veerle evens

Domino Magazine Spring 2019

“Your home has to be your sanctuary” Jo Sampson tells Domino Magazine. Her beautiful home in Dulwich Village is definitely a true escape from busy London! See and read it for yourself below.

Photography by Veerle Evens
Produced by Kate Berry
Words by Jennifer Fernandez

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Slowly Slowly - How to experience Cyprus like a local

Located in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, this stunning island is perfectly situated between Europe, Africa and Asia, turning it into a popular holiday destination for many different cultures.

Here’s my guide to making the most of this diverse gem.

Beautiful light during the golden hour in the Troodos Mountains

Beautiful light during the golden hour in the Troodos Mountains

1: Hire a car

This seems like an obvious first tip, but Cyprus doesn’t really do public transport. So if you’re keen to venture out past the resort beaches, hotel bars and chain restaurants, you need to take matters into your own hands and get driving. UK drivers will feel at home, as Cypriots drive on the left and road signs are in English.

2: Hidden Beaches

Being an island, Cyprus is bejewelled in beaches to suit any traveller. Most are easy to find and reachable by car, but if you’re up for a bit of adventure, hire yourself a 4WD and hit the dirt tracks. It’ll serve you well, as many of Cyprus’ hidden shores are only to be reached by this kind of sturdy vehicle.

If you’re looking to escape the busy beaches of Paphos, then head North East, and to Lara Beach’ Turtle Sanctuary. It’s a 5km trek on an untamed road, which will lead you to a quiet beach dotted with locals and lush waters. But the extra special touch, is that you’re surrounded by protected turtle nests. Bringing umbrellas is forbidden as they might disturb the nests, but you’ll want to forgo the shade for this rare experience.

Discover hidden gems like Lara Beach by going off road

Discover hidden gems like Lara Beach by going off road

3: Explore the café culture

After strolling through the streets on a hot day, you’ll be craving a sit down and a pick me up. Well make sure you take in Cyprus’ incredible café culture. Wander off into the backstreets and find seasoned coffee sippers, watching the world pass by. Make sure you try a frappe, a frothy ice coffee that the Cypriots have mastered to creamy caffeinated perfection! Hang around long enough, and some cafes turn into bars and music venues, where you can spend the rest of the evening drinking cheerfully with the locals.

Pieto Cafe in Nicosia

Pieto Cafe in Nicosia

4: Troodos Mountains

With spectacular beaches lining the islands coasts, it’s easy to see why we Brits flock to Cyprus for holidays all year round. Venture inland however, and meander into the Troodos Mountains, and discover the place where the islanders go to escape the searing summer heat. The mountains are home to Mount Olympus, the highest peak at 1952 meters, picturesque villages filled with talented craftsmen and excellent wineries. 

5: Siesta

Don’t we all dream of that Mediterranean way of life? Rising early (or a bit later, you are on holiday after all), get a few things done before temperatures rise … and just give into that sleepy feeling after lunch. Have a nap, read a book and relax, so you’re all rested when life on the island picks up again around 5 PM. You’ll need it for dinner, as in line with Mediterranean culture, dinner starts late, meaning 8PM onwards. 

Left: shop closed during siesta time. Right: locals emerge after a good afternoon rest

Left: shop closed during siesta time. Right: locals emerge after a good afternoon rest

6: Submerge yourself in mezze

‘No menu. We do mezze. Lamb from grill or lamb from oven?’ Those were the first words from the waiter at Taverna Agios Epiktitos, and made me instantly fall in love with Cypriot taverna dining. I love food, and I often have trouble choosing from a menu, as I want to try everything. That’s why mezze works so well: you sit down, order a drink (a nice cold Keo beer in my case) and let the feasting begin. Meze is a perfect plethora of small vibrant dishes often starting with lighter vegetable bites until you get into the meatier platters. Be prepared for over 15 dishes to stack up, with the table becoming a food jenga board. Finish off with some fresh fruits, and if you’re lucky some Loukoumades (Cypriot doughnuts soaked in sugary syrup and orange blossom) before rolling home. The dishes vary from tavern to tavern, and can change with the season or according to what’s for sale at the local market. Indulge in local delicacies, but pace yourself and don’t fill up on the breads and dips, as you won’t have space for the main courses later!

The owner of our guesthouse kept saying ‘Slowly Slowly’. It’s no good rushing about in the heat. Everything in Cyprus happens when the time is right. Embrace the slow pace of life, eat well (and slow!), and you’ll come back rejuvenated and in love with this beautiful island. 

New work for John Lewis

We had a beautiful taste of the British Summer in May, with temperatures reaching up to 30 degrees. Something I could really get used to! That is also when I had the pleasure of photographing beautiful Gardening Society Rooftop for John Lewis. If only every summer evening could look like this!

John Lewis Gardening Society Rooftop

John Lewis Gardening Society Rooftop

Client: John Lewis
Photographer: Veerle Evens
Stylist: Yvonne Achato
Agent: Stripe Communications

Published: Africa Rising by Gestalten

That's it, my work is published in a book! And not just a book, it's Africa Rising by Gestalten, a long time favourite publisher of mine. I've been buying their books for the last 10 years, so it's an absolute honour to say the least to have my own work printed in one of their masterpieces.

The next step is to photograph an entire book. Bring it on! 

 
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Destination Japan: Tokyo

Left: details in the backstreets of Harajuku
Right: Details of the Meiji Shrine

Japan had been on our travel wishlist for as long as I can remember, so in order to have a reason to go and splash out on a great adventure we got married.  And hopped on a plane to Japan within 48 hours of saying I do! Just kidding about the reason we got married though, I'm so proud and honoured I get to share my life with my wonderful human being Chris. 

Everyone has their own idea of the ideal post wedding escape, often involving picture perfect beaches and palm trees. That's not us. One: because I almost get a sunburn as soon as I leave the house. Two: Hubby and me are too impatient to lie on the beach, and basically can't deal with doing nothing, unless it is sleeping for 2 days in a 5 star hotel to recover from all the wedding madness. So instead we thought, why not give ourselves a good old culture shock and explore a country that is as unknown to us as having cured pork intestines for breakfast (yes for real, but that's for another blog).

As I've got too many beautiful images to share to put in one post, I'll be dedicating a blog to each city we visited. It's no way a complete travel guide to Japan, but it certainly contains some great discoveries, and I hope one day you'll be looking up some of these spots when you're about to hop on a plane to the country of cherry blossoms and sushi! 

The arrival

City of 35 million people. What better way to recover from a wedding and the biggest jet lag ever experienced? 
You book a splash out hotel where you can just stay in and do nothing. I mean, nothing except sleep, eat your leftover wedding cake (yes I took a tupperware box of it because I can't bare throwing away food), and use the spa. Usually we travel pretty cheaply, sleeping in the car if we need or want to (okay that only happened once and it was awful), but we somehow thought that wouldn't really fit this occasion. To be honest, if you book at the right time, even the most luxurious hotels in Tokyo go for normal prices, and we were pretty lucky we found ourselves a lovely room in the Conrad hotel. After getting ourselves a 'just married' upgrade, with the lovely view below and complementary honeymoon cake, we dozed off into pamper heaven...

[EAT] Ginza Bairin - 7 Chome-8-1 Ginza, 中央区 Tokyo 104-0061, Japan
Fantastic Katsu Don, the most tender pork loin and very well priced. 

[STAY] Conrad Tokyo - 1 Chome-9-1 Higashishinbashi, Minato, Tokyo 105-7337, Japan
Beautifully modern 5-star hotel with spa, panoramic city views and the best service I've had in any hotel so far. 

View from our room at the Conrad // Room details

[EAT] Ichiran -  1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan, 渋谷区 Tokyo 150-0041, Japan
Okay, usually I'm all about supporting local and small businesses, but this one is quite an experience. Ichiran is a Tonkotsu Ramen chain, so you'll find them in more places other than this one in Shibuya. Like at many ramen restaurants, you order and pay at the machine and give your tickets to the server. In this particular chain, you also fill in a form about how you want your noodles done, level of spiciness etc, when you sit down in your single booth. After your ramen arrives the server closes the little 'shopwindow' in front of your seat so you can slurp away in peace. And the ramen are lush! 

There are so many amazing ramen places, established ones and new ones popping up all the time all over town, so it's quite impossible to track them down sometimes. So just head out and pop in somewhere!

Ramen at my personal dining booth at Ichiran // The busy Shibuya crossing at night


[EAT] Sometaro Okonomiyaki - 2 Chome-2-2 Nishiasakusa, 台東区 Tokyo 111-0035, Japan
I have a big love for savoury food over sweet, so these savoury Japanese pancakes are one of the ways to my heart. You can pick from several flavours, we had one with normal pork and one with ginger (LOVE), you sit on the floor, and you make the pancakes yourself. 

Entrance and empty plates at Sometaro Okonomiyaki

Escaping the city

Tokyo, but also Japan in general, is a place of opposites and contrasts. Busy markets and shopping streets are countered by temples, shrines and parks. Harajuku girls, cosplay characters and robots share this beautiful land with monks and businessmen and women. Never have I visited a country where tradition and the future, nature and human development co-exist in such harmony. To escape the busy city and get some peace and quiet we visited some of the extraordinary parks and shrines that Tokyo has to offer. 

[DO] Shinjuku Gyoen - 11 Naitōmachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 160-0014, Japan
In this national garden you can find a mix of the traditional Japanese, English and the French Gardens. It's a perfect place to enjoy an afternoon away from the city.

[DO] Meiji Jingu - 1-1 Yoyogikamizonochō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 151-8557, Japan
This shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, and is located next to Harajuku. The shrine is free to enter, but there are beautiful inner gardens as well where a small fee must be paid. In these gardens you can also find Kiyomasa's Well, which is believed to be one of Tokyo's strongest positive power spots.

Left & Centre: Details of Shinjuku Gyoen
Right: Writing our wishes at the offering hall at Meiji Jingu

Tsukiji Fish Market

[DO] Tsukiji Fish Market - 5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan

I admit. We didn't get up (or stay awake ) at 2AM to get to the tuna auction you can watch as a visitor. The awkward time difference between the UK and Japan made sure we had a pretty bad jet lag, and we just couldn't part with our bed just yet. If you do want to watch the famous tuna auction, you have to get to the fish market for about 3AM, get in, and wait until 5:25AM until the first auction, or 5:50AM for the second. Also note that the number of visitors is limited to 120 per day, on a first come first serve basis. 

Details of the old Tsukiji Fish Market
 

Instead, we slept like babies until 7:30, had breakfast and headed to the market for 9AM. From around this time you can enter the wholesale market as most of the busy trading has finished. But not to worry, there is still so much to see! I wouldn't want to be there any earlier, as you'd be interfering with people trying to do business. Now we could walk around, admire fish and seafood we'd never seen before, take photos whilst dodging the scooters zipping around to pick up and drop off fish. Believe me, those drivers are mad and you have to fear for your life. I hope you get the chance to visit the market before it moves to it's new location in 2017/18 as the old structure is just as impressive as the fish market itself. 

Iriya

Now I'm jumping from the start of our trip to the last. After our travels to Kyoto, Hiroshima and Hakone (where I'll be writing blogs about as well) we returned to Tokyo for the last leg of our wonderful time in Japan. As we explored a lot of the more well known areas of Tokyo at the start of our trip, we decided to stay a bit more local this time. First stop, the neighbourhood of Iriya. Great location to roam the backstreets, yet still so close to public transport in case you do want to get around the city.

[STAY] Edo Sakura ( 3 Chome-2-13 Shitaya, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 110-0004, Japan )
Minimalist, understated traditional Japanese rooms, and that includes sleeping on futons! Great hotel with lovely staff, most of them speaking English (which is something we really got to appreciate during our time here!). 

[FOOD] Banninriki 万人力 ( Japan, 〒110-0013 Tōkyō-to, Taitō-ku, Iriya, 1 Chome−24, 入谷1-24-2 )
I'm going to say this over and over again, all the ramen we had were fantastic. This one was slightly different to the ramen we were used to, as it's a dry ramen with little bit of sauce at the bottom instead of noodles in soup. I love ordering it with a half boiled egg, which just adds an amazing creaminess to the dish. I guess you could almost say it's a Japanese version of carbonara (please forgive me!). Plus I can never stop myself from ordering all the toppings, like fermented bamboo shoots, spring onion and nori. And of course the pork! Fun fact here again is that you order from a vending machine. They'll give you an English translation card, but it still doesn't always make sense. Just experiment, or try to figure out which button is the most worn, must be popular then!

Ramen at Banninriki with a heaven of toppings: fermented bamboo, half boiled egg, nori and spring onion.
And a beer, as it would be rude not to. 

Meguro

If I had to pick a place in Tokyo to live, it could well be here! For the last night we decided to treat ourselves to a stay in the worlds first design hotel Claska, in the lovely neighbourhood of Meguro. For those who know me personally, the place is filled with vintage shops and independent boutiques, so I easily could have spent all my money here, I'm in heaven. 

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Exploring Meguro on our funky (complementary!) bikes from Claska

Bringing me back down to earth hubby suggested we take the complementary Claska Bikes and explore Tokyo in a new way. And to be honest, cycling in Tokyo feels like a breeze after getting used to London traffic. It's like being back in Holland! (except for I can't read any signs and it's a lovely 25 degrees C).

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Pastel dreams at Claska Tokyo

[STAY] Claska, Japan, 〒152-0001 Tōkyō-to, Meguro-ku, Chūōchō, 1 Chome−1−3−18

[SHOP] The area of Takaban, filled with lot's of vintage clothing shops and foods of all sorts. 

[SHOP] Walk or cycle along Meguro Dori towards the Otori Shrine and you'll find vintage interior shops dotted around either side of the street. And don't forget to visit the shop in Claska!

[EAT] Senba Meguro  〒153-0064 Tōkyō-to, Meguro-ku, Shimomeguro, 6 Chome−1−24
Local recommendation. Very small restaurant with daily changing menu, where the chef gives his take on Japanese cuisine with the freshest ingredients. Imagine scallop sashimi, Japanese beef stew and grilled tuna on the bone with Japanese grated radish. Have your Japanese phrasebook or Google translate by your side, as the owners do not speak a word of English, but that's part of the experience. They were the loveliest most genuine people you could imagine, and rushed to one of the other Japanese guests who turned out to speak English, and who started to translate the entire menu for us. We ended up saying: we'll have what you're having. Best decision!
www.senba-meguro.com

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The neighbourhood of Meguro is filled with quirky architecture, tucked away cafes and vintage shops. 


That's it for Tokyo, for now! Soon I'll be sharing our adventures and tips for Kyoto, Hiroshima and Hakone as well. 
In the meantime, I'd love to hear what your favourite spots are in Japan! 

 

New work for Marco Pierre White

Recently I had the opportunity to shoot for two of Marco Pierre White's restaurants in Stamford Bridge; Marco Grill and Frankie's Diner. Both serving utterly delicious, but oh so different food!

Frankie's Diner is exactly what the name indicates. A proper diner style food hub filled with all the staple menu items you'd expect in a great American Diner; Hot Dogs (did I already mention one of them has Mac & Cheese on it? it's my fave), pulled pork, Oreo Sundae, you name it. I had the honour of capturing their newest menu additions, the Hot Dogs. Or Haute Dogs might be a better name. 

Marco Grill is where you go for a classic mindblowing steak. Just have a look at that tomahawk. That porterhouse. And then there is chocolate fudge with salted caramel icecream to finish your grand meal.

I'll let the images do the talking.

/ Food photography : Veerle Evens 
   Food styling: Fork and Dram

New beginnings

Some have them more often than others, but we all experience them. Start a new job, make new friends, new place to live, new love, new type of cereal in the morning, you name it, plenty of choices for something new. So I thought it might be a good idea to dedicate this first blogpost to the decision that turned out to be the best new beginning in my life. 

Three and a half years ago I made the most terrifying (more terrifying than changing from Coco Pops to porridge) and at the same time the most exciting decision of my life. This was me: freshly graduated from the academy of arts, bachelor of Design in my pocket, not ready to get lost in the manics and panics of building a career. The beauty of being a photographer is that you can do your job anywhere on this beautiful planet, right? So why not use that excuse in order to follow the dream that I’ve had since being a kid; travelling to Australia!

Put your life into boxes, pack the camera bag, and off you go. On my own, into the big open world. I never thought of being scared, because what’s better than flying to a (most of the time) sunny country, with animals you’ve never seen or heard of before, with your camera around your neck ready to photograph all the amazing food you’ve been hearing about? Venturing out and meeting new people every day, and not knowing what the next day has got in store for you. Stepping out of your comfort zone for months and months in a row puts all your senses into survival mode and makes you experience the world in full HD. Like being on a natural high.   

Travelling and emerging yourself in a different culture changes the way you experience and appreciate your daily life, even after returning home. Let’s be honest, there will be difficult times when ‘en route’ ; times where you’re alone, where you have no job and live off 1-min noodles, and when there is big stuff happening at home and you feel like you’re missing out on all the important things in life. Except the most important thing in life is you.

And this you, is the only thing that will always be around. It gets tested and shaped during your time away from home. I found this intense time away from everything I knew has made me discover my passions, love for myself, my flaws and imperfections, and taught me how to embrace those all together. It made me stronger and more open minded, and without all these experiences I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do right now. And, as everything happens for a reason, this escape also threw the love of my life right in my lap. But that's a story I should dedicate full post to!

Now, living in London, I try to implement the sensations of travelling life just as much as when I was on the road; be open to everything, be kind, never get too comfortable. Eat all the food. Behave like a tourist in your own city. I don’t mean go running to Madame Tussauds and going shopping on Oxford street. I mean allowing yourself to be surprised by the beauty of the place you live in. Don’t take it for granted, the grass always looks greener everywhere else (the grass in Australia is yellow most times of the year, I found).

On this blog I'll keep you updated on my adventures, the projects I'm working on, and tell some stories about previous expeditions.  So join me on my journey filled with everything food, photo and travel! 

Proceed with care: Some images might cause severe wanderlust. 

V x 

Driving on the road to destination unknown - Great Ocean Road

Driving on the road to destination unknown - Great Ocean Road

Elle Decoration Thailand Publication

I'm pretty humbled by this publication in Elle Decoration Thailand's December 2015 issue. Elle Decoration has always been a magazine that I would draw inspiration from, starting in my younger years even before studying at the academy. It feel surreal to have them publish my work, now I can hopefully return some of that inspiration to others! 

Mimicry Childhood - Photography by Veerle Evens

Mimicry Childhood - Photography by Veerle Evens