Planes, trains and Vegan Fayres

Hey there! Did you miss me? Seems like I've been away forever. I have oodles of exciting things to tell you.
Firstly, I went to the UK to celebrate my mother-in-laws 80th birthday There she is, boogieing the night away - she didn't stop dancing for 2 hours! If I have half her energy when I'm 80 I'll be happy - she really put us younguns to shame! My stay in England also coincided with the Brighton Vegan Fayre, and seeing that Brighton is only 77 miles from Bournemouth, it would have been rude not to go. Even though Brighton is only 77 miles away, unbelievably - there is no direct way to get there by public transport. By car it would take less than an hour and a half to drive - by coach it takes over 5 hours and by train it took 3 hours 20 mins and involved two trains and a bus. Crazy huh! I had arranged to meet Susan of Kittens Gone Lentil fame there but alack and alas I don't think she was getting my calls and messages on her phone because she never replied to them so unfortunately we didn't get to meet up. It would have been quite funny if we actually passed eachother without realising it. Fortunately for me I had arranged to meet another internet friend there so I wasn't walking around like Billy no mates for the entire day. I'd never been to a Vegan Fayre before so I wasn't really sure what to expect; but let me tell you - the entire experience blew me away. It was awesome. So many amazing vegan products and causes and of course FOOD! I filled up on all the free samples that were on offer and in so doing avoided paying the ridiculous prices that were being charged by the Brighton Centre to have the privilege of eating in their restaurant (which was doing a vegan only menu for the day). Of course I bought myself some bits and bobs - Redwoods were doing an offer where if you spent 10 quid you got a free bag - well, I can and did spend 10 quid easily, could have spent more but I reminded myself I had to travel the 3 hour 20 minute journey back home so I resisted the urge to over indulge. Sheese were doing an offer (in fact - every stall was doing an offer) and I bought three selections of vegan cheese for 6 quid. Six quid!! I also bought two tins of Affinity organic stuffed Vine Leaves as they came highly recommended by my companion. I'm glad I bought two because they are delicious! All in all a wonderful day, the sun shone down on Brighton and the day was finished with a drink. Every time I go back home I always manage a few visits to the New Forest. The forest is one of the few things I miss about the UK. There is something about it's ancient woodland that runs deep in my veins and I always feel like I'm home whenever I am there. There are few places in the world where the ancient landscape has remained so unchanged, and this most English of forests continues to be a living and working community where ponies and cattle still have right of way as they freely graze the land. Deeper in the forest wild deer browse beneath canopies of mighty oak and beech - natural scenes unchanged by the modern world. In 1079 when William The Conqueror named the area his ‘new hunting forest’, little could he imagine that nearly 1000 years later his ‘Nova Foresta’ would still retain its mystery and romance.

The ancient system established by William The Conqueror to protect and manage the woodlands and wilderness heaths is still in place today through the efforts of Verderers, Agisters and Commoners – literally the judges, stockmen and land users of the forest.

The New Forest is one of the most vast natural areas of eastern Europe and it's beauty is just breathtaking - even still, to me, who has walked it's many pathways a garzillion times. This time I visited what has to be my most favourite place IN THE WORLD! The Giant Sequoias that dominate the depths of the forest where they definitely rule this part of England and basically kick Oak tree ass! This is the tallest of the two that stands at an impressive 51 feet! It is the tallest tree in England, Ireland and Wales. The energy in this place is just so awesome - it resonates with my primal heathen instincts and makes me want to shake off conformity and build a house in it's highest branches and hide away from the world forever. I would be happy. Click here for more info on this fascinatingly beautiful part of the world. That just about concludes my five day trip back to the homelands. Of course even more shopping was done and a haul of vegan goodies bought back with me but you don't want to see photos of that, do you?
Can you spot the Sosmix? Read the packet and weep vegan tears of joy and happiness. It seems after all those months of petition signing and emailing - Haldane Foods listened and finally saw sense. So you can all give yourselves a congratulatory pat on the back. And whilst it's not on a par with banning Seal clubbing - cyber activism DOES work, so don't give up. And I know you're all dying to know how come my blog is adorned with so many wonderful photos - well this particular heathen vegan is cameraless no more. HURRAH! Be prepared for lots of food porn over the next few weeks as I have some serious catching up to do. GO VEGAN!

Earth Hour 2009

Make Earth Hour Happen
It started with a question: How can we inspire people to take action on climate change? The answer: Ask the people of Sydney to turn off their lights for one hour. On 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour - Earth Hour - sending a powerful national and global message that it is possible to take action on global warming. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney's energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for one hour. With Sydney icons like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House turning their lights off, and unique events such as weddings by candlelight, the world took notice. All households, communities and business around the world are being invited to turn their lights off for one hour at 8.30pm on March 28 2009 as Earth Hour goes global. Towns and cities around the world will be taking a stand on the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, and millions of people will unite to turn the tide on global warming. Pledge to turn out your lights for one hour and it’s as simple as that. Click here for more info and to sign up

Happy March!

It seems that Spring is a million years away here on the Costa Blanca and the glorious day we had a while back was nothing but a big tease. I so can not wait for it to warm up a bit. I know lots of you are still having severe weather, like wingraclaire for instance, so I feel a bit of a fraud for saying what I'm about to say BUT this winter has just dragged on and on for me. I'm not a sufferer of SAD by any means but my body so needs to come out of hibernation mode and get some serious amounts of Vitamin D into it. Lots of exciting things to report anyway - we put a deposit down on our house last week so if everything goes according to plan then we should be moving in by the end of March! Mr treehugger keeps telling me not to get too excited as nothing is guaranteed as yet but I can't help myself, I've mentally decorated the rooms and dug the vegetable patch already! I have also started clearing out a lot of junk too. Isn't it amazing the things we accumulate over the years. When we first came to Spain we had a tiny little Bedford van full of our belongings - and here we are seven years later with a three bedroomed house full of stuff. So I feel like I'm in limbo at the moment - but in a good way. Neither here nor there - which is what some people would say to describe me anyway! LOL! February the 28th saw my first Veganversary! A whole year! I have learned a heck of a lot in this first year and 99.9% of it has been from you awesome bloggers! I guess I can't call myself a noob anymore and I only hope I can help the next noob who comes along as much as you guys have helped me. BIG VIRTUAL HUGS TO ALL YOU AWESOME BLOGGERS! Food wise we are still eating lots of Soups and Stews and stick to the ribs food to help insulate us but I do have an awesome recipe to share with you. Since my Follywood Biryani escapade I have been wanting to make Biryani again, never one to shy in the face of disaster that's me! I'd had my eye on Vegan Dad's Recipe but I didn't have all the ingredients and couldn't be bothered to go to the supermarket, so I did a bit of critical googling to come up with this little corker - it really is YUM! Vegetable Biryani serves 6 Ingredients 2 tbsp vegetable oil 1 large Potato, peeled and cubed 2 Large carrots, peeled and diced handful of Mushrooms, cut into quarters 1 large Onion, sliced 1 litre hot Vegetable Stock 3 tbsp hot Curry Paste (or your regular one that you always use - we use a HOT one) Pinch of dried Chili Flakes Large pinch of Saffron 2 tsp Mustard Seeds 500g Basmati Rice 1 head of Brocolli, broken into small florets Cup of frozen Peas Salted roasted Cashew Nuts Method Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7/fan 200C. Pour the oil into a large roasting tin or ovenproof dish and put in the oven for a couple of minutes to heat through. Add all the vegetables to the tin, except the Peas and Broccoli, stirring to coat them in the hot oil. Season with Salt and Pepper and return to the oven for 30 minutes until beginning to brown, you may want to give them a swirl round halfway through. While the Vegetables are roasting, stir together the Stock, Curry Paste, Chili, Saffron and Mustard Seeds. Mix the Rice, Broccoli and Peas with the Vegetables in the tin, stir them round well to coat them in the Olive Oil then pour over the Stock mixture. Lower the oven to 190C/gas 5/fan 190C. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake. Now, in my cruddy oven this took 50 mins to cook but I suggest you check after half an hour anyway and give everything a good stir. When it is ready, stir in the Cashew Nuts, check the seasoning and serve. You'll be glad you made so much because this is even better the next day for leftovers! (I'm so glad for Firefox because I can never remember how to spell Broccoli!) One final word goes to Chocolate Covered Katie and her awesome Chocolate Give-away! Head on over there to be in with a chance a of winning this amazing chocolaty prize, you have until the 19th March to enter and the competition is open to anyone anywhere in the world! GO! GO! GO! Thanks to Carla for giving me the heads up about this.