Gotcha Tomotcha?

18 September 2018


Gotcha Tomotcha is my Japanese version of 'Got Milk'. I was sent two month's worth of Japanese tea to try from the lovely people of Tomotcha. After reading my blog, they had noticed my keen interest in tea. I have grown more fond and intrigued by Japanese culture as of late, as my older bother moved there about 5 years ago and I love hearing stories of his every day life out in the Japanese sticks (dunno what they would call it over there). He and his girlfriend recently visited over Christmas and she kindly brought some Japanese tea herself so I jumped at the chance to try a variation from Tomotcha.

I was sent Kabusecha and Tamaryokucha, how you pronounce these I'll never know - but a lot of a saliva comes out when I attempt to. I tried these both in the evening and was concerned it might keep me awake but surprisingly enough, it didn't keep me up all night like normal English Breakfast tea does.



The lovely tea on the left (Kabusecha) is described as mild and the one on the right (Tamaryokucha) is described as fruity. The Kabusecha is perfect for winding down before bed I found; I have a small glass cup of this tea (about half a mug) as it acts as a great night cap. The Tamaryokucha is better in the day and a great morning brew as you can definitely taste hints of berries. I tried both of these with different brewing technics, one in a teapot and another in a tea strainer. Both achieved the same quality aroma with a classic lime green colour.



I really enjoyed these two teas, you get a generous amount and the perfect amount of information to learn about what you're drinking. In the past, I've received teas with far too much information - and that's just the brewing instructions! This was incredibly refreshing to receive and I love that it comes in recyclable paper pouches. 
I would advise everyone to go check Tomotcha out! 

I fell in love with a narcissistic gaslighter

2 September 2018

I was in an on-off (x 10) relationship for two years that happened to be the worst years of my life. It didn't take me long to realise that I was in a two year relationship with a nightmare narcissist. 

His main exploitation was the use of manipulative gaslighting.

"Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity." 

The very first time his narcissism came to light was during an argument. I had said that he didn't like that I had a voice and that I spoke up against him when he did wrong. His response?

"You voice is too loud."

Like...who says that? That was an immediate sassy 'SAY WHAT' moment for me.

According to Psychology Today, there are 11 warning signs of a gaslighter; they lie, deny, attack the things important to you, wear you down, their actions don't match their words, use positive reinforcement, confuse you, project, align people against you and try to convince you everyone else is lying.

Lying


Often my boyfriend would lie to me, but the only time it was ever obvious was when he would admit to it. You see, you never really know if they're lying because they do such a good job denying it and making you doubt yourself. My boyfriend even said to me "I lied, I only said that to shut you up." I even found out about some of the lies he was telling his friends after I confronted them myself.

Once, he told me the TV we now shared was his ex's and had "fucked her loads in front of it". He then told me he had lied about that too. But had he? Here comes the confusion again, because if he had, then obviously that was bad that he lied. And if it was a lie, who in the right mind would make something so vindictive up to tell his current girlfriend?

During one of the ten times we broke up, he had joined several dating sites (and a German sex site) and of course, when we got back together - he lied that he had deleted them.

Denial


He told a friend of mine that he "fucking loves drugs" and that I was a dragon. How very passionate of you... *rolls eyes*. Obviously when this was brought up, he immediately denied this.

My boyfriend had also been flirting and courting another woman whilst we were together as I discovered in the late stages of our relationship. Not only did he hide our our personal Facebook posts from just her, but when questioned - he denied attempting to sleep with her and went on to say that "hooking up" to him meant "going for coffee".

Witholding


Some of his actions made me feel inferior and disposable. Such actions includes times where he would go on a night out and tell me I'm disturbing his night and block me. He would also make initial engagements with friends for the weekend (the only time we get to see each other) and remain vague about his plans until last minute when he would cancel on me before I'm due to see him.

Affection is something he would withhold too and often this would happen very rapidly. It could go from being incredibly affectionate to not at all. One thing he said that really stuck with me was the fact that he was a man and isn't an emotional one at that. He said that he just fixes stuff for me and that should be enough. How archaic...

Actions and Words Don't Match


This was a big one for me and one of the most prominent things he would do in order to confuse me. This is what I believe lead me to take him back the 10 times that I did. He would do things like tell me he would try harder which would usually end after 2 days. He said he would never dream of "fucking me off" then breaking up with me less than a month later. After a fair bit of time apart, he came back to me (it's always him coming back to me) and invested a hefty amount of time and effort convincing me that he was serious about the relationship, only to say "let's not rush into things".

Things like "better communication" was promised but then I wouldn't receive a call until 2 hours after we agreed which might not be a biggie for you, but at this point he had moved to Saudi Arabia to pursue his lifelong dream of earning big dolla by building war planes to bomb innocent civilians in Yemen. Morals eh...

He also had double-standards, during one of the many times we broke up, we were no longer speaking. Yet when we got back together he was mad at me for not asking how his dad was. I'm sorry but I wasn't just going to text a narc gaslighter who I've been trying to break free from out of the blue to ask how his pop is. During the Manchester Bombing (which happened to be where I lived at the time), he never text me to ask how I was, nor did I expect him to. Then he had the audacity to tell me that he had enough problems and didn't need to hear about mine. He has even called me selfish for talking about my feelings.
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Countering


Countering is where the abuser would make the victim doubt themselves by countering their recollection of events or statement.

We decided to go on holiday to Egypt as one last attempt to fix our deadly relationship. We had fallen out and he told me to book a different room in the hotel. He then tried to convince me it was myself who suggested it.

He had also once forgotten I had gotten a new job and then accused me of not telling him when in fact I had told him several times.

Blocking/Diverting


This is essentially words and actions to make you doubt yourself. This is extremely powerful and could find you bowing down to the abuser if you're not careful. He would often make me feel to blame for my own emotions.











Narcissism


The combination of narcissism with gaslighting behaviour makes your escape so much harder. These are just some examples of his behaviour.

A keen traveller, he always thought he was superior because he was apparently more worldly than most and his experiences always crept into conversations.

He would refer to himself in third person, and often uses his full name.

He asked me how it felt to "touch Caesar"

He would use degrading and derogatory language in reference to me. I was often referred to as "mate" or his "bird" which I do understand to an extent when lads speak to one another but this was communicating with myself. He also said he would "blitz" me. If it's anything like the German bombing offensive in 1940-1941 then no thanks hun.

He signed off emails to me with his name as a hashtag.

Said he owned me and that I was his possession.

Told me that I was nothing and the worst woman in the world.

Tried to shut me up by holding his finger up at my mouth.

Called me a skid mark.

I was working full time and volunteering at a youth centre once a week and he would tell me that because I volunteered, it didn't make me into a better person.

He has previously told me I would never meet anybody else and that I was incapable of having a healthy relationship.

He once suggested doing cams online together so he could get more money.

One of the most significant and luckily one of the last incidences where he demeaned me was when we were on holiday, when I found out that he had slept with a prostitute. We were in and amongst new friends we had met on our travels but I was not being social after I learnt this new information. So he decided to bring our personal affairs to the pubic to humiliate me. Little did I know, he was about to stab me in the heart. He defended his decision to sleep with a prostitute by saying "A suck and a fuck for €50? BARGAIN!"

Harassment, Police and how it all ended 


I mentioned a few times that we went on holiday and that it was a rocky experience (not the country but our relationship lol). The final straw had to be in the taxi, on our return from camping in the desert. We had been arguing a fair bit, and I had spent a lot of time crying my eyes out and I even considered opening the door and running away at one of the motorway checkpoints. But it was at this checkpoint where I (and I guess he cracked). Throughout the whole holiday, he was obsessed with his phone. Using it to chat to friends and yet not say a single word to me. He would spend 15 minutes editing a photo of himself that he made me take in certain angles, only to miss the view he spent so long forcing me to take - because I guess the right filter was more important than the view itself right? I asked him to stop going on his phone at this checkpoint and as if he was doing it in spite, he whipped out his phone. I grabbed his phone and much to my terror he raised a fist at me.

After one last try, I built up enough courage with the support of my friends and Greater Manchester Police and ended all contact with my now ex-boyfriend. But it wasn't plain sailing...

I had contacted the police way before our relationship had ended because of the harassment I was receiving when we had broken up. He would turn up at my door all the way from Wales in the middle of the night, he would find out what events I'm going to and turn up, he would contact me by calling me, texting me, Whatsapp-ing me, Facebooking me, calling from withheld numbers from Saudi Arabia, calling me from his friend's numbers and he would do it constantly. He even turned up at my door at midnight from Saudi Arabia. I had police case numbers and Domestic Violence files but he kept at it. He rang me from Saudi Arabia one night and whispered down the phone "I will always find you, I just have to be creative." I would have panic attacks in my sleep and wake up trying to scratch my own skin off or I would run to the door to check it was locked.

I was suffering and in so much pain.

I was referred to therapy to deal with my trauma and I couldn't have been happier with the results. I was finally free.

I am not a stupid girl, but I can't help but feel stupid. None of my friends felt comfortable around him, and they watched me suffer for two years while I got my heart attacked.

They were trying to save me but I never listened to them and often would hide the relationship from them.

Whilst I was with my ex, I lost my soul and lost my job through the depression.

His behaviour affected the start of my next relationship, I refused to believe this new relationship would be any different to the horror I experienced.

I was mistaken.

I am now madly in love with the man of my dreams, my best friend - my soulmate. He is not THE one, we ARE one.



Tea in Summer

11 August 2018

Isn't it typically British to be still drinking tea in the height of summer? Especially when this year's summer has been borderline unbearable in terms of heat. But as any Brit, we are born with a third chromosome; the T chromosome.

The kind and patient people from Adagio Tea sent me a massive variety of teas to try out and it's taken quite some time for me to get through these. 


Pictured above is sadly not everything I was sent as a few have gone missing, and I suspect my boyfriend to be the culprit and has them in a black hole where I imagine he's put several of my clothes and our missing knives from the cutlery drawer - anyway I digress. 


I have to say that the Earl Grey and Jasmine Pearls were my favourite teas; Earl Grey because it's one of my all time favourites and Jasmine Pearls because it reminds me of my childhood (and also the pearls look fun and they unravel when they brew lol)


I have to admit that there are a couple I've not tried yet and very reluctant too, and it's the dessert-y teas. I was sent a vanilla and chocolate chip to try and these just don't sound like my cup of tea (omg I didn't even plan on writing that pun but it's worked out perfectly). However, I shouldn't give sweet teas a miss because I do enjoy the mango they sent me. Who knows, I may even like it if it doesn't go missing in my boyfriend's black hole within the next few days.

Go check out the wonderful Adagio Teas and support their wonderful Roots Campaign which helps the lives of each tea farmer they source from.



Why You Should Travel To Egypt

14 March 2018

In October, I made the questionable (to some) decision to travel to Egypt for a holiday. It currently faces many stereotypes with regards to safety but speaking to my friend who lives in Cairo and doing some research led me to believe that it is still safe to travel to the majority of Egypt. The main area of concern was the Sinai Provence which is advised not to visit due to ISIS presence. 

However, I would highly recommend visiting Cairo and Luxor on your travels to Egypt if you ever have the opportunity to. Not only is the food incredible in Egypt but the fascinating history. We actually decided to visit Luxor first as I heard Cairo's busy streets may be a little too much for some. 

In Luxor we enjoyed, boat rides in a fluke down the River Nile to pick bananas in Banana Island, visited Luxor Temple, Colossi of Memnon, Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Karnak Temple, The Egyptian Museum, a balloon ride over the Valley of The Kings at dusk, drank countless cups of Egyptian tea and smoked every flavour of shisha.








Following this, we flew back north to Cairo to meet up with my friend and enjoy what the city had to offer. We sampled delicious foods, visited the pyramids of Giza, met up with my friend Menna, visited the Al-Azhar mosque then set off for a 3 day trek into the desert stopping off at a salt lake which is basically a delicious beach, camped on the English mountain, visited the Bahariya Oasis which has the most incredible natural hot springs, visited the Black Desert, Crystal Mountain, did some sand boarding, had lunch at Ain Khadra water spring and toured the White Desert.










And as always, the food was incredible and the meats were cooked so well. I love Egyptian cuisine and tried so many variations of the same dish. The flavours in Egypt are incredible and absolutely endless. 










I would definitely recommend visiting Egypt to all my friends and readers, it's such an incredible place where you can learn so much about culture, people, politics and mannerisms. I would love to go back one day soon as I still feel Egypt has so much more to offer. 

Dessert Mail | The Pudding Post

23 February 2018


Ever had your dessert sent to you in the mail? No - me neither! But this is where The Pudding Post comes in. A little like Hello Fresh, The Pudding Post sends sweet treats for you to make at home for your enjoyment. I was sent the recipe and ingredients to make Oreo and Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse which turned out delicious. You may even surprise yourself! (I thought my mousse would be slop...)



The only thing I would change about this recipe is the instructions to make the caramel - it's quite easy to ruin caramel which I inevitably did (it turned into a surprisingly good alternative to concrete). However, I managed to make something similar to a Dime Bar!




I decided to make this in small jars instead of one large tray so I could gift and have for desserts (or multiple desserts in one sitting...)


I love doing fortnightly food projects but sometimes coming up with new recipes and projects is hard to do. Having a subscription service like The Pudding Post is brilliant because they come up with the recipes for you and send you the ingredients, and just the right amount too. I hate having to buy ingredients and having left over that I know I will never use - so having The Pudding Post means you minimise on food waste too. 


Majorelle Blue | My Moroccan Adventure

22 January 2018


Not too long ago, I had a lovely trip to Marrakech, Morocco with a friend and while our little adventure was only short, it was jam-packed and incredibly rewarding. My favourite type of holiday is one where you're really taken out of your comfort zone; one where you find yourself struggling to communicate with the locals and stay relatively hygienic.

We stayed at a wonderful Airbnb called the Riad Puchka located close to Jemaa el-Fna which is the main square in the medina quarter/old city. 





Be sure to visit Jemaa El-Fna and all the souks it has to offer, samples some local cuisine and enjoy the National Festival of Popular Arts if you happen to be around in the summer. 


Why not try ATV quad biking for a bit of a rush or Jardin Majorelle for a bit of nature.





If you want to immerse yourself in the Moroccan culture, then I'd advise you book a tour of the Atlas Mountains and Ourika Valley where you'll visit Berber villages, learn how to make Berber whisky (don't worry it's only tea), go camel trekking, learn about Argan oil, have lunch in a river stream, climb to a waterfall and so much more! 





If you're a fan of Moroccan cuisine (who isn't), then be prepared for a feast. Traditional Moroccan dishes include the obvious tagines, olives, couscous etc but also snails, cacti, orange juice, mint tea and pastries/bread.









Tips


  1. Ask your host to walk you to the square so you remember the route
  2. Swot up on basic French and Arabic
  3. Book tours in advance
  4. Don't feel pressured by street vendors; if you speak calmly, you won't get stressed out
  5. If someone tells you to walk by the side of the road, they're literally going to direct you to the tanneries
  6. Be weary of women who do henna on your skin without properly asking - they'll of course charge you







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