The Woman Behind The Blog

This blog is chock a block with pictures of the food that I enjoy, however today I thought I would (mostly) put aside the culinary porn and give you all an insight into the person behind the blog.

I have been reading blogs since I started University in 2010 and have watched as the blogosphere has morphed from the personal musings of a few, to the mass commercial platform that it is now today.

I started reading blogs because I enjoyed hearing about others peoples lives, I liked seeing the world from different perspectives and being exposed to different lifestyles, cultures and even countries.

I think this interest in other experiences is actually what drove me to study History! I love reading biographies and autobiographies, especially of people who have led completely different lives to mine.

In this new age of blogging, I wonder if we haven't sacrificed the personality of blogging for the opportunity to profit from it. I'm getting kind of sick of reading about purely about products instead of people and their experiences of products.

After having this little rant, I felt is was highly hypocritical of myself not to attempt to personalise this post and show you guys some little snippets from my life.

I hope you enjoy!

Business

Photography by Mark Woodward

The biggest thing in my life at the moment has to be my business,

Vincent's Coffee

.

I started the company shortly after graduating in 2013 with the idea of building a coffee brand which people could trust to offer the best possible coffee, produced with a conscience.

I'm extremely proud of the products we have developed and the team that I have.

When running your own business, every day is different and the highs and lows can be particularly emotionally demanding. However I'm so glad I stuck with it, as the future is looking pretty damn exciting.

Dramatic Hair Changes

The last year has been pretty dramatic in hair terms. 

The left hand picture is me in the summer of 2013, sporting a glorious, if not rather hard to upkeep, blond mop. Unfortunately due to my dark roots and extremely unruly hair, having my platinum hair long became pretty untenable, especially due to general breakage and frazzlement!

Mid 2014 I decided to go for the chop, and ended up with a short blonde pixie cut (yup I am standing outside the Louvre - just had to throw that pic in there.)

However alas, the blonde was not to stay. In October 2014 I decided to go back to my roots and went for the full cropped cut. As you can see from the first picture in this post, this is now slowly getting darker and growing out!

Nancy Puss (NP)

Nancy is a very new addition to our household, we actually adopted her last month from the local RSPCA centre!

She's a pretty special puss, as she is quite old and pretty much totally blind.

Her blindness this does not stop her from being an extremely affectionate and playful thing! Her current favourite game is "treat drop" which involves following the sound of treats falling on the floor.

Apparently it's quite hard  to rehome cats like NP due to their disabilities, however it's an extremely rewarding thing to do if you have the space and patience for a slightly unique cat!

As I write this post, she is currently curled up on the sofa with me (she has 2/3, I have a 1/3 - thats the right human to cat sofa ratio right?!)

Food Food Food

Even beyond the remit of blogging, food plays an extremely important role in my life!

I love to cook and am extremely lucky in the fact that I also have a partner who is a dab hand in the kitchen. We eat home cooked meals, made from scratch, pretty much most nights of the week.

Of course we do go out and get takeaways - I'm only human after all! But I'm extremely passionate about knowing how my food is prepared and where it comes from.

Cooking myself means that I can choose the ingredients I like and control how much extra salt/sugar/preservatives goes into each dish.

Living in York also means I am extremely lucky when it comes to eating out, literally a 5 minute cycle away there is a plethora of great restaurants, bistros, cafes and pubs.

And finally... the most important thing about me has to be my bang on trend style choices.

I hear ears are in right now.

Thank you for indulging me in this brief exploration into my life beyond blogging! 

I promise the next post is going to be a doozy - think fine dining and lots of deliciously tempting photos.

Bethan

Honest lessons I have learnt whilst setting up a business


Fresh out of university in 2013 I decided to start my own business, Vincent's Coffee
I wanted to build a company that was responsible, ethical and rooted in offering quality products.

The past year has been a mix of ups and downs (a lot of downs if I am honest.) However here I am, still going, ready to launch new products this weekend and putting in place exciting plans for 2015.

The past year has without a doubt been one of the hardest of my life. Sacrifice is a key word any small business owner will undoubtedly recognise and one that I am now intimately familiar with. I have had to take on extra jobs, cut back all expenditure to the bare minimum and put my all into an idea which, despite all effort and intention, might not work out.

1. Estimate how long you think things will take - multiply this result by at least 10 (I'm really not joking here...)

I'm the kind of person who likes quick results - maybe that's why I love cooking, as you get to taste the fruits of your labour on small timescales.

Business may be portrayed as a fast paced world in the media, however in reality you need to be prepared for the fact that all businesses rely on people, and people are not 24 hour machines. Things take time, often a lot of time.

You need to account for extra time in everything, getting orders, people paying invoices, deliveries, even your own ability to complete tasks. At times things can seem stagnant and you can feel like no progress is being made. In my experience, this is often not the case - progress is always being made, even if it seems imperceptible.

2. Sometimes using your friends in a professional capacity is a bad idea (unless you define the professional boundary) 

In the early stages I was really screwed over by a couple of people who I felt were good friends. They charged me a lot of money for some extremely shoddy and frankly unusable work. At the time I felt unable to challenge them due to our friendship and the fact that from the beginning the work had not been discussed in a professional context.

I would urge anyone using a friend in a professional capacity to define what this relationship will look like whilst you are effectively a client. Sit down and have a chat, formalise timescales, payments and what you expect from them, write this down and agree on it. It may seem drastic, however if both of you are clear on expectations, this means that disagreements can be avoided later on.

3. You can't do it on your own

Remember the somewhat cliched line "No man is a island"? For a long time I felt like I could be a all-encompassing-one-woman band, taking on everything and without the need for advice and guidance.

Oh how wrong I was.

We need to interact and collaborate with others, human society is built upon this. Not only did I burn myself out with trying to do and be everything, I also felt extremely isolated and lonely.

The entrepreneur is often portrayed as the lone wolf, someone who strives out on their own, ahead of all others. This may be true for some, however my overwhelming feeling is that you need a strong support network if you are to embark on your own business venture. Things will get tough and then they will get tougher, you will need someone - I spent a whole week crying almost constantly on my also exhausted partner.

Build a strong support network for yourself (I would advise against leaning on just one person, they might need a break!) - speak to friends, family, partners, even consider getting a professional mentor if you think you need more guidance!

My last and biggest piece of advice would be to keep on going - it will be hard, you will feel shit and it might not work out. However you will learn so much along the way and this will enrich your life both professionally and personally. It's worth it, even if you fail at the end.

For more information on what I actually do - Vincents Coffee - See our website here

For lots more, find AoF on Twitter and follow on Bloglovin


A little bit of a life insight

I am writing this sat in the extremely glamorous Wetherspoons in Berwick Upon Tweed (free Wifi!!)

Life has been pretty manic the last few weeks, I have been travelling all over the country, including stints in Warwickshire, Manchester and now the Scottish border. Last month also included a wonderful trip to Paris, needless to say my wanderlust has been somewhat sated of late!

I thought I would give you a short pictorial insight into my life over the past few weeks, including some culinary highlights!

Caterpillars destroying the garden!

Travelling about Yorkshire often includes stumbling across ruins like these at

Sublime stained Glass at Sainte-Chapelle from my July trip to Paris

My bean harvest, a very modest crop but extremely tasty!

Pretty decadent cake in The Pig and Pastry (watch out for my interview with them coming soon)

Impromptu Dinner Party with an Ottolenghi marinated mozzarella starter

Amazing coffee at Fig + Sparrow in Manchester

Long may the travels continue!



An Introduction!

Cheesy head shot

As the focus in this blog is really on the food, I thought it might be quite nice to let people know a bit about the girl behind the cake, it is after all a lot of cake…

Writing this post, alongside the numerous applications I have had to fill in of late, has really made me realise how hard it is to write about one’s self. This is especially true when it comes to writing positively. Interestingly, I actually found writing this post very therapeutic, as it forced me to acknowledge all the good things in my life. 

Where to start then…

Hi, I’m Bethan!

I’m 22 and just about to graduate this summer from a history degree at York University. This, of course, is a terrifying prospect. The big wide world will be open to me and I will somehow have to forge ahead with an independent and, dare I say, adult life.

University has been absolutely amazing, I have met so many interesting and inspiring people and had the opportunity to study and live abroad. However, I’m definitely ready for a new challenge. 

In Amsterdam (with brown hair) - in 2011-12 I got to spend 5 months studying at Utrecht University in the Netherlands

I currently am putting plans and proposals together with the aim of entering the world of business to become an entrepreneur! My business venture is devoted to coffee, something which I am extremely passionate about and drink way too much of.

I hope to keep you all updated with my progress and provide some insights into the world of coffee.

I tried my hand at a bit of business at Christmas - running a stall at the University's Christmas Fair with lots of baked goods!

 As you can tell from this blog, my other great love is food! I have struggled in the past with food as a general subject (for more information you can see my guest post on the subject on Tales of a Pale Face.) I have recently lost around 5 stone, which I can assure you was by no means quick or easy.

Whilst I mainly try to stick to a healthy diet, I still definitely indulge in treats; it’s the only way to stay sane! I also try to make my treats healthier, which is why you often see recipes on here that I have tweaked to make them lower in fat and/or sugar. I'm also a keen runner and having completed a 5K and 10K, will be signing up for a half marathon in the near future!

 I’m also definitely a beauty junkie, getting my fix from the likes of MAC, Clinique and Bobbi Brown to name a few. I love reading beauty blogs alongside lifestyle and food ones so please send me your links! I’m always looking for something new and exciting to read. This brings me onto something else I really enjoy, reading! This ranges from online papers, newspapers, books, magazines – you name it, I will probably want to read it! 

I'm also a keen writer, as you can probably tell from this mammoth post! As of June I will be writing weekly for

The Daily Touch as a part of a journalism internship, so look out for more food related ramblings there!

Anyway, that’s probably enough about me for now! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions, or just fancy a chat! You can email me at hello@bethanvincent.com

I hope you enjoyed this post and got to know me a little bit better!

Bonus: Very posed photo (what the hell is going on with my foot!?)

bethan vincent