The first time I met Pip was in a cafe where we put the heavy gray clouds outside in London aside and both had open minds to have coffee and breakfast with a complete stranger. This took place because her blog was one of joy that I had followed for some time and she’s the lovely type of person who welcomed meeting. Over some delicious food we chatted about life in London, travel, love of food and everything in between and she seemed like the perfect person to interview for this feature.
Pip is a seeker of life, a lover of food and enchantingly honest on her blog Life Unedited where she has openly discussed losing her mother, her adventures and life. Pip’s Instagram is lovely representation of life in London and everywhere she chooses to go.
You have had an interesting relationship with food, one that likely most of us have had in the sense of feelings of struggle, guilt and then acceptance, what finally led you to face this as being an issue?
For a long long time I had a terrible relationship with food. Growing up, food terrified me. It was something that brought me so much joy and delight in its flavour and sensory delight but then would bring me horrible feelings of guilt and self-loathing. It took many years for me to get to the point where I was able to recognise that this was ‘abnormal’ and that I wanted to do something about it.
I constantly thought of what I was going to eat next, how much I had eaten that day, how much I should be hating myself and what I was ‘allowed’ to have the next day. I would wake up each morning and check the flatness of my stomach in the mirror. That first look would determine my mood for the rest of the day.
Then, one day, everything changed. Once upon a time, I was a highly competitive rower which led me into lightweight rowing at university. Whilst I loved the sport, it also controlled my life. I had to diet quite drastically to get down to racing weight and, long story short, found myself consistantly getting injured. Halfway through my third year I had gotten to the point where I’d had enough. I was injured yet again and unable to train. I found myself searching online, looking for a source of help I guess, and stumbled across Laura Agar Wilson’s blog, then known as ‘Keeping Healthy, Getting Stylish’. I can honestly say that that moment changed my life.
I discovered that Laura lived in Durham, where I was studying at the time. I reached out to her and soon became one of her first health coaching clients. Thanks to her guidance, support and wonderful honesty I was able to get myself back to having a healthy relationship with food and my body.
During your studies you did an exchange in Argentina, how did the experience live up to or even surpass your expectations?
Oh wow, where do I even begin! I was lucky enough to take a year between by undergraduate and master’s degrees to work overseas. After three years studying in the north-east of England I was more than ready to adventure somewhere hot and so fell upon the idea of relocating to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It’s safe to say that I really didn’t know what to expect before I went out there. I could barely speak a word of Spanish, didn’t know a single soul on the entire continent let alone the country and left the UK knowing nothing about the months ahead other than a feeling that they were going to shape my life in an extraordinary way.
That’s the beauty of travel, each time I leave for a trip no matter how long or short I know that I’m going to come back with new ideas about life and the life that I want to lead and Argentina was no different. I had been through a lot in my personal life before heading out there and my time living in Buenos Aires presented itself as the perfect opportunity to grow my confidence and almost re-develop who I was as a person.
The first month or so was hard. I threw myself into city life and forced myself to go out and meet people, even when all my introverted self wanted to do was stay home in my apartment. By pushing my boundaries I was able to meet some of the most wonderful people and have some of the best experiences of my life. I’m now lucky enough to have friends spread across the world thanks to that.
What has travel taught you about food?
My boyfriend will be the first to tell you that when we take a trip my ‘to do list’ is purely made up of cafes, restaurants and the occasional wine bar. I’m a true believer that the best way to experience a country is through its cuisine and that’s exactly what I set out to do. After all, food encapsulates so much history and culture that would be impossible to absorb through a mere museum tour.
I guess travel has taught me to always say yes and try new things, no matter your preconceptions. People might scoff at this but when I am at home I eat gluten-free, purely because it makes me feel 100x better (I’ll spare you the details!). But when I travel, that often goes out the window. If I am in Paris I will eat the croissant, if I am in the US I will order pancakes, if I am in Italy I will order the damn spaghetti. You get the idea. Why? Well because that food is all part of the experience of travel and I don’t want to miss out on that. Besides, I can deal with the tummy troubles later.
What memory from your travels involving food sticks in your mind?
Oh my goodness where to begin? Name a country I’ve visited and I’ll be able to tell you a meal there. Frogs legs in France, the best steak of my life in Argentina, seafood on the shorefront of Cape Town, paella in Uruguay, the notorious late-night Fergberger in New Zealand, mouth-exploding-holy-shit-this-is-delicious gelato in Rome, the perfect white wine in Tuscany overlooking the vineyards…
I love the memory that each of those meals brings, transporting me back in time to that exact moment and feeling no matter how long ago. Food is the gateway into a country and its culture and, not only that, it offers a glimpse into the way that locals live. I have incredibly fond memories of eating at the home of my friend’s old boss in Argentina one weekend and realising what an honour it was to be there sharing the family meal.
How has travel changed your life?
I think that travel has shaped my life inordinately in so many ways. For starters, I would never have met my boyfriend if he hadn’t thought to travel over to rainy old England so many years ago from his sunny hometown in South Africa. If you look around our home, you will see so many memories and mementos from our travels both separately and together that mean so much to the both of us.
I think travel shapes any person into the individual they are today. One of my most vivid memories from my childhood is visiting Kenya at the age of just 10 with my parents and marvelling at how a country could be so different from everything I knew yet so enchanting at the same time. It was that trip that made me realise that travel was always going to play a significant role in my life and sparked my curiosity to keep on discovered.
To date, I’ve travelled to more countries that I care to admit, including living in some of them for extended periods of time. Each trip has changed me, even if just a little bit. Whether it’s been a simple introduction to a new food or something more sincere, I’ve always come back feeling refreshed and inspired to try something different. And I know that there will be plenty more of that to come!