VEGAN CAMP OUT 2018

Good morning beautiful souls,

Last weekend I went on my first proper solo trip! I went camping, to a festival all by myself and I’m glad I did! I get huge travel anxiety so this was a big deal for me, but I coped! Woohoo! I didn’t have a panic attack and best of all I had great time and met some lovely people! The festival I was attending was the Vegan Camp Out Festival at Newark Showground. With this being a very new festival (only it’s 3rd year running) I’d say it’s still a learning curve for the organisers too, but considering the number of attendees more than doubled from last year, it went down super well, there were no major hiccups and everyone had a blast.

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I departed lunchtime on Friday with far too much stuff (but hey I was only used to going camping with the car where you can chuck as much as you like on the back seat aha, so considering this I think I managed to reduce my camping kit considerably!). Jessica kindly helped me carry all my things to the train station and from there on I just about coped; luckily I had a direct train and once I arrived in Newark it was a just a taxi ride from the station to the showground and a little walk to the campsite.

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It was soo windy when I arrived that being by myself and with a brand new tent (which I hadn’t practised putting up beforehand) I really struggled to set up camp. Luckily some kind stranger next to me asked if I needed any help and together with the tips of two passing guys who had a similar tent we eventually, after what felt like hours, managed to erect it although I was a bit dubious as to whether it would stay up with the way the wind was knocking it around. Once I had my sleeping mat rolled out and the fairylights put up though I was very happy with my spacious but cosy home for the next 2 nights (I had a 4 person tent all to myself which was rather lovely I’m not going to lie).

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Before going to the Vegan Camp Out I’d joined a Facebook group created for all the lone travellers, so that we could interact and arrange somewhere to all camp together. However I also knew that my experience would be ruined if I were to be kept awake all night by loud neighbours haha so I decided to camp in the designated Quiet area. I had been nervous about plonking my tent amidst strangers but before going I by chance ended up making friends with a lovely girl named Molly via Instagram. She was coming to the festival with her boyfriend and they decided to camp with me for which I was very grateful. About three hours after I got there Molly and her boyfriend Will finally arrived and set up camp next to me.

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After settling in, we decided to check out some of the talks and went to listen to guitarist Jona Weinhofen’s personal vegan story, before ALF (Animal Liberation Front) founder Ronnie Lee took to stage and gave a very motivating speech about why we should not just be passive vegans but take to the streets and become activists. Having spent a  good 9 year in prison himself for being an animal rights activist this guy’s passion for animals and their welfare is seriously inspiring!

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Later in the evening I met up with Sam (a guy who’d messaged me from the Facebook lonelies group a day or two before the festival). We went to listen to the reggae legend that is Macka B and then sat down to chat the night away. Okay, okay you got me, we didn’t actually chat the night away. I mean I would have loved to, it was so lovely just chilling and chatting and Sam was super nice but I was literally yawing like every 2 mins come 12pm haha, so we called it a night.

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The next day Molly, Will & I went to some more talks and workshops, including one by founder of the Carnisim Debunked website, which were all very informative and thought provoking. One of the talks held by Earthling Ed had such a huge crowd I only just managed to squeeze in at the back, but I’m glad I did – it was amazing hearing him talk in person, what a guy!!!

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We treated ourselves for lunch and had some vegan pie & mash (I went for the mushroom one) which was so yummy and went off to listen to more talks such as by Peter Hammarstedt a Sea Shepherd Captain.

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In the afternoon we decided we wanted to go to the screening of Dominion. Watching Dominion was so difficult, not everyone made it through the whole film. It was very harrowing to watch – it’s a stark & emotional reminder of why we as vegans do not eat animal produce! Hearing the cries of anguish from mothers and calves being separated, bearing witness to the thousands of animals repeatedly abused, watching as foxes are skinned alive for their fur, seeing baby chicks get conveyorbelted into a shredder just because they are male, having hidden cameras reveal the disgusting dirty & cramped conditions farmed animals live in….. the list of unnecessary, inhumane cruelty we inflict is truly endless, terrible and heart-breaking!

PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE, START DOING SOME RESEARCH TO INFORM YOURSELVES MORE ON THE IMPACT ANIMAL AGRICULTURE HAS ON ANIMAL WELFARE, OUR EVNIRONMENT & OUR HEALTH! IT’S SUCH AND IMPORTANT TOPIC!

Here’s some sites to get you started:

Carnism Debunked – Plant Proof – Must Watch Informative Vegan Documentaries

Well after a difficult afternoon, we went back to our tents to rest a little more before having dinner. I’d brought most of my food for the weekend with me (far too much in the end aha) and so I made an avocado salad sandwich but joined Molly and Will by the food stalls to treat myself to some vegan Churros for dessert. Annoyingly they ran out of chocolate sauce, 2 people infront of me?! Say what?! But they were just as tasty with just sugary cinnamon!

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In the evening we went to see the last bit of Simon Amstell’s show on the main stage and have a good laugh. Molly and Will went back to their tent after this and I headed off to find Sam and hang out with him and some other lonelies grooving away to JME! After JME it was time for the afterparty, but I was pretty tired by then and knew I had an early enough start the next morning so I made my way back to my tent. Sam came back with me to my tent (I was forcing my leftover booze on him as I did so not want to have to carry it all the way home again aha) but instead of going back to the party straight away he stayed a while and we talked a bit more which was really nice as I felt like we’d just clicked really well. Eventually I did go to bed though and Sam went off to continue the party, well into the early hours of the morning apparently (I’m so glad I’d listened to myself and did not sleep in the lonelies area of the camp as this had apparently been the afterparty of the afterparty area where I would have got 0 sleep).

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Anyway I woke the next day to a grey sky and chilli morning which made getting out of my toasty sleeping bag rather difficult. I had hoped both mornings to be up and awake to join in on the morning yoga sessions, but totally failed both mornings, preferring my cosy lie ins aha! But this morning I couldn’t lie in too long as our taxi was booked back to the station for 11.30am (following the horrendous queues for taxis to the festival we made sure to book on Saturday for Sunday, and I’m glad we did otherwise who knows how long we’d have had to wait!). I’d packed my things together quite quickly and was having my breakfast by the time Molly & Will woke up and in the end our tents were all dissembled quicker than I thought, which was good though because it meant we could still go to one of the morning talks before leaving. I was also a good call getting up earlier as it started to rain and so we just about had everything packed away before it got too wet!

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Once we made it to the train station the last leg of my trip began as I had almost 4 hours to wait for my train home. It wasn’t too bad though, I read my book (The Handmaid’s Tale), drank coffee and before I knew it 4 hours had flown by and I was on my way home.

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I apologise for this essay of a blog post, but I guess I’m not good at being short and precise aha, so you get the long winded ramblings of my weekend adventure! I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about what I got up to and might even be inspired to check out some of the links 🙂

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SAYING GOODBYE

Good evening beautiful souls,

This week although amazing has also been very busy and exhausting. Anthony and Tom, two good friends of Jessica and myself were in Durham this week for their Masters Graduation. As Anthony is from Lebanon and Tom from down south, we won’t get to see much of them especially Anthony, so we made the most we of the short time we had with them. I worked long days Thursday through till Monday and then spent the evenings relaxing with them eating good food, playing games, watching Once Upon A Time and Black mirror and of course enjoying some drinks.

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On Sunday Anthony and Tom cooked a feast for us which was scrumptious and included plenty of Vegan options for me including Ratatouille, a Lebanese aubergine salad, deep fried cauliflower, beetroot risotto and deep fried beetroot risotto balls – mmm… It was all soo tasty! It was nice to be able to relax with the guys and catch up with them fo a couple of days. We played lots of games including our favourite, Settlers of Catan (which I won to Anthony’s annoyance and my delight as even though he kept blocking my every move I still managed to best him hehe) and a new favourite Cluedo.

Last night after a lovely full last day together we settled down to our latest night yet playing another round of Cluedo before binge watching Black Mirror until 3am!

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This morning it was time to say goodbye to Anthony. I hate it when good friends have to leave and who knows when I’ll see them next! I really hope they both receive PhD placements near Durham so that visiting each other won’t be so difficult! I’m really going to miss these too, but thank god for the Internet and Skype, at least keeping in contact won’t be too difficult!

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So after a busy week with very late nights I am now settling down to a quiet evening and some self care time. A bath, an early night and some much needed sleep are in order I believe!

Love Carina xo

CHRISTMAS !!!

Good evening beautiful souls,

I’ve had a lovely couple of days off celebrating Christmas with friends and family. Being both German and Irish my Christmas traditions are a mixed bag and I love it. Here’s what I got up to.

I have always celebrated Christmas on Christmas eve – that’s the German tradition and I love it! This is the first year I have my  own place and am not just home from uni for the holidays, so it was the first year I didn’t have a family breakfast on Christmas eve with my parents and sister. Instead I made a yummy brunch for Jessica and myself and we had a relaxing morning watching Santa Claus, drinking coffee and enjoying a cheeky sausage on avocado & egg toast.

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After a lazy morning I packed all my things up to take to my parents later that day and got ready. I enjoyed the routine of glaming up and putting a full face of makeup on whilst listening to Christmas songs and feeling more festive with every song I sang along to. I decided to pair my LBD with a wine coloured polo neck as my parents house tends to be on the cold side compared to mine and then went for dangly earrings as a statement piece and dark lips to match the polo.

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Just after 2pm my mum and sister picked me up and we went into Durham to go to the 3pm 9 lessons and carols service at the Cathedral. We didn’t stay for the full thing however as sadly being right at the back we could hardly hear and had to stand; however we did enjoy belting out some descants to our favourite carols before we left. As we’d left a bit earlier we decided to grab a coffee before heading home to give my dad a bit more time to rest because he wasn’t feeling great. We popped into Flat White in Durham and treated ourselves to some nice peanut butter bar thing too.

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Finally it was time to head home and for me to see our Christmas tree for the first time!! I love our Christmas tree; we always get a real one and the pine just smells wonderful. After adding my presents to the pile under the tree I finished painting my nails (as I’d totally mis-planned my time getting ready earlier) and then we all sat down together for our Christmas Eve dinner. It was time for another first this year as we changed up our family traditional meal for some salmon with rice and salad. It was very tasty but I have to say I missed our usual Christmas eve meal.

 

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After dinner we read the Christmas Story and sang some carols together in both English and German before sitting around the tree to open all our presents. We always take it in turns to open gifts so everyone sees what the other received and also so the process of opening gifts lasts as long as possible. About half way through we usually pause to make some tea and enjoy some Lebkuchen and Stollen some of our favourite German Christmas goodies. I’ll do a what I got for Christmas post soon, but for now I’ll just share my best present with you. I got a cello on loan!!! I haven’t played the cello in about 6 years as I’ve never owned my own instrument so when I stopped lessons after 9 years I had to return the cello to the music school. I’ve been itching to have another go at the cello for years now and so to finally be able to do this was the best present I could ask for – and it was a complete surprise! What made me even happier was that I remembered a lot more than I thought I had!

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Eventually we were all tire and crept to bed, but not before filling each others stockings. You see with also being British we still get stockings and Santa on Christmas Day, even though Christmas eve is our main celebration. The last few years we started a new tradition where everyone in the family was responsible for one persons stocking, this year I had my mum. So the next morning I got everyone out of bed at around 9am – no more 6am wakeup calls like when I was younger, although I ma still always the first one up who gathers everyone together so that we can open our stockings together. Once opened we made breakfast and enjoyed a lazy morning. In the afternoon we went to pick up Jessica who was joining us for Christmas dinner and some games. It was a lovely afternoon which we ended with snuggling up to watch the Call The Midwives Christmas special before my sister drove Jessica and myself home.

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On Boxing Day it was our turn to host and we invited my family over and my good friend Anna from work for a yummy spread, cocktails and games evening. We got stuck into Cluedo and Settlers which were both great fun!

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So all in all it’s been a lovely couple of days relaxing and enjoying each others company with good food, drinks and lot’s of laughter. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas too!

Love Carina xo

DEAR DIARY – WEEK OF THE 4th DECEMBER

Good evening lovelies,

Time for another dear diary post. This week has been quite busy, with ups and downs. I started my week by flying home from Belfast still not feeling great. I got home around 10ish and relaxed for an hour or so with my Jessica, Anthony and Tom before heading to bed.

On Tuesday I had a lovely lie in followed by a yummy breakfast with Jessica before we got started on cleaning the house, because sadly the guys didn’t clean the house before I came home and so it kinda was a mess which I wasn’t happy about. However I don’t mind cleaning and Jessica and busied ourselves for a good two to three hours listening to Christmas songs as we cleaned away and put up the Christmas tree which our landlady had kindly given us. It was quite  a nice morning really! After a late lunch Anthony and Tom came round and we played a game of scrabble which I won hehe. I absolutely love playing games, it is such a nice way to relax and spend quality time with friends. Sadly  Tuesday also marked Anthony’s last day with us as he was flying back to Lebanon on Wednesday. So he chose dinner, which was a cheeky KFC and we settled down to watch Once Upon A Time late into the night.

It was difficult to get up early on Wednesday because we had stayed up quite late the night before but I just about managed. We were supposed to have a coffee together before Anthony left for the airport, but it suddenly turned into a proper breakfast and everyone came over. Although this spontaneous breakfast was slightly stressful it was really nice to have everyone sitting down together even if only briefly before having to say goodbye. So Wednesday was a sad day as Jessica and I lost our Once Upon A Time partner in crime. The rest of the day we just spent relaxing really and doing a bit more tidying. We watched La La Land in the afternoon and I wrapped some Christmas presents already whilst sipping at mulled wine and nibbling ginger snaps. It was a lovely evening although I must admit that I wasn’t a big fan of La La Land.

It was a peaceful journey up in first class enjoying the refreshments and watching the everchanging lanscape whizz past. I arrived with plenty of time to have a cup of Rooibush in a cute cafe near Haymarket before going to find the German consulate to get myself a German passport which was the primary reason for my mini getaway to Edinburgh. Once that was all sorted I got on the bus that google maps told me would take me to my sisters, however here was me failing at my finest because I didn’t think to check in which direction I would have to get the bus and so of course I soon realised I was half way out of town going in the wrong direction. The bus driver made my day though when I told him what I’d done and he gave me a free day ticket before letting me off to catch a new bus in the correct direction. So a good hour later I finally found my sister. We spent the whole afternoon relaxing at hers, but it felt nice to just chill drink tea, eat good food and really catch up. We don’t get many chances to spend quality one on one time together so it’s always nice when we do.

After a relaxed start on Friday morning my sister and I had a wander around Edinburgh almost freezing ourselves to death it was so icy. It was lovely all the same though because the sun was out. Once we got to the Christmas market we treated ourselves to some delicious mulled wine to warm us up. It was yummy, and I decided to keep the cute mugs too so I could bring one back for Jessica. When we could no longer bare the cold, we popped into Costa as my train wasn’t leaving for another hour. At 5pm after a short but sweet stay I was on my way home again, half asleep on my train journey listening to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

On Saturday I had work which wasn’t very exciting, but the evenign made up for it. Some of y friends were hosting a little Christmasy get together and I joined them after work for a couple of hours which was lovely. We enjoyed some drinks, played daft games and chatted away. It was such a lovely evening with a great bunch of people.

Today was a rather boring day at work because it was kinda quiet, but it meant I could get some more admin type of work done for the new year. Now I am home and have just enjoyed a yummy bowl of soup whilst writing this blog post. In about an hour I am leaving for a concert. I am part of the Northern Spirit Singers, an a cappella choir in Durham. It is such a fun choir to be a part of and tonight we have our Christmas concert. So I will love you and leave you, because I should really start getting ready for my concert.

I hope you have all had a lovely  week and are doing something fun tonight too, or able to have a relaxing evening to end the week.

Love Carina xo