2015 was not meant to be a remarkable year, not for me anyway. When I sat down to write my 2014 highlights I was a little dubious as to what the next 12 months could possibly bring after I so boldly claimed in my post that I experienced one of the best years I’ve ever had. That still stands true but I didn’t realize that in about 4 weeks’ time life was going to get a little more interesting, 10 shades more intense and leave me with a bit of whiplash.
I was made a suggested user on Instagram at the beginning of the year. With that doors opened and various opportunities arose further escalated from being included in other lists & notable publications such as Delicious Magazine, London Evening Standard and Time Out London.
It’s been a whirlwind, in good ways and bad; I have felt equal parts in awe (at the sheer amount of people who follow me) grateful (for the all opportunities that have come my way and the people I have met), overwhelmed and harried (with how much time I spend on this app and other social platforms, the quick paced nature of this bubble I’m living in and at times feeling like I’m never going to be able to catch up). But while newfound instafame was a huge part of my year what I value the most is something entirely different.
Where 2014 was a year about new beginnings, the spirit of 2015 was about finding my tribe. To quote a passage from The Element: How Passion Changes Everything (a book I highly recommend, not only to creatives but to anyone who has ever felt like a bit of an outcast):
“What connects a tribe is a common commitment to the thing they feel born to do. This can be extraordinarily liberating, especially if you’ve been pursuing your passion alone… Finding your tribe brings the luxury of talking shop, of bouncing ideas around, of sharing and comparing techniques, and of indulging your enthusiasms, or hostilities for the same things.”
I know surrounding yourself with like minded people isn’t anything new but for an expat who leans on the shy side and lives in a city as transient as London, it’s not really as easy as one might expect. For example, of the four friends I made during my first year in London, outside of the office and not counting the Brit’s friends who have become my own, three have already moved away.
My tribe consists of a melting pot of people who hail from different countries (mostly expats) with a passion for food, travel and/or photography. I was lucky enough to collaborate with many of them – whose work I admire and respect – in these personal projects over the year:
- a Chinese New Year photoshoot with Krissi O’Shea
- food photography & styling workshop with Sarka Babicka and Olia Hercules
- mobile phone photography workshop with Ceri Jones
- diner photoshoot with Kathy Kordalis
- and last but not least photographing Sumayya Usmani’s first cookbook, Summers under the Tamarind Tree (this was work but in so many levels it feels very much a personal project that is so close to my heart).
Another part of my tribe comes in the form of great travel mates: Jacintha, Giulia and Jess. This has been the year of what seems like nonstop travel for me. I’ll admit I’m grateful for a bit of a break over the next few weeks but the adventures I had and quality of the company I kept is far beyond what I expected for the year.
By now you might be wondering how all these photos tie in with this post or you just might be getting really thirsty. Sarka (my tribe-mate) and I thought it would be fun to end the year with a cocktails photoshoot. Despite being extremely short on time to prepare we had a lot of fun going with the flow taking turns mixing drinks, styling with West Elm barware and photographing these scenes and snapchatting along the way. I’ve included my recipe for an elderflower gin & tonic below and you can find the beer bloody mary on Sarka’s blog.
Gin & Elderflower tonic
120 mL gin
50 mL elderflower extract
360 mL tonic
fresh lime juice
sliced figs (optional)
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice add the gin, elderflower extract and a spritz of lime juice. Give it a good old shake and pour with a strainer into two glasses filled with ice. Add cucumber and fig slices as desired.
I haven’t really had a chance to think about what my goals are for the coming year but for now I’m just going to wrap myself in the comfort of all the good tidings that came my way. Cheers to a happy & healthy 2016!
Note: Special thanks to West Elm for providing their beautiful barware & bar cart for our photoshoot.