World Vegan day

This is less of a ‘properly written’ long blog post, but upon realising that today is World Vegan Day, I wanted to take a wee second to reflect and mention it! I’ve been vegan two years and veggie five and it just feels so normal now, it’s never an effort, it feels easy and fun to do. I always like to avoid preaching, but I do think occasionally highlighting veganism can be helpful for anyone curious about it. I think it’s particularly apt given that COP26 is beginning- and will hopefully produce some important changes for our planet.

Veganism has so many benefits for animals, the environment and potentially health (although not the way I do it haha!), and whilst I would not like to force ideas on people, I would like to say it’s very easy and fulfilling. I’ll leave this here on the message that I would truly love to talk to anyone who has considered being vegan (or eating plant based foods more often), and who may have any questions about starting. Please think about the positive impact the smallest changes can have, and give it a go if it’s something you’d like to try 🙂

Please do comment here or talk to me on instagram at carlybooks_ if you do have any questions or comments 🙂

April Favourites

Book:

I hadn’t heard of this author until this month, when I listened to the Podcast ‘Greek Mythology Retold’ and discovered that Janell Rhiannon is writing a book series called The Homeric Chronicles. I loved this book, it’s an interesting and easy to read account of the events leading up to Trojan wars. I’d recommend this is you like mythology and this might be a good place to start if you’ve never read a Greek myth but would like to- if you google some of the characters and Gods/Goddesses as you go along 😊

I’ve already mentioned Girl, Woman, other this month, but this was another favourite read because of the thought-provoking writing style and the interesting characters.

TV programme:

I rewatched Killing Eve this month before starting the new season, I love this programme. I tend not to like crime programmes but I love the balance of dark humour, well written characters and the atmosphere in this show- the music in Killing Eve has been used so well to create this atmosphere, I love the way music can influence the tone of a show. 😊 I can’t think of anything I’d change about this show, I’d recommend watching it if you’re bored (I also enjoy You for its similar humour).

Music:

I LOVE music, I think it’s so important for mental health and can really lift and affect my mood. I end up listening to the same songs constantly and this month (basically this entire year haha) I’ve listened to The Beatles constantly. For some reason I keep listening to I’m only sleeping in particular, this song will not leave my head when I hear it.

The song Spanish Sahara by Foals came on shuffle recently, I’d forgotten how much I love that song, it’s very calming and atmospheric (apparently my favourite word to describe things). I think I first heard it years ago watching Misfits, another amazing programme. 😊 I really should listen to some new songs, please let me know your favourite singers or bands!

The outdoors:

I’ve loved being able to get out most days and be around nature. I love riding my bike (very slowly, a man who was possibly 65 years old passed me today and rode away into the distance haha) and getting fresh air. (I know there’s no other way to write, but I feel like I say ‘I’ constantly and I’m very conscious of it now, it sounds very selfish haha). It’s also been good to feel a sense of community and see so many kind acts during the crazy times, even small acts such as clapping for the NHS and getting to speak to neighbours we wouldn’t usually get a chance to speak to- I’d like to say here that I completely understand the perspective of those who feel this is a pointless act and the biggest thing we can do is not vote the Tories. I’ve never voted the Tories and agree that they have made many many mistakes that negatively impact a number of people. I will continue to vote in a way that will hopefully remove the Tories power one day, and hope that we can become more liberal in our politics and actions. I do, however, think small kind acts have a place in maintaining positivity and helping people to feel together in times like these.

Someone has been painting little rocks with kind messages at the loch beside my house and it’s created such a nice sense of community, so me and my family decided to paint easter egg rocks at Easter as a little hunt for the children who live nearby. All of the stones disappeared so hopefully children enjoyed finding them, but a swan may have eaten them all, we’ll never know haha. I’d like to do something with books, like a little anonymous book swap at the loch, I’m unsure how that would work but it’d be quite fun to try 😊. I also enjoyed bringing some books for my gran to read and being able to speak to her (from a safe distance). I feel a bit useless sometimes because I can’t think of something I can safely do (my mum’s in the at risk category) to help or volunteer with, I’ll hopefully find something positive to do soon.

Cooking:

Cooking/baking seems to be everyone’s go to just now (I’ve managed not to make banana bread yet haha), its been fun trying to make new things- I’m a kind of possibly okay as long as it’s just me eating it type of cook, but I cannot bake hahaha. I like giving myself little challenges, so I’ve been trying to make creations from the food I’ve bought and I’m only shopping around once every three weeks. A quicken nugget (quorn) katsu curry has been my favourite creation, and my homemade pizza was not what I’d call edible. Homemade vegan brownie recipes are also pretty good! 😊

I really hope you’ve all felt okay this month, thank you for your comments and I’d really like to know what books, films and shows help you to feel better 😊 I’m ending this with a picture of Dusty because she’s always my favourite wee thing.

Earth day 2020

Happy Earth day! I love finding ways to be sustainable and trying to look at the positive things that are helping the environment just now and there are lots of positive exciting facts to be found on happyeconews.com 😊 (for example, wildlife are freely exploring their natural habitats without fear or risk of human danger). I always feel that there’s more to do, so today I’m going to reflect on the 10 ways to help the earth (from the Ecology centre):

  • Go outside more– this is definitely the time for this! I’ve always loved forests and the sound of the birds singing, and I feel lucky in these crazy times to be able to go for a daily bike ride around loch beside my house (sometimes the deer are out). It’s always easy to slip into the habit of driving places we could walk to and I can definitely be guilty of this. This is something that I’m going to be mindful of when we are able to travel again, I’ll to remember the environmental and emotional benefits of walks and bike rides.
  • Get reusable bags– this is probably one of the easiest little differences to make and one that I’ve adopted (although I have broken a couple of bags by shoving too many books in, which defeats the point haha)
  • Recycle– I always try to do this and when I have a classroom (I’m a student teacher just now) recycling and sustainability is something I’d definitely like to involve the children in 😊 I’m unsure how good Scotland is at recycling as a whole, but hopefully it will keep improving. The main struggle is finding foods that aren’t covered in plastic and this is an issue that I really hope companies and shops will begin to take more seriously. I also like to paint sometimes and make collages, I’ve recently tried to incorporate recycled materials into collages to make a little difference (I love using easter egg wrappers as gold foil!)
I used old magazines and easter egg wrappers for the collage background
  • Buy organic foods and products– This is again a little bit difficult where I live as I haven’t seen many whole food stores or zero waste food shops, but I try my best and would like to learn more about this this year 😊
  • Stop eating meat– I was a vegetarian for two years before becoming vegan six months ago. I feel that some people can be very judgemental and I don’t believe in preaching choices, however, for those of you who have ever thought about becoming vegan, I would say it’s easier that it appears 😊 There are lots of options everywhere I’ve been and I wouldn’t say it’s more expensive that buying meat. When deciding to become vegan I worried about missing foods like cheese, but once I made the decision it was surprisingly easy to adapt my diet and I haven’t craved anything that couldn’t be replaced. I would also recommend trying to make your favourite recipes replacing things with vegan alternatives (I love mushroom risotto) rather than trying to eat only ‘vegan’ recipes (endless chickpeas). Cheese can still be a bit dodgy; it has to be said, but I’d recommend Violife slices and applewood smoked cheese 😊
  • Start composting– we have a little compost bin and I try to freeze meals to save waste but this is still something I could make steps to improve!
  • Start gardening– this is definitely something I have to work on this year, I have little interest in gardening and somehow managed to kill a cactus haha. I might try a little vegetable patch though, now is the time 😊
  • Use glass bottles over plastic– I really only drink tap water and diet irnbru (I’m a stereotype) so this is quite easy to do, but it can be too easy to buy plastic bottle whilst out so this is something I’ll try to be mindful of (when I’m allowed out again in five years haha)
  • Make your own cleaning products– definitely something to work on, I’ve never tried this! If you have any tips please let me know! I might also try out making my own makeup and deodorant while I’m home to see if any of my experiments work out 😊
  • Plant a tree– There’s a fun little app called My Trees that I donate to 😊 Trees are planted with the money you donate and you’re entered into a weekly lottery. This is a simple way to have an impact if this is something that interests you and you’re able to (I know it’s really difficult in current times though). I also found a little app called Weare8 where you can watch short environmental videos and a little bit of money is donated to environmental charities for every video you watch (you can also make money by watching, it’s something tiny little 5p per video but every bit makes a difference) 😊

Happy earth day, and please let me know if you’d recommend any steps that can help to make a difference. I hope you’re doing well!

Pretty places in Scotland

I love nature and the outdoors so I thought I’d share some pictures of Scotland which will hopefully be calming in these times. I feel lucky to live in such a beautiful country. There are many places I’d love to see in the future and many that aren’t pictured here as sadly I only have photos from some places but I’d recommend a visit to Scotland if you’ve never been 🙂

Glenfinnan viaduct and Culloden Battlefield

I was so excited to drive to Glenfinnan Viaduct as a stereotypical lover of Harry Potter. Harry Potter feels like childhood and Glenfinnan Viaduct is beautiful (I played the theme tune as I walked up the hill hahaha). The drive alone is worth it (although it took about 3.5 hours from my house) as Glencoe is extremely picturesque. The Culloden Battlefield is just on the other side of the Viaduct, which would be of interest to those who love history (or if you like Outlander, although I’m not sure how historically accurate Outlander is).

Glencoe

Sadly a lot of these pictures are taken on my old phone which got a bit scraped, so the camera is not the best. However, on the drive through Glencoe there are beautiful hills and mountains all around (I’m yet to climb one, I’d love to travel around Scotland in a campervan. I have to do the North coast 500 at some point, and I’d love to walk the West Highland way.

My local lochs and drives

This is the loch next to my house, it’s absolutely beautiful especially on (rare) sunny days. My favourite part of the loch is this forest trail and I’ve really enjoyed being able to go on bike rides (that kill my legs) especially at sunset when I tend not to see anybody and the deer start to come out (I’m still trying to get them to stop running away from me). I honestly feel like I’m in the hunger games or twilight. I also enjoy seeing the pretty swans swimming around, but I do not recommend getting close to them as they can only be defined as evil.

I love when Scotland snows (although I think this is an unpopular opinion) and it begins to feel all Wintery like Narnia.

These are again pictures near my house 😊 I live just outside Glasgow. I also enjoy seeing the occasional highland cow and the many hills.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

Three lochs forest drive:

I recently went here whilst social distancing before the lockdown and it was a nice balance of driving and walks that are good for the unfit like me. I never get sick of forests; something feels magical about them and I love the sound of the birds singing (I sound like a Disney film). I took Norse Mythology here to read which added to the magical element.

Dumyat Hill:

Over the past year or so I’ve enjoyed hill walking, usually in the Stirling area. This picture is from Dumyat which is a good hill to start on, but my favourite I’ve climbed so far has been Ben A’an. I’m hoping to work up to higher hills in the future, one positive from these crazy times is making the most of nature and the outdoors again 😊 I sometimes like to focus on the environmental benefits around the world to bring some positivity to such a horrible situation.

Stirling Uni:

For some reason I didn’t really like Stirling Uni when I was there, but it has an amazing setting! Stirling is beautiful and has always reminded me of a little Edinburgh.

Glasgow

I’m biased because I live closer, but I’ve always been a Glasgow person more than Edinburgh. I would definitely recommend visiting Glasgow if you haven’t before, it has a great balance of nightlife, music, museums, parks and shops as well as theatres (and Glasgow uni/Hogwarts). I also think that the people are really friendly and helpful (the one’s who aren’t trying to stab you) and it has a positive atmosphere.

Botanic Gardens:

I would class the West end as the fancy part of Glasgow haha, it has pretty vintage shops, bars and the amazing (and free, woohoo) Botanic Gardens. Kelvingrove art gallery is also nearby 😊

Edinburgh

Whilst I love Glasgow, Edinburgh is still a fantastic place. I love the fact that you can visit a castle, shops and the theatre, go on a Harry Potter tour and walk up a dormant volcano in the same day. I now associate Edinburgh with 6.30am uni trains haha, but it’s always an exciting and patriotic place to see. These pictures were taken on Arthurs seat.

Culross

Again good for Outlander fans, parts were filmed here 😊 There is a little (usually freezing beach) and a number of brightly coloured houses to be seen as well as a beautiful old fashioned church. I don’t know how much there is to see round about as I’m never really explored, but it makes for a pretty day trip and is fairly close to Burnt Island.

Finnich Glen/Devil’s Pulpit

I have apparently become Outlander woman at this point, another filming location. I’ll have to go back here on a future sunny day because the pictures don’t do it justice, but this is a mystical and almost haunting place. I will say though, be careful on the way down because the staircase has eroded (thank you german man who stopped me plummeting to my death hahaha), but it’s fun to walk in the waterfall and look at all of the colours. I also enjoyed the eery witchy tales associated with the devil’s pulpit. P.s the live action Pokémon film also has a scene filmed here (did not like that film haha) and recently the tv programme The Nest.

Ayr

I’ve never managed to get a sunny day here, but there are lots of beaches to be seen!

Anstruther

Famous chippy, cute independent shops and beaches. Anstruther is very close to St Andrews, another picturesque place for a day trip. Last year after coming back from holiday I drove to St Andrews beach on a whim to pretend I was still in Greece (didn’t work haha) so I now have nice associations of St Andrews and Song of Achilles- I love this book.

Aviemore

We drove here on a Wintery day through beautiful snowy mountains to visit the reindeer (it doesn’t look real in this picture, but it was!) I haven’t spent a lot of time here, but I know that there are tourist attractions that make it a popular place to visit.

I hope you get the chance to visit anywhere that interests you, please let me know where you’re from 🙂