sausages and beer

anonymous asked:

Is it just me or do Louis' biceps look more muscled than before in today's interview ? I think they are and I'm so happy haha I'm obsessed with his arms (with everything about Louis really but yeah)

He says he doesnt go to the gym and he doesn’t exercise but that’s not a body of someone that lives eating greggs sausage rolls beers and no exercise whatsoever. you can tell he trains and he has defined muscles you were not usually born with. I personally think he boxes like Harry but surely he exercises.

Houblon Chouffe by Brasserie d’Achouffe

First of all, I’m going to explain the Texas kolache. It’s a variation of the yeasty filled Czech pastry that was developed here by Czech immigrants and has become ubiquitous. It’s as common as donuts. Batch is a new place here in Austin that serves craft beer and kolaches. They do have some traditional kolaches, like the sausage and cheese, fruit and poppyseed ones but also some wackier ones like pizza and brisket. The selection they have on tap is so far pretty limited but the bottles and cans are extensive.

I had a Chouffe beer, I believe it was the Bruin, when we were in Belgium. The gnome mascot is instantly recognizable. Houblon Chouffe is called an “IPA Triple Beer” which to me seems like they’re mixing the hoppiest American-style beer with the hoppiest Belgian-style beer and lo and behold that’s exactly what it is. I had quite a few tripels in Belgium and that and saison are my favorite Belgian styles so I looked forward to trying a mish-mash of my fav Belgian with my fav American. Houblon Chouffe is a really good beer. It is indeed quite hoppy with good bitterness and citrus flavor. There’s a bit of that distinctive Belgian yeast of course. What might be the most interesting thing though is the toasty malt backbone. That I was not expecting. I’d definitely drink this beer again.  




Prairie Artisan Ales

First of all, I’m going to explain the Texas kolache. It’s a variation of the yeasty filled Czech pastry that was developed here by Czech immigrants and has become ubiquitous. It’s as common as donuts. Batch is a new place here in Austin that serves craft beer and kolaches. They do have some traditional kolaches, like the sausage and cheese, fruit and poppyseed ones but also some wackier ones like pizza and brisket. The selection they have on tap is so far pretty limited but the bottles and cans are extensive. I got two from Oklahoma’s Prairie Artisan Ales.

Prairie is mostly known for their farmhouse ales, a style I’m not really a fan of. There’s sour and then there’s farmhouse, which tastes like a farm animal smells half the time. Gross. That being said, Phantasmagoria is a normal double IPA. I took a leap of faith and was rewarded. It’s juicy and citrusy and has the slightly hazy look that often goes with these flavors. The hop bitterness is medium and balanced. This is a pretty good mish-mash of West Coast and East Coast IPA styles. Think of it as if Biggie and Tupac had resolved their differences. 

The bartender recommended Shift since I liked Phantasmagoria. It is indeed hoppy but it also has a lot of that farmhouse funk so it took me awhile to finish this one. There’s that lemony lactic sour flavor too that I’m actually okay with but the horsey part intruded too much. The hops show up as bitterness but not much hop flavor comes through (though there’s a bit of dank). All in all, Shift is kind of like a hoppy gueuze. 

anonymous asked:

I wish you would write a fanfic about Gabriel Reyes getting way too worked up about sports.

There was a moment that he’d never forgotten, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, a tightening of his heart, as he’d dropped into a hot zone ten years ago and realized that the grey beneath him was not, in fact, a paved street, but a churning mass of armed and furious omnic droids.  The feeling that a problem already too big to handle just was actually a thousand times worse all along and you were far, far too late in realizing it.

“What…the hell are you wearing?  Did you join the mariachi club of the damned or something?” he asked slowly.

“Haven’t you ever been to a ball game before?” Reyes replied.  He was grinning.  The death-mask that covered the better part of his face made the expression ghoulish.

“You look like something outta one of those old Day of the Dead flicks,” Morrison said with a shake of his head.  “What’s this gotta do with a ball game?”  But Reyes just stepped past him.

“C’mon, Morrison.  We gotta get going or we’re gonna get shit parking.”

“You’re kidding.  How are you gonna drive with-”

“And turn that thing inside out.”

“-that hat…what’s wrong with a Sox jersey?  You told me to wear black and white!  This is the only thing I’ve got!”

“I know.  Turn it inside out.”


The last time the ground had shook like this, he’d been under aerial bombardment.

Eighty thousand people were on their feet and roaring.  Most wore team colors - well, yeah - but he hadn’t been prepared for the gear.  Men wore helmets, pauldrons, gauntlets and chains and freaking sabotons.  It was all fake; plastic or styrofoam, but sabotons.  Freaking sabotons.  People wore skull-masks and skull-paint and horned helmets and tricorn hats and eyepatches.  Three rows up was a man wearing the headdress of an ancient pharaoh, wielding a snake-headed staff.  Amari would love that guy. Two rows back a guy in a gorilla mask was directing wave after wave of cheers from the people further up by throwing up a pair of hands hidden by ape-like mitts.  The massed hordes of the undead mingled with pirates, viking raiders, mongol warriors, and Darth Vader.

And beside him, the head of Blackwatch was on his feet and furiously twanging a guitar he’d assured security was entirely fake but sounded pretty damn real in a heart-pounding beat that was made all the worse as people nearby stomped their feet in time with the music.

It was like the archway had been a gate to another time - stepping from the 2060s where vendors sold cheap soy-dogs and sausages and lite beer beneath neon lighting to a colosseum of stone and stand - except for the gigantic jumbotron that currently showed an old, scratchy recording of a man, speakers transmitting his voice through the air with more decibels than a jet plane - “when you have great coaches - then after you have great coaches you get great players…you have a great organization, you tell them one thing!”

Every single voice in the place, it seemed, roared along with the last three words- “JUST WIN, BABY!”


Even in the midst of violent revolution, Jack Morrison had never seen a crowd turn so fast.  The cheers turned to ferocious booing mid-breath.  Weapons were brandished.  The few people that had started to sit back down had leapt back up, howling in outrage.  He almost dove for cover, half-expecting people to charge the field.  Beside him, Reyes was snarling something that Morrison lost in the tumult, but the single-digit salute was unmistakable.

“Jesus, Gabe, calm down,” he murmured as he leaned over, already silently apologizing for the blasphemy.

The wide-brimmed hat swung about and Jack Morrison was suddenly being stared down by a silver-plated skull.  “We never forgive, Morrison.  We never forget,” growled something that was less like Gabriel Reyes and more like some atavistic spirit of vengeance.


The air shook.  The stands shook.  The beer in the plastic cups shook. And Jack Morrison wished he’d had the foresight to bring a medic.  At the very least he was never betting on a pool game again.

It was a decent game, he said later.  Good guys won.

Vegan Substitutes for Meat

Here is a list with some alternatives/substitutes suitable for vegans. They are divided by type. If you have any product to add feel free to message me and I’ll update the list. Each one has a direct link to the corresponding websites so you can check the ingredients and where those are available. 

  • GF: Gluten Free
  • SF: Soy Free

General Alternatives

  • Vegetable Spring Rolls | Health is Wealth
  • Thai Spring Rolls | Health is Wealth
  • Vegetable Egg Rolls | Health is Wealth
  • Potsticker | Health is Wealth
  • Veggie Munchees | Health is Wealth 
  • Ground Crumbles | Boca
  • Vegan Prepared Foods | Amy’s
  • Asian Ground Round Lettuce Wraps| Yves 
  • Organic Soy Tempeh | Tofurky (GF)

Vegan Alternatives to Chicken

  • Chik’n Veggie Patties | Morningstar Farms®
  • Garden Veggie Nuggets | Morningstar Farms®
  • Chicken-Free Buffalo Wings | Health is Wealth
  • Vegan Chicken-Free Patties | Health is Wealth
  • Vegan Chicken-Free Nuggets | Health is Wealth
  • Spicy Chik'n Patties| Boca
  • Original Chik'n Nuggets| Boca
  • Original Chik'n Patties {Non-GMO} | Boca
  • Spicy Chik'n Patties{Non-GMO} | Boca
  • Original Chik'n Nuggets{Non-GMO} | Boca
  • Smart Strips Chick'n | Lightlife  
  • Meatless Smoked Chicken Slices | Yves
  • Heart’s Desire Meatless Chicken Strips | Yves
  • Lemon Herb Chicken Skewers | Yves
  • Tofurky® Chick'N Pot Pie | Yves
  • Mandarin Crispy Chick’n | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Seven Grain Crispy Tenders | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Chick’n Scallopini | Gardein (Non GMO) (GF)
  • Teriyaki Chick’n Strips | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Marinara Chick’n Filets | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Crispy Chick’n Patty | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Chipotle Lime Fingers | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Chick’n Sliders | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Barbecue Wings | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Grilled Strips | Beyond Meat (Non GMO)
  • Southwest Style Strips | Beyond Meat (Non GMO)
  • Lightly Seasoned Strips | Beyond Meat (Non GMO)
  • Ground Chicken | MATCH® (Non GMO)
  • Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken | MATCH® (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Chicken Drumsticks | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Ginger Chicken | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Half Chicken | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Kung Pao Chicken | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Orange Chicken | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Teriyaki Chicken Bowl | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Thai Curry Chicken Bowl | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)

Vegan Alternatives to Meat/Beef

  • Nate’s Classic Flavor | Nate’s
  • Nate’s Savory Mushroom | Nate’s
  • Nate’s Zesty Italian | Nate’s
  • Hickory BBQ Riblets | Morningstar Farms®
  • Veggie Loaf Whole Meal | Amy's 
  • Gimme Lean Beef | Lightlife
  • Smart Ground Original | Lightlife
  • Smart Ground Mexican | Lightlife
  • Vegan Grain Strips With BBQ Sauce | Yves
  • Vegan Grain Meat with Sweet Chili Thai Sauce | Yves
  • Meatless Ground Round Original | Yves
  • Meatless Ground Taco Stuffers | Yves
  • Meatless Breakfast Patties | Yves 
  • Meatless Roast without the Beef Slices | Yves
  • Heart’s Desire Meatless Beef Strips | Yves
  • Roast Beef Style Deli Slices | Tofurky
  • Tofurky Ground Beef Style | Tofurky
  • Tofurky Chorizo Style | Tofurky
  • Meatless Veggie Meatballs | Amy’s
  • Beefless Ground | Gardein (Non GMO) (GF)
  • Beefless Slider | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Meatless Meatballs | Gardein (Non GMO) 
  • Breakfast Patties | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Beefless Tips | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Szechuan Beefless Strips | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Meatless Meatloaf | Gardein (Non GMO) 
  • Beefy Crumbles | Beyond Meat (Non GMO) (GF) (SF)
  • Feisty Crumbles | Beyond Meat (Non GMO) (GF) (SF)
  • Celebration Roast | Field Roast
  • Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute | Field Roast
  • Quarter Loaves | Field Roast
  • Classic Meatloaf | Field Roast
  • Ground Beef | MATCH® (Non GMO) (GF) 
  • Vegan Black Pepper Steaks | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Korean Sesame Beef Bowl | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Kung Pao Beef Bowl | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)

Vegan Alternatives to SeaFood

  • Golden Fishless Filet | Gardein (Non GMO) 
  • Crab | MATCH® (Non GMO)
  • New England Style Crab Cakes | MATCH® (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Fish Fillets | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Shrimp | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Thai Lemongrass Fish Fillets | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Tuna Rolls | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)

Vegan Alternatives to Pork

  • Smart Bacon | Lightlife
  • Meatless Canadian Bacon | Yves
  • Ground Pork | MATCH® (Non GMO)
  • Stuffed Pork Chops | MATCH® (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Citrus Sparerib Cutlets | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Ham Roll | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)

Vegan Alternatives to Turkey

  • Smart Deli Turkey | Lightlife
  • Meatless Ground Turkey | Yves
  • Meatless Deli Turkey Slices | Yves
  • Tofurky® Feast | Tofurky
  • Tofurky® Roast & Gravy | Tofurky
  • Savory Gravy | Tofurky
  • Savory Stuffed Turk’y | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Holiday Roast | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Turk’y Cutlet | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Turkey Roll | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)
  • Vegan Whole Turkey | Vegetarian-Plus (Non GMO)

Vegan Alternatives to Slices

  • Smart Deli Bologna | Lightlife
  • Smart Deli Ham | Lightlife
  • Smart Deli Pepperoni | Lightlife
  • Smart Dogs | Lightlife
  • Smart Dogs Jumbo | Lightlife
  • Tofu Pups | Lightlife 
  • Veggie Brats Classic | Yves
  • Veggie Brats Zesty Italian | Yves
  • Meatless Pepperoni | Yves
  • Meatless Deli Salami Slices | Yves
  • Meatless Ham Slices | Yves
  • Smoked Ham Style Tofurky Deli Slices | Tofurky  
  • Pepperoni Tofurky Deli Slices | Tofurky
  • Italian Tofurky Deli Slices | Tofurky
  • Bologna Style Tofurky Deli Slices | Tofurky
  • Hickory Smoked Tofurky Deli Slices | Tofurky
  • Peppered Tofurky Deli Slices | Tofurky
  • Oven Roasted Tofurky Deli Slices | Tofurky
  • Tofurky Hot Dogs | Tofurky
  • Tofurky Jumbo Hot Dogs | Tofurky
  • Tofurky Breakfast Links | Tofurky
  • Deli Slices | Field Roast

Pre Made Vegan Pizzas

  • Tofurky GF Pesto Supreme Pizza | Tofurky (GF)
  • Tofurky Pepperoni Pizza | Tofurky
  • Tofurky Italian Sausage Pizza | Tofurky
  • Roasted Vegetable Pizza | Amy’s  
  • Rice Crust Spinach Pizza | Amy’s
  • Single Serve Non-Dairy Rice Crust Cheeze Pizza | Amy’s
  • Single Serve Rice Crust Roasted Vegetable Pizza | Amy’s
  • Cheeze Lover’s Pizza | Daiya  (Non GMO) (GF) (SF)
  • Margherita Pizza | Daiya (Non GMO) (GF) (Soy Free)
  • Fire-Roasted Vegetable Pizza | Daiya (Non GMO) (GF) (SF)
  • Mushroom & Roasted Garlic Pizza | Daiya (Non GMO) (GF) (SF)
  • Pizza Pizzaz | Tofutti (Non GMO

Vegan Burger Alternatives

  • Spicy Indian Veggie Burger | Morningstar Farms®
  • Black Bean Chipotle Veggie Burger | Gardenburger®
  • Veggie Medley Veggie Burger | Gardenburger®
  • Original Vegan | Boca
  • Vegan Burger {Non-GMO} | Boca
  • California Veggie Burger| Amy’s
  • Smart Patties Black Bean Burger| Lightlife 
  • Smart Patties Original Burger with Quinoa| Lightlife 
  • Meatless Chicken Burger | Yves
  • Quarter Pound Veggie Burger | Amy's 
  • Meatless Beef Burger | Yves 
  • Roasted Garlic and Quinoa Burger | Morningstar Farms®
  • Organic Five Grain Tempeh | Tofurky  (GF)
  • Black Bean Sliders | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • Garden Veggie Burger | Gardein (Non GMO) (GF)
  • Chipotle Black Bean Burger | Gardein (Non GMO) (GF)
  • Ultimate Beefless Burger | Gardein (Non GMO)
  • The Beast Burger™ | Beyond Meat (Non GMO) (GF) (SF)
  • Hand-Formed Burger | Field Roast 
  • Stuffed Mushroom Burgers | MATCH® (Non GMO) (GF)

Vegan Sausages & Hot Dogs

  • Meatless Hot Dog | Yves
  • The Good Dog | Yves
  • Tofu Dog | Yves
  • Original Meatless Jumbo Hot Dogs | Yves
  • Tofurky® Sausage & Veggie Quiche | Tofurky
  • Tofurky® Kielbasa - Gourmet Sausages | Tofurky
  • Tofurky® Italian Sausage - Gourmet Sausages | Tofurky
  • Tofurky® Beer Brats - Gourmet Sausages | Tofurky
  • Artisan Tofurky® Chick'N and Apple Sausages | Tofurky
  • Artisan Tofurky® Spinach Pesto Sausages | Tofurky
  • Artisan Tofurky® Andouille Sausages | Tofurky 
  • Veggie Sausages | Amy’s
  • Apple Maple Breakfast Sausage | Field Roast
  • Sausage Links | Field Roast
  • Frankfurters | Field Roast
  • Italian Sausage | MATCH® (Non GMO) (GF)
  • SoyBoy
And The Story Goes... Chapter 48

I lowered myself gently on to the bleachers beside Emma, grimacing as I lifted my leg up to rest my foot on the seat in front of me.

“You okay?” she laughed, watching as I leant forward to rub my ankle.

“I have to say… I don’t think I’m really cut out for baseball.” I muttered under my breath, trying to massage some feeling back in to my calf muscles.  It had been a long time since I had played any sort of sport, and my body was not reacting kindly to the exertion.

“That’s why I don’t play!” she laughed, gesturing to her comfortable position on the side lines. “It’s much more fun to watch these guys get all competitive, anyway.”

“Nice run, London!” Shannon cried, running towards us and stopping only long enough for a high five before jogging his way back to the rest of the team to wait for his turn to bat.

I kept the smile on my face until I was sure he wasn’t looking, before letting my head drop into my hands. “Please tell me this is nearly over?” I mumbled, hoping that Emma could still hear me.

“Oh sure. Just another, what… 4 innings to go?”

The sound of her laughter echoed around the field at the sight of my horrified expression, and she shook her head as she pointed towards a group of people further along from us. “I’m just fooling around, look – the girls are going to do the cake in a minute and that’ll be enough to distract him. It’s not our first Field Day – the only thing that stops play is food!”

I followed her gaze towards the small cluster of Shannon’s friends who weren’t participating in the baseball game, and watched as they fussed over his birthday cake and each other.  I wasn’t sure what was more important for them – making sure the candles were lit, or checking their hair and make-up wasn’t out of place.  I wrinkled my nose a little, turning my attention back to the game in front of me instead.

We had taken over a small recreation ground not far from Jared’s house, where around 30 of Shannon’s friends had turned up dressed in t-shirts proudly stating “Shannon’s B-day Field Day” and proceeded to place themselves in to teams for the game.  I had wanted to avoid it – I couldn’t think of anything worse than embarrassing myself in front of a group of people I had never met by tripping over my own feet or getting the rules of the game wrong – but Shannon had insisted, and put me on his team, and it turned out I needn’t have worried. The rules were simple enough as long as I did as I was told, and I was faster than I remembered, getting round the bases quickly much to Shannon’s delight.  And considering most of the people here were beautiful women trying to get the attention of one Leto or the other, I was pretty certain no one would have noticed even if I had face planted the floor on my first run.

Jared had been his usual self; or the version of himself that he was around a large group of people, anyway. Breezing his way around everyone with a smile on his face, the sound of his laughter drifting over conversations until it caught everyone’s attention, people automatically drawn to him.  He held court in a subtle way that wouldn’t look as though he were taking over Shannon’s birthday, happily speaking to everyone who approached him, and seeking out those who didn’t.  Apart from me.

Except from a fleeting conversation at the house before we had piled in to the cars, and a cheerful wink in my direction after I had run my first and only Home Run, he hadn’t so much as looked at me.  I was used to it now, had learned not to take it as a personal slight.  But it still didn’t stop the uneasy feeling in my belly as I watched Chloe break away from a group of girlies and make her way over to him, casually draping one arm over his shoulder as she joined in his conversation with the people in front of him.

I shook it off, refusing to be drawn in to it today.  Today wasn’t about Chloe, or my insecurities with Jared.  I watched as one of the girls blew a whistle loudly and laughed as she jumped up and down, waving her arms in the air to get the attention of everyone on the field, the t-shirt tied up round her waist showing off her perfectly toned, flat stomach as she called everyone over.

“Seriously… does Shannon only have skinny pretty models as friends?” I mumbled at Emma as we rose to our feet, joining the little crowd as they gathered around for the cake.

“Pretty much!” she laughed, nudging me gently as we clapped along with the others, watching as Shannon jogged his way over to join us.

He looked so happy, a broad smile stretched across his face as Jared took the cake and lead the way in a raucous rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’.  Even the cap and sunglasses couldn’t hide Shannon’s expression, his whole body twitching as he laughed at the terrible singing echoing out around him. He looked so relaxed, and I smiled as I watched him take the cake in his hands, feeling myself sing a little louder. It was nice to see him looking so comfortable in his own skin.

I was relieved to see that Emma was right; once play had been interrupted for cake and singing the game was quickly forgotten, everyone’s attention instead focused on becoming the person that one of the brothers would want to speak to. I rolled my eyes at the display and wandered back towards the other end of the bleachers where I had left my bag, pulling out my phone to give myself something else to look at.

I didn’t fit in here. I knew I should be making more of an effort to mingle, to introduce myself to their friends and make polite small talk until I got to know everyone better. I was sure that pretty much everyone here would be at the party tonight, so now was a good opportunity to meet people.  But when Emma had explained we would be having a BBQ with friends, I had imagined a group of people sat on picnic blankets listening to music, the girls watching as the guys set fire to sausages and drank beers; the sort of BBQ’s we would have at home.  Instead, several of the girls had arrived with bags of food made up mostly of salad, which had been laid out on one of the bottom benches and then promptly ignored in favour of socialising.  Which seemed to consist of the guys strutting around and laughing too-loudly, while the girls systematically worked in small numbers to try and penetrate the Leto circle. It was like feeding time at the zoo.

It was surreal, watching so many beautiful people together in one space, fawning all over each other as though they were best friends one minute, and then subtly trying to outdo each other the next. I had just about gotten used to the way the fans behaved when they saw the brothers, but watching the same behaviour from their ‘friends’ was a little more than I was comfortable with. It was no use trying to socialise with these people – I wouldn’t even know where to start.  

I half-heartedly checked my messages and my voicemail, only glancing up at the unmistakable sound of Jared’s laughter peeling across the grass towards me and grimacing at the sight of him surrounded by half a dozen girls. I shook my head, clicking a few buttons on my phone decidedly before throwing my things into my bag and standing up, hopping down the benches in front of me and making a bee line straight for him.

I ignored the looks from some of the girls as they watched me approach, this veritable stranger with a determined look on her face, and instead switched on a winning smile when he caught my eye.

“Hey… you okay?” he asked, watching me smile politely at the girls before turning back to him.

“Yes, just wanted to let you know I’m going to dart back to the house to get ready – could I get the keys?” I smiled, holding out my hand.

He hesitated, his head slightly tipped on one side as though trying to work out whether this was some kind of temper tantrum, and I dialled my smile up a notch. “I just want to get to the shower before anyone else does.” I grinned, trying not to delight in the annoyed looks from the girls around me.

“How are you getting back?” he asked, dropping the small set of house keys in to my hand.

“Uber.” I smiled, pocketing the keys quickly. “I’ll see you back there. See you tonight guys!” I said, nodding at the others cheerfully and walking away quickly before the mask had a chance to slip.  I needed a hot shower and a change of clothes before I would be ready to deal with round two of the Leto women.


I let out a deep, relaxed sigh as the hot water beat hard against my skin, closing my eyes as I pushed my face under the stream and washed the soap out of my hair. Although Jared’s taste in décor was questionable at best, he had the best en-suite I had ever seen in my life. Just the shower was the size of my whole bathroom back home, and as I was alone in the house for the first time ever I had decided to take full advantage of it.  Shutting off the water I grabbed two towels, wrapping one round my body and using the other to roughly towel dry my hair, humming along to the music playing from where my phone rest on the sink.  Maybe tonight wouldn’t be so bad.  People would be more relaxed at a party, and, if nothing else, at least there would be alcohol.

I shuffled back in to the bedroom, holding my towel together with one hand and scrolling through my music for a suitable playlist with the other, chewing on my lip with a smile as I scrolled past the latest Mars album that I had recently added for ‘research’ purposes.

“Sorry, I didn’t realise anyone was in here.”

I jumped, startled at the sound of someone’s voice in the room, and dropped my phone as I snapped my head up in shock. “Fuck!” I yelped, clutching my towel a little tighter as I looked at Chloe, sitting on the edge of Jared’s bed with a smile on her face. “Chloe?”

She perched casually on the edge of the mattress, calm and comfortable with her surroundings as though she were used to being in here, my open suitcase and its contents strewn across the bed beside her where I had left them. “What are you doing in here?” I asked, trying to regain control of my heart beat as I became increasingly aware of standing in a towel, water still dripping from my skin.

“Looking for Jared,” she said nonchalantly, a small shrug of her shoulders as she looked at me.

“Jared? I left him at the park with you guys?”

“We all left to make our way back here for the party. I thought I might have beaten him back.”

Despite my embarrassment I felt the first wave of annoyance wash over me, a frown tugging at my face even as I looked at her. “And… you thought you’d just invite yourself up to his room to look for him? That’s kind of inappropriate don’t you think?”

“Not when you’ve known each other as long as we have,” she said dismissively, looking down at something in her hand.

I opened my mouth to rage, the words on the tip of my tongue ready to explain exactly how things had changed around here; until I saw what she was looking at.  In the palm of her hand, being twisted and turned so that the light bounced off of it, was my snow globe.  The words dried up before I could form them, and she looked back up at me with a tight smile across her lips, holding the little ornament up in the air.

“I saw this on top of your bag. It’s very pretty.”

“Thank you.” I said drily, watching her as she looked back down.

“It’s a great little spot, isn’t it? It’s so quiet there, almost like it’s hidden from the rest of the park.”

I didn’t miss the pointed tone in her voice, and I tried to swallow past the dry sensation in my mouth. “You’ve been there?”

A small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as she shook the globe gently.  “Sure. Haven’t you?”

“No.” I replied, trying not to snap. “It was a gift from Jared.”

“Aw. How thoughtful of him.” She said quietly. “It’s one of his favourite places in New York. He takes all of his girls there when he’s in town.”

She placed the ornament back onto the bed, standing up and smoothing her hands over her long skirt as she looked at me. “Well, I guess I’ll wait downstairs for the boys. They’ll be back soon.”

I stayed where I was as she breezed past me and back out of the room, holding my towel so tightly the skin across my knuckles was stretched white. I wasn’t sure if the sting of humiliation was coming from the awkward encounter with Jared’s ex-whatever-she-was whilst I was wearing just a towel; or from the knowledge that I had allowed myself to be excited for a trip I had thought was just for us, when actually, I was just the latest in a long list of attendees.


I took the drink gratefully, smiling at the caterer as I moved aside to let the girls behind me get to the counter. I had never seen so many people in one space. Jared and Emma had gone all out, decorating the house and hiring in people to filter around the party, serving drinks and food and making sure that everyone had everything they could want. The built in speakers around the house were blaring out some kind of hip hop music at a volume which made it almost impossible to hear conversation unless it was being shouted in to your ear, and after a few hours the people inside the house had given up trying and were simply dancing instead.

I moved through the crowds, looking for familiar faces amongst the many and drawing a blank. Pausing to drain half of my drink, I let out a breath and pushed my way through towards the French doors, stepping out in to the garden, relieved by the fresh air and the speakers around the pool playing the music at a softer level. The people out here were much the same as the people inside; young, beautiful girls wearing not much of anything, with long hair and pristine make up and smooth, tanned skin, elegantly draping themselves across sun loungers or perching on the edge of tables, drinks in their hands as they batted their eyes at the men fawning over them. I thought about Leigh, and what she would make of this crowd – I could almost hear her scathing comments in my ear as we laughed at how vapid these LA parties could be, and for a moment I had a pang of homesickness that clutched at my chest tightly.

Determined to shake it off I walked towards the corner of the garden, spotting Jared in the same place he had been for most of the evening, talking to his friend Terry and a couple of blonde girls I didn’t recognise. He looked up as I approached, a smile forming on his lips as he extended his arm towards me.

“There she is,” he grinned, slipping his arm round my shoulders. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”

I glanced up at him, ready to smile at his words, only to realise whilst he may have been talking about me he was actually addressing his little group of onlookers. “Really,” I said, my brow furrowed. “Well, that’s very sweet - although you’ve definitely been in the garden for most of the night.”

I regretted it as soon as I had said it; I sounded like a nagging girlfriend. I felt his back tense under my hand even though his smile didn’t waver, and I wanted to kick myself. I had barely seen him all night, and I didn’t want our first exchange in front of his friends to look like some kind of domestic.

“Are you having fun?” he asked, finally dragging his gaze to mine, and I realised with a sadness that I felt like I was being a burden, simply by coming to talk to him. I smiled brightly, forcing myself to look the part even if I wasn’t feeling it; this night was not about me.

“I’m having a great time, it’s a fantastic party. I thought I might go and get my camera and take some photos of everyone, so that Shannon has something to look back on tomorrow?”

“You don’t need to do that,” he said with a shake of his head, a small laugh huffing out of his nose. “That’s what Terry is here for, isn’t that right Terry?” he said, smiling at his friend.

“That and the women!” Terry laughed, winking at the blonde girl standing closest to him and eliciting an inane giggle from her and her friend.

I winced as my suggestion was dismissed, and feeling more than a little out of place I cleared my throat as I looked around the garden. “Speaking of Shannon, where is he? I haven’t seen him in ages?” I asked.

Jared cast his eye around the garden briefly, shrugging his shoulders as he looked back at me. “I have no idea. He’ll be around somewhere.”

I nodded, looking down at my mostly empty champagne glass and seeing a welcome escape route. “I think I might go and get a top up – does anyone want another drink?”

The girls and Terry shook their heads politely, and Jared turned to give me a kiss on the side of the head. “Go have fun.” He smiled, turning back to his conversation before I had even left the little circle, seemingly oblivious to the wounded expression on my face.

I walked back across the garden the way that I had come, squeezing between bodies at the door until I was back in the house. The music seemed louder than before, the lights lower, drunk people swaying in time to the music and holding their phones up to take blurry selfies as they documented their night at Jared Leto’s house. Without even thinking about it I kept moving, pushing through the party guests until I was making my way up the stairs and away from the crowds. I needed a time out, and thankfully people seemed to be keeping to the ground floor, leaving me to make a break for the bedrooms in peace.

I walked past Jared’s room and pushed open the next door, the plush white spare room that now felt so familiar to me it was like a little safe haven away from everything hectic that was happening downstairs, and let out a sigh of relief as I flopped backwards on to the bed.

With my eyes closed, the distant thud of awful music ringing in my ears, I wondered how long I could realistically get away with hiding up here before someone came to look for me. I snorted a laugh at my own thoughts – who would come to look for me? Everyone downstairs was having the time of their life, including Jared. I could slide away now and lock myself in this room until tomorrow, and I was pretty sure that no one would even notice. Even Shannon had disappeared from his own party.

Thoughts of the birthday boy had me opening my eyes again. It had been so crazy today, so much going on, that I hadn’t even had time to give him his birthday present. I sat up, looking down at my suitcase leaning against the wardrobe where I had thrown it after dragging it out of Jared’s room earlier, and climbed back off of the bed to pull Shannon’s carefully wrapped present out from where I had buried it. Turning it over in my hands, I wondered whether he was going to like it. I still wasn’t sure it was his style – wasn’t sure it was anyone’s style – but the thought he might not like it, and that I would have to watch him open it and pretend otherwise, was somehow nerve wracking.

Forming a plan, I turned towards the door and stepped out in to the hall, checking to make sure no one else was up here before walking quickly towards Shannon’s room.  I could put his present in here, and he could open it tomorrow when he woke up sober enough to realise it was there – and that way, I wouldn’t have to see his reaction if he thought it was hideous.

I pushed open the door hurriedly and ground to a halt immediately; Shannon was laying on his bed, one arm thrown over his eyes, almost a mirror image of myself just a few minutes ago. He lifted his head off the bed at the sound of the door opening, and I cringed apologetically. “Oh… Sorry, Shan, I didn’t know you were in here.”

He quirked an eyebrow in my direction, pushing his arm behind his head. “Were you expecting to find someone else in my room?”

I grinned, leaning against the doorframe. “You never know with you. It is a party full of hot girls.”

He chuckled, throwing his arm back over his face. “Don’t shit where you eat.” He said, his words muffled.

I could see his grin even from the other side of the room even though his face was mostly hidden, and rolled my eyes at him as I stepped in to his room and looked around. I’d never been in here before. It was a mess, shoes and clothes strewn everywhere, a few boxes stacked in a corner overflowing with records and books and what looked like packs of drum sticks, a couple of canvas’ stacked against the wall. He had said that living here was temporary, until his own house was sorted; and you could tell. This was the room of someone who was just passing through.

“You know you’re missing your own party down there…” I said, pausing at his dresser to look at his phone, plugged in to a docking station and playing music just loud enough to drown out the droll being piped around the downstairs of the house.

“I just needed… a minute.”

I turned to look at him, frowning a little. “Are you not having fun?”

“Sure,” he said, not moving from his stationary position on the bed. “Everyone’s been great, the house looks great, you know… the party has been…”

“Great?” I offered, walking towards the window and peering out through the glass. He hummed in agreement behind me.

“Sometimes you just need a little time out from all the fake.”

I smiled at that, looking out across the back yard where half of the party had spilled out around the pool. The sound of laughter and conversation filtered up towards me, and my eyes drifted across towards Jared who had moved his way around the pool to the fire pit, and was now sat in amongst a crowd of people with one leg crossed over the other as he chatted animatedly to everyone watching him.

“Why aren’t you down there anyway?” he asked.

I tore my gaze away from the window, turning to see him propped up on his elbows as he watched me, a curious expression on his face. I turned on a smile automatically, holding his present up in front of me. “Was going to stash this in your room so you would find it tomorrow when you sobered up.”

“Aw London – you got me a gift?” he grinned, sitting up properly.

“Of course I did.” I said, crossing the room to sit beside him on the bed, holding out the wrapped present nervously. “But if you don’t like it, I have the receipt and we can take it back.”

“Psssh, shut up.” He smiled, taking the package and tearing in to the paper happily.

I watched as he pulled out the jumper, unfolding it and lifting it up as he looked at it, his mouth open just a little as his eyes ran over the design. He said nothing, and I couldn’t read his expression.

“You hate it, don’t you…?” I said, chewing on my lip as he turned to face me.

“What? No, London… I love it!” he exclaimed, looking back at the jumper before lowering it to his lap. “It’s frigging awesome. Thank you.”

He grabbed me to him in a hug, squeezing me hard, and for the first time through the entire day I felt myself relax. “Really? Because honestly, if it’s not your sort of thing we can swap it…”

“Stop.” He laughed, pulling away from me and grasping my shoulders. “I was only looking at this like two weeks ago – it’s perfect. I can’t believe you bought me this. I’m gonna wear it all the time.” He grinned, letting go of me and standing up just so he could shrug into the hoodie.

“You don’t have to wear it right this minute!” I laughed, watching him pull the hood over his head and turn to check himself out in the mirror.

“Try and stop me!” he grinned, turning round with his arms out, modelling his new present. “What do you think?”

“It looks great,” I smiled. “Although it’s not really party wear.”

“Meh. I think I’m done with the party.” He shrugged.

“You’re bailing on your own birthday party… that is happening in your house?” I laughed, raising my eyebrows.

“It’s not my house though,” he pointed out, throwing himself down in to the armchair beside the mirror. “And I gotta be honest – I think I recognise about five people here. Just, when you go back down there, don’t tell Jay you’ve seen me.”

I stood up from the bed with a nod, glancing out of the window at the sound of high pitched squeals and water splashing, and watched as a couple of the girls jumped in to the pool after stripping out of the tiny fragments of clothing they had been wearing. I could see Jared, sitting in the same place, leaning back with his arms outstretched along the wall behind him, laughing. Suddenly I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do less than re-join the party.

“Actually… do you mind if I hide out up here for a while?” I asked.

He propped the back of his head up on one hand, frowning at where I stood trying not to watch the party antics going on below me, and for a moment I thought he was going to say no.

“Sure. Your turn to choose a song though.” He said, gesturing to his phone, and I felt my face relax in to a grateful smile that he wasn’t going to ask any more questions.

We spent the next couple of hours exactly like that. Shannon sprawled across the armchair while I lay on my stomach on his bed, taking it in turns to pick music from Spotify, each of us trying to outdo the other one with something more obscure, more pop, more country, more metal, than the last one had picked. He always won. He knew more about music than I did. Every time I thought of someone that he would never have heard of, he would sing the words loudly and proudly just to prove me wrong.

“Oh my god seriously – how? How?!” I laughed, watching him throw his head back and sing along to a random English pop-rock band that I had only found a couple of months ago. “They’re not even signed yet!”

“Gotta keep your finger on the pulse, babe!” he laughed, ducking as I launched a pillow at his head.

“Right that’s it – I’m going back to normal bands as I clearly suck at finding stuff that you don’t already know!” I laughed, pushing myself back off the bed and searching through Spotify for what I was looking for.

“Make it a good one, I can almost hear the shit they’re playing downstairs,” he grumbled, his nose wrinkled in disgust.

“Okay okay – we can combine playing good music with a little bit of research for me – I’m covering this show next week.” I said, scrolling through songs until I found one that I recognised and hitting play.

Listen to the song here

The dulcet tones of Dallas Green started to filter out of the docking station, accompanied by his harmonica and that beautiful guitar that was so typically him, and I smiled as I started to jig around the room.

“Ooh, City and Colour? Where are they playing?” Shannon asked, laughing as I half tripped over the pillow I had thrown at him only moments before, watching me recover quickly before carrying on my dancing around the other side of the bed.

“North London. It’s why I’m flying out tomorrow,” I said, singing along as I flailed my arms around in the air.

“Oh man, I would love to have seen that.” He grumbled, standing up and walking over to the dock.

“Hey! Don’t you be changing this, it’s my turn!” I protested, hands on my hips as I watched him scrolling.

“It’s okay we can keep with this band,” he said, concentrating.

The song stopped, and a second later another started, soft guitar playing out as he turned back to me, his hand held out in front of him. 

Listen to the song here

“What…?” I said, looking at his outstretched hand.

“Come on London, if we’re dancing, we’re dancing properly.”

I hesitated, squinting at him as he stepped closer towards me. “In here?”

“Well I’m not gonna ask them to put this on downstairs.” He grinned, grabbing my hand and lifting our arms up in the air, spinning me round in a circle and pulling me towards him as I laughed.

I giggled, resting my hand on his shoulder as he held the other one in his, skilfully dancing us slowly in a circle in the middle of his bedroom.

“I love this song.” He said quietly.

His deep voice, somehow deeper when he spoke softly, rumbled quietly in my ear as he swayed us in time to the song, and I found myself suddenly aware of how close he was. One hand holding mine as he lead; his other arm around my waist as he gently held me against him. He hummed along with the song, somehow making the words playing around me sound that much clearer.

“You’re the lullaby, that’s singing me to sleep, you are the other half you’re like a missing piece…”

His thumb brushed over the skin on the back of my hand, and I felt myself blink in to his shoulder as the air in the room changed. Somehow, just by turning in slow circles in the middle of his messy bedroom, this had become… inappropriate. I knew it, in my gut. I should not be slow dancing with Jared’s brother. And yet, cocooned inside Shannon’s large frame, his voice gently humming against my hair, I felt oddly at home. Safe.

I should let go now. Change the song and carry on our ridiculous evening of laughing and avoiding the party. But even as I thought it, I felt myself moving almost imperceptibly closer to him, my face just millimetres away from the soft wool of the jumper I had just bought him. His arms tensed slightly as though he had felt my movement, and his grip around my waist tightened. My heart gave an unsteady thump in my chest at the sensation.

“Oh my love… oh my love… oh my love, you don’t know, what you do to me…”

I looked up as we turned again, catching sight of our reflection in the mirror over his shoulder. Dancing slowly, pressed together tightly as though we had been moulded that way, we looked… like a couple.

I did let go of him then, pulling my hand out of his as I took a step back as though I had been bitten. His hands dropped to his sides as he watched me, and a million excuses flashed through my brain, reasons to laugh off my strange reaction so that he wouldn’t think anything of it. But one look at his face and I realised I didn’t need any of them. His expression mirrored all the feelings churning around in my chest; shock, worry. Disappointment.

“I should, um…” I started, half-heartedly gesturing towards his door.  I wanted him to say something, to crack a joke or grin and shrug – anything that would make this feel less awkward. Instead he held my gaze for a few agonizing seconds, before nodding and looking down at his feet.

“Sure. It is getting pretty late.”

I swallowed uneasily, wanting to fix whatever it was that had just happened and make this weird atmosphere disappear, but I couldn’t think of the words, and he wouldn’t look at me. I nodded to myself, dropping my head as I took a couple of backwards steps towards the door.

“Happy birthday, Shan.” I said quietly, before turning and walking out of the door quickly, not stopping until I got back to the spare room and closed the door firmly behind me.

Leaning my back against the wood I blew out a breath, already trying to push that image out of my mind. Alcohol and slow songs could do funny things to people, and I shook my head as I started to get ready for bed. The party might still be in full swing downstairs, but one thing was for sure; I was ready to put this day behind me.

Taoji HK Restaurant, Shanghai

We got into Shanghai late last night and the hotel restaurant had just closed. So wit the streets looking for food, but most of the local mom & pop shops I know in the area had also already shut their doors. Not wanting to wander too far, we ended up at a place called Taoji HK Restaurant, right across the street from the Andaz Hotel in Xintiandi, and had a tasty, affordable, late night meal in this Hong Kong-style diner. Here’s a look…

Some decent char siu roast pork; nothing to write home about, but acceptable at almost midnight…

Deep-fried chicken cartilage with fresh & dried chile peppers…

My favorite dish, snap peas fried with garlic, lap cheong sausage and smoked bacon…

Simple wonton noodles…

With a big bottle of Tsingtao “Draft” to help with the jetlag…

All this for about $20 US! Simple and savory, a great way to start our trip.


Songshan Road

(Across from the Andaz)

Xintiandi, Shanghai



Culture Clash :D