As my friend Ania said – quite seriously – over lunch, “I would be so much more effective at this revision thing if I had something to pet”. ["Revision", non-Brits, means studying for exams]
It’s true. Animals – or, as I prefer, aminals – make us sooo happy! Even if you don’t have one to cuddle, since it’s springtime you’re likely to find some families with ducklings for which you can make way, or just go to a park on the weekend and live vicariously through people walking their dogs. One Sunday in London turned into a spontaneous puppy-in-the-park-counting morning. There were over forty. Bliss.
I’ve been busy hopping from shop to independent shop this Easter season, following Oxford’s Indie Easter Egg hunt!
Minimalism and indie shops go hand in hand – when I’m mindful about how much I own, I also became more mindful about what I own. Each possession should tell a story, ideally, and often the best stories come from indie shops, where conversations with shopkeepers tend to be more inspiring and personal.
What a whimsical party shop! They specialise in quirky balloons, including ones that float in the middle of the room like this dog above. Makes me giggle. Also check out the themed sweets cups – there’s even a “Man Sweets” variety.
First I’d like to point out that Walton Street Cycles owns spoke.co.uk. I found that cute. If you, like I, already own a bicycle, it’s still a great place to browse helmets, which will please the cyclistas who want a bit more style.
The journey started and ended at Exclusive Roots, a Fair Trade shop that sells beautiful and inspiring pieces, straight from the artists, to benefit the charity Tabeisa UK, which promotes the social and economic development of African communities. From bike baskets to ceramics to chocolate, there’s more to every piece than it seems – make sure to ask about what makes each unique!
Perhaps you know by now that I’m a massive Jane Austen nerd. After falling in love with her novels [and characters] I appreciated her all the more as a minimalist role model.
Just think – those masterpieces were born out of the simplicity above! It brings to mind a strong direct connection between the stories in her head and on her well-hidden papers, free from distraction.
Also look how tiny her table is. Note to Self: Next time I’m left with the tiny table in the coffeeshop, I’ll think Jane Austen, not deprivation.
Happiness is finding a pencil
Knowing a secret
Telling the time
Happiness is learning to whistle
Tying your shoe for the very first time
Happiness is playing the drum in your own school band
And happiness is walking hand in hand
Happiness is two kinds of ice cream
Pizza with sausage
Climbing a tree
Happiness is five different crayons
Catching a firefly
Setting him free
Happiness is being alone every now and then
And happiness is coming home again
Happiness is morning and evening,
Daytime and night time too
For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That’s loved by you
Happiness is having a sister
Sharing a sandwich
Happiness is singing together when day is through,
And happiness is those who sing with you
Happiness is morning and evening
Daytime and nighttime too
For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That’s loved by you.
Some people call me the Don Quixote of the Latin Quarter because my mind is so far up in the clouds that I can imagine all of us are angels in paradise. And instead of being a bonafide bookseller, I am more like a frustrated novelist.
In today’s world we tend to rush from one thing to another, to occupy ourselves, to scroll through our phones when we have a minute in which we’re asked to stand still.
A mind in the clouds is not something people like very much these days – better to plant oneself on the ground firmly, where it’s safer. Better to be a “bonafide bookseller” than a “frustrated novelist”, and yet the latter describes the average individual more accurately. We are all trying to do something, and I take comfort in a place for misfit toys, a place where we can all try together, where we can all accept and share our creative struggles – celebrate them even.
Paris’s Shakespeare & Company is a space for dreaming, exploring, and getting lost. Sure, it’s a tourist destination, but that is part of its community atmosphere – tourists are people who have felt the calling to travel, but might not know quite how to do it. Shakespeare & Company welcomes them inside its cosy chapter-book home, which is humble and inviting to all. It collects like-minded people, because if you don’t want to dream and read, why would you ever go inside? Its sporadic chairs are nearly always filled with readers, rather than the usual occupants of chairs in shops (think dads in shopping malls). Everyone is invested and involved. Upstairs hosts a writing corner with a typewriter, free for anyone to use in the company of the hundreds of poems and notes visitors have left all around.
Shakespeare & Company reminds us that we are allowed to lose our minds in clouds and in books. I find that travelling is the best way to explore ourselves, and sometimes you don’t have to go anywhere but inside your head to do so.
Brought to you by the makers of the Vaults & Garden and Alpha Bar, Will’s Deli (formerly Woodstock Road Delicatessen) is a fabulously deliciously healthy yummy comfy place to eat. Can you tell I love it? Oh and they do vegan cake.
Would you guess that this is the decor for a barber shop? No, neither would I. Oh man, looks like I’ve found the perfect place to get dolled up to go to Atomic Burger. They do discounted rates for students (guys and girls) and would generally make an awesome atmosphere for a haircut, doncha think?
7. Oxford Yarn Store, 3 North Parade AvenueLook at the pretty colours! And the sparkly ones! This shop tempts me to take up knitting again on top of revision (hey, even my tutor recommended it as a relaxing activity!).
Isn’t the storefront adorably English? The scent inside is just heavenly, as are the bright bouquets (or tiny ones like the above) for sale. The sign says “Come inside for a dose of spring!” I second that!
You can hop on the Easter trail by stopping at any of the shops on the map – it’s on until 14 April. Happy sticker-hunting!
Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire founder of Facebook, has only one drawer of clothes, and inside are dublicates of one grey t-shirt. As Zuckerberg claims, he’s “Like men everywhere,” but the point is, he found something that works and sticks to it. Ridding oneself of the Getting Dressed Stress is not restricted to minimal men, however. I feel the same with my own minimalist wardrobe, in which each piece must complement every other to be added to the collection (I don’t even own – or need – a full length mirror!). So perhaps the Zuckerburger’s daily uniform is a bit of a fashion extreme, but find that ease within your own style. Keep only the pieces that don’t require daily questioning and constant tweaking.
Zuckerberg’s simple style extends also to his simple wedding to girlfriend-of-nine-years Priscilla Chan. The paparazzi were thrown off their game on this med-school-graduation-party-turned-surprise-backyard-wedding, catered by the couple’s favourite local restaurants (with Burdick chocolate mice truffles, which they had on their first date. Aw.). He broke the news to the world by updating his Facebook relationship status to “married to Priscilla Chan.” Style. Simplicity. Quintessentially him. Bam. Win.
While fashion is a means of expression, it should never inhibit us from expressing ourselves through our true calling, which, for Zuckerburg, is his business. Limiting his wardrobe frees time and headspace to focus on building one of the most popular tools on the internet. And play with his puppy (whom you can Officially Like on Facebook of course).
Hey Oxford residents! Do you want free Fair Trade chocolate?
It’s the prize for completing the Oxford Indie Easter Egg Hunt!
But more so than the chocolate – yes this is possible – I was excited to walk the trail to discover new independent shops and chat with their awesome owners (hello!). I love to shop independent for the carefully selected objects and the stories behind them – and who better to tell these stories than the shopkeepers who often hand-picked these things in the first place?
Besides personal preference, shopping local and indie is awesome for supporting local Oxford shops: for every £1 spent at a local independent business, 50-70p circulates back into the local economy (as opposed to only 5p if you shop online or out of town).
So off I went, and here are the first steps of my journey!
Home to domestic brilliance, Oxford Pantry makes me yearn for my own kitchen even more than usual. It’s clear that the suppliers are handpicked with care, and it’s just the kind of place that, when I step inside, I think ahhh…
Now, without the egg hunt I don’t think I would have ever gone inside. Simply put, it’s a barber shop and I’m a girl. But with map in hand, I had a lovely conversation with Oxford City Barbers’ Danny, and got to see the cool chairs the young men have the option to, uh, ride, during their haircuts!
Mumu’s offers an array of fabulously bright Italian gelato that is difficult to resist. I went in guiltily expecting to cheat on my sugar-free pre-half-marathon week, but was ever so pleased to find their two sugar-free options! Win!