Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers - title shot

Okay hands up, who else is struggling with what to get the men in your life for Christmas? When I asked Oliver what he wanted he just shrugged and said “surprise me”, the two words that strike fear into my life. I even put out an SOS on Twitter earlier this month asking for people to link me up with their gift guides for men. There was nothing but tumbleweed. It seems that no one else has a bloody clue either.

Men, this is why you always end up with socks, Calvin K’s or an electric shaver!

One thing that I know that Oliver does always appreciate is a good gin so when Drinks By The Dram offered to send me one of their Gin Festive Crackers * to review, I was intrigued! Could this be the answer to my shopping woes?

The gift set arrived attractively packaged in festive green, gold and red.

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers front of the box
Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers back of packaging

The crackers sit neatly inside festooned with gold bows.

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers birdseye view of open box
Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers reveal of cracker with gold bows

I was slightly worried about pulling the cracker and immediately sending a bottle of gin smashing to the floor. I found the bottle wrapped up safely inside a joke and a party hat though – phew!

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers bottle of gin
Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers unwrapped bottle of gin

There are six crackers in total, each one containing a different wax sealed 30ml dram of gin:

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers alternative view of gin bottle
  • Ableforth’s Bathtub Sloe Gin
  • Ableforth’s Bathtub
  • Gold Infused Yuletide Gin (sadly this one is not suitable for vegans – contains milk and egg)
  • Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin (57% vol!)
  • Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin
  • Tanqueray Rangpur Gin

I know that you could buy one big bottle of gin for a similar price (a set retails at £34.95) but I love all the little details that have gone into this gift set. It’s a fun way for a gin lover to try out some award winning tipples from around the globe.

I’m also rather excited about laying them out on the dinner table, they’re going to look so good!

Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers picture of Ableforth's Bathtub Gin bottle

If you’re struggling to buy for the man in your life (or let’s not be sexist here, ANYONE that loves a good tipple!) the Drinks By The Dram Gin Festive Crackers are available online at Masters Of Malt and on Amazon. A Spirit and Liquers version of the cracker is also available along with a range of other themed selection boxes.


Remember that if you’re ordering online the last posting dates are:  Thursday 20th Dec (1st Class) and Saturday 22nd Dec (Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed).


LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: Drinks By The Dram kindly gifted me their Gin Festive Crackers. They simply asked me to share my thoughts with my readers if I wanted to!




Follow:

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper

Over the years I’ve sent several gift hampers as Christmas presents. I love the thought of someone’s face lighting up as they discover all the delicious surprises!

This is my first Christmas since turning vegan though and I’ve had to seriously consider what I feel comfortable buying as gifts for other people. I was thrilled to find that the The British Hamper Company offer no less than six beautiful gift hampers curated with entirely vegan friendly contents. Filled with artisan produce from all over the UK, that’s one choice made far easier!

I received their Deluxe Vegan Hamper * to review so let’s take a look inside.

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper

In my opinion a proper gift hamper should come in special keepsake packaging. This one arrived presented in a beautiful box patterned with iconic London images and hand tied in royal blue ribbon. A personalised gift card inside invited me to enjoy the contents. Don’t worry British Hamper Company, I intend to!

In amongst the shredded papper I uncovered treat after treat.

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper -contents of the box laid out

Strawberry and black pepper jam to accompany gourmet olive, walnut and pimenton toast…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - Strawberry and Black Pepper Jam

Luxury handcooked Yorkshire crisps…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper birdseye view of contents

Beautifully packaged Las Trincheras Gold venezuelan chocolate from Wilie’s Cacao…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - hand holding Las Trincheros Gold Dark Chocolate Bar

Even more chocolate with a Christmas classic – mint creams…

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - hand holding Beech's Classic Mint Creams

…as well as air dried apple crisps, red onion chutney and a big bag of garlic and rosemary olives.

The British Hamper Company Deluxe Vegan Hamper - arial view of box contents

What a gorgeous selection! I’ve been so tempted to make a start on them but I’m trying my best to save them for Christmas. I think they’ll be perfect nibbles to lay out on the table in the evening. I intend to tuck into mine whilst watching a festive movie or two!

If you’re struggling for a last minute Christmas gift or just want to treat yourself I recommend checking out British Hamper Company’s website. The vegan options are available here: https://www.britishhamper.com/uk/theme/vegan-hampers/


Just remember that if you’re ordering online the last posting dates are Thursday 20th Dec (1st Class) and Saturday 22nd Dec (Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed).


LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: The Deluxe Vegan Hamper was gifted to me by The British Hamper Company in exchange for sharing my honest review.

Follow:

Beauty Favourites December 18
[Vegan + Cruelty Free]

This year I’ve made it my mission to find high performing vegan and cruelty free beauty products to replace the ones I was using previously.

Here are some of my favourite pampering products found so far:

Banana Hair Mask | The Body Shop

My hair got into a terrible state a few years ago. It was dry and brittle and I ended having to have a chunk of it chopped out. I’ve managed to get it back into healthy shape but then found out that my trusty nourishing hair mask wasn’t cruelty free. Nuts.

I’ve tried quite a few brands now and the one I’ve ended up sticking with is the Banana Hair Mask from The Body Shop. It’s easy to apply and rinses out well, leaving my hair free from tangles and frizz with a nice shine. It also smells like Banana Munch Bunch yoghurt and the sweet scent lingers in my hair long after I dry it.

Shower & Bath Gels | Treacle Moon

Treacle Moon‘s bath and shower gels have the most delicious ingredients that smell good enough to eat. I’m currently finishing off Sweet Strawberry Dream before I head back to Marshmallow Hearts, which smells of sweet candy. My favourite over the summer was one Ginger Morning as its zesty smell was a really cheerful and refreshing pick me up in the morning.

Note that although everything in the Treacle Moon range is cruelty free, not all of it is suitable for vegans. Some products contain honey for example. However there is still lots of choice and the packaging very clearly labels the ones that are vegan. I also love the fact that Treacle Moon is available in supermarkets, which makes it easy for me to make an ethical choice.

Face Masks | Daytox* (available from Waitrose)

My skin was feeling pretty grotty a few weeks ago thanks to the cold from hell. I’d been cooped up inside with the heating on full blast and my skin overreacted by going extra oily and spotty. It was delightful!

Daytox (a new beauty brand available at Waitrose) had kindly sent me some products to try a while back and it seemed like the right time to put them through their paces.

The Active Charcoal Peel Off Mask did wonders for my skin and halted a few angry spots in their tracks. However I probably won’t buy this in future as I really didn’t enjoy peeling it off again!

This is because it sinks in deep to give your pores a very thorough cleanse, so when you take it off you can feel it clinging to your skin as it draws all the impurities out. My skin felt wonderful afterwards though, so if you’re less of a wimp than me and have trouble with blackheads this one’s for you.

The Detox Clay Mask, was a big hit however! It’s formulated with natural clay and an alkaline deep cleansing treatment designed to remove impurities and sooth stressed skin, so it does a similar job but is much more relaxing to use.

I really like it because it’s not too heavy and it dries fast, meaning that I can stil have a mini pamper session even when I’m a bit pressed for time. My skin feels clean, fresh and noticeably less oily.

Skincare for Men | Bulldog

I quite often treat my boyfriend to a pamper sesh so I’m chuffed to have discovered Bulldog, a vegan and cruelty free skincare range for men. It’s another one that you can find on the shelves at pretty much any supermarket as well as Boots and Superdrug now.

So far, we’ve tried the face wash, beard oil and an anti ageing moisturiser, all of which have been a success. The range has been on sale recently so I’ve been picking up bottles here and there for around £4 a time. In our opinion these are really good quality for men’s skincare so this seems like a total bargain to me!

The botanical scents are subtle and fresh and I’ve actually been nicking the face wash when I have a shower as I find it really gentle on my skin!


So there you have it, my vegan and cruelty free beauty recommendations for December ’18.

I’m always on the lookout for affordable, high performing ethical beauty products so if you have anything you think I should check out please let me know in the comments below!


LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: Items marked with an asterisk are PR samples which I have received in exchange for providing an honest review.

Follow:

When Polly Met Fergie: Peterborough's First Vegan Restaurant

It was serendipity that just as I exchanged contracts to move to the city, Peterborough’s first vegan restaurant When Polly Met Fergie opened. A week later I completed my house move and we headed straight there to celebrate.

When Polly Met Fergie: Peterborough's First Vegan Restaurant

Located in the Westgate Arcade, the main restaurant is located downstairs and has a relaxed cafe feel. Meanwhile upstairs there is a cocktail and jazz bar with regular live music. The decor certainly sets the mood with dark walls, a centrepiece chandelier and a grand piano in the corner.

I can only describe how good my first meal there was as my camera was still packed away in a box at home. I started with arancini balls served with a punchy tomato sauce, followed up with a rich and stewy red wine bourguignon. The accompanying dill mash was so smooth and pillowy that I cleaned my plate!

Oliver chose a nacho starter topped with a convincingly meaty fragrant ‘mince’. His main of ancho chilli, tortilla and rice was fresh and filling, but we both would have loved some kind of sauce with it to add a little moisture. We were very impressed overall and vowed to return.

No Ordinary Avo

When Polly Met Fergie: Peterborough's First Vegan Restaurant

Fast forward to a few weeks later and I popped in for breakfast. I’d been hoping to try their signature eggless benedict but it wasn’t on the menu that day. I’m glad in retrospect because the avocado on toast that I had instead was exceptional. The creamy avocado was generously piled atop a slice of fresh baked focaccia and given a sumptuous earthy, unami twist with the addition of truffles. For extra oomf, there were also sweet but tart sun dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts. Definitely not your average avo!

When Polly Met Fergie’s Christmas Menu*

Maybe it’s over the top to visit the same restaurant three times in a month but hey, it’s not often that an entirely plant based restaurant launches a Christmas menu and welcomes you inside to taste it all is it?

I arrived with the other Qbloggers, eager not only to taste the new menu, but also to find out what my non vegan friends thought. The verdict was unanimous: whether you’re vegan, vegitarian, flexitarian or a carnivore, this is food everyone will love!

Peterborough's First Vegan Restaurant When Polly Met Fergie (8)

Starter: Mushroom and Pecan Ravioli on a TO DIE FOR Butternut Squash Puree

Peterborough First Vegan Restaurant When Polly Met Fergie

Nut roast served in filo pastry with potato dauphinoise, cranberry dressing and gravy

In a Christmas menu full of highlights, I’ll give a special mention to the potato dauphinoise. I haven’t tasted anything so creamy and cheddary since I gave up those very things! My friends said that if they’d walked in off the street and eaten this without knowing that they were in a plant based restaurant, they’d be none the wiser.

Peterborough First Vegan Restaurant When Polly Met Fergie Peterborough First Vegan Restaurant When Polly Met Fergie

Also, it’s an absolute pleasure to have a choice of multiple vegan desserts, something rather lacking when visiting other restaurants. Here, the festive option of a berry crumble with vanilla cream ticked all the boxes for me. It was warming, fruity and homely.

Peterborough First Vegan Restaurant When Polly Met Fergie

Berry Crumble

“It’s just honest plates of fresh food that are aromatic and full of flavour. They just all happen to be plant based.”

I can’t express how good it feels to finally have a place in my hometown where I can walk in and have the freedom to order anything I like off the menu. Peterborough’s first vegan restaurant has arrived just in time to make my Christmas!

The thing with When Polly Met Fergie though is that it isn’t ‘gimmicky’. It isn’t trying to convince everyone to go vegan with a menu full of meat substitutes. It doesn’t even make a big deal of it being a vegan restaurant! It’s just honest plates of fresh food that are aromatic and full of flavour. They just all happen to be plant based.

When Polly Met Fergie is situated at Westgate Arcade, Queensgate, Peterborough and can be accessed from inside or outside the shopping centre.

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: I was invited to preview the Christmas menu as part of my duties as a Qblogger for Queensgate Shopping Centre. That meal was complimentary. I made the other visits as a paying customer.

Follow:

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

“You’re vegan? But… what about Christmas?”

The classic question! Personally, I don’t miss any of the traditional festive dinners half as much as I expected to. I do however feel a bit left out when it comes to all of the festive sweet treats that get passed around. Whether it’s after dinner chocolates, a festive tipple or a selection box of chocolates, I usually have to politely decline.

Luckily the high street is starting to get on board with the growing demand for vegan friendly sweets, chocolates and edible gifts. I attended a Christmas taster evening at Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough last week and was absolutely chuffed at how much they had to show me. I even got to have not one, but TWO festive meals, all entirely vegan.

With that in mind, I’ve rounded up some of the best vegan friendly christmas treats and gifts available on the high street this year and where to buy them.

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats

For watching Christmas movies in your pj’s…

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Vegan Vanilla Marshmallows | The Naked Marshmallow Co | Lakeland

Vegan marshmallows! My goodness how I’ve craved a super indulgent hot chocolate since going vegan, but until now I haven’t found a high street retailer that stocks vegan marshmallows. Finding these in Lakeland made my day!

After Dinner Treats

Still in Lakeland, I found these chocolate covered cherries which really are the perfect after dinner christmas treat. They are slightly sour with a dark chocolate coating and a lovely chewy inside. They come gift wrapped in cellophane so would make a nice gift to take round if you’re visiting someone else for Christmas.

Growing up, we always had a box of After Eight at Christmas. Sadly I checked and they aren’t vegan, but I discovered that Lakeland stock Beech’s After Dinner Mints which are a conscience free alternative and delicious in their own right.

For the Prosecco Lover

It’s almost time to start opening our advent calendars, but to be honest I have found the vegan chocolate ones I’ve tried hugely disappointing. For a fun alternative, Popaball have a ‘Pimp Your Prosecco‘ 12 day advent calendar containing 11 bubbles of different flavours and one shimmer.

For Impressive Christmas Gifts

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

I’ve always loved using Hotel Chocolat for gifts as everything is so beautifully packaged. Now I love them even more, because this year they have a huge vegan friendly selection that non vegans should adore just as much. You need to avoid the milk chocolate (obviously!) but as well as their dark chocolate range, many of their alcohols are also vegan (oh hello Salted Caramel Cocoa Vodka Liqueur).

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Some of their Christmas sweets such as their Rose & Lemon Turkish Delight are vegan too – it’s worth checking the label or asking a member of staff for help if you’re not sure.

View the full vegan range here: Hotel Chocolat Vegan Range

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

For A Buzzing Christmas Party

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Once finished shopping for vegan friendly Christmas treats and gifts I also headed to Turtle Bay, Peterborough’s fun and lively Caribbean restaurant where the atmosphere is always buzzing. If you’re sick of Christmas music and want somewhere a little different for a festive get together, this place is a winner.

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts I tried the Spiced Chickpea Ital and Sweetcorn Fritters. Both were super tasty but be warned these are SPICY dishes that build heat over time. If you’re sensitive to spices, you might want to ask your waiter for guidance on how hot the dish is before you choose!

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

If you have a Christmas party to organise, two courses from the Christmas Lunch menu are £14.95 and two courses from the Christmas Anytime menu are £19.95. You get a £20 gift card as a thank you for booking a table of 10 people or more (£50 gift card for tables over 30).

I have to thank Queensgate and their stores for once again being wonderful hosts and showing me that there are plenty of vegan friendly Christmas treats and gifts to enjoy this year!

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: All food and drink consumed on the night was complimentary thanks to Queensgate Shopping Centre and the participating retailers. I have shared my personal highlights from the evening to share with you here.

Follow: