Wasting Money

Recently, I have been quite low on money due to various reasons. Now that I can’t really afford any luxuries, it makes me look back to when I can and, in so doing, I reflect on what I think was the best way to spend money. When it comes down to it, I think that there’s no better way to spend money, than on a dinner out with friends. Sure, games and books may give me something more tangible to ‘have’ long term, but I think visiting restaurants with people is probably just about my favourite thing to do – particularly one on ones. Although, having said that, I certainly enjoy being surrounded by friends too. Yes, it may be more expensive to eat out than to eat in, but I could never view it as a waste of money. It’s the one thing I am looking forward to doing regularly once I have a proper income again – that, I suppose, and traveling to meet people (although I have not had the capacity to do that outside of the country, yet.) It’s just one of those things which I have been able to appreciate more, now that I no longer have access to it.

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Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Mrs Dalloway is the first Virginia Woolf novel that I’ve read and, going in, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I hadn’t even read the blurb! My first impression, was that the style felt quite similar James Joyce’s Ulysses. This worried me a bit, because I really didn’t enjoy that book (sorry, James) but as I read on, I actually found it to be far more interesting and enjoyable to read.

Anyway, Mrs Dalloway tells us the story of one day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares to host a party at her home. Written in the 1920s, this novel was set in the modern day  and Clarissa is an upper class person who’s married to a politician. If somebody had asked me, I’d have probably said that I would have nothing in common with a woman like that, but as I read through the book, I found that I related to her in many ways (and to several of the other characters too.) They say that the purpose of literature is to capture the universals of the human experience and I really feel that Virginia Woolf has done that in this book.

The story jumps between the perspective of several characters whose lives cross paths during that day and we get to see inside the heads of all of them. Through their experiences, we get internal monologues on mental health issues, friendship and even non-heterosexuality. All subjects I am very interested in. Considering that this was published in the 1920s, I was impressed by how enlightened and progressive it seemed to be. Not that the characters don’t have their flaws – they do, but they’re all very real and very human.

It’s quite a short book on the whole (about 140 pages) but I feel like this is just the right length for a book which tells a story confined within a single day. Perhaps, if it had been any longer, it might have started to get a little boring or grating. But as it stands, it was a very enjoyable read. Its short story is definitively not without it’s drama (it was pretty shocking at one point in particular) and I would recommend it to anybody who likes classic or literary fiction.

Rating: 8.1/10

Buy it here.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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Recurring Dream

Back when I was in The Corsham School Sixth Form, I was pretty proud of my 100% attendance. I was the only person to have that high a level of attendance and I even got a special acknowledgement of that fact during our leaver’s event. Although, to be honest, always coming in was sometimes to my detriment.

With this in mind, it’s weird that my attendance during sixth form keeps popping into my dreams. For example, last night I dreamt that I was at the gym with three of my friends (who, funnily enough, are not even aware of each other in reality) and we were having a nice time exercising and socialising. Then I looked at the time – oh dear, I had a history class starting in ten minutes and I was over an hour away! And the final exam is a few days away! Now that I think about it, I don’t remember anything at all about history and it feels like years since I last went in! Then, in my hurry to get there in time, I woke up and it took me a moment to realise that I had my history exam years ago and it was fine.

Around a month or so ago, I dreamt I was out having a big Christmas meal with all of my friends. It was really nice. In reality, I didn’t get to see a lot of my friends this Christmas and that was quite sad, but in the dream, they were all there. I was in a comfortable chair, feeling very happy and content (it was night time) and then I looked at the time – oh dear! Once again, I have ten minutes to get to a class that’s far away and my exam is just around the corner. Once again, I woke up and had to take a moment to assure myself that I had passed my exams years ago without any trouble.

I won’t bother writing up every time that it’s happened, because I’m always having a perfectly nice and normal dream and then I realise I have a class to go to. Usually it’s a history class, but sometimes it’s an English class. It seems weird to me, because I have never had a recurring dream like this before (or a recurring element of a dream, perhaps I should say) and especially not one that has me questioning reality when I wake up.

I did a little bit of internet research and a lot of people have had similar recurring dreams. A friend of mine mentioned having it sometimes too. According to Reliable Internet Experts, these dreams are caused by having forgotten something in real life. But I have no idea what it could be. I certainly hope that I haven’t forgotten anything! My friend thought they could be caused by not having enough time to dedicate to everything I want to do, which could be it. I’d rather it be that, actually, as it would mean I haven’t forgotten anything. Either way, I’m curious to see how long this lasts.


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Message Seen

I’ve noticed that a lot of people consider it quite rude to not reply to a message on Facebook or other social media. Either they’ll feel very bad if they don’t respond to somebody or they’ll worry that somebody is annoyed with them if they don’t get a reply themselves. But I think in 99% of cases, it’s something people shouldn’t worry about.

Think of it like this: these kind of messaging systems give you access to somebody 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Now, in my case, even when it comes to my absolute favourite people, I am not always in the mood to write a message to them. Usually, I hold off replying until set times of day where I plan to reply to all of my unanswered messages – responding to messages is something I look forward to sitting down and giving my full attention to, not something to rush when I’m walking to work, or whatever. And I think it’s true of most people: even if somebody is literally the person that they love most in the whole world, they might not be in a position where they want to write a message to them. Then, as other things happen in the day, they can easily forget about the message because you only get one notification for each message.

I can completely understand why people get worried about messages that go without a response, but I wish that more people were able to not let it get to them. If there’s something that really irritates me, it’s the fact that a lot of messaging services have added a “message seen” feature, so people know when there messages have been ‘seen’ by the person they’re trying to contact. The problem is that it’s quite easy to make this appear even if you haven’t read the message and if/when it does come up, if the other person has social anxiety, it’s just going to feed into that. Plus, as the person receiving the message won’t want to seem rude, they’ll feel pressured to respond as quickly as possible, even if it isn’t convenient. The cynical part of me wonders whether the feature might not have been added for user-convenience, but to pressure people to respond ASAP so that these services get used more and the businesses who own them have more chat histories to datamine for marketing resources.

In the past, I’d sometimes be a bit concerned if I didn’t get a reply to my messages and I even had a rule not to contact somebody until they had responded to my previous message – but, I was wrong. Thinking logically, a lack of reply isn’t something to worry about at all. It’s just a shame that there have almost certainly been cases where friends have fallen out over a lack of replies, even though, really, it should be an insignificant non-issue.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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Mario Party

I have never been to a party where people played Mario Party, but if I did it would probably have been one of the best parties I had ever attended. I consider it to be one of the best multiplayer experiences created by Nintendo and unlike, say Mario Kart (which is also very good) this game is not a conversational killer, because you won’t be focusing solely on what you’re doing, but on what everybody is doing.

If you’ve never heard of it before (or have never played it) it is essentially a digital board game. You can choose between Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Wario, Donkey Kong and Peach and there are different levels based on each character. You play with four people and you role a dice to see how many spaces you can move around the map. Different spaces cause different things to happen and each of the maps have several characters who will do certain things when you interact with them. The goal is to be the player with the most stars and the most coins – you get coins by winning mini-games (and there’s one of those every time all four players have moved) and then you use them to buy stars from Toad, who can be found somewhere on the map. After a set number of turns, a winner is declared.

I have a feeling that that sounds rather boring in writing, but trust me, it isn’t. There’s a lot of luck in this game and it can be quite funny to see a player lose their fortunes because Bowser randomly decided to steal everything from them, or something like that. Having said that, I don’t think people who take their games really, really seriously will  get much out of it. I can imagine someone getting quite grumpy if they have too many mishaps. You have to be able to laugh at yourself – then everyone can have fun.

Speaking of fun, the most fun comes from the mini-games. They come in several different varieties (sometimes players are all working against each other,  times they’re working in teams) and almost all of them are highly enjoyable. In one, you’re skateboarding as fast as you can to get across a bridge which is collapsing into a river of lava. In another, you’re working together to get through a haunted house and use a giant bulb to defeat an army of Boos. In particularly unfair (but amusing) one, one character dresses as Bowser and everyone tries to hit them with giant hammers, causing them to drop money each time.

There’s one unfortunate thing about these mini games though and I really have to mention it. They are literally bad for your physical health. One or two of them are built around the player spinning the control stick around really, really fast in order to make their character do different things. The problem is that in order to do this, you need to spin it so fast that you’ll blister your hand. It’s annoying. In a way, it’s a bit like an extra-large pizza from Domino’s – at the time, the pain will seem worth it,  but when you wake up the next morning and your hand still hurts, it will be just as bad as any post-pizza tummy ache.

Also, this is a game that’s made to be played with a group.  Or, at least, one other person. It’s not that the game won’t be fun if you play alone, it probably will be, it’s just that it will wear off a lot faster and you’re more likely to just get annoyed by a change of fortune if it’s just a computer player who’s taken all your money, rather than one of your friends. It does sometimes feel like the CPU players cheat as well.

But, overall, I consider this a fantastic game. When it first came out, I was absolutely blown away by it and spent hours and hours playing it with my brothers and alone too. Returning to it as an adult, its flaws are a little more obvious to me, but it’s still a game I recommend – it even manages to have unexpected story-elements! If you do ever get a chance to play (which is unlikely, so it seems as though it will never be rereleased) you should give it a try.

Rating: 9.5/10

Buy it here.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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Do Meaner People Care More?

There’s a video going around social media that claims that the meaner somebody is to their friends, the more likely they are to care a lot about them. Or, at least, that’s how it’s always presented. When you actually watch the video, you will see that it comes to a slightly different conclusion and it’s concerning that people accept the “meaner people care more” conclusion with no real critical thought.

What the video actually says, if you watch it, is that if somebody cares a lot about somebody, they won’t be afraid to say something “mean” if they think that it will ultimately do the other person some good. So, really, it’s highlighting that communication is always important in any relationship, even if it means communicating something negative. It’s a much more nuanced conclusion than “being mean to people means you care.”

In fact, I’d probably go so far as to say that the meaner somebody is, the more likely they are not to care about the other person very much, or, at least, to view them in wholly selfish terms. Just being mean with no real reason is not an indication that a person cares a lot for you (even the video wouldn’t say so) it’s probably just an indication that they’re quite a toxic person. And I don’t just mean friendly/jokey banter, I mean things that would genuinely leave you thinking that the other person was mean.

Having said that, I also wouldn’t like to say that it’s completely black and white. Sometimes people say really nice things that would give you the impression that they really care about you, when all of their actions say otherwise and it seems that they’re either being  unconditionally “caring” to others because they don’t know how to properly socialise or because they want to fuel their ego. Equally, someone who makes a lot of snide remarks might genuinely care about you a lot. Relationships can’t be easily defined by set rules.

Having said that, I definitely agree with the sentiment that, in a strong relationship the two people won’t be afraid of hurting each other’s feelings, if they believe that their feelings need to be hurt in order to help them in the long run. Of course, experiences like that are never pleasant at the time, but of the small number of friends I’ve genuinely argued with, they are all people who I am especially close with. If the video were being shared around with the agreeable message that we always need to communicate our thoughts and feelings, rather than the watered down “mean friends care more” I’d think it was much better. As it stands, I worry it would encourage very flawed people to view their flaws as a virtue.

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The Kite Flies

It has been quite a while since I last used my blog to recommend other work that I’ve found out there on the internet. A big part of the reason for this was that I felt like posts that do nothing but promote something else tend to lack much real value of their own and I worried that they came across as lazy. Today I am feeling particularly lazy (I have to get up in six hours!) and so, I’m just writing a blog post along those lines…. What I meant to say was, um, that I’m writing it out of genuine desire to help a fellow blogger find new readers.

Anyway, I believe I may have mentioned before that earlier this year a friend of mine moved to China to teach English as foreign language, which is all very impressive and exciting. In order to document their experiences while travelling in that country, they have started a blog which they call The Kite Flies. I enjoy reading it, in part, because I always like to hear about things that my good friends are doing, but it’s a well written blog and the kind of thing that should appeal to anyone who’s interested in travel or teaching. Go and take a look and leave lots of encouraging comments.

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Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

After his introduction in Super Mario World, Yoshi had proven to be very popular. Nonetheless, I still find it quite surprising that he was the one to take centre stage in its sequel Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, which I consider to be one of the most experimental instalments in the mainline Super Mario series.

While most of the games had pretty much been a case of Bowser causing trouble, kidnapping Peach and having Mario and Luigi stop him (discounting Super Mario Bros. 2) this game actually gives us a flashback to a very early stage in their lives. It starts with a stork carrying a baby Mario and Luigi in a bundle through the clouds, only for it to be attacked by a mysterious figure who takes one of the babies (Luigi) and causes the other to fall from the stork’s grasp and down onto Yoshi’s Island far below. The Yoshis then find the baby and work together to try and get him home and rescue his brother.

I know I musn’t spend too much time talking about story when it comes to a game like this (since it isn’t overly important to most people) but the game seems to give a significant retcon in what we understand of Mario’s life. The earlier games had seemed to show him in a fairly “real world” setting, with him then passing into the Mushroom Kingdom in Mario Bros. but this shows him in the Mushroom Kingdom at the very beginning of his life. It’s hard to reconcile these two origins, but I guess, maybe, he was born in the Mushroom World, then moved to Earth at a very young age, then returned to the Mushroom Kingdom, not remembering the distant past.

So, anyway, onto something of more relevance: the gameplay! You play as Yoshi and you have Baby Mario riding on your back. Yoshi can eat his enemies, use a “flutter jump” to get up extra high and lay eggs which can be used as projectiles. He’s fun to play as and he also cannot be defeated just by being hit by enemies – but the thing is, if he gets hit, Baby Mario will fall off his back and get trapped in a bubble. Yoshi then needs to retrieve him before enemy Toadies come along and steal him away. It creates a very different dynamic to the other games in the series. Egg throwing also creates lots of new types of puzzle.

What also sets this apart from the other games in the series, is that everything is designed with a sort of hand-drawn aesthetic. There are lots of bright, vibrant colours and it looks as if it could have been sketched with crayons. It’s a nice look and there’s a particularly good soundtrack to accompany it. In terms of presentation, I feel the game does really well.

While in previous games, you’d face Koopas, Goombas, Thwomps and several other enemies that you’d come to expect by now, this game introduces several new enemies, such as the Ukikis and Raphael the Raven. They really tried hard to give this game its own unique identity – which is quite fitting, because it is essentially the first instalment in Yoshi’s own spin-off franchise.

It also introduces some bizarre new elements, like Yoshi’s ability to transform into a helicopter. It makes no real sense and is given no real explanation, but when it does happen, it changes up the gameplay in nice ways and I find it quite funny too. Other nice little bits include times when Baby Mario runs free without Yoshi.

It’s a good game all round and with a fair amount of replayability too (since there are lots of hidden collectables in each level.) I guess sometimes the game can be a little frustrating difficulty-wise and I do wish that it had had a map screen like the last Super Mario World game. But, overall, it’s a good experience (and without spoiling it, it has a great final boss too.) A good start for Yoshi’s own platforming series.

Rating: 8.8/10

Buy it here.

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Dominant Voice

Working in a call center, as I do currently, I take a large number of phone calls each day. Sometimes these customers have had experiences which have lead them to feeling stressed and disgruntled. As much as this kind of thing can get a little bit boring, I do find it quite interesting from the perspective of human interactions. What makes people say or do certain things? That kind of stuff.

There’s one particular pattern that I’ve noticed, but which I am not particularly pleased with. Normally when I speak to people, I have a normal, friendly voice. Some people have even said that I have a gentle or pleasant voice (and once they said it was sexy, but that was weird.) Anyway, as the only thing I ever do is take calls, I sometimes like to alter my voice in some ways in order to make it more varied for me.

One example, is that I intentionally tried to do a mild Scottish accent after I had been misidentified as Scottish. The next few callers actually were Scottish and they thought that I was one of them, which made me feel proud of my ability to mimic the accent. But that one was just a bit of fun.

Something else I have tried was a bit of a social experiment. Would they treat me any differently if I was very stern and professional, as opposed to using my regular, casual voice? And the answer to that question, is yes. The most easily noticeable thing is that they are more likely to call me “sir” (which I am pretty fond of) but what’s more interesting, is that they are more likely to take responsibility for their own mistakes if I speak in a very emotionless and professional voice and they’re less likely to be confrontational.

I guess it comes down to this: the customers view a gentle and polite voice as “weak” and so they think that it is easier for them to be “dominant” and are more likely to blame me for mistakes (even when it is them) or even to be downright rude. But, a stern and professional voice sounds to them more dominant and so they, in turn, they are less likely to challenge it. It’s unfortunate the friendliness doesn’t command the same level of respect as professionalism.

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Top 10 Vegetables of 2017

With the coming of 2018, everybody seems to be taking the chance to reflect on 2017 and all the things that it gave us. There were exciting new films, cool new video games and dystopian new political developments – what a year! And, of course, the one question on everybody’s lips is this: which was the best vegetable of 2017? Well, the good news is, that we here at Trusty Water Blog (that’s the royal we) have complied a list of the best vegetables of 2017.

10. Tomatoes

This is a controversial choice, I know, because tomatoes are not vegetables and I also do not like them. Finding out that a meal had a tomato in it, for me, is the equivalent of finding out that your kidney has a stone in it (not that I have ever experienced the latter, but I’m sure they’re the same.) So what is it that gets them included on this list?

Well, this year I’ve learned a lot more about tomato culture and philosophy and I’ve come to respect them. Sure, we may have different perspectives (they think of themselves as delicious and I think of them as disgusting) but if there’s anything this year has taught us, it’s that we need to respect people from all walks of life – even the Toms.


9. Leeks

Oh no! Oh no! Have we got a leak? Oh no, I was just misidentifying the fact that number 9 on our list is the humble leek. Har har har. I thought that up myself. Leeks first made it big in the public consciousness in 2012 and have been a household name ever since. It’s no surprise that they continue to be successful into their fifth year of fame and that’s why they’ve earned the solid number 9 slot.

A lot of critics (hipsters mostly) will cry “But they’re just like long onions” and to that I retort “And is the Mona Lisa just like a flat woman?” Not only are leeks a treat for the eyes, but a treat for the mouth and a treat for the nose as well.



8. Peppers

Peppers have had quite a few smash hits throughout the years. We’ve had red peppers, we’ve had green peppers and we’ve even had yellow peppers (ideal for drawing smiley faces on.) Then, of course, you’ve also got ghost peppers – and yes, I know that some people believe that the ritual execution of alive peppers in order to create ghost peppers is unethical, but those types of people are the problem with democracy.

So why is that peppers have secured themselves a comfortable seat in our Top 10 Vegetables list? What specifically ties them to the year 2017? Well, in a world where more and more of our beloved public figures are being outed as sex offenders and bigots, it’s important that we take the time to appreciate the cultural icons who have not fallen from grace and who remain paragons of moral virtue – such as the pepper community. Yum yum.


7. Swedes

No, I am not suggesting that we farm and eat Swedish people, you filthy racist. I’m talking about the most humble of all vegetables, the humble swede. This is another of those classic vegetables that have reached the point where you could show their photograph to any random person on the street and they’d be able to tell you what it is.

2017 was a good year for swedes. When I went down to my local Co-Op a few months ago, I spotted a packet of shredded swedes and it went well in a stir fry I made. Sure, maybe those have been available for years and nobody ever noticed, but it’s nice to see that this swede variation is still in publication.


6. Oranges

Well, hello there! What’s this fruity little number doing in our vegetable list? Well, spoiler alert, the number six slot has been given to a very special guest star: oranges! Everybody knows that fruits are rubbish when compared to vegetables and so you could never make a top ten fruit list, because there aren’t that many nice fruits, so it only seem fair to let them nab a spot on this list instead. I’m all about inclusivity.

Have you ever been sat on the bus and then smelled something divine in the air, so you then look over to find that a fellow commuter is peeling an orange nearby and you want to covertly take a nice long sniff of it, but you also don’t want to look like a sociopath so you avoid going over and saying “Excuse me, mister, I’d like to have a sniff of that fruit” and instead try to enjoy the smell in as subtle a way as possible? Of course you have. Everybody has. Oranges smell great and despite that one horrible experience in 1998, they do actually taste great too. 2017 was a year for revisiting classics and oranges was one of those classics. But how could it ever be improved? Simple, turn them beige and call them beiges.


5. Peas

These are good’ens. They’re the pea’s knees, as they say.  They provide us with some really profound commentary on the human condition as they are a dark mirror for us all. Think of each individual pea. They’re constantly surrounded by lots of other peas, but do the other peas really love them? No. They are, in fact, always entirely alone, even though the other peas are physically near. And what happens to peas? They get eaten, just like our decaying corpses will all be eaten by worms, once they’re buried in the ground – never having truly been loved and never having truly felt love for another. Just like peas. Two peas in a pod? Nah. Two Ps desperately seeking God – in that case, the p stands for “person.”

Yes, sometimes peas are a nice addition to a meal, but other times they can spoil a dish entirely with their presence, just like humans have spoiled the planet Earth. With so much to say, how could we not award peas a place on this list? Oh, and one other thing, don’t you think that they’re quite visually pleasing? Nice shade of green. Round.


4. Bean sprouts

Everyone knows beans. They’re good, right? After all, they were the inspiration for that famous nursery rhyme “Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you lute, play the lute all night long, play it for your daughter, play it for your son, for when they come to write your eulogy, they’ll look back upon this memory.” But imagine if beans could be even better. Well, actually they can and I am talking, of course, about bean sprouts.

They taste good, they smell good, and look good. What else do you want? I mean, for goodness’ sake, they’re only vegetables. Add them to your stir fry today and tick “eat bean sprouts” off of your bucket list.


3. Onions

Oh, gosh. Now we’ve got something really special here. Onions. Or fun-ions as I like to call them, because if I’m ever feeling low, I know that I can always have fun if I decide to eat an onion – raw or cooked. They’re round as well, which is useful if you’re ever out on the tennis court and you find that you’ve forgotten to bring the ball again (you utter dolt!) as a little known fact about onions is that they are they exact same size as tennis balls.

But, on a serious note, it’s hard to think of a savoury dish which isn’t enhanced with a dose of onions. Does that not embody the ideals that we should all be striving to live by, in this world of ours?


2. Sweet Potatoes

I think I need to clarify that when I list sweet potatoes in the number 2 position, I am not simply listing “sweet potatoes” but “sweet potatoes.” Are we at an understanding? I know that some people use the word “sweet” to mean “extra good” and so, as this is such a high entry, you might think that I am using that to describe run of the mill potatoes, but I’m not saying sweet non-sweet potatoes, I am just saying sweet potatoes. Or, sweet sweet potatoes, if that makes sense? Or is sweet non-savoury potatoes clearer?

Let’s take two things. Sweets and potatoes. Both given an official Trusty Water Blog rating of 10/10. Now imagine that God or Science (depending on your religious orientation) had decided to merge them into one holy dish. Well, I’ve got news for you, buddy, you don’t need to use your imagination, because they already exist. Also, there are sweet potato fries. They’re pretty good too and, as of 2017, they’ve started to become a lot more popular – you can find that they’ve been added to the menu at Oscar award winning restaurant, Nando’s – the first and only restaurant chain to be awarded thus.


1. Portobello Mushrooms

How could the number one spot belong to anything but the portobello mushrooms? Imagine that you go away on holiday with all the people you love. It’s the holiday destination you’ve always wanted to visit and, guess what? It’s also your birthday and it’s Christmas too, even if those two dates are far away. It’s a time travel adventure. And what’s that? International superstar, Richard Thomas, is staying in the next room? He wants you to introduce him to all of your friends and get to know you better.  You both keep in touch afterwards too. You stay with him at Christmas time.

Now imagine that that the emotional joy you would experience in that situation is translated into a taste and, specifically, the taste of a vegetable (because, let’s be honest, if it could be any taste, it would probably be chocolate or something, rather than a vegetable.) You know what you’re tasting now? It’s our attractive friend, the portobello mushroom. Like a normal mushroom, but brownish. Amazing. If mushrooms count as vegetables that is. But I don’t care if they don’t. This blog is the one thing I still have control over in my life and I will not let you take that from me! No! No. Stay back. I have a knife.


With the vegetable community having given us so much in 2017, we can only look ahead to the rest of 2018 with bated breath. What will they do next? Only time will tell. What were your favourite vegetables of 2017? Let us know in the comments.

Posted in Countdowns, Funny and Silly | 1 Comment