CamSnoop Day. Every 11th marks another month since Sanoop and I first met each other. We celebrate our favourite holiday by beaming at each other and hugging even more than usual, cooking veggies, doing yoga, drinking mezcal with lime juice, watching an episode of the extremely well-produced multi-facetted, touching, and exhilarating Michael Jordan documentary on Netflix. Watching one of the greatest athletes of all time do what he seemingly was born to do is just … breathtaking… and the reflections, perspectives, and nuances added on top are very engaging. We also talk lots about the good old days when we first started dating in Singapore. Other than the love of my life, I’ve started to also think of Sanoop as my real imaginary friend — I often wonder if he’s a figment of my imagination, and when I pinch myself (or him) and realise he’s not, my heart always skips a beat.
Lockdown’s loosening up. As of this week, in the UK, it’s now deemed safe for citizens to move freely outside as much as they desire, as long as they keep a 2-metre distance to others and ‘stay alert.’ Some folks have started going back to work; things are slowly easing; streets are staging bursts of relief as well as heightened tension and vigilance — a very interesting expression of varying beliefs, thoughts, needs … I don’t know what’s right or wrong. I just do my best to stay informed and nonjudgmental, washing my hands often, smiling to strangers, and supporting local businesses to the best of my abilities.
Phone booth cafe. The woman who does business development for one of my favourite coffee brands, Kiss the Hippo, got bored of being stuck at home and decided to open a cafe from a phone booth on the high street in Hampstead. It was such a wonderful surprise when on Tuesday, when I was curled up behind my laptop and he had been out for a grocery run, Sanoop brought home a flat white in the signature biodegradable cup with a red hippo on the side for me, big smile on his face, because he knows how much I love their skilfully roasted organic beans and thoughtful touches. I absolutely love all of the creative innovation happening these days, people’s desire to make the most of a tough situation. On Monday night, a friend asked me to fill in a survey about this idea he’s got to develop a reusable cup with a payment chip inside, and a few minutes later, another friend asked me to vote on four different packaging design options for her new brand of delivery-only vegan sushi. Sanoop snapped the photo below of the phone booth setup, and it just makes me smile so much: the neatly displayed bags of beans in the open phone booth door, the nifty small and shiny espresso machine perched on a shelf inside the booth, the small fridge stocked with Oatly, Alpro, and cow’s milk underneath, the bag of beans on top, and the stacks of hippo-adorned takeout cups on the side. He’d had a long chat, of course, with the sweet business developer / barista sitting outside the booth next to a small camping table covered with a bright red-and-white checkered table cloth and filled with baked goods and a makeshift till. She lives just across from the phone booth, and as much as she hopes they’ll be able to open their brick-and-mortar cafes again soon, she’s also quite keen on this little project — bringing big smiles, heavenly fragrances, and compostable cups and bags of freshly roasted delight to lucky locals.
Winning wine. A few weeks ago, my friend in Barcelona encouraged me to participate in a drawing competition run by a rosé company, Born Rosé Barcelona. The brief was to illustrate a happy moment spent in Barcelona. I sketched a little watercolour version of a photo I took of her, her husband, and Sanoop enjoying vermut and wine at a small vermut bar in Barcelona a few years back and posted it to my instagram story with their tag, as instructed. There were lots and lots of gorgeous images, and mine was far from the loveliest, yet they still sent me three bottles of what turned out to be a perfectly fresh and dry wine. With a beautiful glass stopper for a lid. Don’t know why not all wine bottles come with a glass stopper?! Much more environmentally friendly than cork, and much prettier than both cork and screws. As usual, we enjoy it in our window.
Dog robots to remind people of social distancing measures. I love Singapore.
Neat collection of essays on how the world might change following COVID-19.
‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’ is this week’s Wednesday Life Drawing theme. Which, when first introduced, briefly made me wonder about things I thought I should and could have paid more attention to, been more aware of. Earlier today, in general. When the breathing and drawing exercises started though, they immediately led me to direct all attention into the movement of the moment. And feel inspired to pay appropriate attention to myself and my surroundings going forward✨ It was also just really fun. Great facilitator and model, great energy in a giant class even if online, and great music.
Morning runs. Clear, warm, sunny, bright, quiet, fragrant mornings. The Heath. Leafy, mansion-y Highgate. Primrose, Camden, Regent’s Canal, charming Gloucester Crescent. I love North London. Picking dewy bouquets of forget-me-nots and buttercups for my work space.
Raspberry muffins — culinary adventure of the week; a very free-styled recipe, which had, if I do say so myself, a very successful outcome — tart and firm yet fluffy and sweet:
3 dl oats (we used rice flakes)
1 dl coconut flour
1 dl almond flour
1 tea spoon baking powder
1 tea spoon cinnamon
1 dl almond flour
50 g coconut oil, soft or melted
2 ripe bananas
Finely shredded zest of 1 lemon
100 g frozen raspberries
Preheat oven to 175 degrees celsius
Mash the bananas with a fork and melt the coconut oil
Mix the dry ingredients in a big bowl
Mix in the coconut oil
Add the eggs and stir
Add banana and lemon zest and stir / hand mix until the dough is even
Add the frozen berries and stir until they’re evenly distributed
Oil a muffin tray (or put paper cups in it), shape the dough into 12 muffins, and put them in the tray. Bake for 25-30 minutes — your oven may be different to mine, so keep an eye on them. We used peanut butter, honey, bee pollen, and shredded toasted coconut for topping — get creative! Let me know if you make them and what you think!!
Safe picnic. On Saturday, we meet two friends for a picnic on the Heath, unfolding our blanket in a secluded, quiet little spot on a grassy hill sloping down towards thick forest. Long yellow grass straws and buttercups glowing in the warm sunlight around us. It feels incredible … incredibly normal … incredibly precious … incredibly missed. So simple, yet such a deep craving. To be sitting outside with friends, soaking up summer. And rosé wine. And home-baked goods. Chatting about everything and nothing, forgetting the games we brought along because we’re so absorbed in the talk, the laughs, the wine. With a 2-metre distance between us, of course, and snacks distributed neatly in individual containers, and conversational topics that keep circling around … COVID.
Safe walk. ‘It’s been months since you last saw Amalie, right?’ Sanoop asked when I went out to meet my friend for a walk along the canal. I was about to say, ‘nah, we see each other regularly,’ our almost-weekly VCs so vivid in my mind. But, yes, not the same as physical proximity and having experiences together, though, right? Or sensing the oxytocin and serotonin high of a real hug. Thinking about the power and limitations of video calls, or even sunny walks along the canal 2 metres apart (with my camera adding a layer of distance or proximity), which types of contact, stimuli, and experiences we need to feel truly connected. When it comes to friendships, work, doing yoga, anything. For people in all sorts of wonderful, neutral or terrible situations. And what it means that I’ve lived in a different country to most people I love for the past 9 years. Would that have been possible without having people I also love physically close by (and ✈️✈️✈️), regardless of how used I am to making the most of the internet and practicing being at home where I am? Either way, I’m grateful I get to experience a variety. And that London is so sunny.
Summery evenings. Long light evenings, hanging out inside with books, writing, drawing, Netflix, chatting … to the soundtrack of chirping birds and the sight of a blue sky, pink clouds, and bright green canopies just outside our perpetually open windows.
Octomom. A deep sea explorer in a robot submarine stumbled upon an octopus settling in to brood her eggs in an underwater Grand Canyon off the coast of Monterey. It seemed like a small moment. But as he went back to visit her, month after month, what began as a simple act of motherhood became a heroic feat (she ended up brooding for 4.5 years!) that has never been equalled by any known species on Earth … if you’re curious about the moving, scientific, almost magical, poetic, and SUPER fascinating details … check out this life-affirming 30-minute listen on Radiolab — it’s called Octomom. A friend recommended Radiolab, and I thoroughly enjoy the format: smart, lovely, warm, cheerful folks having a conversation about a natural phenomenon that they’re passionate about. They somehow nail this perfect balance between focus and diversions: a crisp narrative sprinkled with personal, unscripted touches … a very authentic podcast, immensely enjoyable and educational at the same time.