As I write this, we’re heading into the coldest period of winter. It’s about this time that, after a fun and exiting holiday period, reality sinks in that even though the days are getting longer and a little brighter, it’s going to be cold and wet for some time yet.
It can be hard when you’re scraping ice off the car windshield, shivering at a bus stop or tossing another broken umbrella in the rubbish bin to look on the bright side of life and to appreciate how wonderful life really is.
Gratitude and appreciation is an art and its expression is so valuable to our lives. All it takes is a moment of pure appreciation, followed by a clear expression of it, to send a relationship in a positive direction.
It has become unpopular to express appreciation in our cynical world and we tend to look sideways at those who regularly manage to remain positive and find appreciation and gratitude.
Many of us are hedging our bets, waiting for something good to happen before we express our appreciation.
This is the wrong way to go about it! Go out looking for things to appreciate – starting with the way things are and the riches will begin to flow toward you in ever widening circles.
This month we have plenty to appreciate here at Tried & True. We recently celebrated six years in Putney serving the best guests in London. It’s been a pleasure!
If you’re fortunate enough to have a special someone in your life, show them your appreciation this Valentines by treating them to the big pancake comeback this month. From Monday the 12th to Thursday the 15th of February we’ll be celebrating both Shrove Tuesday and Valentines with the return of our buttermilk pancakes.
We are also grateful for some great content to share with you this month including an interview with local yoga instructor Ben, we welcome back Ventura to the kitchen and Ricky’s beautiful photographs to the café.
Finally, a big happy Chinese New Year in this, the Year of the Dog. RK
Staff Spotlight - Ventura Oliva
Here at Tried & True we know that a happy team is the most productive and provides the best service to our guests. We
pride ourselves on attracting and retaining great team members. What is really awesome though is when great people decide to come back! This month we meet Ventura, who has just returned after an extended break back home in Spain.
Living in London for the last couple of years, Ventura originally moved to London to learn English.
With ambitions of owning his own restaurant one day, Ventura figured the best way was to learn the business from the inside.
He started at Tried & True as a kitchen porter, manning the dishwasher on busy weekends. His great attitude, strong work ethic and aptitude for cooking soon led to him learning the pans and being able to cook all of the dishes on the menu! He has returned to the café, after a break back home, as a Chef de Partie. We are super excited to have him back!
Ventura enjoys the independent lifestyle in London and like many of us spends his days off exploring London and chilling with friends.
When working he fuels his shifts with ham & cheese toasties washed down with single shot lattes with two sugars. The retirement of our French Toast was a major disappointment for him!
When asked about what he enjoys about T&T Ventura explains:
“someone told me one time, this is not the easiest job, but we are the best people and that’s the truth. We are like a big family and I really enjoy being part of it”.
Welcome back Ventura! We love having you as part of the T&T family.
Chinese New Year
February 16 marks the start of the Chinese New Year and one of London’s most exciting events of the month. Celebrated by around 1.4 billion people worldwide, this annual party, also known as the Spring Festival, traditionally involves prayers to the Gods for a good harvest and planting season. Fireworks set off at midnight are intended to scare off monsters and bad luck, while the following morning firecrackers welcome the new year and good fortune. Dancers, decorations, dragons and dumplings will dominate Chinatown and the days of celebration, but 2018 is the year of the Dog - 狗
The Chinese zodiac is a 12-year cycle of animals representing different attributes and skills. It is theorised that a person's characteristics are decided by their birth year's zodiac animal. The Dog occupies the eleventh position, after the Rooster and before the Pig. “The Dog’s personality is loyal and honest, amiable and kind, cautious and prudent. Due to having a strong sense of loyalty and sincerity, Dogs will do everything for the person who they think is most important.” These are precious traits, especially when you’re the partner of a Dog such as this writer. However communication is not the Dog’s strong suit and they don’t easily share their thoughts to others.
Along with the animal signs, Chinese zodiac incorporates five natural elements into the annual cycle: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth. Therefore an animal and element union only occurs every sixty years. 2018’s Earth Dog is communicative, serious and responsible at work, whereas the Wood Dog (1994) is sincere, reliable and patient, a Fire Dog (1946, 2006) is intelligent and hardworking, Gold Dog (1970) is conservative and “always ready to help others“ and the Water Dog (1982), brave and self-centred.
Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, Michael Jackson and Madonna are famous Dogs, to name a few. But brace yourself if you too are a Dog, because Chinese astrology asserts that people in their zodiac year offend Tai Sui, the God of Age, and incur his curse, resulting in a year of bad luck. Of course there are other considerations to be made, like one’s “inner animal,” based on the month of birth, and “secret animal,” determined by the hour one is born. Thus, “while a person might appear to be a Dragon because they were born in the year of the Dragon, they might also be a Snake internally, an Ox truly, and a Goat secretively.”
So to heck with the stars and their mysterious alignment; find a friend this February and head to Soho for an unforgettable festival filled with music, good cheer and (fingers crossed) good luck!
Putney People - Ben Gemmell House of Yoga
Beside the bustling High Street of Putney you’ll happen upon the House of Yoga. And inside THOY, every Sunday and throughout the week, you will meet Ben Gemmell: a yoga teacher, personal trainer and holistic health coach. He is there helping people to connect with themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually through mindful practice and an ethos of self-love.
“Well how did that happen?” one might wonder. As a former private school teacher and self-proclaimed chocoholic, in 2010 Ben went on a world-wide excursion that lasted two years and changed the trajectory of his life. Through Asia, Australia and America, he visited places and met people that opened his eyes and began shaping an all-new path for himself. And that was only the beginning of the journey.
Altruistic by nature, the new-found knowledge Ben acquired on his travels had to be shared. It transformed his own wellbeing, helped his tastebuds adjust and delight in a new vegan, gluten-free diet that improved his rosacea (when traditional medical treatment failed) and relieved him mentally and emotionally of the guilt he’d always carried with him, and would now serve as a platform where he could spread insight and have a spiritual impact.
It was a gradual and challenging process, starting from scratch and juggling jobs, to devoting himself fully to teaching yoga and researching natural methods of healing. Leaving a secure career gave rise to doubts of whether he was doing the right thing and if he’d be “giving back or doing enough” for humanity. But he learned to listen to his feelings and trust himself, have pride in his passion and faith in the universe. Fast-forward to today and he’s healthier and happier than ever with heaps of experience and education to offer his neighbours.
Ben’s approach has a few foundational beliefs. “Listen to your body. You can learn to be your own doctor.” He loves to share what he has learned, from homeopathy, mindfulness techniques, nutrition and Ayurveda, to help clients to tune in to the natural healing power of the human body. “Be kind to yourself.” While Ben believes physical fitness is important, for him emotional well-being is the biggest influencer for overall health. Self-love is a key mantra Ben likes to advocate, and ties in with his belief that an essential question to ask oneself is “are you coming from a place of fear or love.” This question is imperative to one’s health because he believes the more each of us can practice acting from a place of love, the more harmonious a society we can create. With these core beliefs Ben is able to offer his wide-ranging scope of clients more than just a workout; he can encourage and foster an emotional and spiritual experience that goes beyond physical activity.
As he continues to develop as a yoga teacher, Ben is also an instructor at wellness retreats which offer yoga, pilates, fitness training, and nutritional education. The next retreat, through IN:SPA, will take place 10- 15th March in Marrakech, promising sunshine and spectacular surroundings, luxury accommodation and “the perfect sanctuary to detox, energise and experience the magic of Morocco.”
In the meantime Ben can be found leading the THOY NuPower class every Sunday at 12:30. You won’t find this revolutionary fusion of traditional Flow, cardio HITTS and strengthening weights in any other UK studio. He describes it as “high-intensity strengthening and endurance training” and an “empowering workout with a satisfying release of endorphins”. If you want a community space with a wide range of classes around the clock, THOY offers a 21 day pass for £39.
Ben also holds private, one-on-one or group sessions in the studio or at clients’ homes, and is willing to lead workshops and seminars personalised to meet individual requests.
Despite not being a coffee-drinker, Tried & True still supports Ben in all of his endeavours and is here for him anytime he’s got a hankering for avocado toast (on gluten-free bread, of course.)
If you would like to get in touch with Ben and find out how he can help you, he would love to hear from you on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07753 109 969.
For more info on IN:SPA retreat visit www.inpa-retreats.com
Ben spoke to Leann St Clair.
An historic day of caloric glee - is coming to brighten up your February and sweeten up your week. In honour of the long-awaited National Pancake Day, we’ve borrowed WIRED magazine’s compiled list of pancake facts and oddities to occupy your mind while you fill your bellies.
1. Pancake-flipping robot - In 2010, researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology created a robotic arm that could learn how to flip pancakes. Petar Kormushev and Sylvian Calinon showed the robotic arm, created by Barrett Technology, the required technique using a fake pancake covered in sensors. Having demonstrated the technique a few times, the robot practised until it honed its pancake-flipping skills.
2. Manc-cake - The world's largest pancake measured 49ft 3in in diameter and weighed in at 2.95 tonnes. It was made, and apparently flipped, in Rochdale, near Manchester.
3. Early racing - The first recorded pancake race took place in Olney in Buckinghamshire in 1445. The story goes that when the church bells rang for the Shrove Tuesday service, a housewife wasn't finished grilling her pancakes. Not wishing to ruin them, she ran to church with her pan in hand. Now women in Olney compete in an annual 415 yard (380m) race.
4. The Pancake Bunny - Photographer Hionori Akutagawa made his pet rabbit famous between 1999 and his death in 2003 by balancing a range of food and household items on its head. One such item placed on Oolong the rabbit's head was a pancake, leading to the nickname "The Pancake Bunny". The picture quickly became an internet meme, accompanied by the caption: "I have no idea what you're talking about... so here's a bunny with a pancake on its head."
5. The fearsome Flexpicker - The Flexpicker, developed by ABB Robotics, is a pancake sorter commissioned by Honeytop that can sort 400 per minute. The robot was used to improve hygiene standards and reduce labour costs. The spider-like system picks through thousands of pancakes and places them into stacks with incredible precision
6. Festy cock - An alternative Pancake Day dish in Scotland is a "festy cock" made by rolling out a ball of finely ground oatmeal and folding it into a rough bird shape before baking and eating as a substitute for a cockrel on Shrove Tuesday. The word festy is linked to Festern's E'en, the day before Shrove Tuesday, when cock fighting took place.
Now that you know more than ever, show some pancake appreciation and get flippin’!
T&T’s Artist in Residence, Ricky Leaver, has a new exhibition, TOWN & COUNTRY at the café from 1 February.
Featuring a mix of Ricky’s fabulous London cityscapes and wild English landscapes, all of these stunning, limited edition photographs are available to purchase in a super cute 12” x 8” format.