Vegan Gift Guide

I know it’s early, but I’m going to mention the C word… Christmas!

I’m sure plenty of you (if you’re not vegan yourselves) have vegan relatives and friends that you don’t know what to purchase for.

I pride myself on being a good gift buyer. I pay attention to the people I love and note their needs for future reference. I won’t know your friends and families personally, but here are some shops and generic gifts that many vegans would be pleased to receive!

Holland and Barrett

H&B is a health shop that you can find on most high streets. H&B has so many vegan products available in their stores, including chocolate and snacks, as well as beauty items so it’s always worth popping in.

For Tom’s birthday recently, I popped in to pick up chocolate for him. They have a great range of vegan chocolate there which includes Vego and Nomo. He’s made his way through most of it now and loved it all.

My personal favourite was the Cocoalibre raspberry bar!

Lush

Those of you who are avid readers will know that I’m a fan of Lush. I usually stock up on bath bombs and bubble bars which I think make fantastic gifts for people during the holiday season.

Come Christmas time, Lush releases a whole range of Christmas gift boxes as well as individual items. Gift boxes are always a great gift as they usually give you a bit of everything. There are plenty of boxes to choose from so this isn’t specific to Christmas but I do love the Christmas boxes.

Another thing that Lush offers are knot wraps instead of boxes. This gives you the flexibility of choosing which items you’d like your receiver to have, including the design of the wrap.

Everything in Lush is labelled so make sure you pick vegan items. There is a clear distinction between the vegetarian and vegan items so if you’re not sure, ask the staff and I’m sure they’d be more than willing to help.

Ethical Superstore

When we start approaching the Christmas season, I like to take a visit to the Ethical Superstore online store. There’s usually lots of goodies and it’s really easy to filter for vegan items on their website.

My usual Christmas order will consist of chocolate for stocking fillers and there will always be some Booja Booja chocolates, usually for myself…

There are so many items available to browse and buy. Scented candles, clothes, bags, shoes, etc! Depending on who you’re buying for, there’ll be plenty of selection available.

Clothing

There are lots of vegan clothing brands that I’ve come across in my short time as a vegan with their appearances at various vegan events in Cardiff!

Viva La Vegan

Tom loves the Viva La Vegan range. There are plenty of t-shirts, hoodies and accessories to choose from. Their designs are simple and effective but here are so many designs and options to choose from that there’s bound to be something there.

I love that they also do badges, stickers and reusable items like tote bags and reusable cutlery! If clothing wasn’t what you were after, then these are great options too.

Wear Your Voice

Wear Your Voice have some truly beautiful designs for their clothing. It’s impactful but gorgeous. Their designs range from stunning animal drawings (which are designed by them and won’t be found anywhere else) to some more simple designs.

Eden Perfumes

We’ll finish this post off on Eden Perfumes. I’ve written about Eden Perfumes before in this blog post. They are based in Brighton and are completely vegan and cruelty free. They make so many different fragrances and there will be a cruelty-free and vegan version of your favourite there!

If you know someone who’s recently turned vegan or is transitioning over, Eden Perfumes will be a great alternative for their favourite perfumes. Lots of people forget about the need for cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics so this is also a friendly reminder, as well as a great gift!

If there’s anything you guys would like hints and tips on, please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help!

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Watford, London with my lovely friend Emily as a treat to ourselves!

This was my second visit to the studio tours, having first visited 6 years ago in 2013!

So much has changed in those 6 years, and I won’t detail too much or post too many photos on this blog post because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who was planning on visiting because it’s worth it. Emily and I were living our best lives and we absolutely loved it.

Vegan Food

To warn you all, the tour is a long one! There’s so much to see. Emily and I spent a good 4 hours there with a short lunch break, which takes me nicely onto this heading… Vegan Food.

I’m not gunna lie, the little restaurant wasn’t filled with vegan delights. I was pleased there was something though! Having a look at the menu, there were a few bits and bobs that were vegan and/or could be made vegan.

I chose to have the veggie hot dog made vegan and a bottle of coca cola. This came to a very pricey £11, but with no snacks and no where else to go, we didn’t have much choice.

It wasn’t great. It was incredibly average and I didn’t enjoy the burger bun change. I’m guessing due to the original bread being a brioche, it wasn’t vegan but the replacement was poor. The one positive is that the cutlery was vegware so was completely compostable!

If you’re planning a visit as a vegan, don’t have any expectations of food. If possible, you’re better off bringing in your own snacks and food to save yourself a pretty penny and to get something that tastes better.

On the plus side however, the gift shop sells some vegan dark chocolate options which included a dark chocolate wand (which I didn’t buy) and dark chocolate peppermint toads which are delicious!

The Tour

As mentioned, this was my second visit to the studios and it was completely different to the first time. Even the entrance has completely changed and the gift shop is so much bigger.

The queuing area was a bit longer but was filled with interesting prints on the wall to intrigue us as visitors and were perfect photo opportunities. There’s a little introduction with a few VTs before you get to the good stuff but it’s all worth the wait!

My favourite part of the tour by far was the Hogwarts Express. I remember they were building it when I visited 6 years ago and I was disappointed it wasn’t ready in time for our visit. Being on Platform 9 and 3/4 was an absolute dream.

One of the more recent and incredible additions was Gringotts Bank. Turning the corner after seeing how goblins were made and seeing Gringotts was such an incredible sight. It was spectacular.

For Harry Potter fans, this tour is a must! Tickets were £45 which might seem quite expensive, but in the grand scheme of everything you get to see, it’s a bargain.

In fact, I’ve been suffering from HP Tour blues since I’ve returned home so I’ve started re-watching the movies to bring me back some of that magic.

Summer Reads 2019

I wouldn’t say I’m an avid reader, but when I’m on holiday I really do chug through the novels. We came back from our 2 week holiday in France last week and I thought I’d give a run down of the books that I have been reading.

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

The second book in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, China Rich Girlfriend continues on seamlessly from the first.

I only started reading Crazy Rich Asians shortly after the movie had been released as my sister had recommended the book. Now after reading, I do too. As much as I enjoyed the movie, the book is a lot better and builds a much better picture of the characters and their back stories.

China Rich Girlfriend was just as enjoyable to read as Crazy Rich Asians and brings more characters into the fold. It focuses more on Shanghai and mainland Chinese characters and the story behind Rachel Chu’s family.

You would definitely need to read Crazy Rich Asians first for context, but definitely an excellent read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Link here.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

The third and final book of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy provided us with a wonderful closure to the story. The characters were brought back to life for me with additions to their stories and their lives.

Being Chinese myself, I found this trilogy really funny with the Chinese idioms and relatable with regards to the family culture (less with the rich sadly).

Again, you’d need to have read the first 2 books for context, but I highly recommend them. Kevin Kwan writes a beautiful story that epitomises Chinese culture and their loyalties to family, with the building of wonderful characters.

Link here.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox was recommended to me by my friend, Ella, after telling her that I’d only recently started watching The Handmaid’s Tale (I haven’t read it either – it is on my list, but I have caught up on the TV series!).

The same concept has been built on, whereby America has changed under the rule of religion, and women have been suppressed and limited to 100 words a day.

I enjoyed reading the novel, however I felt the build up didn’t receive the ending it deserved. It was gripping throughout, but I felt the ending was rushed and very ‘happily ever after’.

It might not be for everyone, but at only £2.99, I thought it was worth it and still an enjoyable read.

Link here.

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

At 99p in the Amazon Kindle July sales, it was hard not to buy this book with the excellent reviews that it had received. Additionally, it was added to Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club.

This was my favourite read this Summer. I related heavily to the main character, Susan, and her incredibly prickly and indifferent personality. Although predictable in many aspects, Sarah Haywood has written her characters beautifully, and the story is emotional.

Susan builds as a person throughout and unfolds with every page you turn. My highest recommendation for this Summer. For those of you with Kindles, grab the book for 99p this month.

Link here.

Last Letter from Istanbul by Lucy Foley

And finally, my current and incomplete read book is Last Letter from Istanbul by Lucy Foley. I’m roughly half way through, and based on what I’ve read so far, I highly recommend it.

I’m finding the historical setting really interesting, and each chapter flips between characters. It’s nice to see each character viewpoint of a scenario and it brings new characters in slowly without naming them and only providing a name like ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘The Traveller’ as their distinction to add to the mystery.

Link here.