Christmas grEATings

And how are you all today? Ready for the annual festival celebrating new hope and over-indulgence?

Or is that Easter?

Anyway, it’s getting close now – only a week away.

Shopping to do…

Shelf elves to coerce…

Frantic buying of reindeer food.

Batman psyching himself up for comments about his personal hygiene.

And of course, trying to remember the actual words to Christmas Carols and not the versions that involve the three kings and various forms of automotive transport.

But this year is going to be interesting in the Everyday household. As you know, my vampire constitution, despite being ox-like, means that eating/drinking animal products is a no/no.

This is why vampires in the movies stick to blood – it’s just easier.

That’s just plain lazy if you ask me. I know you didn’t. But those ones are fictional, so I can be a bit cheeky if I want.

And I want.

Back in the day, I’m guessing finding suitable food – or any food – might have been tricky, but these days we’re spoilt for choice. Need to find something dairy/gluten/sugar-free? There’s an app for that.

But finding it back then? Here’s your turnip, madam. Boxes ticked.

Ah! This Christmas. Right. That’s where I was. Yes. This year, Christmas is going to be a bit different. And Christmas dinner will be unrecognisable.

The hubster has gone vegan. He made the change when he did Veganuary – in February. It was only going to be a month until he looked into it a bit further…

It makes my life a lot easier, I can tell you! Nothing in the fridge, freezer, bathroom can now send my vampire immune system into overdrive.

But Christmas dinner this year? No cooking two different meals.

When does the whole turkey thing come from anyway?

Blame Henry VIII.

He started it. Normally beef or chicken would be eaten, but farmers needed the cows for milk and the chickens for eggs. Did you know that over 80% of humans believe that Christmas wouldn’t be the same without turkey? I don’t think anybody asked the turkeys.

If you watch/read/listen to A Christmas Carol, the Cratchits have a goose, while Scrooge spoils them with a massive turkey. Thanks to old King Turkey Leg Henry, Turkey became the thing that rich people ate. Goose was for the impoverished masses. But nowadays, I’ve noticed that turkey is considered a bit meh amongst humans. Onwards and outwards with different, better birds, it seems. Goose seeming to be a particular favourite.

Except for turducken.

I don’t know how anyone can eat something that has ‘turd’ as its first syllable.

So the whole point of the Cratchits being so poor that they can only afford a goose is a bit lost on modern audiences/readers.

Therefore, is turkey the be-all-and-end-all of a Christmas dinner? Apparently not.

I think we’re having some kind of plant-based roast, with all the trimmings. Stuffing (it’s bread, herbs, onion – nothing dodgy there). Pigs in blankets – now there, there will be a concession. But it’s still just (meat-free) sausages wrapped in (meat-free) bacon. Sprouts (I love ’em, the hubster hates them), carrots, cabbage, peas (did you know peas are a good source of protein?) and of course… roast potatoes.

Actually, just give me a plateful of them babies with some gravy and you probably won’t see me until Boxing Day. The trick is to use floury potatoes that, when they’re boiled, get kind of crumbly on the outside. Once you’ve drained them, rough ’em up a bit by shiggling the pan. Put a couple of spoonfuls of oil in a roasting pan and heat it up. I like rice bran oil, but anything with a high smoking point works.

Then put the potatoes in when the oil is hot, get ’em coated and blast them in the oven for about 30 minutes. Basically however long it takes to get them all golden and crusty and now I’m starting to drool.

Anyway, on that note, I’m off to find a mince pie or piece of stollen. I’m hungry.

What will be on your table this Christmas? I’d love to know!

Santa Christmas Greeting Poster.png

 

 

Pleased to eat you

We have a lot of indoor markets here. It’s kind of a thing in these parts. Amazing places. Looking for something? Go to an indoor market. If you can’t find it, you probably didn’t need it. They have everything. One stall that I never, ever shop at (you’ll see why) has this brilliant slogan – ‘We’re pleased to meet you and we’ve meat to please you.’ Clever. I don’t eat meat, but dang, I can appreciate a good play on words.

To each, their own. Live and let live. That’s my motto. It kind of has to be, really. Just let me get on with my life, and I’ll return the favour (for some reason, the predictive text suggested ‘book’ rather than ‘favour’). As I’ve said before, I have multiple allergies to animal-based products, so I’m vegan by default. Although, I have gradually made it a principle thing too. At least that way, I can pretend I had a choice.

I don’t even bother explaining anymore. The few people in the past I’ve tried to explain it to think I’m just being awkward. The number of comebacks I’ve had… look, you can give me all the anti-plant-based rhetoric you like, chum, it’s not relevant to me! Why do people want me to eat something that’s going to make me ill? And why do you think the legends all bang on about vampires not eating? Here’s a couple of the top irrelevant statements…

“Animals in the wild eat meat!”

Well, when was the last time you saw a lion picking up its weekly shopping in Tesco/Walmart/Aldi? I tell you what, they’d be absolute nightmares at the till. A coupon for everything and guaranteed they’ll want an assistant to pack for them. Plus they can’t park for toffee. They always end up taking up two spaces with their customised jeeps.

“Where do you get your protein from?”

Try asking a gorilla that question. Go on, I dare you. I double dare you. Just be grateful that I tend to avoid blood which, ironically, is the one thing my tummy is happy with. Well, human blood, at least. I can’t remember, to be honest. It’s been so long. Surprised? Shocked? Hello..! Vampire… Nah, we’ve covered this before.

”But it’s what our ancestors used to eat!”

Tricky. And do you know why? Because it kept running away from them. Now I don’t know about you, but if I’m about to have lunch, and my food runs out the door, I’m guessing that stuff ain’t cooked properly. I’m letting the sucker run.
I prefer food that doesn’t have the ability to run away from me. Take a potato, for instance. And when I say take, of course I mean ‘get your own’. You come anywhere near me with the intention of nicking my chips/roast potatoes/mash, I will stick a fork in your hand.

And sometimes, it didn’t run away. Sometimes, you would have been the one running.

Anyway, the potato.

So versatile. So tasty. And they just wait there for you to come to them. In the soil. All nice and cosy. Flash a little bit of skin in the autumn. ‘Ooh, give me a bit more soil, you bad bunny.’ Let’s face it, the potato is a multitasker par excellence. It’s given us mash, chips, crisps, hasselbacks,  those twisty fried things (apparently they’re called Tornado Potatoes? Makes sense), even vodka. It makes the other veg look like total slackers. It doesn’t even brag, does it? It’s always referred to as the ‘humble potato’.

Have you ever actually come across a conceited vegetable though? I’ve often thought asparagus had ideas above its station, but then I realised that’s just a defence mechanism. Rocket/Arugula is another misunderstood plant. I mean, imagine being named after a starship or the sound a klaxon makes in an emergency.

But, our ancestors…

It can’t have been much fun, knowing your food had the capacity to chase you. I mean, certainly nowadays, food choices can kill you but in this case it was literal. ‘I’ll rip off your head and poop down your neck’ – said no veggie burger ever. Okay, so I imagine the animals that our ancestors hunted never said it either, given that they didn’t have the power of human speech. And the fact that they were too busy dealing with indigestion while also trying to find the loo roll.

These days, of course, too much of the wrong food will still kill you. But it’s gotten sneaky. Rather than going with the whole head-biting thing, it’ll do it from the inside. ‘You just wait. I’m gonna fur up your arteries. I’m gonna fix your gut so you can’t be trusted in a crowded lift.’

Seriously, though, I’m plant-based.  Because I am one of those people who can’t be trusted in a crowded lift. I’ll only eat stuff that grows in the ground. Let’s face it, we’re all going back there someday, so I’m getting to grips with my potential neighbours now. Good thing is though, potatoes, carrots etc aren’t known for their revenge tactics.

Hollywood has never made a film called ‘The Usual Saucepans’, or ‘Kill Dill’.

You get what I’m saying.

When I used Google Maps, got lost, and met some nice people along the way

Actually, that’s pretty much the whole story – right there.

You’ve probably heard the saying  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Well, in this case it was true.

Okay, so it wasn’t a step, it was a crack.

And it wasn’t actually a thousand miles – it just felt like it at the time.

Let me explain.

It all started with having chips for tea. I broke a tooth. Right there and then, I made an emergency appointment for the next day. I’d wanted an excuse to go into town – that wasn’t the one I expected. I get there. It’s over in 10 minutes. It’s a very common thing, apparently.

Being a vampire, I’m a bit paranoid about my teeth. There. I’ve finally admitted it. But another part of the vampire package is the empathy & being able to read people (hence the myth about us being mindreaders). That all leads to stress. And that leads to bruxism (that’s the fancy word for teeth grinding). It happens at night, so I can’t control it. This puts pressure on fillings, which in turn can pop the side of the tooth off. It hurts when it happens, but the pride is the thing most damaged.

I decide to make the most of my enforced trip out. Earlier that morning, I had some time to kill before I left for my emergency appointment. Where else can you successfully waste a few minutes, but on the internet? I had noticed on social media that a new vegan supermarket had opened in the same town (I’m sure I’ve told you how my vampire gastrointestinal tract throws a diva-like hissy fit over animal products). I decide to walk there after my appointment (as long as I’m not off my face again after the anaesthetic). Apparently, it’s only 10 minutes away from where the dentist is. I tried Google maps. He tells me it’s 40 minutes away.

(no anaesthetic was needed in the end)

Oh well, the walk will do me good and I’m sure the shop will be amazing when I get there.

I basically end up halfway back home. I follow the map rigorously. After over three-quarters of an hour walking, I reach an apparent hill. It seems Figs Road leads to Kumquat Hill, at the end of which is my destination. Now there’s a thing – Figs Road is a hill, but Kumquat Hill is actually a Road (how does that work?) Anyway, having gone up the road and along the hill, I find myself somewhere completely deserted.

Luckily, I hear two men at work. I ask them where such and such address is. At first, they weren’t sure but I told them the sort of thing that I was looking for. The younger one said the only one he knew of was this new vegan supermarket that was opening that day, to which I probably got a bit overexcited and exclaimed, “That’s it!” and then we got into a discussion about how much such a place was needed in the area.

I dropped into conversation the fact that a well-known celebrity vegan chef would be there later and a separate conversation ensued between the man and his older colleague as to who this celebrity actually was, and what he’d ‘been in’.

They then gave me the most amazing, clear instructions of how to get to this place which I duly did in about 10 minutes. And guess what? The place was amazing. It had everything imaginable in there. I told them my plight and they were very friendly – even offered to drive me back into town. I declined, determined to discover the correct route between there and the town centre. As long as you’re sure, hope to see you again. After my impulse purchases (I may have gone a little crazy), I decided to head back into town.

And guess what? (again)

The chap talking in the social media post had been correct. It was actually only about 10 minutes from the centre of town. I had indeed walked so far out of the way that I was in danger of being close enough to just walk back home instead of taking the train home. So glad I didn’t.

I went into the shop the following day with the hubster. The nice men I’d talked to the previous day had actually popped in! They’d mentioned bumping into me, and the chap in the shop had remembered me from the day before… Now that’s customer service!

And the moral of the story?

Be careful what you wish for.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Bad days and good days have one thing in common – they’re both only 24 hours long. And sometimes, you have to wait a bit for good to come out of the bad and sometimes, you don’t have to wait long at all.


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Oh, and here, too. Of course.

Tumble crumbles

“Autumn falls, tumbling, crumbling down a dying hill of gold.”

…is a line that never made it into a book. I know. I read the manuscript. The original one. Funny how so much of what we plan ends up on the scrap heap. While this wasn’t the most eloquent piece of prose ever (probably why it never made the final cut), when I read the published book, I was quite surprised at how changed it was.

Life, eh?

If you hang around long enough, everything changes.

If you hang around a bit longer, everything changes back again.

So, autumn’s here. The clocks go back soon. Longer nights. Yippee!

And no, that wasn’t an ironic ‘yippee’ either.

Everything is quieter now.

Bliss.

Of course, it’ll get crazy at the end of the month (Halloween). And then next month everyone will be celebrating the ritual burning of a political scapegoat. I’ll be avoiding the firework fumes while dealing with a freaking-out furbaby. Bonfire night will no doubt be spent in the bathroom (her current hidey-hole) listening to Chopin. But as life goals go, that’s not such a bad one.

Ah. Life Goals.

You know how everyone does this whole ‘summer body’ obsession? Well, in our house we get ‘winter body‘ ready.

And no, that doesn’t mean we spend November eating celery so that Christmas Day can be spent repeatedly eating our own weight in mince pies and pigs-in-blankets. Who the heck came up with that name? Have you ever seen a pig, or indeed any farm animal, wrapped up in a blanket? Outside of a YouTube video, that is. I’m sure there must be some. Let me know if you find any.

And these days, why aren’t they called Heritage-breed-in-duvets..?

Stop rambling!

Right. Note to self, taken.

It’s all too easy to disappear in hibernation mode at this time of year. Vanish into the marshmallow-morass of duvet-days, hot chocolate, and comfort foods. The one episode of a favourite tv show becomes a binge-watch of the entire series.

You know what I mean.

It’s okay, I won’t tell.

So, the following plan has been put into play:

  • drink more water
  • go running more often
  • start eating more raw stuff
  • YOGA!!!!!
  • get more sleep

Okay, I had to stop after the last one. Combination of laughing too much to type, and the temptation to follow it up with ‘find where the unicorns live‘…

So, as it’s the 1st of October, I’ll close by saying:

White rabbits, everyone!

 

Summer’s here! No it isn’t… Well…

People always joke that you can tell it’s Christmas because Easter eggs are in the shop. Well, we’ve just done with Easter (there are still loads of eggs in the shop, mind you) so, one could be forgiven for thinking that it must be summer now. Is it just me that gets confused by this, or do you humans have a problem with it too?

True, it rains all the time here, so it could very well be summer and nobody has told me. But the rain slamming down on the conservatory roof feels at odds wth the flip flops and picnic paraphernalia I saw half an hour ago in the shops.

The clocks have gone back. The body clock however is having slightly more difficulty adjusting. I’d hate to wake up late one morning and realise that I’d missed summer. It is, after all, the best day of the year. Yes, I know. I don’t like sunshine. It hates me back. But a summer’s day is delightful, if confusing in the wardrobe department.

Sunhat and wellies?

Scarf and sandals?

Waders and sunglasses?

Oh, the combinations are endless.

The furball continues to take me on long walks (she’s currently mapping the local area in her little doggy brain, and enjoys knitting places together in the oddest combinations). She also continues to try to drag me into the sea after her. And all the while, she still refuses to stick her nose out of the door if it’s raining. Consequently, she’s in the conservatory, surveying her kingdom from the warm, dry safety of her sofa. And while she’s out there doing her ‘Mistress-of-all-she-surveys’ routine, it’ll hopefully give me the opportunity to squeeze in some yoga without her

a) giving me an impromptu face wash

b) mistaking my ‘downward dog’ for me wanting to play with her (that often ends up with a rope toy swung into my face)

c) showing me up with how weirdly bendy she is

Our earlier walk was, surprise surprise, on the beach, which this past week has been increasingly populated by tourists with their free-range mutts. Next week, she’s got a shock in store. I’m starting running again. And she’s coming with me.

Ah! I know what the giveaway thing is. I’ve remembered why I keep thinking summer might be on its way.

Endless holiday adverts and people bashing on about being “beach body ready”

Huh?

The beach is ten minutes down the road.

I have a body.

Boom.

Job done.

Oh! You mean the body has got to be perfect?

And by that, you mean so skinny that I could snap in half if caught in a high wind?

Well, that’s going to take a bit longer.

Because I refuse to be told what to look like.

Because even if I did, the vox populi (which thanks heavens, is not vox dei) would still find something to binch about.

Because I prefer to be strong than skinny.

And because, in order to fulfil this impossible and fake ideal, I’d probably have to give up chocolate.

And I’m no quitter.

 

There’s no business…

…like snow business.

First of all, I hope everyone is keeping well and warm. I don’t have a problem with the cold weather. One of the advantages of my vampire metabolism. I don’t feel the cold the same way that you do.

I have to admit, the only problem I do have is that when I’m writing, my hands have a tendency to get a bit chilly, but that’s about it. I think they move so fast over the keyboard that the blood gets confused and doesn’t know where it’s supposed to be… Still, it’s a great excuse to have lots of hot drinks.

Here’s my current favourite: turmeric latte. Get your spices mixed… 3 parts turmeric, 2 parts cinnamon and 1 part each nutmeg & ginger. Throw in a pinch of finely ground black pepper (helps absorption). Keep it in a cute jar. Heat up a mug of milk, stir in 1/2 teaspoon and sweeten. All those lovely spices will warm you up and just taste downright naughty. Obviously, I use non-dairy milk (coconut works best with this), because, well, vampire metabolism… Can’t touch most animal-based stuff. Ironic really.

The furbaby is refusing to leave the house. While other people are posting photos and videos online of their doggies leaping around like joyful loons in the snow, mine has turned into a teenager.

She’s staring at me, sandwiched between two (yes, two!) duvets.

“You need to go outside.”

Silence.

“Food?”

Flicker of interest.

“Walk?”

Death stare.

Last night, just after midnight, she leapt up and decided she had to go out. Now. Right now. Now! Come on, hoomin!

You have got to be kidding me, pup.

So she darted out, neatly dodging the knee-high drift at the back door. She hared around, did what she needed to do, and threw herself back inside, in much the same style as a stunt man in an action movie.

And, pretty much like a stunt man, she decided to make use of available props…

Like the snow drift.

Cue internal explosion of snow. A wall of cold froth boomed its way into the conservatory (the same one she’d been sunning herself in only a couple of days previously).

Result? Snow on the floor. Snow on the walls, the windows, the ceiling (what the-?!), and one snow-coated vampire. Head to foot.

So while she thunders her way back upstairs (probably nicking my space in the bed), I’m stood there picking potential snowballs out of my ears, mouth, nose…

We’ve gone from action movie to comedy in ten seconds flat.

Thanks.

Stay warm. Stay safe. And if you can help anyone else to, please do.

Take care.

Coldsore salad

Pardon the gross title. Heh heh heh…

Aaand I’m back! Happy autumn, everyone! I’ve been away, in hiding/hibernation/cold storage. I have to do this every year, just in case we have a decent summer here in Britain. It’s yet to happen, but I would hate to get caught out!

So, here I am, with more raves, rants, and seriously random health tips…

And I’m not the only one that’s back. The students have started reappearing in their case-dragging masses. Which means one thing: very, very late loud nights. Now, this really shouldn’t bother me, what with my being a nocturnal animal and all that. Sadly, just like humans, I still have bills, and those bills say that I have to be a diurnal animal (luckily, I love my job!). This means that (like a lot of humans) I have to sleep during the night.

This is made extremely difficult because I’m constantly being distracted by my animal loving side hearing what sounds like a hundred cats being strangled outside. Of course, it isn’t a hundred cats being strangled at all: it’s just a hundred drunken teenagers let off the leash for possibly the first time in their lives.

But you really know when the students are back when you’re in a supermarket and it takes six people to buy one chocolate bar. And then the following conversation ensues at the till:

A: I’ve only got 47p I need 79p. B, can you lend me the rest? I’ll pay you back later.

B: I’ve only got 20p on me but I still owe you £1.50 from last night so if I give you the 20p would that do for now?

C: I tell you what, B owes me £1.70 for that bottle of water, so if I give you the money, she can owe me.

A: Great, thank you!

C: Oh, but I only have a 50 pence coin on me at the moment… I know, if-

Just buy the wretched chocolate!!!

Then, to add to the externally imposed sleep deprivation, there’s the meteorologically based skin problems…

Sunburn: no problem. Eat loads of tomatoes; cover up, aloe vera for the unlucky bits.

And then there’s the real villain: cold sores. Now, I know most people get these during winter, but for me, when I get them, they’re triggered by sunlight. But here’s a little secret that the pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know about: Lysine.

Here comes the science bit…

Our DNA is made up of strands of four chemicals (called base pairs) holding hands: Adenine with Thymine, and Cytosine with Guanine. The only time they let go is when your body’s cells split to make new cells. Viruses like cold sores have their own twisty-windy thing called RNA, which is basically a cheap knock-off, using the pairs Adenine/Uracil and Guanine/Cytosine. Viruses con your body into replicating them instead of your own cells. So when your DNA unzips itself, ready to get all jiggy and replicatey, the viral string of RNA slips up in there and tricks your cells into making another one of it, rather than another body cell. Rather like when you go to make a cuppa and your lazy toad friend says “Hey, make me one while you’re there!”

So, in steps Lysine. It interrupts the process, acting in much the same way as a vet in the same room as a male dog and a big pair of scissors. Take this and it will stop them in their tracks. Until of course, you catch the next one!

Okay, so I’ve probably just lost any readers who are biologists with my simplifying and Everyday-ifying this. Oh well.

Just…. Trust me on this.

It’s good to be back.

 


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It’ll be fun. Honest.