The Cheese Wheel

The Cheese Wheel, Camden Market

Usually, I avoid new places to eat that have had a bit of a buzz created around them. I’d love to say this is because my expectations of food are unusually high, but mostly it’s because they are all in London, and I never really have a reason to go to London. All that changed though, when I took a job in Camden a couple of months ago. Imagine how thrilled I was to be surrounded by culinary street food delights. Every SINGLE hyped up place mentioned in Time Out was now at my fingertips, at furthest a mere use of my travel card away.

The Cheese Bar opened to much fanfare, again with the aid of a Time Out article, and we watched from the office as people queued around the street on the first few days it was open. Try as we might, when we ventured in ourselves they were simply too busy to accommodate us taking a quick couple of pictures and featuring them on our work Facebook page, so I can imagine business is booming. Cheese, evidently, sells better than sex.

Due to the immense popularity of the world’s favourite dairy product, being in the capital city means you are never far away from somewhere to get your cheese fix. The Cheese Wheel is a quiet and unassuming stall on the corner where all of the street food is in Camden market. Next to the canal, and opposite that pub no one knows what is called or ever dares to venture into.

The Cheese Wheel

The hook? They roll your handmade pasta around in a giant wheel of cheese before serving. It all sounds very novelty doesn’t it? My main issue with novelty food is, when the novelty wears off, the quality doesn’t actually live up to the high expectations you’ve now set. This isn’t the case with the cheese wheel. The guys start off, by hand rolling your pasta. Made with few ingredients, pasta itself seems incredibly easy to make, but there are so many varying factors that can make it all go horribly wrong in a split second. The Cheese Wheel are pro’s. The way they command their pasta when they are making it is almost domineering. It doesn’t stand a chance. You can see it resisting. The fearless fettucine is then thrown into a wheel of cheese, cut out like a bowl, and rolled around in white wine and cream sauce.

The Cheese Wheel

There are a number of different toppings you can add, if you fancy spicing up your life, and I decided on sausage, because again, can you really rely on just the novelty factor to ensure a quality lunch is had? I needn’t have worried. The scientist in me still can’t work out how rolling handmade pasta around in a wheel of cheese manages to infuse the flavour so much, but it really does. It somehow feels like the flavour goes ‘all the way into’ the pasta itself. The topping is just a delicate little touch that is or isn’t needed depending on how hungry you are, which in my case is a lot, all of the time, and no, there is no medical condition to blame for this, I’m just literally a greedy bitch.

The Cheese Wheel

The only fair warning I would give, is that this is proper, premium Parmesan. If you are used to plonking mild cheddar all over cooked pasta (and guys, there’s NOTHING wrong with that), this may be a touch TOO cheesy for you.

All of the meals at The Cheese Wheel are under £10.

Mei Leaf Tea, Camden

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One of the things I adore about now working in Camden, is how diverse the shops are there. You can literally buy anything along the strip from Mornington Crescent to Chalk Farm, and as an avid herbal tea enthusiast, I was pleased when one of my colleagues suggested Mei Leaf Tea. After an incredibly stressful week personally, my usual poison of store bought camomile just wasn’t cutting it, so I decided to take a lunch break adventure to Mei Leaf to see if I could get something to help me, in so many words, calm my tits.

Not only was I pleasantly surprised at how reasonable all of the tea blends were to actually buy, but I also didn’t realise there was a small tea room in the back of the store. As a busy marketing executive, it feels like I have to spend a lot of my day being ‘on’, and the Mei Leaf Tea room was a very welcome sanctuary from everyday life. I chose to have a cup of the perfect calm tea to drink in.

By no means do I consider myself a tea expert, but I do know a bit, and I have to say the pure calm blend is more or less the most calm I’ve felt from a cup of tea ever. I’d highly recommend popping in if you have a busy day in Camden.

While I was there, I also picked up some tea called the ‘Flying Monk’. This one is meant to ‘lift’ your mood, and trust me it really did. I am now a fully-fledged tea convert, and aim to learn as much about it all as possible, but they are so friendly in Mei Leaf there is no doubt I soon will.

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A Trip to London Zoo and Camden

When I started work in Camden, it just felt natural to me, because I socialize there all the time, so imagine my horror when my Mum admitted she had never been to Camden. Granted, she hates the tube, so it’s not that surprising, but she’s quite a funner so I set about organising a weekend in London to show her the most beautiful place in London.

Where we stayed

Now I’m never one to be seriously negative about a company on my blog. I always give you all honest reviews, and any time I have told you about a substandard product I have also taken the liberty to message the company and inform them why I formed this opinion.

The Britannia Hotel in Hampstead though, is something else. Although I prefer a nice hotel with a spa (like the Chelsea Harbour Hotel), this was apparently pretty central, and it was only £95, so I booked. The hotel advertises itself as being close to London Zoo and Camden, which were the two places we were going. When we arrived, the receptionist was friendly and welcoming, and we got in the lift to the third floor.

The first issue was the lift. Noted, nothing actually went wrong with it but it was basically an antique and made a noise that was every bit as loud as one of the zoo animals. The room was very old, but ok. It was clean, which was a bonus, but the positive attributes ended there. At around a million degrees, it was probably the hottest hotel I’ve ever been in. After a little battle with the window, we did have a chuckle that the big window was completely openable but the small window was locked ‘for safety’.

As it was sunny, we took a walk down to London Zoo, which was advertised as being close. To be honest it was, only around ten minutes from Regents Park. We got the canal boat back, so we walked from Camden. I’m quite the seasoned walker, but believe me when I say, this really REALLY is not close to Camden. Do NOT walk it.

Coming back to the room, we had a while before dinner, so I thought, cool, nice long shower. Well I thought wrong, as it didn’t work and dripped all night. Other delights included a giant metal hook in the middle of the floor with no warning and beds about as soft as sleeping on a giant iPhone.

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Where we went

First on the agenda was London Zoo. Now I must admit, I’ve been a bit spoiled with zoos, as I live just next to Colchester Zoo. I even had many a school trip there, especially memorable was the one in year ten where we stole our parent’s alcohol, filled it into fruit shoot bottles and ran around off of our teenage tits on Aldi peach schnapps. So for London Zoo, I was expecting bigger and better.

It was around the same size, not as big as I thought it would be. The animals were good though. My Mum specifically wanted to see the penguins, and the penguin enclosure was great, we didn’t see Rocky, the only Rock hopper penguin. The giraffes were also good, and the Lemur enclosure is amazing because the Lemurs literally run right around you. One thing that was cute was that all of the zoo keepers knew loads about the animals.

London Zoo

If you are looking to kill half a day and are already in London, then I’d go, but in all honestly, I don’t think you could fill an entire day up here. The aquarium was particularly disappointing. If you really are looking to make a big day trip of it, go to Colchester Zoo.

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After this, we decided on a whim to get the canal boat up to Camden lock. This was probably my favourite part of the day. By then, the insistent drizzle had cleared and we got a full sunshine filled boat ride back to land. It was only £4.40 and it was really pleasant. Definitely the best way to get around, especially because you can beat the crowds. I’d strongly recommend this trip, and if you just fancy taking one and not visiting the zoo you can go from Little Venice.

London Canal Boat

Where we ate

My Mum is an exceptional fusspot, so when I told her I had booked us into the Brazilian restaurant, Made in Brasil, I could see the panic forming. Unfortunately, Mum is one of those people that claims she doesn’t like something before she’s even tried it, based on what it smells like, what it looks like, and what Susan from accounts made of it the time she tried it on holiday.

I did manage to get her to try something though, and she loved it! For the mains, she had the Chicken in Barbecue sauce with sweet potatoes. I’m not going to write the Brazilian names because they are incredibly long and unless you are from Brazil, I doubt you will be able to use them. She said she really enjoyed it, and the chicken was cooked to perfection.

Made in Brasil

I had the mixed meat dish, which had beef, pork, chicken and a chorizo like sausage with cassava chips. For a start, the sausage was so tasty (I could insert a pun here about tasty sausage, but I’ll try and be professional for once). It was a little spicier than a chorizo, but not overwhelmingly so. The cassava chips were amazing. They have a little bit more of a nuttier flavour than normal potato, but again, it isn’t overwhelming. I even made Mum try one and she liked it (although I did just shove it in her mouth and tell her it was cassava after).

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There was also some grated cassava, which was really nice. When it came to dessert, we both decided we were too full, until we actually saw the menu, then realised we could probably squeeze one in at a stretch.

Made in Brasil

I just had a Brazilian chocolate truffle, which I basically class as a diet food because it wasn’t really a full dessert. It was rich and smooth and everything you would expect from a chocolatey treat, and it was also super soft in the middle. My Mum had the Brazil nut brownie, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Apparently they manage to make the whole thing Brazil nut flavoured, win.

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If you are out and about in this area, I would recommend eating here. A great little find tucked away on Inverness Street, it’s authentic and intimate, and only comes to around £30 a head with drinks.

 

 

Tips for Dealing with Anxiety

So I was going to try and do this as a video, but as I work in London now time is not on my side. I know there are already similar posts out there, but I just wanted to share what works for me. I must stress, I am not medically trained, and I am not giving you any guarantees I am just stating what works well for me.

Stop

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I always find that physically stopping myself in my tracks stops my anxious thoughts escalating. If you suffer from anxiety, you will be well aware of how much thoughts can spiral out of control. If I am having an anxious thought that I know is going to escalate, I tell myself ‘Stop’. If I am doing something, I have a little break from it. If I am at work at my desk, I get up and have a bit of a wander. When you tell yourself to stop, you will start to think a little bit more rationally.

Distract Yourself

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My worst time for anxiety is when I am doing nothing. Anxious thoughts tend to spring up at random times, but mostly when I have nothing else to think about. The mind is a funny thing, and if it has nothing to do, it will inevitably create things to do. One of the biggest and best distractions I find to work is physical exercise and a bit of nature. So if the UK turns in the shitty weather for an hour, get outside and go for a nice walk.

Recognise Your Anxiety

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Even though distracting yourself works, it is still a good idea to recognise you are feeling the way you feel because of your anxiety. Sometimes stopping your anxious thoughts in their tracks can be as easy as saying ‘this is just my anxiety’ and sometimes it is a lot harder, but it’s still worth a try.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

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It can be easy to beat yourself up and get down on yourself for having anxious thoughts, but you need to remember it is NOT your fault. Most mental health disorders are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. There is nothing you can do to prevent yourself from suffering anxiety, and it is not your fault in any more of a way than it would be if you caught a common cold.

Meditate

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I’ve always found it hard to deal with the sheer amount of thoughts that go around in my head. They do not even have to be anxious ones. I’ve always been the sort of person who is just thinking ten to the dozen all of the time, and the only thing I have ever found to stop this is meditation. There are loads of guided meditation videos you can access on Youtube, and there is also a great app called headspace. Not only does the actual meditation work, but also you get a little bit of time to yourself.

Eat Well

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It sounds like boring, standard advice, but eating well really does make you feel well. Stimulants like caffeine may wake you up, but if you are having an anxious day too much will only make you feel worse. Try and eat lots of fish and fresh leafy veg, and keep the coffee’s to a minimum. There are lots of foods that impact on your mood, so do a bit of research and make yourself a little ‘me’ diet.

10 Things You Know To Be True If You Work in London

Click on an image to find out if you do any of the below!

Chanel Ultrawear

Ask any beauty blogger what their absolute, go to foundation is, and, chances are they will answer Estee Lauder doublewear. You know in films, like Titanic, and you are like “hang about, how has she got a full face of make up when the boat sunk?” Well, because, doublewear. Rumour has it Estee Lauder actually created to withstand a nuclear blast. OK, I made that last bit up, so let’s all just agree it’s an amazing foundation.

I do feel like a traitor even saying this, but I’ve had better. Coming to me in a sample in Vogue, like an illicit one night stand you fall in love with after one use, Chanel ultrawear absolutely rocked my world. It’s thick, like doublewear, which is sometimes a factor that puts people off. To me, it’s all in he application, and I believe if you do it right you can entirely avoid your face looking like one of Mary Berry’s creations. One thing I like about ultrawear is the coverage, from minger to maiden in 30 seconds. I mean, I know other foundations offer the same, but this really is a snapchat filter in real life.

You can’t deny it. It’s a pure goer. I’ve always been a bit of a floozy when it comes to make up, so I may change again, but for now, this is my weapon of choice when it comes to hiding my spots and eye bags.

Chanel ultrawear

Girls can make money too

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How often does it happen? Your bloke comes back from the betting shop after having put about 62 on a horse and then he wins about £1000 (and refuses to spend any on you, absolute check). If you go into a betting shop, you will likely to be surrounded by men.

It’s not surprise that the betting industry is male dominated, as most of the sports that you can bet on are also make dominated. Football, Rugby, Cricket etc. But ladies, it doesn’t just have to be the men who clear up on the side of their day days with a little flutter here and there.

I know it too well. Odds, accumulators, god knows what else they use in betting terms, can seem like an absolute minefield of jargon, and when money is involved, the last thing you want to be doing is nodding along to something you don’t actually understand.

Fear not though ladies. There are many sites that will allow you to place a bet and will help you along a bit and give you some tips. The first thing you need to do is pick a site. Depending on what you actually want to bet on, loads of different betting sites have loads of different offers, so make sure the one you pick has the best welcome offer or bonus for you.

Then you need to get to grips with the basics of betting. You don’t need to be a mathematician to understand odds. Just get to grips with the basics and go from there. Even if it is all a bit hit and miss at first, gamble lower amounts so that you can get to grips with everything.

After getting to grips with basic odds, try and learn your way around things like accumulators and other different ways to bet. It doesn’t always have to be as boring and simple as just placing one bet. Football accumulators are quite a popular way of betting, so from now on, read the paper all the way through and soak up as much information as you can from the back section!

5 Misconceptions about Anxiety and Depression

Around 6 million people in the UK have either Anxiety, Depression or both. 6 million. Putting figures on a page doesn’t do justice to how many people that really is. Chances are that you will at least know someone who has it. Maybe, like be, you have been close to someone that has it, but not really understood it until you were diagnosed yourself. There were a lot of misconceptions I had about mental health while my Nan was unwell. Now I have similar issues myself, I understand how silly my misconceptions were, but like most people, they were based on ignorance of the conditions and not lack of care for the actual person.

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You don’t seem sad, have you really got depression?

In my mind, when I knew I wasn’t feeling right, I still didn’t put it down to depression, because outwardly, I felt quite happy. Because I’d been bought up in a world where people perceive that depression only presents as sadness, I didn’t put the two and two together. It wasn’t sadness though. It was just a complete lack of enthusiasm for everything.

You’ll get better

No one with anxiety or depression is ever going to be ‘cured’. Someone with anxiety or depression may go through months, or even years feeling well, but this still does not mean they are out of the woods. Any number of small factors can have an effect on mental health, and even the most careful and conscious person can become unwell without warning.

You have tablets now, you’ll feel better soon

Medication is just one part of rounded approach to mental health conditions. Counselling may work for some, and other things like diet and exercise can make a massive difference too. Unfortunately, medication also has an incredibly inconvenient personality trait of stopping to work sometimes seemingly for no reason. When you first see your GP, they will put you the first suggested medication for anxiety and depression. This does not mean it is the best one for you. Everyone has different needs, and if you feel like your medication is not working you need to tell your GP asap.

You’re just being lazy

Depression can hit physically as well as mentally. So can anxiety. In fact, having both is physically exhausting at times. There are times when a bad episode hits, and even if you do have the motivation, you just physically do not have the energy to do anything. Just because you are high functioning with your mental health issues, it does not mean that you do not suffer as much as everyone else.

You just need to get out and take your mind off of it

As much as going out and having a bit of a break sounds like a great idea to someone without anxiety and depression, for someone with one or the other or both, leaving the house can be a challenging thought. Unfortunately, it just isn’t as easy as painting a smile on your face, getting ready, and going to meet friends. Even the process of getting ready can seem like a massive challenge to someone going through a bad episode, so trust them when they say they can’t come out.

 

In Dogs We Trust

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I’ve been lucky enough to be put in some great places because of my blog (and some bad ones – like being forced to try blended fish gazpacho in front of the guy who made it). Taking my Mum to the ITVbe launch party was one of my favourites. She met Peter Andre and I strongly believe at that time, she lost the ability to function as a person.

As no stranger to the nicer side of being a blogger, I was still absolutely over the moon when I got an invitation to spend some time at the Basildon Dogs Trust. I remember when it opened, and I’ve passed it many a time, but I must admit my knowledge of what it’s for and what goes on is limited to the fact there are dogs in there and the local boot sale had to move. As you can imagine, in Basildon that caused quite the furor.

I know of the good work the Dogs Trust bro because my friend adopted a Dog from them, but really and truly I didn’t know what to expect when I rocked up in my casual clothes.

The Facilities

In my old age, I have become quite the snob. I like a hotel with a spa, a comfy bed and potentially a robe (before you judge I lived in a tent for six months when I worked for Keycamp – I’ve paid my dues). The only way I can describe the amazing facilities at the Basildon Dogs Trust, is by saying if I were a dog, I’d stay there. Cue sarcastic comments along the lines of me being a dog.

The first thing you notice when you rock up, is how small the offices are. Sorry humans, this is all about the dogs! There is a really big purpose built training room, which gives enough space for two of our fluffy friends to have a structured training session. Some of the dogs that come in are put on a weight management plan (luckily they left me be), to keep them healthy for when they find their new homes. As well as a full time, in house vet, the Basildon Dogs Trust also boasts a hydropool. Yes that’s right doggies, this site has got a pool. There really isn’t anything missing for keeping these pooches pampered in their little life interim. But let’s face it, the thought of them being in there, day in, day out, isn’t a nice one.

So what can you do top help?

Rehoming

This is the main way you can help Dogs Trust. Finding their special someone is the ultimate goal for any dog in the care of Dogs Trust. Adopting a dog can be a daunting task, but the dogs trust will guide you every step of the way. Not only will you have the opportunity to continue the training your new friend has been doing with Dogs Trust, but you can also use their vet. All of the dogs that are rehomed by Dogs Trust have a full medical when they arrive, so you won’t be expecting any nasty surprises like worms or fleas

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When are pirates not pirates? When they are LurchARRRRRRRGH’s. I made that up myself. Tag was great, and I could of took him home in a second if I was able to.

“Hi, my name is Tag, I am a happy chappie who enjoys going for walks, I do have lots of energy to burn off. Please don’t over handle me as I am a little worried at first, but if you have some yummy treats, I am sure you can win me round. I like learning new things, so could enjoy some training classes. If you can give me the time, excercise and fun I need, please speak to one of my friends here to find out more about me” – Dogs Trust Website.

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Abbey

Abbey is an Akita, which is Japanese for ‘large ball of fluff’ (ok, I made that up). She is looking for her special someone, and I cannot believe she hasn’t found one yet! how much do you want to get in with her and spoon?

“Hi there my name is Abbey. I am a bouncy big girl and I love my food. I would appreciate living with someone who understands my akita ways. If this is you please talk to my friends. Love Abbey” – Dogs Trust Website.

 

 

Home from home

It’s a lot to take on to adopt a dog full time. Especially if you have children, or other

fullsizerender-4animals. I’d love a dog, but with being at work and away so much it just wouldn’t be fair. At the dogs trust, they completely get this. As lovely as the facilities are, let’s face it, all doggies want is a warm and loving home.

This is why the dogs trust offer the ‘home from home’ scheme. If you can’t dedicate enough time for a permanent pooch, you can give one a cosy little holiday with you. It may seem a bit counter productive to hand them back, but some dogs find kennel life challenging after being in a home environment, so a little break from it for a few days does them the world of good.

In a recent press release, Sarah Rowe, Home From Home Co-ordinator at Dogs Trust Basildon, said:

“Spending time with a dog won’t cure all your problems but it could certainly make you happier so we hope people will consider fostering a dog as a positive resolution for the new year. We have thousands of dogs of all shapes and sizes across our 20 rehoming centres in the UK looking for temporary carers varying from older dogs who need some extra TLC, litters of puppies, dogs recovering from illness and those who simply cope better in a home environment.  

“Dogs Trust cover all fees and foster carers can go on to adopt their foster dog permanently should they wish. The average stay for a dog in a foster home is three to four weeks, although some dogs can be fostered up to eight months and some for just a short time.”

Donate

I  simply cannot have a dog. One of my cats, Albert is really laid back (to the point where we are actually investigating whether he is a cushion with legs or not), but the other one, Lily Allen, is horrific. There’s no doubt in my mind, that even if we got a German shepherd, she would bully it. So this kind of leaves no option for home, or permanent adoption.

I can appreciate there are a lot of people out there with similarly horrific cats, so the best option is to donate. The dogs trust heavily rely on donations, and without them, there is no way they could provide all of the care they do. They are really open and friendly, so if you were thinking of donating, and you wanted to know what exactly your money was being spent on, I’d suggest calling ahead to your local centre, and having a look round. Obviously, you can’t take the dogs home.

Sweet Success

image2As previously mentioned, I know first hand how successful rehoming from the dogs trust can be. A couple of years back, my friend Em and her family adopted Red. Not only did they provide him with a warm, loving home, but also the family and companionship every dog craves. He is now a central part of the family, and the star of her Instagram, and he even took the addition of a new baby into the family in his stride. Red settled in straight away, and he actually had a little bit of a past as a superstar. Red was one of the dogs used in a feature on ‘This Morning’, so no wonder he is such a natural in front of the camera.

The Dogs Trust – Quick Facts

–          Dogs Trust Basildon rehomed almost 1000 dogs last year.

   –          The rehoming centre has up to 100 dogs at one time, with on site Training and Behaviour Advisors – when you rehome a dog with us the charity, you can have support and advice for life with Dogs Trust experts.

– The centre also has 26 Canine Carers to work alongside the dogs, as well as an Education Officer to educate the community, including schools, on the responsibilities of dog ownership and offering programmes and support for those with managing their fear of dogs. Dogs Trust also has a team of Adoption Advisors to work with people to find the right dog that suits their lifestyle and living arrangements.

–          Dogs Trust Basildon also has a veterinary suite to give medical checks and any needed procedures to its residents, plus an on-site hydrotherapist (and hydrotherapy tank) for those with joint issues, if newcomers are overweight, or if they are finding kennel life stressful.

–          Dogs Trust’s ‘Home from Home’ foster scheme is encouraging people in Essex to become foster carers – ideal if you don’t want to financial or full-time commitment of owning a dog. 

–          The Basildon rehoming centre on Nevendon roundabout has been open for almost three years.

–          For anyone who is interested in finding their special someone, they can contact; Dogs Trust Basildon on 0300 303 0292 or visit www.dogstrust.org.uk. The rehoming centre operates both a drop-in and appointment service and opens its doors to the public between 12-8pm every day Monday-Friday and 10am-4pm on the weekend.

–          Dogs Trust is the UK’s leading dog welfare charity and has a network of 20 Rehoming Centres in the UK and one in Dublin. The charity cares for over 15,000 stray, unwanted and abandoned dogs each year.

–          Dogs Trust has a non-destruction policy, and will never put a healthy dog to sleep. The charity is working towards the day when all dogs can enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of unnecessary destruction.