22 Apr 2017

The Veeg Inn At The Orange Tree Leicester

Happy Saturday guys and dolls! I hope you are well rested and enjoying the awesomeness of the weekend. Today I want to talk about food, good food in fact great food! This month I was invited by the stupendous guys at The Orange Tree Leicester to come on down and partake in their third Vegan Event Sloppy O's. I attended their first Veeg Inn back in February and it was a night full of mind blowing vegan grub and cocktails. And with the Sloppy O's Event being a SELL OUT this was sure to be just as swell. Serving a two course meal of junk food including burgers, hot dogs, pizzas, tacos, donuts & more and all cooked fresh, by hand. I couldn't wait to get stuck in! The only problem was choosing what to order as I wanted to eat ALL the food!
Big O’s Burger
Beef flavoured soy patties with vegan cheese, house source, gherkins, sliced tomatoes & baby gem lettuce in a bun.
Hot O’s Dog

Vegan sausages in a hot dog roll, topped with sauerkraut, fried onions, cheese sauce & mustard.

Sloppy O’s Pizza

Stuffed cheese crust pizza topped with tomato sauce, chilli soy, green peppers, red onion & mozzarella style cheese.

Black Bean Chilli TacO’s (gf)

Corn taco shells filled with soy & black bean chilli, topped with guacamole, vegan sour cream & jalapeƱos.

O’s Seitan Doner Kebab

Chargrilled doner flavoured seitan served with chilli sauce, garlic mayo, salad & pickled jalapenos in pitta bread.


Oreo & ice cream sundae. 
Filled donuts with dipping sauce.

For my main deal (after a lot of deliberation) I went for *Hot O’s Dog vegan sausages in a  hot dog roll, topped with sauerkraut, fried onions, cheese sauce & mustard with a pint of *Stella. All mains cost £9.95 and were served with a mix of sweet potato & regular fries (which meant I didn't have to choose between the fries YAS!). I totally completely and throughly enjoyed this. I mean I don't often get to sink my teeth into a load of vegan junk food and this vegan dish was the shizzle! The sausages were tasty and full of flavour and the fries were scrumptious. I almost struggled to finish it all!

My lovely friend Tiffany from Frost In Space came along with me for this vegan dining experience and she went for the Big O's Burger. Beef flavoured soy patties with vegan cheese, house source, gherkins, sliced tomatoes & baby gem lettuce in a bun. It looked da bomb!

 O's Seitan Doner Kebab (Pic from The Orange Tree Instagram)
All deserts were a bargain at just £3! I don't have the biggest sweet tooth, I'm not really a fan of ice-cream and if I'm honest I don't like Oreos (I know.. but they just aren't my thing). However the Oreo ice-cream did look amazing and Tiffiny LOVED it as she devoured hers within minuets! I opted for *donuts served with  a dipping sauce. And hell to the yeah what a good choice it was! A delicious sugary fix with a tangy dipping sauce to compliment the donuts. Mmmmmmm!

The atmosphere at The Veeg Inn was fantastic! I always adore visiting The Orange Tree I go often to work, have a meal and even the occasional tipple. The food is superb, the service is spectacular and the staff are friendly and welcoming. I'd highly recommend The Orange Tree Leicester for their vegan nights and even their everyday vegan menu. I can't wait for my next visit!

Thank you Orange Tree!


13 Apr 2017

Canteen Street Food @ LCB Depot Leicester

Canteen is fast becoming one of the city's must attend events, the March event was attended by well over 1200 people including myself. The next event is on Friday 28th April at LCB Depot on Rutland Street and brings one of the strongest line ups to date with street food traders from across the UK. April's event will also see the event growing to 6 street food traders, with 4 announced below and 2 more to follow next week, including one of the organiser's street food heroes.

A spokesperson for Canteen said, “We were overwhelmed by the attendance at March's Canteen event. Although traders brought hundreds of extra portions we were inundated by the amount of people who attended, especially early on. With all traders selling out we've taken steps to increase our provision by adding a further 2 traders for April's event. Due to the nature of street food there’s only so much that traders can prep beforehand and serve on the day without sacrificing on the quality, so we're looking forward to welcoming more traders who can keep the fantastic level of quality going".

As always the event incorporates great food from a variety of traders, DJ Fitz playing funk/disco music, a fully stocked bar, a separate Sailor Jerry cocktail stand and a selection of real ales. April sees the launch of Canteen’s new pop-up cocktail bar. On select months, celebrated bartenders from the most influential and award winning bars from across the UK will be bringing their own crafted menu to serve to guests. April’s event has Stephen Pennack; who originally started his career in Leicester then moved to London several years ago. He joined the now famous team at Barrio bars and I'm looking forward to seeing him showcase his cocktails at Canteen.

With the traders below confirmed for April's Canteen the next event is surely not to be missed!

Hailing from Manchester, this family run outfit have been knocking out Pan Asian treats and causing a stir for the last two years all over the north of the UK. They specialise in handmade Bao (steamed buns). They make the buns themselves and also have excellent Vegan options too. 

Visiting from Birmingham; Esmie is well known throughout the street food scene for serving up some of the best Caribbean food.

Street Souvlaki
Michael’s family have been in the food trade for decades and over the past few years they have been feeding people in the Midlands their traditional Cypriot dish of Souvlaki. 

Street chef is about creating unique & innovative tasty street food dishes prepared from scratch and cooked with passion. They have appeared on BBC Great British Food Trip and have been nominated 2 years running for West Midlands most popular street food. Peter and the team are renowned for their take on Halloumi Fries which they will serving on the night.

Based in the LCB depot; Grahame and the team have been bringing fresh seasonal food to Leicester since 2013. Canteen gives Grays the chance to do extra special dishes that normally wouldn’t feature on their usual menus, perfectly complementing the other traders.

Another 2 traders will be revealed later in the month and includes one of the organiser's true street food heroes!


4 Apr 2017

The Shed Press Launch - Leicester

Following an extensive refurbishment, one of Leicester’s best loved music venues, The Shed, opened under new ownership on Saturday 1 April. The Shed, based on Yeoman Street, first opened in 1994 and has played a vital part in the city’s music scene since that time. Since closing on New Year’s Eve, the new owner of The Shed, Elisabeth Barker Carley and her team have been working tirelessly on their designs for the venue, which include upgrades to both upstairs and downstairs stages, bar areas and facilities. From 1 April The Shed is open 7 nights/week and will be committed to providing free entry shows every week from Sunday to Thursday.

Having worked tirelessly in the music industry from a young age, The Shed’s new owner, Elisabeth, has a long standing strong personal connection to The Shed. 

 Elisabeth stated, My love of music began at The Shed when I was just 14 years old. Now owning the venue that my friends and I grew up in is a dream come true and we can’t wait for everybody to see the renovations that have been made.”

“The Shed has been an important venue to so many people in Leicester, especially those playing in local bands and that’s something that we want to maintain and cherish. We aren’t just a faceless company stripping out the venue and we’ve been careful to maintain a lot of the venue’s existing character but with a fresh look. We love this place and want to see it flourish.”

“We’re currently programming in events for the coming months and there’ll be an exciting mix of national touring acts alongside a strong listing of local shows.”

The Shed is one of the longest running independent small music venues around, not just in Leicester, but also in the UK. Stars including Ellie Goulding and Kasabian have graced the stage as well as it offering an accessible platform for Leicester’s own bands to find their live performing feet. Having been the first live music stop for so many of Leicester’s adults today, The Shed will also be committed to maintaining its 14+ age limit and offer youngsters regular access to quality live music in the city. As well as live music The Shed will also be open from 12pm 7 days a week offering tea, coffee, full bar service and unique space to meet with friends or colleagues. 
The Shed hosted a press launch on Thursday 30 March. I was delighted to be invited along for drinks and an exclusive first look at the venue. Entertainment on the night was from local band Timmas  and magician Colin Skinner was on hand to impress us with this magical skills. Local artist Grace Jenkinson has painted murals throughout the venue giving it an edgy and quirky feel. I never got to experience The Shed before the revamp being originally from Newcastle however everyone seemed to be very impressed with the new look venue and were looking forward to returning for some live music. 
Here is a cheeky pic of me with the lovely Emmie from Carpediememmie enjoying the free fizz on offer. 

The grand reopening of The Shed was on Saturday 1 April with Electric Swing Circus who were dubbed “One of the highlights of Glastonbury Festival” by the Glastonbury Guide. Local support came from The Bear with DJ Nik Nak.
I had a fabulous night great tunes, great company and a great venue!

Full listings of all upcoming shows at The Shed can be found at www.getintheshed.co.uk.

Thank you The Shed!


27 Mar 2017

Getting Free Stuff That Really Rocks

If you are like most people, you absolutely love to be able to get your hands on free stuff. Here are some great ways that you can get the best stuff for free...

Companies today are very aware that consumers enjoy getting goods for free, so they will offer items for free from time to time. You simply have to know where to look. For example, there are a lot of companies that will coordinate freebies with certain third party organizations in return for you completing an online survey. There are other companies that will make the free offers known on their website.

What it all comes down to is knowing where to look, as well as how to ask, so that you can get the free stuff that you will enjoy the most.

Here are some of the top tips that have been proven for getting free stuff:

The Best Free Stuff Online

You can find some some really cool items over on the free stuff website . Here they are more selective and will not simply let anyone post offers for free. Instead, they will screen every offer to protect you, the freebie shopper.

The best websites are also those that will require you to do some work beforehand in return for free items. What you need to remember here is that you are looking at quality over quantity.
Finding Great Free Stuff Elsewhere

Are you looking for free samples of items that you already like and use? A great idea is to bypass snail mail and go straight to the phone. Look up numbers for the companies you are interested in and then give real honest feedback of their products. The chances are you may receive some coupons or free samples in return.

You may find some success if you give constructive criticism on a product that you did not rate that well. Feedback is important for product development and the representatives will thank you for your honesty. More than likely, you will receive coupons for more of their products in hopes that you will be satisfied in the future.

This is something that can also work for you in restaurants. If you have a complaint that is legitimate, you can speak with the manager about it. Your meal may then be offered for free, a discount given or a coupon for your next visit. Just keep in mind that you never want to overdo it. I suggest to only do this when you are genuinely unhappy with the service or meal you received.

Ask And You Shall Receive

One of the easiest ways to get free goods will be to ask for donations. The items can not be for your own personal use. Instead it will be on behalf of some sort of non-profit organization. There are times when you can get free food platters, groceries, arts and crafts or decorations from stores on behalf of your church, school group or other organization. After all it will be for a good cause and people like to help.

All you have to do is ask, follow these guides and you could see the freebies rolling in!


9 Mar 2017

Afternoon Tea at The Exchange Leicester

Sundays are for relaxing, unwinding from the past week and letting go. So when The Exchange asked if I wanted to come down and try out their Bottomless Sunday I was like 'hell to the yeah'! And I couldn't very well do this Sunday filled with bubbly deliciousness on my own now could I...that's why I was accompanied by two of my very lovely friends Lauren & Lisa. 
The Exchange is situated in the heart to Leicester's Cultural Quarter directly opposite The Curve Theatre. A perfect spot for an afternoon full of girlie shenanigans! On entering the bar we could see that the tables had been carefully laid out and styled with a collection of mismatched vintage china, floral table cloths and fresh flowers. It was a mad hatters tea party hidden within the city! A sophisticated spread of wonderment with personalised name plates on the table and food galore! From the moment we sat at our table and all the way through our dining experience the lovely waiter Arron attentively saw to our every need. Making sure that our teapot was hot and brimming with tea and more importantly that our prosecco glasses were full. They really do make you feel special!
Afternoon tea was first introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford back in 1840 and today it is still the most quintessential of English customs. Dainty cucumber sandwiches, miniature cakes and of course tea. However The Exchange's afternoon tea has a little twist. Sandwiches served on tractional vintage cake stands but with modern contemporary filling ingredients. From mozzarella, red pesto & basil to baby spinach red pesto & prosciutto ham for the meat eaters. All sandwiched within a mini toasted ciabatta finger. A very moreish selection indeed and the chef Tim kindly kept checking in us to see if our sandwichey delights needed replenishing.

As well as the bottomless prosecco The Exchange also offers a selection of soft drinks and house wines in this bottomless offer. I of course had to try a cheeky rose which was very satisfying and refreshing. And it kinda went perfectly with the decadent warm scones, clotted cream and jam which was my personal highlight. Nom nom nom! And if you even have any room left there are mini brownies and macaroons aplenty to sink your teeth into. I was rather full at this point however I still managed to squeeze a couple in.

'There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea'

Henry James

What a splendid way to spend a Sunday Afternoon with bottomless prosecco, bottomless food, great company and the fantastic atmosphere that The Exchange has to offer! The service was spot on, the food delicious and the prosecco was flowing. The Exchange was shortlisted for 'Best Afternoon Tea'  in Leicester in Leicesters Tourism Awards 2016 and you can certainly see why! Whether you are after an afternoon out with your friends or want to buy someone a unique memorable gift I would highly recommend Bottomless Sundays at The Exchange.

Bottomless Sunday every week at The Exchange Bar Leicester 12.30pm - 3pm £25pp

Book your table HERE!


5 Mar 2017

World Book Day - Chronic Illness And How I Overcame Obstacles

I posted this over on Instagram this week and I was rather overwhelmed by the response. I thought Id share it here on the blogosphere too.

As it's World Book Day I want to tell you story... 

Once upon a time there was a girl called Victoria. Unfortunately Victoria was quite poorly for many years and struggled to walk, talk and do simple tasks. Victoria began her long road to recovery. And with the help of friends, family and the hospital she taught her brain how to do these simple things again. One of the things Victoria really struggled with was reading. Her dizzy head and sickness made the words move from the page and she couldn't focus, concentrate or take anything in. Victoria was a determined girl and refused to be beaten by this illness so she came up with a plan! She would walk to the local library a mere 8 minute walk from her home (it actually took her 50 minutes as she could barely stand and had to cling onto everything for dear life along the way). Once at the library she would sit on one of the tiny chairs by the tiny tables in the children's section and open up a book. Books like 'The Hungry Caterpillar' and the 'Miffy' books. Books that had large bold text, children's books that were simple to read. Victoria made this journey many times. Each time sitting on that tiny chair practicing reading, teaching her brain to stop the words from moving and take in their meaning. The librarian watched Victoria over these weeks, sitting in the children's section reading books but never once said a word. Until one day the librarian came over to her and said 'I've been watching you come in here and I just want to say you've made so much progress'. The librarian and Victoria talked for awhile and Victoria explained about her illness and that she had a Balance Disorder. The librarian went on to tell her that she was proud of her for all the progress she had made. That night when she got home Victoria cried. She really didn't feel that she had made any progress at all, as she felt so ill all of the time. But a complete stranger had seen the difference and went out of her way to tell her and that felt good.

Books were a massive part of my recovery. Books are important, they should be celebrated! Grab yourself a book this World Book Day, sit on a comfy chair, read and get lost in your imagination.


18 Jan 2017

Hygge The Danish Art of Living Well With BoConcept Edinburgh

You may have seen or already be aware of the Danish phenomenon of Hygge (pronounced 'hue-gah') as it seems to be the word of the moment. Taken from the Old Norse words hu -meaning thought, mind, courage and hyggia which means to think. Hygge doesn't have a direct English translation but I feel the it can be summed up by one word cosiness. Hygge is a sense of belonging, contentment and the simplicity of being present in the moment. That place that is familiar to you, the feeling of being home, a sense of love. Hygge will be different for everyone as needs will differ from one person to the next. For me Hygge is that quiet satisfaction and security of unwinding in a relaxed and harmonious atmosphere. A space that is just for me or my Fortress of Solitude as I like to call it. A place where I can let go, connect with my surroundings and have an awareness of both my inner and outer space. 

I have been working with *BoConcept the designer furniture store to put together a collection of their pieces to reflect my perfect place for Hygge. BoConcept concentrates on urban danish design for the urban minded customer and they opened a new flagship store in Edinburgh late last year on 26th December 2016. 

I love nothing more than getting cosy on a comfy armchair with my feet up, a good book and cup of tea in hand. with that in mind I wanted to create a place where I could do exactly that. BoConcept have so many fantastic pieces of furniture available it was hard to choose! In the end I went for this green Osaka armchair  and contrasting purple Bermuda footstool. Alongside these I would have the Como wall system to display my colourful accessories and favourite books. All these combined  would create a perfect place of cosiness for me to unwind.

What does Hygge mean to you? The uncomplicated art of living cosy? Or the feeling of warmth when being with family or friends? Whatever it is I think we should all take a page out the Danes book and embrace Hygge in our lives and our hearts. 

'We still carry within us, in a small warm spot, the idea of home. Home as a safe place, a loving place and a creative place. A place of comfort and privacy.A place where we can explore our inner life.'

Llse Crawford


13 Jan 2017

Zaap Thai Restaurant - Newcastle upon Tyne

Newcastle's Newgate street has flourished over the years. It was once the place to go for all your department store needs with it being the home of Co-op store for many a year until it's closure in 2007 and then it's food hall in 2011. The Art Deco building built in 1902 now hosts a Gym, a variety of restaurants and a Premier Inn. This newly revamped area is situated in the heart of Newcastle and is a perfect location for a night out whether it being just for cocktails or a tasty meal with friends and family. One of the newest additions is Zaap Thai Restaurant which opened it's doors on 17th August 2016.
I was kindly invited along by Zaap to check out the restaurant and try out their scrumptious menu. On entering the restaurant I was instantly transported to the streets of Bangkok. The interiors have been carefully thought out and put together to resemble a street in Thailand. A selection  of neon advertising signs are cleverly combined with colourful parasols giving the decor a quirky twist. I was lucky enough to be able to bring my friend Lisa along to accompany me. We were both very impressed when were shown to our booth which was a take on the traditional rickshaw or Tuk Tuk as its known in Thailand. 
Serving cocktails (£6.95), mocktails (£4.95) and  a range non-alcoholic drinks it was hard to chose what to pick. In the end we opted for *Gra Jeab - roselle juice and *An Chan Soda - butterfly, pea, juice with soda water and lemon juice (£3.50). Both of which were so refreshing and satisfying! 
With authentic dishes hand picked from the North, East, West and the deep South of Thailand the menu offers the very best of Thai Street food. You can also specify your preferred spice level so that your dish will meet your own personal spicy needs. I was glad to see a good number of veggie options available on the menu. For my starter I went for *Vegetable Gyoze - Japanese stye fried dumpling with vegetable filling (£4.50), I love Gyoze so this was a must for me. For the main deal I devoured the flavoursome *Vegetable Gang Kiew Wan - Thai green curry served with Jasmine Rice (£8.50) which was fresh and full of spice and left me wanting more. The desert was recommended for me a *Pancake filled with a green custard served with vanilla ice cream (£3.95). I have never had anything like this before it was truly delicious! 

I have to say I really enjoyed my first visit to Zaap the staff were friendly, polite and welcoming, the atmosphere was warm and the food was spectacular. Thank you for having me Zaap I can't wait for my next visit!


11 Jan 2017

There's More To Life Than Instagram

So lets face it I've been a bit AWOL of late. It's not that I just couldn't be bothered or even that I had lost my blogging mojo. I had things to say but to be totally honest I wasn't ready to share. I've have had many posts planned, in fact I even had them all finished in my drafts ready to go all I had to do was press that publish button. However it didn't feel right. You see things haven't been exactly what they seem. I could have just published the things about the awesome meals, the trips to the theatre and the fabulous nights out I've had but I would just feel like a fraud. 

Last year was a strange one a bit of a head$!#@ for lack of better words. I've been through a break up, house moves and all the things in-between. I need to be honest, I need it out in the open 2016 wasn't the best. I've had a few big life changes and I needed that time to step back from my blog adjust and get my head together.

You see with this thing called social media you can hide things and pretend that everything is okay. You effectively become an edited version of yourself. You can cut out the bad bits, the bits you'd rather people didn't know about. You never see the full picture. It's not healthy and sometimes it just doesn't feel right to me. There's this pressure to have this 'picture perfect' lifestyle . However there's more to life than Instagram and what social media portrays. After all you can't fit your whole story into 140 characters or fit your heartaches, woes and stresses into a filtered square photo. You need to remember that nobody is perfect, not everybody has their sh@# together. I mean who does!? There's life behind the scenes of that photo or witty tweet. A real person. The above picture is a unedited unfiltered photo of me with my spotty chin, wrinkly baggy tired eyes and frizzy natural hair. Thats me. Most importantly you need to remember..

It's okay to admit you are struggling.

And now with this is off my chest I feel like I can move forward and begin the next chapter in my life. Hello 2017 nice to meet you I'm Victoria 34 (tomorrow), single and starting a new. I welcome you with open arms -  Lets do this!

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