[Video] Why the Arts (should) matter – A Christmas wish

[Photo by Joseph Phillips from Pexels]

Hello wanderers!

Christmas is fast approaching and I’ve created a new video for you! As you might have heard, London is back into lockdown and this time it’s a very strict one (Tier 4), but I’m happy I had the chance to wander around the city when things where still not as bad as now, and managed to shoot some footage of the lovely Xmas lights that this city offers. But in my new video you will not only see Xmas lights. You will also see beautiful West End theatres with their doors painfully shut. Let me explain why.

In my previous video, “8 lessons I’ve learned in 2020”, I’ve narrowed down to 8 the hundreds things this tough year taught me, trying to mention those who where pretty much relatable for everyone. But there’s another important lesson, that as an artist myself I could not let slip unmentioned. The treatment that my category received from the UK Government since the pandemic started, and various other statements from politicians, institutions and media made me realise that, as artists and creatives, we still have a big stigma to fight: the stigma of being NON-ESSENTIAL. Of not being considered real workers. Just people that play around, having a lot of fun. Some kind of eternal Peter Pans that never wanted to grow up and find “a real job”. And as someone who spent his adolescence/young years nurturing his passion for the Arts, studying and educating myself, working hard to pay my studies and invest in my projects, this is unacceptable.

How does this stigma translated into political actions? Well, from the start of the Covid emergency here in the UK we saw a huge disparity between the help and the criteria set up for salaried workers and for self-employed workers. Many self-employed, artists and theatre workers have fallen into the cracks of a system that didn’t take into consideration a lot of aspects of an artist’s “work contract”, and they got no support. When things where finally reopening, it was perfectly acceptable to have a shopping mall packed of people, or an airplane full with no distancing, but theatres were imposed such strict requirements that many of them couldn’t find convenient reopening at all. The treatre industry was helped with a lump sum of money only after petitions and campaigns from thousands of workers who had lost their jobs. But it was a help to theatres, not a help to the single workers. Because the Government never lose the occasion to remark how they think that “the artists are not viable”, that we “should retrain and find another job”. We have also been called “low-skilled”. What does it even mean? Who decides that a person who works in retail or enters data on a computer is more “skilled” than someone who can sight-read a musical score, play an instrument, write a script?

All this made me reflect about the value and the importance of the Arts, and probably never as much as now I feel passionate about it. As a starting point for the creation of my video I’ve asked my Instagram followers “How did the Arts help you in life?”, and the replies I got were incredible. “They gave me confidence and purpose”, “they helped me express what I couldn’t handle otherwise”, “they made me find myself and helped me show the best part of me”, just to mention a few.

My education in the Arts allowed me to come out of the shell of a shy and introvert young man, it gave me a tool to express myself with confidence, it comforted me and nourished my soul. My theatrical training taught me to trust people and work in a team, it taught me discipline and curiosity, it fuelled me with a hunger for culture and self-improvement, it instigated me to think outside the box and not be scared of being different.

How can the Arts be considered something “superfluous” in a society? Try for a second to think of how life would be without Arts and creativity. No music, no movies, no theatre, no books, poetry. No photography, visuals, graphic designs.

This video is a letter to Santa Claus, but it’s mainly a heartfelt declaration of love to the Arts and Culture and a sincere wish for a world that recognises the value that they bring to the society.

I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, please like/comment/share/subscribe 🙂 See you soon and have a very Happy Christmas!!!

[Video] Video-diary of my weekend in Brighton!

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Hello Wanderers!

I know, it’s been a long time since my last post, but life got a bit in the way 😀 But I’m finally back with two brand new posts! I’ve spent a lovely weekend in Brighton some time ago and I’ve prepared this little video-diary to show you some highlights of this awesome UK city, perfect in the summer but fantastic all year round. If this video tickles your curiosity then you absolutely should check my list of…

31 things you’ll find in Brighton that will never make you want to leave!

You’ll find pictures, useful links, tips and suggestions about food, places to go and things to see!

But now it’s time to press play and see me loving my life by the seaside 😀 Enjoy!

 

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31 things you’ll find in Brighton that will never make you want to leave!

Hello Wanderers! I had a lovely weekend in Brighton (you can find my little video-diary here) and I have prepared a special list (full of pictures and clickable links!) of 31 things you’ll find in this lovely seaside destination and they’ll never make you want to leave!

Are you ready? Here we go! 🙂

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1. The Brighton Palace Pier! 

Probably the most iconic and awesome landmark in Brighton, the first structure of this pier was originally built in 1823, and it soon developed into a collection of stalls of artists, souvenirs and confectionary sellers, as well as fortune tellers and entertaining attractions. Because of storms and war damages the pier was rebuilt and retouched several times… Now it’s a fantastic place where to stroll, enjoy a meal and a glass of wine, watch movies al fresco, enjoy live music events and much more! Like, for example…

2. …A huge videogame arcade!

Who doesn’t like the 80’s playful, noisy and tacky atmosphere of videogame arcades? …Well, I’m sure it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m a child of the 80’s and I LOVE IT! The Palace Of Fun, right in the middle of the Pier, will delight you with pinballs, slot machines and videogames… just remember to gamble responsibly and don’t burn all your money on it!

3. Attractions for kids and adults! 

Turbo Coaster, Horror Hotel, Cup&Saucers, Dragon Fly… Whether with your family or with a group of friends, the rides and attractions on the pier are definitely something to try, even just for the fun of taking silly pictures and having a laugh. Buy a wristband on the website, it will give you a special discount!

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4. Brighton Rocks, cotton candy and lots of sugary things your dentist will thank you for!

Let’s face it, Brighton Rocks are the kind of sweets that you buy impulsively when you have a sugar crave and regret it straight after. They are the sweets that your friends bring you from Brighton and you forget them in the cupboard for months, then one night you find them, you start eating them and then you realise they passed their expiration date a year before. But anyway, a trip to Brighton can’t do without a little sugar overdose, and along the Palace Pier there’s plenty of choice for sugary treats, just go for it and diet tomorrow.

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5. Seagulls that will steal your food!                               

Everyone loves the idea of strolling along the seaside savouring a crepe with Nutella or whatever, just be aware of the seagulls: these naughty mothercluckers have mastered a real art in stealing food from naive tourists and fly away at the speed of light. But if you know it they sense it and they leave you alone. But it’s a fun thing when it happens to others and you have the fortune to witness the whole action, I’m not gonna lie!

6. Bikes for rent! 

If you’re up for a bike ride along the beach you can either use the BTN BykeShare service (their bikes are a beautiful aqua green colour!) or choose one of the independent bike rental kiosks on the seaside and in the city. Prices are very reasonable and there’s a bike lane all along the beach that will allow you to cycle without killing pedestrians.

7. Iconic white & blue striped beach chairs!

All lined up along the beach, they are just a beautiful sight… Super photographable, not super comfy to relax upon if I have to be honest, but surely one of the most iconic things in Brighton. In some areas they are free (on a first come / first served basis), in others they are for rent by the hour or for the whole day.

8. A merry-go-round on the beach!   

More than one actually! But I’m not gonna tell you how many, just have a stroll, count them and write your answer in the comments below, you can win a Brighton rock to forget in your cupboard for a year.

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9. Awesome oysters and tasty seafood in small cups! 

If you, like me, absolutely love to indulge in fresh daily catches of shellfish, mussels, lobster, oysters etc…, Brighton is your place. At the little kiosks on the beach on the right hand side of the Palace Pier (my favourite one is The Brighton Shellfish And Oyster Bar) you’ll feel spoiled for choice: from little pots of seafood salad, plump prawns, stuffed olives wrapped in anchovies, lobster tails, to soft bread rolls with crab and mayo, to luxurious Jersey and Carlingford oysters… Bring your own ice cold prosecco, buy a few of these gorgeous goods from the ocean and have an awesome aperitivo watching the sunset on the beach. Heaven.

10. A burnt pier!

Another one of the most photographed things in Brighton. As for the Palace Pier, the history of the West Pier is made of fires, storms, attempts to renovation, war damages… The skeleton of this burnt pier is nowadays a striking silhouette against the sky, somehow captivating in all seasons.

11. Independent coffee shops for your caffeine fix!

Coffee and cake anyone? Plenty of choice here, from the most hipster to the minimalistic ones. My favourites are Small Batch on Jubilee St. and Bond Street Coffee, but there are really so many of them with such good quality roasts that it would be a shame to settle for a Starbucks. Trust an Italian 😉

12. The Royal Pavillion and the gardens! 

If you want to lay down on the grass to rest a bit after lunch you can enjoy the gardens of the Royal Pavillion, with their luxuriant nature. It tends to get a bit crowded in the afternoon, but it’s still a lovely green oasis right in the centre of the city. And the museum is a nice place to visit in case of bad weather (or good weather if you are into museums, of course).

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13. Vintage vynil stores!

While Cult Hero looks like the perfect geeky vynil record store (it reminds me of Stuart’s comic books store in The Big Bang Theory!), if you want to rummage through piles and piles of new and second hand vintage vynils I suggest you to head to the North Laines area, for the best rare finds and bargains!

14. The most delicious Fish & Chips!   

If you went to Brighton and you haven’t scoffed a bowl of fish & chips from the chippy outside the Palace Pier sitting on a bench and wiping your grubby hands on your t-shirt you simply haven’t lived, there you go. That said, there are many other good places in Brighton where to taste delicious battered cod in a more posh condition. The Regency is absolutely my go-to place, but if it’s too busy (like it often happens) then Wolfies of Hove is another very popular spot, or The Fisherman’s (another one of my favourites!).

15. A mojito kiosk!

You can find it most of the times on New Road, right near a side entrance to the Royal Pavillion Gardens, and it offers refreshing and boozy version of the renowned cocktail, to tipple up your day. It’s always five o’clock, peeps.

16. Quirky and stylish homeware stores! 

Berts, Dowse and Workshop are only three of the many homeware and lifestyle stores in Brighton where you can spend hours choosing pieces to dress up your living space, from the quirkiest to the more streamlined design.

17. The Lanes! (aka the Maze…)

This popular area takes the name from the maze of narrow streets and alleyways that compose it. It’s one of my favourite areas especially for coffee & cake (stop at Sugardough and The Flour Pot Bakery!) and brunch, but in The Lanes you can also find restaurants, pubs, craft stores and above all…

18. Jewellery shops for your engagement ring!

…yes, The Lanes are literally packed with gold, silver and jewellery stores! So, if you get the sudden urge of proposing to your partner while you’re having your oysters and prosecco on the beach, you know where to go to get a bling bling.

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19. Traditional pubs for when it’s time for a pint!

The Pump House is one of the most famous ones, but there’s plenty of awesome pubs in Brighton if you like ales and awesome hearty food.

20. Cakes, ice cream and cupcakes at colourful Cloud 9!

Cloud 9 is the most colourful and dreamy bakery and ice cream store you can possibly want! A triumph of rainbow cupcakes, unicorn goodies, pastel colours and delicious sugary creations that make this place absolutely irresistible! Take a look at their Instagram to see what I’m talking about 😉

21. A comedy club!

It’s called Komedia and it’s in the North Laine’s area, offering you an impressive programme of stand up comedy, cabaret and music shows. Definitely a place to check if you’re up for an evening of fun!

22. An amazing Fringe Festival!

For ‘stagey’ people like me Brighton Fringe Festival is every year an event to look forward to, being one of the largest fringe festivals in the world (if you’re not familiar with the definition, ‘fringe theatre’ is a kind of performance that experiments in style, format or subject, usually taking place in small-scale theatres or unusual venues). For an entire month the city hosts hundreds of shows in many different locations, and you can often see promos and previews on the street in the afternoon! Check the website for news and programme for the next season!

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23. Veggie and vegan heaven!

In the last few years Brighton embraced brilliantly vegetarianism and veganism, with many restaurants and cafes that focus on organic and plant based recipes. Check this list  to have an idea of what’s on offer 🙂

24. An upside down house!

It’s on the beach! It’s upside down! And it’s my favourite colour, mint/aqua green! For just 5£ you can visit it inside and take all the pictures you want, playing with the inverted perspective. Fun times!

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25. A vibrant LGBTQ nightlife and daylife!

Brighton Pride is considered the biggest Pride parade in the UK, with great headliners every year (Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Paloma Faith, to name a few) and fantastic events. The city of Brighton has become the LGBTQ capital of the UK (you can read a bit of the history here), with pubs, clubs, events and vital services mainly concentrated in the area of Kemp Town.

26. Street art that will blow your mind!

Keep your cameras ready at all times when you walk in Brighton! Murales and street art at every turn, often incorporated in the decor of streets and shops. Stunning!

27. Lots of people riding a bike naked!

Every year since 2006, Brighton has joined World Naked Bike Rides around the world to celebrate cycling and the human body. Born as a protest against car culture, it became year after year a great platform to affirm body positivity. So every year around June the city gets full of naked people cycling. Get your birth suit on and join this awesome event (wear sunscreen though)!

28. Live music, gigs and festivals!

Brighton is a very lively city for concerts and festivals, from small venues to big stages. check What’s On to be always updated!

29. Colourful walls and doors for your Instagram selfies!

Blaker Street is only one of the many streets in Brighton where you can find an array of houses and doors painted with different bright colours (a bit like Bruges, or Notting Hill in London), from the bold to the pastel ones. A joy to watch!

30. Vintage markets and shops for rummagers!

If you like to rummage through thrift stores, vintage markets and junk shops, Brighton is great! Snoopers Paradise is a huge flea market where you can find literally anything. Don’t forget to also check Vine Street Vintage, Brighton Flea Market and The Open Market (click on the links to know opening times).

31. Striped vintage beach huts!

And last but not least, your trip to Brighton can’t be complete without a treasure hunt (believe me, it is!) to find the famous coloured beach huts, perfect element for your Instagram pictures. I will not tell you where they are (no one actually will, tradition wants you to walk your way to find them), but you can check this hashtag for a few tips 😉

I hope you enjoyed this list of awesome things in Brighton! Of course there’s more and more I could have included, and if you have more tips and ideas please feel free to add a comment below! Let’s make this the ultimate list about this fantastic city!

See you soon, people!

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Celebrating Chinese New Year 2018 in London!

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Well, the Dog Days may be over, as Florence & The Machine claim, but the Year of The Dog has instead just started! This weekend, London celebrated Chinese New Year 2018 with a series of colourful and sensational events that took place mainly between Chinatown, Soho and Trafalgar Square, including the famous traditional parade where all the Chinese folklore takes centre stage.

London’s Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration outside Asia, attracting around 700000 people, so it’s quite an unmissable event! Restaurants in the Chinatown area, along with street food stalls, give the visitors the best of Chinese cuisine, and the streets become a precious light tapestry of red lanterns and dragons, a real feast for your eyes.

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The Chinese Year follows the traditional animal zodiac, which cyclically repeats 12 animals (and their attributes): Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. This year we celebrate the Year of The Dog, and the attribute of Fidelity.

So, Happy Year of The Dog everyone!

 

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[Video] London Xmas 2017: a view on this year’s lights and decorations!

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Hi everyone!

Here I am, with too-much-mulled-wine hiccups to show you a little 5 minute video I made just for you Wanderers: I’ve been walking and walking and walking around London, putting together some images of the most lovely Christmas decorations that this city prepared for the year 2017! Street lights, window settings, hanging props, glitter and sparkles… a feast for the eyes and a warm hug for the heart! Because yes, we can be grown ups, cynical and disenchanted as much as we like, but there will always be a part of us that gets excited for the approaching of this time of the year. That’s why I decided to give you a little glimpse of London’s Xmas and I really hope you will like it for what it is, me walking around with my nose up and starry eyes like Macaulay Kulkin in New York in “Home Alone 2”, enjoying the spirit of the festive season along the city streets. Enjoy!

Oxford Street has been covered with 1778 golden and silver baubles, and the lights have been switched on by popstar Rita Ora. The street teamed up once again with NSPCC and Sky Cinema for the campaign “Light up Christmas for Children”, raising money to give a brighter future to children in need. Covent Garden went for the traditional display of giant golden baubles and mistletoe, and Regent Street organised a beautiful promenade of angels and canopies of lights, symbolising the “Spirit of Christmas” (even though my favourite Regent Street Xmas lights remain the ones from 2015, with suspended metal cogs and wheels changing colour, thanks to a continuous animated projection system).

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After all the walking and the videoing it’s time for me to give my personal Awards!

The winner in the category Street Decoration goes undoubtedly to Carnaby Street! Clearly inspired by the Carnival of Rio, these decorations are the most colourful, less serious and most dynamic ones of all.

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The Best Shop Window Setting goes to Debenhams on Oxford Street! Their fairy tale theme is enchanting, luxurious and sparkly pink!

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Best Selfie Spot With Friends goes to the silver and blue bauble on Tottenham Ct. Road! You can pose underneath the gallery inside the bauble and Instagram yourself as much as you like (tip of the day: print the photo on card and send it to your family as Xmas card!).

That’s all from London, for now. Yes, because I’m sure there’ll be more posts about this city’s festive events, and I’ll do my best to keep you updated with detailed reportages!

See you later, Wanderers!

 

 

 

Bonfire Night 2017 in Blackheath

Hi everyone!

Every 5th of November London celebrates Bonfire Night a British tradition that jumps back in time to 1605, when the Catholic conspirator Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament (with his infamous Gunpowder Plot). The plot failed and King James I was safe on his throne. The event is celebrated every year with bonfires and fireworks displays in various parts of London (Battersea, Victoria Park, Southwark…).

Last night I attended the celebrations in Blackheath, where the Lewisham council organizes one of the biggest firework display in London. The event takes place in the large outdoor space around All Saints Church: a fun fair is open from midday and food stalls and bars keep you fed and happy until late in the evening (the beautiful firework display starts at 8 p.m. and lasts about 25 minutes). It’s one of the best free-entry Bonfire events in London, but make sure you donate, even a small fee to the guys that walk around with buckets, to keep this tradition open and free for the years to come.

Here’s some of the pictures I’ve managed to take from last night. It was nice, fun and freezing cold! I’ve basically skipped last winter entirely because I was working on SilverCloud in Africa, so i guess I just need to re-adjust to the British winter weather 😀 I’ve spent the night looking for a food stall that served mulled wine, but my pursuit failed miserably… I’ve ended the lovely night eating an overpriced but, to be fair, over-delicious pot of hot fried churros with sugar, cinnamon and chocolate cream on top.

Now that the Christmas season is approaching I will attend London’s most unmissable events and I’ll make sure I document them fully for you Wanderers 😉

Stay tuned!

 

Wandertalks #1 – Meet Will Wheeler

Hi everyone, and welcome to a brand new appointment of my blog, that I’ve called Wandertalks! Inside Wandertalks I will interview and introduce you to some of the most interesting and cool people I know. Today we chat with Will Wheeler, yoga teacher and brand ambassador in London.

The idea of this interview took shape after a hard class of TRX that Will and I attended in Chelsea a few days ago. We were having a snack, I was incredibly tired after that workout, whereas Will had his usual smiley and relaxed face. Chatting with Will is always a boost of motivation. I tend to be a bit lazy and my head is often all over the place, lost in hundreds projects I try to juggle, but that day after class we talked about the importance of mapping our goals, making a step-by-step plan and keeping focused and productive. I thought it would be great to interview Will for The Artful Wanderer and so… here we go!

Hello Will! There’s quite a lot I’d like to ask you, so why don’t we start with you telling us where you’re from, and when and why you decided to move to London?

“I’m Will, I am 28 years old and I decided to move to London 10 years ago from the West Country. I come from a small town in Wiltshire and couldn’t wait to get to London for the bright lights of the West End, the culture & the buzzing atmosphere.”

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You started your professional career as a performer. When did you first get to know yoga and fitness, and what made you realise you wanted to enter that world and study to become a teacher?

“I joined a friend for a class and a coffee to catch up, it was then I got hooked on hot yoga and undertook my first yoga teacher training with yogahaven London. I cleaned mats, I worked for them as a receptionist, I undertook their teacher training programme and then became one of their full-time instructors. I loved the feeling I got after hot-yoga classes. My body felt open and free, I wanted that feeling as much as possible and thought ‘why not share it with others?’. So, I became a teacher.”

What, in your opinion, can yoga add to our everyday life, and how does it impact us as persons?

“When I’ve done yoga I feel much calmer, grounded and I can think clearly (and have less busy thoughts than usual). I recommend anyone that feeling, whether you live in a busy city or are juggling a full on work pattern or family life. It will give you a sense of calmness. Especially if you slow down completely with a class like Restorative Yoga, these sessions can really rest and restore you.”

What are you current work commitments, do you teach somewhere regularly? Can you briefly tell us about your activity as ambassador for
lululemon as well?

“I used to run around town, teaching classes all over for fitness studios, gyms, yoga centres, away days, you name it! I’ve slowed down recently (and taken some of my own yoga advice) to concentrate more on events. I teach 3 weekly classes in London, I run several events around town and run yoga retreats in the UK / Europe. Recently I’ve been running a yoga+facials+prosecco event for skincare brand, Malin and Goetz .

As you mentioned I am an ambassador the Canadian yoga apparel brand lululemon. It’s brought so much fun to my life, I’ve tried so many fitness styles and concepts way out of my comfort zone, networked with great industry folks and got to wear their fab technical products for sweat and yoga too.”

Your yoga retreats are very successful! And your Instagram feed always gives us a glimpse of the lovely atmosphere that seems to create spontaneously at every event. What’s your concept of a yoga retreat, and what are the key elements you have in mind when you organize one?

“The yoga retreat is all about giving back to you. People spend so much time being busy and being pulled by the stresses of modern life, work, family. These retreats are all about restoring back to the best you through daily yoga classes, delicious wholesome food (prepared by fantastic retreat chefs), downtime for things like treatments, massages, pool time or simply sleeping! I highly recommend them (and I love going on them too!).”

Do you have any yoga retreat planned in the near future? Please tell us about it!

“Yes! My next one is in France set in the beautiful Cognac Country, this one came about really last-minute. The summer retreat in Italy was a massive success I decided to squeeze in a little bit of Autumn sunshine, adding another before the years out. Our guests at Maison de la Vaure can expect plenty of classes in the refurbished yoga barn, delicious meals by Ceri Jones’ Natural Kitchen Adventures, long country walks & some healing time in the outdoors pool or in the sauna!”

Your career gives you the chance to travel a lot. Is there a place you’ve seen lately that impressed you positively, or a trip somewhere that was special? And would you give us any suggestions for unmissable cities and locations to visit?

“Following the Italy retreat about five of us travelled further south in Puglia, a beautiful region. We settled in the town of Lecce. It’s magnificent. Some days we enjoyed a historical walk around town, delicious food, others we headed off and beached hopped day-to-day on some of the amazing beaches which sit on the Ionic and Adriatic coastlines. I highly recommend a visit to this stunning place.”

This is a blog about travel and lifestyle. Would you give us one personal advice, a tip or a recommendation to improve our everyday life, or to help us through these modern times?

“I think we just need to pace ourselves. I’ve always been one to run around, I’m starting to go much steadier, taking as little as 5-10 minutes a day (whenever I can) to slow down and meditate, breathe deep and just enjoy a little bit of ‘being in the moment’.”

[Will Wheeler is a London yoga teacher who runs classes, events and retreats. Find out more.]

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