Tag Archives: Vegetarian

I’m Gonna Dance Forever

Yesterday I visited Leatherhead, a tiny wee medieval market town in Surrey, which is situated on the right bank of the River Mole. I’d never been to Leatherhead before, and I didn’t have particularly high expectations in terms of plant-based eating out options ever since I’d googled vegan and vegetarians cafes in the area and was signposted to an Italian restaurant that had a menu with a heavy bias towards tiger prawns; I only went because my sister (Nikki) combined her visit to Sudbury with the dance rehearsals she was doing at the Premier Production Studios, in the Mole Business Park, in preparation for her next tour; and I thought she might like the company during the two-and-a-half-hour drive.

When I tell people that my sister is a ‘cookie monster’, I don’t mean that she eats a lot of biscuits, nor am I referring to that fact that she worked part-time in ‘Millie’s Cookies’ during the time she was training at musical theatre school. No, I mean that her current job involves dancing around in a giant blue furry costume to a backdrop of songs like ‘The Cookie Crumba Rumba’. But, this is not the oddest-sounding occupation that she’s ever had: she’s spent time as an elf in lapland, a chipmunk on a Disney cruise, and a pink-haired tutu-wearing monkey called ‘Panzee’ in the Zingzillas high-energy road show. In the past, Nikki has toured around the UK and to the Middle East with the cast of ‘Sesame Street’ – and could potentially travel the world – and by the time this email goes viral she will be on a plane to Indonesia.

 Personally, I couldn’t do what she does: I would hate the long and unpredictable hours, and having to traipse to random destinations or live in accommodation that I’ve not picked out myself; I’d also hate having to rely on other performers turning up or getting things right and I’d probably find it soul destroying every time I saw someone younger and prettier than me bust a better move – but then that wouldn’t be hard because I’ve got two left feet and can’t even cartwheel.

 I had absolutely no intention of watching my sister rehearse – in fact, I’d decided without knowing anything about the show that it would be preferable to gouge my own eyeballs out. My plan had simply been to walk around the shops and stake out the local cafes before settling down in a coffee shop to do some writing whilst she was prancing around. And, fortunately, after turning down the cheese and nachos that bar staff in one establishment tried to palm me off with, I was lucky enough to discover a vegetarian stall at the outdoor French market which had two vegan options – ratatouille (which I love) and another dish that was made up of potatoes, aubergine and tomato that I can’t remember the name of; I chose the potato dish and was not disappointed.

  We had planned to meet up during her lunch break but, typically, my sister’s timetable didn’t run to plan. So she suggested that I come along to the studio instead. And I, reluctantly, agreed.

 And I’m glad I did. Because I was proved wrong for the second time that day.

And if ever I had doubts or concerns about Nikki’s career choice, watching her yesterday annihilated them. Not only was the dancing top-notch but the lyrics were clever (I can’t stop singing the Count’s mathematical parody of the song ‘Fame’ and now Antonia’s picked it up) and it was generally very very funny. My sister was also the most enthusiastic-looking person on the stage and I have never seen her shine so much or look as happy in her entire life; and I genuinely felt very privileged to have been given a sneaky peek into her world.

     

 

 

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Our Four-Year Beanniversary

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On Tuesday, Antonia and I celebrated our four-year beanniversary. That’s four years since the date that she asked me to officially be her girlfriend.

Now a lot of people don’t know this (because we used to be quite shy and would subtly brush the question under the carpet when asked) but we originally met in November 2011 on Pink Sofa, which is a dating and networking site for lesbian, queer and bisexual women – and in fact, we were so impressed with the site that we recently rejoined so that could meet more likeminded ladies in our area (of course, we’ve so far sent more virtual hugs, kisses and bunches of flowers to each other than actual messages to other people, and all whilst we’ve been sitting together in the same room.)

Anyway, we decided to go to Norwich for a ce-les-bratory shopping trip / lunch. The plan was to buy each other house coats and a pair of slippers (I wanted fluffy tiger claws and she wanted hairy hobbit toes) but we couldn’t find any we liked, so Antonia ended up with a stripey jumper and I got a plain white shirt; she also chose two early birthday presents for herself but I’m not letting her have them for another month… I’m really not…

For lunch we went to a vegetarian cafe called ‘Wild Thyme’. It took us a while to find it – and we were quite ravenous when we arrived – even though it was smack in the middle of the city centre, inside a wee courtyard above a very colourful shop called ‘Rainbow Wholefoods’, and the website had explained this quite specifically! The menu was almost completely vegan and both of us had trouble deciding what to choose because it all sounded so tasty. In the end I picked the mexican black bean burger with melty cashew cheese and sweet potato wedges, and Antonia got the Japanese noodle salad; and then because we both liked the look of what the other had, we swapped our meals half way through. This fifty-fifty dinner-swapping is a common practice for us (and I can’t remember the last time we went out to eat and didn’t do it) and I suppose it’s one other thing that can be added to a long list of reasons that people think we are a wee bit weird. Both dishes were equally amazing and I was completely stuffed; despite this we still ordered a vegan brownie with soya icecream between us and scoffed the lot.

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After that, we went downstairs to Rainbow Wholefoods and I bought some non-dairy cheese slices with chopped mushrooms through it and a jar of rice syrup. I was particularly excited by the rice syrup because I’ve only ever seen it in one shop, in Glasgow, and that shop shut down about three years ago.

photo 3 Next, we visited a new age place where Antonia bought me an egg-shaped piece of opalite (which is apparently for love, passion and eroticism as well as spontaneity – but she didn’t know this till she looked it up in her crystal bible) and a bit of celestite (it helps dysfunctional relationships amongst other things according to her book, oo-er) and a cute wee pin badge with an angel on it; she also bought herself five tiny slivers of quartz but I haven’t dared to ask what those are for yet…

Then lastly, having shopped, eaten, drank and giggled our way around the town, we took some silly, squinty, god-awful coupley selfies in the rain before waddling back to the car.

Sophie’s Adventures In Veggieland

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Lynsey, Antonia + Tash in The Veggie Red Lion in Great Bricett

In a break from the normal weekly blog as written by Lynsey, for a change this week, we have a guest blogger, Sophie Norman from Glasgow who has spent the week visiting with Lynsey and Antonia in Sudbury. 13 years ago I spent a year vegetarian. As anyone who knows me can attest, I love my food; and that year was a challenge that tested my love of food to its breaking point. At the time I was a student living in Edinburgh with flatmates, one of whom had been vegetarian for years and the other two avowed carnivores. I became vegetarian when I first moved into the flat thinking that it would be easy to survive eating similar things to the vegetarian flatmate. However, I soon discovered that my flatmate seemed to subsist purely on a meal of pancakes with spinach and cheddar which she cooked seemingly every day. While delicious this quickly became very repetative so I quickly started making meals for myself. My meals were a disaster. I love to cook but had no idea what vegetarians ate. Also being a student I was very poor and I soon found out that vegetarian cooking on the cheap is a lot more expensive than its more meaty counterpart. I found restaurants a challenge. At the time in Edinburgh there were a splattering of vegetarian restaurants, mainly pretty poor fare, and trying to convince non-vegetarian friends and family to come to a vegetarian restaurant was a non-starter; so I would be forced to go to restaurants whose idea of a vegetarian option would be macaroni cheese (a dish I detest) or a dish of mushrooms in a cream sauce (ditto) or that most ubiquitous of vegetarian options, the salad. This was very disheartening, and after a year I had enough. The straw that broke the camel’s back however was getting a new flatmate who cooked almost exclusively steak and the smell drove me wild until I finally gave into temptation. Jump forward 13 years to this week. I have been looking forward to coming to Sudbury since I heard that Lyns and Antonia were moving down all those months ago, but knowing that they are vegan, and not knowing much about the area I mentally prepared myself for a week of restaurants serving rabbit food salad. How wrong I was. Lynsey and Antonia eat well. They eat very well. Sudbury itself has no vegetarian restaurants, however just a short drive away you have the rustic Veggie Red Lion restaurant in Great Brickett. This restaurant completely annihilated my expectations of what a country pub vegetarian restaurant might be like. The food was simply amazing even though I ended up eating pancakes with spinach and cheese, the very same meal I became so sick of all those years ago. The following day Lynsey and I went to Colchester. There we found the Viet Kitchen; a restaurant serving half carnivourous – half vegan food. Changing the habbit of a lifetime I went for the vegan option of a tofu noodle soup, and well the smile never left my face. Leaving Sudbury to go to Brighton the standard of food jumped from merely brilliant to out of this World, super-duper, orgasmic food. Restaurants such as the Infinity Food Café, VBites and Food With Friends were enough to convert even the strictest carnivore, however the crème de la crème was Terre A Terre. The standard of food in this restaurant blew way even the very best non-vegetarian restaurants I have ever eaten in. The night we arrived in Brighton we ate in there and new previously undiscovered emotions were felt; but even this was trounced by the afternoon tea we savoured the following afternoon. Who would ever have imagined that the pinacle of culinary art would be achieved in a vegetarian restaurant?

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Sophie Norman + Antonia

So, after all this, will I be returning to vegetarianism? Well no, probably not, but I will definitely be exploring more veggie and vegan restaurants and meals at home will be far less meat dominated and have a lot more tofu.