Vegan Abroad: Birmingham

Mr. Cooke and I have a yearly competition. It’s the battle of birthday presents. For the past five years he and I have been trying to outdo one another for the best birthday present. This year, I think Mr. Cooke might have finally won.

For my birthday this year Mr. Cooke bought me tickets to Friends Fest in Oxfordshire. I am completely obsessed with Friends, and if you want to read more about the festival and what I thought of it, you can read about it here. 

We were only staying one night in Birmingham. We stayed in a beautiful hotel called Hotel Indigo. It was very central, only a 5 minute walk from the train station, which brought you straight to the airport, and had many restaurants within a second’s walk. With stunning views and a rooftop restaurant and bar, plus free use of the pool and pool vaccinates for all guests, this hotel was perfect for a weekend getaway.

Art like this can be seen all over beautiful Birmingham

We got to Birmingham in the early morning and from Birmingham we got an hour-long train to Oxfordshire where we eventually, with the help of many incredibly friendly locals, found our way to Friends Fest. You can read my review of Friends Fest here if you so please!

Eating in Monica’s Moondance Diner at Freinds Fest, Oxfirdshire.

By this stage we were hungry and only when we were at the festival in Blenheim Palace did we remember that there might be an issue with getting food that is vegan friendly. We were lucky enough though to be able to get some chips and onion rings that were vegan friendly.

The next day we went to a wonderful cafe, which looked small on the outside but was actually quite large on the inside. All of the food and drink is completely organic and vegan friendly. This was a great find for two fresh-faced vegans because when chosing your food you pick up a plate and fill it with whatever you want. At the till your plate will be weighed and priced based on that! If you are in Birmingham and want an array of vegan food to try definitely make sure to eat at Natural Healthy Foods. Even if you’re on the go you can pop into their vegan shop and grab a snack- handy!

On the second day we had a few hours to kill before we left for our flight so we decided to go to the National Sea Life Center, Birmingham. It was a reasonable price, and although we were lucky that there was space to buy tickets on the day the website does recommend to book ahead of time. The only negative I would say is that we were offered a booklet at the beginning of the tour, and although a child would really enjoy the tasks in it, I don’t think there was any point in two adults without a child present buying it. If you are curious about the creatures beneath the sea and want a great, informative and well-organised family day out, I would really recommend attending National Sea Life Center, Birmingham.

Walks along the canals are peaceful and have a great atmosphere

Until it was time to leave Birmingham we had a lovely stroll along the canals in the city. We had a wonderful time in Birmingham and will definitely be taking a trip back there in the future! Let us know below if you’ve been there, or are you planning to go?


Friends Fest in Oxfordshire

Friends. The iconic TV show, one that stole the ratings and has held the hearts of fans for over 20 years after the first air date.

I was only two years old when Friends aired, yet here I am, almost 25 years of age and it is by far my favorite TV show, and is the TV show I have most resonated with over the years.

Standing outside of Central Perk was surreal

The characters are a classic mix of loving, funny, wacky and caring. The writing is timeless and the actors were outstanding. This caused for the perfect recipe for TV gold. Thanks to Comedy Central we have Friends on a constant loop where we can indulge and binge-watch our favorite six characters in New York’s most famous coffee house.

The main stage at Friends Fest

Another fantastic Friends fandom dream Comedy Central has made a reality is the ability for fans to visit all of the important and iconic stills of the Friends world. This can be done through Friends Fest UK.

For the small price of €30 you can experience what the cast and crew of Friends lived through every day. The site explains how a group tour of Monica and Rachel’s apartment and Joey and Chandler’s appointment, as well as a tour of actual props used throughout the ten series of the show. Also outlined are Central Perk, The Moondance Diner, Phoebe’s taxi cab and the opportunity to recreate the classic beginning credits.

Recreating the famous title sequence with Mr. Cooke

I was lucky enough to have the chance to go to this festival thanks to Mr. Cooke. We had the chance to partake in all of the various activities.

Enjoying the props in the boys’ apartment

At first, we got there about three and a half hours before our tour date, we thought walking into the field that there would not be enough to keep us entertained for that length of time. However,  there was so much to do that we had enough time to do everything we wanted before we went for the tour. In a way it was better to be early as we had the chance to take everything in and when there were queues we were not stressed about pushing through each activity quickly.

Getting married in Vegas

The event was well organised and there were many Friends activities organised onstage for festival-goers to take part in or to observe and enjoy. There were also clips from the nation’s favorite Friends episodes on stage with garden chairs and loungers where you could enjoy your meal from the ‘Moondance Diner’, a sandwich from ‘My Sandwich’ or a drink from ‘The Chick and the Duck Bar.’

Monica and Rachel’s apartment

If you are a big Friends fan, like I am, this is definitely the place for you. From the gift shop that even sells Mockolate bars, all the way to the real props and the opportunity to interact with recreated sets your day is bound to be filled with a trip down memory lane with a twist.

We had a brilliant time and thank you to Comedy Central for for allowing us to be able to get this experience!



Book Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Star-crossed lovers, the ones who are never meant to be yet can never stay away from one another; Romeo and Juliet, Edward and Bella, now Luce and Daniel. This book captures young adult fantasy reader’s hearts in an instant with the tragic love story of the two main characters.

However, while the storyline of the lovers is nail biting and interesting, the book falls in certain aspects, confusing the reader mainly. The book follows a young woman named Luce who has been sent to a Reform school because of some horrific event which ended in the death of her crush from her previous school.

Luce has a dark secret which prevents her from telling the full truth about what happened on the night her crush died, and so without a convincing story, but with little evidence to prove that Luce is a killer the reform school is the answer to her parents fears and the court’s problems.

Besides the secrets Luce holds from everyone she loves Luce is a normal enough girl, until she sees the fellow reform student, Daniel. She has a distinct feeling that she has met this boy before, that she knows him. However, as she quests to find out the truth about Daniel and their possible past together the future of the world could be in jeopardy, especially if she discovers the truth.

The author, Lauren Kate is an extremely talented woman, who has created a beautiful love story and an amazing world where mortals and immortals live side by side, unknowing to the humans.

This book is beautifully written and the characters Kate has created are interesting, funny and dramatic in all the right ways. The only flaw with this book is that it is told from the point of view of Luce, who doesn’t know what’s going on in her life, or even what or who the people around her are. Because of this the reader is left as confused as Luce for the most part of this book, and with the end of the book does not come as many revelations as you would have hoped, and any which do come about are skimmed over and not explained.

As this book is the first in a series of four books it is understandable that Kate wanted to keep a few secrets and revelations for the reader, though she hints at too much and not enough is given by the end of the book. However, I will sincerely looking forward to reading the second book, as much as I had been looking forward to reading this first book (which was a lot).

The second book in the series is called ‘Torment’, again with a girl in a beautiful dress on the cover. I would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys the current trend of Young Adult Fantasy books.

The book is set to be released as a movie in 2014, which will send fans mad as the book has been a best seller. Check out the book trailer below, and definitely read the book!