31.8.13

Wishes for the Weekend



|Moleskine Cahier using Muji Hex Double Ended Pen|





| Above 2  images borrowed from SNOB |
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30.8.13

LaLesso, Cloth of My Life

I like Lalesso's story, ethical approach and style and have a few items of their clothing in my wardrobe that I have worn over and over again over a few years now, yet they retain their shape and colour wonderfully. This is one of my favourites from their earlier collections, The Tiwi Dress:

A "lesso" is a length of  pure cotton cloth that has real Swahili appeal and East African roots.  These lengths of cloth are usually bought in pairs and cut apart to make 2 separate cloths that are worn by many African women. The lessos of Kenya and Tanzania are bold, bright and colourful and feature a Swahili proverb emblazoned across the bottom section of the back.

My mother had many many of these lessos. She would wear them over her skirts to protect them as she cooked, went to the market to haggle for our daily bread or went about her housework. My eldest cousin who would often stay with us, did the same only she would also wrap one around her waist when she was breaking out her chakacha. I also had a pile of lessos that I would use at the beach or as a night dress when the humidity was too much. I also had the peculiar habit of traveling with a lesso so I can wrap a pillow within in...apparently I never trusted another person's pillow case.

I have to admit that I found lesso too restrictive for my boisterous movements. And so it is that my heart skipped when I found Lalesso's online shop. Finally I could wear a lesso in a more comfortable and practical way!


Photos taken in Matera, Italy.

Links: LaLesso
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29.8.13

Particular Paper

If you follow me on Twitter then not only are you gracious but you may have noticed me (rather ungraciously), bickering about my lack of fine quality writing paper. I know that this may sound hideously and unnecessarily querulous, so allow my to defend my papery sentiments.

I like WRITING. I like filling my pen with ink before putting it to paper and writing. I like watching my thoughts spill into glossy shapes and then dry with subtle but satisfying nuances on my page. I have plenty of notebooks of varying quality (from close to bog roll to bloomin' smart) and I am much less fussy about those. However, I also enjoy writing letters with a fountain pen and so suitable paper is very necessary for those occasions when I drag out the "good paper". 




After much mulling over what is available in UK, I settled on a couple of A5 pads from G. Lalo Vergé de France.




G. Lalo begun making paper stationery in Paris around 1919 and eventually grew to become the stationery of reference in the royal courts of Sweden, Holland, Monaco and Belgium. I do like my stationery to have a good story behind it. 

The Vergé De France collection is a smartly presented 100gsm laid finish paper stock available in an array of gentle shades. I chose Champagne and Rose.




The paper is smooth but not Rhodia super smooth, it has a tactile laid finish that gives it a warm feel in the hand. Both the champagne and rose papers behave well with my fountain pens and markers with no feathering or distortion of my hand. You can feel the quality of Vergé De France paper when you handle it. I like this paper very much and would recommend it to fellow scribblers. I bought mine from MappaMundi but have also spotted some on The Paperie.



In these days of virtual messages and electronic words, handwritten correspondence is ever more special to send and lovely to receive. 


Links: G. Lalo | MappaMundi 
| The Paperie 

{The lovely Agoraphobic Fashionista also happened to blog about stationery today! Do stop by and take a look, her blog is a lovely place to rest :)}
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28.8.13

Fancy Pants!

My sister bought me a pair of butterfly shorts for my birthday. I love them...they are sort of "pretty nightmare elegant", very me!

I decided to wear them out on a stroll across the trendy lands of London Fields, along the canal, through Broadway Market where I picked up a copy of Betty Magazine.

We then then grounded ourselves once more on the feisty Mare Street.

 photo IMG_0396.jpg









Unlike the more elegant parts of London, east London is restless so the cityscape is in a constant state of creative flux. Things appear and then disappear in a blink of an eye. 

Hackney often sees these psychedelic mushrooms popping up here and there but I have never seen quite so many in one place before. They bring some welcome colour to the otherwise dead space, in my opinion.

I made the bag that you can see me dragging my things around in. I used a vibrant Ghanaian cotton print cloth, perfect for market trips I think.

Links: Mushrooms by Christiaan Nagel | Betty Magazine | Bag by Stranger London |
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24.8.13

Matter of Matera

Meandering through Matera's ancient and story-filled streets was a treat for the senses. 


I mentioned before that Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited human places in the world. Matera is a Unesco World  Heritage site known for its ancient cave dwellings known as "sassi" that date back to Palaeolithic times.




To me, Matera's unique beauty and magic may be attributable to its age old ongoing conversation between humans and nature. It is this that has shifted Matera's shape and growth to what we can see today.






Matera commands a lofty position with stunning views of the gravina that runs alongside it. the city is a multilayered living pop-up history book with an intricate body that is formed of underground labyrinths, cave dwellings, known as the "sassi", and densely intersecting buildings that span various eras.





Matera is a place of profound contrasts and unspoken harmony. Seeing the majestic landscape against the rugged faceted buildings  is an arresting sight by day yet by night it is the city that glitters like a thousand stars against a landscape plunged into a deep impenetrable darkness.



It may surprise many people to learn that the caves of Matera were homes to many people right up until the 1950s. Large families their cave homes with their livestock in cramped conditions with very limited sanitation or running water. Eventually, the poor living conditions became a national scandal and the Italian government passed a law to rehouse (and in many instances, forcibly remove) an estimated 15,000 people from the caves. The sassi were abandoned and left to face the elements as a ghost town. 

If you walk to the Caveoso part of town you can see an reconstruction of the cave homes. There are also many abandoned caves that you can take a sneaky look into - watch your step as you go though!

In the mid 80's the state of neglect of Matera became a new worry and the government passed a new law to encourage private ownership of the old buildings. In 1993, Unesco declared the Sassi a world heritage site and this drew tourists to the area. Since then extraordinary renovations have turned the abandoned buildings into stunning hotels, restaurants, theatres and galleries.


Walking through the winding streets of old Matera is mesmerising and feels almost dreamlike. It feels like every  corner has a secret, each street a story and each wall a heartbeat of its own.

“In the Sassi caves is concealed the capital of the peasants, its heart hidden in their ancient civilisation. Anyone who sees Matera cannot help but be awe-struck, so expressive and touching is its sorrowful beauty.” Carlo Levi, written on his visit to Mareta in 1945.



Tips: 

  • Leave your makeup bag and stilettos at home because they are useless items to carry to Matera. The paths are old, cobbled in parts and slippery smooth in other so they will punish high heels;
  • Go now while it is still a bit of a secret. 
  • Never fear of getting lost! It is a wonderful feeling.
  • If you go in summer, high SPF and a hat may come in handy.
  • If you need a hotel, we can highly recommend where we stayed |HERE|


| Dress: Lalesso | Hat: GAP | Sandals: Office | Eco bag: Flashback | Cardigan : COS |


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23.8.13

Blessings From INI


Leather, good leather, only looks better with with age and so I have great hopes for my designated safari belt.

This belt was made for me by our dear friend the shoemaker and designer INI in his atelier in downtown Tokyo.









I love my belt. It is minimal yet robust and heartfully made to see me through many an adventure. A real thing of beauty.

INI is of course all about shoes. Wonderfully made, rebellious shoes. 


From Beauty


INI shoes has been receiving a lot of well deserved attention lately and I am immensely proud and happy to report that ELLE Japan have picked up on the good vibes of INI and now stock his shoes in their online shop! (click on the images below to enter the relevant pages)




INI shoes is also on Instagram so make sure you follow for a wondrously curious experience!
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23.8.13

Fings What I Like: Bad Tees

I took a little saunter through the Big Cartel Directory recently. I was looking at what London makers/designers/crafters had to offer and I noticed a few funky tees



The only way I could ever like Barbie! T-shrit by Thieves of Thunder



The Zealot. T-shirt by Trust No One Clothing.



Life goes on by Storror




Because I love my borough. T-shirt by Hates You.

“We are
Born like this
Into this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes” - Cha
rles Bukowski



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19.8.13

| Places We've Stayed | Sleeping and Waking In the Mountain Mist

Japan is not short of beautiful, heritage rich places to stay. Forget hotels and stay in a ryokan (Japanese inn), for a much more unique, fulfilling and memorable experience.

One of the most beautiful places that I have visited was the Chikurin-in Gumpoen in Yoshino.

We arrived in Yoshino by nightfall yet it was not too much trouble for the staff of Chikurin-in to come and collect us from the station. We drove up a winding narrow road that cut through the mountains in darkness to reach the inn only for a wild boar to rush across our path. A rare and moving sight indeed.

Dinner was ready for us on arrival and we fast down to a real feast for the eyes and taste-buds in our own dining room.





Everything  had been prepared with great care  with special attention and thought given to the balance, texture, colours, flavours, seasonality and presentation of each dish individually as well as part of the overall meal.





Our rooms had private baths but we really wanted to relax in a traditional hinoki bath and so we booked an early morning slot in one of Chikurin-in's more special baths. We did not expect to be greeted with such a magical sight!

Relaxing in an enormous bath with the window open to let in the air of the forest and the rising mist of the mountain was an extraordinary experience. Unforgettable.






Our rooms were large and spacious. 4 of us shared the generous 10 tatami mat floor space of the traditional sleeping area. We also had our own sitting room and bathroom and a wonderful window that opened over the treetops. As in most ryokan, our futon were made up for us while we had dinner and then put away while we enjoy breakfast.







Breakfast was another delightful experience. The food at Chikurin-in uses fresh local ingredients of the season from both the surrounding mountains and rivers.







Rain was plentiful and unrelentless while we were in Yoshino. This would normally be a great big pain in the arse. However, because of the location, it somehow created an even more magical mysterious feel to the place. Without exaggeration, it felt like we were in a Studio Ghibli film.








Chikurin-in Gumpoen begun life  as the Tsubakiyama Temple built by Shotoku Taishi ( 572 - 622) and home to Buddhist monks who practiced ascetism in the Yoshino mountains. It has been host to many prominent people including the former Emperor of Japan and was a favourite cherry blossom viewing spot of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

The gardens were designed and created by Sen-no- Rikyu (, who is considered to me the most influential figure in the Japanese way of tea.

We visited out of season so our budget would allow for our stay. Chikurin-in Gumpoen comes into its own during spring when the 30,000 cherry blossom trees bloom and then release their floral poetry across the mountains. I imagine that it must be an exquisite sight to behold. In autumn, the maple trees take centre stage and set the panorama alight with their flame-like foliage.

| Chikurin-in Gumpoen |
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16.8.13

3 From Italy

Italians can pat their sun-kissed backs for being masters of blimmin' good packaging in my opinion! Here are a few things I fancied recently.


Tinned tuna.


Liquorice confectionery. These cute tins are perfect for storing my sewing needles.


Paper glue that smells delicious. Like almond cake!


I have of course added these images to my Packaging File on Pinterest. Link in the sidebar.
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