5 possible solutions to ocean plastics

Journalism, Published Work

Around 8m tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year. How can we clean up our seas?

1. Develop green alternatives

Just 14-16 per cent of plastic packaging is recycled each year worldwide. But there is a growing focus on the development of ‘bioplastics’. Existing projects include biodegradable water bottles made from algae, and a range of packaging that takes just six months to break down in garden compost.

2. Invest in clean-up technology

Scientists and inventors are working
on ways to clean up the plastic that is already in the sea. A trawling net by
The Ocean Cleanup project is designed to scoop up microplastics and can be attached to existing vessels. Other designs use ocean currents to collect waste via floating barriers and ‘sea bins’.

3. Challenge brands to change

Documentary-makers, schools and NGOs are educating people about the impact of ocean plastics. Consumers can, in turn, put pressure on brands to do their bit. In 2016, more than 140,000 people signed a Greenpeace petition that saw the UK government pledge to ban microbeads by the end of 2017.

4. Introduce bans and charges

Plastic bags can take 1,000 years 
to break down. The UK’s 5p levy on single-use bags has helped halve the number found on Britain’s beaches since 2015. Outright bans on the use of disposable polyethylene bags have been introduced in countries including China, Bangladesh and Rwanda.

5. Turn ocean plastics into useful items

Reusing the 86 per cent of plastic that is not being recycled globally could generate up to £92bn each year,
says the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Adidas makes trainers and swimwear using ocean plastic, while carpet tile company Interface uses yarn made from discarded fishing nets.

This article was published in Positive News magazine

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Goodbye boozy Britain? Why more young people are going dry

Journalism, Published Work

New research suggests that young people in Britain are increasingly swapping pints for soft drinks. Kelsi Farrington investigates the growing movement for more mindful drinking

In February 2011, a woman called Emily Robinson signed up to run her first half marathon. She didn’t enjoy running very much so, to make training easier, she decided to give up alcohol. Emily began working with the charity Alcohol Concern and went on to help launch the first ever Dry January campaign in 2012, encouraging people to ditch the booze after Christmas.

Fast forward four years and a YouGov survey revealed that 16 per cent of the UK adult population attempted to go dry in January 2016. And it is a shift being embraced with most enthusiasm by young people: a fifth of British adults under 25 are now teetotal, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and numbers are on the rise. Data released last week by the ONS revealed that people aged 16 to 24 are less likely to drink than any other age group in Britain, sticking to ‘sober sprints’ or simply not drinking at all.

Why? Besides being motivated by wanting to improve their health, a few other factors are at play, suggest experts: the price of alcohol in difficult economic times; wanting to get ahead at work in an increasingly competitive careers market; and the limitless choice of digital TV keeping us at home.

For young people like Londoner Laurie McAllister, drinking – and feeling hungover – was simply losing its appeal. “I didn’t like how I behaved when I was drinking,” says the 25-year-old, who started her girlandtonic blog to write about her experiences. “I often found I would drink when I’d had a bad day or to celebrate a good day and would use alcohol to manage my mood. My life is much better without alcohol in it.”

Those behind Club Soda, a website that rates British venues based on their non-alcoholic drinks and supports people who want to reduce their alcohol consumption, believe it taps into a wider desire to find meaning and improve wellbeing.

I didn’t like how I behaved when I was drinking. My life is much better without alcohol in it

“Club Soda started out as a way to help people reduce the amount they drink,” says Club Soda’s co-founder Jussi Tolvi. “We soon came across a lot of young people who have either not drunk much, or not at all, and they’re interested in leading a healthier and more mindful life.”

The Club Soda Guide lists approximately 200 pubs and bars that have tried to improve their range of non-alcoholic options. Those businesses that cotton on to the fact that not everyone needs to drink could be well-placed to survive the challenging business conditions currently affecting pubs and nightclubs across the UK. The Campaign for Real Ales estimates that an average of 29 pubs close per week.

“Financially it’s really difficult for some pubs,” says Tolvi. “It’s a difficult business, but we think there is a whole new customer-type out there who don’t go into pubs because they think there is nothing for them to drink.”

The choice of non-alcoholic drinks options is expanding particularly quickly in London, where mindful pub crawls also take place regularly. “There are some outstanding places that create their own non-alcoholic wine substitutes,” says Tolvi, with some venues even adding beetroot juice to grape juice to better mimic wine’s slightly bitter taste. Some bars and pubs also make their own tonic drinks. “It’s really outstanding stuff,” says Tolvi. “It’s always amazing to find something you’ve never found in a pub before.”

The figures released by ONS last week also revealed that Londoners drink less regularly than people in any other part of the country. It is important to note that rates of drinking remain high: 47 per cent of respondents had drunk alcohol during the previous week. Perhaps London’s first Mindful Drinking Festival, a one-day event taking place in Bermondsey in August, will speed the transition further. The day will include non-alcoholic beer tasting, ‘mocktail’ mixing and food pairing demonstrations. “It will be like a beer festival but without the hangover,” says Laura Willoughby from Club Soda.

Although ‘mindful drinking’ isn’t what Club Soda initially sought to promote, Tolvi thinks the term sums up what they do. Choice is all-important, he points out. “We’re not telling anyone that you have to give up drinking – it’s entirely up to you. What we’re suggesting is that being mindful about it is a good idea.”

The Club Soda team also runs a LGBT-specific social – Queers Without Beers – where more than half of its attendees are students. Events like this, says Tolvi, are great opportunities for young people to socialize without alcohol needing to play a part. “At one event, one attendee ordered porridge instead of a pint!”

This article first appeared on Positive News.

Making sense: are we ready to ditch the disposable economy?

Journalism, Published Work

From a surge of interest in repair cafes, to a new wave of workspaces for freelance makers, fresh signs suggest that we’re demanding a new relationship with ‘stuff’

Can possessions ever be positive? asked our feature in 2016 titled True Riches. There are fresh signs that our relationship with consuming is undergoing an overhaul. On 1 January, a tax break bill came into force in Sweden that reduced by half the VAT on repairing items such as bicycles, clothes and shoes, as well as dishwashers and washing machines. The legislation will, it is hoped, encourage people to fix their possessions instead of buying new.

In the UK, not only are we consuming less (Office for National Statistics data shows that we each used, on average, 10 tonnes of raw material in 2013 compared to 15 tonnes in 2001) but government figures released in December suggest that we’re also sending less to landfill.

Digital disruption has been credited at least in part for the change, as consumers buy fewer resource-intensive goods and source things digitally instead. But is it a cultural shift too? Transactions in the UK’s ‘sharing economy’ doubled to £7.4bn in 2015 according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, making it the fastest-growing market of its kind in Europe.

Sharing and making are more positive ways to satisfy the innate human need for novelty, believes Ruth Potts, co-author of a manifesto for ‘new materialism’. “Making makes us more adaptable, better able to respond to changing circumstances and better at solving problems.”

Making makes us more adaptable, better able to respond to changing circumstances and better at solving problems

And a team at the University of Dundee have discovered other benefits. While exploring prototyping, they found that those working in three dimensions created more imaginative solutions than those working on paper or screen. What is more, the process created stronger, healthier teams.

This sense of comradery is thriving at the 1,022sq m Building BloQs workshop in Enfield, north London, a suburb that was previously best known for its high rate of knife crime. The social enterprise rents space and tools on a pay-as-you-go basis to freelance makers and designers in wood, metal, textiles, CNC and paint. Demand means it is due to expand within the year, when it will become the largest open access workshop in Europe.

“Our members need a space in which to make noise, mess and dust, and to be creative,” co-founder Al Parra tells Positive News.

Building BloQs also offers members – from ‘old dogs’ to young graduates – access to a unique community of knowledge. “We’re seeing greater value being placed on things that are handmade, things that are bespoke. We are part of the new industrial revolution: a much shorter manufacturing chain that is closer to home, more adaptable and more accessible.”

This article was published on Positive News.

‘It’s time to build social trust, not guns or walls’

Journalism, Published Work

The 2017 World Happiness Report, released 23 March to coincide with International Day of Happiness, names Norway the happiest country in the world. What lessons can we learn from the nations at the top of the table?

Norway has been named the happiest country in the world, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. Norway came from fourth place last year to take the top slot in the World Happiness Report – a survey of the state of global happiness.

The report was announced yesterday, on International Day of Happiness, at the UN’s headquarters in New York. Now in its fifth year, the World Happiness Report is produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), an organisation that promotes practical problem solving for sustainable development. It ranks 155 countries by how happy their residents are.

Nations are ranked according to six factors: income, life expectancy, having others to count on for support, freedom, trust in government in regards to corruption and business, and generosity.“The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people – their wellbeing,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the SDSN. “This report provides evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.”

The report explains that Norway, and other Nordic countries in the top 10, rank the highest because they realise that “high happiness depends on much more than income”. Countries such as the US experienced a dip in national happiness because of “inequality, distrust and corruption”, said Sachs.

It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls

Norway also ranks at the top, the report found, because of the country’s investment habits in regards to oil. The nation tends to carefully invest in the future, rather than spending profits quickly.

“By choosing to produce oil deliberately and investing the proceeds for the benefit of future generations, Norway has protected itself from the volatile ups and downs of many other oil-rich economies,” said Prof John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia. “This emphasis on the future over the present is made easier by high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance. All of these are found in Norway, as well as in the other top countries.”

Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden were placed in the second to tenth positions. More than four in five African countries ranked below the midpoint of the happiness scale, making the majority of African citizens statistically ‘unhappy’. Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Central African Republic fill the bottom slots alongside Syria and Yemen.

In Africa in particular, those at the SDSN suggest that positioning could be attributed to citizens’ “disappointment with different aspects of development under democracy”. The report dedicated a chapter to these findings in particular – Waiting For Happiness in Africa. The report’s authors also highlighted that US citizens have experienced decreasing levels of happiness during the last ten years, despite national income rising.

The report suggests that finance reform, policies to reduce wealth inequality, improving social relations and an increased multiculturalism could help the country’s “social crisis” from worsening.

“Trump’s ban on travel to the US from certain Muslim-majority countries is a continuing manifestation of the exaggerated and irrational fears that grip the nation,” read the report.

The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people – their wellbeing

This year’s report also explores the importance of happiness in the workplace, and the effects of mental health on levels of happiness in the US, Indonesia, Britain and Australia. Mental illness is “the biggest single cause of misery” in rich countries, according to Prof Richard Layard, director of the Wellbeing Programme at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance.

The research found that people’s happiness differed considerably due to their employment status, job type and industry, and that employment played a crucial role in people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“People in well-paid roles are happier, but money is only one predictive measure of happiness — work-life balance, job variety and the level of autonomy, are other significant drivers,” said Prof Jan-Emmanuel De Neve from Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. “People tend to spend the majority of their lives working, so it is important to understand the role that employment and unemployment play in shaping happiness.”

Next year’s report will focus on migration.

This article was published on Positive News.

Could ‘secondhand first’ be an antidote to fast fashion?

Journalism, Published Work

Clothes recycling charity Traid urges people to wear secondhand instead of buying new. Could instilling pride in wearing pre-owned clothes help avoid wasteful fast fashion?

From encouraging people to rummage for charity shop treasures to extolling the virtues of ‘mending activism’, those at clothes recycling charity Traid want us to reconsider our relationship with shopping. The charity has declared November 21-27 #Secondhandfirst Week with the campaign designed to coincide with the run-up to ‘Black Friday’ on November 25. Often considered the day when Christmas shopping begins in earnest, it will see a projected £1bn spent across the UK in just 24 hours.

Buying secondhand and repurposing items rather than buying new could reduce fashion’s substantial environmental footprint. An estimated 10,000 items of clothing are sent to UK landfill every five minutes, equating to more than 350,000 tonnes of wearable clothes being dumped in landfill each year. Most of us own at least one pair of jeans but few know it would take approximately 14 years to drink the amount of water used to make just a single pair.

How many times have you worn today’s outfit? Research by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) shows the average person wears items only six or seven times before throwing them away. Statistics aside, say those at Traid, more frequently choosing recycled and repurposed clothes could also lead to a more fulfilling relationship with fashion and identity.

“Increasing our use of secondhand goods also includes a social and cultural dimension,” says Traid’s chief executive Maria Chenoweth-Casey. “It has the potential to transform people from consumers into citizens and to loosen the grip of advertising and corporations on shaping our style and identity.”

We have the power to inspire customers to buy less new and reducing demand for the ‘must haves’

Just a week ago, 13 Indian garment workers died in a workshop fire in Ghaziabad, India. Their deaths come three years after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh in which more than 1,100 workers died. The disaster prompted some, from brands to shoppers, to reconsider where clothing is sourced and at what cost.

“Fast fashion is one of the dirtiest industries in the world,” says Traid’s Leigh McAlea, “coming second only to big oil. In that sense, our #Secondhandfirst campaign is unlikely to cause fast fashion retailers sleepless nights. However, where we do have power is to inspire customers to buy less new and so reduce demand for the so-called ‘must haves’.”

The foundations of today’s fast fashion are complex, but McAlea suggests the disconnection inherent in a hyper-globalised world with extended supply chains plays a large part.

“It is extremely difficult to relate to the workers and processes that bring clothes to our high streets and into our wardrobes. Those making our clothes are so remote as to be barely human, and certainly there is no sense of people with lives and aspirations that may intersect with our own. At the same time, the voices of garment workers are rarely heard, further enabling and normalising exploitation in our supply chains. Despite raised awareness of conditions through devastating events such as Rana Plaza, consumer desire for fast fashion – currently around £44bn in the UK annually – trumps ethics.”

Kit Oates Photography

Kit Oates Photography / TRAID

#Secondhandfirst Week events will take place across London, including late night shopping sessions at Traid’s 11 charity shops and a screening of films made by 50 Cambodian garment workers. Shoppers will also be encouraged to sign a secondhand first pledge: a promise to wear at least some secondhand outfits during the week.

“You can choose what percentage of your wardrobe you want to rebalance from new to secondhand,” says McAlea. “You don’t necessarily need to source all your secondhand in charity or vintage shops, but can also swap, mend and lend.”

It has the potential to loosen the grip of advertising and corporations on shaping our style and identity

Rather than focusing on guilt to motivate people toward changing habits, the Traid team are keen to emphasise the fun and creativity to be had in sourcing fashion more sustainably. So does McAlea have a favourite charity shop find?

“It’s almost impossible to pin down one! Having said that, an antique set of Russian dolls comes near the top of my list, and a vintage cashmere camel coat from Traid Dalston which has seen me elegantly through three winters so far. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in charity shops, but just take each rail at a time and go through it carefully, you’re bound to find something you love.”

Kit Oates Photography

Kit Oates Photography / TRAID

Find out more about #Secondhandfirst Week here.

This article was published on Positive News.

America’s black banking revolution

Journalism, Published Work

Recent racial unrest in the US has bloomed into a different kind of protest. ‘Black banking’ is emerging as a tool of empowerment for communities in America, and further afield

At a time of heightened racial unrest, black Americans are being urged to empower their communities through banking. OneUnited Bank, which is believed to be the largest black-owned bank in the US, launched the #BankBlack campaign earlier this year, urging people to invest $100 (£82) into one of the 318 such financial institutions currently in the US.

“The #BankBlack movement is part protest and part progress,” says Teri Williams, president of OneUnited Bank, which reports lending more than $1bn (£820m) to low to moderate income communities since 1995. “Many practices in the financial services industry have particularly disadvantaged the black community. This is a protest against these predatory banking practices and an opportunity for the black community to make progress by using our $1.2tn [£984bn] annual spending power to create local jobs.”

Through social media posts following the campaign’s launch, rappers Killer Mike and David Banner helped draw attention to what they see as a shortage of black banks. Jason Warner, president of the Own the Vision foundation – an organisation that supports the development of black communities – also backs it. He mentions one Mississippi-based bank that was fined for deliberately discriminating against minorities in its lending practices.

This is a protest against predatory banking practices and an opportunity for the black community to make progress

“I truly believe the goal is to spark a mindset shift among all people. It sends the message that injustice and inequity will no longer be tolerated,” says Warner.

“Banking black allows blacks and other people of colour to receive fair and equitable treatment from their banking partner.”

Warner also explains that while strong group economic models exist among some cultures, these economic ecosystems are not as developed within black American communities: “If you don’t own a seat at the capitalism table as a group, then you will never command a seat at the social justice table. Black America talks about the nearly $1.3tn annual spending power, however, that number means nothing if the community owns and controls nothing.”

Financial literacy, say some experts, is another barrier to funding. Danielle Robinson Bell is marketing director at digitalundivided (DID), a Georgia-based platform for black female entrepreneurs in the tech and innovation sectors.

She says: “We focus on economic growth and empowerment of communities of colour and we do this by giving black and Hispanic women entrepreneurs access to training, networks and capital to grow their businesses. Our offices are in downtown Atlanta’s emerging tech scene.”

Collaborating with a small team of investors and mentors, DID works with women who are often overlooked and regarded by mainstream banks as big financial risks.

The goal is to spark a mindset shift among all people

Rohan Clarke, who owns a shoe company based in Brixton, south London, believes that things are similar in the UK. Here, a government report published in 2013 urged the banking industry to do more to ensure ethnic minority businesses have access to finance. It found there were higher aspirations to start-up businesses among ethnic minority groups – 35 per cent in black African communities compared to just 10 per cent for white British people – but that the ‘conversion’ rates into successful businesses were low.

Clarke established Uptown Yardie seven years ago but was unable to secure financial backing from mainstream British banks: “It was a constant struggle,” he says. “We mortgaged our property and relied on our own people, paying all upfront costs.”

He hopes the #BankBlack movement in the US could shift things here too, better supporting black business owners in the future. “I hope the situation in America will wake people up and that mindset will trickle over to the UK. I’m hoping it will be easier for the next generation.”

This article was published on Positive News.

Greece

Photography, Travel

About a month ago, my grandparents, mum, best friend and myself were immersing ourselves into island life – Greek-style – and I thought it was about time some of the beauty we witnessed was properly shared.


 
Paros

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Alley-2-Greece

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Windmill

Cactus

Leaning-trees

Antiparos

Antiparos

greek-salad

Athens

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All photographs are copyright of Kelsi Farrington 2015 unless otherwise stated. All photographs were taken with an iPhone 4 (normal camera still out of action). 

Recipe Sharing: Aubergine Ricotta Roll-Ups

Food

 The recipe is a delicious combination of char-grilled aubergine slices, stuffed with ricotta and caramelised onion, chestnut mushrooms and spinach and then baked in tomato and basil passata. 

Firstly, slice 1-2 aubergines into relatively thin strips. The best way to do this (I’ve found) is to chop off either side of the aubergines. Lay them on your board, cut off the green end and then carefully slice off the right side of the aubergine, then the other side. Begin slicing to form the ‘roll-up’ strips by cutting as thinly as possible (without being too thin!) It’s tricky!

Oil either side of the slices / strips and then salt to taste. Place on a baking tray and put in the oven under a medium to high grill temperature for 10 minutes. You won’t need to turn them. While they’re cooking, finely dice 1 onion, a handful of chestnut mushrooms (also diced) and cook in a little bit of butter and a glug of olive oil. Season to taste and cook until softened. Add a handful of roughly chopped spinach and cook until wilted. At this point, you’re welcome to add some minced garlic, red chili pepper flakes and some parsley (I love adding parsley – the greener the better!). Take off of the heat and then set aside.

Check your aubergines. If they’re nearly crispy, take them out of the oven and heat up a large frying pan. Leave oven on. Without adding extra oil, add each slice and cook a little on either side. They should be super fragrant now and slightly charred (if you like them that way – I know I do!). Pour 350g of tomato and basil passata onto the bottom of a roast pan that is relatively deep.

Mix a tub of ricotta with the onion, mushroom and spinach mix and again, season to taste. You’re welcome to add some grated parmesan (having just got back from Italy, that’s happening a lot! Parmesan on everything!) and mix thoroughly. To make them easier to handle, wait for the aubergine slices to cool. Then spread ricotta mix on one side of each aubergine slice. Roll from the narrowest side (i.e. where you cut off the green stem). Place each roll-up onto the passata and top with a sprinkling of parmesan.

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I had a bit of the onion and mushroom mix (minus the ricotta) left over so I added that to the top of mine with some grated cheese. Again, entirely your preference. Bake in the preheated oven for around 20 minutes at a medium temperature (around 125 degrees celsius).

I hope you enjoy! This dish is very moreish and I recommend serving it with some simple risotto – if you have the time!

Recipe Sharing: Minced Lobster / Crawfish

Bahamas, Food, Published Work

After being back home in the Bahamas for several months, one thing really resonated: what you can buy on Green Turtle Cay is pretty limited (and expensive) so it’s absolutely essential to know what ingredients will be available

When I was asked to contribute recipes for upcoming issues of my local magazine, Abaco Life, I was specifically asked to find some of the best, local lobster recipes.

When sourcing these recipes, it was important to recognize the clear line between what is traditionally the Bahamian, and more specifically the Abaconian (local), preference to cooking crawfish compared to what is preferred by tourists and readers. Minced Lobster is a recipe that comes from the Green Turtle Club, a local hotel.

My parents were both managers at the Green Turtle Club when I was growing up so I spent a lot of time there and when I told my mum that I had chosen Minced Lobster as the Bahamian recipe I wanted to master, she told me that she always found it funny that while the tourists were ordering and enjoying the more traditional, buttered lobster tails, the kitchen staff would be preparing themselves a seafood rendition of ‘Fire Engine’ – using minced lobster. By mincing the lobster meat and cooking it down with tomatoes and the Bahamian ‘trilogy’ of pepper, onion and celery, this Minced Lobster recipe is one of the best and easiest ways to spice things up if you’re wanting to try something different and to eat like a true Bahamian at home, wherever that may be!

Thanks to Chef Karen Curry at the Green Turtle Club for sharing all of her tips with me.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 medium lobster tails (removed from their shells and diced)
  • 1 yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 stalk of celery (diced)
  • 1 large ripe tomato (diced) / 2 tablespoons of canned diced tomato
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of old sour or juice of ½ a lime and ½ tablespoon of red pepper flakes (extra lime can be used on the side)

photoHere’s my older brother, David, kindly mincing the lobster meat for me in exchange for the recipe

Directions: 

Using a sharp, large knife, place it directly on the centre of the first tail. Using a mallet, tap sternly to split the shell straight through the middle with your other hand. Remove the meat and dice. Repeat with remaining tails.

Chop and dice one onion, one green pepper, one stalk of celery and one large ripened tomato (or two tablespoons of canned, diced tomatoes).

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and sauté the diced vegetables starting with your peppers, then your onion and celery on a medium heat. Add the tomato once the rest has started to soften. Continue to sauté on a medium heat for 5 minutes until the tomato also softens.

Add the lobster, two tablespoons of tomato paste, some fresh thyme (a Bahamian must!) and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes. To really add some kick, try adding a small splash of ‘old sour’ or the juice of a lime and some red pepper flakes to taste.

Lobster

To Serve:

Karen, and the rest of the staff at the Green Turtle Club, were quick to correct me when I asked if grits (or polenta) would be the best side dish to serve with the minced lobster. They said that a fresh pot of white rice and coleslaw was much more Bahamian. However, the benefit of this saucy dish is that it works with most side dishes, although I did find that opting with white rice and some of the fresh pumpkin from the local grocery store was a clean and refreshing accompaniment.

*Please note that lobster/ crawfish season is closed in the Bahamas until August 1st. Please respect the laws in place and allow repopulation.

**If you live in the UK or in a place where lobster isn’t readily available (without costing far too much), make sure you try this recipe by replacing the lobster meat with crayfish but opting for a shorter cooking time.

 

 

Just Touched Down in London Town

Photography, Travel

After successfully being offered an internship in The Big Smoke (aka London), I have recently had to leave my idyllic island life. I’ve made it through one, full week here in London Town and believe me, it’s taking a lot of adjusting after nearly 4 months of being in the Bahamas – a completely different way of living in all sorts of ways!

My work experience begins next week at a Brixton-based company called City Pantry who get the delicious street food of London to the offices of the city’s workers. I’ll be in charge of the social media for the company and although nervous, I’m excited to be getting my teeth into a job that works so closely with food. Although it is going to take me quite a while to get settled, mainly because I’ve yet to have a permanent base (literally from one B&B to another), I feel grateful for all the big opportunities here. It’d just be great to have a home! But luckily, I’m not doing it completely alone – my cousin has also made the move to London and we’ve had a blast exploring and getting the most out of life here already:

A day trip to Kensington 

Our day in Kensington included a trip to the V&A Museum – what a beautiful place. We then met up with a university friend of mine, Omari, and made a crucial decision: where we were going to eat for lunch…

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We chose Muriel’s Kitchen – an excellent place for lunch & dessert. I’m in love with so many of these small cafes that offer homemade and well executed dishes. As I said on my Instagram with a photo of the savory food at Muriel’s, I felt like what they served was akin to the type of food I would personally serve. Such an enjoyable experience to feel totally good about what you’ve ordered.

Buckingham Palace & Big Ben

We hopped on the tube and headed a few stops down the line until we could have a good walk around the capital and see all of those iconic tourist sights.

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Visiting and seeing all of the ‘iconic’ British monuments and scenes is definitely a big benefit. I love being able to spot where I am just by seeing the Shard or the London Eye in the distance. The mixture of old and new is something I really like as well. It feels like I’m 12 years old again, on my first trip here.

South Bank
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I definitely know South Bank and the ‘Queen’s Walk’ better than any other part of London. It was my previous trip to London last year that brought me to London Bridge and along the Thames and it has some really positive connotations. South Bank planted the first idea of moving to London. There’s so much energy here at peak times and it’s a great place to go with friends and even some quiet time alone.

South Bank’s Food Vans

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There’s another idea that’s been planted recently – the prospect of running a food van. Because London is joining the big cities in the US with the street food van scene, I can’t help but think of no better band wagon to jump on than this. Some of you know that I’ve worked on creating a Bahamian cookbook that has a British twist – well why not make that into something more? My cousin and I are both into our food (and good food at that) and we’ve made the move here together so we’ve started doing some research into the food van industry. We’ll see what progresses – could be very exciting!

St Paul’s Cathedral 
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I love being able to walk for hours with no real destination in mind. The idle chit-chat and the ability to arrive at the steps of astonishing buildings like St Paul’s Cathedral is only slightly relatable to my time in Rome. Amidst all the chaos and frequent changes of a busy city, there are these historic structures.

Islington 
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Cabana Brasilian Barbecue – my first experience of Brazilian food and it was great. Cassava chips are definitely worth getting!

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All images are copyright of Kelsi Farrington, 2014 and taken with a Canon Rebel DSLR and a 40mm ‘Pancake’ lens.