"Raise your Profile" by Jessica Huie - Business Workshop at the British LibraryRead More
Adventure Journal: flowers, nature, food and travels!
I think I mentioned it few times in the past but I didn't really have the chance to set up that many last year. So there you go, a new pop-up adventure is coming soon!
It is not the most immediate task to set up something temporary. Because you appear an disappear relatively quickly, you must have a very well organised plan on how to act effectively and at the right time. Sometimes you can go through services like AppearHere, Storefront etc however I have found more exciting to address my little project directly to the thousand lovely cafes and pubs in London.
You'll be surprised to see how many cool people out there who welcome your idea to sell some fresh and seasonal bouquets outside their doors. Everyone knows it: flowers are beautiful, they can make you smile and turn a lovely place into something wonderful...so why not?
The advantage of teaming up with pre-existing premises is that you can benefit from their established presence and relationship with the community itself. So they help you to make contacts and showcase your products while you help them by offering a new different service to their clients. Isn't that great?! Besides I love being out there, meet new people, learn about what they like and they don't, listen to their stories: it's just exciting!
I have to say I really love to see businesses helping each other and give their contribution, it is so meaningful and heart-warming in a world full of competition! Ah, I just remembered a brilliant quote I saw on one of those TFL boards on 12th Jan 2013 (!!) at Archway Tube Station. It was a bit of a tricky moment so I took a picture of it. Anyway It said "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great", Mark Twain.
So there you go! I have started my little project and had a small taste of how it could be (amazing obviously) last weekend. I still a couple of things to organise but it's so exciting to have your hands on new opportunities. There will be more to come and to be disclosed but for the moment I keep it for myself until it's time to actually shout it out!
You would not even imagine how long I have waited for this journey!
It was at the top of my "to do list" when I literally fell in love with a wonderful Charity based in Kenya. I can't remember the very first moment I found out about The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) but I do remember that my love for animals and elephants drove me first to volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park (ENP) in Chiang Mai back in 2013. I had such an inspiring experience with Lek Chailert and her elephants rescued from a life of tortures and sufferings that I started to long for more meaningful/quality time. I would definitely recommend ENP if you are looking for a mind-blowing adventure, its commitment with animals (not only elephants) and the local communities is outstanding.
In this regard I cannot stress enough how important it is to choose a sustainable and responsible tourism. Do always read a lot before thinking to ride an elephant, pet a tiger or to go to a show where animals are involved. Most of the times they have gone through horrible trainings and tortures that - I am sure - you wouldn't love seeing or being part of it.
Back to David Sheldrick and more precisely to Christmas. At that time I received one, actually two of the most beautiful presents ever. I was gifted with a certificate of adoption for Lissa and Dupotto. I became then the proud mum of two orphaned elephants victims of poachers. The number raised to three when Tamiyoi arrived to Nairobi Orphanage. At that point I had to go to Kenya and experience the most wonderful journey ever!
I am not sure I will be able to fully describe how I felt when we landed in Nairobi. I couldn't sleep on the plane, I was too excited imagining myself in that huge and old continent where there is so much to experience that you may get lost. Straight away the people, their dignity, the big smiles even when they lack the most basic needs is overwhelming. I won't be able to write about the whole big journey as it was really a lot to live. Lots of miles, mixed feelings, lots of people, lots of animals....a lot of everything!
The David Sheldrick's Nursery was such a sweet, brave and beautiful environment. I could feel the commitment of those great good men becoming the orphans' family: feeding the elephants, playing, even sleeping with them. A life of love and dedication that I felt throughout this beautiful experience with David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. There I could meet my youngest orphan Tamiyoi, so tiny and sleepy in her petite red blanket to protect her during the night time. Her skin - like all babies - was soft and warm in particular behind her cute, big ears. She was very shy yet quite inquisitive with her little trunk. Did you know that if you blow into a trunk of an elephant, (s)he will remember you for very long time? How wonderful is that?! Obviously I did not want to leave, I could have easily slept there with all those gentle tiny giants.
We left the Nursery for Ithumba Stockade and after that Voi both of them based in the huge and fabulous Tsavo East National Park. These two places were so magical and inspiring in particular the first one . We drove for 6 long peaceful hours to reach Ithumba in the middle of the savannah where termite cathedrals stand on vivid red-ochre ground in contrast with a beautiful bright blue sky. My mind started to roam and a piece of my heart rooted into the ground. Ithumba and Voi stockades continue and support the long process of rehabilitation, interaction and re-introduction of young, strong elephants back into the wildlife. Again it's so inspiring to see the keepers' commitment. We had the pleasure to meet Benjamin, a really gentle and kind man, who has worked at DSWT for 18 years. He looked after us from dawn to dusk, answering all our questions, introducing all the elephants, explaining the process of feeding them and laugh with us during their mud baths. What a great time we had together! The amazing thing about DSWT is that they don't only help elephants but rhinos, zebras, hippos, elands, ostriches, giraffes and many more too. It's such a great Charity and Daphne Sheldrick - DSWT Founder - is a beautiful and inspiring Woman as well as a great conservationist who is really making the difference nowadays.
After Voi, Amboseli and Masai Mara National Reserve were so mind-blowing, it made it tough and challenging to leave Kenya. I have never seen so many wild and different animals co-existing in a same environment where life is balanced in a tacit and mutual agreement. I was simply amazed. From the colours to the lights, from those pinkish delicate sunrises to the explosions of yellow, orange, red shades at sunset. Everything had a language of its own and you simply couldn't stop listening to that beauty. I filled my eyes with wonders I will never forget.
...and I will never forget, after an endless journey through Rwanda and Uganda, my very first encounter with the Mountain Gorilla. It was literally love at first sight. I couldn't believe how elegant and gentle they were, socially organised in big families and unfortunately still threatened by deforestation nowadays and poaching or diseases in the past. I have to admit, I am not that proud of humankind sometimes. We could do so much to make the difference it's just a matter of wanting it.
Speaking about making the difference, we could not miss the opportunity to visit a school in Mara. I wanted to see how education was structured in a Continent so different from Europe in terms of resources. I have to say that they do try their best but are in need of funds and help from people. However what they do not lack of is a smile, a wonderful and strong attitude towards life which should teach us a very important lesson. Do we really need so much to be happy?
I left so many pieces of heart in Africa that it wasn't easy to come back to an ordinary life. Such an overwhelming experience whose beautiful memories will stay with me forever. For this, I will always be grateful to the wonderful man who made this possible and real. Thank you.
P.S. ...more pictures to come!
"With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?" O. Wilde
...how true! In fact driving on your own for 2 hours through the English countryside, Somerset this time, to get to a little corner of Paradise where flowers will be the main purpose of your stay, who would not be happy? Add the sun and a good book, the result is perfection! That was exactly my retreat at Holbrook House in Wincanton with Sabine Darrall, an amazing florist with a style of her own. I cannot stress out how important it is to be open-minded and inspired by different designs and technics. In this case it's a more natural and gardening style where flowers have however their own precise position in the arrangement yet with a very intuitive and spontaneous look.
3 Weddings in 3 Days "gives a unique insight unique into the creative process of designing, installing and styling a wedding". The amazing thing about Sabine's course is that you have the possibility to go and work through different styles and to offer your clients the right result to a specific design. From deluxe weddings to elegant and classic or rustic ones, choosing the best option might be quite difficult as they are all beautiful and breathtaking! Sabine is a great teacher and really very nice, she will help you and answer any of your question from A to Z, thanks to her huge experience with flowers and weddings.
Now one thing that did make the difference between this course and any other that I have attended so far is that you have available a model and a photographer! Like this you can have great and professional photo shoots of your works that you can use in your portfolio...which is - I shouldn't need to say - AMAZING.
What great experience I had!
Have you ever seen that dreamy flower shop on Pimlico road, few minutes from Sloane Square tube station? Yes the one with amazing scented flowers on display that create a super colourful scenography around Belgravia every single day? The shop you have to stop and take a picture of as you can't resist its beauty?
I'm sure you know what I am talking about, well I had the fantastic opportunity to spend some time there with Wild at Heart and their lovely Team. I will post here some pictures as you won't believe how beautiful the place is and the variety of seasonal flowers it has everyday. I was myself amazed, especially on a Tuesday morning after the Dutch flowers delivery. If you have never seen it before, I really suggest you to pop in that day, trust me, the "wow-effect" is guaranteed!
What you may not know about Wild at Heart - and it's the very first reason why I decided to make contact with them - is that this fabulous company has also a Foundation that helps (and it really does) animals all over the world, in particular dogs. They fund and support rescue projects, neutering and rehoming programs as well as awareness campaigns to reduce the stray dog population. Take a look at their website as they are making the difference!
Ok it's true, sometimes I moan about the weather, I complain about the summer (actually the summer-mode: off!) or about the food (not too much about this though!) but you know, I am originally from a Country where the most unexpected situation is to have 20 degree in July or a little bit of rain. I genuinely can't say anything about the food or the quality of it as it's one of the best places in the world where to eat so, yes standards are quite high. Maybe the only downside could be having to pay 10 euro for a coffee in Venice if you are not smart enough to avoid St. Mark's Square but.. come on these are details!
Well that said, I have to admit that when we speak about the English Countryside (and I know, the rain does make the difference here!) I am at awe as there is nothing more beautiful than going to the Cotswolds for a spring break. Here the traditional stone buildings, the hobbit-like villages with gentle streams and wild flowers are a quintessential English beauty. Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower Slaughter and the Old Mill are just a few names in the long list of wonderful villages. This time I also managed to take my beautiful ginger cat, Paddy, with us. Together we went for some lovely walks, enjoyed the sun (oh yes!) and the fantastic scenery.
This past Christmas has been so exciting in terms of work, new adventures and fun! I cannot hide it was tiring, endless sometimes, sleepless and cold (!) but it was totally worth it. I also had the chance to help McQueens with weddings and corporate Christmas decorations throughout London and let me tell you: it was amazing! Here are some pictures of what happened including a well-deserved time spent with my family around Christmas here and in Italy.
That said, a very Merry Xmas and a fabulous New Year guys!! Make the most of 2017, wherever you are x