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I’m taking a break from blogging at the moment.

Check out this article in the¬†Guardian on ‘demitarians’

Take care ūüôā

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Poll

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Travelling Tips

Deer in Banff, Canada.

1. Be organised (this is also good advice for life in general). Pack your things in an organised manner – know where anything is in your suitcase at any given time. Trust me, it makes the trip more fun. Devote a section of your backpack to recyclable waste, if you are like me and have a physical inability to throwing recyclables in the rubbish bin (I recycle them later!).

2. Pack light -don’t bring too many clothes. Hotels/hostels usually have laundry facilities, but bring your own laundry detergent (whilst on holiday I bought some eco laundry with borax. I often use Dr Bronner’s liquid soap for handwashing in the sink, which is what I did at one of the hotels, letting the clothes dry in the bathroom). As for toiletries I bought along my homemade toothpaste, toothbrush, Dr Bronner’s liquid soap (for hands & body), homemade deodorant (recipe coming up soon), jar of baking soda & tiny bottle of vinegar (for washing my hair) plus I bought vegetable oil which I used for cooking & moisturising (my lips were really dry when the weather got really cold). I like to use environmentally-friendly toiletries on holiday. I also think that single-use shampoo bottles & lotions etc that hotels use are wasteful – I thought that this blog had an interesting suggestion for hotels to solve this plastic nuisance!

3. Hostels. They’re not just for partying early twenty year olds! I think that staying in hostels is good for the character. You’re likely to actually talk to other people staying in a hostel, unlike in a hotel, which can be interesting. Personally, I don’t mind sharing a communal bathroom with others, or a kitchen. In fact, the kitchen is always the biggest perks of staying at a hostel, since you save money by not eating out for every meal, plus you don’t have to tripadvisor every eatery in the city/town/village and inspect their menus online to see if there’s anything suitable for vegans (I tend not to eat salads at restaurants). Bring your own towel and lock though – hostels tend to rent things like that out (cheeky! Especially the locks for the lockers. Safety of possessions is a right, not a¬†privilege). Hostelling is probably the most fun when you are with a group of friends. Otherwise, sharing a room full of other people is fine. The best of both worlds is if you get to have access to a communal kitchen and bathroom, but have a private room. Some hostels do offer this. Still, I’d recommend the experience of sharing a room with other people – it’s different.

4. I always bring my water bottle on holiday. It’s handy on flights too – the air stewards/stewardesses are happy to fill it up instead of me using a plastic cup. Make sure to empty out any water in the bottle before going through airport security though.

5. Pack re-usable bags, folding them neatly into your suitcase. They’re useful at home, and their useful on holiday e.g. lugging shopping from a local supermarket to the hostel.

6. Remember – road trips are meant to be slightly stressful. You can’t plan for everything. But let the stress go afterwards, and enjoy the rest of your holiday.

7. When I go on holiday abroad, I like to go for at least 10 days – any less and it doesn’t feel like much of a break. It allows you to really absorb your new surroundings, and even miss home. It’s also a good idea to stay in places for 2 or even 3 nights, particularly if they’re interesting, as opposed to whizzing around all holiday and only staying one night, which can be exhausting.

Do you have any tips for travellers/ people on holiday? 

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Vegan London

‘Vegan Forever’ – Wholefood’s Shop Window, High Street Kensington

I took this photo of the Wholefood’s shop window on Kensington High Street, it made me smile!

London can be vegan-friendly, if you know where to look! Today I had lunch at an Indian vegetarian restaurant, Sagar  in Hammersmith. I immediately liked the place because they have a special vegan-only menu, which is very handy. On the other hand, I had so much choice (a rarity when dining out as a vegan) that it took me a while to decide what to get. In the end I got a Masala dosa, which is a rice and lentil golden pancake filled with potato, onions and carrots, served with coconut curry and sambar. I thought it was delicious, and I would definitely eat there again to try all of their vegan dishes.

I also bought an older version of this book from a charity shop today. Right up my street!

Other great places to eat in London are Chipotle (they do a great burrito with guacamole, black beans, roasted veg, coriander brown rice, and salsa), Loving Hut in Camden (I love the Eco burger and the Ocean burger Рyou can buy the burgers frozen from this place too) and Inspiral in Camden (they do great cakes and make delicious kale chips).

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The Royal Academy of Arts have been hosting the Summer Exhibition¬†every year¬†since 1769. I’ve been going annually since 2009, and really enjoy it!

Below, ‘The Ritz’ by Gillian Westgate.

Below, ‘Goldcrest’ by Richard Spare

Below, ‘Time for Tea’ by Suki Cohn (click to enlarge)

Below, ‘Ultima Ora’ by David Tindle¬†(click to enlarge)

Below, ‘Blue’ by Greg Genestine-Charlton – I thought that this one was one of the best (though it was ¬£750!)

Below, ‘The Meeting, Royal Academy of Arts’ by Leonard Rosoman (click to enlarge). Again, one of the best, in my opinion (it wasn’t for sale).

Below, a large sculpture (approx 1m by 1m) called ‘Me as a lion, as a hero’ by Sahand Hesamiyan.

Below, ‘Feather Child I’ by Lucy Glendinning. This one was quite shocking because it was positioned at your feet.

This stone sculpture in the middle of the photo was lovely, and is called ‘Vortex for After Cosmati’ by John Maine.

Below, ‘Stand Prose 2011’ by Rachel Heller.

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Kew Gardens was founded in 1759 and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The gardens are beautiful and I really enjoyed them. Kew is also a research centre for plant science and conservation, focusing on understanding and protecting the world’s plant and fungal diversity. Their cause is a noble one. I only relatively recently have started to appreciate plants and their seemingly infinite variation. One of the things I like about Kew is the fact that children don’t pay an admission fee to the gardens, allowing them to develop an appreciation for nature early in life for free!

We saw a golden pheasant roaming freely around the gardens – beautiful isn’t it? It seemed relatively unafraid of people (was probably used to them). We also saw peacocks, geese and ducks.

Above, a banana tree in one of the glass houses. Aren’t the leaves beautiful?

Above, the jade vine, native to the Philippines. I almost couldn’t believe they were real – their colour looks so fake!

Above, the Water Lily House. I love the giant water lily (native to the waters of the Amazon rainforest). Here is a video that tells you a bit more about this beautiful water lily.

Just above the water lily was this carnivorous plant, hanging in a basket.

This curly palm tree looks a bit like a snake!

Above, I thought the flowers of this plant were very unusual.

Above, some beautiful flowers in the Rock Garden.

Overall, I really enjoyed Kew Gardens. We walked around the gardens for 4 hours, and we still didn’t manage to see everything! I’d really recommend Kew to people who love ¬†taking photos of plants, flowers and nature – plenty of beauty to capture here.

N.B. You can navigate around Kew gardens using their official free Kew gardens app.

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For quite a while now I have been suffering from chronic nasal congestion, i.e. my nose seemed to be chronically blocked. Not severely blocked, but blocked enough so that my sense of smell had been dulled, which was extremely annoying. No amount of nose blowing seemed to shift whatever was clogging my nasal system, since my nose wasn’t runny. In fact, it seemed as if the congestion was at the back of my nasal passages, in an area otherwise known as the nasopharynx. The nasopharynx is illustrated in the diagram of the nasal passages below.

Diagram of the Nasal Cavity

Diagram of the Nasal Passages: The nasopharynx is shown to the right of the diagram

Since the nasopharynx is at the back of the nasal cavity, it is difficult to shift the blockage. Isn’t it interesting to see how large the nasal passages are? You wouldn’t expect it, since you lose the sensation of where the air is going when you inhale. To the left of the diagram you can see where the front teeth are (in white) and the nostrils mark the entrance to the ‘nasal vestibule’.

I couldn’t understand why my nose was constantly blocked. It seemed unaffected by seasonality, implying that it wasn’t hay fever. It couldn’t be an allergy to dairy or dairy products, since I gave those up approximately 3 years ago. It couldn’t be a chronic bacterial/viral infection because the mucus wasn’t thick or runny. For a while I thought it might be a wheat allergy. Although it isn’t impossible to be vegan and not eat wheat, it is not an easy task (I also think it wouldn’t be easy for a non-vegan, since wheat is ubiquitous). However, eliminating wheat didn’t seem to be particularly effective at ‘de-congesting’ my nasal system.

So I went to my local GP. I wasn’t too optimistic, since, in my experience, GPs tend to be a little dismissive. I explained to my GP that I wasn’t interested in taking any medication. I asked my GP if she could arrange for me to meet an ear, nose and throat specialist. She asked me if I had heard of nasal irrigation and said that ENT specialists recommended it to their patients. I said I’d try it and see how I got on.

Nasal irrigation is a practice that involves washing out the nasal passages with a saline solution to flush out excess mucus and environmental irritants (such as pollen, dust, smog etc). It can be performed using a nasal spray or a neti pot. I think nasal sprays are uncomfortable to use, so I bought a neti pot. ¬†A neti pot is made of ceramic and looks ‘like a cross between a small teapot and Aladdin’s magic lamp’. The practice of using a neti pot to alleviate congestion is centuries old, originating from yoga medical tradition. Using a neti pot does look a little undignified, but I found that it really helped alleviate my nasal congestion. I also found the experience comfortable (once you get used to it).

How to Use a Neti Pot

  • Wash the neti pot with soap & water
  • Fill the neti pot with lukewarm water (i.e. body temperature). I boil the water first and wait for it to cool down
  • Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp baking soda to the water and mix with a spoon until dissolved
  • Leaning over a sink or bathtub, tilt your head to the side
  • Put the spout of the neti pot in your nostril
  • Breathe gently through your mouth
  • Tilt the neti pot so that the saline solution will flow through your nasal cavity and out through the other nostril. It’s a strange sensation but it shouldn’t feel uncomfortable if done correctly. The fluid may run into your throat, in which case you can just spit it out
  • Blow your nose. You will definitely need to do this, as the neti pot will have shifted some of your mucus.
  • Repeat on the other side

In summary, I’m happy I gave it a go because I feel much better now!

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