Just Jane 003

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A semi-regular series in which I share a fact or three about myself.

I come in pretty handy in any situation where knowing lots of trivial facts will be an advantage. This is mostly just pub quizzes or quiz nights, though if you need someone to obnoxiously shout answers at the television during a quiz show, I’m your girl. I know that this is true of many, many people, so it’s kind of annoying, but I just have a head full of facts. I wouldn’t call it useless information, as such, because let’s face it, most information is useful and will come in handy at some point or another, but I do think it’s important to note that what I possess is not necessarily intelligence, it’s more a propensity for retaining information.

I’ve fractured the same wrist twice. The first time, I was 12, and ice skating for the first time. I was on the ice for about ten minutes before I fell, put my hand down to break my fall, and instead, broke my wrist. The second time, I was 34 (and 364 days), and I was roller skating with my friends for a birthday celebration. I fell over, put my hand down to break my fall, and instead, broke my wrist. It turns out that skating is most definitely not for me, and I will never, ever be doing it again.

I spent a semester of my university time abroad, at the University of Connecticut in the USA. It was an experience, and one that I look back on with slightly rose-tinted glasses, but the truth of the matter is that I was miserable for most of my time there, because I was so homesick. This was in 2009 – not a million years ago, but certainly before I had a phone in my pocket that I could use to just say hello to the ones I loved when I fancied. I had to Skype them, which was fine, but not always the most convenient thing, and everyone just felt so far away. I had some amazing experiences while I was there, but there’s no point dressing it up; by around two weeks in, I was already counting the days when I could come home.

Photo an Hour #50 ~ September 2017

Never let it be said that I don’t lead the most exciting life – here’s a random Saturday from a rainy day in September of last year, that sees me napping, reading, watching Jurassic Park and updating my iPad. I joke, but in all honesty, sometimes this is all I want do on a random day in September. Every weekend might get a bit boring like this, but sometimes it’s just the best.

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9am ~ Well it’s Saturday morning, so of course I’m listening to Wittertainment.

10am ~ Well it’s Photo an Hour, so of course I have a photo of a wing mirror.

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11am ~ Taking a look around my favourite farm shop, and photographing my favourite jam (Tiptree jam is the best).

12pm ~ Reading under a blanket could possibly be the best way to spend time.

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1pm ~ I often end up putting Jurassic Park on just to pass the time; this was an accompaniment to lunch.

2pm ~ Back under the blanket with my book, and adding in a cup of tea.

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3pm ~ I bought a candle from Good Book Hunting, and in case you’re wondering, it does smell exactly how I imagine Stars Hollow to smell.

4pm ~ Still reading. This book was Pax, by Sara Pennypacker (who has a great name), which I reviewed here.

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6pm ~ The 5pm photo is missing (I suspect I fell asleep), but by 6 o’clock I was watching Pointless Celebrities and updating my iPad.

In case you’d like to play next time around, June’s day is set for 16th June – tomorrow. It’s really easy to join in, just take a photo each hour and upload it to Instagram using the hashtag, or save them for a blog post (or do both, like I try and fail to do in a timely manner). More details can be found here.

My Vegan Diary ~ Temple of Hackney, Dough Society and by Chloe

Vegan food is the best. I know that it has this reputation for being awful, but I think even if you’re not immersed in the world of all things vegan as I am, you can’t have missed the quiet revolution in mainstream vegan food that has been happening in the last year or so.

I often think that if you’ve been vegan for decades, and you’re used to being scoffed at when you go to a restaurant and ask if there’s a vegan option, you must be bemused by the way things have changed. Seriously, it’s astounding. There’s barely a week goes by without an announcement about a new product on supermarket shelves, or a restaurant launching a new vegan menu. It’s a good time to be a vegan.

With that in mind, while I don’t plan to make this a vegan blog, I am going to share some of the amazing food that I get to eat, because food is great, and when nothing has had to suffer or die for me to eat it, it’s even better.

Earlier in the year, my friend Hannah had a birthday, so we decided to head into London and eat lots of yummy vegan food. London is, of course, the place to be when it comes to vegan eats; Colchester, which is my nearest town, is actually quite good, but the choice available in big cities is always going to be better. Our plans involved vegan fried chicken, vegan fish and chips, and vegan doughnuts.

First of all, we headed to Temple of Hackney to pick up some popcorn chicken (please know that I’m not going to constantly refer to the vegan versions of food with their ‘code name’, nor am I going to qualify everything by putting the word ‘vegan’ before it. If I’m talking chicken, you know that I mean ‘chicken’.) Temple of Hackney makes fried chicken out of seitan, and it tastes AMAZING. Going vegan when I have means that I did it knowing that there was a KFC alternative out there – I know how lucky I am!

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Temple of Hackney is a tiny little establishment, and both times I’ve been there it’s been super busy, but it’s worth the wait. I’ve had their fillet pieces and their popcorn bites now, and next time I go I am definitely planning on trying a burger. They also have a branch in Camden, and have recently announced a third location, also in Hackney, at Hackney Downs Market. The popcorn bites are £4, and two fillet pieces are £5.

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Also in Hackney, we found Dough Society, selling all vegan doughnuts. I found it using the Vanilla Bean app, which I highly recommend if you’re vegan. You can see all the places near your location that have vegan options, whether they are fully vegan, vegetarian or omnivores places. Dough Society is a couple of minutes walk from Temple of Hackney, and it has a wonderful selection of 100% vegan brioche doughnuts. We grabbed a Peanut Butter Pretzel and the Homer (a perfect pink, strawberry flavour doughnut straight out of The Simpsons), and they were delicious. Dough Society doughnuts are £3.00 and £3.50

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Finally, we went along to by Chloe, which, as far as I know, is London’s first vegan fast food restaurant. It’s in Covent Garden, though they too have recently announced a new location, and have opened in Tower Bridge this week.

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The menu at by Chloe is amazing, with burgers, Mac ‘n’ Cheese, salads, and brunch all available. We decided to have fish and chips, the fish being made from tofu, and then battered, and the chips being air baked, and delicious. The restaurant itself is great; it’s a really nice atmosphere, because it’s fast food but great quality, and the decor is fabulous. We were there around 2.30pm on a Wednesday, and it was busy, but not so packed that we couldn’t easily get a table. Fish N’ Chips at by Chloe is £7.80, and we added a cheeky cookie for £2.40.

There are no shortage of delicious vegan eateries in the capital, and Temple of Seitan and by Chloe are two of the biggest and best known. They are definitely worth a visit, whether you are vegan or not, but there’s plenty of other places out there, and I’m hoping to try lots of them!

Photo an Hour #49 ~ August 2017

On it goes, the great Photo an Hour catch up, in which I always remain almost a year behind, with no real signs of ever catching up. On we go with August 2017.

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9am ~ Instagram tells me that this was breakfast in a new bowl.

10am ~ Watching Endeavour while I get ready to go out. I love Endeavour.

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11am ~ Instagram also tells me that this was a new bag. It was, of course, a Primark bargain. Especially bargainous given that it was labelled at £9 and I only paid £5.

12pm ~ Aren’t public transport photos so interesting?

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1pm ~ Destination reached! We were headed to Mersea Island for the Regatta.

2pm ~ I so rarely take a photo of myself for a Photo an Hour photo, but when you are sitting in the same place for an extended period of time, and you want to avoid photos of strangers, sometimes you have to. And this is a nice smiley photo of Hannah and me.

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3pm ~ I’m never entirely sure what a regatta entails, though there’s always lots going on on the water, and lots of people watching. I’m just there for the day out.

4pm ~ Regatta flags.

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5pm ~ Back at the car, and on the way home.

6pm ~ Back home. I love going out for nice days with my friends, but I do so enjoy getting home.

In case you’d like to play next time around, June’s day is set for 16th June. It’s really easy to join in, just take a photo each hour and upload it to Instagram using the hashtag, or save them for a blog post (or do both, like I try and fail to do in a timely manner). More details can be found here.

April 2018 Books

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I’m really enjoying reading again. It’s not like I ever fell out of love with it, I think my relationship with books changed a lot when I moved out of home and re-entered the world of working full time. Of course it did – I suddenly found that I didn’t have the same amount of time to read. But I just feel as though I am using my reading time more wisely now, and I am really enjoying what I am choosing to read.

The Lido by Libby Page

This is one of those books that I had seen being talked about a lot on Twitter, where I follow a lot of bookish people – bloggers, publishers, marketers etc. I usually get swept up a little in the hype of the big new releases, but I try hard not to worry too much if I don’t get picked to review them, as I’ve been caught up in that swirl of insecurity many times before! I requested this on Netgalley, so was thrilled when I got approved, and it really is as lovely as everyone has been saying it is.

It tells the story of Kate and Rosemary, two Brixton residents who are each fighting their own battles. Kate is a young journalist, living alone in London, struggling with her career, and wondering how she got to be so lonely. Rosemary, 86, has lived in Brixton all her life, and watched the local area change almost beyond recognition, with her beloved Lido remaining the only constant. When the swimming pool is threatened with closure, Kate and Rosemary form an unlikely alliance, and friendship, and work on protecting their community. While they are campaigning, the friendship that they discover helps to save them both too. The Lido is a heartwarming and lovely read and is another addition to an increasing number of books that are exploring the idea of loneliness. Libby Page has created an engaging cast of characters who were very easy to warm to.

Ms Marvel Vol 1: No Normal by  G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphonso, and Sara Pichelli

I’ve never been able to get on with comic books. I love the idea of them, and I’m a fully paid-up member of the MCU fan club, but when it comes to reading them, my reluctance is two-fold. Firstly, I have no idea where to start. How do you begin with series that have been going for over fifty years? Secondly, for some reason, I find the format really hard to get on, though I don’t know why. There’s something about the business of the art on the page that seems to make my brain switch off.

I recently discovered that with my Amazon Prime membership, I had access to a number of comic books on my iPad. So I decided to download this one, the first in a series called Ms Marvel, about a young Muslim woman who suddenly gets superpowers. Not only is it a brand new story that doesn’t really need any background knowledge, it’s also easy to read. On the iPad, you can select one frame to read, and then click to move forward to the next one, so you are only ever seeing what you are reading. This suits my brain just fine, and it’s opened up a whole new world! Ms Marvel is a fun story about Kamala Kahn, a high school girl who struggles to balance who is as a Muslim and as an American. There’s plenty of comic book style adventures, and it’s an exciting start to the series.

Ms Marvel Vol 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphonsa

I read the second in the Ms Marvel series straight after the first one, which should give you some idea of how much I enjoyed it (also that it was free to borrow on Kindle Unlimited, so it was very easy to access!). The second book felt a lot more comic book-like, mainly due to the appearance of another Marvel character who I wasn’t expecting to turn up. I am yet to complete this four-part series, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Robert Hack and Jack Morelli

I’m a sucker for trying to get my hands on a book if I know that an adaptation is on its way. I am really, really looking forward to the new Netflix series of Sabrina, so I thought I’d take the opportunity (more Kindle freebies) to read the comic books before the series hits. Again, I am yet to make my way through the entire series, but I’m really glad that I’ve taken the plunge with these, because I’m really enjoying them. The story focuses on Sabrina (the teenage witch) in the 1960s, when she’s a teenager. Most people probably remember watching the series starring Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina, but these are very different in tone; Sabrina is a teenager, and she is a witch, but the whole thing is a lot darker. Sabrina lives with her aunts and Salem, their familiar, and she has fallen in love with Harvey Kinkle. So far, so TV series, but it’s the addition of Madam Satan, a wronged former lover of Sabrina’s father, and the horrible revenge she intends to enact that alter the tone. I’m two books in so far (second book coming in the May roundup), and I really like them. I’m quite the comic book reader these days!

Books so far in 2018 – 15