Wednesday, 29 July 2015

EPIC LIFE - Vegetarian

After years of KNOWING in my heart that eating animals is wrong. After years of HAVING to live the way I did through denial and, lets face it, cost. I have announced to the world I am changing into a veggie. 

<insert crowd roar here>

For a while now we have had Meat Free Mondays. And its been easy. Taking on advice from others to NOT just replace meat with a meat substitute such as Quorn but to begin to cook with and enjoy beans, tofu and mushrooms, we have enjoyed skipping one meat day a week.

I recently stepped this up to more days a week as I have been able to cook for myself and am not always responsible for the household meals. This year at Glastonbury I was able to eat every day from the Greenfields Farmers Market which is all vegetarian. The delicious delights of their salads and bean dishes I still miss to this day.


Prior to going to Glasto, I watched a horrific video regarding the fate of male chicks on egg farms. It reduced me to sobbing. I tried to relate my feelings about it to my BF I was further distressed to absolute rolling cheek tears.

For those of you, like my boyfriend, who are sensitive to seeing these kind of things on film, I am about to tell you something you may choose not to know. Don’t worry, I am not going into great detail. But if you can’t handle knowing the truth there are two things I would say to you...
  1.  It happens so stop eating chicken AND cruelty eggs if you can’t handle the truth
  2. Look away now and pick up reading at the second paragraph after the picture of the chick

They grind up the male chicks. Live. Small yellow fluffy, beautiful chirping cute little things. One day old. Sitting innocently in little conveyor trays towards their painful doom. No matter how organic or humane companies advocate their chicken or egg production, this is NOT an acceptable way to deal with male chicks.

They grind up the male chicks. Live. Sorry but you need to know!! I know its horrific, but its not me that’s doing it! Don’t shoot the messenger! According to my humane chicken support networks, this is common practice even at organic farms! Most certainly the eggs you are buying from your Free Range supplier do this. Find out. It tends to be people with a few chickens in their home steading who are not doing this. DON’T BUY CRUELTY EGGS.

Anyway, no sooner had I watched this and declared I would never eat chicken again nor eat Cruelty Eggs again than the final experience came along to make me resolute in this decision.

Glastonbury this year. We have just arrived on site. Its very early so we snooze until we could see people awakening. Walking barefoot through the grass to greet my annual field dwellers at the Healing Field main campfire, to make my welcome. What came chirping towards me? None other than a week old cute little baby chicken. It walked right up and pecked at my hand. I fell in love. It was adorable. It loved the humans. It accepted food from your finger tips and cuddles. And thus ended my ability to overwrite love for an animal, with taste for an animal.

Going without meat isn’t hard when you have delicious alternatives. So it was quickly that I realised, I needed to get my cook on! I made a request through facebook for friends to share their best veggie recipes for us to try. (Let me know if you have a recommendation by the way.) And we have so far enjoyed cooking new recipes as well as a lot of new vegetarian sides for our love of curry.

BF is on side. Seeing my tears at the Chick grinding, (SORRY!!! But you all need to know!), and experiencing the same pain at the imbalance of our love for animals against our love for eating meat, he was quick to join forces. The journey is going to be slower for him as he has a lot more transitioning to do.

Suffice to say we are now shopping from an organic farm produce shop, so that our final months of meat eating is locally sourced and organically reared, and our vegetables and fruit are from local farmers and we are not tempted to purchase non seasonal fruits with huge carbon foot prints.

We will eventually give up fish. After all, the seas are so polluted now, why would we want to eat Mercury laden flesh? Or contribute by consent to the trawling of our oceans which kills and puts to waste ‘unwanted fish’ and damages the bottom of the sea floor. You know… where sea creatures live? And where under water volcanoes breathe? Why would you!

Giving up seafood will be hardest for me, as I am a cockles and muscles girl, through and through. I absolutely adore seafood, more than I adore a large steak. But this has to be done.

So we are on the path towards compassionate eating.

If we keep focused on the end goal we should be vegetarians by the end of the year.

One thing it is important to acknowledge. Although this is a huge change for us, that we WANT to make, we will both mourn the loss of meat.

We are both foodies in our own right. Myself because I love food. In a big way. I love to discuss food, smell and buy food and get great enjoyment out of cooking food both for ourselves and for others.

Boyfriend is a foodie as he has lots of ‘isms’ about his diet. Some of that is from growing up with a limited diet that left him quite adverse to anything new for a number of years. But I am glad to say he has developed a taste for new things latterly. He has tried the taste 14 times trick to get into something he previously hated (it was mushrooms for those who are curious and he now loves them). And he loves cooking curry which he also previously refused to eat. So people can change.

And we love animals so much we HAVE to change. We should be living in harmony with all living creatures that share this ONE PLANET we all inhabit.

Plus the normal stuff: it is not sustainable. Meat is not without disease. Meat is Murder.

But I think it is very important to acknowledge that we will both mourn the loss of meat in our lives. No matter how committed to this more appropriate world view, that we have been eating meat for around 40 years and it will be a radical change, it will be hard. But all the more reason to feel proud that we CHOOSE to do this.  

So Vegetarians it is. Yes, slowly but SURELY and for life.

Finally I will be able to look animals in the eye, and know I do not consider myself more important than them. I am not a predator of other living things. 

Life EPIC Life

I have been doing some EPIC life evaluation lately. I have actually, no word of a lie, spent time, in a quiet room by myself, sitting lotus position and considering my ethical status and carbon foot. It is not good.

Call it aging, call it maturing, call it what you like, but some things have changed for me lately that have made me feel it’s time to revisit both how I live my life and how I resource my life. A few things have spurred these changes in my thinking, including the following:

  • ·         Seeing the Dali Lama at Glastonbury. Not that we met personally, not that he said anything that was greatly unusual or unexpected but he was very auspicious and inspiring.
  • ·         Reading an old book written by Yogis years ago on Yoga and Health. It is simple, basic and one of those books full of answers that make you go “I knew that! I just wasn’t asking myself the right question!”
  • ·         Reading an amazing informative yet scary book called Depletion and Abundance. It is all about the radical steps we need to take as an economy, as a human race, to save ourselves and the planet. Short story there
  • ·         Meeting people who live simple lives and are the richest most incredible people I know
  • ·         Signing up as a Green Party and GreenPeace member and subsequently reading lots of interesting articles which have educated and informed me, thus influencing some of the decisions I have been making or will make in the future

You can see from all of these interesting experiences, why my life is taking a different turn. And it feels right. It feels based on knowledge, communication and experience. It makes sense to me. You cannot be in the possession of such informative influences without imparting the details into your own brain and subsequently making informed changes to your own life. Positive experiences do after all become personally influential.

So why am I telling you this?

Well part of me finds putting it into my blog as a way of self-checking my own content. It’s almost like a diary entry, except more public, more considered and written with less cathartic reasons. And part is so that in my own small way, I may influence others to make positive changes.

The Dalai Lama spoke of the way we need to better educate our children. Our daughters are grown and flown the nest. Not that I have given up on imparting this knowledge to them when they are back home or when we visit them (or when they can actually listen). Absolutely of course! I am content with infecting my wider family of youngsters through my bessies kids, of which I am Aunty to many, with my knowledge and details on how we are trying to save the planet for them.

I am trying to take the message of simple living, love and compassion to adults. Anyone who cares. Anyone who will listen and anyone who will converse without behaving adverse. I am here to try and provide a little insight into the changes that everyone would benefit from. I want to save the birds and the bees. To make the world a better place.

I am trying, through my own life, through my collaboration with others and through my blog, to positively influence behaviour change towards a more sustainable, happy future for our little planet and those that dwell on her.

Over the coming weeks I am going to report on various areas of our lives that are undergoing changes. These feel like some of the most basic yet fundamentally life changing decisions we will ever make. From where we are going to live, will we ever fly again, giving up meat, uncovering our feet to random acts of kindness, Green approaches and policies and yoga journeys. It will be random and exciting. Educational and enticing. And hopefully jolly good fun too!

Why don’t you come along for the ride too?

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Glastonbury Festival 2015 Review

Follow the link for my EPIC review of Glastonbury festival 2015

Click here

Eden Festival 2015 Review

Follow the link for my review of the marvellous Eden festival.

click here!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Sparkle Sensation

Sparkle is a national transgender festival in Manchester. It celebrates all things trans by putting on music, talks, workshops and events over a weekend. It is also the largest trans charity known to do this across the globe.

Sparkle, now in its tenth year, is mostly run through venues in and around the gay district of Canal Street as well as events put on by the Sparkle founders in Sackville Gardens.

Sparkle in the park, as promoted by the Sparkle website was a tiny garden, more like a green than a park. It certainly would have sounded more appropriate as Sparkle in the Garden, but credit where credit is due, they did pack rather a lot in. And when the sun is shining and the wine is flowing, the people are friendly and the music is going, who cares how big it is? It's not about size is it? It is what you do with it that counts!

Sparkle was great fun from beginning to end. We arrived on the Friday afternoon to the welcome event, which was a very civilised yet low-key affair. We found the gardens small but bijou, with its VIP marquee and friendly helpers scattered about in their purple T-shirts. We had a quick seat, a quick wander and then went to Canal Street. 
The atmosphere there was exciting. 
There were girls and boys parading their beauty up and down the cobbles, which led for some difficult small steps in some huge heels. But it all adds to the fun of people watching and glamour admiring!

Friday evening was spent taking in the sights all around us. We met some interesting and gorgeous people. Canal Street just buzzing with hilarity and hype. Due to the amount of afternoon drinking and lack of eating, an early night fell upon us when we returned to get into our evening wear and stupidly laid down on the bed for a cat nap.

However waking on Saturday morning was very rewarding and exciting as we were as fresh as daisies and ready to get dressed up and take the day by storm.

We stayed at the Britannia Hotel in Portland Street, where the Sparkle Crystal Ball would be held Saturday evening. The staff were wonderful, helpful and respectful. This was the first big city event my trans female girlfriend had ever been to and that I had been to with her. So it was a big deal for us both to find that we were treated with respect and felt not only safe but able to be ourselves.

And that we were. The hotel staff went out of their way with our requests for help, putting our picnic in their cold room when we arrived on Friday so it would be chilled for Saturday and helping us numerous times with our hoards of luggage. They helped to make the weekend wonderful.

So Saturday morning, after a large tasty breakfast at the hotel, my girl and I went traipsing up into the city for a quick spot of shopping to get flat shoes for her ball gown. Naturally.
Mission accomplished we then went back to the hotel and changed into outfit number two, pretty and glittery in the park. We recovered our ice cold picnic from the staff and made our way cautiously down the cobles of Canal Street and into the park. 
What a surprise greeted us. The whole place had been transformed! Stalls and market places everywhere, with so much information about trans life and issues, beautiful wigs, make over stands, nail extensions, clothes, accessories and of course the yummy food and crepe stand. We were delighted! The bar prices were reasonable, which was a pleasant surprise and we were glad that every drink we bought had a contribution going back towards the Sparkle charity. 
We found a seat at one of the many tables and chairs available and much to the amusement of everyone around us, cracked open our picnic and munched our way through the afternoon of entertainment.
And again, Sparkle surprised us with the range of the acts. Concerned it would be low key and a bit cheesey we were delighted with the quality of the programme. Not that we knew anyone but the fact they had great voices, and great charisma is what performing is all about. We caught the singer January who absolutely belted out “If I were a boy”, the lyrics very interesting and agreeable. The Tacky Tarts were also great, as was Cherelle whose incredible soulful voice just blew us away. 

Danny Beard compared some of the acts and was very funny as well as sporting such a gorgeous glittering purple beard, I wished I could grow one myself.

We enjoyed the contestants for the Stallion Talent contest but were so disappointed that the winner was not the dude doing a sing along impersonation of the Tenacious D song Tribute. Absolutely brilliant, bold and brave.

Speaking to different people in the park it was clear that this event is a highlight of the year for many. One couple who were spending the weekend together as trans female and cis male spoke of how they met and fell in love. The lovely gentleman told me of how he had to re-evaluate his values when he met his girlfriend as he had some prejudices and unknown boundaries. But through knowing he was falling for the person she is, had to realign those, because at the end of the day, gender is irrelevant if you like, lust and love someone.
That is the whole point really isn’t it? Recognising that people are people. And some people may have barriers, quite often unknown to them, as they accept the social conformity in which they have grown up and live. The point being that when that perception is challenged, you should not be mean to others, or shallow or closed off towards acceptance. But rather ask yourself, why does this feel weird? What basis have I built my sense of normal? Is there such a thing as normal when you think about the incredible diversity of people?
Gender is not sex. Sexuality is not gender. So therefore if you like someone, are attracted to someone, it’s not about what they have outside but what they have inside that matters. The rest is all experience and the potential to grow.

By 5pm we were slowly heading back to the hotel to begin getting ready for the Sparkle Crystal ball. Both of us totally on a high and enjoying the friendly atmosphere, even down to the police support!

Three magical hours later (and one hour late due to all the hair spraying, make up re-do and hook-eyes to be fastened) we walked arm in arm to the ball. It was such an exhilarating feeling.
Partly to do with all the sliding down banisters and our heightened sense of acceptance.

 Taking each other’s pictures beneath a HUGE crystal chandelier in the foyer of the hotel, having doors opened for us by suited and booted staff and both of us going ooooohhhh as we walked into the nicely decorated warm and small ballroom. 
Because we were late everyone was already getting their food but we were happy to take a seat at a back table, and found one that had a cooling breeze blowing through the window. We soon made friends with everyone at our table and other people we met at the bar.
What a great night. We had some really funny conversations and some very insightful ones too. Met some gorgeous people and enjoyed  the warm up act Errol, who sang swing and ratpack golden oldies. But the highlight had to be meeting Cherelle, who looked absolutely stunning and again, wowed us with her incredible voice. Especially when she sung Uptown Funk. What a feeling, twirling my girl around the dance floor. Truly magical memories were made in those ballroom moments.
We danced a little more once the DJ came on and then we went back to our room for outfit change number four! We head into Canal street and catch up with more new friends. Making even more friends along the way and enjoying the dancing and drinking in places such as New York New York and Iconical before ending up in Kiki’s VOID nightclub until 9am in the morning!!

Needless to say our 11am check out of the hotel was a little delayed and a lot rushed! Sadly we had too far too travel home, to spend more time in the park, but the pictures and updates from all our new wonderful friends tell us that Kym Marsh was a hit and the rest of Sunday was an absolute scream.

Well done Sparkle! You certainly did make our week a sparkling sensation of success.
See you next year!