Vegan Mofo 2017 #16: The Hip Hop Chip Shop

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

I found myself in Manchester just over a week post op for a few days before I came up here to Edinburgh to see out the rest of my recovery. Being so far away from home for so long, I had a few friends who were keen to see me before I left for Scotland. Of course I suggested a meal out and I had just the place in mind.

For a short while The Hip Hop Chip Shop set up at Kosmonaut Bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Unfortunately their run at Kosmonaut ended at the beginning of this month but there are plans for them to open their own place in Ancoats next year and they can also be found at Media City most weekdays, so check out their Facebook Page to see where they’re at!

This was the perfect place for us all to meet. What better way to celebrate my top surgery than to eat everything covered in batter?!

I was really impressed with all the vegan options on their menu. They have a Veganstarr Meal of Battered Sausage, Chips & Mushy Peas. At around £7 it’s not the cheapest chippy but the portions are HUGE and you get a vegan chippy meal that is very hard to find in the UK.

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Also, the sides are so where it’s at. Chilli Batter Onion Rings, Chilli Batter Plantain and Battered Gherkins? Oh God get in my mouth.

The best part? If you bring your own chocolate bar they’ll batter and fry it for 50p. So OF COURSE I brought a few things to try out.

Ananda’s Wagon Wheel

Verdict: 9/10

This was a winner, I think the bulkiness made it a really good option for deep frying, it wasn’t too greasy and you got a good bite. It was soft, warm, sugary and delicious. The only thing stopping it getting 10/10 is that the marshmallow didn’t really melt, it just went softer. Damn you vegan mallow!

Go Max Go Twilight Bar

Verdict 6/10

I expected amazing things from this chocolate bar but the result was (don’t hate me) a bit too much. It was SO sweet and sickly. Perhaps if I hadn’t eaten if after a HUGE battered meal I would have enjoyed it more. But it was also quite greasy because it was quite flat. Of course I would eat it all over again.

I really loved The Hip Hop Chip shop and I’m so excited for them to be opening their own place next year. It would be great if they had some more vegan main options. A battered vegan chicken burger and definitely some battered vegan fish. These fake meats are all relatively easy to come by and would keep us vegans going back time and time again!

 

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Vegan Mofo 2017 #14: Gelato & The Beach

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

7 days post op was a lovely sunny Bank Holiday Monday in Brighton. Two of my favourite people came to visit me from London that day and I was keen to get out in the sun and eat some good food.

Sadly it was quite a short visit, as two of us weren’t in the best of shape, but we definitely made the most of the few hours we had together.

We started off by heading down to the Laines in search of Gelato while we had a catch up. A few years ago, I would have been insisting we go to Boho Gelato and nowhere else, but honestly, the few times I popped in during the run up to surgery, the flavours were too fruity and boring for me. I decided to get down to Gelato Gusto, who have a wide range of vegan options and queues going right down the street.

I was not disappointed in the offer there that day. I had an amazing selection of Salted Caramel, Pistachio and Mango Raspberry (I’m sure this was the third flavour, though I was high on drugs so who knows?!) There were quite a few other flavours available, all clearly labelled but the staff are super friendly if you want to double check what is and isn’t vegan.

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I love love loved the Pistachio. It was so creamy and full of flavour. Salted Caramel was amazing as it always is, it’s sweet…what’s not to love? I did enjoy the fruity flavour, it was rich and creamy and a nice addition to the other two scoops that were there.

After Gelato we had a quick stroll by some of the shops and I went via Loving Hut to pick up my favourite of an Ocean Burger and Sweet n Sour Chicken Balls to take down to the beach. I wanted to eat a fishy burger and chips by the sea!

I love Brighton Beach because it’s not a sandy beach, it’s stones! Yay! No shitty annoying sand in my shoes and between my toes. It’s heaven for me! We found a nice patch and settled down for a wee lie down. The sun was beaming down and it was HOT, so I decided to roll my trousers up, whip my shirt off and chill out in my post op binder.

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Taps Aff

I was so happy here, I’ve never felt that comfortable on beaches before but it was pretty liberating to get my top off at the beach. Dream come true! I only managed around 15-20 minutes in the sun before I started to worry that I’d burn before my post op appointment the next day, and retreated back to the shade.

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Me and my amazing friend Joanna ❤

It was such a beautiful fun day out with friends and reminded me how much I love Brighton when the weather is so good. It was nice to finally be up for getting out and about to enjoy the place. I definitely recommend checking out Gusto Gelato and despite being a bit mean about the vegan options at Boho Gelato, they’re also pretty great and worth checking out too. Who says you can’t have Gelato twice in one day?

That’s all for today, hope you all have a wonderful Saturday!

Vegan Mofo 2017 #12: Tasty Foods at Purezza Pizza in Brighton

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

Despite not having much energy and my lack of mobility, I was determined to eat out at a restaurant during my stay in Brighton. My lovely friend Bryn suggested heading down to Purezza, a new (for me at least) Vegan Italian place in town.

We had a gentle stroll down and got there for around 7pm. There were no free tables as the place was absolutely packed, but we were told the wait wouldn’t be too long and given menu’s to check out.

Oh my gosh, there was so much to choose from here. I got really excited about the various pizza’s on offer and then spotted Mac n Cheese. Goddammit, it’s not fair to have both pizza and mac on the menu! Luckily for me, Bryn is an absolute babe and offered to share a main course of Mac as a side dish. A genius idea that I was incredibly grateful for, this man understands me <3, he is a good human.

I was still umming and ahhing over what pizza I fancied by the time we were given a table. It took me a while to choose between the Parmiagana Party (Smoked Mozzarella, fried sausage, fried aubergine, nooch and basil) and the One Night in Bangkok (white base, stir fried veg, sprouted beans, peanut sauce and siracha). I decided to go for the Parmiagana because I frigging love sausage.

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Look at that pizza. So beautiful. I have to say, this was really really good. I love sourdough pizza bases and the toppings worked really well together. I devoured this.

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I also got to try some of Bryn’s Couch Potato (white base, smoked mozzarella, sliced roast potatoes, fried aubergine and pea pancetta). THIS WAS A GOOD CHOICE. A GOOD CHOICE INDEED! Roast potatoes on pizza is a genius idea. I love carbs and loved my slice of heaven.

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I also really liked the Mac n Cheese. It had the delicious pea pancetta on top, but I’m also sure that there was pea in the cheese sauce, it had a really unusual sweetness to it. It wasn’t the cheesiest mac I’ve had, but it was super tasty, different from anything I’ve had and had a beautiful savoury taste to it. It was a bit weird, but in a good way for me, I loved it.

After eating all this, I was absolutely stuffed. Which was a real shame because there were some amazing sounding desserts that I wanted to try…Oreo Pizza anyone?

Overall, I was super impressed with my visit to Purezza. Service was great, the food came out quickly and it all tasted amazing. It is quite pricey, but then it’s not your typical fast food pizza and I thought the quality of the food was definitely worth the price. The menu has some really interesting combinations on it, I’m definitely going to have to return and try out some more dishes…the Lasagne, Raw Smoked Salmon and Cheesy Bites are calling my name!

 

Vegan Mofo 2017 #10: Post Surgery Cake Times in Brighton

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

The first week post surgery is probably the most difficult. It wasn’t particularly agonising, but it wasn’t always comfortable and distractions between napping were welcomed.

One of my favourite distractions is cake. Cake generally makes most things more bearable, unless it’s bad cake. That’s the worst. Luckily for me, I was in the right place to get access to cake. I thought I’d show you a few tasty cakes I enjoyed during my first week post op

Real Patisserie Kemp Town

I was particularly lucky that I had a vegan cake option just 15 minutes walk from where I was staying. My wonderful friend who looked after me for this first week went out and got me this beautiful Tiramisu within an hour of being back at his place.

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I don’t usually like boozy or coffee cakes but this was delicious. The coffee and alcohol weren’t too strong, it was rich and delicate and just goddamn delicious. I was so thankful and happy to be presented with something so beautiful.

And it wasn’t just all the morphine that made this cake experience so magical, a few days later I pottered down and bought another one which was just as good.

Metro Deco

This was another magical cake experience. My friend knows the best places for cake in Brighton it seems, this is one of his favourite places and my god, the cake is GOOD.

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I went for a slice of the lemon cake. Now, this photo doesn’t particularly do it justice and glazed cakes never look particularly fancy but this cake was wonderful. So much flavour, the sponge was so light and fluffy, melting in my mouth. I tried to eat it slowly but it was so good I hoovered it up at rapid speed. I kept meaning to come back here to try more cakes but sadly didn’t get the chance. I will have to return when I’m next down there.

Also, this place is just lovely to sit and chill out in. Cute decor, teapots, lovely seats. It’s very nice. If you’re close by, definitely pop in. I noticed they do some vegan savoury options like sausage rolls too.

Wai Kika Moo Kau

I’d not been to Wai Kika Moo Kau for a really long time, so I was super happy when my friend Laura mentioned popping in when we met after my post op. I really needed cake after that experience and I knew there would be lots of choice here.

I did have a look at the savoury options, I don’t think the menu has changed in all this time and wasn’t the most exciting, so I stuck with a banana shake and a slice of raspberry cake.

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The cake was really good, great flavour, nice sponge. It was a little soggy from the fruit, but I don’t care! The shake was meh, bit too healthy for my tastes personally. I like a nice filthy shake made with ice cream and topped with sugary whipped cream.

So those are the three places I visited for cake during my week stay. I had some pretty good eating there! It’s a shame that I wasn’t more mobile and able to try other places, but considering the state I was in, I did pretty good!

Where are your favourite cake spots in Brighton? I’m definitely going back so recommendations are welcome!

Vegan Mofo 2017 #9: Eating Vegan in Hospital

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

Yesterday I wrote about my experience of having surgery at the Nuffield Hospital in Brighton. Today I’ll be writing about the food during my stay, as I felt it warranted its own post.

Eating vegan at a hospital has always been a bit of a worry for me. I’ve heard of and witnessed horror stories from some dear friends of mine, who have either been given nothing at all, something that isn’t vegan or plain dry baked potatoes during their hospital stays. I had higher hopes once I had chosen the Nuffield because I had heard good things about this hospital and also with it being private rather than NHS, I did have higher expectations of them.

I confirmed my dietary needs in my Pre-Op appointment and was assured that vegan menus were available, so I sort of left it at that and hoped for the best. Looking back I wish I hadn’t done this, it wasn’t the worst experience but honestly, it wasn’t great considering that a nights stay at that place comes in at £500.

When I arrived at my room I had someone from the catering team come and hand me a menu for lunch. I explained straight away that I was vegan and had mentioned this previously and asked to see the vegan menu. I was asked if I could check that none of the lunch menu was suitable, they were all meaty, cheesy and eggy sandwich options.

The only vegan menu they had was for dinner. These options were actually pretty good, there was a Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce, Bean Patties with a Tomato Sauce and a Lentil Curry. There was also an option for a fruit or jelly dessert I think, but that was so boring I skipped it. I decided to go for lentil curry as the thought of eating Spaghetti a few hours after being butchered sounded a little tricky.

The catering assistant took my dinner order and said she would go and speak to the chef about vegan options. This was really frustrating because I had been told that they have vegan menus for all their meals, I really didn’t want the added stress of worrying about food when I was about to have major surgery. When they returned they told me that the chef just asked what I wanted and they would make it.

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This is so unhelpful. I don’t know what they have in their kitchen, so how am I supposed to know what to suggest? Of course I’d love a fake chicken salad baguette, or a vegan cheese and pesto toasty, but of course they probably can’t do this. I ended up asking for the most boring option of hummus sandwich with salad because I didn’t want to have this back and forth with the chef over what ingredients they have. They probably could have made me something a bit more exciting and filling but it wasn’t worth the faff.

I had the same problem with the breakfast menu, nothing was marked specifically vegan. I was told they have veggie sausages that may be vegan, so I went for the fry up without egg (so mushrooms, tomato, baked beans, toast) and said if the sausages were vegan I would have them too.

So, what did I end up getting? Well, due to my surgery being delayed I didn’t end up getting lunch as I was in theatre until nearly 4pm. But I’m sure that sandwich was just as boring as I expected it to be.

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Dinner was really nice. It’s a shame I felt so nauseous because I was really struggling with the texture of it. I actually think the bean patties may have been easier to stomach as chewing the rice was making me feel sick. But, the flavours were great, it was a nice curry and a generous portion. I only managed maybe 6-8 bites but it was good, I can’t knock it.

Breakfast the following morning was a total disappointment. It came pretty late on in the morning so I was super glad I’d packed some Ella’s Smoothies in my bag as I was super hungry after not being able to eat much the night before.

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So obviously, there were no vegan sausages available. Disappointing because it’s not hard to get some in and if they have veggie ones they might as well be suitable for vegans too. But fine, I’ve had breakfasts without veggie sausage before, but you’d think whoever made me this would have the common sense to add a little extra of everything on my plate considering I was having to skip the egg and sausage. I shouldn’t really have to explain that, it’s obvious this isn’t a substantial breakfast. Thankfully they didn’t skimp on the toast.

I would probably be less scathing if I received this at an NHS hospital because they are super understaffed, busy and I know that I would probably need to bring some extra food in. But when I’m paying £500 for a nights stay and I’ve given advance notice of my dietary requirements, this isn’t great. Also, what’s the point of only having a vegan menu for one meal? Just do a proper one for breakfast lunch and dinner.

So, it wasn’t the worst experience but I know next time to bring more supplies. Luckily I had those smoothie things and a brownie, but next time I’ll probably bring along some more soft foods to eat, so bananas, fruit purees, soya pudding etc.

Have you had vegan food in hospital? What was your experience like?

EDIT: Have to say, I’m very impressed. Within 20 minutes of posting this review and tagging Nuffield Health, I’ve already had a response from them. They have thanked me for the feedback and will be taking it forward to the catering team. Really great news, I hope that things improve for future vegan patients!

Vegan Mofo #6: Celebratory Feast at Zad’s Vegan Takeaway

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

I decided to work right up until the day before I had to travel to Brighton for my surgery. In some ways it was good to have a distraction, but also the fear had set in by this point and I was finding it really hard to think of anything else.

I was mostly concerned about spending the last night at home alone worrying, so I invited my work colleagues out for a celebratory farewell feast at an amazing new vegan takeaway in Chorlton….

Zad’s specialises in filthy vegan pizza and burgers. I’m thrilled this place has opened up so close to where I live. This is definitely something that South Manchester needs and perfect for Chorlton, which could do with more vegan friendly fast food options.

I’ve been to Zad’s quite a few times now and I’ve been very impressed. Service has always been quick considering it’s been packed every single time I’ve visited. Even on their opening night they were calm and on top of orders, which I wasn’t expecting! So just to give you a hint of what they have to offer, here are a few options on their menu

Seitan BBQ Pizza – BBQ sauce base, cheese, spiced seitan, mixed peppers, sweetcorn and red onion

The Revolution Pizza – Fresh tomato sauce, cheese, avocado, pineapple, mixed peppers & scotch bonnet chillies – optional hot sauce

Pig Save Pizza – Fresh tomato sauce, cheese, smoky maple strips, hot dog, pepperoni & smoked seitan. *50p from each pizza will be donated to local animal save groups or vegan charities.

Zad Burger – Double patty, cheese, avocado & either an onion or pineapple ring, you choose. 

Loaded Hot Dog

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Chicken Niggets, Curly Fries, Cheesy Fries, Loaded Fries, Onion Rings…

Have you managed to stop drooling yet? They even have cake. This place is magic.

I’ve managed to delete the photos I took from my phone, but I have previous food porn I can show off from here. So here goes!

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Pig Save Pizza

Pig Save Pizza – Good God, this is good. Gimme all the faux meats and cheese! I particularly like the maple tempeh on here. Also, 50p from each pizza going to a good cause? Zad’s are good peoples.

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Seitan BBQ

Seitan BBQ Pizza – This pizza is ace. They’ve got the right amount of BBQ sauce with seitan and cheese ratio. This is one of my favourites for sure

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Cheesy Garlic Bread

Cheesy Garlic Bread – Basically another pizza but oh my god this is so good. They are very generous with the cheese so if you’re not too keen on huge amounts of vegan cheese, ask them to cut back a bit. For me this is perfect. So garlicky and greasy. I love it.

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Gary, Nuggets, Zad Burger

Gary Pizza – So many cheeses. So many goddamn cheeses. YESSS.

Zad Burger – Just what you’d expect for a typical dirty takeaway burger. They use Fry’s patties and are similar to the old style burgers V Rev Diner used to make on their old premises.

Nuggets – they’re deep fried, what’s more to say?

They also sell really good cupcakes made by the amazing Gorgosaurus Vegan Bakery

So if you’re Manchester based and haven’t been yet, what are you waiting for? Get on down to Zad’s and stuff yer face!

Vegan Mofo 2017 #3: Pre-Op Appointment & Loving Hut Review

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A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.

I was pretty lucky that I had my surgery in the Vegan Heaven that is Brighton. Back when I lived in Croydon 5 or so years ago I used to pop over to Brighton quite a lot, but these days it’s a bit too far for me to travel down regularly.

The process of having surgery requires quite a few trips to the hospital. I had an initial Consultation at the beginning of May, a Pre-Op at the beginning of August, the Surgery visit on August 22nd and then a Post-Op a week later. That’s a lot of trips to Brighton, so lucky me I had the opportunity to eat some really good food.

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I thought I’d talk a little bit about my Pre-Op before discussing some tasty food. I’m a massive tease like that. I had a fair bit of anxiety about the appointment but it was pretty straightforward.

The assessment took place just 2 weeks before my surgery date. I had a very short appointment with my surgeon, followed by a longer one with a nurse. The meeting with my surgeon was very similar to my consultation but a lot quicker, I was probably only in the room for 10 minutes. All it involved was quickly going over what was discussed at the initial consultation. So, checking in that we were talking about the same procedure, confirming that I had signed all the consent forms that detail risks and potential complications and then the hard part, taking off my top and letting my surgeon take a photo of my chest.

It was a bit easier this time round as I had done it before at the consultation, but if you have a lot of dysphoria around that area then it will be difficult. I couldn’t bring myself to even let my partner see my chest, so having a complete stranger look at, touch and discuss this part of my body was a real challenge. It involved a lot of self care before and after.

The pre-op showing of chesticles was a lot quicker though. I went behind a curtain, removed my shirt and bra, my surgeon popped in, quickly looked and took a photo and it was over. I don’t think I even had my top off for 30 seconds. It is very fast and of course they are used to doing this and are very sensitive and professional.

After that I had an hour or so to wait before my appointment with the nurse. While I waited I filled in a health questionnaire. This just involved questions about my health obviously, a bit of family history, had I had surgery before, what medication do I take, do I have allergies etc. All straight forward, you’ll need to know your NHS number and to bring along your medication in the boxes they come in.

I then had a quick chat with the nurse about what I would expect to happen on the day, a bit about anaesthetic and the risks involved and then some information about post surgery care. I had to buy 2 post op binders for £14 and was given a special sponge to wash with on the day of surgery.

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A nice creepy and clinical photo of an ECG for you here

Then came the tests. I had to get weighed, give a urine sample, a blood test and some MRSA swabs. I’m used to blood tests now even though I’m terrified of needles, so that was okay. The swabs were strange, I got to do my groin one myself to save on awkwardness but the ones up the nose are fricking weird. After these tests I had my blood pressure taken and then an Electrocardiogram (ECG). I had to take my shirt off but was able to keep my bra on. If you have a binder you might have to take it off for this, so if this feels uncomfortable for you, get hold of a cheap sports bra. This looks way scarier than it is, you have those sticky pads attacked to wires go on certain parts of your body, you imagine you’re going to get shocked or something…but it’s actually boring, you won’t feel a thing.

That was it. I was told that I was incredibly healthy, in a really good place to have surgery and that if anything came up in my blood tests or swabs I would be contacted in a few days and given a course of treatment before my surgery date. I was free to go!

Despite it running so smoothly, I’d had a lot of anxiety before so I was ready to eat ALL the foods after this. I caught a bus to the North Laines and went to one of my favourite chains of all time, Loving Hut

This Loving Hut has a selection of burgers, breakfasts and some really great Chinese dishes. You can also get milkshakes, cakes, brownies and other sweet treats. I decided to go for my favourite, an Ocean Burger with a side of Chicken Balls and Sweet & Sour Sauce.

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Ocean Burger, Chicken Balls and Passionfruit Lemonaid

The Ocean Burger is battered vegan fish, with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and tartar sauce. The Balls are self explanatory. God I love them. This burger was just as good as I remembered and it was really nice to have a favourite dish of mine, nice and comforting after a stressful few days

The cakes on offer at the North Laines Loving Hut never seem as exciting as those at the St Peters Place location, they were all Chai and Matcha when I wanted something a bit more filthy. I headed over to the Loving Hut Cafe to pick up some cake before I got my train home, it’s handy as this one is on the way to the station. I got a slice of a Jam Sponge and a Chocolate Cake. Sadly I forgot to take photos but they were delicious!

I left Brighton with mixed feelings. Shitting myself that I’d be back in a few weeks to have the first operation I’ve ever had, but also excited that I’d be back to a place that offers so much tasty food!

Thanks for reading and for all the lovely kind and supportive comments so far. Feel free to share your own experiences below