Moments of Joy: Blue Holiday
So, I’ve been away for a while from this weekly round-up and I’m regretful of that. I’ve felt a little fragmented of late. Summer sometimes does that, but being freelance has made it worse I think. I have felt unsure and tentative and uprooted and the distractions of summer in the city, of holidays, of awful news stories have got into my head and set me back a little.
I think the truth is that I’m still unsure of what I’m doing/what I want to be doing with my life and I seem to have so many projects that I start and then doubt. There’s been too much going on, I’ve put too much pressure on myself and I need to pair it down. What do you do when you feel like this?
The value of stillness in our lives is paramount - at least to me - taking the time to consider what is important on a regular basis in day-to-day life and taking a breath between the different activities and people we need to be. My ongoing promise to myself from this mental bump in the road is to do less things with more focus.
In this time away I have still managed to find pleasure in many things and soul-affirming joy in a few too. So here’s my #MomentsofJoy from the last month or so that I’ve been absent. Sending joy to you all and I’ll see you with more joy next week.
1) Restaurant: Belpassi Bros, 70 Tooting High Street. SW17 0RN
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that if you live in London and work in media for long enough you will end up attending restaurant openings or at least relish in the delectable, cosmopolitan offerings of our great city. However, this Italian meatball restaurant which has recently opened in Tooting is different for me because it is the culmination of years of work from two of my best friends, Livio and Lorenzo Belpassi.
Following inspiration after a 2013 trip through the homeland of their Italian father, the twins started the Belpassi Bros brand. It has since been a pop-up, a mobile truck and then a more permanent one at Spitalfields Market and now this place of wondrous meatballs and a sense of the Italian buona vita.
Without bias I can recommend this restaurant to all. The boys use high quality ingredients from suppliers that they have spent time researching and it shows in the quality of the food. The menu offers just the right amount of choice (and options for veggies) and the meatballs are hearty, tasty fare. I was also extremely impressed with the options of wine by the glass - the red I had was a perfect accompaniment to the food. With a classic warm Italian, family atmosphere and very reasonable prices, I have no reservation in recommending Belpassi Bros to all.
Obviously, the joy for me is amplified by seeing people I care about and who have worked so hard, achieving what they desire.
In July, I attended a workshop held at my spiritual haven (& client) Battersea Yoga on Creative Writing and Mindfulness. Being a writer with an admittedly, inconsistent meditation practice and a regular yoga and mindfulness practice that has been my making, I was thrilled by bringing this into my writing.
The workshop was led by the very talented poet, Dollie Stephan – add her to your list if you’re in to poetry – and consisted of meditation, flow writing and discussion.
The thing that brought the most joy to me from the session was the ten or so other women taking the class who all brought with them a vulnerability and creativity that made us all feel enriched. Many of them were not writers, they just wanted a space for their voice. Another attendee, Cecilie Harris and I have since decided to start a blog, called Inner Chatter in an attempt to give all sorts of women a platform to express the voices in their head. If you’re interested in submitting any writing, please visit the site Inner Chatter.
3) Podcast: Reply All
This podcast is a dream for anyone who is as obsessed with the internet as I am. I mean, I am obsessed with podcasts too as you can probably tell and I found this one after I binge listened to the entire back catalogue of This American Life and wanted a podcast with similarly brilliant storytelling. A quick Google brought me to this and I love it. It’s all about the internet and the funny things that people get up to. There are mysterious tales of internet trolls, really human experiences about how certain apps have affected peoples lives and historical stories about the first cam girl for example. A reminder that the internet is here and here to stay and it is no longer something that people dip in and out of or that we can look down upon as a place for teens taking selfies, perverts and trolls. It is a tangible reality that is weaved into our everyday lives. The presenters, Alex Goldmund and PJ Vogt are also that wonderful mix of geeky, cocky and funny and great storytellers.
For any fan of Coelho’s The Alchemist, Elizabeth Gilbert or Oprah, I urge you to read this book. In fact, I urge anyone – especially women to read this book. It is more than fiction. The narrative is about a very average woman of our times named Diana who has a very extraordinary experience and could be more powerful than any spiritual or self-help book I’ve ever read. It is a manual for your soul. It is part fairy-tale, part myth, part allegory, part instruction and all wrapped up with beautiful language and humour throughout. Something I will definitely be reading again.
5) Film: The BFG
When I saw the BFG was being made in to a super-shiny film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Mark Rylance, I made three friends go and watch it with me. A lifelong fan of the magic of Roald Dahl’s fiction – I believe adults would live their lives a little better if they reread his stories every now and again – I was not disappointed. It’s a gloriously visual interpretation of his words which stays very close to the original text. I’m grateful to live in a time where the words of great storyteller’s such as he can be made into visual feasts for our consumption. Now that is Magic.
“Dreams is full of mystery and magic . . . . Do not try to understand them.”
If there’s even a hint of a child inside you, go and see this film asap and your youthful wonder will wake-up a little more.
6) Bar & Restaurant: Pergola on the Roof
A new terrace bar and eatery festooned with flowers on the rooftop of the old BBC buildings in White City, this place is a summer playground and Instagram favourite. With pop-ups from four popular London restaurants and enough French rosé to last till September, I could happily sit up here all day. Oh and if you are over a party of six you can book which is just SO welcomed.
I really hope they bring in some heaters and keep it going over the winter months too.
7) The Little Moments
A few sad things have been happening around me lately, not to me, but to other people in my life. All it has made me feel is that we must embrace the little moments with others that we have, relish and enjoy them as much as we can. Notice that belly-laugh, that silent affection, that conversation that draws tears to your eyes. These are the things, the connections that matter in the long term. Someone once said that people coming into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime, I believe this. In which case we should cherish every human moment with every person we value and tell them that too.