Elephant Gin

p1010839After a bit of a kerfuffle with Royal Mail and their tracking system, my September Craft Gin Club delivery finally arrived. I’ve seen Elephant Gin around a few places but I’ve not yet had a chance to try it, so imagine my excitement when I open my box to find a full size bottle of an exclusive batch, PLUS small bottles of the regular gin and sloe gin (reviews of these to come after my holiday as I’ve run out of time). We were also lucky enough to receive ChariTea Red, Divine‘s newest flavour – dark chocolate and pink Himalayan salt – and a bag of Buchu (literally no idea). 15% of Elephant Gin’s profits go to help elephant conservation through Big Life Foundation‘s Ranger Club and Space for Elephants Foundation and all products in this box are fair trade, so I can feel totally good at spending this months subscription cost. Each batch of Elephant Gin is named after a real elephant that is either being protected or has played an important role in Africa’s history. Mshale, my bottle’s namesake, is a 40 year old elephant living in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park – one of the largest with tusks weighing 100 pounds each (aka £25,000 worth of ivory).

p1010837The large bottle has some lovely decoration (we all know I’m a sucker for a good label) and string wrapped around the bottle neck. It gives a feel of something old that has been shipped to us, helped by old world postage stamp designs and a map of Southern Africa. No wax seal to break through here (thank god), just a simple cork top. First sniff is fairly pungent. I can’t work out what the smell is – but this is probably from the rare African botanicals they use (Devil’s Claw, Lion’s Tails or Buchu anyone?). Straight away the smell packs a punch in the glass, but the taste is less intense than anticipated. It’s certainly got flavour to it. But I have no idea what that flavour is. Not sweet, the gin falls more on the savoury side with an almost herby smell (after tasting it I checked out the botanical list, Mountain Pine, that will be the one). A small amount of heat is noticeable on your tongue – ginger is one of the botanicals. It goes down very easily straight (never a good sign for my liver).

p1010842Mixed with tonic (and a small panic when I realise I am now out of tonic water) this is an absolute delight. Fresh apple flavours (but no disgusting fake sweetness) keep it light while heavier spiced tones make it deep and earthy. No burning sensation at any point – one could almost confuse it for exciting water. Different areas of the mouth come alive as you take a sip. At 45% I was expecting this to be harsher, but it is clean and simple in taste. I felt no need to add any lemon or lime to this gin. I happily sipped away at it all evening, and will continue to do so. I can’t wait to crack open their signature gin and the sloe gin.

p1010840A 50cl bottle of the signature blend is available on Masters of Malt for just £29.49 (as of day of publishing). Absolute bargain. This will be on order the second this bottle is finished. Elephant Gin are all over social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

p1010841Don’t forget to check out Craft Gin Club and congratulate them on their success in Dragon’s Den – welcome on board Sarah Willingham! They’re on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well.

Finally, give me a follow on Twitter and Instagram and let me know what you think!

Hi. I’m Jenny and I like running…

img_7414If you had told me seven weeks ago that I would be sat writing this post at 10:30am on a Saturday morning after smashing my run and saying the sentence “I enjoy running”, I would have laughed so hard. Jenny from seven weeks ago (and frankly the last 20 years) hasn’t exercised – or indeed moved – more than necessary. But being in the Fast Forward 15 mentoring scheme and spending time with my mentor – the absolutely incredible Juliet Price – has made me realise that I can do a lot more than I thought I could. Admittedly when I agreed to the 10k run I was less than excited. But I gained some weight at the end of 2015 and I’ve been a bit down about it so been wanting to get my shit together and get healthier. I also worked out that with everything going on, I’m going to get a bit stressed. Big thing to say right now: I suffer from anxiety. I don’t really talk about it because it’s not a big deal and I can deal with it but I’ve noticed it happening more frequently in the last few months. I know that running helps. And I want to get on top of this and stop it from happening. So I started running.

img_7823I was reluctant to write about my training, because it’s not like I’m training for a marathon. 10k is not that far. 6.2 miles to be precise. When I signed up to the race, I put my estimated time as 1 hour 45 minutes. I have no idea how long it is going to take me, but I’m determined to run the whole way. I don’t care how slowly I do it. I’m going to. But today I had a break through.

img_7446I went out last night and had a lot of wine (because I’m taking training seriously). Then I got woken up early thanks to the Co-op moving things around and someone drilling. I decided to go for a run because it was early and gloomy and I thought the Brighton sea front would be empty. Boy was I wrong. People everywhere because not only was the Sport and Exercise Show setting up on Hove Lawns, but also I forgot they hold ParkRun along the seafront on Saturday mornings. I nearly turned round and went home. But I was listening to the exercise episode of the Guilty Feminist podcast and forced myself on. My last run comprised of three 5 minute runs and I could just about do it. Today was an eight minute run, five minute walk, eight minute run. And I did it. Thanks to ParkRun people applauding me, seeing so many people of all ages, sizes and speeds running together pushed me on, and my brain finally clicked into place. The guest on The Guilty Feminist podcast was Jessamyn Stanley and hearing her talk about empowerment and owning your body was incredible. I paraphrase, but essentially she said you rarely stop and look at your body and appreciate it for what it is. My legs aren’t fat, they are strong and carry me and do so much. She said that as I was thinking of stopping for a break. Carried right on. Sure, if I lose a little weight from this then great. But right now I’m just in awe of the fact that I can do this.

img_7636I think this has been the main change that’s come from running. At the beginning, I was struggling to breathe and even run for 30 seconds. Now I can run for eight minutes. I mean yeah, sure, I have a long way to go. And seven weeks ago I thought that this would be impossible. Now, I can totally do this. I feel strong. I feel good. I can take on anything. Challenges at work, sure. All my mentoring work, no problem. Helping launch Brighton Girl magazine, easy.

I’m using a couch potato to 10k app by Zen Labs which takes you on a fourteen week training programme with increasing interval training. This instantly was way better than my running attempts in the past where I’ve forced myself to run until I was tired, then walk for ages and hurt for days. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I REALLY hurt after my first few runs, now I’m fine. My recovery times are improving, I’m not as sweaty. I still look like a tomato for ages, but considering my skin is the colour and transparency of a ghost that’s to be expected. I used to listen to music, then once I started running for longer than three minutes I noticed this was holding me back. Music gives you a sense of time. You end up begging for the song to finish so you can get this over with. So I swapped to The Guilty Feminist podcast. Not only does this make you lose track of time so it’s easier to just run, it’s also hilarious (I nearly fell over last week from laughing so hard) and empowering. Highly recommend this to everyone.

img_7939So that ends this rambling blog post. Coming home I just felt like I needed to get this all out. Thank you to everyone that’s putting up with my photos and complaints on social media, and to everyone supporting me and cheering me on when I’m down. I’m going to keep going. If anyone wants to join me for a run, tweet me! After a few break downs, a few breakthroughs and one moment of “shall I just sit here and cry” I can finally say:

Hi. My name is Jenny and I like running.

On that note, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Let me know about your experiences running and we can cheer each other on with faux inspirational “you can totally do it” type things.

17 July

10 September