I met Jacintha, a lovely and talented Dutch photographer and blogger at The Cookery School’s blogger social back in May. That’s when I discovered her blog, Urban Pixxels, which quickly became one of my favourites to return to again and again. Her photography just blows me away. I find it so clean and refreshing the way she captures the world around her, including London where we both now live. Plus, thanks to her, my list of restaurants and coffeeshops to try in London has reached new heights. Below, Jacintha tells us a bit about her background as a serial expat, what we’d find if we took a peek into her photography bag and a bit about cycling in London versus Holland.
LO: Tell us a bit about yourself: Where are you from originally, how long have you been living in London and what brought you here? Where else have you called home?
JV: I’m originally from the Netherlands. It’s a great country to live in, but I’ve always wanted to experience living in other countries as well. The first time I moved abroad was in the year 2000, when I left my parents’ house to study and live in Paris. A big change, but when I moved back after one year I couldn’t wait to pack my bags again and do the same in a different country. That happened in 2003 when I got the chance to do my internship in New York. I loved that city! But I had to go home to finish my masters and then I found a job in The Hague (Den Haag). Last year, early 2013, I felt it was time for a change and that I needed another international adventure. I wasn’t necessary looking to move to London, but I found a job that allowed me to move here and so I did. I’ve been living here since March 2013.
LO: When you’re not blogging and taking photos, what are your main interests? What do you do for work?
JV: Blogging and photography does take up a lot of my free time and I love doing it. I think that most of the time my blog posts and photos reflect my main interests, such as traveling, exploring London, the beautiful museums and most of all, the food scene. I love the London food markets and all the independent coffee shops.
LO: Tell us about Urban Pixxels. Where did the name come from? How long ago did you start blogging? Why is it important to you?
JV: I started Urban Pixxels in April 2013, a month after I moved to London. There were a few blogs that I was following at the time and I was thinking about starting one myself. The only problem was that I had no idea what to blog about. Luckily, in a city as big and interesting as London there’s always something happening, so I decided to start a blog about my new London life. These days it’s more a travel and lifestyle blog, where I’m still sharing all of my London tips.
LO: Your blog is full of stunning photography. Are you formally trained as a photographer or self taught? What’s in your camera bag?
JV: Thanks! It’s a bit of both I guess. I started being more serious about photography in 2007 when I bought my DSLR camera and have taken several photography classes over the years. You learn a lot from looking at other people’s work and getting feedback on your photos. But in the end you just need to learn by doing.
LO: What first comes to mind when you think of London and hear the following:
JV: Sight: street art and black cabs
Sound: music played by tube buskers
Smell: fresh coffee
Taste: scones with jam and clotted cream
Texture: grass in the park
LO: What first comes to mind when you think of The Hague and hear the following:
JV: Sight: bicycles – everywhere
Sound: seagulls and people ringing their bicycle bell
Smell: the sea
Taste: ‘bitterballen’ (small round meat croquettes) with mustard or raw herring with (raw) onions.
Texture: sand on the beach
LO: Coming from Holland where everyone cycles, have you braved a bike in London? How is it different from cycling back home and how would you convert London into a more bike-friendly city?
JV: I have, but it’s completely different compared to cycling in Holland. It’s far from easy or safe. I brought my bike with me when I moved here and even though I feel quite confident cycling, I’m constantly aware of how dangerous it often is. The way cyclists and cars are sharing the same road here, that’s something you will never see in Holland. It’s so easy to make it more bike-friendly: invest in separate cycle lanes. Not the ones you see today where you’re still sharing the same lane with the busses or where cars use it as parking space. It would be fun if it wasn’t so dangerous. I even dedicated a blog post to my experience with cycling in London.
LO: As an expat, what do you miss most from home besides friends and family? If you left London, what would you miss most about this city?
JV: I miss how easy and safe it is to cycle everywhere, as I mentioned before.. And I miss living close to the sea. If I would leave London, then I’m probably going to miss the amazing food scene. This city really is one of the food capitals of the world. And having museums that are free to visit.
LO: You often write about and photograph food for Urban Pixxels. Share your three favourite London restaurant or coffeeshop recommendations with us.
JV: It’s so hard to choose! Also, my favorites are constantly changing. But today my three recommendations would be:
– Brunch at Duck & Waffle
– Dinner at St John
– Coffee at TAP Coffee
LO: What’s your favourite London discovery? What’s special about it?
JV: Again, there are many, but I would say Maltby Street Market. It’s a lot smaller than many of the other food markets in the city, but I always come back to this one. It feels more local, less touristy and everything they sell always looks amazing.