Bundobust – Indian Vegetarian Streetfood Comes to Manchester

I was kindly invited ¬†last night to one of the two private launch evenings for another Manchester Newcomer, Bundobust. Not being massively familiar with the Leeds food scene, I hadn’t heard of it before, and had to take to Google to suss it out!

Bundobust is, in four words, Delicious Indian Vegetarian Streetfood. You won’t find any meat options on their menu, though you might rejoice (should you be the unlucky carnivore) to see their wide range of craft beers on tap.


it took us a little while to find it, located in the basement beside a Subway on Piccadilly (the corner of Portland street by Piccadilly Gardens), though the entrance once spotted is pretty cool. You descend beneath a purposefully ‘Hinglish’ sign stating “Welcome Please”, into a cool, long subterranean restaurant, split by booths and long tables and benches. The furniture and fixtures are a pleasant mish-mash of reclaimed 90s breezeblock, woodchip and glass panes, alongside new orange leather-look booths and fresh formica-style tables. Not to mention the really cool custom Bundobust Hindi posters – I need to get me one of the Beehive ones…


We ordered 4 dishes and some rice, settling for Bhajis, Punjabi Khadi, Tarka Dhal, Chole Bhatura. I chose a half of their craft beer, Bombay Dazzler, which pairs really well with the spiced Indian food due to the presence of cardamom et al.


The food was served in card pots, the same material as coffee cups, and you use plastic cutlery and paper plates that are laid ready in the centre of the table. I did wonder if these were recyclable at all, as this restaurant would generate rather a lot of waste otherwise!

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Manchester is already lucky enough to have a Mowgli, which in my view is a “level-up” from Bundobust in it’s interior style, the manner in which food is served (metal tins and proper plates, versus plastic cutlery and paper plates and serving pots), and for the fact they offer both vegetarian and carnivore menus.

That said, I enjoyed Bundobust. It was effortless in it’s interior style- I could see myself enjoying a drink or two over a light lunch at the weekend – they offer a 2 for ¬£7 lunch menu. The music was fun and energetic, I loved the orange & mint colour scheme and the eclectic fittings and decorations. The staff were really friendly, and the loos get a big thumbs up for their amazing tiling!

thanks to  Simon at I Like Press for organising the evening.




Gig Review : Cattle & Cane at Gulliver’s Mcr

This is something I normally post about, but actually I don’t care! It’s my blog (ner ner!)

Cattle & Cane were a band that I had been peripherally aware of for a number of years, but had never, for whatever reason, explored in any great detail. Purchasing three tickets was a reaction to finding their gig pop up into my email account from a music events round up mailing list, and with it being close to Christmas. The tickets were for my Dad, you see, as a gift!

I’d plonk them into the folk camp (if forced to by my own self-inflicted rigid Spotify categorisation laws) though that in itself would be a gross misjustice. They’re so much more than that.

The band is made up entirely of the Hammill siblings (except the drummer) and their close ties as a family drives perfect synchronous harmonies across tracks like ‘We were Children’ and ‘Home’ and the off-album track ‘Infant Hercules‘, penned about the industrial rise and fall of Teeside (their home county).

Their debut album ‘Home’ contains a mixture of uplifting and foot-stomping tracks that will have you imagining you were driving along a dusty track road in central America, not Teeside or Manchester!

Cattle & Cane were captivating, energetic and perfect in their harmonies, comfortable on stage and engaging with their very close knit fan-base (it seemed many had followed them from Teeside to Manchester!).

The venue was Gulliver’s, on Oldham Street, a renowned indie venue in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.


Top marks, I look forward to tracking this band and watching them perform again soon. Learn more about them here.

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25 Novels in a Year

Who doesn’t love reading? I’d wager that the sort of person who does not credit the merits of a good book isn’t worth wasting time on!

I made a New Year’s resolution last year to read 25 novels. Surprisingly, 2 books a month wasn’t really a challenge, and there were periods of up to a week where I didn’t read. Below are the titles of the books I read, including any opinions some might have sparked off.

The Silver Smith’s Wife¬†

an enjoyable read without any real depth. A murder mystery of sorts, but tangled up with social intricacies of Victorian London, class struggles, and a touch of supernatural that didn’t seem to sit right with me. 3/5


This book was magical! Claire, a nurse who served in France on the battlefields of World War II, is transported back in time and thrown into the path of Jaime Fraser, some 300 years earlier. Scottish Clan feuds, fights, sex, romance… it has it all. I loved it so much I followed it up with the sequal. (There are 5 books in the series I believe) 5/5

Outlander: Dragonfly in Amber 

Picture of Dorian Gray

The Wizard of Oz


When God was a Rabbit

A wonderful tale of a troubled family coming together through adversity. As a reader, I was a person stuffed into a cupboard and watching this beautifully complex family interact with one another whilst I held my breath as I peered through the key hole. 5/5

The Miniaturist

A bit of a let down for me. This book tried to take on so many issues in 15th century Holland – Homosexuality, Race, Mixed race children, Religion, social conduct… but dealt with them all in a poor conclusion. The imagery is beautiful, however the real question of the identity of the miniaturist is never satisfactorily answered, and the main character is a little irritating. 3/5




The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

A beautiful follow up from the writer of “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared”. Similar in style, and no less delightful. 4/5

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

The Fault in Our Stars


H is for Hawk 

I ADORED this non-fiction book, capturing the author’s struggle with her grief following her father’s untimely death, and with her newly adopted Goshawk. It’s because of this book that I am adding The Goshawk by T H White to next year’s list.

The Earthquake Bird

The Remains of the Day

Eastern Jewel


The Gospel of Loki

A great easy read if you’re into the Avengers. Loki is given a new dimension, though none so much as Thor. A good short read that is sure to bring a chuckle or two. 3/5

Mendelsohn in on the Roof

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Far From the Maddening Crowd


 The Bees 

This was so interesing. I love bees anyway, and this book brought their world of the Hive to life in a way I could never have imagined. A must read for anyone wanting to try something a little different, and for any self-respecting Entomologist!


Prequel to the much loved Abhorsen Series. A quick read, mainly because this is still teen fiction, and I am no longer a teen! Reawakened my love for the original tales so much more. Great story, but not quite there. 4/5


Only read this for the fist time, and I was stunned by it’s relevance even today. This book should be on the mandatory reading list for society. 5/5


Talk to the Tail 

Tom Cox, creator of the well loved @MYSADCAT account, has written 4 books about his adventures with his many cats. Laugh out loud funny, easy to read, and so relatable for anyone who has cats of their own or even knows anything about the cats exploits from following on Twitter. 5/5


New Year’s Resolutions

Does anyone else not really bother with New Year’s Resolutions? Or do you make them in earnest, and never really keep them?

I decided that as the New Year coincided with a new promotion and new responsibilities, that my New Year’s Resolutions should be somehow tied in, to keep me motivated!

However, NYRs tend to be shoddy rhetoric-driven scraps of promises that we make to ourselves. Why do we let ourselves down so readily?


Create Good Habits

Many NYRs are never realised because they were never measurable in the first place!! At work we are set SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound) and this should also apply to objectives and goals that we set for ourselves.

Motivational writers often talk about forming good habits rather than trying to go hell for leather in the first few weeks and “failing”.

Set some goals that are easy to achieve (but not too easy!) then ramp things up a little, piece by piece. Before you know it, a new activity or behavior will feel like second nature, and become part of your routine.

If something isn’t working for you, that’s OK too. If you’re giving up on something, be sure to at least analyse the reasons why you are doing so, to try and at least take a lesson away from it all.


I’ve written down some ideas I’ve had for mine this year!

Power dress

Look good, feel good. A universal truth. If you feel good, you are confident (but not arrogant) and confidence radiates outwards and can have a positive impact on everything you do.

With my new promotion I figured that I should dress to impress (and impress only myself, I’m not doing it for anyone else’s benefit, mind you).

So today, I did a little shopping in Zara….

(this one isn’t measurable, unless I commit to spending ¬£100 a month on clothes at least. Something I can definitely manage!)

Hobbies not Weight Loss

My weight fluctuates by 1-2 Kgs throughout the year and it doesn’t tend to¬†be a pressing issue for me. There are times when I wish I was a little thinner, trimmer and in general more healthy, but that’s a maelstrom of highly complex biochem and I ain’t going there.


Instead, I want to find hobbies that I enjoy that just so happen to be exercise. Dancing, Yoga and squash are things I want to try out doing more often. If I can be active at least 3 times a week, that doesn’t disrupt my schedule too much and will most likely keep me healthy and happy.

Show my husband how wonderful I think he is

I have a great, supportive and kind husband who I just don’t shout about enough. I can be quick to temper at times, and he is the person in my life who least deserves it. I want to commit to taking him for lunch when he least expects it, leaving him notes, helping him with his routine if he is stressed or running behind. These things don’t all cost money, and only go to show that I value him, and want to help him because I love him more than anything else.

Read 25 novels

This is a repeat objective from last year, which I smashed by 3 extra books. I LOVE reading, and it is not a chore for me at all. However at times I can be distracted by social media, at bed times or on public transport, when that time could better be put to use by diving into a book.


Does anyone else have any NYR inspiration?

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Christmas : It’s kind of like marmite…

Christmas. The other, much dirtier ‘C’ word.

For many of us, it’s a time of year to get really excited about; Cosy fires, festive drinks, a haze of gluttony and food comas, carols, drinky-poos and of course, presents and Christmas day with your family all around you.

For others, those very same things can induce dread so debilitating it can cause a hernia. Aside from the fact that high-street stores can start off with festive window displays and carols as soon as Halloween is over (what about bonfire night? At least give some recovery time, please?!?!?) Christmas can be a financial strain for some, who tumble into a spiral of over commitment and debts in order to fulfill the happiness and gift giving quota that society seems to demand of us these days.

My little tree!!!

I’m the first to coo over beautifully arranged Instagram photos of the PERFECTLY wrapped gifts, luxury brand gift bags, and impossibly beautiful living room Christmas trees. But in the back of my head there’s a tiny voice that scoffs and says, ‘well that’s all well and good if you want to sell off a kindey AND don’t have a day job. Or children. Or cats….’.

Christmas has become a commercial frenzy. We all know this. I thought I would list my top favourite things about this time of year that I cherish, that don’t really cost a penny, alongside the things I wish didn’t matter, and would banish.


That feeling I get in the back of my throat when I hear Nat King Cole or Ella Fitzgerald croon out a big band classic Christmas song. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. I can’t help myself from welling up!


Gifts from Santa? NO! As a parent, you can still maintain the magic of Christmas and the legend of Ol’ Saint Nick, but still take credit for the gifts you spent hours in shops picking out (and hours at work to pay for them). Kids are bound to get a little present-crazy when Christmas morning comes, but it’s important for them to understand WHO they came from and HOW they came to be there – through hard work and through kindness and thought.


Family traditions and rituals around Christmas time are the things money can’t buy. Whether it’s getting everyone together in early December to put up the tree with carols on in the background, or whether it’s going carol singing in your local church. Do you make sure you all sit around the table to breakfast together? Keep them. Trust me, they matter the most, especially when loved ones move away, or pass on.


Shops selling to us as early as October. I know it’s because people start their shopping that early, but if believes about how tall a gift pile needs to be weren’t perpetuated by marketing ploys, we’d all consider gifts by their merit and not their quantity. I can’t stand the “that’ll do” outlook some people have, but then I can’t blame them either. They’re conditioned to feel stressed.


Snow! It falls so rarely around this time of year. Get wrapped up and get out there and make a snow man.



Cheesy Christmas movies are all about the Christmas spirit – being with your family, all warm and loved when it’s so cold outside.


you have to spend as much on gift wrap as the present itself, right? WRONG! my top tip – everytime you get a gift bag, keep it, and reuse it next time you had out a gift. Buy your cards and wrap on sale in Jan for the year after, taking all the stress away when you realise you don’t have any, and also dramatically reducing your spend.


Do you have pet hates at Christmas? What are your  treasured Christmas traditions? Leave me a comment below!

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How to use your skills for Social Good

Hello readers!

I took part in #BlogHour this week and I asked if people would find a blog post about using your skills to do social good useful. The answer was a resounding yes, so here it is!

I’m sure many of us want to help out charities, but struggle to find opportunities or to know which they would be best suited to. I’ve written a guide crossed with my experiences this year.

What is Social Good?

First, I’d better start by defining what I mean by Social Good. The simplest way of describing it is by talking about the work of¬†charities. Charities exist to address a social or health-related issue, and direct all their efforts and capital towards solving it.

There are other structures that organisations can adopt to address an issue – Social Enterprise, Not for Profits… the long and short of all three of these structures is that they are set up and geared towards delivering positive societal results, or positive social impact – ergo, Social Good.


Volunteering your time

Operating Capital, or cash to spend, can often be hard to come by for these organisations, and they often solely rely on donations coming in, and heavily on their fleet of volunteers. Cash is the main challenge for charities, to ensure a constant influx of income to remain sustainable.

I often wondered, as I met with lots of enthusiastic representatives from charities, or founders of Social Enterprises, how I could help them with my own time and my own skill set.


Volunteering can get a bad rap – think of those mac-wearing ‘hippy-types’* who accost you in shopping centers and make you feel guilty that you have somewhere to be – even though you know you’ve got a list of Direct Debits each month going to charities like those they represent. Volunteering isn’t often glamorous, either, and I can’t really blame people for not being¬†enthused , in spite of stabs of guilt.

Time is precious, right? You want to make sure that any time you give is put to maximum use, and has the highest impact it can.

Charities are often capital strapped, and therefore believe it or not their focusses are in the wrong place. Getting money trough the door is and will always be a struggle. But the problem will still exist and need to be fixed.

It’s a circular problem.

How you can use your skills to best effect

Something in my brain clicked in May this year, when talking to a lovely Lady from British Bee Keepers Association at a conference in London.

“Surely,” I said. “There are ways that you can sell what you are doing as a service, so that you can move on to bigger and better things?”

Her eyes lit up, we started chatting and before I knew it we were in planning workshop meetings with trustees, building a commercial model that might become a business case in the future.

That was me, doing what I do on a daily basis, but helping a cause I was passionate about. It didn’t feel like traditional volunteering. I felt useful.

2014-11-03 22.04.08

What are your skills? Are you a great negotiator? Are you good at debating, at selling an idea? Then there’s definitely a charity that can use your skills. You just need to put yourself in front of the right person.

Are you good at planning? Is organisation your thing? Are you a social butterfly? Then maybe charity events and fundraisers are your bag!

Are you a blogger (I know many of you are!). Do you get a lot of readers? Large social reach? Charities often don’t have the time or capital to invest in social media – could you help them there?

Look out for smaller charities, or new campaigns and initiatives on social media or local community message boards. Connect with the campaign leaders and reach out with a friendly ‘hello, I’m happy to help!”.

A conversation over a coffee lead me to agree to working with a campaign leader for Cats Protection on their strategy and community engagement plan.

Another conversation and I was helping a social enterprise Cathartic on investigating Crowd funding as an option to seed-fund the business.

To summarise, thinking laterally about what you are good at and the problem that needs to be solved can often throw up very interesting and highly rewarding opportunities for you and for charities and Social Good organisations. Donating your time pro-bono can be very rewarding, anfd who knows, it could lead to something wonderful!

Have you got charities you’re passionate about? Drop me a comment and we can chat about how you can get involved!

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*I do not mean offence by this generalisation!


So this post title won’t mean anything to any one else but me – it’s a bit of an introspective post about Working life, if you’ll forgive that.

If any of you follow me on Twitter you might have seen that I posted about being offered an amazing job opportunity to be a COO (Chief Operating Officer) of a startup. I was really excited about it, because the business is a social enterprise, doing good rather than just making money. I was ready to jump in feet first, prepared for the high risk but high reward challenge.

It was the type of opportunity that literally fell into my lap, and I felt amazing for having been asked to do it. It speaks volumes about how capable I am and could be. It was a huge ego boost, to say the least.

Given that I would be walking away from a job that is, for all intents and purposes, stable I needed to think about it carefully. The salary was exciting, the CEO a great guy who I could work with as a peer and an equal, and I would have the opportunity to create something from the ground up and build a team around me.


There’s always a huge but, isn’t there? The job would most likely require me to travel to Sheffield everyday. If not right away, then eventually. I currently live in Manchester and take a 15 minute tram ride into work – 40 mins door to door. This might have been worth the reward, but I know that travelling for 3 hours everyday would take a toll of my life and on my relationship with my husband, and that’s something I couldn’t risk and wouldn’t risk for the world.

And there’s no such thing as a career ladder; it’s a rock face. A scary and ever-shifting one at that.

I was devastated. The guy at the startup was really empathetic and understanding, wanting me to make a decision based on knowing all the facts and taking into account the worst case scenarios.

It was exactly the sort of job I was ready for, the thing I wanted to do most as the next step in my career.

I never believe there’s really just one thing you want to do and that is that; you’ll be happy never moving on. And there’s no such thing as a career ladder; it’s a rock face. A scary and ever-shifting one at that.

There are steps in reach, and some more¬†after that, like ledges and handholds on a climb; each one a stopping point on the way to the final destination. It might be a slight sideways climb, an upwards leap, or even a short retreat back to get to a better vantage point. This job for me was an upwards leap alright, and there aren’t many of those that come along you’re perfectly suited for.


I rapidly moved through the stages of grief and denial, closely followed by a bout of anger.

I need to begin to accept the things that I cannot change, and try and influence change myself to get me to the next handholds on the climb.

Have you ever had a career dilemma? Want to try something else? Let me know in the comments.

As an aside, the black brogues in the blog header are Jasper James Brogues from TKMaxx.

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Thrifty Blogger Update #2

Hey everyone!

Just a short post really to check in, take a breath, and to update you on life in general, really.

I’ve not been able to update my ¬†blog as often as I’d like to recently, and that’s mainly down to a few things; first, my job has hit a really new exciting level. I mean, really exciting. Unfortunately that means I am now busier than I’ve ever been in my life!

2015-10-20 08.36.13

I’m working on a development plan to become a director in the company where I work as a Business Development Manager. This isn’t your typical sales role, It’s really developing a business from the ground up, getting stuck into the startups we’re funding or investing in. The exciting bit is it’s not just one company either, but several all rolled into one group structure, and that means amazing things are lined up in¬†my future.

Secondly, it’s been dark. No really – when it’s dark, I can’t take photos of things to write blog posts about. I’m sure we all feel the pain of long dark winter nights in the Blogosphere. It’s hard to snatch time in a weekend to dedicate to it, when that’s really your only spare time.

2015-10-20 08.36.13

So following that, the wonderful Marie at Didi’s Boutique in Altrincham who I’ve blogged about before nominated me for the blogger awards 2016. Now, I’ve always shrugged off bloggers awards, mainly because I’m not hugely interactive in the blogger community in the way other bloggers are, and never thought I would be able to compete with them!

Hi Jess I’ve nominated you because not only are you lovely, but you champion small businesses, people like me ūüôā love you x

But Marie’s nomination message almost moved me to tears and made me feel so proud of my little blog that I had to register it, out of maternal pride.¬†I don’t know if anything will come of it, but if I get shortlisted, I’ll count that as a massive victory in itself!


My blog has become an extension of my work in social impact investing in my day job. I constantly ask myself, how can I use my time or my skills to help businesses prosper? I hope that I have managed to help other businesses with my blog – Such examples spring to mind as the wonderful Holly’s Lollies I supported in her Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.

In doing this, I find my blog fulfilling to write, and I hope as enjoyable for people to read.¬†(Apparently my blog also got included in an infographic for best UK Fashion¬†blog, but I’m not so sure about that!! You can view that here!)

Thank you to my readers for reading and commenting, every single one I massively appreciate.

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Love xxx

project mc2 dolls

Dolls making smart the new Cool?

A few weeks ago now I was approached by a PR company to review a slightly unusual item, and it really set the cogs turning in my mind. I had mixed feelings about it. I was mulling over subjects like feminism, Body image, and child development over in my head.

All because of a doll.

A doll?

This is a doll from project Mc2, aimed at young girls of around 6 years old and up, with the goal of making smart the new cool.

 Project Mc2 Doll with Experiment Asst FW 149

I firmly believe intelligence should be praised above beauty or appearance traits, and I do my best to behave in ways that my sister will benefit from. For instance, of course I will compliment her on wearing a pretty dress, but I actively try to praise her for academic success and show to her, through engaged discussions and rewards that being smart and succeeding (as best she can) is far more rewarding and much more laudible than simply being pretty, for example. The results have been amazing so far, when on receiving a glowing school report I took her to Waterstones to pick out some books of her choosing. She felt like she had earned those books, and actually chose to read over playing with her electronic devices, taking delight in reporting back to us on her progress with reading.

But back to the dolls.


On a fundamental level, this sounds wonderful. I have an 8 year old sister with an attitude of a young lady already, and I constantly worry about the pressures she is bound to face to fit in as she grows up; whether that’s what she wears, how early she starts applying makeup, how she will feel about her weight and body image…

I never felt this pressure as a kid…¬† Did I?

So I played with Barbies. I loved Barbies! But even as a kid I harboured a healthy level of cynicism. Barbie was unrealistically proportioned, I knew. I just liked dressing her up. I liked role playing games. I never lacked imagination, and I used Barbie as a tool in my playtime.

My sister never had the Barbie phase. She’s a child of the digital age,¬† where apps&games are designed to suck you in, ¬†utilising¬†no logic, ¬†creating no¬†emotional buy in or crafting any sort of storyline. So will a doll even appeal to her?

These dolls are supposed to kick start a young girl’s interest in science at an early age, to hopefully create a shift in the stats around women in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and maths) and jobs longer term, and I am a complete advocate of this movement and a firm believer in the benefits that these fields will see from having more women working within them.

Will these dolls really help, though? the language on the box sort of makes me cringe – it’s very Americanised and overly energetic. The character of this particular doll, Bryden Bandweth, who is an African American (in skin tone only, her facial design is very uniform with the caucasian dolls) is supposedly a tech whizz, and has a catch phrase of, “stand back, I’m trending”.

project mc2 dolls

As an aside,¬†although Social media plays such a huge role in our lives now, I can’t see how encouraging children to use it earlier in life can add benefit. It makes me feel anxious, as I’m sure it does to parents all over the world for reasons I can’t tangibly list.

I also found myself critiquing the doll in terms of how Barbie has been critiqued over the years for her unrealistic representation of body image to young girls. These dolls are still skinny with overly large heads, and as mentioned before, the different races/ hair colours are great, but in reality the facial differences are kept to a minimum.

If these dolls are supposed to encourage smart (versus what, I ask) I’m not sure that providing skinny dolls and dressing up gear is necessarily address that. Each doll does come with a science experiment, which I’d be interested to know if the children who play with these dolls actually do.

You can find out more about the project by looking at their website here.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the project and these dolls in the comments below!

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