Taking a break

Yesterday, on Saturday 13 March 2021, we made the heartbreaking decision to put our lovely Sasha Bunny to sleep.

We had her for 2 years, and in that time we spent 16 months dealing with her health issues. This started out as the odd evening where she would stop eating, and this eventually would turn into monthly vet visits, week long stasis bouts, and many a sleepless and stressful night for all of us at home. We had a medical kit in our kitchen which included pain relief medication, gut stimulants, Critical Care and a large stock of syringes to hand feed her everything whenever she stopped eating.

We would spend some evenings setting multiple alarms throughout the night so that we could get up and force feed her Critical Care so that her gut didn’t go into complete stasis. An activity that no one enjoyed but she would have died a painful and slow death if not for this type of intervention.

We were on a first name basis with our local vets and almost every single month we were having to carry her down there to get them to check her over. We took her in a car journey (a 2 hour round trip) to see a specialist vet in London and have more tests done on her to find out why she was so sick.

And everything came up blank. The specialists weren’t sure what was wrong with her and our local vets had no idea. We were told that we could arrange to have a CT scan and MRI scan done of her, but that these would most likely come back blank as well and there was also a heightened risk that she wouldn’t wake up from the anaesthetic.

We discussed re-homing her, to give her to a family that could dedicate the time, energy and money needed to look after her complex but unknown needs. But the reality was that such a person would never come along. That it would take a very special kind of angel to take her on and for her to be ok. And the thought of her being in one of those cages, watching people walk past her day in and day out with not one person stopping to rub her head or play with her, would be the cruellest fate imaginable. That we would never know where she was or if she was even still alive. If she ended up in a hutch in someone’s back garden and would never again be able to flop or binky and be her true playful self.

We decided that the best thing we could do for her, the kindest and most loving thing we could do for her, was to put her to sleep. And it was the hardest decision we have ever had to make. For the whole week beforehand, we had watched her hunched over and in pain, and just watching her knowing that we couldn’t do anymore for her. All we could do was sit with her and make her as comfortable as possible and hope that this episode would move on quickly. The worst thing was that on that Saturday morning, while we came into the room expecting to find a dead bunny, we found our silly Sasha back in action. Binkies galore, zoomies around the room, and we were both nearly mauled when we gave her pellets. Pellets which – for the first time in 5 days – she happily ate without any issues.

But we couldn’t keep putting her through it. Our vets and even the specialist vets were completely out of ideas as to what it could be and the only way we could have found out would have been to put her through very invasive, highly risky surgeries and procedures that would more than likely not even lead us any closer to answers. We went back and forth with both sets of vets multiple times discussing the outcomes, and for 5 days I don’t think either of us slept or ate or drank anything as we tried to care for Sasha and do what was best for her.

It was a horrible day. At least for us. For her though, she got to have one final day where we played with her, chased her around the room and cuddled her as she napped. She got to binky like a mad bunny all morning and eat banana with no limitations. She was her wonderful, silly, happy bunny once more and I will forever be thankful that we got to spend one more day with her as that silly bunny that we loved more than anything.

We started March 2020 as a family of 6, and yet a year later we are now just a family of 3. Merry and Pippin hurt, but they were old and it was their time. Sasha was only 2, and by rabbit standards still a young bunny with a long life ahead of her. But whatever was wrong with her was something that we believe she had been born with. It was something that we could never have anticipated and it was something that we could very likely never have found out the truth about without putting her through hell. But I also know that in her two years, she never went a single day without binkies, without a warm rug to sleep on and a huge living room to play in. She never had to fear for predators or the elements because every night she was snuggled up with us and Lola in front of the TV. She could flop wherever she pleased and pellets and fresh greens were never in short supply. She had us wrapped around her little paws and she never knew a day where she wasn’t loved or safe. She never had to question if she mattered. Because she was, and always will be, our darling Sasha.

I did not know it was possible to cry so much. I love her. I will always love her and I will always miss her. But I also know that now, finally, she is at peace and will never have to experience that pain ever again. She will be our happy binky bunny forever. Even if this mean that I am miserable for the rest of my life, it would have been worth it to know that she never had to experience pain ever again.

I am sorry for the somewhat depressing note. If any of you have ever lost a pet then you know how heart wrenching it can be and just how big a hole they leave in your life when they go. I am so honoured to have been Sasha’s mom and I am so thankful that we got to spend even 2 years with her. She taught me to never take anything too seriously. To always appreciate a soft rug and good banana. To always be willing to play. She also taught me just what I am capable of withstanding and I am very proud of me and my partner for making this decision in her best interest and not ignoring the issues just so we could keep her with us. It was not fair on her and it would have been unkind to keep her living in pain just so we didn’t have to say goodbye.

I am going to take a week off from posting now to just…be. I am going to celebrate the life of a truly special little bunbun and spend some extra time with Lola and my partner. Just us three. I’m going to give Lola so many cuddles that she will probably end up hating me! Our family may have gotten smaller this year, but I truly believe that we have managed to give all of our fur babies the best lives possible, and that is something that I will never doubt.

Sweet dreams Sasha Bunny. I will love you endlessly and your brothers will be there to meet you at the end of the rainbow bridge.

Stay safe everyone, and give all of your pets extra treats and snuggles in honour of our silly bean. I’ll see you all next week.

T xxx

Why perfection is a myth

Following on my previous post, I wanted to take another little opportunity to reiterate that veganism is not an all or nothing lifestyle. That just because you are vegan does not mean that you also have to try and right every other wrong in the world. The idea of the ‘perfect person’ is a myth and it is not something I would ever tell people to try and aspire to be.

I have met so many vegans who burn themselves out because they try to do too much. The reality is, the world is a very messed up place and there will always be someone in need of help. I have nothing but admiration for those people who do try to help everyone they meet and to fight for every cause under the sun, but I also see these people burn out so quickly and get so bogged down in the badness that they don’t ever stop to just enjoy even the smallest things.

I try to help the homeless as much as possible, but I also do not earn that much money and at the end of the day I still have my own bills to pay, my own pets to support and my own roof to support. I give food when I can and spare change when I have it, but I will never advocate for anyone to bankrupt themselves just to help others. Because that doesn’t help solve the larger situation nor is it a long term solution for the homelessness crisis.

I try not to support big corporation businesses, but if the only place available for me to meet my friends for a coffee is a Starbucks then so be it. I make sure to always have a reusable mug in my bag or to use my own metal straws. But no matter how good a person you are you will never be able to do everything, and I think it is so damaging to have that perfectionist mindset.

As I have mentioned previously, one of the most damaging parts of the vegan community is the idea that veganism is about being perfect. That if you cannot be perfect then you might as well not even bother being vegan. The reality is though that everyone has their own life outside of their vegan one: We all have hectic jobs and busy family lives and complex social circles that we are constantly trying to juggle. So yes, you may want to only go to a locally owned, completely plant based bistro, but if your family want to go to a chain because it’s the only place that offers an option for everyone, then it doesn’t mean you are a ‘bad vegan’. If you work somewhere which involves working with a lot of paper or plastic, then you are not a ‘bad environmentalist’.

Over the years I have tried my best to help as many as possible in the best way that I can. I cannot financially support every homeless person I see, but I can donate old clothes to homeless shelters, and share resources with my wider community in the hope of inspiring them to also assist. I donate to charities that can provide long lasting support to those in need and I try to always educate myself on how these situations come to be. It can be anything from drugs, to mental health issues to just bad luck and tough times. I do my best to signpost people to charities or resources that could help them get back on their feet and to move forward with their lives.

I also cannot save every single animal from torture. At least not over night. If the most I can do is simply not eat meat and dairy and eggs, then that is still a powerful statement to make. I share resources on my social media, on this blog and in my general discussions with people that I meet who ask me about why I’m vegan and sometimes those little acts can inspire someone else to start refusing meat products or to swap their dairy for nut milk. In the grand scheme of things I am not on the picket lines protesting against factory farming, but I am still doing what I am able to do in my current situation.

And I think that is the most important thing to remember when it comes to any type of activism, is that you can only do what you can do. In many cases you simply sharing resources or information online is more than enough. One of your followers could see that picture of a baby cow being torn away from it’s mother and change their diet there and then. They could then forward it onto to other people who also decide to change their diet and to stop supporting the meat industry and it snowballs from there. All because you shared one little picture. Sometimes it can be so hard to see the far reaching influence that we as individuals have, even though there is literally an entire career market based on being an influencer. If someone can convince you that you need to try this new make up product, what’s to say you can’t convince someone else to give up eggs?

Veganism is about living a life that causes as little pain as is possible. No matter what you do, you will never be perfect and someone who obsessed over ‘Perfection’ for the majority of my teens and twenties, let me tell you it is never achievable. There will always be an injustice somewhere int he world that will need righting and so you will never achieve that utopia you chase after. Sometimes, when I get so depressed at the state of the world and the issues that are so prevalent within my society, I stop and I just sit for a moment. I try to remember that even if I was the only vegan in the entire world, by not eating beef I saved at least one cow’s life. By not eating eggs, I have saved at least one female hen from a life of demand. By not eating dairy, one baby cow gets to stay with their mom. And if I never achieve anything else in my life, I know that at least I have done that.

If you ever need a reminder of the impact that you as one person can have, even by simply changing your eating habits, see this calculator. Even the smallest of acts matter and over time those tiny acts can have massive impacts across the world. Veganism is going from strength to strength and the number of people changing to a vegan lifestyle are doubling every month, let alone every year. Below is my impact and…ignoring everything else, 1915 animals are alive today because of me. My goal in life has always been to save animals, so I am pretty bloomin’ chuffed!

Above all things I want people to remember to look after themselves. If you don’t look after yourself, you will not be able to do as much as you want to do and it will inevitably lead to you to feeling nothing but disappointment and sadness. Their is a wonderful phrase which says that when you are on an aeroplane, the first thing they say to you if there is an emergency is to put your own mask on first. Once you have your own mask on, you can then help everyone around you. It is a phrase that I have been hearing more and more, especially with 2020 and the whole COVID19 malarkey, and yet it is such a true statement. You need to look after you first, and everything else will come together easier.

I made this blog as a little way to share my vegan journey, and if I happen to help a few people come to grips with the lifestyle then I consider this a success. I want this blog to be a place of open and free discussion, so if you have questions, or resources or thought that you just want to share, my comments and emails are always open to you.

Stay safe everyone, and I shall see you all soon!

T xxx

Should vegans get vaccinations?

I have been seeing a lot of stuff going around online lately about whether vegans can have vaccinations and still call themselves vegans. It is an issue that is very much up for debate, even if you are not vegan. Personally, I will always advocate for modern medicine as much as possible and it is something that I feel very strongly about. I do not think it makes you any less of a vegan or any less of an animal activist if you require modern medicine or vaccinations throughout your life time.

One of the biggest issues I have with the vegan community sometimes is the thought that veganism is an all or nothing approach: If you cannot be 100% vegan in every single aspect of your life, then you are not truly a vegan. And it really really REALLY bugs me. It is an impossible standard to try to achieve and it can be hugely damaging to people who are just starting their vegan journey.

Obviously you need to do your own research in vaccinations and medicine and make your own mind up about it all. But for me, I will never and have never advocated that vegans should not take modern medicine or should not take vaccinations. It is a reality of life that you will, at some point, require medication – even if it is just painkillers for a headache or some cough medicine for a cold. While animal testing is – unfortunately – a very big aspect of modern life for the sake of medicine, it is one of those areas that is constantly progressing too. There is constant research being carried out to find alternatives to animal testing and I truly believe that soon animal testing will not be necessary.

That being said, this change – as with all changes in the world – happens gradually., and i think it is even more damaging to the cause to think that the issues within society around animal exploitation can be changed overnight. These issues will take years, possibly even decades, to fully eradicate and it would be naive and dangerous to ignore the reality of this. If you need medicine to cope with day to day life (such as if you are asthmatic, have allergies, depression or mental health issues that need medication to regulate) then I will always encourage you to take that medicine. You need to look after yourself first. If the vegan community does not look after themselves first, then who will be there to fight for the animals and to challenge the practices currently in place? It does not make you a hypocrite, especially if you depend on medication to just get you through the day.

The vaccination for COVID19 is being rolled out very quickly now and I for one cannot wait to get the vaccine. Yes, I know that thousands of animals had to suffer in order for this vaccination to be allowed for commercial use, but once we have all been vaccinated we can get back to demonstrations, talks and protests to continue fighting that fight for the animals. If anything, the fact that animals are the only way to test medicine is a huge issue: If we had multiple alternatives that were correctly funded, researched and utilised within the medical industry, then vaccines and medication could be rolled out way faster and in much larger numbers due to the fact that we are not relying on only one method of testing to green-light any of the products.

Society is constantly evolving, and there have been huge steps forward for animal rights in the last five years. Imagine what we could do in the next five years?! The idea that veganism and activism requires a certain degree of perfection is damaging, illogical and – quite frankly – idiotic. NO ONE can ever be perfect in any aspect of their lives and I think it is horrible to try and force the vegan community to aim for that. You can only do what you can do: The entire ethos behind veganism is to live a life which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. It is about doing as much as possible with what you have, and in some cases that may be something as small as sharing petitions on social media or simply following a plant based diet.

You need to look after you, and in the modern world in which we live that includes taking modern medicine when you need it. I for one will definitely be getting the vaccine (and any other vaccines and medicine that is required of me throughout my life) as it will keep my body healthy and allow me to continue doing the activism work which I am so very passionate about.

Some further reading if you are interested in learning more about this topic:

There are hundreds of resources out there, so if you find any that you find very helpful or informative please do leave a comment below with a link.

Stay safe everyone, and look after yourselves and each other.

T xxx

Veganuary!

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome back and to the best month of the year…Veganuary! Veganuary is a monthly campaign to encourage and support people trying out a vegan lifestyle. You can find their website here. It has a lot of helpful information and recipes to help you navigate your first month of a vegan lifestyle. I shall also be attempting to post every day throughout Veganuary to give as much information as possible throughout!

If you are new here, allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Taylor and I have been vegan now for about 5 years. Veganism has recently really taken off, with hundreds of options now available for you to try. However with so many options it can be very overwhelming knowing what products are worth trying and which are just going to be a waste of money. So being the kind soul that I am though, I thought I would share my thoughts on all of the vegan things I come across.

Veganuary is now in its 7th year, and it really has become a massive campaign. Everywhere seems to do a veganuary deal and it is also the month where the majority of new vegan products are released. To help navigate some of this, I have created the below list of all of the brand new items that will be on offer from today. I shall try to keep it updated as the month goes on but if I have missed anything please do leave a comment and I shall make sure to add it in!

Sweet treats

Subway double chocolate cookie
Wicked! chocolate cookies
Wicked! oat and raisin cookies
Magnum salted caramel ice creams
Krispy Kreme glazed donuts
Oggs millionaire shortbread bites

Fast food options

Subway T.L.C (tastes like chicken) sandwich
Domino’s Chick-Ain’t pizza

In stores

Gregg’s sausage rolls and steak bakes can now be bought frozen from Iceland
Higgidy are also releases a number of new vegan quiches
Quorn peri peri chicken deli bites
Quorn turkish style kebab deli bites
Chicago Town releasing two new frozen pizzas

I shall do my best to keep this all updated as best I can! But rest assured I shall be making my way through all of these goodies over the next month…stay tuned!

T xxx

Dealing with the loss of a pet

On Christmas Eve, our Pippin finally crossed over the rainbow to be with his brother Merry. We had noticed him slowing down for a few days – not as energetic and a bit unsteady on his feet – and when we woke on Christmas Eve he was in his final moments. As with most pets, it happened quite quickly, and we sat by him and held his paw as he took his final breaths in his home. He was home, he was safe and he was loved more than anything in this world.

I’m glad the last picture I ever took of him was such a handsome one.

Needless to say, our Christmas didn’t feel the most Christmassy. Add on top of it all COVID and the Tier 4 restrictions we are currently under, and we couldn’t even be around our family. I am very lucky though that I and my partner at least have each other, and we still have two very healthy, happy and trouble-making bunnies in our lives. But the house already feels a bit too big now. After Merry back in May and now Pippin, I think I am well within my right to say this one f-bomb on my blog: Fuck 2020.

People sometimes say that when a pet dies it is not the same as when a human dies, and to some degree I agree. But at the same time, it still hurts a whole bloody lot when the little creature that you have loved and cared for and played with and shared a home with for the last 3 years does pass away. The average age for a gerbil is 2, so our boys making it to 3 makes it a bit easier to deal with, as I know that both Merry and Pippin had long and happy lives with us.

Literally stopping everything to say hi to us

I think that is the main thing that you can take away with you when you own a pet. There is the knowledge that in almost every case, you will outlive your pet. Nature is a cruel and unforgiving thing and try as we might we cannot stop it from taking it;s course. All we can do, is ensure that we give our pets the best life possible, even if it is only for a small amount of time. Give them as much love as they will let us and make them comfortable when that rainbow bridges finally beckons for them.

We are also trying to think of ideas of what to use their cage for. It feels wrong to throw it away, but it also feels wrong to just put it in some dark storage room. We are thinking of using it as a sort of terrarium to grow some herbs in the house? If you guys have any other suggestions, please do let me know in the comments!

In honour of Pippin, please give all of your fur babies extra treats and as many cuddles as they can stand today. I know that Pippin is now with his brother and they will both have endless chocolate drops and loo rolls to chew on, and that while they both may have become grumpy old men in their old age, they knew how loved they were and how loved they will always be by us.

My Boys

On a slightly lighter note, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and all got to forget about the mess that 2020 has been. It is suffice to say that I very much spent Christmas eating my feelings, so I have a lot of good stuff for you guys moving forward.

T xxx

FAIL – why does my coconut milk hate me?

This was not pretty.

So I saw a recipe online that was vegan chocolate mousse. All you needed was:

  • coconut cream (2 cans worth)
  • caocao powder (2 tablespoons, or however much to your taste)

Simples, right?

WRONG.

Who knew that coconut milk could be such a cruel, cruel mistress? For those who do not know coconut creme is the top part of a can of coconut milk. When you open the can, the milk and creme is likely to have separated where it has been sitting for so long in the can. You then just scoop the creme layer off and are usually left with just under half a can of milk. Did this happen with me? Of course not.

It was all milk! I thought maybe it had been left in my cupboard for too long and the creme had melted, so I tried putting it into the freezer for a bit to let it harden up again. That didn’t work. I then left it in the fridge for 4 hours as suggested and that still didn’t work. I then left it in the fridge OVERNIGHT and it still did not work. I did this with both cans of milk and they both did the exact same thing. No matter what I could not get the creme and milk to separate. After over 24 hours in the fridge I still attempted to try the recipe and while attempting to whip it (with a proper electric whisk too!) it just didn’t solidify as it was supposedly meant to do. It did form very good frothy milk though…so I guess if you ever need some for your coffee then this could work?

Needless to say it was a hard few days…I know that baking and cooking is hard and that people train to be experts at these skills for years. But…it’s just whipping creme right?! Am I missing something?

If you guys have tried this before please leave me a comment and let me know how you got on with it. Please also let me have any advice…I ‘d like to try out a load of new recipes!

T xxx

Plant Menu chicken burgers

Aldi is seriously killing it with the vegan food selection! I think I may have worked out how to really improve my burger eating experience.

2 words: Brioche. Buns.

It has been a while since I have had brioche anything, so I was very excited to find these in Aldi. They are exactly what they say they are: Vegan brioche burger buns. They taste exactly like brioche and add a very nice little flavour to my burgers.

We also tried these chicken burgers and they were…ok? I never really understood the allure of chicken burgers anyway (ignoring the whole, having to kill a chicken side of it anyway), but I know that they are meant to be healthier than the beef/red meat varieties that you could buy. But we saw this and as it is a new vegan option that we haven’t tried before, we gave it a go!

They don’t really taste of much. They are however very filing, so I guess that’s good if you’re looking for something light that will still make you feel full. The brioche bun was good with it, although since the chicken doesn’t taste of much, all you could really taste was the brioche. Make of that what you will…

We also added a few slices of Violife cheese and overall it did make a pretty decent burger. Nothing overly special, but a decent burger none the less. If you have anything to really amplify a burger let me know in the comments!

Overall: 7/10. Brioche buns are a game changer…the chicken burgers, not so much.

T xxx

Mental Health and lockdown

This is slightly different to what I usually talk about, but I feel it is important and needs to be addressed. Mental health, to me, is just as – if not more – important as physical health, and 2020 has been a year that has truly tested us collectively. From the threat of a global pandemic, to world-wide lockdowns, to the constant fight for many social justice issues across the globe, it has been a very trying time. I am someone who has always had issue with what I like to refer to as ‘The Mean Reds’.

Shikhaa Talks: The Mean Reds
Made famous by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

They have been particularly bad during this year. Now I am a very logical person, so I know that there are very real reasons to be afraid right now: Covid is very much a real threat and even though it’s been nearly a whole year since it was discovered, we still don’t seem to be making much progress in finding out how to fight/combat/deal with it. I also hate that this is the first time in a long time where I feel like so much of my life is no longer under my control. I cannot simply go wherever I please, travel where I please, see who I please. I haven’t been able to hug my parents or my best friend in nearly a whole year, and there is no guarantee when it will be safe to do so again.

Now I am in no way qualified to give anyone advice about how to deal with their own mental health, and if you are struggling to manage it on your own I beg of you to go and speak to a professional. Some very useful links are:

www.mind.org.uk
Anxiety UK
Beat Eating Disorders
CALM
No Panic
Samaritans


Some of the coping methods I have found though that really help my own mental health though are as follows. I have used these over the years and find that when done regularly they really do help me keep my head on straight and keep my mental health in check.

Journalling

My biggest thing is journalling. Having somewhere to just completely brain dump all of your thoughts and feelings can be such a helpful exercise. I just use a standard notebook and just word vomit onto the pages. I very rarely go back through my journal to read past entries, as I have found it never helps and just reminds of me of things that I was otherwise trying to not dwell on. But it has also been helpful to sort out my thoughts and my plans, letting me have somewhere completely private and non-judging where I can say whatever I like and to stop all of my thoughts rushing around my head.

Exercise

In the winter this can be hard to keep up with, but even just going for a nice long walk in the evenings can work wonders. It can be good to do something that allows you to move your body and also get you out of your head for a bit. For me, my go to exercises are running, yoga or barre workouts. They don’t have to be very long runs or a really bendy yoga flow, just taking ten or fifteen minutes to move your body and to completely focus on something else for that time. I find that when I do take that little bit of time to just really get into my exercise, I come away with a clearer head and a calmer outlook. Mainly because I’ve usually forgotten about all of the tiny little things I was worrying about before I started!

Being creative

Right so I cannot draw. Nor paint. And really my sewing skills are lacking. But there is something very freeing about completely losing yourself in a creative act. For me, writing has always been my outlet, and even if it is just a couple thousand words, it gives me a way to stretch my imagination and also gives me something concrete at the end of the day that I alone have created. Even my paintings, which look like a four year old could have painted them with their teeth, are a fun way to spend an afternoon where I can just have a bit of fun and make something completely my own.

Connect with people

This is even more important in 2020 than ever before when it can so easily feel like we are all way more isolated from one another. But that is the joy of modern technology: I can call anyone, at any time, and usually get through to them. I can phone my Mom and hear about how her gardening is going, or call my friend to hear about her work dramas. I can play online video games with friends and send my friends funny pictures of my pets. While 2020 has felt like a somewhat lonely year, it has been very helpful for me to have the reminder that we are all feeling this. The entire world has had to sort of stand still for the year, and everyone is finding something about that situation that stresses them out. It’s what makes us human and it is sometimes a nice reminder that you are definitely not alone in any of this.

What do you guys do to look after your mental health? Are there any methods you’ve found that really help you get through the Mean Reds? Let me know in the comments as I am always up for trying something new.

T xxx

Umberto Giannini curl jelly collection

I have very curly hair and up until this year I have been pretty cruel to my hair. I – like most teenage girls I’m sure – spent the majority of my teens straightening my hair. My hair was never really ‘pretty curly’…it never really had curly shapes to it and when I did brush it, it basically took on a life of it’s own. Think Hermione Granger in the Philospher’s Stone, but more. That’s my hair.

With everything happening this year, with national lockdowns and furlough, the idea of ‘doing my hair’ every day just seemed like too much hassle. My hair is also very thick, so washing, drying and styling my hair took at least an hour – if I really rushed I could get it done within about 45 minutes, but that still seems like a lot of time to be spent holding a hair drying and brushing my hair. So for the first time in a long time, I left my hair alone and actually let it heal.

I came across the Curly Girl method when researching how best to look after curly hair. The reviews all say that this method is amazing and truly gives you the bouncy, healthy curls that so many of us dream of. This article from Cosmopolitan Magazine really helped me understand the basics. But naturally it was also then trying to find any vegan options that could be used.

I am a pretty big fan of Umberto. The products of theirs I have used have been really good and they are easily available at most Superdrug and Boots stores. I had also read that their Curl Jelly range were very highly recommended for those who wanted to follow the Curly Girl Method, regardless of whether they needed vegan or not. So I decided to test it and see how we get on.

Firstly, O.M.G. My hair has never felt so soft and healthy. I have never been someone to wash my hair everyday, and on average wash my hair maybe once a twice a week depending on how active I have been. But I did my ‘reset wash’ and even when rinsing my hair, it felt lighter. Probably because it had finally been truly stripped of 10 years worth of heat products and the wrong type of shampoo. The curl jelly shampoo is a bit odd, in that the texture is more like gel than regular shampoo. But it lathers up nicely and made my hair feel so soft and light after washing. The condition is also very hydrating. I come out of the shower with hair that still feels very soft, despite the damage that I am still trying to rectify.

The scrunching jelly i a whole new area for me. I rarely use products in my hair, because I find they just usually make my hair feel heavy and greasy and make so little difference that they can be hard to justify using all the time. This scrunching jelly feels like gel, and seems to do the same sort of thing. It does feel lighter than gel though, as my hair doesn’t feel hard to touch when my hair is drying.

I hav been doing the curly girl method, and using these products, for about 2 weeks now, so I have washed my hair twice. But even still I can see a HUGE difference in my hair. My hair actually seems to have some shape to it: I have some strands that are ringlets, some that are a bit looser and some that are just soft beach waves, but whatever the shape you can finally actually SEE the shape, rather than the usual mass of frizzy hair that my hair used to be.

The one difficulty I am finding is that under the curly girl method you are not supposed to brush your hair. You brush it in the shower when wet with either your hands or a wide tooth comb, but otherwise you just…leave it..save for a quick run through with your fingers when needed. So for me that has been a hard thing to get used to because my daily routine was so used to getting up, brushing my hair and getting ready for the day. Though that being said my hair doesn’t get as knotty as I thought it would be, possibly because my hair is in a more natural state and being left alone to just….hang.

Overall: 8/10. This stuff is clearly working wonders for my hair but as it is still very early days, I suppose time will have to tell if this method and these products can really help my hair health. If you guys have any recommendations please let me know!

T xxx

Rescuing an injured stray cat

So my weekend was eventful! Our plan had been to paint our bathroom, possibly buy some new shelves and pictures to give our old bathroom a new face lift. On our way to the supermarket though, after a whole morning of painting, we saw a little cat sitting on the side of the road. He was up on a little grassy stretch next to some bushes.

We walked past and he meowed at us. To which I obviously responded with a little hello and then he kept meowing. So naturally I took that as an invite for a cuddle! I walked closer and his poor face was covered in scratched. He had clearly lost a fight with…someone or something. He kept meowing but seemed quite happy for me to give him some head rubs. He was definitely scraggy looking and had no collar, so assumed that he was either a stray cat, or just a bit of a scoundrel (as many cats can be).

He was happy with the head rubs but as soon I tried to go down his back for pets he would hiss. But he wouldn’t back away, as you would expect. He would just hiss. Which made me think that he must be injured in some way because usually, if a cat doesn’t want you to pet them, they would let you know with a hiss, back away from you and maybe even a sharp slap on the hand. Henry and I then made the decision that he was injured and that we couldn’;t leave him next to a relatively busy road.

I ran back to ours and grabbed one of our pet carriers. I phoned quite a few different places to see what we can do. Cats Protection – no answer. Local rescue centre – not something they cover. RSPCA – answered and said that if we can get them to a vets then hopefully they can look after them, as they didn’t have anyone in the area to help. So…in all honesty not the most helpful. I phoned our usual vets, explained that we had this stray cat who we think was injured, and they said that if we could catch him and bring him in, they would hacve a look at him.

We put the box in front of him and he immediately tried to run away. I say try, because his front legs were twisted under him and he couldn’t balance or walk properly on them. So then I knew that we had to get this little dude to a vet asap. Truth be told he could still crawl well enough, and it took us at least 2 hours trying to get him into the carry case. In the end, the only thing that worked was filling the case with cat treats and then shoving him in the case while he was too distracted by the food to put up much of a fight.

It took….a lot. He weighed a surprising amount for such a little cat who was clearly starving. The vets gave him a look over, scanned him to a microchip (to no avail) and admitted him to their care. He is now, hopefully, in the best place that he can be and he will now be looked after. And hopefully whatever the issue is with his legs it can be fixed.

Tips I learnt from this experience

Call the RSPCA

The main tip. Depending on the animal and the seriousness of what has happened, they may be able to help. If they can’t, you still need to lodge the call. They will also give you a case number. This is super important. If they tell you to try and catch the animal and to take it to a local vets, the vet will then go to the RSPCA for any fees due to perform emergency surgery. If you do not have a reference number, it is very likely that this will be charged to you. For our kitty, the chance of surgery was pretty high and that would have cost us thousands, which is not something we can really afford, no matter how much we want to help the poor little dude. But with the RSPCA involved, the risk isn’t as high.

Now of course this may only apply to situations such as ours, where the animal is a common pet. It may also just be a policy of our vets, and not one adhered to by every vets practice everywhere. Igf in doubt, phone the RSPCA, get a number, and then phone around your local vets to check that they work with the RSPCA and are happy to assist.

RSPCA emergency number is 0300 1234 999.

Treats

When trying to get a cat (or any injured animal I would imagine) is to use food. In some cases the animal may not have eaten at all, so use treats to coax them into a carrier or out of hiding so you can grab them and get a proper look at them. If I had done this right at the beginning, I probably wouldn’t have had to try and corner the little dude in the middle of a bush and get covered in god knows how many creepy crawlies. *shudder*

It also helps the animal to trust you a bit more. When I was just sitting there quietly, thinking about how best to coax kitty out of his hiding spot in the bushes, he did actually come and poke his head out and meowed at me quite a bit and accepted a few more head rubs. But as soon as he saw the carry case move he would bolt…or at least stumble as quickly as he could.

Be tough

Now I was useless at this, because I am a massive softie and would never want to hurt an animal even if it was done by accident while trying to help them. Henry however, was fantastic for this. He is firm and tough and managed to push kitty all the way into the carry case with little issue. I had tried a few times before and never gotten far.

I know it sucks, because it really does. To think that this animal is already in pain and now you come along to add to it. Because the issue with animals if you just say to them ‘please get into the carry case, you are injured and I am here to help’….you have to force them sometimes in order to properly protect them and look after them.

Be safe

I know this may seem obvious but sometimes the stress of the moment can make you forget. I mean I did climb through pretty deep hedge growth to try and corner this injured kitty, and I do not want to even think about the amount of spiders and bugs that I probably got in my hair in those two hours. Nor the amount of grazes I got from pushing aside thick hedges and branches. But you won’t be any help to the animal if you go and get yourself really injured too. If possible, call for help and have someone else be your wing man/woman for the task.

When handling animals you also need to be careful of the animal itself. Obviously with cats and dogs, they can give pretty nasty bites and scratches, but if it is anything else a bit more wild (such as a badger, hedgehog or deer maybe) then be especially careful. A bit of kick from one of them could seriously injure you and also runs the risk of making you quite sick it any injury gets infected. If you do not think that you can manage it safely, then do not do it. Call the RSPCA and really impress upon them that it is not safe for you to approach this animal. At least the animal rescue officers will be a) trained to deal with this and b) fully equipped to approach an animal with a lot of sharp pointy teeth. The best thing I had was a chunky batman jumper, so I was very lucky that I wasn’t clawed!

Mr Kitty managed to get himself quite nestled underneath a thick hedge. This is the only photo I could take, which I did to try and get a closer look at his legs. Even in this picture you can see they aren’t quite right…

My only issue that I really had from this, was how unhelpful most people and organisations were. The amount of passerby who just walked past and didn’t even ask what I was doing or if I needed help was shocking – although I do appreciate I must have looked like a bit of a nutter just standing in a bush shaking cat treats when no cat could actually be seen. I also get that COVID-19 is a thing, and it is a very serious thing that we should all be doing our best to prevent from spreading, but for a few of the charities and organisations that I rang to get help, this was their main excuse as to why phone lines were not open or why they were not going out to help animals unless it was a genuine emergency. I mean….if I can go into work (bearing in mind I am a paralegal, and there is ZERO emergency involved in my job) then surely these organisations can find a way to work around COVID: yes they may have to be short staffed, and the staff may be very busy, but I think that the work that these animal rescue charities do is too important to be completely shut down. That being said, the RSPCA did give a lot of useful advice over the phone, and a few of the charities near me that I rang did try their best to give me the direct numbers for some local vets or other rescue centres. So maybe it’s just the animal lover in me being a bit fussy after an emotional rescue mission!

As of this post, kitty is safe and sound at our local vets. They could not give me too much of an update on him but said that he was eating fine and was being given pain relief. They are not yet certain what is wrong with his legs or what their next step is, but will keep me updated once they have any more information. As he had no microchip, locating an owner may be difficult. If all is well with him and still no owner can be found, then he will placed for rehoming. I won’t be getting my hopes up, as there may be a chance that his legs can’t be saved, but for now I just have to wait for an update.

I shall let you know how it all goes! Please send lots of love to him and every cross your fingers that he makes it through ❤

T xxx