FALSE LASHES

I promise I’m not turning into a beauty blog. For one, I’m not entirely sure who would take style tips off of me. My wardrobe consists of a mass of gym leggings, pink (faux) fur coats collected off eBay for a fiver, and piles of cat socks. I don’t think my fashion tastes will be gracing the pages of magazines anytime soon (although I’m still desperately waiting for someone with a camera to hit me up in the library for the tab’s best dressed).

Nonetheless, my areas of expertise do indeed contain a fair few ventures into beauty products. I’ve experimented with five years worth of fake tan, been through numerous trends involving coconut oil in pretty much every way, shape or form imaginable, and thought I might as well bestow last year’s findings on false eyelashes on my small readership.

I suppose it was just sort of a weekend impulse. I’ll hasten to add that prices for anything in London seem to soar, be it your avocado or your eyelashes. Salons will charge £70-£100 easy, whereas £20-£50 seems pretty much standard elsewhere. That being said, I’m not adverse to traipsing Gumtree and taking myself off to strangers’ <i>salons</i>, which usually involve letting yourself into the backdoor of some sharehouse, making your way past a horde of yapping pugs, and settling down on someone else’s bed whilst they apply your lashes and tell you about the weather.
The lashes take between 40mins – 2hrs to apply, and are stuck on to your own eyelashes with some very resistant glue.

To quote Berocca, false lashes will make you feel like you, but on a really good day. They take out the tiring application of winged eyeliner (at least in my case, an exhausting task for my perfectionism), and the woes of lumpy mascara. I woke up after running around all night at a festival, still coated in glitter, but looking vaguely fresh.

Despite all the benefits of having false lashes on, I will now warn you that after 5 months of wearing set after set of infills, my own lashes were somewhat wrecked. Half had been pulled out, the other half looked fried and broken. Every beautician will give you different advice on whether or not to wash them with makeup remover, Q-tips, whether or not to brush them daily or not at all. I bounced between various methods of care and did (after a particularly bad set) pull out a good few of my own lashes, so do carry some of the blame. One way or another, I couldn’t apply mascara decently for a good 2 months after giving up on lashes.

My verdict in the end is a mixed review. Probably a good idea for a short holiday or big occasion, if you want to fall out of bed like a fresh-faced goddess and convince your loved one that you don’t look like the Grinch first thing. However, half a year of experimenting with lashes has taught me against them after sacrificing everything underneath.

on Uber ratings

The concept of rating, and the decency in rating other humans, is one that has increasingly resurfaced over the past few years. The demise of the ‘Hot or Not’ app around 2015 tends to suggest our apathy to a visible, changeable rating. Whilst other apps based on judging one another on physical appearance have proven prolific (nobody’s looking at Tinder, now estimated to be worth upwards of $3billion), dating apps seemed to have flourished upon the principal of leaving the parties in blissful ignorance. Overwhelmingly unaware of whether or not they have been swiped right upon or disregarded, these apps now operate on a rating-free system – Uber however, stands as the exception.
It’s a different concept, for sure. Whether or not your driver rolls up in a Honda or a Mercedes will be pretty irrelevant to who you’re taking out on dates this week (unless you have a knack for chatting up your drivers – who knows, that might work in the long run when it come to boosting your rating). You then have to ask yourself quite why we get so caught up in our Uber ratings.

you can honestly fit so much on a scooter
I’m sure it’s very different when working as an Uber driver, as opposed to from the position of a passenger; falling below 4.6 stars and having constant poor feedback can lead to deactivation for partners. Considering the increasing number of background checks and licenses required, it would also be harder to reactivate and start afresh as opposed to making a new account after your friend threw up in the back of the cab after a particularly wild night and left you a measly 4.2. Nonetheless, protecting a rating as close to 5 as possible has become a concern for even the infrequent rider.

It is just a little heartbreaking; intoxicated or not, pouring your heart out in the back of an Uber home, feeling like you’re getting a mini therapy session free. The type of affinity you can reach with your driver, on a slightly hazy 4am trip home particularly on your own is incomparable. It is therefore always a bit of a hard hit when you come out the other side a good few stars lower.

outskirts of Hanoi
 

A lot has to do with tipping. I feel like there can be no other explanation. I personally have never thrown up, vandalised, or stripped off in the back of an Uber, in fact always overwork my attempt at charm in wishing them a pleasant evening/marvellous life, but still suffer from hits to my rating in exchange for my unwillingness to tip (taxis are a luxury in themselves…). This tipping barrier does seem to be limited to England. UberMOTO operates on scooters in Vietnam, and too scared to trust my own driving abilities when it came to scooters in Bali and Vietnam, I pretty much lived on the back of other people’s scooters, motorbikes on occasions. 50p can get you a decent 30 minute ride around the streets of Hanoi, or Seminyak. There was less of prerequisite for tips to be given, and thus my rating stayed at a good 5/4.9 for most of my gap year. Coming back to England was therefore a bit of a shock. Quite a lot of silent rides, no free rain ponchos as I was showered with in Hanoi, and yet still grappling hard to maintain a decent 4.8

different methods of transport…
I guess I find the recurring interest in Uber ratings for passengers kind of intriguing. People debate their ratings, or screenshot them on to Tinder as a test of good character; someone hovering at a 4.3 is a telltale sign of some shady character. Either way, still a visible numerical rating, Uber’s rating system resonates Charlie Booker’s Black Mirror episode ‘Nosedive’, and our fixation on rating one another.

Studying in London

I’m not really sure that surviving is the right term. For all the tall talk built up over freshers, mine didn’t quite live up to the infamous tales. Some more commonly spread accounts include missing two weeks of lectures, waking up dazed and confused in strange beds, making a myriad of poor decisions, and ultimately deciding you’re not yet prepared for university and probably only fit to crawl back into your parents’ attic, spending the rest of your illustrious years making a meagre living out of sub par ironing that doesn’t even match your mother’s standard.

Okay, I jest. After a year of lazy mornings, I do sometimes have to get up before midday. I have once managed to go out the night before a 9am and make it to my lecture on time. (I was heinously proud of myself on this occasion, although everything in the lecture went in one ear and out the other, and it has not happened again since).
I’ve given myself alcohol poisoning on one occasion (I couldn’t tell you afterwards what the insides of Fabric looked like), and apologised profusely to my housemates for any heavy retching that might be overhead for 6hrs the following day.

I’ve also taken some very interesting tube rides late at night and received some very strange looks, plus have been introduced to the marvels of the night tube. This, as your student best friend for a budget way of getting home, running 24hrs on Friday and Saturday compared to ending at round 12am on weekdays.
Despite the widespread fear of Uber’s demise at the start of the academic year, Uber will also be a reliable ally. Just don’t be too rowdy and remember to suck up to your driver on drunken cruises to and from clubs if you want your rating to remain above a solid 4.7

I would like to spam you all with hideous pictures of my uni cooking; making a can of beans last a week, kitchen disasters in navigating a toaster, but in reality I’m still spending way too much money on peanut butter and remembering to eat my greens. Currently holding an impressive 15 jars of nut butter and very little else, my kitchen cupboard is still something of a phenomenon to anyone visiting our halls kitchen.

The workload is also tough. I like I’ve been fed a pack of lies by everyone who was so adamant that my first year of uni would be easier than A2. I’ve also been the recipient of numerous consoling pats on the backs from students not attending UCL, for whom their first year doesn’t count. I would highly suggest finding a library buddy and sticking to them like glue to get you out of the house and studying at least some of the time (strength in numbers), and to remind yourself that for over £9000, a couple essays won’t do you harm.

All in all, I do miss Sydney a little. It’s particularly cold in halls and I threw out most of my hoodies before I embarked on last year’s travels. I have however found an amazing new group of people in London, and fall a little more in love with the city everyday. It’s fast paced and noisy compared to the countryside I grew up in, but the streets are always filled, even at 4am, and currently illuminated by the most beautiful Christmas lights (albeit a little early…). There are millions of avocado toasts to try, clubs to wind my way into at the weekends, and coffee shops to frequent – so I’m pretty enthusiastic for the next three years.

Gili Islands (Bali)

The Gili Islands sit on the coast of Lombok, an island in Indonesia – favourably close to Bali and a hotspot destination for holidaymakers and backpackers alike. Each of the three little islands has its own, individual reputation. Gili Trawangan (Gili T) is the most known and visited. The party island. Cue the devilish grins of backpackers at the fond memories of shroom-shakes and wild nights, starting out at in the club and usually ending up face down in the sand somewhere in the early hours. Gili Air is known for being slightly quieter (my island of choice), with less of a party scene and more lazy days spent sipping cocktails on the waterfront. Gili Meno, the smallest of the three, is the lesser developed, more for family holidays and quiet escapes.


The islands are easily reached from Bali. Some tourists decide to visit all three, and perhaps even Lombok. Some set their eyes on one island and make their way over. The journey is accessible and fairly cheap. All hostels offer some form of inclusive transport, usually the cheapest model, at around 500,000 rupiah, or £30 with a return. The Tripadvisor reviews for the cheapest boat transfers are a little disheartening. Lost luggage, immense sea sickness and broken boats – but I discovered none of these. I ended up booking my transfers online, booking the more expensive Blue Water ride over, and for the journey back not booking at all but rather wandering down to the port mid morning and haggling for a cheap ride back to Seminyak. I would recommend pre booking your ferry to the Gili Islands as both ports are a fair distance from Kuta/Seminyak, but wholly recommend trying to get a good deal and leaving your options open for the journey back; there were plenty of people offering me cheaper deals including hotel transfer on the islands.

No cars are allowed on the island. Or maybe no cars fit (it took me less than two hours to walk all the way around Gili Air). I’m not sure. Either way, the islands are a whole breadth away from the hustle and fumes on Bali’s central roads. Instead, you can rent yourself a little feisty pony and trap to get you and your luggage to your hotel (or, in my case and that of all penny saving backpackers, lug all 20kg through the blistering heat whilst admiring the ponies). I stayed at Bedagang Backpackers, and came upon probably my biggest mistake in booking hostels. Having specified for air con in hostelworld.com upon booking, I was a little confused when shown my mattress on the floor of an open hut, with a little mosquito net to keep the pests at bay. Not quite wanting to embrace the outdoor nightlife, I discovered that they have dorms with actual beds and aircon, or the cheaper mattress option. I spent one very interesting night with some stray cats trying to clamber through my mosquito net and am quite proud of myself for surviving even in the humid heat, before a space in the dorms became available.

Daytime activities include snorkelling, scuba diving, the short walk around the whole of the island, and tasty cafes. Captain Coconuts serves divine health and vegan food; the stuffed tofu was to die for. The Gili Islands are also an area very unlike Bali itself, where you can order a cheap soft drink and be granted access to lounge chairs free of charge, unlike the haggling over commercial sunloungers on the mainland. From your little sun lounging nest, you can watch the sunset on tranquil waters, or access the infamous Bali swings. The waters nearest to the island are incredibly shallow – think knee deep – so paddling is a must.

Whilst I only visited Gili Air, I would wholly recommend several days, if not a week to visit all three of the islands. They capture the picturesque landscape many holidaymakers come to Bali in search of, yet may not find on the mainland. Hidden away from cars and with notably fewer tourists, they offer a serene break from the outside world, with all the bounty of cheap cocktails and flipflop trees.

THE BIT AFTER

I’ve heard gruesome tales from those who returned from intrepid years abroad about the sombre quality of life they were greeted by upon their return home. Whilst travelling, your life takes on an exuberant and care free air. Each day is different and vibrant. You’ve probably done enough meditation by this stage to feel yourself rather enlightened. Your mind has enough time to stop and breathe, and you start opening your eyes, seeing beauty in the everyday (not just the gold smattered temples and bristly elephant attractions).
Twilight falling on the hides of underfed cows, grazing loosely in paddocks rimmed with scooters. The split-second pre-thunderstorm where everyone in Vietnam pauses on the roads and shrouds themselves in plastic ponchos, and the myriad of neon pink and green on the streets that follows. Teenagers squatting around the sort of plastic chairs we only use for pre-schoolers, after their own day of studying, sharing pho and jokes in another tongue. Each day brings something new, small memories that you can’t really learn to look out for, but delight nonetheless.

Of course these are still available at home, albeit a little more conventional, a little less eye-opening. It’s a different culture, one that I have grown up in and therefore the everyday life strikes me as less exciting. I suppose that is one of the greater motives behind travel.

I strove to wake up early every day abroad. With still a few more precious teenage years to my name, I do love indulging in excessive sleep, but aimed to be in bed early and up as not to waste too much time in dreamland. In the same way post-exam slump hits students, and they find themselves restless and purposeless, having returned home means I lack a little purpose in my days. I no longer have temples to stroll through, or streets to discover. Meals eaten out are no longer a meagre $1 or $2, but rather quite a bite out of the bank account. Harem pants are also no longer in abundance, nor socially acceptable to wear day in and day out (my strolls down to the post office have received questionable looks and knowing eyerolls).

That is not to say that coming home after nearly a year’s stint abroad is without merit. Having shared a bedroom for the past 8 months, sleeping in the quiet is something of a treat (although, having moved house, I’m currently without bed and enveloped upon cushions on the floor of the study…). Spreading out a little more and no longer living out of a backpack, in dreaded fear of bedbugs or untrustworthy hostel hands is also a luxury. The biggest delight in my case is the access to a kitchen and fully stocked supply of peanut butter.

Whilst I miss traipsing around foreign alleyways, permanently sweaty and a little sunburnt, I am enjoying my return home. I’ve given myself a few months to transition into a more rhythmic way of life before whatever awaits with University in September. This may seem like a bittersweet curtain call upon my travels, but please watch this space – working internet and plenty of free hours means I finally have time to start drawing up blog posts on various destinations!

Beautiful Brisbane

Beyond the hustle and bustle of Sydney (although diminutive in comparison to the constant rampage of Oxford Circus, and other central London strongholds), lies Brisbane, a little north of Sydney on the Eastern Coast of Australia. The third largest city, below Melbourne, Brisbane hosts a population of 2.35million – although you would hardly know it. I arrived on Easter Friday, to be greeted by eerily quiet streets. Travelling to the Greyhound bus transit area, memories of Twenty-eight Days Later flashed through my head, so quiet were the urban streets of Brisbane. That of course was partially due to the bank holiday, but even so, venturing out further over my five day stay in the city, I was often astonished at how calm and empty the streets were.

Brisbane is in this right beautiful; it holds not the elegant architecture I so love in Edinburgh, nor the elaborate buildings in Barcelona, but instead promotes a modern, clean and classy impression. Gleaming skyscrapers line the banks of the Brisbane river, the streets are spick and span, and free wifi is in abundance throughout the city. The CBD (central banking district, for those unaccustomed to Australian city terms) is on the Northern side of the river; a few interlinked pedestrian streets with the typical high end malls such as David Jones and Myer, and high street stores such as Zara and H&M.

A short stroll along the Victoria Bridge provides not only breathtaking metropolitan views, but also lands you right beside the GOMA. This was decidedly one of the sightseeing highlights of my time in Brisbane. The city prides itself on this gallery, and although understandably the exhibitions are constantly changing, my visit was timed with a live exhibition showcasing numerous finches (birds) local to Australia, harboured in a spacious room, flitting between coathanger installations and chirping. Signs outside the exhbiiton assured the public of the welfare of the birds, and standing in a room surrounded by a hundred twittering little feathered creatures was certainly a sight to behold.

GOMA is conveniently situated beside the Queensland Museum & Science Centre, a hit with all the young ones for its interactive science exhibitions, and for taxidermy fans like myself (bad vegetarian, I know). My personally favourite was the giant squid – be sure not to miss out on this pickled deep sea delight!

I would like to be able to pass on superior knowledge as to getting around Brisbane on public transport, but the truth is that the one bus I caught thoroughly confused me. I tried to pay the driver, accustomed to the simple tapping on and off of Sydney’s Opal system, and was waved through with a grunt. Later googling led me to discover that some of the central bus lines are in fact free to the public, but if that was the case around the CBD or if my particular bus driver took pity on my helpless tourism, I’m not sure. Nevertheless, the CityCat and CityHopper ferry lines run along the Brisbane river, the central two being free, and are encouraged either for swift transport and equally swift free wifi onboard, or for a nice scenic tour along the river.

I can’t offer much in the way of accomodation advice, as a true backpacker I was hosted by the YHA in Brisbane. A collection of hostels are all grouped together on the Northern side of the river, a 15minute walk from the CBD. I can certainly vouch for the YHA as being a brilliant hostel, very clean, with small, airconditioned dormitories, on of the best kitchens I saw in Australian hostels and a good lounge room. Between these hostels and the CBD lies the Roma Street Parkland, a built up artistic park area hosting numerous green fields and tropical plants (also home to a huge amount of large lizards which pop up and out of bushes and potter about as they see fit). I would highly reccomend a stroll through the parkland, if only to come face to face with one of these scaley inhabitants.

Besides the Parkland, Brisbane’s City Beach was my favourite area to kick back and enjoy the sun. Some would screw up their nose at a fake beach, but the area is so well kept, the lagoon so clear and the sands so white, that it is hard to complain about this idyllic oasis. (Free wifi is again in abundance, to power through those hours of sunbathing boredom).

There are plenty of other tourist attractions that I didn’t drop in on in Brisbane, such as Mount Coot-tha and the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, but I hope my own choice and roundup on Brisbane convinces you to give it a visit!

The Grounds, Alexandria

I’ve been a little quiet, plus Bondi has been a little boring. As per any seaside town, there is very little to do in perpetual rain (or at least sunbathing is ruled out, so my afternoons are suddenly a little empty). Thus, where Sundays would usually be spent beached up on a towel, soaking up the sunshine, I suddenly have a very free day. A little Instagram touring of the local brunch hotspots drew me to The Grounds, and despite being an hour’s bus journey from home base, the thrill of Sydney’s $2.50 opal limit on Sundays encouraged the expedition.

Popping off the bus right in the middle of an industrial centre, I’m not sure quite what I was expecting. It certainly wasn’t chickens, pigs, goats, and an abundance of greenery. The Grounds capture a little bit of wilderness and farmlife, and have stuck it right in the middle of Sydney’s suburbs. Thought up by a creative entrepreneur alongside a coffee guru, it’s no wonder.

The Grounds boasts numerous little internal venues to choose from for food. We went for the Café, for a hearty breakfast (avocado toast as always), but The Potting Shed offers a more upmarket dining experience, whilst the The Garden does soda and burgers, and the Bakery…well, you guessed it. The Grounds also offers weddings, with one taking place during our leisurely stroll (rather waiting the hour and a half required to snap up a table – buzzers were provided to allow you to try lose some time before food!).

The food was of course delicious, the service swift. The menu offers an array of homemade breads, meat dishes as well as plenty of vegetarian options. Coffee was also very upmarket, with fully trained baristas and an endless menu.

The Grounds offers an exciting and unique experience, perfect for weekend outings for all the family. Despite being based a little out of the way, the abundance of plants will fill you with fresh air and leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated before your return to the city, full of good food and perhaps with a rainbow rose in hand.

Open Monday – Friday 7am-4pm
Weekends 7.30am – 4pm
7a/2 Huntley St
Alexandria
NSW
Sydney

New Year in Sydney

I do hold Christmas as something slightly sacred. The ominous descent of climate change may indeed have ruled out the days of two feet of snow piled up against the kitchen door, of being snowed in and unable to drive down to Waitrose on Christmas eve to pick up the turkey. Nonetheless, Christmas comes as a day for families. Although every year brings the ruthless defence of my bedroom when waves of family flood the household consistently losing and ending up twiddling my thumbs on the sofa at 3am over a rerun of Love Actually, I still support Christmas a time for family roasts and present confusion (cue my grandma opening a bunch of dog toys and feigning extreme gratitude).

This year I ended up a little further afield. In Sydney, to be precise, which comes out at about 10,725 miles. Living with my brother nonetheless so family was present, although after spending the morning opening presents under the cool breeze of the aircon, I journeyed out to a Sydney ‘Expat Christmas Picnic’. One of the things I love about Sydney is the inclusion of travellers. Several Facebook groups that I joined organise regular meetups for those visiting the city, ranging from BBQs to a recent floatie/lilo party. You can post openly on the groups if you find yourself lonely one afternoon, and have instant replies coming from nearby travellers or locals keen to meet and greet and provide amusement.

Expat or expatriate is a noun or adjective used to describe a person currently residing in a foreign land, whereas the more commonly used immigrant is a noun used for someone permanently residing in a foreign land. Immigrant holds more permanent connotations, for expats, their length of stay remains unclear. This is common for many travellers harbouring Sydney – a transient stop along the way to South East Asia, or a pitstop after Balinese temples. Hence the organisation of the Sydney Expat Christmas party, which was this year’s Christmas destination. Breathtaking views out from the Sydney Observatory hill over the Harbour bridge, bottles of white wine and the friendly blur of accents in the background served a certain change from the usual mince pies and drunk uncles.

I didn’t quite expect to spend my New Year on a catamaran mere hundreds of metres away from the Harbour bridge firework display either, but impromptu events seem to come hand in hand with the connections between expats and travellers across Sydney. We were told that the boat is normally chartered out at sizeable cost for private hire over New Year, but that this year the demand was absent so the owners had nevertheless decided to moor out near the bridge and welcome a posse of vaguely connected strangers aboard their boat. I therefore have the unprofitable generosity of these people to thank, as I’m certain my other plans (a mild exaggeration as my plans extended as far as admiring the fireworks from the soft nest of the sofa) wouldn’t have had me on a yacht in any sense.

There was a true sense of community in the mooring areas below the bridge (our neighbours to the left had come all the way from America in a fairly small vessel; the neighbours to the right had been moored there since the previous morning) as well as an equally amusing level of conflict and drama between boats. (This included a fair deal of fist shaking and threats to sue should a certain boat come any closer to ours). It was all quite exciting, not being a huge seafarer myself, I fancied our vessel as being a prominent Battleship target. I was even wholly up for wearing a captain’s hat and taking charge of the wheel (controls? Rudder? I’m not entirely sure of my boat linguistics) but was instead humbled to the task of clearing away empty flutes and strawberry ends.

Returning to land turned out to be more of an issue than expected due to the sudden rush of boats all desperate to leave after the midnight firework display, but we were set ashore in Pyrmont and I braved a frenzy of drunken youths tossing bottles and weary homebodies who don’t usually stay up past 10pm all traipsing the streets to get home.
The firework display in Sydney is like no other, especially from our prime vantage point at sea. The fireworks were set off from four points to provide an encapsulating display from all angles. Admittedly, fireworks do never look as impressive caught on camera, but I’ve done my best to capture a few of the striking moments of the night sky.

Breezing out to Australia for my gap year, I was all ready for the blazing sun, blue seas and colossal waves topped with sandy haired surfers. Having found that the middle of Sydney didn’t cater to this field, we made out for Bondi and were unfortunately greeted by dismal skies which gradually developed into a cataclysmic pouring of rain

(I didn’t think to bring any rain gear with me so a towel sufficed in place of an umbrella. This is also a prime example of the time I waste tailing behind stray cats all over the world)

img_7108

The rain then progressed into a good old thunderstorm, fairly common round these parts, so the beach day and plan for tan enhancements was written off in favour of lunch and lurking at the back of Bondi Wholefoods, peering out at the skies.

img_7035

The cafe was fairly quiet, it being mid afternoon, but passers by started flooding in with the rain, sheltering from the outside tables in the collection of plush chairs and assorted cushions within.

I have nothing bad to say about this little cafe apart from a little disappointment at them having run out of the mixed salads on offer! The service was swift, and the staff really friendly in providing the well sought after wifi and accommodating for us swapping tables three times to escape the rain. I went for the avocado toast (buried under the rocket), and Alice the sweet potato wrap.

img_7036
img_7037

The menu is extensive, and not vegan would you believe it, but based rather on whole and healthy. Other options include cacao berry pancakes, a pesto chicken sandwich, or a huge list of smoothies with health boosters such as maca an spirulina. They also have an amazing variety of raw snacks and cakes, and a shop section selling all the upmarket goodies such as buckinis, tea and organic fruit and veg. I’ve personally fallen a little in love with carob chocolate and the Banjo bears sold here.

img_7040

After lounging about and waiting pitifully for the rain to cease, we gave up, sprinted for the bus stop under towels and gave up on Bondi until slightly sunnier weather shows.

img_7038


open 7 days a week, 7am-7pm!
30a Hastings Parade
(Corner Wairoa Avenue)
North Bondi Beach
NSW 2026

Peanut Butter Problems

I’ve gained quite a reputation over the recent months, and for good reason. I’ve turned up for nights out equipped with small Tupperware pots of peanut butter. A friend, whilst scrolling through my Tinder matches, pointed out a rather large and alarming facial deformity on one of the boys. Even I was a little puzzled – although found on second inspection that this was just in fact a stray smear of peanut butter on my screen. I’ve been collecting empty jars of Nuts-n-more and have been repeatedly asked why. Unfortunately I can’t even really answer that question myself. I suppose the 40 odd empty jars of peanut butter are some claim to my peanut butter throne/proof of the large quantities I manage to get through.

A creature of habit, I’ve stuck to Nuts-n-more (particularly the salted caramel variety) with a ferocious devotion. I have however strayed afield on the odd occasion, and have decided to spread my peanut butter knowledge far and wide, to promote the best of the nut butters and save you all from making similar mistakes.


fullsizerenderfullsizerender-10

BRAND Nuts-n-More (Salted Caramel)
TASTE One of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Not too sweet, but then again I do have a desperate sweet tooth and this is probably the sweetest out of my peanut butter collection. Melt in the mouth soft caramel taste.
TEXTURE You have to stir like hell upon opening to mix in the upper layer of solid oil. I made the mistake of once pouring it out and the result is a thick and grainy spread which you can’t really do much with – mixing it in leaves it smooth and spreadable.
NUTRITION 100g for 553cals, 35f 23c 35p
PRICE Various, £7 on Musclefood.com

fullsizerender-11fullsizerender-14

BRAND Nuts-n-More (White Chocolate)
TASTE Not as good as the caramel but still really pleasant and sweet – less discernible as white chocolate and more overall sweetness.
TEXTURE A little thicker than the caramel.
NUTRITION 100g for 582, 36f 27c 36p
PRICE £7 on Musclefood.com

fullsizerenderfullsizerender-2

BRAND Dr Zaks (Salted Caramel)
TASTE One of the runners up for second to Nuts-n-more, although I’ve found taste can vary between batches of this. Dr Zaks has a slight burnt caramel taste which is quite pleasant.
TEXTURE Grainier in texture than most other nut butters but otherwise smooth and spreadable, but does usually require ardent forearm strength for stirring in the excess oil on top before opening.
NUTRITION 100g for 590cals, 44f 10c 35p
PRICE £9.95 for 3 on Musclefood.com

fullsizerender-8fullsizerender-9

BRAND Proper Nutty (Smunchy)
TASTE Recommended by a friend and not my usual style (there is a sad absence of artificial sweeteners here…). However I do feel like the picture of health when eating it, due to the absence of salt and sweetener.
TEXTURE Smunchy, get it? I’m not a big fan of crunchy peanut butter but the half/half here is a nice change.
NUTRITION 100g for 632cals 53f 4c 28p
PRICE £3.99 on Amazon

fullsizerender-5fullsizerender-15

BRAND GoNutrition Whey More Nuts (Cinnamon Spice)
TASTE Alright if you’re a big fan of cinnamon, which I am, but lacks sweetness in favour of full on cinnamon blast.
TEXTURE Very thick, not quite crunchy but not smooth either, I’m guessing due to the presence of whey.
NUTRITION 100g for 512cals 35f 8c 51p
PRICE £9.49 on Amazon

fullsizerender-6fullsizerender-7

BRAND Peanut Butter & Co. (Cinnamon Raisin Swirl)
TASTE Probably on par with Dr Zaks as my second favourite peanut butter (and probably due to the higher sugar content and absence of infused whey!) The cinnamon flavour here is light and sweet, the peanut butter itself darker and aromatic, with the extra treat of little raisins floating about inside.
TEXTURE Doesn’t need mixing as the oil doesn’t seem to separate, but thicker than their other flavours – more for spooning than pouring.
NUTRITION 100g for 500cals 34f 40c 18p
PRICE £6 on Amazon / sold at various

fullsizerender-12fullsizerender-13

BRAND Peanut Butter & Co. (Mighty Maple)
TASTE Super sweet with a very light taste of maple.
TEXTURE Sort of ideal peanut butter texture; not too runny but neither too thick.
NUTRITION 100g for 562c 43f 37c 18p
PRICE £6 on Amazon / sold at various

fullsizerender-3fullsizerender-4

BRAND Pip & Nut (Crunchy Maple)
TASTE Like I said I’m not huge on crunchy nut butters but this finds a good balance between the less processed, health advocating side of peanut butter life, and subtle maple sweetness.
TEXTURE Although runnier than most other peanut butters, this doesn’t require stirring – runny enough to pour on to things.
NUTRITION 100g for 588c 46f 14c 26p
PRICE £6 for 1 on Amazon or £13 for 6 (I don’t know…)

I’ve dabbled in many other peanut butters but these are the only survivors in my cupboard. I’m keen to continue reviewing any others that I try, and of course would never be adverse to reviewing any peanut butter posted my way!

no hints or anything…

1 2 3 4