I just want to briefly mention some recent visits. One is the new BoxPark in Croydon. The restaurant/pop-up mall concept has found its way to the South West London suburb from trendy Shoreditch. And very popular it seems to be too: this picture was taken on a weekday night.
I’ve already mentioned my trip to the Sky Garden in my previous post on London work hubs for digital nomads. I’d like to go again if I get the chance, but to catch the night view and listen to the live music. Their New Year’s Eve Great Gatsby party sounds promising, though I’m not sure yet whether I’ll go. Can you imagine watching the fireworks from there?
Google’s Campus London isn’t just for techies, although tech geeks will love this place. One such young friend told me that he hadn’t tried many networking circles but “this looks amazing.” It’s a busy co-working hub with free work desks – get in early to bag one. The campus also serves up events and courses (I noticed that Streatham MP Chuka Umunna was giving a talk). Just sign up through their website to join.
I must mention The Brew (photos above) because it’s a good co-working space in an accessible location, right opposite Moorfields Hospital and next door to the M by Montcalm Tech City Hotel, in Old Street. The Brew has a friendly bunch of people with seemingly good opportunities to network, as well as both public and private spaces to work, rooms to hold a business meeting or take a private call. It certainly has that trendy Shoreditch vibe about it, as the quirky artwork attest. As a bonus, it’s right next door to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant. The ground floor café Papilles also offers up a good working area and turns into a bar during the evenings.
The Collective is both a co-living and co-working space and I’m mentioning it because I’ve had the opportunity to stay in one of their rooms (at The Old Oak) for a night and get a feel for the accommodation and workspace, and I haven’t yet had a chance to write about it. The single room I stayed in was small, but the living space, décor and vibe of the rest of the building is roomy and vibrant. There is a cosy laundrette, large modern kitchens, break out areas, dedicated work areas plus a lounge on the ground floor. If you are in London for a year or longer, it’s worth considering living here.
The formal business type name of the Office Group, or TOG (pics below) as it’s known, belies the bustle of creativity and ideas going on here. I visited the sleek, cool Shard hub of The Office Group. I haven’t visited the other locations (yet), but I’ve been told that all have been built to the same high contemporary standard.
If the new TOG magazine is anything to go by, this isn’t just a great place to work, but it also promises excellent networking opportunities. I was pleased to see the cultural mix of people there, including a welcome number of younger (age 20+) members. I would encourage any freelancer in London to look into their Lounge Membership. This allows 32 hours a month access to their co-working spaces at ANY of their offices – all for just £50 (excluding VAT). And no, I’m not being paid to say this.
That’s it for now. There are such a plethora of high-quality work spots. We are spoilt for choice.
I stumbled upon The Larder (photo above) on a lucky rainy morning. En-route elsewhere, and scurrying away from a sudden downpour, this café caught my eye and I gratefully bagged a cosy corner seat.
What a find. Contemporary and airy, there’s a selection of decent wines and super fresh foods in this café/winebar/store. I decided to start the week on a healthy note, and enjoyed a lunch of sweet potato salad accompanied by a fruity deep red Merlot (in the interests of this review of course). The overhead music isn’t overpowering, the seats are comfortable, I had my corner and plug points for my laptop and gadgets, surrounded by stylish magazines to peruse. What more could a writer ask for on a slow, rainy Monday morning?
The Larder – 8 Pearson Square (near Oxford Circus tube)
There’s something about TimberYard in Soho that ticks nearly all the right co-working boxes for me. The biggest draw, however, is the ambience: people have their heads down, are diligently working. But there’s also such a cool, friendly vibe from the guy serving the coffee and cakes, to the visitors popping in for a meeting with colleagues, clients or contacts.
There are work desks to the side or lush sofas towards the back. There’s a meeting room downstairs. Because it’s a café specifically catering for freelancers, digital nomads and other business type people, there isn’t that feeling that you’ll be rushed out once you’ve downed your coffee. At the same, the delicious coffee aroma may well tempt you. Also, I like the selection of teas (mine was a tangerine ginger). After working here, wander around the buzzy Soho streets, peer through shop windows and people watch on an autumn or winter’s evening.
Tucked away behind Tower Bridge tube (although there are other locations too), this is a trendy arty boutique hotel. A comfortable space to drink and work right in the heart of the City and near the River Thames.
It’s also within walking distance of the towering Sky Garden. If you are looking for a touristy break from work, enjoy London views from here – you’ll have to book your (free) slot and possibly still queue to get in, so don’t try this if you are in a hurry. But across the road from The Sky Garden is another good work spot with beautiful coffee, and that’s The New Black. Their Counter Culture coffee is all dark chocolate, almond and caramel.
There’s much to see and do here within and around Zadar, and there’s a plethora of information that can be found in excellent guidebooks or online. I discovered some of my own highlights at the Old Town. It’s within a convenient walking distance from where I’m staying, so I cross the bridge and take in the delightful harbour view, then arrive at the other side where coffee bars, restaurants and modern shops sit alongside ruins, monuments, cathedrals and monasteries dating from the 12th century or even earlier.
It’s a bit like walking into a portion of the British Museum with some of its contents strewn outside for all to see. It’s a mashup but appealing. The original remains of St Lawrence church epitomises this dichotomy of old and new for me: an 11th-century construction, it sits open within and behind a modern café called Sveti Lovre (next to the city hall in Narodni trg).
Vesna Gregov was my marvellously knowledgeable tour guide for the day. She’s been doing the job since 2007 and speaks English, Italian, Spanish, Russian and her native Croatian. “I’ve always been interested in art, history and foreign languages” she says, adding that her passion for other cultures and art led to her career change from law.
I also got to visit a vineyard. Just outside Zadar lies picturesque Petrcane. As the next four photos attest, I spent a very delightful couple of hours surrounded by golden sunshine, verdant green valleys, clear marine blue waters and nice wine.
You are bound to visit the Sea Organ and Sun Salutation installations in Zadar. How to describe them? In the former, sea movements pushes air through pipes and whistles creating a kind of wailing sound. The Sun Salutation pavement’ is filled with 300 multi-layered glass plates that collect the sun’s energy during the day’ (Lonely Planet) creating a disco light show.
Being a Brit with a penchant for ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ (okay, I admit it) led me to Plesni klub Samba (Dance club Samba) one evening. There I met with Zlatka Badel, another business woman who has transitioned from law to a more creative profession, this time ballroom and latin dancing. Zlatka trained in London before moving back to Croatia, where she eventually set up her dance school in Zadar. She has been nominated for a city award in recognition of 30 years of service.