Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Adventures in Newcastle: Tea Sutra and other stories

This post has been waiting over a month, and at the time of posting, I've been on Easter/Spring break for a week and a half, but I'm actually doing lots of coursework, so forgive how long this post has taken.  I promise there'll be another new post on Friday (as in in two days time).  I suppose it's good that I have left this post until now though because I have slightly more time for writing the more descriptive posts like this one (even though I did plenty of that in the days leading up to Back to the 80s, the review for which you can read here and see photos of here).  Over the Valentines weekend, I headed up to Newcastle for one day for my best friend Haaris' 21st birthday celebrations.  I didn't manage to visit that many places, so I might have to update this post after any future Newcastle visits that I have.


We had our dinner at Pizza Express, where I had the Pianta pizza, which is the only fully vegan-friendly pizza on their menu (although if you take your own vegan cheese, they can use it to adjust any of the vegetarian pizzas as their pizza bases are ALL dairy and egg-free) and is topped with chestnut mushrooms, pine kernels, artichokes, chilli flakes, spinach and copious amounts of rocket salad.  The chilli flakes are unfortunately a huge weakness of mine, which results in me needing tissues to wipe my nose after every couple of mouthfuls of pizza as I am terrible at dealing with hot/spicy foods.  We were also given complimentary chocolate love hearts for Valentine's Day!


A few more of Haaris' friends then joined us (only one of them was there for dinner) for a game at Lost and Escape!  We split into two teams (one with four of us, and the other with five) to take on a game each - my team entered the Lost game while the other team went into the Escape dungeon.  In Lost, we started in a room where we had to solve a series of puzzles to open cupboards and padlocks on boxes, before entering the next room to climb through a laser maze (where if you touch the laser beam with any part of your body, an alarm goes off and you have to start from the beginning of the laser maze again), before finishing in a third room with more puzzles that eventually led to the treasure chest (pictured above).  We had an hour to complete the whole game, and we had entered the final room with approximately 35 minutes to spare, but we were then confused by some of the clues in the final room and didn't realise that one of the puzzle boxes had a second secret opening that contained an important clue.  We eventually only finished the game with about 5 minutes to spare.  We were meant to see some comedy at The Stand after this, but tickets had sold out and I was actually quite tired anyway, so we were back at Haaris' student house by 9:15pm and I spent the next 3 hours mostly asleep.

Lunch at Tea Sutra

While looking through my cousin's girlfriend's Instagram pictures several months ago, my eyes were drawn to a photograph of a teapot, a timer, a teacup and sieve, two slices of cake, and an elephant-shaped teapot (let's face it, the elephant drew me in).  Amongst the tags was #vegan, so my interest immediately peaked and I looked up Tea Sutra (another of the tags) to find it was in Newcastle.  I found that one of Haaris' friends, Saffron, has also visited Tea Sutra, so I messaged them in advance to ask for their recommendations of what to eat.  Saffron's recommendations were Lapsang Souchong or Blossoming tea, the Mediterranean veg wrap, and the lemon and earl grey cake.

The teapot, sieve and timer
For tea, I had Lapsang Souchong as per one of Saffron's recommendations.  It came in a teapot with a cup, sieve, and a 5 minute timer.  This means that I had to wait for 5 minutes after adding the hot water to the teapot for the tea to brew before I could pour it into my cup to drink.  It was quite hot, but also very nice and soothing and I got even more tea because Haaris had ordered the same but then found that he didn't like it and offered it to me.

Warm Lapsang Souchong tea

For my main course, I went against Saffron's recommendation of the Mediterranean veg wrap (mainly because I was overwhelmed by choices) and instead opted for the falafel and mango chutney wrap with salad.  I'm not sure if I'd ever eaten falafel before, but it had a nice, soft texture which went well with the sweet mango chutney.

Falafel and Mango Chutney wrap with salad and crisps

For my dessert, I really couldn't decide what to eat out of the two choices available, so I figured that I should really make the most of being there as I probably won't be eating at Tea Sutra again for a while (because I'll be taken to other places if/when I'm next staying in Newcastle, including one of the cat cafés), and ate a slice of both cakes.  The first, the Earl Grey and Lemon cake, was my favourite and also recommended by Saffron, as it had sultanas sprinkled on the top as well as a nice lemon taste in the icing.  The second was a banana and chocolate cake which Haaris also had a slice of, and had little chocolate chips and dots of chocolate frosting.

Earl Grey and Lemon cake

Banana and Chocolate cake

Falafel and Mango Chutney Wrap

This recipe is supposed to be inspired by the falafel and mango chutney wrap that I ate at Tea Sutra, and involves this falafel recipe from

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

One 16oz can of chickpeas.
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons flour
oil for frying
3 tortilla wraps
mango chutney


  1. Drain chickpeas, place in pan with fresh water and bring to a boil.
  2. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then simmer on a low setting for about an hour.
  3. Drain and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in a medium bowl.  Add flour.
  5. Mash the chickpeas, making sure to mix the ingredients together, or combine the ingredients with a food processor to form a thick paste.
  6. Roll the mixture into balls and flatten slightly.
  7. Fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (5-7 minutes). Leave to cool slightly.
  8. Place 2 teaspoons of mango chutney into the centre of each tortilla wrap and spread around the surface of the wrap.
  9. Place falafel balls along the centre of the wrap and roll to serve.
  10. Serve with salad.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Back to the 80s and Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini

This week has been a whirlwind as it's now the 2nd of the three performances of Back to the 80s.  Today is my planned day off from being in uni, but I also unexpectedly ended up being at home for quite a lot of yesterday too.  Yesterday's time at home was spent watching an episode of Red Dwarf, reading Ally Sheehan's blog and making final prop preparations for the show, while this morning has also been spent reading Ally's blog as well as taking Rent quizzes, and thinking about who I would audition for if BUSOM were to do Rent for our main show (I want to take a chance and go for a main part, but the only role I can think of that would suit me and who I am is Joanne).  Here's my diary of the last few days of show week!

Monday 7th March 2016 - 3 days left

Tonight (Monday night) marked the tech rehearsal and the start of show week. I spent the first half backstage being quiet, trying not to be in the way, having a solo party whenever nobody else was backstage, and waiting for my scene (Act 1 Scene 5). However, during the second half, I was at the audience side of things (which I can't do after now) and was laughing and clapping and singing along. I love the energy that everyone is putting into it, and I know that they can bring even more energy to it over the next few nights. I'm so proud of everyone. Tomorrow (Tuesday night which is technically now today) is the dress rehearsal, where I get to see all the costume ideas I had with each cast member come to life.

Showtime is nearly upon us!  #backtothe80s #mainshow #musicals #musicaltheatre #teambradford
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Monday, 7 March 2016

Tuesday 8th March 2016 - 2 days left

This evening, we past the 48 hours before the show mark and also had our FINAL rehearsal! I've now finally seen everyone's costumes brought to vivid life and they all look amazing and there's plenty of tie-dye T-shirts made at our fundraising event a month ago. Apart from my singular scene in Act 1 and the finale, I was backstage for the entirety of the dress rehearsal, but it all sounded really amazing. Once again, I'd like to say that I'm really proud of the cast and the rest of the production team, and tomorrow's night off is very well-deserved!

We got through cue-to-cue yesterday in one piece! But tonight everyone is in costume for our dress rehearsal - bright...
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Wednesday 9th March 2016 - 1 day left

It's now just over 21 hours until we start our first performance of Back to the 80s! We've had a night off from rehearsal today, so I'm going to go to sleep early for once and then I'll be around RamAir tomorrow (although not promoting the show on air myself unless someone asks me to), before going to the theatre. During shows on RamAir today, I have heard songs from the show including Video Killed The Radio Star, Kids In America and I'm Gonna Be 500 Miles, and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, as well as plenty of other 80s hits! I'm pretty sure other BUSOMites listened in to these shows and sent messages to our shoutbox for requests.

Our Mr Cocker can't believe it!We can't believe it! Tomorrow is our opening night for Back to the 80s! There's still...
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Thursday 10th March 2016 - IT'S TODAY!!!

IT'S TODAY!!! Tonight we start Back to the 80s for the next 3 nights and all our hard work over the past 3 (or 6-10) months will actually be seen by people. I'm both really excited and super nervous. I've unexpectedly ended up at home today, so I'm going to watch a couple of episodes of Red Dwarf before lunch, watching some TV, then heading back to Bradford for the show.

It's here! Opening night is tonight! We hope you're as excited as we are!#loveBUSOM #backtothe80s #openingnight...
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Thursday, 10 March 2016

Friday 11th March 2016

Last night's opening performance of Back to the 80s was pretty fantastic, and I can't wait for tonight's and Saturday night's performances, especially with even more people I know coming!

Saturday's performance is sold out, but if you're EXTRA SUPER-QUICK, you can still buy tickets for tonight's performance HERE.  Tickets are £10 in full or £8 for concessions (including students).

Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini

One of my favourite meals after a BUSOM rehearsal is spinach and ricotta tortellini (otherwise known as "BUSOM pasta"), so I found this recipe at The Vegan Word to make a vegan-friendly version of the dish.


2.5 cups flour or preferably '00' grade pasta flour
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 recipe vegan ricotta (see below)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
125g spinach


  1. To make the tortellini dough, form a mound of flour on a clean workspace.
  2. Form a well in the flour and fill with the oil and some of the water.
  3. Mix the water into the flour, and repeat step 2 (forming a well, filling with water, and mixing the flour and water together) until all the water is incorporated into the dough.
  4. Knead the dough for a minute or two and form into a ball.  Cover in cling film and leave to rest 30 minutes.  In the meantime, you can prepare the spinach and ricotta filling.
  5. To prepare the spinach, heat a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil over medium heat in a frying pan or wok.  Once the wok is hot, add the minced garlic and sauté until just browned.  Add the spinach and stir, stir frying until it wilts, then remove from heat.  Squeeze out the water and mix the spinach into the ricotta recipe (which follows).
  6. To roll out the ravioli dough, divide the dough into 3 sections.
  7. Sprinkle some flour on a clean counterspace.  Put the first third of the dough on the counter, sprinkle some more flour on top, and roll out the dough with a rolling pin, as thin as you can roll it.  If you have a pasta machine, follow the instructions on your machine to roll out the dough.
  8. Place 12 spoonfuls of the spinach-ricotta filling on the dough, stopping half along the length of the piece of dough, and keeping it as evenly spaced as possible. You’ll probably want two rows of 6.  Now, fold the piece of dough in half, so the half without fillings on is resting on top of the piece with the fillings.
  9. Press down and around each dollop of filling, pressing the air out and sealing the two pieces of dough together, creating pieces of ravioli.
  10. Now, with a knife or ravioli cutter, cut out squares of ravioli along each piece of filling.
  11. Repeat steps 7-9 with each other piece of dough.  Cook the tortellini in boiling water as soon as possible after cutting them.  If you're not going to cut them immediately, you can freeze them.
  12. To cook tortellini, place in a pot of boiling water.  It will be ready when it floats to the surface of the pot (which should happen in 2-3 minutes).  Serve.

Vegan Ricotta


1 package (approx 1 lb) firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/2 cup cashews
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp tahini, optional
1 tsp white miso, optional
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
fresh black pepper to taste
Italian dried herb mix to taste


  1. In a spice grinder, grind cashews until fine.
  2. In a food processor, blend cashews, tofu, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, nutritional yeast, tahini, miso, basil, black pepper, and Italian herb mix until it forms a thick paste.
  3. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Garlic Bread

It's now show week and 3 days to go until opening night which is both pretty exciting and pretty scary.  I've reposted the reminder to cast members to look after themselves this week to our Facebook group page, but I'm so worried about people being ill.

During the past week, I have been sharing the daily countdown photographs to my Facebook timeline along with a little diary entry of what I have seen at rehearsals, what I have been doing towards the show, and how I'm feeling about it all.  Here's some of the posts:

Saturday 27th February 2016 - 12 days left

This was one of my favourite scenes from Thursday's rehearsal. It's only 12 days until Back to the 80s begins (and sadly only 14 days until ends), so get your tickets quick for Thursday 10th to Saturday 12th March at 7:30pm in the Studio@ space at the Bradford Playhouse. Tickets are £10 in full or £8 for concessions (including students) - you're guaranteed to want to sing along!

There's no need to fight over tickets! But be sure to get them soon - the clock is ticking! ...
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Saturday, 27 February 2016

Sunday 28th February 2016 - 11 days left

This picture is really sweet. It'd be awesome to have all four members of the production team in a photo because we're all very awesome. Today, I learned the choreography for The Glory of Love, although I did forget to bring the cardboard computer cursor that I made last weekend (oops), and had a discussion with our brilliant director about props, including lightsabers!

Our MDs can't believe that it's only 11 days to go until we go Back to the 80s! Can you believe...
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Sunday, 28 February 2016

Monday 29th February 2016 - 10 days left

It's now only 10 days until the 1st of the 3 nights of Back to the 80s, and exactly 7 days until we begin show week (ok, technically we'd have already been in the tech rehearsal for a couple of hours now). Last night was the pub quiz (which was the first time I've been to it) co-hosted by BUSOM, and I was on the team "Five BUSOMites and a Very Satisfied Baby". Emma hosted the general knowledge round on 80s music facts (based on what she has posted on the BUSOM social media) and the music round, both of which our team scored 100% on and won drinks vouchers to use at the bar (I used mine on hot chocolate this morning). We also met and held Elizabeth (the very satisfied baby who was very wriggly). Today has really only been RamAir, on which I was mainly talking about leap years and songs involving forms of movement in the title (such as running, walking, jumping, dancing and singing), but I managed to fit Walking On Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves into that to promote Back to the 80s (as I have been doing every week on Breaking Walls and Closing Cupboards). Next week, I will hopefully be having other production team members or other cast members for my show which will be fully containing songs from the show and also discussion about the show and whatever else comes up (but I also need to play lots of music). Meanwhile, Carys and I will be going over to BCB tomorrow afternoon to promote the show there, so listen in a bit after 4pm!

P.S. Does anybody have any tips on how not to be tired during show week?

You're having a laugh! Only 10 days to go?  #backtothe80s #mainshow #musicals #musicaltheatre #teambradford
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Monday, 29 February 2016

Tuesday 1st March 2016 - 9 days left

I've written a post for the Bradford Life Blog about BUSOM's upcoming production of Back to the 80s, including information about the show, what I've enjoyed about recent rehearsals, things about costumes, and also things we've been doing recently like the tie-dye fundraiser and busking for RAG. There's only 9 days until the show, but I'll be posting a proper update later tonight after rehearsal and my trip to the BCB studio to promote the show at 4pm!

Today, Carys and I went over to the BCB studio and spoke about Back to the 80s, along with a couple of questions about 80s fashions and things of the time. You can listen back here. We start at just after 8 minutes in until just after 14 minutes, followed by Kids in America by Kim Wilde, which is a song in the show. As for rehearsal, lots of the songs sounded absolutely brilliant with Mickey and We Are The World being highlights (I started singing along to the chorus of the latter).

We're down to single digits now! Only 9 days until we take to the stage!  Have you got your tickets yet? ...
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Wednesday 2nd March 2016 - 8 days left

Just over a week left to go  #backtothe80s #mainshow #musicals #musicaltheatre #teambradford
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Thursday 3rd March 2016 - 7 days left

So it's now only ONE WEEK until Back to the 80s begins. In less than 7 days time, we'll be on the Studio@ stage performing to friends, family and members of the public. It may be just me having a coursework deadline tomorrow, but I'm so, so nervous and stressed about the show at the moment. Mainly, I'm just concerned about cast members or even crew members being ill or not having everything or little bits and pieces not being ready on time. I am really, really excited though. Every rehearsal has now got me singing along for one song or another. This evening, Footloose had me smiling like an idiot and singing along, Mickey had me clapping along, and We Are The World and Centerfold had me singing along, and I've felt so, so happy at rehearsal today (especially while we were singing along to We're All In This Together and You Can't Stop The Beat during the break). I'm so proud of everyone, both in the cast and my fellow production team members.

It's the final countdown!⌛️Do-do-do, do-do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do, ah-ah!It's exactly 1 week until curtain up! If...
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Thursday, 3 March 2016

Friday 4th March 2016 - 6 days left

Now only 5 days to go! With an important coursework deadline, the past day has been a bit stressful, but I can now do a couple more things for the show before concentrating again on coursework (will probably have to do that later today anyway). Today, I decorated the cursor for the dream sequence!

Less than a week to go now! Get your tickets now - whilst there's still some left! #backtothe80s #mainshow #musicals #musicaltheatre #teambradford
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Friday, 4 March 2016

Saturday 5th March 2016 - 5 days left

Today is 5 days until we start Back to the 80s and only 7 days until it's all over. That's scary, isn't it? Nearly 10 months since the first production team meeting last May and it all just comes down to three nights to have the time of our lives (see what I did there). Tomorrow, the 7 days of seeing the cast and crew every day begins and I'm so proud of them all for all their hard work and the energy they have put into this.
Today, we also SOLD OUT the Saturday night's performance (my mum got the last ticket), so if you haven't got a ticket yet and would like to see BUSOM's production of Back to the 80s, book ASAP for the Thursday or Friday night at Tickets are £10 in full or £8 for concessions (including students)!

Every day we're getting closer to opening night! Will you be joining us?  #backtothe80s #mainshow #musicals #musicaltheatre #teambradford
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Saturday, 5 March 2016

Sunday 6th March 2016 - 4 days left

Woah - only 4 days to go! (Tickets for Saturday are now sold out, but we still have tickets for Thursday and...
Posted by Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals (BUSOM) on Sunday, 6 March 2016

Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is one of my favourite things to have as a side with my dinner or as a main part if I'm having leftovers for lunch because it's quite soft in the middle, so I decided I needed to find a dairy-free version for that eventuality.  This recipe is from In Michelle's Kitchen and I've chosen a baguette to make it as close to the garlic bread I currently use as possible.

Ingredients (makes 1/2 cup garlic butter)

1/2 cup softened vegan margarine (such as Pure)
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder, or grated or finely minced fresh garlic to taste
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 long baguette, cut into slices


  1. Mix softened margarine, garlic powder and dried parsley together in a bowl.
  2. Spread mixture onto each slice of the baguette and bake in hot 190 degrees Celsius or 375 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. 
  3. Serve on its own as a snack or as a side dish!