London is fast becoming a capital for vegan food and I am constantly surprised at all the amazing vegan restauraunts popping up around the city. Purezza is one I’d wanted to visit for a while now because I adored my visit to their Brighton branch, but unfortunately couldn’t justify going back to Brighton all the time just for their pizza (which I wish I could but it’s rather expensive!). So when the opportunity came up to visit and review their (still slightly new) Camden branch in London (on behalf of Love Pop Ups – London), I jumped at the chance.

I never grow bored of creative vegan food and I definitely never grow bored of vegan pizza so it was really a win-win situation for me. I headed down with my friend Ali recently and found the restauraunt was only a short walk away from Camden Town station – perhaps five minutes at most.

We ducked inside to the slightly small but ever so cosy premsis and were taken upstairs to a smaller more intimate room with only three or four tables. It was so cute and really cosy, although downstairs had been really busy too! The whole restauraunt – downstairs and up – had a nice ambient buzz to it.

With such a vast menu – all pizzas could be made on three different basis and there is non pizza choices too, such as lasagne or a ‘pure bowl’ – we found it hard to pick. I was tempted to go for the delicios Portobello Road again – I do love my mushrooms – but decided to go for something new and settled on the Season.4.Pizza.1 which boasted artichokes, olives, mushrooms, smoked beet and salad cress.

Ali went for the Marinara and between us we chose doughballs and garlic bread as sides. I have to say, despite going in too early and burning my mouth, the doughballs are to die for. I still don’t know how they get the delicious vegan cheese to melt and ooze like real cheese (whenever I try to re-create anything similar, it just ends up rubbery) but somehow they do and it just hit the spot.

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

I couldn’t fault my choice. Two slices in and I’d already forgotten we were at a vegan restauraunt – the smoked beet, although it didn’t taste of meat, provided the look and texture you’d expect from meat on a pizza and I’ve said this many times before – if it looks like meat but isn’t, you can very easily forget that you’re eating a vegetable. I’m not even a massive fan of beet but it was delicious and my pizza was filled with so much flavour that even if I had a giant pepperoni pizza in front of me too, I’d still choose the vegan one.

I took only a bite of the Marinara (at this point, I was struggling to finish my own) but it was delicious also.

Cocktails were also on the menu for us that night (well, it was for everyone, but you get my point) and whilst Ali chose a glass of prosecco, I went for something that I can’t quite remember the name of but was a take on a cheese cake and was beyond delicious. Normally I find fancy looking cocktails aren’t actually all that nice, but this one really hit the spot.

By dessert we were struggling. My friend went for the very wise choice of a Brownie which was so cute and small (in a good way!) it looked too good to eat. I was drawn in with the choice of Oreos and chose the Oreo Pizza – basically a chocolate pizza – and only managed one small slice before giving up and asking to take the rest home.

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

Formidable Joy | Food | Purezza Camden | Purezza | Vegan | Italian | Pizza | Food Review

I did have some more when I got in but I had mixed feelings about this. It was really tasty, but I couldn’t really get past the fact that it was on a pizza base. I know that’s the point but this really threw me and I struggled to enjoy it as a dessert – that’s not to say I didn’t like it, but perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t also had a pizza for my main.

Overall, however, the entire meal was mouth watering and so tasty and full of flavour. The food at Purezza is a prime example of a selection of healthy plant based foods that you don’t even realize you’re not having any meat. You either don’t crave any anyway because the options just sound too tasty, or the food is so good it makes you forget you’re eating entirely vegan.

Nestled away in the heart of Camden, Purezza is the perfect treat for next time you’re in London and craving some healthy Italian food.

Have you ever been to Purezza? Let me know your thoughts!

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During my time at Boomtown Fair, I took along a PicnMix Eco Festival Kit from PicnMix. I tweeted them when they followed me on Twitter – as I was so amazed at such a simple but beneifical idea of providing pre-made festival kits – and they kindly provided me with an eco kit to take to the festival.

Formidable Joy | Review | PicnMix Eco Festival Kit | Lifestyle

The Eco Festival Kit included:

  • Poncho – biodegradable with no packaging
  • Ear plugs – biodegradable in recyclable cardboard packaging
  • Toothbrush – biodegradable and vegan in biodegradable packaging
  • Sunscreen SPF 25 (15ml) – biodegradable in recyclable aluminium tin
  • Stainless steel straw – reusable in recyclable paper packaging
  • Deodorant 10ml – biodegradable and vegan in recyclable aluminium tin
  • Toothpaste 15ml – biodegradable and vegan in recyclable aluminium tin
  • Travel Wipes – 20 pack – compostable in chalk-based packaging
  • Torch – aluminium with no packaging
  • Hair & Body Bar – biodegradable and vegan in recyclable cardboard packaging
  • Bio-Glitter 5g – biodegradable glitter in biodegradable packaging
  • Organic Aloe Vera Gel – biodegradable in recyclable aluminium tin

So, basically everything essential (and eco!) for a festival. The fact that it was all entirely eco sat well for me for a number of different reasons. Since trying vegan, I’ve become a lot more passionate about looking after our planet and try to make small changes whenever I can. Seeing bars provide paper straws instead of plastic ones, for example, seems like such a small change but makes such a difference.

Addtionally, Boomtown Fair itself is extremely environmentally friendly. They announced a 10p cup deposit scheme, had compost loo’s, only allowed traders to sell biodegradable glitter and basically shared an array of ‘being more green’ blog posts in the run up to the festival.

So taking an eco festival kit was a no brainer for me. It had everything I needed – and more – meaning I didn’t have to panic pack to worry about forgetting anything toiliteries wise. Some stuff I was curious about – I wasn’t sure what to expect with the toothpaste however but despite the inital feeling of getting used to its texture, I found it actually tasted very minty and lasted a lot better than some toothpaste I use on an every day basis.

The biodegradable glitter was a godsend, especially on the last day when I used it to cover up the huge bags under my eyes. Using organic Aloe Vera gel to apply the glitter was an easy process – in fact the easiest way I’ve ever applied glitter for/at a festival before.

The toothbrush worked probably better than most plastic toothbrushes and I have to give praise to the deodrant as well. I did bring another small spray deodrant just in case but didn’t even need it. This tiny pot of rub on deodrant (like a lipbalm, I guess, but you use your fingers to apply it) made so much difference. It smelt lovely and worked way better than I thought it would, even after four days of camping.

The best part is, I didn’t actually run out of anything and still have lots leftover to use for next year/another festival! I’ll definitely be reusing this kit, but will probably stock up on a little more toothpaste (and I’ve just seen you can purchase a bigger jar on their website) and deodrant just to be on the safe side. For my next festival – whenever that is – I’ll probably also treat myself to one of their Festival Glitterbug Kit’s and their big jar of toothpaste!

Overall, the kit is probably one of the best ideas I’ve seen in a long time, especially when it comes to festival. It’s a small kit which means it weighs pretty much nothing to carry, but goes a long, long way. Plus with it being entirely eco, it’s even better!

Would you try one of PicnMix’s pre-packed festival kits? Let me know!

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I finally had the opportunity to visit Eel Pie Island recently, thanks to Carl Goes’ newest book launch. Carl Goes London Islands is the latest travel guide by Sasha Arms – and what better fitting place than the quirky Eel Pie Island?

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Book Review | Carl Goes London Islands | Sasha Arms | London | Eel Pie Island

If you haven’t already heard about Eel Pie Island, I can tell you now that it’s the perfect place to take a slow wander around on a hot day before the weather takes a U-turn again. The island is famously named after the eel pies which were once served by the inn on the island back in the 19th century.

It’s also well known for once being home to popular jazz and blues venues back in the 60s. The legendary Eel Pie Island Hotel once hosted famous musicians such as David Bowie and The Rolling Stones. These days, the small island is home to around 120 inhabitants and artists. Nowdays, the public can visit only a few times a year during an open weekend where they can browse artists work.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Book Review | Carl Goes London Islands | Sasha Arms | London | Eel Pie Island

I enjoyed taking a leisurely stroll around Eel Pie Island; despite it being so small there was so much to see. I felt like I’d stepped into an alternative wonderland and would have never of guessed I was in London!

I met briefly with author Sasha Arms to talk about Carl Goes London Islands and the process behind the book – she told me she’d been working on it for almost a year in terms of doing research, visiting as many of the islands as she could and discovering all the stores behind them.

What I liked most about Carl Goes London Islands is that it’s not just a travel guide. Inside the book, you’ll find stories with quirky and inspiring characters who have chosen to live on these islands. I was also fascinated to discover how many islands there are in London! There is a lot and Sasha has even spoken about the ones that are unable to be visited directly or ones that are only accessible to those who live there.

This information – though obvious – is super helpful. I know many people would want to visit an island from a book and probably wouldn’t even stop to think about if the island is even accessible or if they’re privately owned or not!

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Book Review | Carl Goes London Islands | Sasha Arms | London | Eel Pie Island

There are so many travel guides to London out there which is why this one particularly interested me – I consider myself quite an expert on London as it is and would rarely find the need to pick up a travel guide for the city, so to find a book that I’d actually use and that really inspires me is great!

If you want something a bit different to do this summer, I’d without a doubt consider picking up a copy of Carl Goes London Islands and using it as a guide to explore the alternative side of London you probably aren’t already aware of. There’s also a bonus tip at the back of the book; a sneak peak into a path that you can take to get a decent look at nearly all of the islands featured.

Have you visited Eel Pie Island? Would you buy a copy of Carl Goes London Islands to help guide you around some of London’s best kept secret islands? Let me know!

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The bold and bright cover of The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella was the first thing that drew me towards this book on the shelf. The second thing was the fact that it’s written by Sophie Kinsella, so I already knew it was going to be good.

I read this book back to back probably in the space of a week but it’s the kind of story you can read over and over again – no doubt I’ll be re-reading this whilst enjoying the sunshine this summer or by the pool if I ever get another holiday!

The Undomestic Goddess tells the story of high flying lawer Samantha who lives and breaths her work. She can barely get a break, meaning her social, family and home life have all fallen below par. But when she makes a huge mistake that costs her her job, she runs away and finds herself in a predicament working as a house keeper, despite never having done anything domestic before in her life. What ensues is a humourous and heart warming story where this previous workaholic learns how to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Book Review | The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella | Chick Lit

The blurd reads:

Samantha thrives under pressure. A high-powered London lawyer, all she can concentrate on is taking the next step in her career; eating, sleeping, seeing friends – even taking a breath – will have to wait.

But just when she’s about to get everything she has ever wanted, Samantha makes a mistake. A fifty-million-pound, career destroying mitake. Unable to face the consequences, she does the unimaginable and runs away…

Catching the first train she can, she finds herself in the countryside, outside a beautiful grand house. Mistaken for another woman, she falls into a new job as the family’s housekeeper.

Disaster ensues. In a blink, her life has shifted from writing briefs to washing them – and she has no idea how to work the washing machine. Let alone the oven. A former master of the takeaway menu, she’s now expected to whip up fine cuisine.

But gradually, she falls in lovr with her new life in a wholly unexpected way. Will her employers ever discover the truth? Will Samantha’s old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

The first thing I loved about this story is that the book is a decent size – a lot goes on which makes the story last longer. I found a lot of comparisons between this story and Sophie Kinsella’s other recent novel – My Not So Perfect Life – in the sense that both characters run away from the pressures of their career and fall into a whole new lifestyle.

Both end up in the rural countryside and soon realize that the slower pace of life and smaller things like letting go of your phone or appreciating the beauty in baking offers simple but more rewarding pleasures in life.

Even though Samantha is a high powered laywer in London, I could see some similarities between her life and mine. When I’m not working, I’m blogging. When I’m not blogging, I’m trying to fill up my social life. We do live in a fast paced society where we’re constantly switched on, so the messages and theme behind this story has taught me the joy of switching off.

I loved the intriguing character of Samantha’s love interest – the rugged gardener Nathaniel – and I really enjoyed reading their story unfold with tension and flirting. In fact, at parts, it was rather racy (in a classy way) and is a little bit more racy from what I usually read in Sophie’s novels – but I liked this!

There were some parts of the story that were a little unbelievable, like how Samantha got away with it for so long or even why she decided to play along and not own up – but they were believable enough to still enjoy. There was also a classic twist towards the end regarding Samantha’s career – if you’re a fan of Sophie’s writing, you probably spotted the twist a mile off but it was satisfactory nonetheless.

Some of my favourite parts of the book came with the moments Samanatha spent with Nathaniel’s mum where she learned how to bake. I love the way Sophie described the frustration of not knowing where to start with baking or when something goes wrong – but also the rewarding feeling when something is created through baking. It almost made me want to take up baking myself. Almost.

Overall though I enjoyed this story a lot and will likely re-read it a few times this summer. It’s a light hearted read – with some underlining thought provoking issues – and I don’t doubt that many copies will be read around the pool this summer.

Have you read any of Sophie Kinsella’s books lately? What are your thoughts? Let me know!

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It’s been a while since I’ve popped up a book review and that is honestly because I haven’t been reading as much lately and the books I have been reading haven’t been worthy of a review! But when I spotted Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel – My Not So Perfect Life – on sale recently, I made sure to pick it up.

I’ve enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s writing for a long time now – I love how she’s unapologetically known as the queen of writing chick lit books – but cool chick lit books that shy away from the typical standards that you’d expect in such a story. She’s not afraid to tackle tougher subjects in her books, yet her writing is almost always relatable on some level or another.

Saying that, I can’t say I ever particularly became a fan of her Shopaholic series and didn’t read past the first couple of books. However, I loved I’ve Got Your Number and Remember Me? is still hands down one of my favourite novels of all time which has resulted in a creased dog eared copy that I read at least once a year.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Book Review | My Not So Perfect Life | Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life is probably the only recent work of hers I’ve picked up and after reading the blurb, I was curious to read the whole story.

The blurb reads -Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?

The grass is always greener… with the right filter.

At first glance, I thought this book was a very on trend take on current issues we all face in the type of society we are, what with always being online. But I immediately thought it was an interesting twist – although the story touches on Katie Brenner creating a certain life via Instagram, her jealousy and envy of her boss – Demeter – is very real, happening right in front of her eyes. So it was an interesting take to indulge in the regular feeling a lot of us often have these days – envy for the picture perfect lives we see online and comparing ourselves to others – but this focuses on the jealousy we feel and develop in real life.

The story mostly focuses on this subject of course and we see a huge transformation in Katie’s life – from being a professional but quite frankly exhausted Londonite to slumming it back home in Somerset, swapping glamourous clothes for whatever is comfortable. The change is very subtle and gradual but we as readers can already see what’s right in front of our eyes – Katie is clearly much happier at home deep down, even though she doesn’t acknowledge this.

Throughout the book we learn more about Demeter too and within a few chapters we quickly learn just how different her life actually is as opposed to the life she portrays. Demeter was an interesting character – it was weird that we met her as a head strong b*tch boss, but midway through the book we’re feeling sorry for her and eventually come to love her as she lets her guard down and becomes a much more relatable person.

Katie’s character sounded almost like my inner monologue at most points – she’s determined to stick to her fast life in London, even if behind the scenes everything is less than perfect – by a lot. She’s got ambition. She’s headstrong and she’s honest. But she’s also very human too. It takes her a good while to see the truth about her own life – let alone her bosses – and though to us it might seem so obvious where her heart lies or where is best for her, she definitely does her fair share of denying.

This book is essentially about our portrayal of ourselves not just online but to everyone in general. We put a mask on and act like our life is perfect, but when the masks come off and the chips fall down, we’re all just pretty much the same and neither of us are better than the other, even if someone may have a higher position at work than you or more followers on Twitter.

There’s a few lovely side stories in this novel too – there’s a little romance, and it’s very interesting to see Katie take on the roll of helping her father and his partner launch a new glamping business. For Sophie’s readership, this part of the book was really quite fascinating, hearing about how Katie advertised the venture and helped promote the business. We are – as bloggers, at least – a society who take matters into our own hands – we plug our blogs relentlessly, we choose creative freelance work over stuffy ‘safe’ jobs and most of us are pretty much obsessed with social media – or at least fascinated by it – and it’s ability to drive revenue and custom.

So overall the smaller storylines in My Not So Perfect Life really helped to round out the book and change things up a bit. My Not So Perfect Life is a story that I’ll certainly read again and again and I think it’ll do well to help us all remember that no matter how jealous or envious we might be of someone, when the masks come off and the truth is revealed, we’re no better than each other – it’s not a competition and really there’s little to be jealous of.

Have you read My Not So Perfect Life yet? Let me know!

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