Hi fam, it’s been a minute. I had a fantastic time visiting England at the start of 2022. It was so so lovely to spend some time with family & friends and to be able to travel again in general after the insane two years in-&-out of lockdowns. I started documenting my travels (& my day-to-day) activities in the form of short video clips in 2021 and share them at the end of each month in what I call 'a few seconds a day' monthly summary—and that has been really fun. (see here: Jan '22 & Feb '22)
But I wanna go in-depth and document some of my observations in a longer form type of content because I very much want to remember all the little details about this trip & hence this blog post.
I'm bummed that the images I have are of rather low quality because I barely took any still images—almost all of the images I attach here are screenshots from my 'a few seconds a day' clips. 😔 but it is what it is!
Farmhouse Cottage Living.
We started the trip with a week away at a farmhouse for some lovely peace and quiet time where there was nothing to do but read and take long walks in the countryside to look at sheep.
Low & Ultra-Low Emission Zones.
High levels of air pollution comes with the territory of big cities.
Whether you stroll the streets of London or the underground, you’re bound to inhale fumes, smokes and dust. Especially for me—I have extremely sensitive eyes and I tend to wear contact lenses and London’s wind would make sure I can ‘see’ all and any particles hanging around in the air.
However, 2022 trip hit different.
I noticed signs on the roads that read ‘Low Emission Zone’. Apparently the scheme has been around for quite some time (over a decade now, since 2008).
You could say it's all anecdotal that I noticed a considerable improvement in air quality but I did look it up and there seems to be data supporting air quality improvement in London in recent years. I'm honestly just hopeful for the future to learn that air quality can truly be improved with strengthened policies & that the damage is certainly not irreversible.
Increase Steps, Decrease Screen Time.
If there is any flex in this entire blog post, it’s this one.
We were in the UK for just a little bit over a month and we walked on average ≈10km daily! We probably got more steps that month than the whole of last year combined☺
During this period, my screen time had never been lower. This, owing to the fact that I did not have a sim card and therefore, no data (funnily enough, I also survived my 3-year undergrad without a sim card). Not having data obviously forced me to live more fully in the present and I gotta say what a difference that makes!
But the most fascinating observation of all is the fact that I shockingly did not for once experience any back pain—something that is almost guaranteed for me with walking.
Some backstory: I am no stranger to walking. In fact, each and every vacation that I take warrant at least 10km of walking per day which also warrant lower back pain. I always found that odd because while my legs remained pain-free, it’s always the lower back that takes the hardest hit. I couldn’t even do a kettlebell deadlift without the arrival of the lower back pain after the 1st set and I had always assumed it was my posture that needed improvement. It started to become all too familiar. & so being back pain-free after 4 weeks of walking is suspicious.
I got to thinking hard about how this could be and it finally dawned on me that it’s all due to the core workouts that I started doing a few months before the trip. Prior to this, I was a cardio girl through and through. For over a decade, I despised core workouts and made peace with my weak core because I thought what I couldn’t do in core exercises, I would make up with cardio exercises. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that because like most things in life, balance takes the cake.
It never occurred to me that the culprit was my weak core! but it makes so much sense why that is now. A weak core leads to poor posture which leads to additional pressure on the lower back. So if there is one lesson from this, it’s work on your core.
fyi the core workouts that I started doing were the wee 10-minute ones—amazing to realize it doesn’t take much to see progress; all it takes is to show up ;)
Plant-based Gone Mainstream.
I haven’t been adhering to the plant-based diet as much over the past few months as I had been the past year and a half because—I hate to say it—but life got in the way.
To say Plantbased has gone mainstream in the UK is almost an understatement. It's truly remarkable to see not just the awareness but also the preference in favour of plant-based diet in the UK in the last couple of years.
Today, every supermarket has a plant-based aisle and is competitively coming up with innovative products every several weeks, every restaurant has several plant-based options (starters, mains & desserts) and there's even a whole aisle in the bookshop dedicated to plant-based recipe books. I love it :')
My favorite has been the Marks and Spencer Plantbased bacons - honestly the texture is just great!
I think (or at least, I hope) this is another step forwards for the animals.
Monmouth Coffee: Loan-Cups Scheme.
An Industry Leader Move.
Our trip to London wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the famous Monmouth Coffee and so we popped a visit to the one in Borough Market. My husband got some fresh coffee beans alongside a cup of espresso-to-go.
We got chatting to the lovely lady who was serving us and she asked my husband if he had brought a reusable cup with him and it went like this:
Him: ‘Oh sorry, no’.
Her: ‘That’s alright! It’s just—from March onwards, we are no longer serving takeaway coffees in disposable cups—because even though these are ‘paper cups’, there’s actually a plastic lining inside meaning they’re not actually recyclable.’
Us: ‘uh huh.. hmm.. oh wow okay’... [pretending we’re clueless because it’s better to feign ignorance when we knew better and didn’t do better than to admit awareness and didn’t do better [Hah!] petitefootprint literally blushed
Her: ‘Yeah, so you either have to sit in for a coffee or pay a £5 deposit for one of our loan-cups. When you return the cup, you’ll be able to have your £5 back’
Us: ‘oh that’s great! That’s such a great idea!’
We left the coffee shop awestruck that they can afford to pull a power move like this. after all, they are Monmouth Coffee; I mean can you imagine a smaller coffee shop turning customers away because they didn’t bring a reusable cup? That would just be suicidal for the business. However, once customers have adapted / are familiar with the idea of BYO (bring your own) or pay a deposit for a reusable cup—as initiated by industry leaders such as Monmouth, it would eventually become the norm and smaller businesses can follow suit without fear of retribution from uninformed customers.
✨So yeah, it just got me thinking about the power that industry leaders have in leading the way towards changes for the better. ✨
Let me just say, being zero waste while you’re staying still is hard as it is, imagine being so on the go. I mean we tried (or at least, I did; I didn’t order any coffee out because 1. I believe in compound savings rather than spending on weekly coffee takeaways or any beverages for that matter lol and 2. I can count on my husband and my sister to order theirs and steal a sip or two which would sufficiently satisfy me).
Anyway, for the reason above, I decided to forgo judging my husband for his daily coffee ordering without his reusable cup. [We were on the move and had to travel light but if it were completely up to me, an extra reusable cup in the bag wouldn’t noticeably add to the weight, but ultimately I’m not the one who carries our tote bag up so it is what is]. 🤷🏻♀️But hey at least we have never not had a tote bag with us ;)
Just UK Tings.
Other than visiting the beautiful Cambridge, Bath & Nottingham, we took my sister to her first West End Musical & of course it had to be our childhood favorite—The lion king.
An unforgettable memory is when we ordered a soju without checking the price & never again! (£12); surviving storm Eunice is another!
Being based in East London - we were literally living the “shoreditch in the afternoon” (iykyk); I sing this line every time we walk to shoreditch in the afternoon! Also whenever my husband took me to Bond Street—
me: where are we going?
him: bond street.
me: I told you!.. It doesn't have to be 'louis V up on bond street, just wanna be w you.. wanna be w you!
—it had to be done.
Finally, before i go, I must give a mention to the two YA books that I devoured on the plane ride journey to & fro.
if anyone is looking for a book that grips until the end, these are it! because i certainly didn't sleep or touch the inflight entertainment system.
That just about sums it up!
alright, I better go figure out a plan to finance my next trip now & until then have a lovely day frens xx