The way we work (London Edition)

posted on: Saturday, 21 September 2013

Writing in Violet's courtyard

Tea for thinking at Rose Bakery

Hackney Bureau's all day breakfast will get you through


This is how I don't work...much


The formidable Arianna Huffington was recently in London to launch the Third Metric campaign which is all about creating new ways of working. The Huff argues that success should be redefined 'beyond the first two metrics of money and power to include wellbeing, wisdom and our ability to wonder.' And I absolutely agree. Having spent the last four months working as a food blogger, I've radically changed the way I work and realised it's not just a question of how, but also where.

As I mentioned in A Cup of Climpson & Sons, I take an hour each day just to read over a coffee. Prior to this I often take an hour walk through beautiful Victoria Park. It may seem like I'm starting my day with two hours of me time, but these are 'working hours' in my book. I think through problems while walking and map out about 90% of my writing. There may be a lot of staring out the window during my reading time, but I'm not vaguing out, I'm writing!

London is perfect for freelancers because so many cafes are filled with the energy of creatives meeting about their latest projects and wifi is a given. My theory is that different places are right for different work activities and ne'er the twain should meet: I need one place to do my reading, another to research new ideas, a place to write and a place to do dreaded admin.  

In London, Climps is 100 per cent for reading and I would never dare taint this great set up with work: my phone, laptop and notebook are banned. I think a reading place shouldn't be an eating place, so although Climps has a masterfully edited selection of three breakfasts (avocado with pistachio and sumac on e5 sourdough is my fave) and three lunch options (my go to: salmon, wasabi and radish salad) I rarely get these.

Claire Ptak's Violet is the best place for writing and working. I don't know why, but I just flow through a number of writing tasks easily here. Maybe it's the wise words of Michael Pollan, David Mas Masumoto and Alice Waters on the wall. Although I'm obsessed with Violet's Ham and Comte Cheese Tart, again, I don't think eating and working mix. So it's their Sencha Green Tea in lovely jade cups or the Irish classic Barry's Tea all the way.

To research and plan, the Rose Bakery sitting high atop the Dover Street Market in Mayfair got my ideas pumping. Inspiration of choice: UK Vogue, Observer Food Monthly, and all the Sunday papers.  Incidentally, the Rose Bakery is run by an ex-Chez Panisse contemporary of Claire Ptak's. Coincidence? 

Admin sucks, but sometimes you have to clear your inbox, pay bills, send thank you emails and organize stuff. The good news is you can combine eating with this activity and Hackney Bureau was where I hacked out the tasks I needed to get done. With constant wifi (password: Michael J Fox) and an all-day vege breakfast (avocado, poached eggs, glamorgan sausage and roast tomatoes) this is the most pleasant spot to push through the admin barrier.

I'm back in Brisbane now, so where to go? I've been doing Arianna Huffington proud and testing working options all over the shop. Update to follow soon! 

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