It was my birthday recently (no singing, please, no really, it’s fine) and usually it’s the biggest non-event of the year! It’s right smack bang in the middle of a host of family birthdays. Moreover, most family members are often on holiday and we’ve usually already had Mum here for her July birthday, which generally means I don’t see anyone. And to be honest – I’m not telling any family secrets here – my husband is not the most imaginative or proactive when it comes to birthdays or presents or surprises of any kind. It’s just not in his DNA.
Flowers from Mum
Consequently, when he asked a few days beforehand what I’d like for my birthday, I thought I would prevent the inevitable purchase of some kind of gadget I would never use in a million years and ask for the kitchen to be painted! It is long long overdue, and this is what I opened on birthday morning:
I had told him what shade I’d like – Apple White – but he thought he’d give me a choice!
I had been cooped up for so long with the floor restoration going on and the decorators before that, so I had hoped we could go out somewhere, but when I got up the weather was cold, wet and grisly and I resigned myself to staying indoors. With my dodgy back, I rarely go anywhere, seating is always a problem. I am used to this, but sometimes I can go out in the warmer summer weather, when we take a picnic and drive around the countryside to see where we end up. (Last year it was Wroxeter – A Roman City on A Beautiful Summer’s Day. )
I mentioned as much to my husband, who suggested we go to a lakeside café he and his cycling pals sometimes stop at, but it wasn’t somewhere I could confidently get food or drink to suit my vegan, gluten- and nightshade-free habits – see last summer’s post Chillin’ on a Chilly Afternoon with Chilli and you’ll see what I mean – so I decided to Google vegan cafés in the area in the hope we could go out for lunch, something I have done only once in 30 years.
We came across O’Joy Wellness Centre & Bistro in Shrewsbury. As I read about it, I remembered that the BBC’s ‘DIY SOS’ and ‘The Big Build’ presenter, Nick Knowles, became co-owner of a vegan restaurant after staying at a retreat in Thailand and subsequently adopting a vegan lifestyle. The centre also offers counselling and psychotherapy. I hadn’t realised it was in Shrewsbury. The photos looked promising, the seating looked manageable, with my back cushion. We phoned them up to get directions and they told us where we could park.
Needless to say, we got lost! Again. No, we still don’t have a Sat Nav, but I aim to rectify that in a few weeks when it’s His Nibs’ birthday! So many new roundabouts with rubbish signage! My husband reckons the highways people expect everyone to have sat navs these days and so anything beyond a basic N, S, E or W is redundant!
We found the bistro eventually, having turned left when we should have turned right! A dark blue frontage and ceiling, rustic oak tables, cheerful yellow chairs and welcoming young and friendly staff greeted us on what had degenerated into a typical chilly blustery Shrewsbury day. We were shown to our table at the back, for which I was grateful as the door was kept open and I was cold. Our bubbly, smiley waitress waited patiently as we sorted out which chair was best and put my cushion in place. She asked if I would prefer to sit over the other side where there was a bench with lots of plump cushions, but I was fine and didn’t want to cause any further fuss.
We later noticed a large sign asking patrons to order at the counter during the day, but the place was quiet when we arrived and the staff seemed happy to wait on us.
Here’s what I ordered:
Everything is vegan and there are gluten-free options, like the bun with this burger. The Green Goddess salad originally came with croutons, but they were happy to replace them with toasted sunflower and sesame seeds. The raw carrot cake was gluten-free. I also had the Green Monster Burger with sweet potato fries, my husband had tomato and roasted red pepper soup, Cajun burger, and gluten-free raw brownie. There was a selection of herbal, fruit and green teas as well as smoothies and soft drinks.
We must have been there two and a half hours! People came and went, some with young children, ordering falafels or dips and pitta bread; others meeting friends and ordering tacos; all ate at leisure and no-one was rushed out the door. The place has a cosy feel to it and the staff were lovely. When I returned from the washroom, my husband had paid the bill and we said goodbye to our waitress who wished me a happy birthday and laughed at the look of surprise on my face. She had asked my husband what our plans were for the rest of the day and he said it was my birthday, so anything was possible. She replied we should have told her and they would have put a candle on my cake! There was no sign of Nick, he mustn’t have got the memo;-)
I had a lovely day and I was so full, I actually didn’t eat again until lunchtime next day, other than a small juice for breakfast. My husband came home and had to sleep it off for three hours!
Oh, and the kitchen is being painted as I type:
Copyright: Chris McGowan
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