Sustainable Sports Stadium

The amazing London 2012 Olympics took place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The Park was developed with a very sustainable vision. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to the Olympics back in 2012, however on Saturday I was lucky enough to be at the World Athletics Championships held at the Park and managed to see first hand how the sustainability legacy of the games was holding up.

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The first thing I noticed when walking to the Park from Hackney Wick station was the area’s development. There were loads of brand new residential areas which I am told are low energy, low water and made from non-toxic materials. They were surrounded by cycle lanes, a pretty canal and plenty greenery supporting both sustainable transport and biodiversity.

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Arriving at the Park I was astonished by the organisation. Every block of seats had toilets and a food stall. No queues in sight! Most corners hosted bins which were clearly labelled for either general or recycled waste. There were plenty of points to refill water bottles encouraging the reduction in single use plastic bottles and when I treated myself to a tasty hot dog I was pleased to see that the packaging was fully recyclable.

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Once the morning athletics session was over I ventured over to the ‘Hero Village’ which was full of fun activities. One activity really caught my eye. The ‘Blue Badge Park Tour’ gave children wheelchairs and tasked them to navigate ramps, doorways and corners to become more aware of what it is like for those with disabilities.

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From what I can see the sustainable vision for the Park is still going strong.

Did you know?

  • By 2025 there will be 15,000 jobs created
  • More than 5,000 people (30 per cent from the local area) worked on the Park during its transformation – including 60 apprentices
  • Planning permission has been granted for 6,800 homes
  • There are 525 bird boxes and 150 bat boxes
  • Over 4,000 trees, 74,000 plants, 60,000 bulbs and 240,000 wetland plants have/will be planted
  • The venues use 56% less drinking water than equivalent buildings

After the athletics I headed to the ArcelorMittal Orbit for a look around and a journey down their world’s highest and longest tunnel slide (178 metres!). Designed by sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is just outside the Park. It’s made of 60% recycled steel, including washing machines and used cars. At the top of the building you get a 20 mile view of the Olympic Park and the London skyline. Once at the top you can either walk down the outer staircase, abseil down or do what I did and slide down. It was so fun!!!

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Whilst the likelihood is very slim that an Olympic Games or World Championship will ever be at the Park again in my lifetime it is still worth a visit as there is so much to do in the area. You can take a stadium tour, go for a walk or bike ride, check out the Energy Centre, take a boat ride, have some delicious food or drinks by the canal, see some art… the list goes on and on!

The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things

Writing an ethical blog is sometimes difficult. There is a massive conflict of interests; aiming to consume less but then needing things to review and write about. So here is a list of my top 5 favourite ‘non-things’…

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  1. Travelling, experiencing different places, having new adventures.
    • Already this year I’ve been lucky to visit Warsaw, Cervinia and Berlin and at the end of September I’m off to Dubrovnik (any tips on where to go, what to do are welcome!). My travelling bucket list is constantly growing, every time I tick a place off, another destination is added. There’s a big world out there to explore, experience new cultures, do fun things. Next year I’ve got a lot of travelling lined up, and I just cannot wait!
  2. Seeing friends and family.
    • Living away from friends and family does have it’s perks. When I do see them I appreciate it much more than if I saw them every other week. Last weekend I visited my friend Grace in London, it was great to catch up over a lot of beers, Turkish food and a play. This weekend my Grandparents are visiting and we’ll be having a BBQ (British weather depending). I love having visits lined up in my diary, not great for the bank account, but great to see those you love.
  3. Reading a book, watching shows, films or a series and listening to music.
  4. Preparing and eating food.
    • If it didn’t have such negative consequences, I would probably spend all of my time eating. My days tend to revolve around what I’m having for my breakfast, dinner and tea (a.k.a lunch and dinner for you Southerners). At the moment my go to meal for breakfast, dinner or tea is avocado and eggs on toast. Just cannot beat it!
  5. Exercising.
    • It’s not only good for you, but it can be fun and pushing yourself is very satisfying. My favourite ways to exercise are going for walks, doing a pilates or spin class or going for a run. The best ways to keep motivated are by doing it with a friend, listening to a podcast or signing yourself up for a race or challenge.

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With resources depleting and waste piles increasing it is more important than ever to consume less. Spending your money on ‘non-things’ is much better than buying something you don’t really need.

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Music Festival Essentials

Right now I’m so excited! Tomorrow I’m off to Truck Festival in Oxfordshire.

I really just can’t wait to get there, put the tent up and crack open a can. Aside from the general festival atmosphere and discovering new bands, I’m really looking forward to…

  • Libertines – even though I’ve seen them so many times before, nothing beats singing along to the Libs
  • Cabbage – after seeing these previously in a small venue in Leicester I can’t wait to see how they perform to a big crowd, bunch of mad-eds
  • Slaves – I’ve loved their work for a few years now, be great to finally see them live
  • Reggaerobics – does what it says on the tin… good little reggae dance along
  • Idris Elba – what a man, need I say more

I love festivals, and over the years through trial and error I’ve managed to get festival packing down to a tee. Here are my festival essentials…

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  • Glitter – These days, such a festival essential. But did you realise most glitter is made from plastic? Do not worry though, Eco Stardust are here to save the day. They sell beautiful biodegradable glitter.

Did you know? 8 million tonnes of the stuff end up in the ocean every day – the equivalent of one rubbish truck of plastic every minute.

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  • No rinse shampoo & dry shampoo – Not showering for a few days takes it’s toll. Luckily there’s fantastic inventions to help out. Lush’s No Drought dry shampoo is made from natural ingredients and as always is not tested on animals. The grapefruit and lime oil in it makes your hair smell amazing! All you do is dash some powder onto your roots, let it soak in, then brush out. Another hair saver is Zerreau Towel Off Shampoo made in the UK, again animal testing free and they use recycled materials for their packaging. All you do is put it onto dry hair, lather up like you would normal shampoo and then towel dry.

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  • Wipes & hand sanitiser – The shower and toilet situation is never great at a festival. A wet wipe wash and constant application of hand sanitiser is essential. I’ll be taking Earth Friendly Baby Wipes with me which are 100% biodegradable, made in the UK and free from parabens, SLS and animal testing. My go to hand sanitiser is Nilaqua. Made in the UK with fair trade ingredients it is free from palm oil, parabens and SLS. It’s cruelty free, suitable for vegans, biodegradable and has recyclable packaging.

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  • Poncho – First making its appearance at Glasto 2011, it’s been an essential for every muddy UK festival since, it tucks neatly away into a bag ready to be pulled on when the heavens open. Mine regrettably was bought from Primark back in the day, but I really have gotten wear out of it.

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  • Dr. Martens – Sometimes, just sometimes, festivals aren’t one big puddle. This is why I ditched wellies years ago for my Doc Marts. They work in both bad and good weather (saving on packing), they are stupidly comfy and provide more support than wellies.

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  • Sun cream & insect repellent – There is very little escape from the extremes at a festival. For suncream I use Jason SPF 30 as mentioned in my Summer Essentials post and for insect repellent I use Incognito Anti-Mosquito Spray. Last year I was eaten alive at Isle of Wight. This year I won’t be making that mistake again.

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  • Milk thistle – Part and parcel of a festival is alcohol. Massive consumption of the stuff. To ease the effects of alcohol I take milk thistle, courtesy of Brainfeed. Milk thistle is a traditional herbal medicine used to relieve the symptoms of alcohol consumption, several scientific studies suggest that the compound silymarin in milk thistle can protect the liver from toxins. I’ve been using it for nearly two years now. This is definitely a festival essential!

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Other essentials include; something to drink from (water bottle, reusable cup) as suggested in my last post, camping chair, music speakers, sunglasses (check out Monkey Glasses), mirror (for that all-important glitter application), recycled bin bags (always clean up your mess) and clothes for every occasion!

One last crucial essential (that my sister managed to forget last year for T in the Park… sorry Fi) – your ticket!!!

I’m now all packed and raring to go. If you’re off to a festival I’d love to hear what your essentials are. I’m always up for new ideas to make the experience easier.

Ciao x

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Beautiful Bank Holiday in Berlin

This time last week I was begrudgingly returning to work following a long weekend in Berlin (which now seems a lifetime ago). Having visited the city just last March, this trip’s aim was to practice our German ‘skills’, see the sights we didn’t manage to see last time and to experience some of the cool suburbs Berlin has to offer.

Whilst there we racked up a daily average of 27,000 steps. But do not fear, the calories burnt were soon topped up with booze and food.

Friday night after lots of German beer in Neukölln we headed to the Quasimodo jazz club in Charlottenburg to see Alexandra Savior perform. She was good, but as often happens didn’t even play our favourite song Shades!

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Saturday was spent mooching round the many vintage and independent shops. My will power somehow miraculously kicked in stopping me from spending a fortune on a beautiful handmade belt from Hoffnung or on a new pair of brogues from Zeha. That evening we hit Torstraße, having a different gin in each place and returning to our favourite smoky cocktail bar – Neue Odessa.

Berlin has a huge hipster scene. After watching a Rick Stein programme earlier in the year where he visited Berlin and called every cool place he entered ‘noir’, we also began calling these hipsters ‘noir’ and created a ‘noir scale’.

Sunday morning we ticked off the Reichstag from the tourist list. We’d booked to do this tour of the German parliament buildings last time but were too hungover to turn up. That was silly of us because I definitely recommend doing it, the views are amazing and you get a great overview of Berlin’s history, so make sure to pre-book before your visit and pick up the audio guide. Final pointer on this… it is FREE!

For lunch we headed to Kreuzberg for a famous Burgermeister and then crossed the Spree to the East Side Gallery to look at the graffiti and umpteen selfies being taken on the Berliner Mauer (wall).

On our way back to the hotel I was determined to find a Photoautomat machine just like Richard Ayoade in Travel Man. Nearly making the full journey back to Alexanderplatz and not finding a machine we decided to follow a ‘noir’ looking fellow to see what cool place he was heading to. This ‘noir’ chap all of a sudden dipped off the path under some old bits of wood, so we followed. On the other side of the wood stood what I’d been looking for, a Photoautomat machine! There was also a mini beach, fire pit, food huts, a bar and Bob Dylan blasting from the speakers. Holzmarkt was an amazing find.

Berlin, once again you were a blast. See you next year! x

Easter Weekend – Adventures on the Doorstep

I very rarely get to spend a weekend at home, nevermind a bank holiday weekend. That is why this Easter was very special as I got to spend it at home with my nearest and dearest exploring what is on my doorstep.

Despite having lived in the East Midlands now for about four years I’ve rarely had the time, or not made the time, to explore what the local area has to offer. This weekend I began to scratch the surface.

My Easter weekend started early as I took Thursday off from work for my sister’s birthday (HAPPY 25TH FIONA!!!!).

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We spent the daytime eating and drinking in Nottingham. I finally got to experience Annie’s Burger Shack which definitely lived up to it’s reputation. Annie’s has an amazing burger menu, in which every dish can be done meaty, vegan or veggie.

Then as my birthday present to Fiona we went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night at the Theatre Royal. Having previously read the book myself, it was probably quite a selfish gift. The play was a success. It told the story really well, making you appreciate how an autistic boy lives. I’d definitely recommend reading the book or going to see the play.

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We stayed over in Nottingham and on Friday morning decided to not waste the day away looking round shops at things we didn’t want to buy. Instead we ventured to the well hidden City of Caves. Who knew underneath the shops and pubs were over 600 man made sandstone caves?! I certainly didn’t until we painstakingly managed to find them. Heads up Nottingham… you should shout about this more!

After the Caves we had a nice walk up to Nottingham Castle. Again, we were completely unaware that Nottingham had a castle! It’s a beautiful area of the city, full of Robin Hood history.

Saturday was spent being productive. I did a 5k park run at Conkers beating my previous time by two whole minutes (buzzin!!). I then had a good ole spring clean of the flat. Finished off reading Dawn O’Porter’s The Cows (blog post to follow on this great read) and then went out for a couple of drinks in Ashby with Rob.

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On Sunday I took Barney out for a walk with Rob to Carsington Water. We packed up a little picnic and set out for a nice 8 miler.

Finally today I went with my mam, dad, sister and Barney to Mercia Marina for a walk along Willington canal  with a stop off at The Dragon for lunch.

I have thoroughly enjoyed a long weekend at home. I’ve managed to have a proper catch up with close family, get some much needed fresh air and see what the East Midlands has to offer. The rest of this precious time off work is now going to be spent eating chocolate and watching films. #lazydays

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If you live in the area and know of any other fun days out I can sample, please let me know.

Happy Easter x

Winter Travels

I’ve been extremely lucky this year to have already gone on two holidays. Visiting new places and doing new things is really important to me. There is a whole world out there with different food, buildings, history, scenery and lifestyle that should be experienced.

For the past two Christmases me and my sister have not bought each other a present, but instead booked a long weekend away. Last year we went to Budapest and this January we visited Warsaw.

In Warsaw we stayed in the most amazing apartment (Old Town Snug), we arrived quite late and the apartment owner Chris had stayed up to welcome us and give us a great overview of what to do in the city. I’d definitely recommend staying at Old Town Snug if you were to visit Warsaw, it was great value for money, in the best location and the facilities were top notch.

Whilst there we went to many museums. Both of us have a big interest in the World Wars and it was devastating to learn what happened in Warsaw. During WWII 85% of buildings were destroyed, knowing this when exploring the city was fascinating because Old Town looks very authentic, however it is only about 40 years old. Whilst there we sampled plenty of the local delicacies. Everything was so so cheap! Which is quite lethal when it comes to vodka and pierogi (dumplings)…

After a fun weekend in Warsaw with Fiona  I then had another break to look forward to. Earlier this month I went skiing with my family and some friends to Cervinia in Italy and it was a brand new experience for me having never skied before!

Landing in Turin airport we took a coach on winding roads up the Alps to the resort. The surroundings were absolutely beautiful. Once we had booked ourselves on Ski School and collected our gear we were all set to hit the slopes. Every day after Ski School we would all convene in the bar, have a hot chocolate, aperol spritz or peroni and listen to each others’ tales of what mile per hour we got up to or how hard we fell. By the end of the week the skiing and all inclusive bar and buffet was taking it’s toll on our bodies. I’d had so much fun but was kind of looking forward to returning home for a detox and a little less exercise.

Whenever I return from holiday I like to have the next lined up. It keeps me going knowing that there is another adventure around the corner. Luckily me and Rob have Berlin booked for the end of April. A chance to see the places we missed on our trip there last year and practice our German.

Any suggestions for cool places to visit are more than welcome xxx