Blog Challenge: Setting Yourself Up For Success

Day 5 of the challenge looks something like this: Create a daily success plan for yourself that takes only 15-20 minutes and schedule a time in the day where you can squeeze it in. Write a blog post about what you will do, when you will do it, and how it will get you closer to your dreams.

However upon reading several other entries it seems that we are supposed to deploy the pomodoro technique which I am familiar with, and involves working in 25 minute spurts,but this snippet of information passed over my head. So I’m going to try and plan Saturday to be productive – with 3 most important actions which are:

  1. Work on my website (get the pages added, and some content)
  2. Cut out the final layer stencil for my screen print
  3. Get some reading done (2-3 chapters)

I have existing appointments Saturday morning, so I usually get home around 11:15am, where I will crack on with making some brunch and my favourite coffee.

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Mondrian Cake, San Francisco MOMA

12pm work on my website – based on previous experience, I’m going to allocate 3 hours to this activity, so that’s 6 pomodoros (counting the 5 minute breaks inbetween)

3pm go for a walk/run provided its not raining

4:30pm stencil cutting – fun job but one I’ve been postponing for a few weeks

5pm make dinner

7pm reading 2-3 chapters, this one may not seem important to most, but I feel I’ve let my reading slip a lot over the last 6 weeks. Including books that are important to/inform/influence my artistic practice

I guess I’ll add a mini update Saturday night on whether this worked for me or not

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 5

 

Five Fab Coffee Shops in Oxford

When I first had this idea for a blog post, I only had three coffee shops to recommend. Thankfully since then I’ve A. explored a bit more and B. a new coffee shop opened adding to the list. I’m in no way a coffee aficionado, in fact my favourite tipple is a latte – but it’s also one of the coffee types that is more often made incorrectly. How many people are thinking eurgh a latte is just a milky coffee? If you are, you’d be wrong, or perhaps a customer of several high street chains, who just throw in extra milk to make a drink medium or large: a good latte is all about having the right ratio of coffee to milk and so few places seem to get this even close to right.

Like all lists, this is by no means comprehensive or finite. It’s my list of places to go first and foremost for quality of the coffee, service, and atmosphere – and I’d love to hear your suggestions to expand the list!

1. Joe Perks – 76 St Clement’s St, Oxford OX4 1AH

28587369230_772ba17e18_oProbably known more for their cocktails and dogs (although as I finished this post, I got wind that the dogs were gone, in place of a much fancier menu), their attention to detail is on point with everything. After my first coffee here, I was heard sighing “why are they not closer to where I live/work/the centre of Oxford”.

2. The Missing Bean Roastery Cafe – 1 Newtec Place, Magdalen Road, OX4 1RE

The place where beans are roasted for the Missing Bean Cafe on Turl Street, where you can pick up your weekly supply of freshly roasted coffee, try a new blend or pick up a wee treat from A Rosie Life Pop Up Shop. They are also proponents of reusable takeaway coffee cups which gets a big thumbs up from me.

3. Barefoot Cafe – 74a, Walton Street, OX2 6EA

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What not to love? apart from the great coffee, the absolutely beautiful cafe, there’s also the super amazing cake! Their loyalty card (collect 9 stamps to get a freebie) gives you a stamp for each coffee or cake. During the recent heatwave, they served me with a coffee with cold milk, I found it way more refreshing than an iced latte, I may be converted. Oh, did I mention that the cake is great? I recently tried the courgette cake and it lasted 3 sittings – immense! Don’t even get me started on the bread….

4. Brew – 75B Banbury Rd, Oxford OX2 6PE

Ok so technically listed as Banbury Road, the entrance is on North Parade – not to be confused with the further north, South Parade. North Parade is a small shopping street, ull of independant delights and regularly closes to traffic to hold their street market. They have this amazingly fancy copper.. coffee machine? (maybe it just heats the water, I really don’t know), and also a record player so you can pick your own tunes if you’re lucky enough to grab one of the handful of seats.

5. Delicatessen Cafe – 42B Abingdon Rd, OX1 4PE

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I don’t even know what this cafe is actually called – it’s not listed on google or any where else that I can find on the internet and the address I’ve given is for the hairdressers next door. I stumbled upon this place during Artweeks 2015 and it stuck in my mind. There’s also a good selection of weekend papers to browse whilst you’re there.

So these are my top 5 coffee places in Oxford, all a short walk from the city centre, and coincidentally, all independent businesses – what are you recommendations? I appreciate that not everyone wants to walk outside the city centre just for a brew, so another alternative from high street chains could be Oxford’s own mini-chain Taylors. They have two cafes on the high street (one at either end), and two on the opposite corners of Little Clarendon Street/Woodstock Road. My preference is the high street ones, top tip – a large coffee on the high street is the same size/price as a medium at the Clarendon Street outlets.

Places I’ll miss in Manchester – Part 1

If you’ve read my bio, you might be aware that in the process of moving around 250 miles down South to join my husband where’s he taken up a really good job in Oxford. The Day 4 writing challenge was a 3 part series on the theme of loss, I’ve interpreted it slightly differently than intended and I’m going to let you in on a few of my favourite places in Manchester that I’ll miss the most when I move later this year

Part 1 – Takk, 6 Tariff Street, Manchester

So much more than just another coffee shop, this Icelandic inspired coffee house has to be the most chilled and welcoming place I’ve been to. The back wall is lined with old school desks and you might notice, plug sockets for your laptop and other devices as they encourage people to use the space to work or just hangout, with free wifi as well as offering free refills on the drip coffee!

 

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Takk

They also do some damn tasty food – freshly made sandwiches and home-made soup (I’m not a soup person, but I took my mum to Takk for lunch and she had the most amazing bowl of soup there, i struggled to keep my hands of it, seriously) and also a good changing selection of cakes and brownies, not to mention of course the coffee – they are seriously serious about the coffee and offer many special blends designed to be drunk black and they’ll be happy to help you in your choice.

But back to the atmosphere – this is what holds this place as special for me, it’s somewhere I can go to in town, sit down with my book or writing pad and just lose myself and not feel like I’m taking up space, if they’d bring back the cinnamon buns I’d be ecstatic

 

The walls of Takk also play host to a bit of art here and there, from the hand drawn map of Iceland featuring famous names and places, to an exhibition of Icelandic photography there’s also a poster pillar to keep you in the know of the most happening events in town.

 

Icelandic Map

Did I mention they’re also pet friendly? this makes them pretty awesome in my book, I’ll be seriously sad not to have Takk practically on my doorstep in future

Christmas Coffees

It seems that Christmas Coffees are bigger business than ever, with every high street coffee chain getting in on the act. So being a lover of coffee and a lover of Christmas, and of Christmassy flavoured things, I’ve decided to sample a few of the seasonal drinks on offer all in the name of research.

Costa Coffee: Not usually a Costa visitor, but fancying a change I ventured in and was instantly attracted to the Praline & Cream coffee. I ordered a small one, but regretted it as it was so delicious it was finished all too soon, although I found that like a lot of hot drinks that come with a lot of cream on top, that the cream cools the drink too much and it went lukewarm all too quickly. The flavour was spot on and as you’d expect praline coffee to taste 7/10.

Caffé Nero: Usually my coffee house of choice due to their unbeatable Frappé Latte (no other iced coffee comes close). Here I chose an Amaretto Latte, again small – although this was more than enough as I am quite a fan of Amaretto. The coffee was overly sweet and surprisingly (or not) tasted like amaretto flavouring rather than having a shot of actual amaretto in it (although again, why was I surprised), it was also served with amaretto biscotti which was the sweetness overload that I wasn’t really after, 6/10.

Eggnog Latte from Starbucks

Starbucks: was my final stop, although I hasten to add that these visits were all on separate (but equally cold) days in December. Starbucks is arguably the leader of the coffee chain Christmas drinks market and here I opted for their Eggnog Latte. Not really knowing what to expect as I’m not sure I’ve ever had traditional eggnog, but I expected it to taste something like advocaat and apart from the obvious lack of alcohol it didn’t disappoint. Again I chose a small drink which comes in quite a large mug but without being over facing, the latte was not overly sweet and something I’d definitely try again, 8/10.

That means Starbucks is the winner, despite it being my least favourite coffee shop. They do a mean sausage butty as well (if sausage on a panini can be considered a butty). However it’s not going to stop me going back to Costa & Caffe Nero to sample their other delicious sounding seasonal treats either!