The Wild Flour Cafe: How Cute Is This Campervan Cafe In Brighton’s Countryside?

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Best for: breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea, vegan and veggie options

Last Sunday I had planned on having a blog free day. No writing, no editing, no taking photos for blog posts. Nothing. Nada.

Instead I’d decided to treat myself to a proper Sunday off which involved: A walk in the countryside, making something nice for lunch, doing some baking then sitting down with some ginger cake and a movie.

We’re so lucky in Brighton that we’ve got the seafront at one end and the South Downs at the other. I love both places but the countryside wins hands down every time. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of freedom I get from escaping into the countryside, looking back over the town and breathing in the fresh air: Of course there is that whole matter of trying to avoid the cows muck.

Anyway when me and my dad parked up the car and set off on our walk I was thinking of anything but new blog ideas and edits or photos which was nice for a change so, imagine my surprise when we walked into the tiniest little village and found the cutest campervan cafe serving vegan and vegetarian brunches and homemade cakes in the middle of the countryside. Now how could I not blog about that?

Wildflower cafe BrightonWildflower cafe BrightonWildflower cafe Brighton

The Wild Flour Cafe

This gorgeous little cafe is located in Saddlescombe, a TINY village just a short walk through the countryside from Devils Dyke (which you can get the 77 bus to from Brighton’s town centre). There’s been a cafe here for the last few years (previously The Hiker’s Rest) but the new Wildflower cafe has really upped the game.

The cafe is located in a camper-van with its own little courtyard seating area that’s beautifully decorated with plants and hanging lights: Even its makeshift plant pots made out of used Golden syrup tins are quaint. It’s probably one of Brighton’s most peaceful cafes and the lack of phone service means that technology is kept at a minimum.

Open 10-5 Tuesday to Sunday from March to October and then weekends only in November, it’s a great place to come and get a cup of tea and some cake or a full-blown brunch in the brighter months. Everything is homemade and all of the cakes looked incredible (especially the freshly baked scones that came out just as I was leaving). Plus the best thing is because I’d walked through the countryside to get here, I felt like I totally deserved a sweet treat.

All of the brunches are Vegetarian or vegan and very reasonably priced. Options included Mushroom and Blackbean Ragu and Halloumi and Houmous Pita. Everything I saw looked absolutely delicious.

(The cafe doesn’t take card payments so just remember to bring some cash with you or you’ll have had a wasted walk).

Wildflower cafe BrightonWildflower cafe Brighton

Wildflower cafe BrightonWildflower cafe Brighton

 

Levash, Brighton Review

Last year when Levash first opened its doors on Brighton’s Gardner Street, I’ve got to admit that the first thing I thought was ‘oh great, another falafel place’. However a few weeks ago I decided to give this Middle Eastern cafe a visit and I’ve got to say it’s so much more than that.

With its array of fresh, locally sourced middle eastern breakfast, lunch and dinner options, what really makes Levash stand out from the crown is its home-baked flatbread, baked daily in its kitchen. In fact it was these that I spied while walking by one day and decided I had to get stuck into one of those. Chargrilled and spongy with just the right amount of bite, these delicious wraps form the basis of all the dishes at Levant.

The Decor

The decor is cute, bohemian and exotic so basically it ticks all of the boxes for us Brightonians.  It has a surprising amount of room inside and there’s also outdoor seating abalone making it yet another place in Brighton  that’s prefect for a quick summer lunch.

The Menu

Although the menu is small it caters for everyone from its traditional meat dish like Lahmoukoun (topped with spicy lamb mince) to the veggie and vegan wraps including the lentil and burger patties wrap and halloumi and tzatsiki. They also have a selection of platters/ open flatbread also with a vegan, veggie and meat option.

A late night cafe in Brighton’s North Laine

While primarily a lunch place, Levash is also open for breakfast on sunday, serving a selection of traditional middle eastern breakfast dishes like borek, eggs and roasted vegetables. It’s also open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday until 10pm.

Overall I was really satisfied with my lunch at Levash and with prices stating from just £6, I’ll be back.

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How To Write A Travel Journal

Writing a travel journal wasn’t something that I’d done before this year however I got really into journalling on my last trip and now I’m completely converted to keeping one. Writing in a journal while I was away was great for so many reasons. I loved making myself take the time to gather my thoughts, write down funny stories and stick in things like train tickets and cards from places that I’d been to. What originally started out as a way to fill spare time in cafes actually got really addictive, not to mention it’s been a great to look back on my trip: It’s amazing how much you forget about what you’ve done, even in a couple of weeks.

When it comes to journalling, social media sites like Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest are packed full of travel and art journal ideas and inspiration however it’s important to not get too precious with it. There’s no one way to keep a travel journal and everyone’s own one will reflect their personality, their passions and interests. So, whether you fancy starting an art journal, a line a day book, more or a diary or even a little bit of everything, just remember that your travel journal should be something that you do just for you;  no one else has to look in it if you don’t want them to.

If you’ve never given travel journalling a go, it can be daunting to know where to start and what to write in it so I thought I’d write a quick post with a few tips to get you started.

Here’s how to write a travel journal:

how to write a travel journal

Don’t get hung up on making it perfect

It can be so hard to get over the pressure of perfectionism when it comes to travel journalling but try to avoid the urge to start over if you feel like it doesn’t look quite how you wanted it to.  Tumblr might be full of aesthetically beautiful journals but don’t get hung up on making your journal perfect: Travelling will never allow for it. A real life travel journal will get battered in your backpack, it might have scruffy writing from when you wrote by torch-light in a dark hostel dorm room, it might have phone numbers and addresses scrawled at the bottom of one of the pages because it was the only bit of paper you could find: A real travel journal is an honest representation of your trip, not an application for art school.

Don’t force yourself to write in it everyday

One of the main reasons I’d never taken up travel journalling before was because I thought I’d have to write in it everyday and this really put me off. In reality, you’ll be way too busy having fun, travelling from one place to another or just out there making memories that you won’t give your journal a second thought and that’s totally fine. Instead just write in it when you have the chance, you can always reflect over the last few days. If you force yourself to write daily when you don’t feel like it you’ll just resent the whole thing.  A good tip is to try to include the date and location at the top of the page each time you write, this way it doesn’t matter when you write in it.

Remember that you don’t have to write pages and pages

Don’t feel like you have to write a full account of your day when you sit down to write,  even a couple of sentences about what you’ve done, a small sketch or a quick note about how you’re feeling is enough.

Write about your feelings as well as what you’ve done

Writing all about what you’ve done on your trip and what you’re going to is a great way to remember your travels but try to write about how you’re feeling too. This is something that I didn’t really do much when I first started writing in my journal but looking back, it’s those personal entires that are the most interesting to me now. Remember that no one else needs to read this journal but you and it’s a great way to reflect when you’re away and after you get home.

Get creative with it 

A travel journal is meant to be fun so get crazy with it. Try doing a few drawings, write in multi coloured pens, stick in photos or tickets or decorate the pages with a whole load of washi tape (my personal favourite). Remember that you can always decorate your journal when you get home if you don’t want to carry everything around with you. Your travel journal should reflect your own crazy personality and yours alone.

Make note of useful information

On a practical level journalling has been a great way for me to keep note important information about my trip that I might want to remember at a later date. This can be things like the name of a cafe that I liked, the prices of a hostel that I stayed in, how I got from one place to another or even just the names of travellers I’ve met. This way if you’re trying to remember something from your trip, chances are you might have it written in your journal which saves you having to trawl the web for answers.

Write for your future self

One of the reasons journalling is so fascinating is because moments are frozen in time. Writing down your aspirations, your thoughts and feelings is a fantastic way to set goals for the future and looking back over what you’ve written can remind yourself of what those goals are if you ever feel a little lost.

My travel journal has proved a fantastic way for me to remember all of the adventures that I’ve had while I’ve been away,  Looking back over my own journal transports me back to where I was when I wrote it. It’s crazy how many of the little things from our travels that we forget and I love reading back over the things I’ve done,  reading about how I feeling and remembering the people I’ve met. Travelling changes us and sometimes coming home after doing so much and feeling so different, it can be surprising that everything back home is still the same. While photos and souvenirs are great ways to commemorate your trip, a travel journal is so much better because every amazing thing that happened to you was real and it’s all down there on paper.

how to write a travel journal

A quick guide on Picking your travel journal

Your travel journal is something that’s intensely personal to you so it’s important that you pick a notebook that you love the look of. It may sound trivial but picking a journal that you just love will make you so much keener to write in it.

Depending on what kind of person you are, you’ll have different needs for your journal. If you’re more of a writer then you’ll probably want to get a lined one however if you’d prefer to keep an art journal with only a small bit of writing then you might want to look at sketchbooks or a book with blank pages instead. My own one is from the Rifle Paper Company because I love all of their designs.  My book has a mixture of both lined pages to write on and blank pages for drawings and scrapbooking.

Decorating your journal

It’s worth investing in some nice pens to write with and anything else you might want to decorate the pages with. I have an obsession with buying washi tape to stick in my journal whenever I see one I like and I usually bring my pocket watercolour set with me when I travel so I can do a few sketches in my book too. If you have a Polaroid camera then why not stick a few of those photos in or cut out some clippings from magazines. Remember when it comes to journalling, anything goes.

Should You Do A Journalism Degree? Why I Did An NCTJ Instead

London like a Londoner

An NCTJ level 3 diploma is an accredited journalism course ran by the National College for the Training of Journalists. The course is designed to give you the knowledge and skills to begin a career as a professional journalist and it can be taken before, after or instead of university. In many cases an NCTJ is something that is requested by editors in an application process regardless of whether you have a degree in Journalism or any other subject.

So, should you do an NCTJ instead of a journalism degree?

If like me you’re considering taking a NCTJ then you’re probably a pretty impatient person too so I’ve put this post into subheadings so feel free to skim through until you reach the topic that you’re interested in.

Why I dropped out of University

When it came to deciding what to do after Sixth Form, we were really pushed towards going to university in my College and I think that’s the case for most places in the UK.

Writing is something I really enjoy and I was drawn to Journalism because it’s one of the most adaptable careers as you can apply it to almost any area e.g food, travel or science. So when I finished Sixth Form and it was time to consider Higher Education options, applying for a Journalism degree in a London university seemed like the right choice.

It may have just been my own personal experience but I was massively disappointed with my degree.  It had taken a lot of mental energy and a lot of money both from my parents, from the full-time job I had taken in a supermarket in London to support myself and from the heavy debt I was ranking up every day I was there yet for all of this, I felt that I was getting very little out of my degree or my university experience in general

Crappy flatmates aside (that’s a whole other post) for £9000 a year plus rent and all my other London living expenses I was getting just three hours tutored lessons a week, many of which involved sitting in a lecture hall while our lecturer put on a film he’d found off YouTube. My degree also wasn’t exam based, didn’t teach us shorthand, didn’t give us any help getting work experience and spent a lot of time getting us to write essays rather than articles.

Every day I couldn’t get over the feeling that I was hanging around, working myself into the ground at late night shifts at the supermarket and spending a lot of evenings scouring for bargains in the reduced section of Tesco just so I could make it to these three-hour tutored lessons. Being in London I thought I’d be having the time of my life. in truth I didn’t have the money or the mental enthusiasm to have fun and my weekly highlight used to be buying lunch once a week from Pret.

I knew something had to change and I thought, surely I could learn everything from this degree in a lot less time than three years and for a lot less money? This is why when I came home for christmas I decided to drop out of university, move back home and start my full-time NCTJ diploma in Brighton instead.

What is an NCTJ? 

In the UK an NCTJ (The National Council for the Training of Journalists Diploma) is an official journalism qualification that give you the specific skills required for the industry (A little like doing your accountancy exams if you’re training to be an accountant). It provides vocational lessons and exams in media law, court reporting, public affairs, shorthand, production journalism and essential journalism.

What are the entry requirements?

An NCTJ can be taken after a degree, before or instead of (the only entrance requirement is usually 5 GCSEs at grades A-C, one of which must be English and 2 A Levels or equivalent).

Where can you do an NCTJ?

NCTJ courses can be run by specialist journalism schools, in sixth forms, universities or by distance learning. There are a couple of university journalism degrees in the UK that are NCTJ certified however the latter are not and a lot of professional journalism jobs require that you take the NCTJ regardless of whether you have a degree or not.

You can view the full list of accredited courses here:

http://www.nctj.com/journalism-qualifications/diploma-in-journalism/Accreditedcourses/course-search

My NCTJ with Brighton Journalist Works 

I found out about the option to take an NCTJ after searching out alternatives to university for Journalism in Brighton. I studied for mine at Brighton Journalist Works, an independent journalism school in the centre of the city and took a news based course. I took the fast track course that cost £4,200 which although I had to pay upfront, worked out so much cheaper than university in the long-term.  There was also an option to get a loan or pay in installments. My course was five days a week, nine to five and could be completed in 16 weeks from March to July. There was also another fast track course that run from September to January and a part-time course that starts in September.

Our course was assessed at the end of the 16 weeks with seven exams along with an assessment of our portfolio which had to contain a mixture of news, feature and media pieces. On  the course we worked closely with our local paper where many of us, myself included got the chance to be published, including partnerships with other events in Brighton like the Fringe festival.

There were 16 of us in the class, the majority who’d just finished their degrees with three of us who hadn’t gone to university and a couple of people looking for a career change.

Brighton Journalist Works: http://www.journalistworks.co.uk

Why an NCTJ worked for me

An NCTJ really felt like the right option for me personally. Here’s why.

  • It gave me practical skills as a journalist
  • It helped to improve my writing
  • It had exams and I work well with an end goal
  • We had the chance to be published and received feedback and help with building our portfolio
  • We had inspiring mentors who were real journalists
  • It was great for contact building
  • It was full-time and gave me structure and really challenged me
  • It was a much cheaper alternative to university as I didn’t like the idea of being in debt
  • I could move back home which saved money and helped after my bad experience at university
  • It was short and I was desperate to stop studying and start working and travelling
  • It was interesting. Journalism schools have a strict criteria in regards to what they teach on the course so you really do learn a remarkable amount in a short period of time

Other reasons an NCTJ might be good

  • If you’re not sure if you want to be a journalist then it’s better to find out by doing an NCTJ than a full degree
  • Transferable skills for other areas like digital marketing, PR , sub-editing or copy-writing.
  • On a gap year
  • After university if you’ve done a degree unrelated to journalism but want to get into the industry
  • To improve your chances of getting a graduate job after doing a journalism or english degree
  • If you want to continue to study after higher education or fancy a career change

Finishing studying: A year on 

Since graduating I’ve not been very prolific on the job hunt because in all honesty I’ve just been travelling for the whole year. However the great thing about doing my NCTJ instead of university is that it’s given me a lot more time to play around with. Travelling  and this blog are my passions and at 21 I’m in no hurry to get a full-time job yet.

One thing I can say is that when I have applied for jobs I haven’t knowingly received any rejection because I don’t have a degree. In so many respects the NCTJ has given me more than a degree ever would have: Shorthand, a portfolio of published work, law and court reporting practice.

It’s also given me a lot of confidence, saved me a lot of money and has given me a lot of time. In a year since graduating I’ve started this blog, spent months travelling, I’ve done copy-writing, an internship for one of my favourite news and current affairs programs and I’ve earnt enough money with all this and working at a cafe, to travel the world.

I’m sure next year when a lot of my friends graduate, lots of them will walk into graduate jobs straight away, but some won’t and some won’t want to. I’m not sure where I’ll be this time next year, be it working or travelling but my plan is to keep saying yes to experiences and keep writing because even though I’m not studying anymore, I’m still learning every day.

Wagamama Brighton: New Vegan options

Wagamama is always a go to when it comes to eating dinner out with my friends because be it options for vegans, veggie, fussy eaters or carnivores, it’s one of the few places that is guaranteed to suit us all.

Yesterday was a rarity because me and my best friends were not only all back in Brighton at the same time but we also managed to coordinate a free evening so we decided to celebrate with a dinner trip to yours truly.

When it comes to eating I usually try to support independent businesses but I make an exception for Wagamama because its fusion Asian menu never fails to disappoint and in all honesty, I’m a little stumped when it comes to finding independent restaurants that are open for dinner in Brighton as most of my go-tos are brunch/ lunch places.

While I have my firm favourite dishes (the Raisukaree curry and the Yasai Yaki Soba noodles) I’ve made it my mission to work my way through the menu and when I was agonising over my options last night, what really stood out was the huge selection of vegan options on the menu.

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New vegan Cookmama

Wagamama has always had its fair share of veggie/vegan dishes; the Yasai Yaki Soba noodles, the Yasai Katsu Curry and the Kare Burosu Ramen but now on the Brighton menu are three new options.

The Cookmama

The dish that I was really drawn to was the Cookmama. Consisting of curried Udon noodles, with shichimi-coated tofu (oh wow) and crispy coconut ‘bacon’ (double wow) served with broccoli, cauliflower and shiitake mushrooms, the Cookmama was absolutely incredible and totally vegan. Apparently the dish is a product of a collaboration with king cook of the vegan restaurant, CookDaily in London so it was highlighted on the menu with a little star making it seem extra special.  For £9.50 the Cookmama is really good value and with the crispy tofu, it doesn’t ‘taste vegan’ so even the most carnivorous of people would love it. If you’re not a fan of spicy food then ask for it to be made a little milder as it is quite hot.

The Vegatsu

Also new to the menu is the vegatsu, a vegan Katsu curry which uses seitan ( like tofu) coated in crispy panco breadcrumbs and topped with the Katsu sauce so unlike the Yasai version which is based on fried aubergines and sweet potato, it’s a lot closer to the traditional chicken dish.  Personally I’ve never fancied the Katsu but I really appreciate that the restaurant has worked so hard to get an authentic vegan version of one of their most iconic dishes. This dish costs £10.75. 

The Harusame Glass Noodle Salad

If the hot weather has you wanting something a little lighter then Wagamama’s other new vegan dish, the harusame glass noodle salad might be for you. I first discovered glass noddle salads in Thailand in which thread thin rice noodles are mixed with fresh vegetables, sauces and served cold making for a really refreshing dish. The Wagamama  version is mixed with tofu, kale, edamame, adzuki beans, mange tout and carrots which looked really good and is definitely next on my list. This dish cost a reasonable £9.50

Overall I was really impressed with the new veggie/vegan options on the Brighton menu. Of course I can only vouch for the Cookmama (I had to fill out a little form after I  my meal and it was all 5/5s for me) so If  you’ve tried one of the other two options then let me know your thoughts.

Ouibus London To Paris Review

Pros and cons of Ouibus overnight coach from London to Paris

The fact that you can get a coach from London to Paris was actually a bit of a revelation for me before going on my latest trip to Paris. I was going for a long weekend and I’d originally planned on taking the Eurostar train however when it came to booking, the prices were way above what I was prepared to pay. My other option was to fly but I was really keen to avoid the unneccessary hassle of an airport so, it was only after doing a bit of research that I found out about the option to get a coach with Ouibus.

From as little as £20 one way Ouibis offers a direct service from London to Paris city centre and vice versa. There are multiple departures from both cities throughout out the day and travel time can range from around 7 hours to 15 depending on traffic (as I found out on my return journey).

I booked the quickest (and I think the most practical option) which was to take the Ouibus overnight (departing around 10pm London time) which gets to Paris in the morning at 7am if it’s on schedule (so just in time for croissants and coffee).

Living in Brighton the coach option worked particularly well for me because for just £50 I had a return journey booked from Brighton to Paris via London so I didn’t even have the added expense of a train ticket up to london and back or airport transfers either.

I booked my trip through National Express coaches which used their own carrier to get from Brighton to London and then the Ouibus service to get to Paris.

Key Information

  • Overnight service leaves London at 10pm and mine arrived at 9am in Paris (although the journey was considerably delayed on the way home).
  • The bus goes straight from London to Dover for a ferry crossing and then from Calais to Paris
  • The ferry crossing  uses P&O ferries and takes 1 hour 30 minutes
  •  Ouibus prices start at £20 one way
  • Goes from London Victoria coach station to Paris Bercy
  • Paris Bercy is in the 12th arrondissementt in the centre of paris and is on the metro line. I walked to the Latin Quarter in half an hour. Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Pros

  • Clean
  • Toilets on board
  • Cheap
  • Comfortable
  • Reclining seats
  • Assigned seats
  • Friendly staff
  • Departs from the centre of both cities
  • 2x stowed luggage and 2x hand luggage
  • Straightforward travel process
  • Charging points for phone (plug socket and USB ports)
  • Overnight journey saves a night’s accommodation costs
  • Ouibus lets you exchange or cancel your booking up to 30 minutes before departure in exchange for a voucher

Cons

  • Can be delays due to traffic/ferry
  • Slower than other options e.g train, plane
  • Ferry crossing is early around 3am meaning it’s hard to sleep
  • Announcements are in French
  • Only limited wi-fi
  • No stops apart from ferry crossing

Things to remember

  • Arrive 15 minutes before coach departure time
  • Make sure you have a European adapter to charge devices on board
  • Bring your passport to present at start of journey and at border crossing
  • Download the Ouibus app for your tickets and travel updates 
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks as there isn’t a stop until Dover
  • Bring a blanket
  • Bring change in both GBP and Euros for toilets at either end of the journey
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Download the Citymapper app for the metro and underground in Paris and London

overall I was really impressed with the Ouibus service. It was very clean, comfortable and punctual on the outward journey and unfortunately we were several hours delayed on the way back due to queues at Calais but this wasn’t a fault with the company. The Ouibus does what it says on the tin: Cheap and comfortable travel between London and Paris. Just be sure to clear the travel day free as pretty much the entire day will be taken up with the journey.

Ouibus also offer plenty of other budget friendly routes From London and Paris (direct and connecting) all over Europe. Have a look at the full destination list here: https://www.ouibus.com/destinations

 

Finally, Good Coffee On Brighton Beach: The Flour Pot Bakery Is Open

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Hey guys

So I woke up super early this morning as the sun was streaming through the blinds and I happily realised that it was Monday and I had no work today. It’s so hot here in the UK and Brighton feels like the Med at the moment so I thought I’d make the most of it and go and chill on the beach,  although I had one stop to make first.

The new Flour Pot Bakery has opened meaning one pivotal thing: Finally good coffee on the beach. I couldn’t wait to check it out. If you’re not from Brighton then you might not have heard of this local coffee chain which has a few premises over the city but the Flour Pot is a bit of an institution in Brighton and its a go to for great coffee, bread and cakes.

I was a little worried there wouldn’t be any seats as it was its first official day open but I think the fact that it was early and it was so hot meant there were lots of free tables outside: perfect for tanning! I absolutely love the Flout Pot’s new location. It’s right next to the i360 and the west pier meaning that it’s the ideal place to sit and people watch. You’ll definitely find me there doing some work this summer. For a city of foodies it’s surprising that we really don’t have many good cafes on the beach, the majority of them being in the North Laine, so it’s great to finally not have to walk that far to get my iced coffee.

I’ve always loved the flour Pot Bakery for their fantastic selection of cakes. The flourless chocolate cake really does cure all problems. The great thing about this new location is that they have an entire kitchen menu in addition to the usual counter spread meaning that now you can sit down and enjoy a stone baked sourdough pizza (Can I please have the Francisco with blue cheese, béchamel, potato, fennel and pear?) Gluten free option available. They also serve some hot dishes, salads and desserts such as the caramelised white chocolate tart. Oh veganism has gone out the window.

I’m a cheap skate (and I’d just had breakfast) so I went for an oat milk iced latte and one of their white chocolate cookies (which are always my go to because they are massive and cost me just £1.50). As for the savoury food I doubt it will be long until I’m back munching my way through the lunch menu. Probably tomorrow actually.

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