Insightful Sunday - Completion


I was having a late night chat with my favourite person, Miss Charlotte, last night, about our dreams & I came to the realisation that a very LARGE & important part of mine, is having a partner.  Which, startled me in a way.  I'd always been such a feminist growing up, fully under the belief, that "you don't need a partner to complete you," but now, well, I kinda feel the opposite.

I want to share my life with someone, to share the highs & take comfort in their arms during the lows.  I've grown & developed over the past year, during my travels & I'm confident in myself & what I'm capable of, but sometimes, it's hard to do it all alone.  

I do think it's important to enter into a relationship on equal footing, knowing you are quite capable of being on your own, but appreciating being with someone else.  There is nothing more damaging in a relationship, than being reliant on someone else to make you happy.  It only serves to build up resentment & dependency, which wrecks a relationship like a bad case of woodworm.

Equally so, it's important to have a strong & healthy relationship with yourself, before you can have one with anyone else.  How could you ever accept someone's love, if you aren't capable of loving yourself, as you are, flaws & all.

Your partner should be your bestfriend, you should inspire each other, encourage each other, care for each other, be there for each other & LOVE each other, completely & unconditionally.  There is no compromise.  With billions of people in this world, there is someone, who fits with you like a jigsaw piece, who balances you out, who makes you want to be alive, to live, to breath, to feel, just because they're there & they make the world better.

I've had countless relationships start, then crash & burn before even becoming legitimate.  I've given my heart away, like a goody bag at the end of a kid's birthday party & had it shredded into confetti, on numerous occasions.  I'm done with dead ends & poor choices, I'm ready, ready for the end goal.  To find someone, who completes me, who fulfills me, who makes my life whole.

If they happen to be brown-eyed, bearded, have a penchant for skinny jeans & happen to be open to living in Paris, then all the better.


RECIPE: Protein Packed Raw Chocolate Brownies

I have found a wheat-free, super duper healthy alternative, to my gooey chocolate brownies, thanks to my friend Kitty, sending me the link to the recipe.

Protein-Packed Raw Chocolate Brownies


Packed full of nuts & seeds, these moist bars, naturally sweetened with maple syrup & cocoa powder, are high in fat burning protein!  What's that, a delicious chocolate brownie that aids weight loss!  That's officially a guilt-free indulgence!

Head over to MindBodyGreen for the recipe & try them out for yourself!


Self Identity

If there is one thing I am finding quite hard to hold onto at the moment, it is quite simply, my self identity.  I got over losing my home, no longer having a car & being without a job.  My travels made me realise that my identity didn't have to come from those things.  However, my great sense of self has somewhat diminished, along with my style.

During the long hot summer in Sicily, I consistently wore a bare face, my hair in a top knot, dirt under my nails, my skin darkened heavily by the sun & I was happy.  Although, I moaned, "this isn't what I normally look like" to everyone that would listen, until a Spanish guy I was friends with, said "what does it matter, those things aren't important, they're not what define you."  I didn't want to agree, but he was right.

By the time winter came around, I had accepted this very stripped down version of myself.  The outer shell was no longer important, it was who I was as a person that mattered.  Sadly though, with spring gently rolling in, I have to admit, I'm struggling.  I can't help but miss my groomed former self.  My monthly mani-pedi, my waist length hair, that golden tan, which has now faded to a sickeningly pale tone.

Having sold the contents of my wardrobe, I am left with a pair of Hunter wellingtons & a beaten up pair of DMs.  I don't even own a pair of sandals, let alone a pair of heels.  My black skinny jeans have faded to ash & holes have formed in unfortunate places & all of my T-shirts & sweaters are equally falling apart.  'It doesn't matter' I tell myself, but y'know, it kinda does.

Getting down to the bare essentials, stripping right back, exploring the world, understanding more about yourself, it's all great, but honestly, in the past eight months, as much as I've gained, I equally feel as though I've lost.  Yes, maybe having great hair isn't important in the grand scheme of things, but being able to look in the mirror & like what you see, somewhat is.  If not just for your self esteem!

I want to be the best version of myself, I have a dream & in that dream, I don't look like the vagabond I currently see in the mirror.  I think, there comes a time when, you have to start taking baby steps towards making your dreams a reality.  There's no point visualising a skinnier, healthier, more stylish you, if you never do anything in reality to achieve this.  Seeing your dreams formulate into reality is all part & parcel of forming them in the first place.

In eight months, I've learnt to accept myself as I am, know what I want & who I want to be.  I've learnt a lot & even more so, I've learnt that if something makes you unhappy, you should do something about it.  I don't want to spend my time feeling miserable because of my appearance, so I think it's finally time I bought a new pair of jeans.


REVIEW: JĀSÖN Calming Lavender Deoderant Stick

On my quest to eradicate all unnatural, chemical laden products from my life, I have discovered a new deodorant, by the Californian brand JĀSÖN.

Founded in 1959, JĀSÖN's products are clinically tested, free from aluminium, parabens & other nasty chemicals & thankfully not in any way tested on animals.  Which makes them perfect for me, now that I'm back to shopping more consciously.

Having always been a fan of aerosol spray deodorants, after a disappointing experience or two with roll-ons, I was surprised by how much I liked their calming lavender deodorant stick.

The minute you pop off the cap, the intense smell of lavender hits your senses.  I like this stick because, unlike many other roll-ons, this one is not in any way sticky & doesn't leave you feeling like you need to dry out before getting dressed.  It's more like a moisturiser.  Goes on light & sinks in fast.

Having used this stick for over four months now, I've been really happy with it.  It's kept me feeling fresh & odour free.  There are five other scents in the range & I'm quite keen to try the apricot one next.

Now that I have been suitably impressed with their deodorant, I'm quite keen to try out the rest of their product range, which includes body lotions, dental care, hair care & more.

What's your favourite natural deodorant?


Insightful Sunday - Self Recognition

I recently came across this on Pinterest & it kind of summed up exactly how I've been feeling of late.

After four months of traveling, the last place I visited, before my Christmas break in England, was a Buddhist monastery near Rome.  Spending two hours a day meditating, really centred me & made me realise who & where I wanted to be.  I went back to England on a high & then seemingly, came crashing down, with great force.  It's one thing to find 'inner peace' in a monastery, a place of no distractions, but to take that peace & keep it with you, in the big troublesome world, well, that's a little harder.

I fell apart a little & although I managed to pull myself together in time to return to Italy, a week went by & I started to feel disillusioned again.  By the time I arrived in France, I was on full meltdown alert.  A part of it is knowing what I want to do, but accepting that I don't know how to get there yet.  I have learnt to accept that it's about knowing the destination & trusting in the journey, but sometimes, when you feel like nothing's changed, like you haven't got any closer to the end goal, it's hard to keep the faith.

Life can be so distracting & I constantly worry that I'll end up way off track, because I lost sight of where I was going.  Although, as John Lennon famously said, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."  I know I can be a rigid individual, afraid to let go & I do try to embrace life & what crops up along the way.  Even the past few weeks have proved miraculous for me & been evidence to how life can work out, without you having to worry or force things.

The worst thing I could imagine, would be to get to the end of the year & look back on my travels & regret anything.  Not doing what I wanted to do, or embraced the moment enough.  Even if I don't make it to my apartment in Paris, if I'd had a year of blissful memories, then that would truly be enough.


RECIPE: Mushroom & Quinoa Vegan Meatballs

Let it be said, that one should never underestimate the value of quinoa.  This ancient grain was introduced to me by mère, who essentially fills me in on every unheard of superfood going.  I was about sixteen, had not long been vegan & took to having it instead of rice, which I was never too fond of.

When I gave up being a vegan & returned to eating meat once more, I stopped eating quinoa & instead, started a love affair with couscous.  However, whilst being entirely delicious & quick to cook, couscous, essentially being from the pasta family, makes me bloat & isn't particularly of any nutritional benefit.

Thus, upon returning to my vegan ways, I also returned to quinoa.  It had been so long since I'd had it, I'd forgotten how good it was & how versatile.  Great in salads, cakes & even...

Mushroom & Quinoa Vegan Meatballs


This great recipe by 84th&3rd, was really easy to follow & made delicious, flavoursome meatballs.  Kate & I made them together, slightly adjusting the ingredients to what we had to hand, such as using spinach instead of kale & served them with the tomato sauce & a plate full of spaghetti.

Quinoa is a complete protein & like couscous, it soaks up the water you cook it in, which means that you fill up on very little.  So even a couple of these little balls is enough per person.

What do you make with quinoa?


One good deed deserves another.

Here in the Dordogne, I have found a little paradise, complete with a plethora of huggable furry creatures & four very kind & loving people, who have opened up their home to little old me.

Set in the countryside of the beautiful town of Brantôme, The Phillips family run a sanctuary for retired British Police horses.  Not only do they have over twenty horses, wiling away their days in the surrounding grassy fields, but they also have nine dogs, most of whom have been rescued, three cats & three very plump chickens.  As you can imagine, with me being a rather large animal lover, I am quite in my element here.

During my stay here, I have learnt that The Metropolitan Police, does not offer any financial support to the rehousing of Police horses, once they are retired from service.  Which, considering what these animals go through when on duty, on the streets & during riots, along with their length of service (the average horse lives for over thirty years), I think is appalling.  If it wasn't for people like The Phillips, offering these horses a final home, they would simply end up being euthanased.

Unfortunately, the majority of the horses that come to Brantôme, arrive with both physical & psychological issues, which take both time & money to treat.  Every penny that the family make, through fund raising events & renting out their holiday gîte, goes on paying the sizeable veterinary bills that roll in each month, along with the huge amount of feed they need, to cater for all of the horses.

To help raise further funding, BPH offer the public the opportunity to come & visit the sanctuary in the Spring & Summer months, providing a guided tour, whereby guests meet all the horses & learn about their stories & sit down to a delicious cream tea on the lawn, all for €10 per person.  During my time here, they have been speedily erecting a Summer House in the garden, ready for the start of the season, which they intend to stock with gift items, that will be available for guests to purchase during their visit.

They also introduced a membership scheme a year ago, hoping to secure regular donations.  A year's membership costs €10 per person, which is a nominal fee, but having funding trickling in each year from paying members, is something the family rely on, in order to keep going.

I'm sure that anyone who's done stable work before, will know how much time & effort looking after one horse takes, let alone over twenty & with only four people to do all the work, it can be a struggle to find the time & energy to plan & organise events, maintain the vast property & do necessary building work, let alone deal with marketing & publicity, in order to raise awareness & much needed funding.  Sometimes, there simply aren't enough hours in the day.

Having spent two weeks at the sanctuary, mucking out the stables, helping to groom the horses & developing some favourites, I can honestly say I have fallen in love with the place.  Seeing how much love & dedication the family put into caring for the animals, is really touching & I don't think I could express strongly enough, how much praise I think they deserve.  I've decided to stay on a little while longer & offer my services, both with marketing & general help, so you may be reading a little more about them in the future.

If you would like to find out more, donate, or come for a visit, you can find further information on their website here, or their Facebook page here.  You can even find them on Twitter here, because even horses like a tweet!


REVIEW: Vademecum Organic Whitening Toothpaste

Hurrah, the supermarché has come up trumps again!  This time, with an organic whitening toothpaste by Vademecum.

You see, I have a bit of an aversion to chemical laden toothpastes.  In the few years that I fell off the organic wagon, I ended up just buying any old tube of paste, whatever was the cheapest whitening one to be honest.  But then I started to notice my enamel was turning translucent & I was convinced my gums were receding, which was all quite concerning, considering my teeth had always been in quite good condition (not one filling I'm proud to report).  Hence I thought it best to return to using something a little more natural.

I've used plenty of natural toothpastes before but, I've found it quite difficult to get one that actively helps to whiten my teeth.  I don't smoke or drink tea or coffee, but I have spent a large number of years consuming high amounts of chocolate, especially dark & unfortunately, I think this has contributed to some staining.  My teeth are not the pearlescent white I would like them to be.  That is until I began to use this toothpaste.

I have to say, brushing with this paste morning & night, has made a noticeable difference to the colour of my teeth, they now seem far lighter.  I'm also impressed that you can buy this in the supermarché too, especially in France!  It makes me happy to see more organic & natural alternatives available.


Insightful Sunday - Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

It's almost impossible to go your whole life without inevitably relying on someone, at some stage.  Whether it be emotionally, financially or otherwise.  Unfortunately, in life, you soon realise, that you can't always rely on people, even the people you feel you should be able to.  I've had to learn this the hard way.  But it's difficult being completely independent.


I think at some point, you have to find a healthy balance between standing on your own two feet & knowing that you have people who'll be there for you, when you trip & stumble.  I also think it's important to be that support for those around you & to remember that, what you say as a passing comment, may be taken as firm action by someone else.

So it's always wise to mean what you say & say what you mean.  Don't make empty promises, whether they're little or large.   Always give with an open heart, be understanding & love unconditionally.  At the end of the day, that's all anyone can really ask.


RECIPE: Indulgent Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake

If there's one thing I love, it's chocolate cake & thankfully, I've managed to find the ultimate vegan friendly version!

Indulgent Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake


This simple recipe by vegan blogger Pony Chops, is easy to make & results in a delicious, moist sponge, slathered in devilishly chocolatey buttercream icing.  This may not be the healthiest thing in the world, but damn it, it's worth the indulgence!


A Week In Pictures

I find myself in the heart of the Dordogne, where the sun has finally come out & I can feel the warmth on my skin once more.  I couldn't be happier & I couldn't be busier either!

Having made no secret of my love of animals & especially, my desire to work with horses, my dear friend Lucy, put me in contact with her family friends, who run a wonderful sanctuary, for retired British police horses, down in Brantôme.  Thinking I'd spend a week or two mucking out stables & doing general equine related activities, I have found myself falling in love with the place & getting overly involved with all aspects of media marketing, in an attempt to raise awareness, for what I feel, is a most wonderful cause.

I want to fill you in completely on this most wonderful place, so I'm going to make some time in my, seemingly busy, schedule & post something special!  In the meantime, I bring you a pictorial update from the past week, which includes my gardening efforts, a trip to Aubeterre & Bergerac & some of my new four legged friends.

For regular pictorial updates, you can find me on Instagram, under @ouijetaimeaussi


REVIEW: Biopha Nature Range

I've been greatly surprised by the large range of organic produce on offer in the supermarkets, out here in France.  Not only do they now provide a huge variety of organic food, but they are also now stretching out into the toiletries aisle too.

Taking a peruse in SuperU, I came across Biopha Nature & decided to give some of their products a try.

After my disastrous experience with Dr Organic, I thought I would try out a new shampoo & conditioner.  I picked a shampoo for dry hair, as my locks are lacking all kinds of lustre at present.  Unfortunately, as seems to be the case in France, there was only one option of conditioner, which was a shea butter one, for all hair types.

I quite liked the shampoo, it had a lovely smell & it left my hair feeling squeaky clean, the conditioner on the other hand...You see, I have very difficult hair, it's fine, but there's a lot of it & it tangles ridiculously easily!  Such a pain!  I find the best solution, is to brush it with a tangle teaser when it's smothered in conditioner, then rinse it out & leave it the hell alone.  Unfortunately, this conditioner, which lacks any real scent, doesn't spread throughout my hair very easily & simply isn't rich enough, leaving it impossible to get my brush through it!  Resulting in tangle central!

I have to admit, I have a lifelong love affair with Palmer's Cocoa Butter.  It's thick, creamy & keeps my skin smooth, toned & happy.  Unfortunately, it's not the most natural of products & so, I have been attempting to find an alternative, since my 400ml bottle ran out.  This body milk by Biopha isn't bad, but I'm not quite used to using a milk, instead of a thick butter.  It goes on nicely & has a really pleasant smell, but I don't find my skin as hydrated as with a butter.  I think I'll carry on my search.

Now, these eye wipes, which I have been using to take all my makeup off with, are my new favourites!  Firstly, they smell like almond macaroons!  So sweet & delicious, I have to stop myself from nibbling on them.  Most importantly, they remove all my face paint & don't leave my skin dried out & blotchy.  Hoorah!  Biopha Nature have succeeded in getting something right!

All in all, not a bad range, especially for something available in the supermarché!


Insightful Sunday - Learning to let go.

Inspired by my bestest, Charlotte, doing Motivational March, over on her wonderful blog, The Tea Drinking English Rose, I have decided to start Insightful Sundays!

Although I am entirely out of the working loop, what with having resigned last May & essentially living as a vagabond ever since, I can't say that I get the gloom wash over me on a Sunday evening, in preparation for the Monday morning return to work.  However, I know that for a large percentage of people, this is the case & so, rather than end the week on a glum note, I wish to end on something positive & insightful.

Through a combination of words & inspiration from my Pinterest boards, I shall attempt to lift your spirits, so that you may start your working week on a happier, more enlightened note!  Enjoy!

At the beginning of the week, I had the great honour of guest posting on Charlotte's blog.  The post was to coincide with her Motivational March & offer a positive message, about how we can choose to overcome our adversities to triumph & fulfil our dreams.  At least, that was what I was attempting to convey.

Mère brought me up believing that you can't plan life, because ultimately, things will simply unravel as they will, whether you try to control them or not.  For someone who likes to be in control, such as myself, I found this quite exasperating.  However, over the years, I've learnt that she's actually quite right (not that I'm thrilled to admit it).

If I think of all the times I've tried to force a situation & it's fallen spectacularly apart, or how I've clung so fiercely to routines & plans, only for boulders to come rolling in & everything to crumble around me.  The thing is, when you actually start to let go & just accept these changes, you start to see that everything kind of happens for a reason & ultimately, things tend to work out far better than you originally planned.  Take my life right now as a prime example!

Whilst I still struggle to entirely 'free flow', I do at least relax a little more about things now.  When something seemingly negative arises, I take a step back, accept that it's most likely occurred for a reason & try to find something positive in it.  If nothing else, it stops me screwing up into a ball of negativity & most of the time, things generally do turn out for the better.

Plus, if I have learnt nothing else in this life, it's that shit happens (I now have this tattooed on me to remind me of this fact).  You've just got to keep positive!  I know it's not always easy, but sometimes the rockiest roads take us to the best destinations.


RECIPE: The Ultimate Vegan Scones

I don't think there's anything more quintessentially British, than the great scone.  For me, they remind me of childhood days out with mère, to the little village of Alfriston, where we would feed the ducks, down by the lake & go for a cream tea afterwards.

Now, ideally, any decent scone should be buttery, a little bit crumbly & adorned with an oversized dollop of clotted cream & strawberry jam.  However, returning to my vegan ways, this setup isn't quite feasible & so, I have had to do some experimenting & have come up with...

The Ultimate Vegan Scones




225g self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
50g vegetable margarine
25g golden caster sugar
125ml soya yoghurt
4 tablespoons of milk (rice, soya, or whatever you prefer)
You can also throw in some currants, for a fruity version.


Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7/fan 200C.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl & add in the salt.
Pop in the margarine & rub it into the flour, until it becomes a crumb like consistency.
Now add in the sugar.
If you fancy a fruity version, now's the time to throw in any currents.
Make a well in the middle & pour in the yoghurt & the milk.
 Time to get your hands dirty!
Work the mixture, until it starts to form a sticky dough.  Be careful not to overwork!
Knead the dough 3-4 times on a lightly floured surface, working out the cracks.
Roll out the dough, until it's about 2cm thick.
Then, using a 5.5cm round fluted cutter, cut out the scones.
You should get about twelve out of this amount of mixture.
Pop them on a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray, in the middle of the oven & bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.
Then devour them with margarine & lashings of jam.

I'd quite like to try making them with coconut butter, instead of margarine, for a healthier, slightly less processed version

How do you like your scones?


Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.

So, I survived my first ever BlaBlaCar experience!  After an eight hour car ride, with four French men, all of whom did not speak English, I managed to make it to Limoges, with all my money & dignity in tact.  To think of the times our mothers told us not to talk to strangers & there I was, in a car with four of them, being trusting enough to have a doze in the back seat.  Oh how things change.

My favourite friend Kate & her husband Cheese, came to collect me from Limoges train station, dogs in tow.  I was so happy to see them.  Traveling is a wonderful thing, never let that be denied, but darn is it tiring, especially when you're on your lonesome.  Having the opportunity to just chill for a while & spend some time with friends is something I really appreciate nowadays.

For two whole weeks, that sadly sped right by, we baked our way through Google, watched every new release film we could find online, took daily dog walks through the countryside & snuggled up in front of the log fire, chatting & bursting into tears of laughter, usually over some ridiculous meme, that predominantly seemed to involve cats.

One evening, we decided to attempt to make quinoa vegan meatballs.  Unfortunately, I was in charge of cooking the quinoa & it turns out I lack portion control.  Having a lifetime supply of cooked quinoa on our hands, we took to Googling recipes, in an attempt to use it up.  This resulted in; Quinoa Apple Spice Cake, Quinoa Pancakes & Quinoa Chili, among other things.  Let's just say, I'm now an encyclopaedia of quinoa recipes.

We also took to baking something sweet & delicious everyday & it had to be everyday, because we would make something so yummy, that we would devour it all in one night.  Scones, brownies, chocolate fudge cake...My purist healthy eating regime took a bit of a detour, it has to be said.  I'd gone from cutting out sugar almost completely, to wolfing down numerous cupcakes, smothered in chocolate buttercream icing on the reg!  Damn you sugar & your deliciousness!

One weekend, Kate & I took a mini break to her friend's house in Angoulême & we all went out in the evening to the local cinema, to watch 12 Years A Slave.  Having not been to the movies since Christmas, it was a really nice treat to go.  Handy that they had it in Version Originale too.  Upon our return, with the weather being cold, wet & miserable, we took to watching copious amounts of films online.  American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, The Wolf of Wall Street & five others.  I do love a movie night!

Everyday, we'd take the dogs out for their stroll around town.  Most days were wet & cold & both the dogs & my Hunter wellingtons tended to come back muddy.  My new pink coat from Zara, took a beating too & is now in dire need of a dry clean.  (Perhaps I was too optimistic in busting out the pastels.)  We did have a couple of relatively warm & sunny days though.  I honestly cannot wait for Spring!  The feeling of warmth on my skin & the sight of bright blue skies!  Oh when will it come!?

All in all, I had a lovely time with my friends & I was genuinely sad to leave them.  I shall deeply miss throwing on my 'stretchy pants' & snuggling up on the sofa, bowl of crisps to hand & watching a movie with Kate & SamIAm the cat, curled up on my lap.  I'll miss chowing down on Cheese's fresh baked bread, toasted in the mornings, with lashings of honey & smothered in margarine with our lunchtime soup, & I'll especially miss the dogs, & their overexcited morning greeting.

Just in case they start to forget me, I left them with Nigel the nectarine tree, who will hopefully do me proud & provide them with plenty of fruit in the summer…in time for my return.


REVIEW: Saponi & Saponi Mediterranean Scrub

Last October, I had the great fortune of meeting, Polish born, Aga & the Sicilian Mazotta brothers.  Tucked away in the countryside of Sciacca, on the west coast of Sicily, the three of them were living on an olive grove, they'd inherited.

Passionate about sustainability, the environment & living as naturally as possible, they had invested in turning the ground floor of their house into a laboratory, in order to experiment ways of turning their organic extra virgin olive oil into something more than just a salad dressing.

What they ended up creating, is a rather impressive range of organic, chemical free skincare, which not only smells sumptuous, but delivers on its promises too.  Whilst I was there, I not only abused their hospitality (they're exceptional hosts), but their products as well & if I had to pick a favourite, I think it would be their Mediterranean Scrub with sea salt, extra virgin olive oil & lemon peel.

The aroma of lemon this scrub emits, is quite divine & it's gentle granules are just rough enough to slough off dull dead skin, without being too abrasive.  Because it's made with olive oil, it doesn't dry out your skin, like some chemical laden scrubs do & instead, it leaves your skin smooth, soft & dewy.

Saponi & Saponi also offer as part of their range; body oils, soaps, lip balms & even an ingenious, locally made, ceramic potted candle, which, when lit, melts into a massage oil.  I quite honestly love their products, their ethos & the guys themselves & could not recommend their range enough!

If you are ever in the Sciacca area, pop by & see the guys at work, they'd be most happy to show you around & take you for a cocktail & a spot of salsa dancing afterwards.