We visited El Furniture Warehouse in London on a Saturday night before checking out a concert by Lights at the London Music Hall. Locally the site is just referred to as ‘The Warehouse’ – the restaurant is part of a chain that originated in Vancouver back in 2001.
How is the setting?
The Warehouse is located right in downtown London. The address is 645 Richmond Street, perfectly placed on Richmond Row to draw the student crowd from Western.
The restaurant has modern and rustic decor. Everyone is seated close together at tables of varying heights. The bar is located in the centre of the restaurant. There are windows all along the front wall so you can sit and watch the downtown traffic.
Atmosphere & Hygge Factor
This restaurant has a very modern, young vibe, and is usually full of university students. (When we visited, there was already a lineup at the door around 6pm). The lights are dim but they have many forms of alternative lighting. Everything about the space made me feel comfortable.
Here is the hook: every food item on the menu is $5.95! Most of the food is Mexican style, but there are lots of other options too. To start we had the Quinoa & Green Apple Salad, which was well done. I went with the Beef Soft Tacos, and Andrew had the Baja Fish Tacos. Our colleague Jenn tried the Mushroom Swiss Burger with fries.
Food & Drinks
Everything on the menu may be $5.95, but the cocktails bring in the money. Andrew tried a Sour Key with a bottle of Corona rigged to back-flow into the glass. Cheap food and cool drinks!
The waitress was very relaxed and nice. She was good at making conversation.
Did we feel at home?
I felt really comfortable at this restaurant. It was fun and light. It’s the kind of place you would meet your friends at after a long day, just to relax and hang out together.
Did we feel at home? Well, being at the Warehouse feels more like partying at the home of a close friend … you’re happy to be there, and happy to go back again, too.
Article by Maddie King with contributions by Andrew Gunn
The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking
In February I wrote a review of The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. Hygge is a Danish word that refers to the idea of ‘cosiness’, or how we make ourselves and others feel at home. Wiking has written a new book called The Little Book of Lykke.
Have you heard of lykke? Lykke (pronounced Luu-kah) means ‘happiness’. In this book Wiking explores the different reasons people all around the world are happy. This seems simple, but really, is anything more elusive than happiness?
This book was published September 7, 2017, a year after The Little Book of Hygge. Like in the first book, Wiking connects us with Danish culture, but also with other countries like Italy and India. On the back cover it says, “In this captivating book, he takes us on a treasure hunt to unlock the doors of the good life.” Wiking formats this book almost the same way as the first, with statistics, charts, and stories. It’s a little denser and slower than the first book, but no less interesting.
The main idea is that people can be happy no matter where they live — it’s just a matter of how you live. Having a strong community, good healthy relationships, and serving others all contribute to a person’s overall happiness. Wiking focuses on topics like togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust, and kindness.
This was a great read! I learned something new on every page. It was entertaining as well as educational. My favourite parts of this book were the little “happiness tips” scattered throughout. They’re good little reminders of things we can do to improve our overall happiness. A couple of happiness tips include ‘buy experiences’ (rather than things) and ‘start talking about mental health’.
Wiking talks about how happiness can come from a strong, supportive community. It got me thinking about what makes me happy in our community. I love that all the employees at the grocery store recognize and know my family. It shows that in a smaller town we get familiar with the people in our community, something that isn’t as likely in a larger city.
Think about your experience in St. Thomas — what makes you happy about this community?
Visitors to the STEAM Centre in St. Thomas may have noticed a massive new addition in the space. A painting called ‘The School of STEAM’ has been installed on the first floor. The work is impressive in many ways, including sheer size: 88” high and 112” wide!
Every year students on the ‘Renaissance Robotics’ team at St. Joseph’s High School choose a piece of Renaissance-era art and re-imagine the material. The ‘School of STEAM’ is a spin on the famous ‘School of Athens’ by Raphael. In the original, Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle are the focal point; now, Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs are central. The painting presents a remarkable ‘who’s who’ of innovation in modern history.
Generously, the Renaissance Robotics team decided to donate the the ‘School of STEAM’ painting to the STEAM Centre. During the recent Railway City Arts Crawl, the STEAM City Media team caught up with three of the students who worked on the piece: Amanda Farrell, Maria Murcia, and Mary-Beth Scully. Find some conversation highlights below.
Everyone in St. Thomas should visit the STEAM Centre and check out this amazing painting!
How long did this project take you guys?
I’d say about 6 months. It took a lot of starting up with the design and everything, the rough work, it took us awhile to actually start up.
Where did you get the inspiration for this piece from?
Every year our robotics team kind of takes a renaissance art piece and recreates it because we are called ‘Renaissance Robotics’. Last year we chose Raphael’s School of Athens and basically that painting featured a bunch of philosophers and thinkers of his time, so we kind of put our own spin on it and took modern and past STEAM heroes and put them in our painting to show that STEAM isn’t really a new thing – it’s been around for awhile – and that science sometimes needs art.
Who all worked on this piece?
A lot of people, it was like a big collection of just people from around the school. It started off with this big crowd of alumni and current high school students and we were part of it too, and so every now and then people would just drop in and help.
Do you know roughly how many people worked on it?
I think 15, that’s what it says on the list outside.
What were the different techniques you used, like painting, stencilling, etc?
We painted it but I think first we made a graphic of it on CorelDRAW, then we took a projector and projected it onto the canvas. That way it would be a lot easier since it’s such a big scale.
What were some obstacles you came across and how did you overcome them?
Scaling, that was a big one because it was just so different to see something that we had on the computer projected onto such a big scale, so that was difficult but then after we got used to it we ended up kinda just looking at the picture and then just painting off of it.
What was your favourite part of the piece?
The Rube Goldberg part, it was such a mess but it was fun to do.
I think all the little inside jokes, like some people are connected, like Isaac Newton, he drops the apple and Steve Jobs is looking at the apple. Just little things that if you don’t have one of us to explain it to you, you won’t really get it.
Last fall the STEAM Centre in St. Thomas partnered with the Thames Valley District School Board to introduce ‘STEAM School’. In this program, more than 60 students drawn from three local high schools came together for a full semester, taking English, Integrated Arts, Science, and Civics. The twist was that the schedule changed from day-to-day, and the students were asked to collaborate with local businesses and organizations on projects that would ‘make life better for others’ in the community. Some of these projects were successful while others were more challenging. One great outcome involved the ‘STEAM City Council’, a group of students put together to ‘shadow’ the real St. Thomas City Council. I had the opportunity to be the Mayor.
On January 19, 2018 the STEAM City Council put on a semi-formal dance at the CASO Station. Teenagers from all schools in St.Thomas were invited. My council and I wanted to contribute to the community by raising money while throwing a fun event for our age group. We decided a dance where everyone could be together would be the perfect idea.
Before and during the event: the Anderson Room inside the CASO Station in downtown St. Thomas.
Throwing a big event like this was a lot harder than we had initially thought. Taking on a huge project like this took a lot of dedication and hard work. We had a lot of support from our teachers, the STEAM Centre, and people in our community. In the end all of the work we put in was worth it.The actual event was very successful. We called the event ‘Frosty Night’. The space was gorgeously decorated by the council and volunteers. For being a brand-new event, it was well-attended. Everyone who came said they loved it and want to do it again next year. It was great to see teens from every school come together for a great cause.
Signature drinks added a nice touch to the ‘Frosty Night’ event.
At the end of the night we raised $1500. We considered this a success. My council and I decided we wanted to use the money to light up downtown. There are quite a few dark areas. We want our donation to go towards lighting in a new park-space that will be built downtown. Lighting will definitely add elements of safety and comfort. (On one walk recently, our STEAM City Media team noticed some needles on the ground. While we know this is part of a larger public health issue, we feel that making the downtown bright and inviting is important). After the whole experience of running the STEAM Semi-Formal, we all walked away feeling accomplished. We learned beneficial skills and got to show our community how much our age group really cares about St.Thomas. We hope the students next year will choose to do it again.
What is hygge? Hygge is about atmosphere, enjoying daily activities, and living in the now. The concept involves ways of deepening the relationships you have with the people you love.
First published in September 2016, The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well is a compact little book that has become very popular all over the world, connecting readers with the culture of Denmark. Meik Wiking is the author, and he has a unique role – he is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. His book is full of stories, ideas, instructions, and statistics all about hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-ga’). He wrote this book so everyone could understand and experience hygge and why the Danes find the concept so necessary.
On the back cover of the book, this quote from Wiking is highlighted: “Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things.” Hygge is all about being comfortable and happy.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very interesting and entertaining. In a twist that illustrates the whole point, reading about hygge and happiness made me happy!
This is a fairly quick read. My favourite part of the book would have to be the section about hygge and food. As a foodie, I loved the way he described the food and included some simple but unique recipes. The author describes many Danish comfort foods and how to make them.
Personally, I feel like I have experienced hygge – and think other readers will feel the same way – there was just never a word for it. This book gave a perfect description.
Learning about the Danish concept of hygge could help us re-imagine certain spaces in St. Thomas. This alleyway off Talbot Street opposite John Street could be brightened up with strings of lights over the beams.
Maybe we could put picnic tables down the centre a couple of times a year and host dinners with local food and drinks.
In this book, Wiking gives the reader different ideas and examples of hygge including recipes and activities you could do by yourself or with friends. This really got me thinking about how we could bring hygge to St.Thomas. We can host different events containing elements of hygge. For example, we could add lighting to an empty alley downtown and host a dinner for the community featuring local food and drinks. Ideas like this are what will make St.Thomas feel like home. Interestingly, the author notes that other countries have words that people use in the same way that the Danes use hygge – for Canadians, he says the word is hominess.
More info on the Happiness Research Institute: https://www.happinessresearchinstitute.com