Being Vegan in San Francisco


San Francisco. California. Golden Gate Bridge. These have been my dreams for as long as I can remember and I was lucky enough to be able to go in September!

It is always daunting when going on holiday as to whether there will be anything for a vegan to eat and also, not knowing what obstacles you will be presented with. We flew with Virgin Atlantic and I was extremely pleased with their vegan meal option for the long haul flight. They provided a meal of rosemary mashed potato with olives and stew, a bread roll with vegan butter, dried apple pieces and a raspberry puree jelly plus a mixed bean panini towards the end of the flight.

(photo courtesy of Stanford Court Hotel)

We stayed at the Stanford Court Hotel on California Street which is on the corner of California and Powell. This is a perfect hotel for anyone visiting the city as you have the cable car lines right outside the door and are central to all landmarks and places of interest. We had a beautiful Standard King Room overlooking the cable cars and looking out to the bay. The hotel was extremely accommodating and made amazing vegan banana pancakes for me one morning and a vegan toasted sandwich one evening (we only ate at the hotel a couple of times as we like to be out and about exploring and finding new eateries everyday).

Basil Tofu Scramble at The Plat Cafe

As we stayed in San Francisco for just over a week it gave us plenty of time to venture out and try new restaurants. A favourite place we visited for both breakfast and lunch was The Plant Cafe. They have multiple restaurants all over San Francisco and an amazing array of various food options and delicious smoothies. Recommendation: Avocado on Toast with toasted garlic and Plant Burger.

A locals coffee haven close to the Ferry Building is Philz Coffee. This is a coffeehouse chain where each cup is brewed one at a time to the customers individual taste. They have a huge menu from light to medium to dark roasts plus tea and decaf alternatives. One reason I love the this coffee store is that they sell Pepples Donut Farm Donuts - all 100% organic and vegan! On a weekend you can find Pepples Donuts at the market in the Ferry Building however if you want the fix everyday and can't wait for the weekend then Philz is the place to go. Recommendation: Sooo Good coffee and Coffee Iced donut

If you are looking for the old 50's style American diner then take a seat in a booth at Lori's Diner. This diner has amazing artwork, old jukebox machines and even a vintage car! You can find the first and original Lori's on Mason which is a 24 hour diner serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with added rock 'n' roll and nostalgia. Recommendation: The Veggie Chop Top without cheese and a Root Beer

Part way through the week we got a little tired and wanted to try something not too far from the hotel. Directly across the street is the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar; a tiki bar with an asian menu inside the Fairmont Hotel. As this is a restaurant in the Fairmont the prices reflect the location however the menu and cocktails are amazing and with indoor rain and live music you definitely have to experience this once in your life. Recommendation: Fresh Rice Paper Spring Rolls and Tonga Chow Mein with tofu

Hidden away near Chinatown and towards Fishermans Wharf is Pena Pachamama. This is a brilliant little restaurant serving traditional Bolivian and raw organic food with the entire menu being vegan and gluten free. On weekends there is amazing live music and dancing along with delicious food and great service. Recommendation: Vegan Albodingas

Besides the food there is so much to see and do in San Francisco and we tried to do everything! We saw the sea lions at Fishermans Wharf, shopped at Pier 39, walked across Golden Gate Bride, rode the Cable Cars (multiple times), toured Alcatraz, explored Golden Gate Park, watched Sumo Wrestlers at Japantown, watched a Giants Game at AT&T Park and took pictures of the famous Lombard Street. We did find it surprisingly difficult to find vegan food in San Francisco, which was stressful and upsetting at times, however I assume this may be because we didn't go too far from downtown.

We had a great time and can definitely tick this off our bucket list!

Let me know if you have been to San Francisco or have any recommendations of places to visit for the next Being Vegan post!

4 Essentials for the Ultimate Vegan Pamper Session


We all need some 'me time' to relax and unwind after a hard day or week; to take deep breathes and to realign our mind and refocus on what is important. One way I like to relax is to have a pamper session using some favourite vegan products from Lush.

Lush have some amazing products including shampoos, conditioners and shower gels, just to name a few. However, for the ultimate pamper session I can never stay away from a relaxing bath with the most amazing colours and smells that only Lush can provide.

Bath Bombs
Bath bombs are a huge favourite in the blogging world and as there are so many there is always something for everyone to love (and take pictures of). Some of my favourites include Blackberry, an original scent from Lush with the perfect blend of relaxing frankincense and bergamot oils; Avobath, an avocado and olive oil bath bomb with lemongrass, bergamot and rosewood and Yoga Bomb, a beautiful bath bomb containing olibanum and sandalwood oil with the relaxing bonus of cassie absolute.

Bath Oils
Luxury bath oils are another essential for a vegan pamper session. These products contain soothing shea and cocoa butter along with beautiful colours and essential oils. Two of my favourites are Ceridwen's Cauldron, a luxurious bath melt containing a walnut, tangerine, lavender and sandalwood oil plus whole oats to soften your skin after the oils have melted and also, You've Been Mangoed which includes mango and avocado oil to make the bath a soft but beautifully scented.

Massage Bars
Massage bars are another essential for the vegan pamper session to keep your skin soft and smelling great. There are so many to choose from depending on your mood and each has their own benefits. I have chosen the Dirty Bar which is a great unisex scented bar containing lavender, neroli, sandalwood and vegan dark chocolate. This has a deep scent that lasts throughout the day and keeps you relaxed unit you're going to bed. This will also be popular for your boyfriend or husband so be warned that some may go missing or alternatively you can use it on each other to finish your perfect pamper session.

Lush have some beautiful Gorilla Perfumes available in both a solid and spray form. I chose the easily transportable solid perfume in one of my all time favourite scents - violet. This smells so soft and natural and would be perfect in your handbag on the go and also on the plane during a long haul flight. After finishing your vegan pamper session apply some to your wrists and neck to envelope you in a soothing scent.

Lush is great for vegan pamper sessions and for treating yourself to the ultimate relaxing evening. Let me know your favourites and recommendations in the comments below.

#WomeninBusiness: Interview with Fiona Duncan, RSViP


Flashback to 2008, social media was pretty inexistent - Facebook had only been around for 4 years, Twitter had only been around for 2 years and MySpace was starting to die out. In the business world barely anyone was using it and if they were it was to simply share pictures and there was definitely no social media managers to create content and engage with customers.

Networking events have always been tedious and unless you worked in sales was a boring invite to receive in the post (maybe email but we were still sending a lot of letters 8 years ago!). Whilst all of this was happening Fiona Duncan was in Nottingham looking for a new job in advertising after finishing a career with RBS in sales and in-house events. After securing a job with a lifestyle magazine and taking a weekend break Fiona found inspiration to start her own business using her skills in marketing, sales and events. 

9 months later the business was up and running - RSViP was born. This was the first time Fiona had ever been self-employed and she has never looked back. Starting as an events company running the Corporate Hospitality and PR division of Nottingham Rugby Club, RSViP has grown into the Network Social Events business it is today. With over 200 companies subscribed to the service there is a diverse range of industries attending Fiona's events with many providing a discount as part of the scheme. Each month RSViP host a Network Social Event for members to get together and enjoy an evening of good company, food and drink whilst not feeling the pressure of having to buy or sell products or services.

Social media is now apart of RSViP's daily marketing strategy and Fiona has been able to expand the business to new customers by organically growing each platform. Fiona regularly writes for various publications including reviews for restaurants and hotels and encourages guest bloggers to contribute to her website which she finds really boosts her SEO. After discussing more about how blogging and social media has changed the way businesses engage with their customers, Fiona explains that both methods have paved the way for people to connect like never before and says businesses are sadly going to be left behind if they are not taking advantage of these marketing methods. As a mentor at local Universities and an NTU Nottingham Business School Alumni Fellow, Fiona explains that she has seen how savvy students are becoming and thinks it will not be long until we see the next Mark Zuckerberg! 

When asked about the future of RSViP Fiona is keeping her cards to her chest but with businesses from cities such as Manchester recently joining it wont be long until you see her in a town near you. 

You can find more information about RSViP and Fiona Duncan here - RSViP Network and on Twitter: RSViP

Let me know if you liked this interview and watch this space for more coming soon! Don't forget to comment an share. 

Country Spring Playlist


I don't know about you but when the sun is out is makes me want to get outside and see the sights. Whether you are walking, driving or flying you need a playlist of songs to keep you entertained and distracted. 

Now we have the benefits of using apps like Spotify or Amazon Prime Music there are endless possibilities of playlists you can create with new music or old favourites. Obviously the Monica in us all loves creating lists and I thought I would share with you the playlist I will be listening to this Spring. This list includes a lot of Country Music with emotional lyrics - perfect for those sporadic solos or duets in the car! 

Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood
Beautiful Drug - Zac Brown Band
Weed Instead of Roses - Ashley Monroe
Mr. Mom - Lonestar
Made In England - The Shires
High Time - Kacey Musgraves
Pull Me Back - Leah Turner
Me and Your Cigarettes - Miranda Lambert
Working On a Tan - Brad Paisley
Brave - Sara Bareilles
Beachin' - Jake Owen
Hard Way Home - Brandi Carlile
Merry Go 'Round - Kacey Musgraves
Lonely Tonight - Blake Shelton feat. Ashley Monroe
Just A Fool - Christina Aguilera & Blake Shelton 
Somewhere in My Car - Keith Urban
Diamond Rings And Old Barstools - Tim McGraw feat. Catherine Dunn
Little Toy Guns - Carrie Underwood

If you have any recommendations for a Travel Playlist or tracks you think should be on the next one feel free to leave comments below.

6 Travel Inspired Home Decor Ideas


I recently made a very adult step in life and made an offer on a house....which was accepted! We are now in the steps of confirming our mortgage application, instructing solicitors and all of the other boring stuff that comes along with buying a house. This means there is also the fun stuff to plan like how we want to decorate, which settee we should buy and if we should get wood flooring or carpet - so many questions to be answered.

As someone who loves to travel and see new things I have been scouring Pinterest to find home decor inspired by travel and gather interesting ideas on how we should style our new house.

12 Travel Instagram Accounts to Follow


I love looking at Instagram for travel inspiration and to see some amazing images. There are so many accounts to follow and so much talent it can get a little overwhelming at times! I have read quite a few lists of who to follow on Instagram and thought I would share with you an insight in to who I follow and who I recommend. This is a list of my '12 Travel Instagram Accounts to Follow'. 

anddicted - 270k followers

worldwanderlust - 387k followers

bemytravelmuse - 44.8k followers

theygetaround - 10.2k followers

lifestyleandlaffs - 1005 followers

helloemilie - 505k followers

tuulavintage - 2.1m followers

snowflakesfairy - 92.1k followers

izimbozada - 149k followers

prettylittlelondon - 47.7k followers

hal_ellis_davis - 59.2k followers

parisinfourmonths - 843k followers

Let me know if you have anyone you follow that you would recommend too!

OX Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough || Review


I was recently contacted by the Owner of OX Pasture Hall Hotel, a luxury country hotel in Yorkshire, to enjoy a night in one of their Suites and have dinner in the Restaurant. As it was close to my boyfriends birthday I thought what better reason than to visit and celebrate the occasion in Scarborough. It has become a bit of a tradition to book a hotel for each of our birthdays and this invite came just at the right time. 

From Nottingham to Scarborough it was a simple but long train journey via Leeds on the way there and Sheffield on the way back. *TIP* If you are planning on getting a train always check how much the tickets would be on each journey instead of a complete trip; by booking a train from Nottingham > Leeds > Scarborough and Scarborough > Sheffield > Nottingham we managed to save around £200!

From the train station to the hotel it was less than 10 minutes and we were greeted on arrival by a very warm and welcoming Restaurant Manager, Paul. I signed the registration form and off we went to Room 3. Being February in the Yorkshire Dales it wasn't the warmest of days and you could tell this from the bitter wind and frost over the beautiful grounds. With views for miles and the opportunity to watch an amazing sunset we were blown away by the serene ambience this hotel radiates. As mentioned, February isn't the warmest of months to go to the countryside and the corridor leading to the room definitely reminded us of this. As we entered the room we noticed the heating may not have been turned on prior to our arrival and immediately turned up the radiators. After taking a look around the room I began to question if this was the luxury suite as mentioned when booking the stay; as this was a complimentary visit for review purposes I didn't want to fuss too much and double checked with Paul as to whether the room type was correct and requested a heater. I was assured this was the luxury suite as booked and a portable heater was delivered promptly - at this point we all agreed the heating was not working which was clarified by the lack of hot water too. Paul being the friendly host sent us some coffees and warming brandy to help us get a little more comfortable.

As pleasant as the room was we became a bit too cold and decided to get changed and head to the bar which benefits from a beautiful log burning fire - heaven! The bar at OX Pasture Hall Hotel has a very cosy and country style atmosphere and we were even offered a table for dinner in front of the fire. Deciding to truly experience all the hotel has to offer we declined the fireside table and opted to dine in the 2 Rosette Award winning Restaurant. As a vegan guest the chef really did go above and beyond as I was given my own menu to dine from for the evening and was wowed by the variety and flavours he had managed to create. With a wonderful bottle of Prosecco we ordered our food and were shown to our intimate table in the fine dining restaurant. 

Bread was served to the table initially, butter for the boyfriend and delicious rosemary olive oil for the vegan; along with the most amazing amuse bouche I have ever tasted consisting of lemon and rocket - I couldn't stop raving about this whilst sipping to cleanse my palette! 

For Starters I went for the Fan of Avocado served with Asparagus and Tomato Chutney, who would have thought that tomato chutney would go so well with perfectly fresh avocado. This was a brilliantly light starter and was just enough to get me ready for my Main Course. Mushroom Risotto - as a vegan I always expect this option when looking at a menu but the vast array of mushrooms used and the perfect consistency of the risotto meant this was the one of the best I have ever eaten. 

Pre-Dessert was a vegan version of their Whisky Sour Mango Sorbet, this usually comes served with cream however was delicious just the way they served it to us. Finally Dessert! This can always be difficult when you're vegan as everything normally has milk or egg in. Again, the chef did well and I went for Red Wine Poached Pear with a Winter Berry Compote. This was perfect for the time of the year we were visiting and again was just the perfect amount to finish the meal. 

After our delicious meal we went back to the bar to finish our wine and get the update that our room should be warming up with hot water now. Further apologies from Paul came with a nightcap of our choice, being the boyfriends birthday and a special occasion we both went with warming scotch - Highland Park for him and Singleton for me. At around 9:30pm we decided to call it a night and head back to our room. There was still no heating or hot water and the power had gone from the living room and bathroom areas. Another call to Paul resulted in us moving rooms at 10:30pm with reassurance this room was warm with hot water. On the way to this room Paul explained he had moved us to a Honeymoon Suite - which was lovely but confirmed my initial suspicions that the first room we were allocated was not the room initially offered or indicated on the registration form. This room did have hot water and heating but we were too tired to properly appreciate the luxury offerings and headed straight to the land of nod. 

After a wonderful nights sleep we enjoyed the beautiful bathroom, huge bathtub and waterfall shower whilst getting ready for a Yorkshire Breakfast. Lyndsey, the General Manager, was there to greet us and apologise for the occurrence the night prior which was lovely. Again, the chef had gone the extra mile creating a delicious vegan cooked breakfast with the added extra of baked beans - apparently not a usual sight on a traditional Yorkshire breakfast! 

We gathered our belongings and checked out ready for a stroll around the Scarborough coast and to reenact some childhood memories on the 2p machines! As we visited in February not all of the amusements were open however, the coast looked beautiful and there were still some arcades for us to wander into. Taking a walk along the promenade is a great way to explore Scarborough, lined with arcades, fish and chip restaurants (for you omnivore and pescetarian readers) and tourist gift shops. I can imagine in the Summer this coast is very busy with local holidaymakers and local residents enjoying the sound of the crashing waves and smell from the local restaurants and food stalls. 

Scarborough also has a small shopping area meaning you can wonder around the shops on your way back to the train station. We didn't have time for shopping but it only took us 15 minutes to walk from the coast to the train station and take a look at Scarborough as first time visitors. Scarborough isn't a large town but for a short seaside break there is plenty to do. It is home to Europe's largest open air theatre and for families there are lots of attractions such as the Mini Monsterz outdoor play area and regular Boat Trips around the coast. Once back at the train station it wasn't long before we were headed back to Nottingham and back to our regular everyday life. 

Overall, our experience of Scarborough and OX Pasture Hall Hotel was average. I can only imagine that had we been given the correct room in the first instance than our views would have been different. It also didn't make sense to us that the best room was not initially allocated as we were told we were the only guests booked into the hotel that evening. This might sound ungrateful but from a hotel perspective you wouldn't allocate your Standard Double Rooms when your Suites are empty. 

I also couldn't help but notice the rates for that evening did not reflect the low occupancy and during the colder low season months I would have expected better rate management to attract more customers; I am only hoping these are not the off-peak rates as I am not sure higher rack rates could be justified. The restaurant was amazing and the chefs definitely deserve their 2 Rosette Award however, the service and hotel needed more attention. As a luxury hotel I would expect a napkin to be with the bottle of Prosecco and high level dusting was obviously an issue in all areas of the building (some dusty drawers were also found in Room 3). Attention to detail in a hotel which offers rooms starting at £135 for a Single should be high on the list of priorities here. 

In the Summer I believe this may be a great hotel and the grounds beautiful for the setting of an outdoor wedding. In the Winter season though OX Pasture Hall Hotel seems to become dormant like its surroundings in Scarborough. 

OX Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire YO12 5TD
Tel: 01723365295 Email:


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