| Thoughts | Doubt

There are those that say that doubt kills dreams; I agree in part. While doubt can really dim our inner lights if not kept in check, I think that we can actually gain heaps from questioning ourselves. 

I like people who question themselves because I think they really know themselves. (Overconfidence gives me the collywobbles and gets me signalling for the sick-bucket). I question myself a lot in my everyday life and sometimes people rather shortsightedly see this as self-doubt. It's not....not really.

To me, questioning myself is my way of reevaluating my motives, actions and ideas. And by the end of it, I feel that I have a stronger grasp on the stuff that actually matters and have a clearer perspective on what I am doing and where I am heading. Yeah, I will probably question myself over and over again along the way but all that dialogue (or is it a monologue?), helps me know myself better and that is where a healthy sort of confidence lies no? You don't have to agree with me.

Overcoming doubt is the real trick. Maybe questioning ourselves is a way to conquer it. Maybe not. But The prize for doing so is something closer to wisdom, honesty and a more solid peaceful sort of confidence. 

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| Photo Diary | Bathing Apes

Travel questions often find their way to us via Twitter or our inbox these days. While we are not experts, It makes us happy to share our experiences and also give our honest opinion and advice to fellow adventure-seekers. 

Recently, we've had a few questions about  Jigokudani in Nagano which may be a bit difficult at the moment owing to volcanic eruption in the prefecture but nonetheless, it is certainly a place to note for future adventuring! 

Jigokudani is a place of steep cliffs, towering evergreens, steamy horizons and bubbling hot springs and though its name translates as 'hell valley', it is home to some charming monkeys. 

Japanese Macaques sort of dither about their lives. Chilling in the hot springs. Staring at their reflections in a nose to water fashion. Chewing on yummy things that they find. Grooming each other or just sat staring into space (considering world peace perhaps), they are infinitely fun to watch. Being in Jigokudani allows you the privilege of walking amongst the monkeys and being able to observe these fascinating and intelligent creatures up close. 

How to get there:
You can jump on a buss from either Yudanaka Station (will take 10-25 mins), or Shibu Onsen (will take 5-10 mins)or Nagano Station(will take 40 mins). Or, if you like walking, you can walk from Shibu Onsen, it will take about 45 - 60 mins if the weather is good.

Where to stay:
We drove to Yudanaka from Tokyo  and stayed in a traditional Japanese inn in Shibu Onsen. You can see our post on Shibu Onsen HERE.

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| Tea | Pleine Lune

There are teas that we drink in gulps to support us as we go about our daily grind, and then, there are teas that are meant to be sipped. Slowly, so that they luxuriate  on the palate and take us to a tranquil place of higher enjoyment. 

Mariage Frères Pleine Lune is one of my most favourite flavoured black tea blends. The first sip is a cascade of almond and then blueberries, cinnamon and vanilla come to life in a rich but refreshing bouquet. There is none of that artificial flavouring that jolts the senses out of a daydream, instead it is a masterful blend that soothes you into a slower pace.

"Inspired by that heavenly body and the real of dreams, this poetic blend combines fragrances evoking the feast of the full moon: fruits, rare spices and the sweet taste of honey. A true moonbeam". Mariage Frères.

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My teacup sits on a Limoges saucer and is a vintage find that I came across in Tokyo earlier this year. It is made by Noritake and dates to 1968. I bought it because I like its light translucency and it has such a lovely form that sits so well cupped in my hands. The fact that it is emblazoned with the Noritake mark may also have influenced my decision to bring it back to London. At just £6.00 I think I may have got myself a right barrrrrgain! 

USEFUL LINKS | Mariage Freres Website |  
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| What I Wore | 97%

There are a great many characters in a great many books that inspire me in many ways. There are even a few that inspire what I may choose to wear. Take Grace Makutsi for instance, secretary to Precious Ramostwe from the very respectable No1 Ladies Detective Agency. I happen to think that besides Mma Makutsi's record breaking score of 97% at the Botswana Secretarial College, her highly-strung often opinionated views and her natural awkwardness, she also happens to be a pretty sharp dresser. 

Shirt was bought about 5 years ago from GAP. Men's cardigan from Uniqlo.
Prescription glasses with frames from Chanel + lenses from Paris Miki London.
Ballet flats from Emmy Twenty.

Mma Makutsi was so perfectly portrayed by Anika Noni Rose in the wonderful BBC television series so much so that whenever I wear a shirt paired with knitwear, I always think to myself......

"Eh! I want to dress just like Mma Makutsi! I want to look like 97%!"

If you enjoyed these pictures, please visit Coco & Vera blog (one of my most favourite blogs)where I am mooching about London feeling very 97%. I will be so happy to see you there!

If you fancy learning more about the imitable ladies of the No1 Ladies Detective Agency, there is a great episode available on Youtube HERE.

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| Ideas | Sockless

One of the best wardrobe discoveries I made this year was a spray. Stepping out in summer with socks on is not really my style so the Pedag Silky Touch Barefoot Spray brought comfort to my ever marching feet.

Leather T-bar sandals from ASOS.  Leather ballet pumps from Emmy Twenty.

The spray is created to protect feet from friction by wrapping them in a fine and invisible web of silk. They make wearing ballet flats and sandals in summer much more comfortable not only by lessening any rubbing but also by providing a deodorising effect.

The lovely people at Supreme Shoe Care sent me a can to try out on my adventures this summer and like everything sent my way, I really put it to the test. It came with me to Porto where we walked up to 7 hours a day, to Greece where I lived in flip flops and even right here in London where I use it with trainers socks for my missions through the city. The spray costs £8.95 which is such a good deal for such an excellent product. Grab one HERE

Psssst follow on Twitter where they are regularly available to provide leather care advice. Give them a shout HERE they know their stuff!  

USEFUL LINKS |Supreme Shoe Care Website| Supreme Shoe Care Twitter 

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| Home | Fog Linen Trays

The day that this pair of Fog Linen landed on my table was a happy day indeed! 

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Fog Linen is a Tokyo based company who specialise in a variety of household goods many of which as made of linen (which I love). These mini trays are designed by the founder Yumiko Sekine. They are made in Japan using  fine Lithuanian linen coated which they coat in a tough poly-resin. The trays are lightweight, resilient, easy to clean and really versatile. 

I use them far more than I initially ever thought I would. I put them to use during my tea breaks, use them to hold my tools as I am sewing and even for keeping condiments together on the dining table. I am looking forward to see in how they age and hoping that I get year of use out of them.

You can get them in the UK from Ruby Roost

If you are visiting Japan, there is a Fog Linen shop in Shimokitazawa.

USEFUL LINKS | Fog Linen Work Website in Japanese + English | 

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