Laugh, live, experience

3F3B9866

Sometimes when we meet a person for the 1st time, their aura and extravagance imprints in one’s mind. You want to tell them that you love them and want to be friends with them, taking walks and holding hands:) but if we did share these emotions with each other so openly then the world would be a much better place or the thought of you being extremely mad would be closer to reality.

S-O-P-H-I-A

I have been talking about this gorgeous lady, I’m sure you have guessed by now. I’m glad that the time was once right and I could share my feelings with her:) and here she sits and tells me her story.

Sophia spent her childhood in the woods outside Cambridge, running bare foot and enjoying freedom. No, she wasn’t some sort of a Mowgli adopted by a wolf family, her parents built a house in the forest, allowing their kids run free and wild. She rode horses and breathed fresh air from night till day (I straight away imagine Jane Era times upon hearing that:).

Whilst studying in Sixth Form, she couldn’t wait to go out there and live the real life, and so she does, by leaving education by paper behind her. Visiting hair dressers salon for a haircut, she enjoyed the atmosphere so much that next day she came to Toni & Guy enquiring how to become a hairdresser. They take her right in for two years of training where she works hard, 6 days a week, gets the job and becomes the apprentice of the year. Next stop was London.

The capital didn’t keep her for long, it was not the right time just yet. After one year working, Sophia got bored, she had no desire in opening her own hair salon and moving into fashion wasn’t also her thing, although I’d say fashion would be good with her as she has a very good sense of it. Instead she breaks up with her boyfriend and goes off travelling taking her scissors with her and cutting hair along the way. In California, U.S.A. she buys herself a photo camera, since she was now fully embarked on her solitary travelling and walked alone, taking pictures was her own way of connecting with the environment.

While in Sydney, Australia she wonders into Wim Wenders exhibition and is so deeply moved by the photo of Twin Towers after the disaster that upon her arrival back to the capital, she enrols at LCC (London College of Communication) to study photography. After a few years of assisting and doing event photography, music and live portraits, Sophia ventures out of her comfort zone and jumps in the back of the van with a hardcore music band going off to their concert in Belgium. As an outsider she takes pictures reflecting her experience and the feeling of it, in the crowd, out of it, by the stage and on it. Upon arriving back she shows her work to the drummer. He loves the diversity of her pictures and their uniqueness. She then decides to work on the hardcore book. She takes off with the band and travels with them to concerts to shoot material in France, Germany, Poland and the UK and gets noticed by publishers who commission the book. She travels around with shows but unfortunately the publishing company collapses and the book is printed as a limited edition but there are some second hand copies available on Amazon you can get your hands on (for the lovers of hardcore and the vision of it, here is the name of the book ‘Balance: European Hardcore’). Three years she worked on the book that has her unique creative expression of human emotions captured through the lens.

After the Rolling Stone kinda life, Sophia finds herself shooting other forms of human emotions, she captures love in a commercial way. Weddings. Sophia feels that it is a real honour to be part of magic moment between two people who share strong feelings of love in forever union.

So this is the story up until now of this ever changing adventurous soul and one day I would do a Coffee_Me revisits section to catch up with what the free children of the universe are up to.

Likes: Connection // Dislikes: Raw Cheddar Cheese

What if …you take a Gastro Tour

London. The centre of the universe, if you ask me, I wouldn’t doubt it. London has everything and everyone from all corners of our planet. It’s fascinating, right? London – much like a rubber band, stretches further and further, but we don’t mind, we love it, we live it. We walk, we smell, we run, we eat, we meet, we laugh, we learn, we love. I happen to walk and learn and taste and smell on one of the strolls in London with Celia Brooks (on Coffee_Me soon), a little sneak peak of one of her guided gastro tours. One can pass by same places over and over again backwards and forwards. I did for years and years and never bothered to walk inside. I guess I just didn’t have the right company or never got invited to find out. How many of us actually do bother to find out the origin of places? Do we care how it all began or where we eat or drink? I will not bore you with my philosophical thoughts and trying to find the roots:) The fact is I totally loved that day with Celia, I’m glad there are people out there who are so passionate about what they do and implement it in their business and most importantly they make other people ‘wow’ back.

We started our tour on the famous detective street, Baker Street, at the Japanese Knife shop, where many blades are put over each other to make them super sharp and unique and expensive, well-known chefs buy them here and chop chop chop. We had a demonstration by an employee which was truly impressive. When I become a chef, I know where I will be getting my blades from.

Next stop was the little street off Marylebone High Street that leads to the car park. Yes, the one where the Farmers’ Market runs every Sunday. La Fromagerie, a place that started off with one particular cheese which the owner once tried whilst in the French Alps back in the days. Now it’s a busy cafe with French and Italian cheeses in the fridge and fresh foods from British makers. It’s busy and famous but cosy, easy to grab a seat at in the morning and enjoy a coffee (almond cappuccino vegans can always enjoy), make a trip to the fridge and try THE cheese, I only took pictures and enjoyed the smell though:) (well it really doesn’t bother me). Once cheese lovers are done with their supplies, walk out of the shop and fall into the Chocolatier that is right in front. Yesssss a shop full of chocolate and one of the first British finest chocolates ever produced. They even offer customers a taste of the hot dark chocolate which they make mixed with just water so vegans once again clap your hands. Bright packaging inspired by the Marrakech tile patterns, aromas and pockets full of dark chocolate. Next stop is the Winery Le Vieux Comptoir (no, we didn’t taste any at that time of the hour:) for French food and wine lovers, this would be a must place to visit. Elegant interiors and a very French ambience inside. Rococo and Le Vieux Comptoir run all kinds of workshops too – some are chocolate themed, others are about wine and sometimes they are combined in one, definitely something worth checking out.

Our tour continues and next stop is Portobello Road. I have lived around this area for over 14 years and I was sure I know the place as well as I know the five fingers on my hand, turns out I know ‘nada’ (Spanish for nothing). Our 1st stop is the Spanish supermarket R. Garcia & Sons, walk through the doors and once they close behind, you are in Spain. Everyone speaks Spanish and everything is Spanish, the atmosphere is great as is the pickled garlic, just so tasty. For meat eaters there is, of course, the leg to slice and take away, JAMON I mean:) (I always associate the word with the movie where young Penelope and Javier as Almodovar debut their cinematographic success). Next stop is the Spice Shop on Blenheim Cres, walking into this shop is like walking into a spice shop in Marrakech, the authenticity and smell of it, I swear I had to turn and look out of the window just to make sure I hadn’t travelled through space and time. Incidentally, the shop is right in front of the ‘Books for Cooks’ shop, so once you pick all the spices but perhaps don’t know how to apply them, go and fetch the right book for this.

Walking further – a biscuit shop ‘Biscuiteers’, smells so sweet and inviting, external facade is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland kinda feel. Instead of sending someone flowers, send them box of funky corky biscuits, healthy too, without gluten:)

Next stop – more cheese, wine and ham to enjoy:) ‘La Cave a Fromage’ (as long as one doesn’t take these gastronomical footsteps the same day, one has a chance to survive:) After you finish with the wine and the cheese and some other small platters accompanying your wine, cross the road and walk into the bar which started its own gin production ‘Portobello Road Gin No.171’, from small batches for customers only to producing larger volumes for sale due to the popularity and goodness of it. This was the end stop of our tour, gin was great, I recommend:)

The world is your oyster

3F3B9695

Coffee_Me’s anticipation of introduction each coffee companion can be compared with one starting a rise on the mountain in total darkness and cold shivering through the bones in order to see the sun rise or watching the dance of magnetic fields of northern lights, I have experienced neither of those:) but I could at least relate to the excitement:) I might disagree with that once I do at least one of the experiences but for now let it rest on the same level of my imaginative mind . Meet:

Mr. R-O-B

I met this gentleman at some stranger’s house where a late lunch was taking place on the 2nd day of this year. I was invited there by my one of my earlier coffee_me companions that practically is a stranger too, since that was my 3rd time seeing him. What an exciting life I’m leading:) But it gives me an opportunity to meet these amazing people with their incredible life paths, it’s like catching a train and instead of travelling straight to the destination I get off at each stop on the way and admire the beauty and uniqueness of each spot.

Rob’s life started in the north side of the island (Scotland), while growing up he began his descent down to the south step by step, even in London he chose the south of the city as his permanent place of residence. Upon finishing Cultural Studies degree at Liverpool University he decides to move to Cape Town (“ Dream woman in city form ”- he says with a sparkle in his eyes) which changes his life. He came there with nothing and returned with a clear vision of future ahead of him.

Whilst residing in the south part of the African continent he started off modelling for catalogues, as an extra in pop videos, adverts and eventually worked as a stand up comedian even appearing in South African television. At this point I, of course, asked him to say something funny, because that’s what you expect people to do clearly once hearing such news:) According to me they have to just erupt with funniness, not exactly:) Nevertheless it seems like Rob’s talent wasn’t left unnoticed as he got approached by an editor from some magazine and was asked to write for them. To be precise travel and write. Their unfortunate travel journalist got sick with malaria from his previous trip and they needed someone right away to travel to Botswana. So Rob did and got acquainted with the profession well where you write and travel and get paid for it. 15 years on and he is still very much doing the same. Wouldn’t you?! I think this is a profession one never wants to retire from until the last breath:)

Rob is not only a traveller journalist, he covers many areas of writing and does so for well known glossy magazines (Tatler, GQ, Highlife etc) as well as for not very glossy but also well known newspapers (Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard etc). If that wasn’t enough he also reads lectures at universities and records documentary programmes on radios and does talk shows (BBC4, BBC6 and Radio 4 etc:). Basically he has the dream job, for sure, no doubt about that. At this point Rob shares with me one of his motivating sentences to the audience when lecturing: “You might think that to be a travel writer is a hard thing to achieve, but I’m partially sighted, am a non driver, speak no foreign languages and have no journalist education.” No further comments on this one, apart from  – the world is our oyster.

Likes: Oysters // Dislikes: Mumbai

P.S. And he is funny;)