Review: Vegan dining at Alchemilla, Nottingham

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2017 by yvettemartyn

Good news for all those eating a plant based diet, Alchemilla restaurant in Nottingham can prepare a 10 course vegan tasting menu and may soon be getting a Michelin Star.  Naturally, my partner and I were keen to check it out.  


The restaurant which opened in August 2017 is the brain child of head chef Alex Bond . Alex who previously cooked at Sat Bains in Nottingham, feels that people eat too much meat. As such, even the meat dishes at Alchemilla have a heavy emphasis on vegetables.

The décor is beautifully simplistic.  The building is a renovated coach house that sat empty for 150 years.  Exposed brickwork line the walls and terrariums are placed elegantly on the tables.

The booking system on the website is very good, you can instantly see the times that are available for lunch and dinner.  Although you’d be lucky to get a weekend evening reservation unless you’re planning several months in advance.

The bread...


When will I learn… stop filling up on bread. The bread was warm and delicious, it was accompanied by a olive oil vegan margarine served on a large black rock. When the waitress asked if we’d like some more I couldn’t resist.

1. BBQ Shiitake, mushroom ketchup, furikake

The first dish was one of our favourites, it had a Japanese feel to it with shiitake mushrooms marinated in a sweet BBQ sauce.  It was surrounded by dabs of mushroom ketchup dotted on the plate.  The fungi were garnished with a granulated seaweed coating, as fine as flour, it simply melts on your palate.


2. Hay smoked potato, onion, seaweed

The second dish was a pyramid of chopped seaweed and onion, covered with slithers of potato. It sat like an island in a pool of creamy sauce that tasted of miso.  Again a delicious dish.  The only negative feedback is that the bowl, while absolutely beautiful, was very deep.  I guess some thought went into this to spare messy eaters from splatters.  If it was a little bit shallower the dish would have been easier to get to.


3. Leek, hazelnut

A bed of pureed leek was placed below a piece of roasted leek.  The double helping of leek was encased in powdered hazelnut and was drizzled with chive oil and scattered with chopped hazelnuts.


4. Onion, wakame , peppercorn sauce

A whole baby onion was presented in a peppercorn sauce and diffused with chopped wakame seaweed.


5. Cauliflower, roasted yeast, almond

We felt this was a take on cauliflower cheese.  Florets of cauliflower were covered with an almond tuile, composed of glucose syrup and almond.  The cauliflower was flavoured with roasted yeast and tasted great with the glacé sugar topping.


6. Salt baked celeriac, roasted celeriac broth

All the celeriac! Pureed celeriac was concealed by salt baked celeriac and surrounded by a broth of roasted celeriac.  The plate was drizzled with chive oil and covered in thinly sliced raw mushrooms.  It was our least favourite savoury dish, but that’s only because the other dishes were amazing and we’re just not that into celeriac.


7. BBQ hispy cabbage, hazelnut, puffed rice

A piece of cabbage was barbequed to a crisp, I’m not a fan of the hint of charcoal taste you get with this kind of cooking method, as I feel it’s a bit bitter for my taste. But it’s to a lot of people’s liking and it was balanced well with the other components of the dish.  We loved the puffed rice and hazelnut shavings and it came in a smooth hazelnut milk doted with garlic and chive oil.


8. Apple pie

Next it was desert time and our first helping was especially special.  A warm poached apple was hidden beneath frozen granita.  The two were blended together as the iced granita melted against the warmer apple, a cool ice cream broth was produced around the jellified apple.

9. Chocolate, miso, banana, lime

A sauce of warm miso which tasted similar to salted caramel, was served with tepid banana, chocolate mousse and topped with a crispy chocolate wafer sprinkled with lime zest.

10. Prune, rice cream, pear

This was a take on rice pudding, the rice was placed beneath a tiny scoop of soft ice cream and surrounded with dabs of fruit flavoured gel and prunes.  It was scattered with shards of caramelised sugar.  Flavours of spiced pear complemented the cool creaminess of the pudding relaxing the palate as the meal came to a close.


Overall we felt that the meal was amazing. We were impressed that so much effort had gone into producing such an incredible plant based menu. We advise you to head down quickly as it’s only a matter of time before the restaurant is awarded a Michelin star.

A vegan dining experience at The Fat Duck, Bray

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2017 by yvettemartyn

On the High Street in Bray our eyes were drawn to a white cottage, illuminated to the extent that it sits almost in daylight in sharp contrast to the shadows that surround it.  Hanging from the building was a medley of silver cutlery which gently quivered in the breeze, subtly signalling to all that passed that they had reached The Fat Duck.


As we approached the building, a well suited man approached us with a smile on his face. He opened the exterior door and we were faced with a short corridor covered in mirrors.  Encaged within the reflective surfaces was a hologram, we were told to pay attention to the projected images as the symbols would become imperative to the journey we’d be going on.

Before we knew it one of the mirrors slid open and a young lady welcomed us through.  The dining area was white washed and minimalistic, a striking blend of new and old.  Cotton cloth covered the tables skimming against the ground. 

On the table there was a looking glass and a pamphlet detailing the journey, which had been inspired by Heston Blumenthal’s memories of holidaying in Cornwall as a child.  We were told we’d be taken on a trip with the hope that our own nostalgia would become evident at each stage of the voyage.

1.       The Day Before We Go: Are we nearly there yet?

Our waiter Liam swiftly wheeled a trolley towards us and told us we’d be having a cocktail.  He picked up a silver canister and a thick mousse was jetted onto a spoon which was dipped into liquid nitrogen.  The concoction was composed of chickpeas and flavoured with lime.  I’m told to eat the dish in one bite.  I don’t listen and as I took a small bite into the edge of the frozen shell the fragile mass splits apart creating a mess as my partner laughed: “here she is, my beautiful wife to be”.

A small sphere appeared next, made up of two pieces of aerated beetroot, sandwiched together by a green gel in the centre.  The deep purple ball disintegrated on my tongue almost instantaneously. 


Dish number three was a gin and tonic except there was no spirit or tonic water, in fact, there was no liquid present at all.  Instead we’re told we’d be experiencing the flavours associated with a gin and tonic but the actual composition was formed from a cumin coin and celery sorbet.


An envelope was laid on the table addressed to my partner and I, a wax seal on the back had the emblem of The Fat Duck.  Inside was a card congratulating us on our engagement and thanking us for celebrating it with them.

2.       Morning: Rise and shine, it’s breakfast time

We were brought a tiny glass of tea and told our drink would be half hot and half cold, the actual beverage had a thin gelatinous membrane down the centre which meant the left and right half of your mouth ended up receiving contrasting temperatures of liquid.


To accompany our tea, packets of breakfast cereals were handed to us.  In the packet was a wooden toy for us to build.  When constructed it became a money box which we placed a coin in.  We were given a bowl of “milk” and told to pour our cereal on the top and we’d be rewarded with a full English breakfast.  The milk was in fact white on the top but gelatinous underneath and when mixed together, our cereal and the jelly hiding under the skin of our “milk” tasted of toast, tomatoes, mushrooms and truffles.

3.       Mid-morning: First one to see the sea…

Well this is a sentimental voyage to Cornwall, and what is such a trip, without some time at the beach.

Large shells were brought to the table with earphones hanging from the opening, within the shell was a small ipod shuffle playing one track on a loop: the sound of waves crashing against the shore.  A box frame filled with sand was brought out.  On the glass sea marinated vegetables including Chinese lettuce glistened next to matt tapioca sand and kombu seaweed flavoured foam.  The salty taste was amplified by the acoustics of the sea which hit the back of your throat taking you straight back to the sensation of swallowing saltwater when swimming in the sea.


It was then time for some ice cream.  The first was a rocket lolly, with each layer tasting of the flavours of a Waldorf salad.  The second, a feast lolly which was in fact mushroom and fig and scattered with tiny pieces of nuts.  Lastly, came the classic 99, except the ice cream was tomato flavoured.

The final part of our trip to the beach was a play in the rock pool.  A black bowl was brought out reminiscent of layers of rock.  A white crab sat at the edge, he was made of cocoa butter we are told.  But before we had a chance to fully take note, hot liquid was poured over and he dissolved away into a liquid broth, forming a soup made of daikon radish and cucumber.


4.       Afternoon: If you go down to the woods today…

A terrarium was brought to the table, leaning against the tree within was a wooden castle.  This personal touch was in relation to our engagement, which had taken place in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland.  Liquid nitrogen was poured in and a mist covered our table with the scents of woodland.  A dish of mushrooms, truffles, beetroot and wood sorrel accompanied our olfactory experience.  A crispy mushroom brandy snap was the centre piece and was filled with glutinous cubes.


The waiter asked if we like being in the woodland, he then paused and said: “because you like walking up hills” I replied: “yes, in America” referring to my most favourite place in the world, Runyon Canyon.  My mind was catapulted to one of the only places in the world that I feel truly relaxed, hiking up the hero’s trail at sunrise.  The toughest ascent is extremely steep and has a sheer drop at the edge.  My heart always pounds, any loss of footing on the loose sand could spell disaster.  A mailbox used to greet you at the top with the words, “no pain, no gain”.  I’m back in the room as he said: “hills like this one” handing me a postcard of Runyon Canyon.

We were then given a bookmark referring to Alice in Wonderland in preparation for our mock turtle soup.  A transparent cup held a vegan “egg”, made of turnip and parsnip.  And a clear teapot with gold-leaf infused liquid accompanied, which we were instructed to pour onto our egg.  The overall effect was a soup flavoured with tomato and mushrooms. 


A very tiny sandwich then greeted us, a wafer within it melted in our mouths and hints of truffle hit our palates. 


We were then given some homemade sourdough bread with olive oil.  The bread was warm and comforting and I couldn’t help but take up the offer of an additional slice.

5.       Evening: Are you ready for dinner?

This is a dining experience, and it’s only fair that we should experience a three course meal, we were handed a set menu and shortly following this our starter was brought out: oyster mushroom with dabs of passion fruit gel and an assortment of pickled vegetables.


Our main was next, vegan “bone marrow” the bone marrow was made from daikon radish and had hints of garlic and a marmite broth was poured over the dish.  If I’m honest I didn’t find this dish very flavoursome.  However it did come with balls of herb infused eggfree mayonnaise, covered in bread crumbs which made me contemplate if this is what chicken kievs taste of (I’ve never had one).

From the other tables it appears that most of the dinners had whisky flavoured sweets for the next dish, so I was glad when tea flavoured gums were brought out to us, having never been a fan of such spirits.  The soft jellies melted in my mouth releasing hints of speciality teas as they dissolved.


The end of our three course meal was the much anticipated desert.  It was a representation of grapes, with gold fragile spheres, a beautifully crafted sugar leaf, a pure gold spiral and citrus flavours throughout. 


6.       Bedtime: Off to the Land of Nod.

A white box was brought to the table, a pillow levitated above as acoustic lullabies gently played.  On top of the pillow was a coconut oil frozen sweet.  The candy melted away almost instantaneously on my tongue.  This appeared to be a palate cleaner as plates of an additional desert were brought out.


A chocolate mousse was encased within a shimmering hard chocolate shell.  Alongside the cocoa flavoured delight was coconut ice cream made from rice milk.  Chocolate shavings were scattered underneath infused with popping candy that danced on the palate.


7.       And then to dream…

To take us right back to our childhood a large wooden sweet shop was wheeled out.  We were  asked to take our coins out of our money boxes and hand them to the waiter, who placed them into a slot.  Doors opened within the wooden model shop until one remained exposed.  The waiter took his sweet shop scoop and placed the contents in a pick-and-mix bag for us to take home.

The journey was almost over but not before we were made to feel incredibly special, Liam asked if we’d like a kitchen tour, which we jumped at the chance of.  We were taken to the back of house to see how everything was prepared.  He also told us that the chefs were developing a vegan dish and they’d love to hear our thoughts… how could we resist.  A tiny envelope with an edible raspberry wax seal was brought out, inside sits the “Queen of Hearts”, a white chocolate decking card with a raspberry centre.

We had the most incredible evening.  We were thrilled that our vegan diet was accommodated so well.  We were also incredibly heartened by the personal touches.  The waiting staff were all incredibly attentive, James went to the bathroom at one point and when he returned his napkin had been folded for him.  At another point he sneezed and within moments a waitress was next to him offering him a box of tissues. 

The expertly crafted food made the evening special, but the nostalgic journey and the staff’s attitude made the night perfect.


Vegan Barbados

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2015 by yvettemartyn

For the last few years I’ve been taking all my holidays in Los Angeles where being a vegan is as common as wearing shoes, but thus when my annual leave came around in March I didn’t want to risk coming back without a suntan so I settled on Barbados.

The island is 21 miles long and 15 miles so everything is accessible including a selection of vegan restaurants.  If you want to taste some Rastafarian vegan culinary delights, then I’d recommend hiring a car.

Before you go, check the opening hours, a lot of places only open for lunch and many aren’t open at all on Sunday’s.


The Good Life


This place is a little gem, nestled away behind a shopping plaza.  It’s a small building with an outdoor feel as there are large openings at the front which blow the warm sea breeze in.  It’s run by Rastafarians who are incredibly nice.  We felt so welcomed by the two men working there, they spoke in such a calm friendly manner, it was impossible not to feel relaxed in such a tranquil setting.


Everything is vegan and the menu is a mix of faux meats in wraps alongside traditional dishes with an elaborate smoothie menu.  I had a tofu pitta with bbq chicken on the side and my partner had a mild coconut curry.


The Good Life, Rockley, Saint Michael, Barbados. 


On Hastings Main Road you’ll find the Quayside Centre Shopping Plaza, this looks a bit like a strip mall with a convenience store, cell phone store etc.  Stand and look at the shopping centre, walk to your right around the circumference of the centre towards the rear and you’ll see The Good Life, it’s a small building with it’s logo painted on the wall alongside it. 
Opens daily 10am-10pm




Although listed as “Vegan Friendly” on HappyCow, this place is so much more than that.  It has the vibe of a takeaway but there are a couple of tables, and a total of six chairs inside if you wanted to perch somewhere to eat your meal.  The owners are a couple who eat a vegan diet, completely free of dairy and egg but they do serve fish.


There is a large selection of vegan dishes which include: standard burgers, chick’in burger (tofu and chick pea), hot dogs etc.  They also serve a selection of fish (perfect if you’re partner isn’t a vegan).  They have an excellent selection of drinks including their “fruitis” which consists of vegan milk alongside fruit concoctions.


Their philosophy is to provide dishes made with local food and they even hand prepare a range of vegan ice cream using ingredients sourced locally including: coconut, seamoss, coffee and mango.  If you’re vegan you should definitely stop by.




How to find:
Hastings Main road, Christ Church
This is on Hasting’s Main Road opposite the Healthy Horizons Beach apartments


Currently opens 10am-9pm Mon-Sat


Sweet potato hummus and sweet potato fries

Sweet potato hummus and sweet potato fries

This is an all round beachside cafe serving meat, fish and some vegetarian options, it made it on my list because the staff were incredibly accommodating.  When I mentioned I was a vegan they checked with the kitchen and even brought me the pita bread wrapper so I could check the ingredients, they also offered to make additional dishes for me which weren’t on the menu.  They’re as accommodating with other diets such as Coeliacs and stock gluten free pasta.
I went for the sweet potato and garlic hummus which comes with vegan pita bread alongside this I had the sweet potato fries.  They also offered to make a stir fry or salad up for me as well.  This was a compromise with my partner (meat eater) who was recommended the blackened barracuda, which the waiter stated was the catch of the day and my partner found this excellent.


You cannot beat the views, we sat on a table looking directly at the ocean, with the sea waves coming in a few feet away. Take a brief stroll and you’re at Folkestone Marine Park, which has areas for swimmers to snorkel away from jet ski’s and a lifeguard on duty.




How to find:
Highway 1, Holetown.
This is in Holetown, an upmarket resort.  You access the restaurant from Highway one (the main road through the resort) where there is ample parking on site or you can come in directly from the beach.


Mon-Sat 11am-11pm
Sun 11:30am-11pm


Vegan Cottage
A medley of vegan cuisine at Vegan Cottage

A medley of vegan cuisine at Vegan Cottage

This place is a must for all vegans, it’s a little cottage transformed into a restaurant, and is the most “restaurant like” of all the vegan places I visited on the island, with formal seating and table clothes.


We were greeted by a lovely lady who asked a bit about our diets, I told her I’m a vegan and I’m not into spicy food and she was happy to accommodate.  She is genuinely interested in getting to know her guests and asked with interest about where we’re from and what our holiday plans were.


After a few minutes we were brought a plate of food, there are no menus here and you are dished up a mix of lovely vegan food which included: pasta, grains, split pea mash, mince, sausage, greens and salad.  The mix of flavours in the traditional Barbados cuisine made this place one of a kind.


We were also offered a refreshing home made juice (also lovely) and for desert we were brought a cassava flour muffin.  Total cost was 25BBD each (£8 a head for a main course, dessert and freshly made juice- you can’t beat that price!)




How to find:
Black Rock Road, Bridgetown, Barbados
Various people have explained how to get here on the web with quite confusing instructions, my advice is just to drive down Black Rock Road and keep your eyes open, it’s on the side of the road which is closest to the sea.  I’ve put a map here with it’s approximate location.

Evening dining by the sea at Naru

This is a Japanese beachside restaurant in Christ Church and the most upmarket restaurant on the list, it too serves meat and fish alongside vegetarian options.  But has a separate vegetarian menu, the restaurant has a “mock duck” which is suitable for vegans and the waiters are extremely attentive.


We were sat on a table next to the sea, with fire lanterns lighting up the sand as the waves broke just meters away.


The staff were able to check suitable items on the menu and accommodate my vegan diet.  When my partner and I wanted to share a starter of sushi but I wanted mine vegan without jalapeños and he wanted his half as spicy as possible, they let us know that this would be no problem at all.
I had the braised mock duck with rice, it was a bit sweet for my liking but my partner tells me this is what a traditional Hoisin sauce tastes like (I wouldn’t know).  My partner went for the catch of the day again and found it was cooked to perfection within a coconut and ginger emulsion.




How to find:
The Shak Shak Complex, Hastings, Christ Church, Barbados
(On The South Coast Boardwalk)
Top tip: when making a reservation, ask for a table by the sea


How Sainsburys caused a small tragedy

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2012 by yvettemartyn

It’s my New Years Resolution to write more so I have started the year with my first piece of writing, an email to the customer services department of Sainsburys.

Dear Sir/Madam

Yesterday I was faced with a predicament, I chose the option which would harm the environment the least, however events unfolded in a unpredictable manner and unfortunately due to decisions made by Sainsburys it resulted in a disastrous outcome.  Please allow me to elaborate.

I live 1.3miles from my nearest Sainsburys supermarket, I often have to decide whether I should drive or walk, if I drive I can use the reusable carrier bags I keep in the boot of my car, if I walk I do not have this luxury and must utilise the carrier bags at the checkouts.

On this particular day I chose to think laterally about my options, in my 2003 Peugeot 206cc those 1.3miles would have generated 390 grams of carbon emissions.  Now if we take the energy required to make one plastic bag as 1.21 gigawatts, which is the best estimate I could find during my brief research, it would mean that for every 1.3 mile journey I make in my car approximately 100 carrier bags could be produced.

It seemed a no brainer, to save the environment I had to walk to the supermarket and utilise the carrier bags provided at the checkout.  The decision to go on foot also gave me the added benefit of walking my dog and exercising, which in the long run will decrease the risk of cardiovascular medical conditions which would therefore reduce my carbon footprint further as I would not need to utilise energy for electrocardiograms and other such cardiovascular monitoring investigations in the future.

With the decision made I walked to my local Sainsburys, I tied my dog up outside the store and popped inside to purchase the groceries I required.  It was like any other shopping experience at the retail change, with one minor difference.  Upon packing my produce into the carrier bags provided I realised that the plastic seemed thinner than usual.

I understand the pressure placed on supermarkets to decrease the volume of carrier bags they provide but, surely the supermarket didn’t have so little respect for their customers that they would provide them with bags so thin that their groceries were at risk of falling to the ground.

My orange squash, pine nuts and two bags of mixed nuts hurtled to the ground. 

The thickness of the bags passed briefly through my mind and I thought little of it, that was until I was walking home and disaster struck.  I was walking on the pavement along Castle Boulevard when suddenly one of my carrier bags split, my orange squash, pine nuts and two bags of mixed nuts hurtled to the ground.

The split carrier bag and the products I had to pick up which are now covered in mud.

As a supermarket I’m sure you are aware that orange squash is contained within a cylindrical container, this meant upon hitting the pavement my orange squash rolled into the road and into a puddle of muddy liquid, my other items remained on the pavement but were also covered in mud.

You might think this is a pretty terrible situation but imagine dealing with this incident whilst walking a dog, but wait, it gets worse I was also recovering from a severe fracture through the two bones in my forearm which I had recently had surgery on.  Luckily there were no road traffic accidents as a result of the incident, but imagine the carnage if the bottle of orange squash had rolled off the curb and into the path of an oncoming cyclist.

Clearly you will tell me that I must in the future reuse my carrier bags which would give me the additional benefit of gaining nectar points.  However, I am sure you will understand that it can be difficult to continuously carry empty carrier bags just in case one decides to make a spontaneous trip to the supermarket.

I have thought long and hard about how Sainsburys can apologise for this occurrence which I feel is entirely the company’s fault due to the production of flimsy carrier bags.  For the embarrassment of scrambling around for my groceries in the mud with a dog and a broken arm, for the increase in my water bill I will have to pay after I unexpectedly had to clean my groceries and for the stress I faced whilst retrieving my orange squash from the road, which was both dangerous for me and other road users: I would not like vouchers to replace the groceries and I would not like extra carrier bags.  I feel the only way to prevent this situation from happening again and for the company to compensate me well enough to allow me to grant forgivness: I will need to be provided with reusable keyring bags which are compact enough to carry on my person at all times.

Let me negotiate further

You as a company may feel that I am asking for a lot, so let me negotiate further, as a deal breaker I have come up with a number of ways the supermarket chain can be improved, now this advice would cost a fortune if it came from an independent business adviser so I’m sure you can see how much you have benefitted.

  1. Stop making flimsy plastic bags, people will only end up double bagging which will cost a greater amount to produce than the original bags.
  2. Install a computer and the end of each aisle which enables customers to search for products, this program will then direct the customer to the aisle and section of the aisle the manufactured goods are contained within.  Alternatively produce an iphone app which works in the same manner.
  3. Put vegetarian and vegan labels on all products including the bakery items.
  4. Stop discontinuing lines without warning such as choices Dairy Free Confectionary Chocolate Caramels 125g, only to restock them months later.
  5. Provide small cubicles with pet baskets, water and lockable doors for customers with dogs to place their beloved animal somewhere safe whilst they partake in brief shopping sessions.
  6. Provide nectar customers will free reusable key-ring bags, this will encourage valued customers to become nectar card holders, it will also enable the store to advertise the brand on the reusable keyring bags which I am sure they will use for other purposes besides carrying the supermarket’s products.

Thank-you for taking the time to read through this message, I hope you can provide me with the reusable key-ring bags as compensation for the horror I have experienced.

Best Wishes

Hollywood club review: Drai’s

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2011 by yvettemartyn

Girls dance with their backs against poles wrapped in tutu dresses adorned with crystals, the Hollywood glitterati are strewn across white beds surrounding a pool whilst bursts of fire shoot out into the night’s sky, a gold hummer limousine waits outside the door, this is one of Hollywood’s hottest night spots, Friday night at Drai’s nightclub.

At Drais with my friend African supermodel, Joyce Mandi

Amongst the star scattered sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevards sits the club that’s nestled into the Hotel W, bouncers guard every edge of the rope separating the streets from the Aladdin’s cave inside.

A guy called Sunny walks up and down ordering doormen to lift the rope when people reach the owners expectations and are approved entry into the club, those who get in are usually beautiful young women or very rich men who have ordered table service.

Once through the sacred rope guests ascend to the club in elevators and pay a $20 cover fee, the clientele are composed of mainly women with a few men with large wallets scattered throughout, they are seated at tables covered in expensive drinks.

Girls flock around them awaiting the men’s approval so they can attempt to climb onto the first rung of the Hollywood ladder giving them a chance to soar high enough in the future to live the American dream.

Fire thrusts around attempting to escape the grasps of its bell jar.

Every time a table orders a bottle of Grey Goose vodka, cocktail waitresses put on a show with the liquid being brought out by two females, one holds the bottle above her head whilst the other has her hand raised in the air holding onto a glass vessels containing lit sparklers, as they walk through the crowd the fire thrusts around attempting to escape the grasps of its bell jar.

The club is composed of a large rectangular room, three females dance on podiums dressed in beautiful white dresses with full bodied skirts and corset tops encrusted with crystals.  The DJ spins R&B and a rapper with dreadlocks occasionally takes to the podium and tells guests to stick their middle finger in the air.

The dance floor is small and centrally located between the DJ booth and some tables, dancing guests can expect to be nudged as people attempt to walk to the bar.  This faux pas on the clubs front has been bypassed by allowing club goers to dance on the tables and podiums.

The music occasional skips outside the realms of social norms as dirty gangster rap slips into the mix, with lyrics composed of words more likely to be heard escaping from a prostitutes mouth than that of the LA in-crowd.

Guests are seated around a bonfire

Outside the main room is a patioed rooftop terrace with a pool in the centre, white outdoor furniture sits perfectly around the edge of the water and a few large beds are dotted around.  Flames are enclosed in black metal cages and a small gas bonfire provides a feature for guests to sit around.

Men approach the clubs women, for me this entailed conversations with a car dealership owner, a Jewish grad student, a Boston based businessman and a group of Kazakhstan millionaires who work in the oil industry.

As the night draws to a close the girls surrounding rich men become more and more intoxicated, a pair give lap dances to their beverage buyers, and another girl makes an epic fail as she falls from the pole whilst trying to seduce her money men.

We take this as our cue to leave, as we descend in the elevator and through the doors we are brought heavily back down to earth by a Mexican man who gave me a sob story in an attempt to steal my phone by asking to make a call, he scurried off when I told him I would make the call for him and not actually hand over the phone.

The dusty car park across the street and the dirty pavement slabs are a million miles away from the sparkling pool, pristine furniture and crystal clad dancers, but sadly until another night the dream is over.

How to get in:
Girls: Wear sexy dresses team with stilettos, flawless makeup and glossy hair.
Guys: Order table service to avoid the line

Chris Jeffries: Sacrificed by the media

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2011 by yvettemartyn

On Christmas Day the body of young architect, Joanna Yates was found, her landlord was brought in for questioning on suspicion of her murder leading to a feeding frenzy by the press.

Chris Jeffries has been sacrificed by the media. Image: mjsonline

Joanna’s partner was so disgusted that he released a statement saying: “Jo’s life was cut short tragically but the finger-pointing and character assassination by social and news media of as yet innocent men has been shameful.”

Allegations in the media about the 65 year old retired teacher Chris Jefferies include questions about his sexuality, a story about him leaving his mother whilst she was dying and the nicknames “Professor Strange” and “The Strange Mr Jefferies”.

Had he been the victim of a murder I’m sure the press would have been quick to acknowledge that this is a gentleman who is an upstanding member of the community, a retired teacher and a Liberal Democrat party activist who runs a neighbourhood watch scheme.

Instead however they are assassinating his character, pulling up people who knew him only as children and describing his behaviour in the classroom.

Now I’m sorry but I think I could pull up a story about every one of my teachers behaving peculiarly, because children tend to have imaginations and what we thought we saw as children could be very different or exaggerated to what we would see as adults.

Why are the press doing this?

In England and Wales the Contempt of Court law prevents reporting of anything that could sway the jury once a case is active, for a case to be active somebody needs to be charged.  As of the time this post is published, Jeffries has not been charged.

Prior to online news this wasn’t a problem, the media could call somebody every name under the sun because if they then went on to be charged by the time the case began and the jury was selected, the reports would be lining the cages of budgies nationwide.

However the Contempt of Court law never made it into the modern age and online news agencies are allowed to archive all previous reports for anybody to see.  Meaning the jury members could be swayed by reports accessible on the internet despite the fact they were written prior to a case becoming active.

The media also have another friend on their side, the law of defamation, defamation is the damaging of a person’s reputation in the eyes of the society.  This means it’s easy to defame somebody seen very highly in society but it’s very difficult to damage the reputation of a criminal.

The only problem is: this man is not a criminal, he has not been charged or convicted of a crime, the only group putting this man on trial is the media.

The coauthor of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists has written a similar blog post on this subject.

Image: mjsonline

The one with the Daily Diary

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 25, 2010 by yvettemartyn

As 2010 approached I made several New Years Resolutions, now as the year comes to an end I’m going to reflect on why I failed almost all of them.

Being slightly over the top I decided to make a huge amount of resolutions and being unable to follow through with spur of the moment decisions, they didn’t go too well.

My first resolution was to give blood … I didn’t do it, no idea why I didn’t, but if it’s any consolation I did join the organ donor register.

Next there was to own a pet lobster, now I did look into this but came up with a few issues, firstly lobsters are quite hard to get hold of, the ones in fish shops die pretty soon after purchase.

Then there are the logistical problems, lobsters require a refrigerated tank, they tend to hide for their first year, live for a ridiculous number of years and since I have issues cleaning out the litter tray I don’t like my chances of cleaning a tank containing a sharp clawed animal.

My third resolution was very optimistic, as I tend to eat mostly crisps and bread, I decided to eat one apple a day, it lasted until mid-January when I found myself on a work placement, I am very fussy about having my apple peeled, cored and sliced before eating them and I didn’t fancy my chances of carrying a knife around central London to do the said apple preparation.

My next choice was to become a Goth for a week, ok now I didn’t manage a week but following the persuation of my friends I did get through one day, but after being followed round the local waitrose by a security guard, I decided it probably wasn’t for me.

I then decided to learn the dance to Michael Jacksons, thriller, no excuses for this, I just didn’t bother, I did attempt at finding a youtube tutorial, but I got no where.

My final resolution was to take a picture of one thing a day and upload it to a “daily diary” now this I actually achieved, every single day, whether I was in uni, at the hospital, on a work placement or in the Big Brother house (thanks go out to my friend Sam who added the pics during that time) I managed it!

And here in video form is: A year in the life of Sunshine!


Ghost hunting

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2010 by yvettemartyn

After watching paranormal investigations on tv and being petrified of everything that goes bump in the night I was so excited to go on my very first ghost hunt.

Steve and I preparing for the ghost hunt by drinking champagme, Mario doing the same, but with a McDonalds fanta

The ghost hunt was for Children in Need, I’d been asked to come along with BB’s: Mario, Steve and Corin alongside Lisa Mafia, Romeo Dunn and Mis-teeq’s, Su Elise Nash.

limousine picked me up from the station courtsey of Lady Jayne Limousines and took me to two locations in Manchester, one was Foxdenton Hall, Steve told me he had looked the place up and children had been locked in the basement.

I looked it up and found nothing except, apparently, it has a secret tunnel.   Needless to say we didn’t go in the basement or secret tunnel anyway.

The other location was a town hall, which is today used for registering deaths and marriages, the confetti outside the entrance certainly didn’t conjure up feelings of dread in me.

The group was split into four, with Steve staying with his friends that had come up with him, Mario with Corin and Lisa, Romeo and Su Elise together and me, you got it, on my lonesome!

“I’ve done crop circles”

People had paid to come along so every group was given a team of ghost hunters and a pair of celebrities or me.  My group had a man in it who told me he is a paranormal investigator, when I asked him what he’s done before, he replied: “crop circles” I told him: “ah I wondered who was making them!”.

We started out in Foxdenton Hall, now I was open-minded, but sceptical.  Put me alone in my flat at night and I get paranoid of the slightest shadow! But I am now a firm non-believer.  The group I was with wouldn’t stop: “I see a man”, “something pulled my hat off”, “I feel terribly cold here suddenly”.

I shot back a logical explanation for each: “it’s the shadows playing with your eyes”, “your hat probably wasn’t on properly” and “you are standing in front of a window”.  Every time someone said they saw something I moved to that area, and still the people continued to see things, but I however saw nothing.

We then went upstairs into a room where a Ouija board was set up. Someone was freaking out, pointing at a chair and saying: “I can’t sit there, somethings there”, I looked at them and said: “cool, can I sit there then?” surprisingly the mysterious being chose not to bother me.

We all put out fingers on the board and sat for an hour…it never moved.

A mysterious black pillar appearing

We then moved onto the other location to perform a séance,  we held hands and tried to communicate with the spirit world, they must have been shy though because nothing happened.  Except for one girl claiming there was a black pillar in front of her, there was of course an actual  black pillar in the room, directly in front of her.

The group were then going to do a séance elsewhere, I bit the bullet and told one of the organisers I wanted to do a lone séance, to sit on my own in a haunted room and see if I get scared.

A security guard from the Town Hall took me to a room, I whispered to him: “I get the feeling this place isn’t haunted” he replied: “I’ve worked here for two years and I’ve seen nothing but the lady who works in this room always feels like there’s someone watching her.”

He shut me in the room in pitch darkness and absolutely nothing happened at all, no noises, no shadows, no sudden decreases in temperature.

So despite my open-mind and real willingness to experience something paranormal, I felt nothing.  In my opinion when you put a number of people in the dark they will start to “see” things, their minds will play tricks on them and the thrill of being that special person who is touched by a ghost is all encompassing.

So either ghosts do exist, but just not in these locations or the entire spirit world is a figment of the imagination of people who chose to believe, either way everything that happened that night could be explained by logic.

It was a fun evening but I’m going to need some more convincing, so bring it on spooks!

Image: heritagefutures

Sunshine’s top five ridiculous UK holidays

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2010 by yvettemartyn

“It’s a night where we burn an effigy of someone who failed at blowing up parliament, we let off fireworks to represent the gunpowder which never exploded”, I said to a guy who asked me about the origins of November 5th, his jaw was dropped the whole way through my explanation.

Oh watch out sir, people might think you're a Guy Fawkes effigy and throw you on the fire. Image: Dominic's pics

The guy, an international student at my medical school had never been told about the tradition and he just couldn’t understand why we have such a morbid holiday.  I guess reminiscing about happy times I spent as a child stuffing my dad’s clothes with leafs to make an effigy before throwing it on the fire were a little too vivid.

So bonfire night has gone down as one of my five top ridiculous UK holidays, so what else made the grade?

The Queen’s Official Birthday

Despite the Queen being born on April 21st we celebrate her “official” birthday in early June.  Well the weather is usually better in June, pefect for a parade and isn’t it always a good idea to have 2 birthdays?

Royal Variety Performance

Every year the Royal Variety Performance is held for the Royal family to watch, except every other year the Queen doesn’t bother to turn up and sends Prince Charles in her place.  To make it an even more formal affair Simon Cowell runs a tv show which picks one of the acts who will perform.

Pancake day

Traditionally Christians gave up luxury food for Lent so in preparation they used up their ingredients by making and eating pancakes right before.  Now very few people actually give up anything for lent but that won’t stop them from celebrating this holiday and thus most people still gorge on pancakes.

April Fools day

There are a number of theories about the origin of April Fools Day (some say it was invented in the book Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales).  Whatever the origin the unofficial holiday is a chance to play light hearted pranks on your loved ones, after all nothing says I love you like cling film covering the toilet seat.

Image: Dominic’s pics

A night at the bingo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 3, 2010 by yvettemartyn

After seeing adverts for bingo I thought I may be missing out. The thrill of the game with its bright lights and infectious laughter was beckoning me, so I finally succumbed and headed to the local bingo hall.

At the bingo, as you can see I fit in very well with the regulars

Registering was easy all I had to do was fill out a form and have my membership card printed off, understanding the game however was not.

Three employees tried to explain the price structure to me: “£5 for early and mains, then extra if you want sapphire and the national game, if you want to play the table game it’s £1 a go”. With my jaw dropped, I looked at one of the employees and said: “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about”.

Thinking the game was mostly frequented by old ladies for their weekly trip out I decided to attempt to fit in with the formal attire with my faux fur coat, vintage pill box hat and blazing red lipstick. However my friend who had just come from the gym without showering summed it up nicely when she told me, she felt overdressed.

The bingo hall was a mass of plastic tables with fold down chairs, mostly people sat on their own with pairs of elderly mothers and grownup daughters dispersed and the odd pair of love birds.

I had gone for the basic package which involved 14 games, obviously I had come unprepared and not brought a pen so I was using a pencil I found in my car.

The numbers were called out over a tannoy system rivalling those installed at supermarkets, you know the ones where you haven’t got a clue what’s been said.  Not only were the numbers hard to hear but they were read out so quickly that I snapped my pencil lead within seconds and had to invest in a bingo dabber.

People don’t even say “bingo”

Gone are the days when bingo numbers are called out by a youthful dad at the local PTA meeting with comical one-liners and an associated reaction from the crowd: legs 11 anyone?

Instead a monotonous voice read out the numbers in a logical but boring manner, eight and eight, 88, where are the two fat ladies? or is that no longer politically correct? To top it off people don’t even say “bingo”! Instead they shout: “over here” or “oi”.

I have no idea why the adverts portray the place as fun and exciting as most of the guests looked like they were waiting for a funeral to start and as soon as someone wins the whole crowd mumbles in disappointment.

The most confusing aspect of the place is the food ordering system, you can’t go up to the bar and order, you have to sit on your fold away chair and hold your menu in the air, I held mine for about ten minutes before someone came over.

Because the numbers are called so fast people attempt to eat main meals in-between the games, I amusingly watched one person taking a bite of her food only for the next game to start unexpectantly causing her to throw her fork across the table in preparation.

Surprisingly my friend and I didn’t win and left empty handed, I have to admit I am a bit disappointed, I expected a fun filled evening of whimsical excitement. Instead the night resembled a mass of people filling in forms in silence and paying for the pleasure of it.