It’s one of those bitter cold British afternoon, winter is yet to vacate and its presence a monotonous grey overshadows from above like a furious Norse God, waiting to strike upon us a curse for an unknown sacrilege we have committed.
Incautious of our dilapidating sanity, the sky begins to yield snow. It falls tragically in an unromantic fashion – prosaic and petty. I look up at the dead sky, unimpressed. That ebullient joy which makes itself known in youth when snow falls is absence and in me I know the only thing that would make me cheerful again would be warmth.
Nonetheless I continue, the dread of winter still upon me. I and everyone else who had braved the comfort of our homes were caught up in the snow, battling the elements. The ghoulish wind that accompanied was blowing vivaciously and my beardless face was now gradually losing its vibrancy.
Feet numb with frost bites I plodded stiff along Putney high street. I was on my way to Blabar, a café where I had arranged a day before to meet a friend.
Unbeknownst to me, waiting in Blabar was an experience. An experience I’ve been longing for ever since its popularity sparked a social trend in 2016. A trend encouraged by the efforts of Meik Wiking with the publishing of his book “The little book Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living”.
Hygge, is a single word pronounced ‘hue-guh’. Which, although cannot be translated to a single word in English, can be summed up as the charms of a hug, cosiness and intimacy. Those conscious slice of heaven we experience day-to-day which we all wish would take up permanence in our lives.
The Danes however, and other fellow Scandinavians as if endowed with benign favour from the gods, have fortunately learnt how to replicate this heaven on demand. As a consequence, Blabar exists; the unique brainchild of a Swede and her native Londoner partner.
Blabar for me was a convenient Google map find. I had not visualised the interior or read about its ethos online, my experience was first-hand, untainted by any review.
As I step through the front door harrowingly escaping the so called ‘Beast from the East’ to be immediately embraced by cosiness, I was baffled: how did they do it? It wasn’t the type of cosiness or warmth produced by heaters above the doorway. It was a similar warmth to that of a home after a long day out in the cold. How have they managed to achieve this? – The question remains unanswered, but it reminded me of Bachelors’ Cup ‘a’ Soup advert released back in 2011.
You probably know it, the marketing ploy with the blue fluffy object used as two hands for a body monster that travels all the way from God knows where, to hug a lady who’s just about to sip soup, and she smiles in relief as the comfort monster wraps its fluffy arm around her melting all her stress away? Yeah, that one. I smile too in comfort and proceeded to the small counter ordering an Americano and a cinnamon bun.
It didn’t quite sink in yet, but then the barista brought my order to me where I was sat upstairs nestled on a sofa. I take a bite of the cinnamon bun and wash it down with the Americano, suddenly ambush! There was a firework show in my brain, it all made sense.
The minimalistic and meticulous design, the low orange candle like lighting produced by the vintage squirrel cage bulbs, the subtle indie folk in the background, the almost fireplace-like warmth and the friendliness of the baristas with their endless smiles. A combination that can only equate to one word, yes you guessed right – Hygge.
Christopher Omale is a photographer, writer, and filmmaker and holds keen interests in culture, arts, and international relations.
The visuals in this featured story were shot with a Minolta X300 on a Fujifilm ISO400.