exactly two weeks until I turn a quarter of a century old – 25 years to be
precise on this planet that I never really anticipated living through this quickly.
Am I a mature, grown up and rational individual who has sorted all their shit
out when it comes to love, life and being in adult? Hell no! But I am a much
calmer, happier and also more grateful person than I have ever been in my life,
learning a few valuable lessons along the way that have made becoming this ripe
old age a little more bearable:
Always take your make up off before
you go to bed.
Yes, it sounds totally
lame and unnecessary but trust me after waking up one too many times with
mascara rubbed all over your face and bad skin to follow for weeks after, you
realise how important it is to get the stuff off. Program your drunk self to make
the extra effort (and if you can use Liz Earle’s cleanser - it may be a little pricey
but god damn your skin will thank you forever).
Know your spirits.
this is one comes down to experience. Learn what you can drink and what makes
you an absolute psycho (for me that is vodka and too much Prosecco)- no one
wants to be that annoying and obnoxious girl on a night out that blacks out. If
you want to waste your money do it on something you at least remember.
Be passionate about something.
sounds silly but get a hobby that isn’t getting wasted, a boy or being at work.
For me that is films and there is nothing I love more than watching a fantastic
movie which inspires me and lets me view the world in a new way. It doesn’t matter
what it is but find your niche, celebrate and cultivate it.
I never thought I’d say it
but heck I enjoy exercising! As someone that over-thinks and over-analyses just
about everything, regular exercise has become a healthy form
of release. It doesn’t matter what you do (for me it is a weekly high
intensity Body Attack class at Virgin), no it is about pushing your body and
focusing your mind on something that isn’t work or related to all the other annoying
little things connected to your every day life. You don’t have to be a gym
bunny exercising every day, instead for me it is about once a week refocusing
my energy and tiring myself out in a way that makes me not fret about things I
really shouldn’t and keeping me fit at the same time.
my very cynical self was toooootalllyyy against the sheer idea of trying it but
with a lot persuasion and my increasingly debilitating fear of flying I gave meditating
a go via the “Headspace” app and as ridiculous as it may sound it indeed positively
changed my life. Simply learning how to focus your mind and block out unnecessary
thoughts suddenly made my life a hell of a lot easier. All I can say is give it
a go, the app is free and after all what have you got to lose even if you don’t
like it? I for one sleep a lot better these days because of it.
Don’t succumb to peer pressure.
know easier said than done but just follow your gut. We all make mistakes, we
all try things- be it excessive drinking, drugs or abusive relationships but do
it on your own terms and learn your own lessons, no one should ever have that
kind of power over you.
Love your parents.
The older you get
the more you realise how annoying, eccentric and generally insane they are but you
are stuck with them and as crazy as it sounds they do only want the best for
you. Knowing what is like to loose one of them early listen to me and treasure
every moment you have with them, especially when it hits home that they are only
going to get older and frailer and and won’t be around forever to tell you off and
more importantly love you unconditionally.
Enjoy your alone time.
As any of my
good friends will know my Saturdays are reserved for “Stella Time” time – one day
a week where I can do all the Netflix binging, ubereats eating and napping I
want whilst looking incredibly gross in my pj’s and not feel a tad guilty about
it. In my early twenties I used to worry a lot about being constantly socially engaged
and never alone but the older I’ve gotten the more I have realised how crucial
it is to cherish one’s own company. Maybe it’s because I am an only child but
with our social lives being under constant scrutiny via Instagram, Facebook and
the like, jobs that don’t end when we leave the office and a sense that we always
have to be the most fun and outgoing person in any given situation, we need to
learn how to be comfortable in just ourselves and realising that being able to
do exactly that is a luxury we should make the most of.
Don’t be in a relationship for the sake
I guess one could call me a relationship failure - I am yet to have a proper serious relationship and have become
my own worst enemy by slowly yet surely evolving into a total commitement-phobeBUT I have learned one thing- either a
relationship works or it doesn’t. It shouldn’t be a struggle and you should definitely
not try and become a different person just so that a guy likes you back because
in they end of the day they won’t. If someone truly loves you, they’ll take you
with all your crazy (and I have plenty of that for sure).Until I find that guy I am very happy being
single and so should you be.
For me taking the plunge of buying plane tickets to see new places like New York and Helsinki last year was
one of best and most enriching things I have done in my life so far. Yes, saving is
good but as cliché as it sounds you only live once so treat yourself while you
can. There are so many great places to visit on this planet that will irrevocably
change and shape your view of the world and yourself as part of it forever.
Cherish your friends because the
good ones are like family.
You’ll loose a lot of friends in a life time and
that is ok. People change, circumstances change and even though a friend break
up can be as bad as a romantic one, trust me you’ll get over it eventually.However if you are lucky (and I have) you may
find people that accept you for who you
are, who you can laugh with, that will also tell you off when you are acting
like a little shit and who you can make memories with you will never forget.
For me the last few years have been especially great in finding exactly those
kind of people and I couldn’t be happier to call them my friends, a support
network I can call on no matter how awful other areas in my life may be going.
Find a job you love.
will all hopefully live way past 80 these days so don’t spend your Monday to
Friday wishing that you’d rather be somewhere else. I may not earn as much as
someone in finance or law but I bloody love what I do and I always try to deliver the best possible performance in it. Money is money but finding satisfaction in
what you do for a living is something that at least in my eyes means a lot
Don’t be scared of dying.
This has strangely
been my biggest struggle in recent years, perhaps rooted in the fact that I
lost my dad, granddad and grandma in a very short space of time . As one of my (enviably)
more careless friends said to me “I’d rather die knowing I’ve had a fucking
great life than worrying about it ending” – and she is right, if it is our time
to go I guess we just have to accept that.Wherever we end up going after death there really is no point in
worrying about that until the time is nigh. Life isn’t fair, some people will
die way, way too young but
I will try not waste the time I have left on this planet worrying about when
exactly the clock is up for me and just enjoy the fact I am alive till then.
If I had to pick a favourite neighbourhood in London it would have to be Angel and more particularly the area around Upper Street. It's something about the mix of independent shops and cafes, beautiful Victorian terraces and an altogether more village-y feel that sees me go here almost every Sunday (that and the more practical fact that there is a massive Sainsbury's next to a Waitrose and M&S foodhall which basically equals grocery shopping heaven to me). You can also eat reliably well in this neck of the woods, one of my trusted favourites Ottolenghi always a good takeaway choice with it's fantastic Middle Eastern inspired salads and La Farola, just a few doors up, serving well made Spanish classics. I was however yet to discover a truly extraordinary restaurant in the area. That changed after a recent visit to newly opened Oldroyd.
Located by the picturesque Camden Passage, it may look like an unassuming bistro from the outside and is tiny on the inside but the food served here is truly outstanding modern European fare at prices that you won't quite believe. I have to admit expectations of the place weren't exactly low before my visit. Never one to head to a new restaurant unprepared I did some research before and discovered the high pedigree of the owner here. I had in fact met Tom Oldroyd, the man behind it all, by chance a few years prior during his time as head chef at famous Venetian inspired London restaurant emporium Polpo. There, with owner Russell Norman, he helped drive the small plate and flavour led dining revolution that this city went through 4 or 5 years ago and irrevocably changed the restaurant scene forever and with also fundamentally helped improved London's global culinary reputation. Bearing in mind this level of experience then, his own venture, aptly named Oldroyd, was never going to serve bland or boring food and luckily only managed to exceed my already high exceptions.
The food served here, part of a seasonally changing and deliberately short menu, is best enjoyed shared and takes its inspiration from all around Europe in a sophisticated and effortless fashion. I dined with three meat eaters so can't vouch for their dishes but everything I sampled (altogether we had around 7 or 8 dishes ranging from £3 to £16 in price) was absolutely flawless in terms of it's flavour and preparation and of a fine dining quality without the price tags. Every small detail matters here - from the exceptional sourdough served with a big slab of rather incredible anchovy butter to the fine slivers of gravadlax accompanied by shavings of pickled beetroot and turnip that made it almost too beautiful to eat but too bloody delicious when we eventually did. A pungent truffle mayonnaise came dolloped next to crispy wild mushroom croquettes that were far from a mere veggie friendly afterthought, the same true for an outstanding dish of spinach malfetti (a sort of gnocchi like spinach and dough balls) that came served with a mushroom and crispy sage sauce and proved as satisfying and comforting as any meat dish. The real, and for me rather unexpected, highlight of the meal however was the prawn, fennel and saffron risotto topped with gremolata. Far from being the bland and gloopy mountain of rice I usually associate with risotto, this was a silky, rich and smooth, a delicate marriage of flavours where every mouthful proved an absolute delight.
Yes Oldroyd isn't perfect- as mentioned before it is a tiny place, in fact minute to the point where you are likely to elbow your dining companion in the face as you fight over who gets the last spoonful of risotto and with the open kitchen tucked away in a corner of the ground floor room you may break a sweat or two BUT for me this really only adds to the magic of Oldroyd. Here it is all about exceptional and genuine cooking by a man that has put all of his passion and knowledge into his very own place, a step that is more than brave in a London restaurant scene dominated by chains, and if indeed you are able to score a reservation for one of his tables here should make you feel very lucky to experience exactly this, with minor imperfections and all. Would you want to eat this kind of food at double the price in a shiny and sterile space on some fancy Central London street? I certainly wouldn't which makes Oldroyd such a true local gem- cosy, unpretentious, affordable and most importantly bloody damn good to the point where you don't really want to to tell your friends about it knowing how few tables are there. Well done Mr Oldroyd and welcome to my favourite (and now even better) neighbourhood.