| Recurring Themes | 11 Sunsets

Sunset has the eternal power to bewitch us. It doesn't matter who or where you are, it's a universal spell. When the sun bows out in a display of chromaticity, we all stop for a moment and stare. 

We recently heard from a reader who wanted to know about our favourite sunsets during our travels. So we've selected some photos that we feel are eloquent and evocative of the location: 

Shiga, Japan, 2012

Zanzibar, Tanzania, 2013.

Porto, Portugal, 2014.

Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, 2007.
East Sussex, England, 2014.
Mumbai, India, 2013
Serengeti, Tanzania, 2006
Alcamo, Sicily 2009
Free State, South Africa 2014.
Tokyo, Japan 2008
Morogoro, Tanzania 2013

Let us know which is your favourite! There is no doubting it. Sunset is powerful. We hope that you have enjoyed this post.  We always look forward to hearing from our readers and we are always happy to help out whenever we can with your travel questions so keep sending them our way.

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| What I Wore | Market Skirt

One day.....

I went to the market right by our home in London and haggled for some African fabric. The woman I bought the fabric from was bemused with my bartering and let me have 5 yards of this gorgeous cloth for just £12.00. 

I made myself a skirt with a pattern that I drafted myself. 

Then, one day.....

I wore the skirt that I made on trip to the Mercado do Bolhão in Porto.

The skirt is a voluminous garment with deep in seam pockets. It is quite ostentatious in its pattern and colouring but somehow - it suits busy environments and is perfect for comfortable saunters through a market. The Mercado do Bolhão is a pretty special place and I will be blogging about its again very soon.

USEFUL LINKS | See more garments that I have made |

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| Objects | Whilst Tidying

I am an unrepentant, incessant collector of things. I cut things out and keep them. I bring things home from adventures and keep them. When I am in a rush, I put them in silly places like within the pages of a book. Or on a shelf and then slowly forget about them. Then, dust gathers and makes me sneeze. Or a friend decides to visit which leads to some frenzies cleaning and that is when I find these little treasures all over again!

Here a few things that I have rediscovered this week: 

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Wine label post cards that I bought in Yamagata Japan. I had no idea that Japan made wine! Check out some of our adventures in Yamagata HERE
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A loyalty card and business card for Kapital Jeans Japan. Take a look at their amazing shop interiors HERE
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Stamps!  Some familiar characters from Japan and a curious fellow from Poland.
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Jokers! Yes, I am STILL collecting Jokers and if you are curious as to why, you can find out HERE

USEFUL LINKS |Take a look at some other things that we collect|

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| Photo Diary | Taberna de S. Pedro

One incandescent day in Porto when the sweltering sun turned the city into an oven, we decided to hunt down a lesser known (off the tourist trail) restaurant legendary for its grilled sardines. It took us over an hour to drag our listless shadows across the simmering tarmac on the Gaia side of the Douro before smoke signals hailed the spot we were looking for.

Lunch was in full swing when we pitched up to the Taberna de S. Pedro. Diners took up all the benches at the front and the hidden garden at the back. Inside was equally packed so there was little else to do but wait. Good things are worth waiting for and time slid by  while we observed the family owners at work.

The mum is master at the Taberna de S. Pedro. She barks orders at her small army of teenage helpers, prepares the tasty looking seafood skewers, salts the sardines and occasionally chucks the broken ones into the street where eager seagulls would swoop down to devour them. 

By the time we got a table inside, the lunch rush was over and we could enjoy our meal in a more relaxed way. The sardines were delicious! Fresh and juicy with that gratifying charcoal grill taste and accompanied with a perfectly dressed salad. The seafood skewer of prawns and squid was a bit overdone for Hiro's Japanese taste but still very good.

Feeling like we've got good value for our money always imbues a feeling of satisfaction to the end of a meal and Taberna de S. Pedro was easy on the wallet. A plate of 6 sardines cost €10 and a jug of chilled white wine €3. 

We would go back in a heartbeat and would recommend it to anyone who likes simple, good fish.

How to find Taberna de S. Pedro:

Not the easiest place to find and unless you like walking you may wish to get a taxi. It's basically in a residential street at the furthest end of Gaia, where the river meets the sea.

Vila Nova de Gaia. Portugal

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#Madeforyourcity Hackney

We've called Hackney home for over 10 years. We've seen things change so fast that at times it made us dizzy. It went from the so-called THE worst place to live in UK to sky high rents and more trendy coffee shops than you can shake your sustainable coffee cup at. 

But it remains the same to me. I still buy my eggs in the market. The dudes in the good kebab shop still have my order memorised. The local busker knows my name and the local Jamaican takeaway still call me Mighty Crown. I still support the local businesses that stood here before the fancy independents arrived. See, when you've been here this long you know that Hackney is not just about the place, it's about the people. Hackney is like a city within a city. A city that all sorts of people call home. From Ridley Road to murder mile and Hackney Wick. Hackney is home. It's where I got married, it's where I return to after every adventure.

Eastpak are hosting a competition well worth entering as part of their #Madeforyourcity campaign. Entering is as easy as pie. All you have to do is upload a pic of yourself with your Eastpak in your favourite place in your hometown/city HERE. You can also enter by sharing a pic on Instagram  Facebook or Twitter with a brief comment about your chosen location using the hashtag #Madeforyourcity. The prize is a trip for 2 to Berlin + £300 spending money. Winner will be selected by Eastpak + Size?  

It was fun to enter this comp and talk about our part of London. Hope you can enter too!

We have not received any payment to promote this competition. Neither do we receive any payments for the links provided in this post.
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| Places to Stay | Kinugawa Plaza Hotel

Remember our trip to the semi-abandoned "angry demon river" in Japan? We wrote about it HERE if you need a reminder.

We thought we would show you where we actually stayed.

The Kinugawa Plaza Hotel must have made all the right impressions when it 1st opened its doors to the public, decades ago. Today, it is down at heel and rather unloved. The sliding doors are torn, the tatami worn, the ensuite bathrooms are dated and there were chips and dents in every piece of furniture in our room.  

Yet, despite its list of tattiness, we would not change a single thing about our stay in this curious place. What the Kinugawa Plaza Hotel gave us was an insight into a multi faceted part of Japanese domestic tourism that is hauntingly unforgettable in so many ways.

We've said before that the Kinugawa is one of the strangest places that we've ever visited, and the Kinugawa Plaza Hotel only added to peculiar experience. To sum our feelings briefly, it felt like we were in a part time warp, part music box alternate universe version of Japan.

Our room was positioned in a part of the hotel that dominated a bend in the river so we were presented with a commanding view of the river and beyond. Though our room was on the tired side, it was large and we had our own bathroom and small lounge area. Everytime we stepped out of our room, we were greeted with the tinny music box theme tunes to Winnie the Pooh or some random Japanese cartoon theme tune.

Dinner was served in our room. It was okay, nothing to complain about but nothing to rejoice over either. 

We paid extra for a private deluxe hot spring bath which meant that we had to hop onto a coach after dinner and head into the forests.

For a large hotel with 160 rooms and a host of hot spring facilities, it was so quiet during the day and evenings. So quiet in fact that we thought the hotel semi empty. We had quite a shock in the morning when we encountered hundreds of other guests at breakfast. 

On check out the next morning. I was secretly expecting to hear a wealth of complaints but not a single one was to be heard. Instead, everyone looked genuinely happy and well rested. As for us, we left feeling like we had momentarily stepped into a different world for a couple of days. Somewhere that we cannot seem to shake off yet. Not that we want to mind you! (Every time our thoughts stray back to our time here, the Winnie the Pooh theme tune starts up in the back of our minds). 

The cost:

With the exchange rate at the time, we paid £114.00 per person for dinner, bed and breakfast and our outdoor bath experience. On arrival we were given a little hamper with a washing net, hairbrush and hand towel for use at the bath. Also we had use of a yukata, jacket and slippers. The only additional cost was our alcoholic drinks.

We personally found this expensive when compared with our stay at Daimonjoya in Yamagata (see HERE) in terms of quality and value for money. 

USEFUL LINKS |Kinugawa Plaza Hotel (Japanese)|How to get to Kinugawa Onsen

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