

To help yourself – help others.

Today as part of the company charity day I helped out at Brixton Soup Kitchen, a service providing hot meals and clothing to those in need, including homeless people and people suffering with mental health issues. Of course my interest was to help those in need but strangely enough I found that by the end of the day of making pasta bake and repainting the walls of their open space areas, I found I was the one feeling better off – about myself by helping out others.

 

I would definitely say if you’re struggling with low self-esteem or motivation then even if you can’t bring yourself to do something for you, start by doing small things for others, you’ll soon begin to gain a sense of responsibility and esteem to a point where you can start to do you things for you. It’s annoying but I find that’s the case sometimes, where I’m more willing to stick my head in the fire for somebody else over myself which I guess is both good and bad depending on the circumstance. But I think the bottom line is even if you help out at a charity with the intended internal goal of helping yourself you shouldn’t feel selfish about this. Heck, I’d rather be ‘selfish’ doing something for charity than being selfish  in other ways, wouldn’t you?

 

It’s interesting because from the choices of charity I could have decided to work with today, I initially chose the ‘wildcard’ which was pretty much a lucky dip. Only late last week after the closing date of signing up to a charity did I come to find out that this wildcard option was only feasible for employees in the United States 😦 So it was by chance that a space was still available at the soup kitchen here in London.

 

It was a humbling experience, learning through others’ anecdotes was eye opening, one which hit home was  that you may have it all today and lose it all tomorrow. Suddenly this concept seemed alot more real coming from the mouth of someone wolfing down the pasta bake I made an hour previous. I learned that we should all be a  little more thankful for the jobs we moan about on a daily basis, for without them we would not have a roof over our head or food on our plates. Infact the main leader today gave that exact story of a man who was doing what I was doing today, lending a hand to only find that the tables would turn and that  he himself would be needing their assistant a few years down the line. Not to be negative but I guess you never really know what’s round the corner. I also noticed that you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover, some people who walked through the door looked dare I say it well put together, but obviously don’t let appearance fool you, the reason they are in need obviously isn’t clear to the eye. It’s hard not to judge, infact I believe it’s pretty much impossible, isn’t it natural for us to make decisions and rationalise based on our observations? But I guess, don’t be too quick to assume is better phrasing.

 

All I can say from today is maybe instead of beating yourself up about making a mistake or moping about in the house, do one nice thing for someone like help them with their shopping or simply hold the door out, or take it a step further and volunteer at an organisation of your choosing, you may just find that you get more out of it than you thought you would.

Haiku Time!

Writing

How do you feel now?

That I am no longer here.

Do you feel….freedom?

two people holding each other s hands

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I close my eyes tight.

Yet I still can’t erase you.

From my dreams at night.

abstract art artistic blur

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Sugar – sickly sticks

Sweet sensory sensations

May it never end.

coffee dark candy chocolate

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

5 People To Avoid at the 24/7 petrol station:

Writing

We’ve all been in this position, you’re travelling late at night, maybe coming back from the airport or from burying your noisy neighbour once and for all, when you suddenly get a little peckish. Pulling over to the nearest fuel station seems like the wisest thing to do and you begin dismounting your 4 by 4 truck as you wipe off the last remaining wheat field sediment from your brand new Levi’s.

Upon entering the shop you are hit with the stark realisation that things just don’t seem right. You only came in for a snickers and a bread roll but instead you meet the gaze of these 5 freaks below:

  1. Microwave Meal Guy

Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with microwave meals but you know if you see someone with a basket stocked sky-high with readymade roast dinners and lasagnes, they’re either lazy af or mentally unstable. Probably an equal measure of both. Don’t you know how to cut a bloody vegetable?!

  1. The Exhausted Single Mum

Feeding 5 kids as a single parent isn’t easy, and doesn’t it show on the face of Sandra. 3/5 Kids have developed some midnight cravings, and Sandy, being the natural night-owl that she is, decides to indulge in her kids requests for pizzas, pop tarts and chocolate ice cream at 1am in the morning. Help her find the reduced in price curly fries please.

  1. The ‘Checkout’ Guy

Don’t bend down for the washing detergent to swiftly or you’ll find the watchful eye of the hormonal adolescent upon you. Really they should be at home playing Call of Duty but their parents thought it much wiser to have them bleep through beer cans and packs of tobacco in the wee hours of the morning to learn some sense of ‘responsibility’.

  1. The Guy That Stocks The Shelves

Look at him the wrong way and you’re getting stocked in the freezer next to the frozen petis pois that’s all I will say.

  1. The Serial Killer

Murdering people is heavy work, and sometimes a Happy meal just doesn’t suffice, you’ll always find them lurking near the Twinkie aisle with a hand full of bleach and marigolds in one hand, and a packet of beef jerky in the other. Quickly, give him the secret handshake, grab your soft mints and get out!

5 Christmas Family Fights We All Have

Writing

1. Your sister/ brother got more presents than you

Let’s be honest for just a second, we may donate to charity once in a blue moon, help an old lady across the road and give half of our doughnut to the old flame. But in our heart of hearts, we’re all well aware of our all too selfish ways, truth be told, we’re all materialistic son’s of b*tches! And in no other way does this become more evident than during the festive period.  When your loving brother get’s one too many chocolate coins in his stockings you make sure your opinions are well and truly heard in the matter.

2. Your Granny ( on your dad’s side) insults your mum’s cooking

Not like she has any teeth left, stuck to the limitations of the humble sweet corn soup, dear old Deloris decides to put her 2 pence in and share just how much she despises your mother’s home cooking, The woman who has just spent more blood, sweat and tears slaving over a hot stove than what’s humanely acceptable.  Somebody call the Samaritans for Christ’s sake. And the undertakers, because by the look on your mother face, Granny’s seen her last sweet corn soup I think.

3.You didn’t get to put the star ontop of the tree.

This is always a certified way to get my dad’s blood pressure sky-rocketing as me and my siblings squabble over who has the privilege of placing the tacky fraying star upon the tip of the off white scratchy artificial Christmas tree. Arguably the tallest should step up to the task but me being me never found that fair. For consecutive years, that same off white scratchy tree has been toppled, bobbles and all. My dad now refuses to put a tree up these recent years. I do wonder why.

4. Your Aunt begs you to stop telling your 6 year old cousin that Santa isn’t real.

Honesty is the best policy in your eyes, what’s worse than simply lying is lying to a child you tell yourself. Plus it’s quite funny seeing the shock on little Danny’s face as your Aunt’s brow furrows further and further each time you beckon him over.

5. Your Aunt begs you to stop telling your 6 year old cousin that Santa is infact actually ‘Satan’

So she finally got you to stop saying that Santa wasn’t real, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change the narrative to Santa metamorphosing into Satan himself! In a rather beautiful analogy of caterpillar to butterfly, you proceed to tell the younger members of your extended family the real reason Santa wears red.

.

If you can’t empathise with me on any of my fondest of Christmas memories above then you just don’t know what the true meaning of Christmas is – Fighting! I mean – Family!

Poem: Christmas Food

Writing

Food.

So bad, yet so good.

So many colours, so many textures.

So many food poisonings taken for the pleasure.

 

You gave me gout last Christmas Eve,

But I don’t hold it against you, you see,

For I know our relationship is solid.

Once the doctor unclogs my arteries.

 

This Christmas things will be different.

You promised we’d take things slower.

If I end up back in the kidney stones ward.

I’m afraid our fond relationship may be over.

 

The Struggle Of Trying To Eat Healthily

Writing

I would rather bite  my own tongue OFF than put another rice cracker with low fat margarine IN my mouth. You read that correctly, self-maiming seems like a healthier option as oppose to a life full of flavourless feeding habits.  I’m in no way against people being as healthy as they can be, I’m just somewhat reluctant to believe that I can summon myself to a life of carrot sticks and hummus.

Maybe I’m just not imaginative enough with my food choices, perhaps there are a million and one ways to make avocado and toast the reason you get up in the morning, but to me a fry up will forever be the way to my heart (quite literally)! I wouldn’t say I’m overly unhealthy, I indulge in the odd weekend takeaway, I have a biscuit with my cuppa, so where’s the harm in that?

Perhaps my downfall isn’t that I’m eating badly, it’s that I’m not eating enough of the good stuff. I wrote a post yesterday about how I feel tired alot and a big role to play in this is  mental well being, I also want to touch on a physical contributing factor to utter exhaustion – the nutritional value of our foods, or shall I say the lack of. It’s one thing eating enough but we also need to make sure we are getting enough nutrients.  That’s right a plate full of fried chicken, mash potatoes and gravy may actually lead us down a path of osteoporosis before we’re 30 if we’re not careful! So with that being said, where the f*ck can I get these damn nutrients from?!

5 of the most nutritious foods according to science at present (in no rank order, ain’t nobody got time for that):

  1. Salmon

All man may be created equally, but sadly the same cannot be said for all fish. When it comes to healthy oils salmon’s your knight in shining scales. With a dense packing of omega-3 fatty acids, you’ll be solving those crossword puzzles in seconds thanks to the beneficial effects these fatty acids have on brain functionality. Plus others here

  1. Garlic

I don’t care how pungent people find this clove, I f*cking love this stuff. So much so that I eat it raw each morning so that I get more personal space on public transport when commuting to work each morning. (joke). Truth be told, it packs a stench and alot of other mighty benefits also: studies have suggested that the smelly spice helps lower the risk heart disease and some cancers due to its sulphurous compounds. Coined the term ‘Russian Penicillin’, it’s antibacterial properties also help fend off skin conditions too. I’m a fan through and through.

  1. Potatoes

I’m not talking about chips, or mash made with 4 sticks of butter. I’m talking about the humble old potato with the SKINS ON (fibre for digestion and controlling blood glucose levels)! Packed with enough vitamin C to send off scurvy in a heartbeat, you can bet your bottom dollar that making a spud a staple on your plate and in your heart will serve you a world of good in the long run. They contain almost every nutrient you need, from magnesium and potassium to manganese and copper. These tuber treats are basically tasty periodic tables if you ask me.

  1. Seaweed

It’s about time a green veg made an appearance on my list but I’m not going for the predictable Kale or broccoli, which ofocurse are highly nutritious. Instead the weed of the sea gets a healthy high five from me. One of its notable beneficial compounds is its high levels of iodine. You may ask why is iodine important for the body?  Iodine is important for the body in making thyroid hormones. Our thyroid gland plays a major role in regulating many body functions through hormone release including metabolism, digestion and brain development. Specifically, for brain and bone development during pregnancy.

  1. Dark Chocolate

This list seems more bearable than I had anticipated, and no better way to top it off than with the topic of conversation being –  chocolate. But note, white or milk won’t give you the same effect as dark. This is because dark chocolate contains a higher concentration of cocoa solids than it’s milkier cousins (which contain milk solids in addition to cocoa solids thus diluting their concentrations down per bar). It’s in this original cocoa where all the nutrition is stored. One being ‘flavonoids’, very beneficial antioxidants to the body, they are naturally occurring plant pigments and can also help promote blood vessel flexibility thus improving overall cardiovascular functionality.  Your heart loves dark chocolate even if you may not.

Do you eat enough of the 5 above, or even any? I definitely don’t eat enough. But it’s never too late to change that. Hope you enjoy a balanced healthy lifestyle, because you deserve it.

beautiful beauty blond blur winter blues

Why The Winter Blues?

Writing

With the sun getting lazier and lazier these November nights, returning to its slumbers faster than I’m sure the majority if us would like, as a result, I hear the miserable moans and groans of grief-stricken commuters. The winter blues have well and truly set in for some and it’s still only autumn! They have alot more groaning to do in that case!

In all fairness I can see why the dark nights and grey days aren’t getting people cartwheeling down the streets but at the same time, with the dark nights come the cosy evenings. The hot meals, the trashy TV and fluffy socks. The colder weather brings out the more comfortable gear, cable-knit jumpers and long Johns are all of our secret wardrobe faves let’s be honest!

With so many things to get down about as the daylight hours decline, let me point out 5 good things to look forward to in these chillier months ahead:

1) Bubble Baths And Steaming Hot Showers. Nothing says I love winter more than ‘so hot it will skin you alive’ showers and ‘prune inducing’ bathtime.

2) Hair To Stay! Yes, long-sleeves, trousers and tights have never been more welcomed on the bodies of those still recovering from  the stubble trauma of summer’s shaving, plucking and waxing shenanigans.

3) Gout –  Just In Time For Christmas. There’s no better excuse to pile on the carbs than in the dark days of November. Take it as a ‘end of year preparation’ for the real feasting to take place at Christmas. Why have pasta and not garlic bread, or a burger without the bun when you could instead have both, at the same time?! The more calorific the meal, the more terrific the meal you’re mantra should be. Cold months call for extra insulation so happy eating!

4) Binge Binge Binge TV. OK, well, most of us make this an all year event but personally, I like to use the more dismal months as an excuse for watching endless hours of Dr. Phil and Munchies.

5) You Look Frumpy And Baggy And Noone Cares. Yes, snugly clothing makes a much yearned for comeback. No one cares if I wear my pyjamas under my puffer coat, they’re probably doing the same. Skin-tight clothing can be for Summer, it’s time to relax and be comfortable in your own skin for atleast  a couple months, right?!

So are Winter blues still a thing for you?

5 Concentration Boosting Tips

Writing

As humans, I think it’s fair to say procrastinating is in our blood, some of us just do it less than others. If you want to be one of ‘those’ productive people  then give these 5 concentration-boosting methods a go:

  1. 1. Eating Tasty Food

Yes, that’s right munching on blueberries, dark chocolate, avocados, seafood and much much more good stuff gives the brain a nutrient boost of e.g. antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, B and E vitamins to name just a few. All of which will act as brain fuel while you continue with the task of spelling your name correctly for the first time. The struggle is real!

  1. Hug Hug Hug

Hugging has been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety by increasing the amount of endorphins in the blood stream. A decrease in anxiety will allow you to focus more intently and for longer.  Less time will be spent biting your nails down to the bone and more time on scrawling out your latest fan-fiction novel.

  1. Quidditch Match

Who doesn’t love prepping their brain for some Pythagoras theorem than by running around a poorly marked football pitch with a broom between their legs screaming ‘QUAFFLE’! That’s right, exercise does more than just the heart good. That sponge in your head will be thankful too. According to Harvard Medical school, exercise actually results in chemicals (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor – rewires memory circuits so they work better) being released by the brain which reduces ‘memory fog’ and cognitive decline. The key is for the exercise to be regular and moderately intense, so sorry, but if the odd jog to the supermarket for milk late at night in your slippers is your type of ‘exercise’ then prepare to forget your name by the time you’re 30.

  1. What’s That Smell?

The BBC reported that smelling lamb’s favourite herb – rosemary can increase memory, Huffpost, shared that cinnamon could increase mind sharpness and that peppermint could boost concentration. Inc, also supported the brain boosting effects of rosemary and peppermint by writing that the former can promote memory and alertness while the latter could enhance the accuracy of memory. * Just to note, these studies focused on essential oils, not your mum’s spice cupboard.

  1. Watch Funny Cat Videos

It’s been reported that laughter helps strengthen the immune system, but what has this got to do with building up our willpower? As mentioned by ABC the BBC (so many letters), having a good laugh can boost your willpower levels. But how? Supposedly laughing releases endorphins and reduces the stress hormone (cortisol) concentrations in our blood, as a result this helps boost our immune system which in exchange changes our brain wave activity, changing it more towards a ‘gamma frequency’ which aids memory recall.   So perhaps taking 5 mins to watch some funny clips or listen to your favourite comedian could just be what you need to be at your most productive.

Well, I hope you’ve been concentrating throughout my spiel above, if not I hope the distracting cat videos were worth it!! 😦

 

**This post is intended for ERIC Magazine.

Japan Matsuri 30th September 2018 held in Trafalgar square London. Celebrating UK-Japan relations.

Japan Matsuri – 2018

Writing

‘Matsuri’ means ‘festival’ in Japanese, and on 30th Septmeber in London’s Trafalgar Square the festivities were well and truly underway. Multiple elements of Japanese culture were highlighted at the event, some of which I will share with you below:

Origami – This visually stunning art form was on display for all to enjoy. The word ‘origami’ comes from the Japanese terms ‘ori’ = ‘folding’ and ‘kami’ = ‘paper’ (Kami was changed to gami due to rendaku). One of the most classic origami models in the culture is of the ‘paper crane/ orizuru ‘. In particular the ‘red-crowned crane’ holds special significance, it is believed that its wings carried souls up to paradise. Other recognisable  figures include the  Kawasaki rose, the cat and the dragonfly.

Japanese Matsuri 2018 - Origami workshop and contest in London Trafalgar Square

As you can see in the picture, a mini origami contest was held, F*ck sake Fuka you’re an origami wizkid – taking just 39 seconds to make……….ur….something!!

Matsuri Art Wall – The 9 metre long canvas stood parallel to The National Art Gallery and in true style was open to  festival-goers to let their creative juices flow. Sketching their own fantastic creations in front of one of the nation’s best art galleries.

Matsuri wall at Matsuri Japan festival celebrating Japan-UK relations. Held in Trafalgar Square - London

FOOOOOOOOD!

Japanese food sellers at the Matsuri event in London

Apologies, there’s no actual photo of real food! Although some names that definiely gae me fod for thought:

a)Takoyaki

b) Kara-age

c) Amazake

d) Okonomiyaki

Do you know what the above are?

a) mini savoury wheat flour balls , usually filled with savoury ingredients: diced octopus, onions, pickled ginger.

b) A Japanese frying style, a popular type is fried chicken

c) Fermented rice drink

d) Japanese savoury pancake a common filling of which is shredded cabbage.

Japanese Calligraphy and Manga Art Workshop

Japanese calligraphy at Matsuri 2018 London

Japanese manga portrait at Japan Matsuri, London

Demonstrations and a change to give it a go yourself – beautiful Kanji  characters were on display during the Japanese calligraphy workshop.

Manga – ‘comics/cartooning’ – the art of drawing Manga was celebrated through personalised portraits.

Japanese Tableware

Some of the most quaint and beautiful tableware has to come from Japan, whether it’s minimalist and clean or exquisitely decorative, all is simply quite stunning.

Japanese Tableware at Japan Matsuri, London 2018

tattoo waves japanese plates

Sweeeeets!

Japanese sweets pocky matcha, chocolate, watermelon

Lemonade popular in Japan - Ramune

Pocky + Ramune = Japanese treat

Pocky – chocolate coated biscuit sticks originally sold in 1966 in Japan. Since then, flavours have certainly became alot more experimental, you can now get: cookies and cream, green tea and coconut to name but a few. Definitely give them a try.

Ramune – meaning ‘lemonade’ a fun drink which involves the owner self-carbonating the liquid. In other words making bubbles magically appear. To open the bottle, a device to push the marble inward is provided. The marble is pushed inside the neck of the bottle where it rattles around while drinking.

The event is annual, I would hihgly recommend going if you’re in London late September next year (or the year after, or the year after or the…….).

Alternative London #1

Writing

Leake Street, Waterloo/ Lambeth

This quirky creepy tunnel encloses all kinds of goodies under it’s archways. From the hard to miss graffiti to the more tucked away eateries offering all kind of delicacies. Such as Banh Bao Brothers , Rat Bar and Draughts.

And let’s not forget to mention The Vaults! If you don’t know of it, your life has been boring af! Bit harsh, if you haven’t heard of it, definitely check them out if you’re into interactive theatre and altogether electric eccentricity.

The Vaults at Leake Street Arches, Waterloo, London.. Graffiti on the exterior, interactive theatre experience inside.

And now, onto the graffiti!

Here are some of my favourite pieces within the 300 metre long tunnel, I think art constantly gets replaced with new art so I think it;s good to get a snapshot of time of the art of the moment:

Graffiti, street art, London, Banksy, Waterloo, Lambeth, tunnel , City

Wide shot of the tunnel, sorry for the car!

Celebrity spotting! Anthony Hopkins and Tilda Swinton.

Mind blowing artwork exhibited within the archways at The Rat Bar.

A rodent twist on the masterpiece - The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci at The Rat Bar, London.

A rodent twist on the masterpiece – The Mona Lisa by Leonardi Da Vinci at Rat Bar, London.

Model, Posing on the stairwell of an exit/entrance to Leake St, Waterloo, London. City Street Art UK

You Know I had to do it, Nike call me!

Word 'Boyish' and alien image visible. Boyish Graffiti in Leake St, London. City street art.

Disturbingly Beautiful.

Graffiti of Pac-Man, Leake St, Waterloo, London

“Computer games don’t affect kids. If Pac-Man affected us as kids we would all be messing about in darkened places munching………”

We Are All Mad / Follow Your Heart

The wonderful pieces above  are just the tip of the iceberg, I’d highly recommend paying the archways a visit if you come to London. It really is a feast for the eyes.

Photographs taken by @claudiarosemoore

Pig Out

Writing

My stomach rumbles with a 10 on the Richter scale, and that’s after I’ve eaten breakfast. So can you imagine my woes when the clock is fast approaching that heaven sent 1pm mark on the office clock?

Feasting time is well and truly upon us, but wait, what to have I hear you ask? Shall I go boring with the trusty club sandwich, stink the place out with my salmon fillet and veg combo from last night or just drown myself in glasses of tap water until the grumbles in my stomach becomes underwater fart noises?

That’s right, you guessed it. I’m famished so choose to have a glass of water. And why’s that? It’s because I can’t goddamn decide on what to eat! Oh but you’re hungry, you’ll eat anything! No. I. Shant.

I’m a fussy eater when it comes to lunchtimes only. I blame the parents, see, I use to be the kid who’d have the slimy ham sandwich while the rest of the sprogs got hot school meals. Ingrained in me from a young age that lunch time dining was the equivalent of chewing shards of glass, I hope you can begin to feel my pain.

No I’m not a kid nomore, mum doesn’t make me below average pack lunch anymore (thank f*ck) but then again neither do I. My idea of cooking is throwing everything into a wok and praying that I don’t get food poisoning. It must be in the genes, any wannabee pursuitors out there, fyi,  I can’t cook. So that’s probably a deal breaker. So I can’t cook, I’ve accepted this, but not without a fight. There was a while where I would cross unchartered territory and stick my nose in a book of student basic recipes or troll cooking sites online. The only problem was, I couldn’t afford an ingredients list the length of my arm for their version of posh beans on toast! But even when the recipe was pretty simple, I always managed to f*ck it up.

Take for example a bulgur wheat salad. Sounds healthy, it’s slightly more exotic than just tomatoes and an iceberg lettuce so I thought here goes, I’ll give it a try. Verdict: bulgur wheat – it’s an ugly name with an even uglier taste. If you ever wanna try cardboard without trying cardboard force a spoonful of vulgar wheat down your guzzler. It doesn’t help the fact that I’m not a fan of dressings, they make everything soggy, so no wonder I almost had the coroner saying ‘death by suffocation’.

If it’s not the recipe at hand which I have a problem stomaching it’s the monotony. Yes, yes, routine is good in certain areas of life but if you give me chicken soup for a third day in a row it’s going round you. I’m just a nightmare when it comes to lunches! Still to this day, I wonder what the solution would be, why can’t I just be normal and eat a jacket potato like everyone else?

These are the questions that keep me up at night.

2nd Place Poem – End Hunger UK – ‘A Closed Fist’

Writing

2nd place in the End Hunger UK poetry competition.

‘A Closed Fist’ –  a spin on the meaning to hurt someone. A closed fist can be a punch but it could also be inferred to as a hand that is not offering food and therefore hurting someone by starving them.

I wanted the poem to show how it’s essential to be kind to one another. Afterall you never know where someone might be in their life, or who they may become. And perhaps you may even find yourself needing their help oneday. The bigger picture is that we are humans we need food and we need to put ourselves in eachothers shoes more often, especially when it comes down to this essential element of life – to prevent starvation.

Listen to the Poem:

 

Closed fist verse 1closed fist verse 2