Greetings T&T VIPs! Happy New Year everyone from all of us here at Tried & True. We hope that you all enjoyed a wonderful time during the holiday season and spent it with those close to you.
Amanda, Clara and I braved the Irish Sea this year and spent time in Dublin and Derry visiting friends and family. It was a wonderful, relaxing and fun time and it was great to catch up with everyone and enjoy playing with all of the toys that Santa brought!
Five years ago, on the 16th of January 2012, we opened Tried & True for the very first time. We didn’t even have a sign on the front of the café - that was to come on Friday.
It was a typically bleak, cold January day in Putney. The paint was barely dry on the walls and we had way too many pastries groaning on the counter.
I must admit, I was pretty freaked out. After months of planning and preparation, a complete refit of the gallery that was there before, and a baby on the way in 6 weeks, I felt that I’d already run the marathon and was ready for a bit of a rest.
Little did I know that it was only the start of the most challenging, terrifying and rewarding adventure of my life so far (this includes becoming a parent for the first time of course).
Fast-forward five years and here we are – a wonderful popular café, a great team and most of all a loyal and supportive community in a beautiful part of London.
If I was to distill any wisdom from the experience, it is to continually move forward. Burn the past. What happened yesterday, last month, last year does not define what happens tomorrow, next week, or this year.
That is not to say that we don’t strive to win every day and build on the small victories and successes that come with working towards a greater vision with clarity, persistence and hard work but to remember that each day is a new opportunity to again become the best version of ourselves.
Every day here at T&T we work together as a team to build relationships, strengthen our culture and values and provide value to the community we live and work in.
Thank you to all of those we’ve worked with over the years including team members, suppliers, local business owners, charities, and schools and especially our loyal guests.
We all know that we are beginning 2017 with uncertainty with the potential disrupt our lives, however this is still the greatest city in the world for reaching ones potential and it’s a privilege to live here.
Remember, you are successful when you like who and what you are. Success includes achievement and enjoying your own thing but most of all I think it means enjoying relationships and loving what you do in life. RK
Staff Spotlight – Martina Sykorova
A very warm welcome to Martina Sykorova, the newest addition to our front of house team at Tried & True. Martina comes to us via our friends at Birdhouse* (definitely give them a try) up on St John’s Hill so she has a lot of experience in making excellent coffee. We find out her story.
Moving to London from her native Czech Republic almost 4 years ago, Martina originally trained and practiced as an accountant. The desire to travel and learn English brought her first to Portsmouth and then the big smoke of London.
“I came here to learn English originally so I was an au pair in Portsmouth and planned to stay for 1 year. But after a few weeks I realised that it's not really what I wanted to do so I moved to London and here I am!”
Drawn in by the theatre and artistry of the specialty coffee scene that was picking up pace at the time, Martina became interested in coffee.
“I always wanted to know more about coffee and be able to make latte art but I worked full time as an accountant so didn't really have a chance to be in to it…. “
All this changed when Martina moved to London and started to focus on getting experience in the industry.
“I started working in Costa, then moved to [independent café] Birdhouse. Between Birdhouse and T&T I enjoyed a summer spent in Malta and worked in a typical Maltese café”.
When not working or enjoying T&T’s scrambled eggs with chorizo and a flat white, Martina is enjoying the hustle and bustle of London.
“London gives you the opportunity to do whatever you want, become who you want to be and meet people from every country all over the world – I love it!”
In her spare time Martina enjoys relaxing on the sofa with a bit of Netflix or a good book, getting out and about to photograph her adventures and recently has started writing a blog about living abroad and her travel adventures.
So… how’ve her first weeks at Tried & True been?
“I love the people! We’ve got fantastic loyal customers and it's such a great team here. Plus the coffee and the food are amazing. So basically everything!”
*(Birdhouse 123 St John’s Hill, Battersea, SW11 1SZ)
Things to do in London (even in winter)
Visit Bushy Park
As a lot of you know, I live on the other side of Richmond Park, in New Malden. Kingston upon Thames is my ‘hood. The river and the parks are our playground and respite from big city life.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t make full use of these world-class facilities that are the royal parks as the cob webs on my bicycle attest. With such an amazing resource on the doorstep I don’t think I’ve explored even 10% of Richmond Park in the 8 years I’ve been living 5 minutes away from it!
Same goes for Bushy Park. I’ve visited many times, mostly during the summers to visit the extensive kids playground with Clara. This was made all the more apparent last week when Clara and I took our bikes for a jaunt to the second largest Royal Park in the crown.
Bushy is the second largest Royal Park, with an area of 445 hectares. Located to the north of Hampton Court Palace, it is home to around 320 free-roaming deer.
Bushy Park is only a short drive or bus from Kingston. In the warmer months I grab my bike and tool around the path that links around it. You can't get much better than this for relaxed contemplation.
As parks go, it is big, but doesn't seem overwhelming. I can cycle around it in just over an hour. One of our favourite things to do is visit the almost secret woodland gardens within the park, which are towards the Hampton entrance. The Willow Plantation and Waterhouse Woodland gardens are particularly lovely, with little ponds and streams. Note that you can't bring dogs into these gardens. The rest of the park is a fantastic place for dogs though.
There are plenty of sports sections within the park as well. There are two cricket grounds, on either side of the park, and a couple of areas that are designated for footie or rugby. There is a great kids playground as well, with toilets. There are also toilets and a great Café in the woodland garden.
This is the place to go if things are getting you down. You can't help but think...'oh my, life is good'...when you wander around here for a bit.
It is also the ideal place to go for a summer picnic, a spot of deer watching and some quality time with your ipod and your thoughts.
It is truly magical and breath-taking and makes me proud to be a Londoner
Bushy Park is accessible by train and bus. The postcode for electronic device users is TW11 0EQ, Parking and disabled parking available. RK.
Reflections and Resolutions
As one year draws to an end and a new one creeps in, we are prone to contemplating the past twelve months of our lives and evaluating our successes and failures.
We carefully consider what we’ve accomplished personally and professionally, our growth or progress, and all that we’ve yet to achieve. And as we reflect on the time elapsed and the year ahead, approximately half of us will make a resolution or two, whether publically proclaimed or wisely kept private, in an annual act of aspiration.
While we feast on symbolic fare assuring good health and prosperity for the coming year and drink to cleanse us of unwanted memories accumulated in the last, those much-anticipated moments between the two billow with hope and wholesome promise; this New Year will be everything we imagined.
Where does this annual practice of marked attempts at self-improvement come from? For at least four millennia, civilisations across the globe have been celebrating the beginning of a new year, dating back to ancient Babylon.
This is where the custom of making resolutions is thought to have begun, as Babylonians made promises to the gods in order to earn their favor in the coming year.
Today, Western populations in particular perpetuate this ancient tradition by making promises, albeit to themselves, to make a conscious, daily effort to improve their lives, to become a better person.
Sociologist Isidor Thorner suggested New Year’s resolutions are ultimately “a determination to control what are felt to be weaknesses of character.” Therefore a vow to be wiser with money, to call family more, to stop smoking and start running, to be more patient, more generous, less lazy and more devout, fosters the hope of a new chapter in our lives when we will finally get things right and be the person we always knew we could be.
Nevertheless, as these familiar pledges parade through January with pride, while gyms swell, diets reign and TVs stay turned off, before long those promises dissolve like snow into transparency.
Once again, we’ve fallen victim to False Hope Syndrome, believing the unrealistic expectations of how much, how quickly, how easily we can transform into our ideal selves.
The American artist F.M. Knowles remarked, “He who breaks a resolution is a weakling; He who makes one is a fool.” And yet, breaking resolutions comes as naturally as making them.
Researchers have detected that habitual behaviour comes from default neural patterns in the brain and attempts to change these pathways actually strengthen them. Therefore, whether or not you achieve your resolution has little to do with will power or desire to change and is more about setting one realistic, attainable and internally-driven goal and maintaining focus despite inevitable downfalls.
What’s the Tried & True team got to say about all this? The new barista you’ve seen behind the machine is the lovely Martina, who admits her family doesn’t partake in the tradition of making resolutions because as she puts it, “change comes from desire, not a date.” That being said, we’re all a little more mindful of the changes we’d like to make as 2017 approaches.
Our assistant manager Eyal has resolved to devote more time to his musical compositions in the pursuit of creating scores for film and television. (You can listen to his impressive collection of work here: https://soundcloud.com/eyal-goldstein-343706983).
In the kitchen, Davide says he aspires to join a football team this year, the first he’ll play on since leaving Italy, while Ventura aims to quit smoking (and we’re all committed to helping by giving him a hard time until he does).
Finally, my personal New Year’s resolution, requiring less regiment and more receptiveness, is to practice unyielding acceptance for everything exactly as it is.
Happy New Year to all our readers and T&T VIPs; may this year bless you with only the best! LSC
T&T New Year Playlist
The Eagles – Funky New Year
The Walkmen – In the New Year
Nina Simone – Feeling Good
Jeff Buckley – New Year’s Prayer
The Zombies – This Will be our Year
Pearl Jam – Better Man
Camera Obscura – New Year’s Resolution
The Kinks – This Time Tomorrow
Nappy Roots – Good Day
Otis Redding and Carla Thomas – New Year’s Resolution
These short days and long cold nights are perfect for enjoying mid week meals at home with family. But who’s got the time to whip something up that is fast, tasty and a real family crowd pleaser? I’ve been making these Asian inspired chicken thighs for a few months now and they are quick, versatile and VERY tasty. Better yet, they are a big hit with Clara, take seconds to prepare and only 45 mins to cook. Be careful though – they are addicitive!
Makes enough for at least 4 servings.
Cook: 45 minutes
1kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, (optional)
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line an 8×8-inch or similarly sized baking pan with foil.
Throw the chicken thighs into a large bowl. Add the honey, vegetable oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and pepper. Turn the chicken to coat thoroughly.
Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Keep a close eye on them. If they are browning too quickly keep turning to make sure the honey doesn’t burn.
Remove from the oven and transfer the chicken to four plates. Pour the remaining sauce in the pan over the chicken. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds before serving.
Burning the Old Year
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle with moth wings,
marry the air.
So much of any year is flammable,
Lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
So little is a stone.
Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
Only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.
From Words Under the Words (1980) by Naomi Shihab Nye.