My Writing/Reading Spots: Noir Gallery

I’ve been driving past this place almost every day without noticing that the sign has changed from Serenity Spa to Noir Gallery. So I decided to pop in and see what they have.

I had never seen the fountain in full function with the previous place and it was so refreshing to see it alive, it adds so much more life to the centre of the building. A short passage leads to the indoor lounge area, cosy and warm with wooden tones and comfortable grey chairs.

As soon as you step out onto the terrace the view takes your breath away. A stretch of grass, majestic trees, and the freshness of nature greet you. I love how, unlike most restaurants with gardens, they chose not to disturb the garden. The outdoor seating is organised right at the back on the concrete and the trees and plants have been left in peace.

When sitting at the back in a cosy and breezy area, you have a view of the building (house). Slightly uphill, the impressive house peeks behind some of the plants and trees, adding to the overall aesthetic.

From the one meal I had (it’s actually a sandwich, not a burger), the food is good. The only thing I’d fault is the slightly over-toasting of the bread. However, the flavours were there and the meal was a generous portion, I couldn’t finish.

It’s also child-friendly, with the open grass for them to play and run around, and they include a kids’ menu.

The bar is also set up pretty well. Outside in the fresh air, what better way to enjoy your cocktails?

I’m obsessed with large garden venues and this one wins for me. It was the perfect place for a quiet time to read and enjoy my own company. It’s so serene and soothing though, with my full belly, that at some point I was so soothed I started falling asleep.

The “Gallery” part? They’ve been open for less than a month and while the restaurant is set up and operating, they’re finishing up the gallery upstairs. I can’t wait!

Noir Gallery, Muthangari Drive, Westlands, Nairobi.

IG: @noirgallery.ke

My Writing/Reading Spots: The Arbor

“I said, but I have to go, there are so many places calling my name.”
― Nikki Rowe

Right next to James Gichuru, yet it feels so far from it.

It’s hard to imagine anywhere close to Waiyaki Way being described as tranquil. Yet, just behind the forever busy highway, on the corner of the quiet Manyani E Road, is a tranquil restaurant. The Arbor, which recently moved from James Gichuru to its current place, is better, more open, and spaced out.

The entrance is marked by Aromatics Spa, and as you walk further down you find yourself surrounded by high, large trees and enwrapping peace. They now have a bar, which they didn’t have at the old place and around it is indoor seating, which is also new.

Bar and indoor seating

There’s a little play area for kids and you can sit close-by where you can keep an eye on them. Far down is an abundance of more trees and a spectacular view of Nairobi’s burst of greenery. A sunny day doesn’t go to waste here. You can enjoy a lovely meal and enjoy a breeze under the trees or kiss from the sun.

Yumsies

You can sit quietly by yourself and enjoy a cup of coffee, read or work. You can also get together with friends for a celebration, work meeting, whatever the occasion. The setting is organised well enough to give each table its privacy.

It’s pleasant, relaxing and a cool little place to escape to for some bit of calm.

The Arbor/Arbor Place, Aromatics Spa, 101 Manyani E Road, Nairobi

IG: @thearborltd

If You Really Want To Read You’ll Make The Time.

Reading in a tuk-tuk

I’m about to throw a long quote at you but it’ll make sense, you’ll see. Here it is:

“Time is the inexplicable raw material of everything. With it, all is possible; without it, nothing. The supply of time is truly a daily miracle, an affair genuinely astonishing when one examines it. You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life! It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions. No one can take it from you. It is unstealable. And no one receives either more or less than you receive.”

– Arnold Bennett

Well said, right? On point. How many times have you said, “I don’t have the time,” and yet sat on your bed or couch and stayed on Instagram for hours or on Netflix? It’s so easy to do a lot of nothing and when faced with doing the things that matter, easily say we don’t have time. Doing the lazy stuff or the things that aren’t of not much value is easier. When we picture things that are more likely to be of greater benefit we already attach the idea that they require a Herculean effort and the excuses tap just keeps running. It’s so easy to backup laziness with good excuses, it’s the easiest thing to do. Why do we end up having “special people” do extraordinary things while we sit and make “but” lists? It’s because it’s way easier to say “but I don’t have time” and convince ourselves we’ve made a good argument, than it is to rearrange our lives to free up time to do those extraordinary things.

While my brother and I waited for our lunch.

Someone said that I must have the luxury of reading time because I don’t have a job. Yeah, because freelance writing and editing are just as good as picking my nose and farting all day, right? Anyway, I’m going to share how I make time to read while I do my freelance writing and editing, study and raise three kids (well, four if you count their dad).

  • I read in the car

No, please do not read and drive. You might just die. I don’t drive, so whether I’m on my way to taking the kids to school, running errands or whatever, I read on the way, except on these Nairobi roads with nasty potholes. If you’re driving then you can do audio books. Some people are too embarrassed to take out a book in public because people are staring. Well, let them look. And if you do feel this way, please read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and you’ll see what a wasteful fuck it is that you’re giving.

  • I read in queues

I don’t get pissed when I find a queue. Please don’t say, “Oh but what if you’re late?” If you’re late, you’re late. If it is something important, you’re still going to have to queue. You might as well do something while you’re waiting. Read. I live in Nairobi and there are so many places I go to, like hospitals, where I will queue until I feel I’ve reached menopause, but having a book makes it bearable.

  • I read at the spa or salon

If I can’t do hands and feet at the same time then while I get a pedicure I read. I read while I’m getting my braids (I have a big head so it takes long) or while sitting under the dryer.

  • I read while I do self-care at home

I’m not a big fan of long baths but once in a while I need it, especially detox baths or ice cold water soak. While I’m in there I grab a book and read away. If only I could do it in the shower. While I soak my feet at home after a long day or sit with that homemade activated charcoal face mask, I read.

  • I read when I wake up in the morning and before bed at night

I’m learning to do less snoozing when my alarm goes off and instead of reaching for my phone for social media, I grab one book from the pile on my bedside table. Even if it’s one page it makes a difference to how I’ll start my day. It’s also the last thing I do before I crash. Sometimes I overdo it though, one chapter becomes half the book and before I know it the sun is coming out or I hear my kids’ little feet scuttle to my room to demand breakfast.

  • I read when I don’t feel like people-ing

It sounds very anti-social, I know, but I do it when people are also doing some anti-social things. How many times have you been to some gathering and people are just buried in their phones? I just pull out a book instead of trying too hard to fill in the silence they leave hanging.

  • In the loo

This one is not for me but if it works for you, please do use that opportunity to dive into a good read.

If you don’t want to be holding up a book while doing other things, you can get audiobooks. Because you don’t have to carry a book around and all that “hard work”, you can listen for as long as you want while you do other things. You can play an audiobook while cooking or doing chores. When I say reading it’s not only in a traditional sense, you can always find the best way to enjoy books without it feeling like a burden or something you can’t make time for.

Your time is precious and you should use it for the things that matter. I know, life gets hectic and by the end of the day you wonder where all the time went but if you just move things around you can make time not just for reading but also for so many things that you’ve thrown into the no-time-for basket.

Make the time, it’s in your hands.

Happy reading!

If you need help getting into reading and how to become an avid reader, you can download our free guide here.