.: The cheesecake and the blank page :.

Is there something more liberating than having time for myself and a blank page staring at you? No pressure, no compromises either. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday or what happens next, just being here now and go with the flow.
If you spend all your life following schedules that you can barely control yourself and rushing against time, isn’t it great when nothing else matters, just enjoying the freedom of every single second? You can stop and just stare outside, you can grab the pen and just follow your own words. So many possibilities left to unfold waiting for you.
This feels something we used to have as kids, this type of freedom of being but as we grow older the world seems to build it’s own special rules on us. Be on time for work, prepare an important meeting, leave on time to reach the doctor appointment or pick the kids from school.
And now, while I’m staring at everyone else around me follow the clock outside I realise this might be one of the last times in a long time I’ll be able to do this. Just me, no one else, not even my own expectations of me. I guess the more the reason for me to enjoy it well. Although I’m not necessarily alone anymore either. You are making sure I don’t forget about you, kicking inside of me (Probably as a reaction to the amazing cheesecake I’m having). It’s hard to believe it’s only a matter of days before we finally meet! That is probably going to be THE moment of my life Because of that I’ve been full of worries in my head: Are you ok? Are you going to reach outside safely? Are you going to be healthy? Am I going to be the Mom you deserve?

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So for now it feels good just to be here: me, you, us. Just enjoying the cheesecake and occupying this once blank page. The world carries on, but for this once I just stop and stare. No distractions (no e-mail, no social medial). That’s right, to make the most of it all I have is pen and paper – and a big window in front of me. I can also stop and just imagine what the other people are doing. There are 2 other people in the room with me, both of them with their own computers. I used to play a game while I was in public transport trying to read people’s minds and creating stories behind their lives. You don’t even notice time goes by. Now I tend to do what everyone else does, which is to stare at stuff on my phone and occasionally read. I miss a bit of the old days, so let’s try to play it again.
The guy on the right and side of the window seems to be a programmer or a web designer doing some work. He looks really quiet actually. He’s probably used to work from places like this, feels somehow better than to work from home. Less lonely I guess, even if you’re not interacting with anyone. Also in London not many people have the luxury of space for an office.
I would probably fancy finding such a job, that would allow me to work from everywhere. Today this lovely cafe, tomorrow maybe sitting in front of the river. That would be quite a creative boost wouldn’t it?
The lady on my left working with a mac I suspect is a creative of some sort. She’s also quite young (not even sure if she’s even 20!). She just ordered another round of coffee. Probably she’s working at a startup in the marketing or fashion industry. She looks the type that could easily be a blogger and actually be working as such (yap, nowadays being a blogger can be a profession as well).
I have a blog too but I use it mostly to share photos and thoughts. Doubt I could ever make a life out of it.
Next to the counter people are chatting and socialising, but my attention keeps getting drawn to these two silently working from different corners of the room.
Would they actually benefit from talking to each other? I suspect so, but that would be awkward for them I guess, because at first glance, aside from both working from the same space they don’t seem to have anything in common. Also I guess in their heads there’s also an invisible cube around them. It doesn’t matter who else is in the room, who comes or goes. The chatter in the counter doesn’t seem to bother them either – I guess the same way it doesn’t bother me either.
Uh…. just realise my cheesecake is almost gone! It’s really good (one can’t resist happy calories, I surely can’t). I wish I could bake like this! Although I’m certainly improving. The brownies we’ve baked over the weekend were really good and my scones tend to make my friends smile (baby I suspect you will like them as well).
Shall we have the last bit of cheesecake? Let’s do it… and that’s it, gone. Now I’m staring at the plate with nostalgia, when the cheesecake was still there. While the last sweet sensation from the cheesecake goes down, you’re kicking (you recognise the sweet taste don’t you?).
I stop to admire the lights in the room as well as my real life telly (I mean the big window) of people coming and going outside. I’m also starting to feel I need a bit of a break because I’m not used to write this long in pen & paper anymore (need to train my hands on that old school process again). While that, I look at the newcomers, a mom and 2 really well behaved kids. They are quietly enjoying their cake and fresh milk. I’m sure our 2 workers are as impressed as me, as probably they thought that they would be disturbed. They haven’t. Although I suspect a bit of distraction would be a good welcome break to whatever they are doing. Ah, guess I was right, as he got up and he’s looking through the window outside. A mini break before getting back to work. Isn’t it amazing how small little breaks can be such a productivity boost? Which reminds me of an interesting paper I wrote back at uni (we were tasked with interview people and explore around the breaks they did at work and how that affected their productivity). I definitely miss writing. But as soon as I would have the pressure to write to meet deadlines that’s it, all the worlds would take holiday from me and vanish somewhere else. So I guess that’s not something I will be doing either. Just stick to blogging when the words come even if no one else reads it.
There’s a newcomer in the room, a nice guy and a dog. Yap, I know, I’m already assuming he’s a nice guy. But you can actually judge people by the way they treat animals. He’s caressing the dog and the dog seems so happy. I’m seriously smiling as it’s such a tender moment happening right in front of me. Mr worker seems to have noticed as well and he’s smiling, while the young lady is still striking back her keyboard completely distracted of what goes around her. I’m happy I’ve noticed and that I’m actually here right now to see it. Dog seems happy and so am I. Happy that I left the house and the distractions to appreciate moments like this.
I have no idea how long I have been here. I didn’t checked time when I arrived and certainly not checking it now either, but it feels time to go for a walk and stretch my legs a little bit.
The luxury of time does indeed wonders . I feel absolutely peaceful and free from any worries. It doesn’t matter what happens next but I’m just happy that I’ve stopped the clock and just came to my once cheesecake and blank page.

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.: A relaxing social weekend :.

Yap, posts are still coming at the same speed as sun shines in London…. rarely! I have been spending most of my weekends in coach doing nothing but watching telly and feeling bad. I haven’t edited my photos from this year and to be fair I’ve barely took any. Oh well!

As I was missing a lot on the social side, this weekend was a good one to recover. On Saturday, as it was gorgeously sunny and even warm we went to Richmond (my favourite place in London!).

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As the pub was quite busy the food took a while to come, but it was lovely to relax and talk with our friends. We thought we would go for a walk after lunch along the river, but as soon as we left our lunch it was cloudy, windy and cold again! So we ended up just having a warm coffee and going back home. (4 seasons in a day!)

Today was a day for brunch and Board Games. Oh I was missing for one of those days! It was also quite interesting to cross central London by car on a Sunday morning. We normally take the tube, but this time we’ve decided to cross the city (west to east)

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Before we’ve started brunch and while we were waiting for Sainburys to open (yes, on Sundays a lot of places only open after 11a.m!), we did a stop at the Coffee Works Project for a coffee break and I have to say I’ve really enjoyed my coffee. I am rarely drinking coffee these days (hard to believe right?), so if I do it needs to be a really decent one. This didn’t disappoint! Really tasty

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The Coffee Works Project Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

After a lovely brunch, we’ve started our game marathon. First game was Dobble, which I knew about, but I had never played before.

The game is really easy to play, it takes less than 2m to learn the rules. There are around 5 different versions of playing this game, which makes it quite interesting. It’s all about matching an icon from your card to the card on the table / or from the other guys, but you need to say the name of the icon you’re matching. If none of us is a native english speaker, it makes the game even more interesting as it’s all about speed! Each game takes less than 10m to finish and the goal is always to get rid of the card, or take the less number possible.

You can find it on amazon (here)

Next stop, as the boys were tired of losing this one, we went to the famous Jungle Speed – which we really love!

Main warning if you are planning Jungle speed for the first time: Please make sure you have absolutely nothing on the table, I mean it! Nothing! It works better with a round table too to ensure everyone is at the same distance from the token. We had a rectangle table this time, so we left the fastest boys on the corners.

Same as the previous one, it’s all about speed! You need to keep an eye on your card and the others on the table and make sure you grab the token first if you have a matching icon and ensure you don’t make a mistake. All the cards look very unique, but when it goes fast they start to really look alike! Available on amazon here

Finally we’ve ended up playing Trains to Europe / Ticket to Ride and it was really good fun. After the speed of the other previous games, it was nice to play a more strategic game. As it was my first time playing, I didn’t really had a strategy and I ended up being the one with less points. The goal is to get the most points possible. You get points by fulfilling your objectives (there are cards with objectives and they tell you how many points you get), and also by building trains. You build trains by collecting cards the colour presented on the board. Finally you get extra points by having the longest uninterrupted path on the board. It’s easily played between 2 to 5 people.

Available on amazon here.

So overall it was a pretty relaxing afternoon and I feel quite happy now 🙂

A few other boardgames we love, but we didn’t play this time:

Cards Against Humanity

It was my sister that first told me about this game so I couldn’t resist but to buy it straight. It’s all about having a wicked sense of humour! The way it works is quite simple. Each player takes a question card at a time and all others need to play a matching card to that question. The player reading the question will read all the cards and decide which one is the best one. There’s no selection criteria, so you need to think about the other person’s sense of humour when selecting the card. You win by getting the most points (black cards with questions)

They’ve started as a crowd funding, but it went really popular and I can see why! They have special cards nowadays and there are even similar games. I love this game because it’s all about NOT being politically correct! Not recommended if you are easily offended with jokes. You can read more about the game here.

Dixit

Dixit is a beautiful game. Seriously, all the cards are really beautiful to watch! Unlike cards against humanity, it’s a family friendly game.

Each player selects a card from his hand and needs to tell a story about the card (without showing it to the other players). The other players needs to select a similar card. All the cards are displayed around the board and everyone needs to guess what was the card from the original story. You get points by guessing the correct card. The first person to get more than 30 points (as per board) wins. So here, it’s all about imagination and storytelling. You can play your own versions of the game, for instance, once we’ve decided to select songs matching the card we had. You can do it with books, movies, or a specific there. Whatever comes to your mind really! (Available on amazon here).

Do you like board games? Anything you recommend?

Have a lovely week ahead!

.: Richmond walk & waffles :.

I have to admit that all I’ve been keen on doing over the weekend is to stay at home. Maybe because I’m always away in hotels @ work, or simply because I enjoy the light of my new flat so much.

After lunch we’ve decided to go for a walk in my favourite London place, Richmond:

Note: All the photos below are taken with my mobile phone

Richmond Green

And then a stop by The Farmery. I love stopping by the Farmery because they have waffles & frozen yoghurt, and I would say this is a brilliant combination for all seasons!

Yummy isn’t it?

Enjoy your weekend

.: Little boxes… the story of a move :.

You don’t realise how much you have until you have to put it all in boxes! We had quite a lot indeed. It took us 2 mini-vans plus a few extra trips in our car to move everything out. It also took us a few visits to IKEA to turn this place a bit more homey. We haven’t stopped the whole weekend (Friday to now) just moving boxes around trough the million doors of the new flat.

I also never thought it would be so emotionally hard to move out. We also felt like crying when we closed the door for the last time in the old flat due to all the good memories in that place. I was holding myself pretty well until I had to leave the keys with the concierge. Oh well, here’s to a new life.

We’ve finally settled in and we had a little BBQ today to celebrate. Thanks for the english weather that managed to hold the rain for later today.

Still 3 bags full of clothing to go and we’ve managed to give a some items away

That moment when body and mind align and they become equally exhausted!

Living room

Not ready for another stressful week!!! Can I have a whole weekend now, please? 🙂

.: Exploring Richmond with a 50mm :.

As my landlord is trying to sell the house, we had 3 visits in a row this Saturday, which meant that we had to be away from home for at least 1h30. It was pretty cloudy and not inviting at all, but I decided to go for a quick walk in Richmond and use my 50mm lens.

I like to use my 50mm for many reasons, the first is that it’s my smallest lens, so it’s very light to carry and also because it forces me to think more about composition. I can’t simply zoom in and out as I’m talking about a prime lens here, so I need to use my body and move around to create the photo I want. I like that. It makes you get out of your comfort zone. It’s also a very good lens for portrait photography, which I don’t do that often.

It was really windy this weekend, so forget about getting any flowers sharp!!!

Because the 50mm allows for really small apertures (f1.8), it’s also great to capture detail and blur the background or create lovely bokeh effects without any effort.

My first time trying to leave colour in only 1 object. One day I’ll be able to do a proper one, like the classical phone cabinet! It looks a bit rubish, but I’m happy with it as a first try

He keeps on using me as his own personal monopod, so as a “revenge” I decided to use his head for a photo as well ahhahahah

Considering I took this photo from the car (with the car moving) I’m quite happy with the light

And finally a selfie

Do you have any lens preference?

It’s all about food: Yauatcha – Soho

Today we went for lunch at Yauatcha in Soho, London – 1 star Michelin Dim Sum.
Yauatcha is a modern reinterpretation of the old Chinese teahouse. Designed by Christian Liaigre, the restaurant’s open-plan layout and visible kitchen energizes the entire space, engaging both the outside street scene and Yauatcha’s customers.

Knowling it’s a 1 star michelin I have to say I was concerned that it would be over priced and a heavy atmosphere as it happens in a few restaurants in London, so I was quite positively surprised that it felt so cosy! A nice place to relax and enjoy your Dim Sum.
The food is really good and worth it!


(These photo were taken from their facebook website, as I ended up not taking any photos myself)

But the service is not that great, it was quite slow actually, from ordering the drinks to even paying the bill.

Worth a visit anyway

La Cantina

It’s now part of our usuals, but the food is so good that it’s worth coming back for more

Location

In the heart of ealing broadway, so definitely a plus

Ambient

We mostly go there at lunch time, so it tends to be quite relaxing, perfect for a talk as well.

Service

Polite and nice. We never had to wait a lot to be served. In busy evenings it can take a bit longer, as they don’t have much staff, but it’s always welcoming to go there. If you have to wait, it will be worth it anyway!

Food

I always have a starter because they’re so delicious! All handmade there. Look at this huge yummy bread:

This is the garlic version, but there’s also goat’s cheese, mozzarella, you name it.

As for the main, I wanted something simple today, so I went for the bolognese. I had already a very delicious mushroom risotto, spaghetti fruto di mari and it’s all good.

They also have a good selection of wine, but I’m trying to stick with water these days.

Tip: Save some space for dessert! Always ask for the daily specials, we had really good Amaretto desserts, and the tiramisu is really good (and big!). There’s no photo because I was greedy, ups 🙂

So in general a place to go for authentic italian food.