Tottenham treasures and Escaping the City

Before I gave up my job, I couldn’t begin to imagine what I would do all day if  I didn’t work.

I thought I’d feel guilty, bored, restless. But having time off is JUST BRILLIANT.

I am so lucky that I have by hook or by crook managed to create this space in my life . So, I’ve been busy:

1/ Painting walls in my flat white. It makes SO much difference. I’ve covered up my rather amateur Orla Keily rip off stencil outside the kitchen and it actually looks better white. And just when I got so hungry I could hardly get down from the step ladder, I found some TRANSFORM -A-SNACK spicy crisps on top of my cupboards. I am hoping they are not Cathy’s (who is living in my flat) as she may have stored them up high to prevent temptation. They pretty much saved my life.

2/ Carla and I met in Cafe Oto in Dalston. I always used to cycle past on the way to work and thought ‘one day, I will just hang out there’. It looks really cool from the outside but is a bit soulless with uncomfy chairs inside. BUT we made a new plan to get cheap flights to Mexico and to travel and work/volunteer down through Central America.  And to go on 6 February. A plan that we both feel excited about and that feels right. I am keen to check out The Hub in Oaxaca and meet social entrepreneurs who are based there.

3/ I went to the first Escape the City meet up at the private members bar Adam Street Club and met  a few interesting people  who are doing unconventional things with their lives – Tom from Tomax talks, Umaang – an investment Manager whose Foundation may be able to help projects in Central America and Mark from A Life at Work who is running career retreats for those unsure what to do next.

4/ I have had such fun hanging out on my friend Richard’s Brompton bike. It took a trip with Richard’s partner Guy and their newly adopted son to the very sweet Downhill’s Park Cafe. Downhills Park Café is a social enterprise that supports adults with a learning disability into employment. There aren’t that many nice wee places to go in the Tottenham area, so this is a welcome newcomer. Also, we discovered massive changes at Lordship Rec – a massive grassy park next to Broadwater Farm! Granted money from the Lottery, it is getting an environmental centre, biking loop and city farm! I would like to get involved when I come back.

5/ I have found the Wood Green gem Big Green Bookshop, voted no. 2 bookshop in London and the South East by the Independent! 

Tim West and Simon Key opened the Big Green Bookshop in March 2008, after the big chain store where they worked in Wood Green closed, leaving the area with no dedicated bookshop. They are now hosting little farmers markets, promoting local products, singing workshops for kids and generally being very helpful and nice. They showed me a book about the regeneration of Haringey which would make a very useful read.

Highland Train station enterprise

Waiting for my train for London at Pitlochry train station, I popped into the Pitlochry Station Bookshop.

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Run entirely by local volunteers, the bookshop sold 50,000 books last year, raising £10,000 for charity. It is a brilliant example of social entrepreneurship and creative response to an opportunity (Scotrail donate the premises to the enterprise as part of their ‘adopt a station’ scheme.)

The books are high quality and cheap (many best sellers just 50p).
I bought three for my journey south to help ease me into 2012- a trashy read (Twilight) a health read (Maximum immunity) and a business read (Mavericks at work). But first, a little look out the window at the yellow light and fir trees and eating my packed lunch before midday…

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