5 And a Half Things I Learned From Being On Social Media Detox

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Let me tell you a little bit about myself and my relationship with social media before I begin.

I grew up in the society where social media was highly looked down at, and for a long time those who exposed themselves on social media were considered insecure attention seekers. I was one of those people who did not understand the concept of social media at all. Why would one want to share their lives and everything they do on a platform where so many people can see and judge a person’s life? That’s what I thought. I can’t say I wasn’t interested in using it, however, I was afraid to start, as I was scared of the same judgement. So I stayed away from using platforms such as Instagram too often, as I didn’t want to seem like an attention seeker to people who knew me in real life.

I’ve grown, my views changed, my attitude towards social media changed. I learned about online video marketing, and I loved the idea! That’s what I want to do, I thought. And for that, I need to learn and grow my own network. I began posting videos on YouTube, posting photos on Instagram and on Facebook page, where I shared the work I create. However, in this particular post I want to focus mainly on Instagram and its impact on my life since I started posting there.

I had my account since 2012, when I posted my first ever photo of the studio flat me and Vlad rented in Paris. I only had about 20 friends following me at the time, which has grown up to approximately a 100 people who knew me in real life from 2012 to 2016. Then, as I gained interest in online content, I decided to try out posting one photo a day and see where it leads me. I also did that because I gained interest in photography and I took a lot of photos on my phone during the long weekend walks around London. I already had loads of photos piled up, and also wanted to learn how to take better ones. That’s what I started with.

Woah, this was supposed to be a brief intro, but instead, I seem to be telling you the story of my life here. Anyway, bare with me, I’m getting close to the actual point. 

 

So, it was Monday, 22nd of May, when I suddenly decided to go on a social media detox cold turkey. I always wanted to do a digital detox, but I can’t really afford to do it just yet, so social media detox might be a good alternative for starters.

It was a spontaneous decision. I sat there, in my usual coffee shop, blank from any ideas, not willing to complete any work, not feeling excited about anything I did up to this moment. I felt tired and drained. I also felt worthless and uncreative. And one thought was drilling my brain: log out of all social media, log out, log out… And I did.

I decided to stop using social media, and especially Instagram for one week. And this is what I learned. 

  1. It really is an addiction.

I finally admitted it to myself – I am an Instagram addict. I check Instagram without even noticing when I’m at it. I had my phone in my hand and a finger scrolling through Instagram before I looked at the page. This is ridiculous.

2. Always log out of your social media accounts. 

This was a revelation to me. We are used to having all of our social accounts opened and logged in to on our laptops and phones. For example, I never even close the tabs with Facebook and Instagram in my browser. And when it’s there, open in front of your eyes, always logged in and ready to use, – you’re gonna use it. Mindlessly. That’s a perfect way to make yourself addicted and you won’t even notice when your eyes end up staring at an open Facebook or Instagram page reading the news you’re not interested in. This is addiction. And it needs to be cured.

Log out. There’s no other better way to cure this addiction and show to yourself the amount of times you mindlessly enter the social media app. How does it work? Basically you step on the same rake over and over again until you create a bump and learn from the experience. Every time you’re holding your phone with the sign-in screen open, you’ll instantly notice that you’re acting on your reflexes and using social media mindlessly over again. It is scary how many times I mindlessly opened Instagram every time I was bored, without being aware of the moment I took the phone in my hand and opened the app. The sign-in screen that met my eyes reminded me to make a choice – shall I log in and scroll through my feed, or shall I actually continue doing what I was doing before the moment I got bored?

3. Get Bored.

Yes, that’s right. Allow yourself to be bored. As Austin Kleon, the author of Steal Like An Artist wrote, “Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing”. The best ideas and inspiration come to you when you’re bored. So go ahead, declutter your mind, stop reaching out to your phone every time you’re commuting on the train, stop having Netflix blabbing on the background when you’re doing house chores, stop listening to music in your headphones when you’re walking from point A to point B.

As strange as it sounds, after a certain point it becomes difficult to make yourself bored again. I got so used to reaching out to social media and entertainment at every possible moment, – when I have to wait for a video to render, when I’m waiting for a bus, when I’m walking home from the train station, when I’m showering. I don’t give myself time to be bored, because I fill my time with mindless entertainment. And no, there’s nothing bad in listening to music or browsing social media, however, don’t allow it to overtake every minute of your life. Especially in our present time when media and devices are designed to be as accessible as possible. You have to be mindful of the times when you reach out to them.

Get bored. Don’t fill up your brain with information at every possible moment. Allow your mind to roam free and tackle boredom on its own, without the clutter of social media and brainless entertainment. It will be difficult at first. But then it will become liberating.

     4. All of a sudden you will have more free time to spend on creative work.

After I logged out of my social media pages, I noticed that I had more free time. I could fill it with creative work. I would normally spend about 20-30 minutes on a single post, considering that I’ve already edited a photo in advance. I would come up with a thoughtful caption and hashtags. After that I would spend another 30 minutes to an hour on browsing, commenting, liking, discovering. And although I do like to engage with people I follow, sometimes it can go overboard. Lets say I’ve spent time engaging with my internet friends and I’ve run out of content I should engage with. I would then spend time refreshing my feed waiting for new posts, or I would go over the old posts again. I was so addicted to Instagram that it was hard to leave, it was hard to stop.

But once I made a conscious decision to change my own attitude and STOP, I discovered that I had so much more free time that I could spend on work which would actually lead me somewhere. I also had more time to think about my own posts and think about creative ways to present my photography. This sounds more productive, eh?

At the same time I was slightly overwhelmed. Where did this time come from? What should I do? I had to make a decision to DO THE ACTUAL WORK, instead of mindlessly spending hours on Instagram or on Facebook reading the news that I very much dislike reading.

I gained more time from just quitting social media, and I pushed myself to spend it creatively. And I’m very grateful to having made such decision.

   5. Are your ready to struggle for the work you love? 

Although I decided to go on social media detox, I still couldn’t get it out of my head for a while. So the next day I decided to go out and take photos. This was the main reason for me to even create my account, right? So I had to go and take photos. But you know what was different this time? I HAD FUN.

You know why I lost any enthusiasm in my creative work? Because I felt like I HAD to do it. I felt like I had to just go and deliver whatever I could, even when I didn’t have any ideas. Instead of going out and spending time nurturing my creativity, going for a walk, enjoying the sun and spending time being “bored”, I pushed myself to create work which didn’t bring me any happiness.

This is the whole reason for us, creatives, to do the work. We do the work we love. We create because it gives us pleasure. We deliver work because we love it, not because we want get lost in likes and follows. And if we love our work, it means that there will be someone who will love our work as much as we do. Right?

Of course, we still have to push ourselves to deliver. Even when you do the work you love, there will be moments when laziness overtakes, when inspiration vanishes, when doubts devour your mind. But we still have to push ourself to deliver work, because we love it. And because we love it, we are ready to struggle, to face laziness, difficulties, lack of inspiration. But I didn’t love it at the time. I hated my photography, videos and writing. Why? Because I didn’t create for love, I created for numbers. And of course that’s when the numbers stopped growing. And they were right to stop. Because I had to stop too.

5.1. Do the work you love and you will never work a day in your life = BULLSHIT. 

We all heard this phrase, do the work you love and you will never work a day in your life. You know what I think? This saying is a total scam which makes us and everybody else believe that if we love what we do, it will be easy.

If you’re doing the work you love, you will have to work like a horse. Because when you do the work you love, a lot of unexpected struggles will occur. You will doubt, you will feel worthless, you will have an urge to compare, to count the numbers, to procrastinate. You will have to learn about management, logistics, marketing and whatnot.  Even if you are a graphic designer, or an artist, or a filmmaker. There won’t be an opportunity to say “that’s not my job”.

And you will work for it, because the work you do is what you are prepared to struggle for. When you love something or someone, you will move mountains for it.

How does this relate to social media detox? Most of us, creative people, publish our work on social media. And this is a big part our work. We have to love what we show to the world.

 

These were the thoughts I had during the social media detox, and I am looking forward to doing this again. It really allowed me to spend more time appreciating my surroundings and listening to my own thoughts. This was a first step towards decluttering my mind and getting rid of social media addiction. I also understood that I love spending time on Instagram and sharing snippets of my life in my little gallery. But sometimes it feels like the time freezes and I lose myself in these snippets instead of living in my present.

It is important to remember that after you froze the moment in one image, the reality continues to go on. Don’t swap your reality for the single moment on your Instagram feed. Make memories before posting on social, instead of letting the social become your only memory. 

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Acai Breakfast Bowl Recipe | Simple & Quick

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Acai bowl has been my staple spring-summer breakfast since last year, when I got absolutely bored of my beloved oatmeal in the mornings. I absolutely love making an acai bowl on a sunny morning, topping it off with granola, banana and berries (the more the merrier!). So I want to share this staple breakfast recipe with you.

You can also watch this video where I talk you through the process:

 

Ingredients you will need for Acai Bowl:

  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk*
  • Frozen berries*
  • 1/2 Banana
  • Acai juice pads* ( I bought mine from Wholefoods Market)

Toppings:

  • Fresh Berries
  • 1/2 banana
  • Granola*

I warm up these acai juice pads under a hot running water, which makes it much easier to break down. If you don’t have much time, then you can just place them in warm water for about 5 minutes whilst you’re preparing other ingredients.

Place half of a banana, frozen berries and acai into the blender, then pour milk over it and blend on a high speed until smooth. You may choose to use less milk or skip it overall if you want to have a thicker, sorbet-like consistency.

Pour your acai mixture into the bowl and top it off with fresh berries, the remaining half of banana and my home-made granola. I always go quite heavy on my toppings!

And that’s it! It’s a very simple recipe and it is super delicious!

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* You can use any kind of milk for this recipe or skip it completely if you want to get a sorbet-like consistency.

* I used frozen cherries for this recipe, but my favourite frozen berries to use for this recipe are blueberries. Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavours and add whichever berries you like!

* If you can’t get a hold of these juice pads, you can always use a tablespoon of acai powder. If you do so, then just double the amount of berries to substitute for acai solids.

* I have a home-made granola recipe which you can see here.

 

London Guide From a Permanent Tourist

London

I will tell you the truth. My first visit to London was so awful that I hated it. I despised the city so much that I swore I will never come back again. But there is the reason for that. I visited ONLY most popular tourist destinations and the busiest streets (Like Oxford (a.k.a. Panic Attack) Street, which I would never suggest to do if you’re coming to London as a tourist.

In the present, I lived in this city for almost four years and this has become the city I love wholeheartedly. I can’t tell you for sure that I’ll stay here forever, but I will certainly long for it wherever I am in the future.

What has changed? My own attitude and the knowledge of the city. Don’t get me wrong. I consider myself a permanent tourist – I still love the view of Big Ben and would happily walk all main tourist locations, whilst being frustrated at the crowds. I got used to it, and I actually like being a tourist at heart. But in order for you to avoid disappointment and frustration on your first visit, I’d like to tell you about a few things you should bear in mind when visiting London.

When is the best time to travel to London?

If you can plan your trip in advance, I’d say plan for the end of March to beginning of May. London weather is like a lottery, so you will never guess what kind of weather and temperature will greet you as you arrive. More than that, the weather can change three times throughout the day, and I’m not even talking about the difference you can encounter throughout the week.

However, if I had to choose, I’d definitely come to London in April. Normally April in London would greet you with sunshine and beautiful blooming trees, which are perfect for beautiful (instagramable) photos that you will take away with you from your trip. Cherry blossom trees start blooming by the end of March, and they turn completely green by the end of April. You’ll also enjoy the sight of gorgeous magnolias, daffodils, tulips and other flowers that fill this city with colour. As April comes to an end, you’ll be fascinated by the beauty of wisterias that cover London’s houses, especially in Kensington and Notting Hill areas. Even if you’re not the biggest flower fan, there is no way you wouldn’t admire the beauty of London in bloom.

The only disadvantage is that you can’t predict the weather, so the blooming season can get delayed by a couple of weeks if the colder weather stays in London all the way through February and March. This year wisteria season began around the 10th of April, however, a year before it began to bloom only in the beginning of May.

If you’re not afraid of a rainy season, I’d also recommend visiting London in November. Wether in the beginning or the end of the month, there is the beauty in November at any time. In the beginning of the month you can still encounter the beauty of autumn colours and fallen leaves. By the end of November (from around 20th onwards) London is ready for Christmas, which means gorgeous lights, decorations and festivities will lift your spirit up and give you a taste of the most magical Christmas (before it’s even close to Christmas). Bare in mind that crowds are inevitable, but if you want to experience London’s festive mood, I’d suggest coming in November at the start of the festive season, because the later the date and the closer it is to Christmas – means bigger crowds and huge traffic on the streets.

Also, the earlier it is in the week, the less crowded the streets and restaurants will be. Thursday to Saturday are the busiest times in the city.

How to move around:

The best way to travel around London is by public transport. You’d need to buy an Oyster Card (which costs 5 pounds), and you can return it at the end of your trip and get a 5 pound refund. I’d suggest getting an Oyster Card if you’re traveling to London for 5-7 days and top it up with 7 days travel card for zones 1-2. It will cost you around 37 pounds.  If you are travelling for 1-3 days, then it would be best to get a daily travel card at the tube or train station. 

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Of course I would suggest to skip public transport completely, and move around on foot. London is best discovered when you wander the streets and explore its beauty by walking around the city. There are a lot of hidden alleys, mews and streets where buses won’t go, so you have to put on your comfiest shoes and walk, walk, walk. If you get tired or want to travel between destinations that are further apart, I’d suggest using a bus. Although there are so many options for public transport, an iconic double decker will not only take you to the desired location quite quickly, but will also provide you with a mini excursion. If you’re lucky, you can get the front seat at the top and enjoy the view through the large front window.

Also, download Citymapper app on your phone to get directions arounds London.

Must see places:

No matter how long you’re going to stay in London, there is NO WAY you’d be able to see the whole city all at once. This is the city where you’d want to come again and again, and each time you’ll discover something new. I’ve lived in London for four years, and still I find so many new places, restaurants, shops and museums each time I walk around.

I will leave the iconic Big Ben, London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge and Hyde Park from this list. Just be aware that if you’re visiting them on the weekend, apart from these iconic sights you will also encounter a view of loads of heads as far as you can see.

If you happen to be in London Eye area south of the river, I would suggest taking a walk to the right (when facing the river), along the area called Southbank. There are notably less people than on the London Eye side, and the walk along the river becomes a much more pleasant and beautiful experience. There are a few nice cafes as you walk further down the river, where you can sit down over a meal and enjoy the view.

St Paul’s Cathedral is another popular destination, however it is definitely less known than the iconic ones I mentioned above. If you happen to be in the area, take a turn to the left (again, if you’re facing the cathedral from the river side) along Ludgate Hill entering Fleet Street, known for the establishment of press industry at the start of 16th Century. Along the way you’ll see a lot of beautiful buildings which look as if they came from the pages of classical novels. The street ends with the beautiful view on The Royal Courts of Justice, which is an impressive building completed in Victorian Gothic style.

Spend the day wandering the streets of South Kensington up to Notting Hill (or in reverse). When you are in South Kensington, you should definitely pass by the Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert museum and Science museum. The first two are impressive inside out, however both are currently undergoing some exterior construction. Natural History Museum gets super busy on Saturdays, however, there is a side entrance on Exhibition Road where the lines are usually much shorter even if you are visiting on the weekend. Victoria & Albert museum is located right opposite, with entrances on both Exhibition Road and Cromwell Gardens. If you get tired from admiring beautiful art and sculptures from all over the world, head straight to the cafe which is located in the building across the open air gardens on the museum territory. The cafe interiors are super gorgeous, so you won’t only enjoy your meal, but also the beautiful surroundings.

From here you can either take a bus, or, if you’re not afraid of a bigger distance, walk up towards Notting Hill. The route I would suggest to take is up on Exhibition Road, until you face the split road between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Cross the road and enter the park on your left. On your way you will see the amazing Royal Albert Hall and The Albert Memorial. Enter the little gate to the Flower Walk on the left side from The Albert Memorial, and immerse yourself in a beautiful tranquil garden, where you’ll have a chance to see squirrels and parrots (and feed them if you wish). There’s relatively less people than on other alleys in the park, which is surprising, considering how beautiful this garden is. Walk all the way towards the left side of the park and exit on High Street Kensington. There is also an option to take a turn to the right and walk past Kensington Palace towards the north west exit of the park, then taking a turn to the left until you reach Notting Hill Gate station. This is a shorter walk than the one I’m about to suggest.

High Street Kensington offers a big range of restaurants and cafes where you can stop for a quick or more relaxed meal. I would suggest going to the large Wholefoods Market store and grabbing a quick meal from their food counter, or going upstairs to one of their restaurants (choose between Japanese ramen, sushi, Mexican, pizza…). From here I would suggest either taking a bus for about two stops, or continue walking to the west side of High Street Kensington until the entrance into one of the most beautiful parks there are in London. It is Holland Park I’m talking about.

If I had to suggest 3 parks in London that aren’t the famous Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, then I would definitely choose Holland Park, Hampstead Heath and Greenwich Park. All three are uniquely beautiful, however it does get busy in Holland Park and Greenwich Park as more tourists find out about these two.

Enjoy walking in the gardens of Holland Park whilst watching beautiful koi fish and peacocks roam freely. Take an endless walk in Hampstead Heath and don’t forget to get some street food and fresh fruits and vegetables from the market on Saturday. Make sure you get up to Parliament Hill when you’re in Hampstead Heath and enjoy a gorgeous panoramic view of London. Take beautiful photos in magical cherry blossom alley in Greenwich Park in April and walk up towards the observatory, where you can also enjoy an alternative view of London’s Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf with its tall buildings piercing the sky. 

When it comes to Notting Hill, there is really no one place I can suggest to you. To me Notting Hill is all about wandering and exploring. Roam the colourful streets, take photos of beautiful buildings, wisterias, magnolias and cherry blossoms which are enveloping the area in spring. Head over to Portobello Road to explore its endless collections of antique everything – from jewellery to clothes, from vintage cameras to furniture. Enjoy delicious coffee and a cardamom bun in Fabrique bakery, or head to the northern side of Portobello road and get a delicious brunch at Bluebelles Of Portobello cafe. Try the delicious street food during the market day (on Saturday), or enjoy a nice meal at any Italian restaurant on Kensington Park road.

However, I often tend to avoid Portobello Road Market on Saturdays as it gets just too crowded for my liking. If you are a huge antique fan then you will definitely enjoy the experience,  but if antique doesn’t mean too much to you then it’s better to come on any other day except Saturday. Bare in mind that not all of Notting Hill is as crowded as Portobello Road. Take a turn on adjacent street and you will enter a more tranquil and less crowded environment. 

Panoramic views of London:

  • Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath or a slightly smaller Primrose Hill near Regents Park – both are amazing places where you can enjoy the view outdoors.
  • Greenwich Park offers a spectacular view on Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers.
  • Sky Garden became one of the popular destinations when visiting London. It opened quite recently and gets busy on the weekend. But it is so much worth the visit, as it offers an amazing view on all sides of London! You have to book your free tickets three weeks in advance.
  • Definitely visit the roof terrace in One New Change shopping centre, which is completely free and offers and amazing view on St Paul’s Cathedral. Although it’s just on the 6th floor (Sky Garden is on the 35th), but the view is very unique and beautiful. Surprisingly not too many tourists are aware of this location, so you will be able to enjoy a view in a relatively calm atmosphere even on the weekend. 
  • Alexandra Park is located slightly further away from the rest of my suggestions, but if you fancy a quieter place to enjoy the view, this is one of the best locations to go to. The viewing terrace near Alexandra Palace is remotely located and is visited mostly by the locals.

Other Points of Interest:

  • Kings Cross St Pancras station – although its super popular amongst Harry Potter fans, it is still worth a visit as this is probably the most gorgeous station ever. There’s also a market right in front of the station, where you can find the most delicious Crosstown Doughnuts (they are SO good)!
  • If you are into the alternative fashion and music, head over to Camden Market and enjoy the stroll in one of the most alternative part of London. You will not only see quirky buildings and fashion stalls, but also people dressed in every style you can imagine.
  • If you find yourself near the northern side of Tower Bridge, I’d suggest paying a visit to the place called St Katharine Docks which officially opened in 1828 and are now a quite popular leisure destination. You will find a few popular restaurants here, as well as some nice art galleries and shops. This is a nice place to visit on a warm day and sit down for a cup of coffee at White Mulberries
  • Take a street art tour in East London and enjoy exploring London’s graffiti scene. 
  • Walk the streets of Shoreditch and admire the beautiful London’s architecture. Whilst you’re here, head over to Leadenhall Market for another Harry Potter themed destination, admire the tall glass buildings including the famous Gherkin, visit Columbia Road Flower Market on a Sunday, shop for some unique goods ranging from art to jewellery and clothing at Old Spitafields Market… There is so much to do in this part of London that you can spend the whole day just admiring its unique and quirky culture. 

Where to shop:

If you like the bustling atmosphere of shopping centres, then head over to Westfield Shopping Centre either in Shepherd’s Bush or Stratford. Stratford centre is a bit bigger and is located further away from the city centre, however Westfield one is a bit less busy and also has the Village where you can find high end brand boutiques if that’s of any interest to you. Both have a nice selection of restaurants and cafes. 

If you are interested in high end fashion, then I’d recommend checking out Selfridges rather than Harrods. In my opinion Selfridges has a more welcoming atmosphere and you can find better goods in here rather than in Harrods, which is more like a museum of branded clothing. 

I’d recommend visiting Oxford street ONLY for the large Top Shop, large H&M and Nike Store, because trust me, everything else can be found on other, less crazy streets. 

There are two other shops near Oxford Street I’d recommend, and it is & Other Stories and Liberty store. The first one is of similar quality and fashion as the above mentioned Top Shop, and Liberty is another designer store where you can lay your hands on more unique finds. It is worth walking up towards Liberty anyway, as this store is absolutely gorgeous from the outside!

After that, head over to Soho and Covent Garden, and explore endless small boutiques and shops which you won’t find elsewhere on the high street. There are a lot of British designers who have their shops on the narrow streets of these two areas, and you can find truly unique and more affordable designs there. 

A few suggestions for breakfast/ lunch/ dinner:

First of all I’d like to mention Wholefoods Market, where you can find good food for a smaller price if you don’t feel like spending too much money on restaurants. 

Chain coffee shops such as Pret and Eat offer sandwiches and hot food as well, so you can find anything from breakfast to lunch there too for a cheaper price. As well as that, there is Leon restaurant for a healthier fast food option, where you can get hot lunch boxes full of rice, your choice of topping (from veggies to meatballs to chicken curry) and a salad on the side. 

I would suggest avoiding other chain coffee shops such as Cafe Nero, Costa and Starbucks, because lets face it.. their choices are small and boring! Instead, look for independent coffee shops and restaurants in the area. Foursquare is a good app to use if you’re looking for good restaurants, however it’s not always accurate. 

For breakfast I’d recommend going to Daisy Green restaurant not far from Oxford Street, Grind restaurants that are conveniently located in various parts of London or Brown&Rosie in South Kensington. These three places are good for brunch too! Other few favourite coffee shops/ breakfast+brunch spots are Monocle, Fabrique, Attendant, Ozone and of course Monmouth with their delicious coffee and the best almond croissants I’ve had so far.  

For a quick lunch visit Timberyard or Tap Coffee, where they serve soups, hot sandwiches, salads, quiches and frittatas as well as a very good coffee and teas. Bare in mind that all central restaurants in London can get very busy, so it’s really a hit and miss sometimes. 

There are so many different dinner places you can go to for dinner, as London has a wide variety of flavours and cuisines. Some of my favourites are Franco Manca pizza and Pizza Pilgrims, Dishoom indian restaurant, Eat Tokyo or Shibuya for some Japanese flavours, Wagamama and Banana Tree for more asian food. If you fancy trying British food, I’d suggest going to any traditional pub, as the city is full of them! 

Finally, just be open to new experiences, long walks and people as far as you can see. London is a truly unique city and it doesn’t really matter when you come here. Every season has good things about it, so it’s best to enjoy it with an open mind. I really believe that as soon as you leave this city, you’d want to come back. So don’t worry if you can’t do all of the above mentioned things in one visit. London is the city where you have to come again and again in order to learn all of the best things about it. 

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* Now looking back at this guide, I want to add that it’s a good idea to visit the City of London on the weekend, as it tends to be much quieter than the western part of London. Whereas on the work days it’s completely opposite. 

Do you live on your device?

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Most of my day is spent looking at the screen.

I used to be one of those people, who looked down on teenagers who spend their whole day texting, playing games, browsing social media on their phones/ iPads/ laptops every day. I was that “in my days…” person (despite being only 22), comparing kids today with my own childhood spent playing outside, mainly because phones and laptops weren’t available in the society I lived in back then.

Only recently I started to pay a closer attention to how much time I spent on my phone and laptop every day, and to my terror surprise I realised that it’s easier to count the time I’m not spending looking at the screen rather than otherwise.

Doing so many things at the same time, managing my own (start up) business, filming videos, editing videos, editing photos, posting on Instagram, writing on my blog (I already have enormous amounts of drafts that I never posted), answering calls, replying to messages and emails, and at the end of the day perhaps watching a movie or TV series to “wind down”.  So lets see… I don’t look at the screen only when I’m moving between locations (e.g. home – work) or when I’m sleeping.

How did this even happen?!

You see, I have to confess. I am so SCARED of losing my devices and spending a day without them. My work, hobby, leisure.. my whole LIFE is connected to the screen of a laptop and a phone. I am planning to do a digital detox some day, and every time I decide on date and time I end up not doing it because I find so many reasons WHY I need my phone at the time.

What if I go to an unknown location and I need a map?

But I need to check train times!

What if I receive an important email/ message?

How about Instagram? I post twice a day, so I can’t possibly skip that!

And what about the evening? What am I gonna do? I can’t watch a movie?

But… but but but…! There are so many “buts” in this one decision.

I guess we live at the age when our devices are like a physical extension of our whole lives. There are so many things we have to keep up with. We always want to stay updated, stay present in the social. Reply to that comment of an internet friend whom you’ve never met in real life.

I’m writing this whilst at a coffee shop where I go to when I can’t bare working from home. I sneezed. A girl next to me quietly said Bless you, whilst opening her laptop. I turned to her and smiled saying Thank you, and both of us instantly turned back to our screens. I need to talk to that person on Facebook. And reply to emails. And see whether anyone commented on my Instagram post. These are the thoughts that are running through my head.

I guess I looked down on kids who spend their lives on their devices, because this is something I don’t like in myself either. I remember being a child and approaching other kids on the street, talking to them, “Hey! What’s your name? Wanna play?“. I guess it would be too creepy if I did that with an adult.

…Before I stepped inside the bus, I braved myself to look in the eyes of a driver and say “Good Afternoon!” with a big smile. So I step inside. I quietly register my journey and look down proceeding to the seat on the deck, cursing inside, as I, again, didn’t smile to the driver as I intended to.

Maybe next time. I have a new email notification. 

How to get ideas for your blog

Seriously, how?

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So I plan my day in the morning. I create a “To do” list, which I more or less stick to throughout the day, adding countless times I reach out for my phone to scroll through Instagram (yeah, it has become my addiction by now). And then as I follow my list, I come closer to that one entry “Write a blog post”. And there it goes.

I open my blog and click on that “write” button on the right top corner of the screen. I stare at the blank page. I stare at it for a bit longer. Then I reach out to my phone “looking for inspiration”. I get too immersed in Instagram, I reply to comments and comment on other people’s posts. I check emails. I scroll through Facebook, disgusted by all political and dumb news shared on my news feed.

I go back to my blog. No inspiration. I might even google: “how to get inspired”. Aaaah I’ve already done that soooo many times, but I have to finally take action!

Okay. So I’ve decided what I will write about. And then I start writing. My wording seems lame. Really, english isn’t my first language, and after living for almost 6 years in the UK I’m still super conscious about it. So I erase everything and start again.

Then I decide that I can’t be perfect, so let me be just me. I start all over again and write that imperfect post. And then realise that I don’t have any images. So I save the draft and tell myself to take photos in the evening. The draft remains saved for the next few weeks, shamelessly.

Then I finally publish it. But statistics say that no one really reads it. Anyone? Is there anyone out there who reads the thoughts coming through my head? Somebody?

Oh well.

So anyway. How to get ideas for your blog?

Ideas and inspiration isn’t something you can switch on and off. This is something that comes and goes, and you never know when it’s gonna come upon you.

But you can nourish your creativity.

How?

By going out to museums and events.

By taking a walk in a beautiful park during a sunny spring day.

Take a detour on your way to work. 

Walk instead of taking a bus. 

Stop to smell the flowers. 

Smile to a stranger. 

Say good morning to the bus driver (it is if you decided to take a bus instead of walking). 

Strike a conversation with a barista who’s making your morning coffee. 

Go out to a breakfast date early in the morning before heading to work. 

Go out for a 30 minute walk in the evening alone or with a friend/ loved one. It’s important that you leave your phone at home. Just spend time with your thoughts or talk it out to someone. The ideas will come naturally.

Watch a documentary instead of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. 

Prepare a home cooked meal by following a new recipe. 

Meditate for at least 5 minutes. Get all thoughts out of your head before letting the new ones in. 

Doodle. Sing. Dance. Move your furniture around. Rearrange your shelves. 

Read a book by an unknown (to you) author. 

… I wish I did all of the above on a daily basis. Whenever I feel uninspired, I try to do at least something from the above list. I can tell you for sure, that going out for a 30 minute walk in the evening has been the most effective one of all.

Do you ever have a creative hiatus? How do you nourish your creativity? I would love to know!

7 Coffee Shops in 7 Non-Central London Areas

You know that time when you wander off to a new and unknown area in a big city, and there you are – desperately looking for a good coffee in the midst of kebab shops and pizza delivery places. I mean, pizza is absolutely great! But at that particular time there is only one thing on your mind – C.O.F.F.E.E.

So as a professional [aimless] wanderer, who loves exploring new and unknown areas in the city I’ve lived in for nearly 4 years, I decided to create this little list of coffee shops in each non-central, or even more like suburban areas in London. I have to add that I haven’t been in every area in London just yet, but it’s definitely on my list!

Lets start from the East and go towards the West.

1. White Mulberries | St Katharine Docks

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If you find yourself near the Tower Bridge area and desperate for a good coffee somewhere more unique and away from crowds of overly excited tourists – head over to White Mulberries in St Katharine Docks. It’s just about 10 minutes walk north from the bridge, and you will enter the most beautiful marina with loads of private boats and restaurants.

Of course coffee is the main reason to go to White Mulberries. Their baristas serve a perfect cup of a creamy flat white without failing. To accompany your perfect cup of coffee get something from their large variety of delicious sandwiches and baked goods. Of course they serve everybody’s favourite too – smashed avocado on bread. I can never say no to a good avocado toast!

I must say that during summer and on the weekends this is not the most tranquil and quiet area, as loads of popular cafes are buzzing with people. This is the most central coffee shop location you will see in this post today. However, it is so much worth a visit. Grab a friend and get a perfect spot outside, facing the marine and a beautiful sunshine. Delicious coffee, deep conversations and some vitamin D in the process are guaranteed!

2. Hej Coffee | Bermondsey

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So if we are again wandering around the Tower Bridge area, looking for a great coffee and a treat spot (because how can one drink coffee without a nice treat?), head straight to the south and you will find this cozy Scandinavian style cafe in Bermondsey Square called Hej Coffee. What makes this place attractive from the very first sight is the flower display from Dante’s flowers, which you can get from the coffee shop itself. How awesome is that!

The inside of the coffee shop is decorated with wood, with the large wooden moose head as a centre piece. The large communal table is in the middle, and some tables located alongside the window which is perfect for people watching.

Hej serves their own brand coffee (roasted by Modern Standard). I personally am a huge fan of flat whites, so I will talk about my coffee experience according to the taste and quality of my personal favourite drink. But I must say that their batch brew coffee is great as well. Get a cinnamon bun (the Swedish kanelbullar) as an accompaniment to your delicious coffee drink, and you will get the best experience out of your visit!

3. Bean About Town | Kentish Town

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I always visit Kentish Town area very briefly, when transferring to the National Rail, or going to the far away northern part of London. Conveniently enough, there is a wonderful coffee kiosk right outside the station, which serves one of the best tasting flat white in the city!

Be mindful though, as the lines get very long in the busiest part of the day. You might have to queue up before you get your perfect steaming cup of coffee drink. They do provide a couple of chairs right in front of the kiosk, so if you don’t feel like drinking your coffee on the go – sit down and enjoy the morning rush as people pass one by one in front of you rushing to their offices.

If you have no business in Kentish Town, I would still recommend visiting the area. Grab your coffee to go and walk towards the most adorable and colourful Kelly Street. Trust me, you will take some amazing Instagram pictures in this part of the city!

4. MUD | Croydon Box Park & Tooting

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Lets travel south. I was taking Life in the UK test quite recently, and ended up at a coffee MUD coffee shop in Croydon Box Park celebrating afterwards. Basically, Croydon Box Park is where loads of London’s hip restaurants and coffee shops meet, all in one place in the south of the city.

MUD cafe has very nice and clean interiors, with loads of space to sit down and enjoy your coffee watching people pass by outside the window in the busy part of Croydon. They use beans from Ozone Coffee Roasters (another great cafe in East London) and do an amazing job at serving the perfect cup of flat white by enthusiastic baristas.

For the hungry ones MUD cafe has a great brunch menu and a nice selection of pastries. Choose between Eggs Benedict and Buckwheat pancakes, alongside with the “Flattie” (their version of flat white) – and you will leave happy and well caffeinated into the busy Croydon Boxpark area.

In addition to Croydon, check out their coffee shop in Tooting area, which is equally as awesome!

5. 2 Love Tea and Coffee House | Clapham Junction

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So you’re passing by the busiest trains station in the United Kingdom? Stressful, huh? I know that feeling, as I’m a frequent guest in that area! I’ve a coffee shop that I like very much in Clapham Junction, and I go there quite often to work on my laptop.

I used to live in the area close to this place, so naturally I discovered 2Love Tea and Coffee House soon after I moved in to the area. Well, the aimless wanderer I am, I had to get out during Christmas day when there’s literally no transport whatsoever, and wander the streets of Clapham and Wandsworth area, until I stumbled upon the only coffee shop that was open on that day! Hurray!

They serve Monmouth coffee, which is amazing, as Monmouth is one of my favourite bean brands! Though lately they do seem to interchange them with Exmouth Coffee brand, which is also very good tasting. The rustic atmosphere, a grand piano and jazz music create a wonderful and relaxed atmosphere. Your coffee will be made by skilful and kind baristas, who would also cater to your needs when it comes to milk alternatives in your perfect latte. They serve almond, coconut and soya milk on request! Oh and by the way, their flat white and lattes are really called Perfect Latte and Sexy Latte. Everyone giggles when they find out. (I did giggle too!) Indulge by getting a cake or a brownie, or opt for a gluten free option – there are so many to choose from. I would recommend getting a flat white (ask for a glass instead of a cup) and a vegan banana bread (heated up!) –  this is my favourite combination.

This place is perfect to stay in for a bit longer, enjoy a great conversation or work alone on your laptop.

6. The Robin Craft Cafe | Richmond

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Which one do you like the most – coffee and cake or Thai food? Can’t decide? Well then you have to visit The Robin Craft Cafe in Richmond and you will get both (if you want to).

“You know something good will happen when you see the robin” is their motto, and truly only good things happen to you when you visit this quirky little cafe on your wanders through Richmond area.

Aside from very good coffee, the best part about this cafe is their fun crockery in which all drinks are served. This gives you not only the enjoyment of a good good morning spent over a cup of coffee, but a fun experience and a smile on your face when leaving this place.

Beware, you might get very very hungry if you come here during lunch time, as the smell of delicious Thai street food fills up every corner of this cafe. They serve Thai soups and curry, so if you like Oriental food – this is definitely a place for you.

7. Cafe Zee | Ealing

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This is the recent find of mine, and I absolutely loved this place after a very first visit! Friendliest staff, yummy cakes and a high quality coffee roasted right on the premises… What else is there to wish for?

As soon as I came in I knew that I’m in for a treat. The nice lady who served me described the flavours of a chocolate-beetroot-passion fruit cake and I was in imaginary heaven, right there, without even having bought anything! So I rushed to the till and got myself some passion…(fruit) cake and a flat white (the usual). They were so busy, but I managed to get a table at the back of the cafe right by the roastery. So I tried it all. And I fell in love. The coffee and cake were all so amazing that I forgot that I’m actually not consuming any sugar. Well.. That was a nice try, right?

I don’t know how the hell would anyone end up in Ealing area (unless you live there), but I traveled to Ealing specifically to go to Cafe Zee. On a Sunday. During all these famous rail engineering works… And I did not regret a second of it!

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Going to an unknown area without a well researched survival coffee guide can be very dangerous to all coffeeholics out there! I hope this post was helpful and you found a great new coffee shop to visit on your next wandering around London.

xo

 

Golden Milk | Cold Remedy

One of my favourite natural ways to cope with cold is drinking turmeric milk, also known as Golden Milk. This is a lovely drink made out of various spices and packed with nutrients and vitamins.

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This drink is very easy to make and adjust to your taste preferences, but this time I decided to try out the new pre-made golden milk spice mix that I got from Wholefoods Market in London. This is much faster and easier to make than the one from scratch, and I love the spice combination of Nature’s Harvest Turmeric Latte Mix.

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It contains only 7 ingredients – turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, chilli, vanilla and black pepper, – all being wonderful spices that help your body boost its healing process during a cold. Turmeric is better consumed with added spices, as it turns out that turmeric has a very low bio-availability when consumed by itself, meaning that our bodies have a hard time absorbing its wonderful health benefits. This Turmeric Latte Mix has a perfect combination of spices, which all contribute to a good absorption of turmeric itself, and add an extra boost with the benefits of each spice on its own.

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You can use any kind of milk of your choice to make your own Golden Milk. I prefer using coconut milk. Just warm 1 cup of milk on the stove (or in the microwave), add half a teaspoon of Turmeric Latte mix and a teaspoon of honey. Don’t let the drink boil!

And that’s it! This is a great cold remedy and a wonderful drink to enjoy at any other time!