| Photo Diary | 1st Sakura

Nothing. No photos, no stories, no films could have prepared me for the profound beauty and stirring delicacy that experiencing sakura(cherry blossoms)season in Japan would impart upon my heart. 

The arrival of cherry blossoms is something deeply interwoven into Japanese hearts and tradition. And for ten London Springtimes, I've listened to Hiro praise sakura and reminisce of the ethereal beauty of the blossoms. So when he said that we were "going to chase sakura till we find them in Japan". I was so excited but also worried that the fleeting flowers would escape before we arrived. For weeks before our arrival in Japan, we watched the Sakura predictions with anxious apprehension. We watched the sakura maps dwindle as we saw reports that the blooms had left Kyoto, left Tokyo and so our chances of seeing them grew ever slimmer.

Then came the time that we travelled into the Japanese countryside. Rushing from bullet-train to tiny town and then to the middle of nowhere, taking each step with our fingers crossed. We eventually made it to Akayu a small town in Yamagata and our hearts soared when we approached the station and saw hundreds of cherry blossom trees crowning the hilltop. 

I had no idea that there were so many varieties of sakura. Some that flower pink, others more white. Some that drape and others that exude a most exquisite intoxicating fragrance. But it is not just about the flowers. It's the way that people celebrate them, families, couples, solitary watchers. They all look upwards with that same thoughtful gaze. Nothing could have faltered our smiles. Not only had we arrived on time to see the blossoms but we had arrived at the peak of the blooms. After this time, the blossoms would be spirited away by the prevailing winds.

I hope you like cherry blossoms as much as we do as we shall be uploading some more unique perspectives soon.

Wishing you all wonderful weekends.

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| Stationery | Glass Pen

I've been hunting down a good glass pen for many moons. Then one day, I found one in a second hand shop for just £6.00.

I am delighted with my new pen. The seller told me that it is made of Murano glass which I am ecstatic about as this adds a degree of heritage and artistic value the find. 

It has a very fine tapered point and though I was concerned about it being scratchy, it isn't at all. The ink flows within the etched ravines of the pen with an even rhythm that allows for a lovely writing experience.It is a lot more generous with ink than a modern fountain pen and so I am now considering purchasing a small supply of blotting paper. As archaic as it sounds, such things are still available

You may be wondering why I bought such a thing. Well, it is all to do with the practicality of it and yes, the charm of such an object played a big part too. Dip pens allow me to test out inks before I load them into a fountain pen and for a self confessed (rather impatient) ink addict like me, this is an invaluable tool.

I think that my glass pen resembles a magic wand. It has certainly cast a lovely spell over my desk recently.
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| What I Wore | Till it falls apart.

In my opinion, personal style is something as naturally individual to us as our own personalities. And like our personalities, there are moments in life when we are more susceptible (possibly vulnerable) to media influences.  

When it comes to blogging about personal style, I must say that I am increasingly comfortable in wearing the same things over and over again.

Leather jackets first appeared on the blog in 2011 
 See by Chloe bag first featured on the blog in 2011. 
Doctor Martens shoes first appeared on the blog in 2012
Take these items for example. My old leather jacket, Doctor Martens lace-ups and even my slightly tatty See By Chloe bag. They are growing old with me and I still enjoy their company. Shunning them and dumping them "just because" for something more on-trend just doesn't seem right. 

Now and again I will get some "helpful" anonymous ornery comment reminding me that I have worn this or that on my blog before. And so to those people I would like to say this. There are no prizes for spotting these things. I like things that last and when I like something, I will use it again and again till it falls apart. Just as I blog about things that I genuinely like, I only wear things that I genuinely like. There is no pretension in that. 

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| Photo + Food Diary | Yokohama with Papa + Mama

We took a family trip to Yokohama one day. We ventured up the Marine Tower and gazed at the bayside panorama through rain bubbled windows.

Yokohama is Japan's most prominent port. When Japan opened its borders to foreigners in 1854, Yokohama became a major trade hub and also the place where the 1st foreigners settled in and created a community in Japan. Today, Yokohama is a vast and populous suburb of Tokyo. The reason we visited was much to do about food!

I had heard from many people that the Chinese food in Yokohama is some of the best in Japan and I was eager to fill my belly while investigating these claims. Hiro's parents were willing to join this adventure and took us to their favourite Chinese restaurant in the area. I am so glad that they did because there are over 300 Chinese restaurants in Yokohama......300!! I would have been so terribly lost and confused had Hiro and I been left to our own devices.

The restaurant of choice was Manchinro, with a heritage over over 110 years; established in Yokohama in 1892. 

Marinated jellyfish.
Green peppers stuffed with prawns.
Tofu, shiitake, bamboo shoots and pakchoi ankake.
Simmered seasoned asparagus
Shou ron pou
Stir-fried pork
We tried a generous assortment of dishes, (the photos above don't show everything)each one split 4 ways before us by the very helpful staff. I have to admit, the food was really good. Far fresher tasting and more naturally fragrant than any of the Chinese food offerings that I have tried in London. Nothing was over-seasoned, or drenched in some gloopy sauce so that the honest flavours of each the fresh ingredients were allowed to shine. 

Strangers in the night
Yokohama Marine Tower

When we stepped out of the restaurant, night had drawn in on the bay. Hiro's time to chase light and shadow like ghosts and fireflies.

LINKS Manchinro |  How to get to Yokohama |

Manchinro address: 〒231-0023 153, Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture
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| Food Diary | An Exceptional Lunch

One lunchtime not too long ago, we ventured out with ravenous appetites. Hunger tends to sour our moods and it was with this very disagreeable tone that we wound up rambling from one eatery to another. Disenchanted with every menu we saw and growing ever more irritated with everything and everyone (including each other), we bickered as our hunger grew.  Then, just at the cusp of a futile argument, we stumbled into Galvin La Chapelle in Spitalfields.

The juiciest of olives.
Starter: celeriac & apple velouté with almonds & chestnuts. 
Starter: fillet of grilled mackerel, shaved fennel, Crème fraîche & beetroot
Pavé of cod, choucroute, brown shrimps, swede purée and juniper beurre blanc
Tranche of calf's liver, soft white polenta, pancetta and Madeire jus.
Petits fours
Valrhona chocolate mousse, pistachio ice cream and shortbread.

Galvin La Chapelle served an delectable set lunch menu, completely different our usual culinary selections. Yet as is often our habit, we find it very difficult to keep out of each other's dishes and so ended up sharing everything. Each dish was deftly and sensitively prepared with the choicest ingredients culminating in a luscious and truly delicious experience.

The restaurant takes up a Grade II listed parish hall with a 30m high vaulted ceiling

Our bill was quite surprising and far less than I would have previously imagined for a highly praised restaurant gushing with various accolades. It turned out to be a wonderful treat and we left with large smiles. Extraordinary how good food can turn things around for us. I suppose what it really shows is how much we really L♥︎VE good food.  

LINKS Galvin La Chapelle |  

Galvin La Chapelle address: St Botolphs Hall,35 Spital Square, Spitalfields, London, E1 6DY.
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| What I Wore | Converted Shirt

How was your Saturday? Mine involved breakfast in the sunshine and the rest of my day battling the shopping crowds on Oxford Street. I dislike crowded shopping particularly on warm days yet Hiro is rather old-fashioned and will never buy something that he has not tried on.

And so the battle commenced.

Breakfast at Cafe Oto, Dalston.
Converted Charity Shop Shirt. Yellow Chuck Taylor All Star Light Trainers. See By Chloe Bag. 
Lipstain is Innisfree Vivid Tint Rouge shade #1 "Pink Dreaming" Reviewed HERE

I found this lightweight shirt in a charity shop and paid £3.50 for it. There was a slight but unsightly stain on one of the pockets so I decided to carefully remove them and replace them with oversized Liberty print pockets of my own making. I rather like the measure of contradiction that they bring to the diverging stripes. I am now considering changing the buttons to pale blue ones, if I can find the right ones. The rest of my outfit is made up of old trusty things that are comfortable and easy to wear. 

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| Review | Supreme Sunscreen

In my perfect world, I only need to buy a single sun product to serve a multitude of reasons that will also see to all our sun care needs under any sky. This is not a small task given that we are prone to frequent bouts of wanderlust.

It was almost a year ago now that I was sent a bottle of La Roche-Posay's Anthelios Invisible Nutritive Body Oil with SPF50+ to try out. I  packed it into my adventure luggage with little expectation, just a hope that it would shield us from the intensely arid sun drenched and not to mention near shadeless terrain of Matera in southern Italy. Not only did the oil serve its purpose but it has become an adventure essential for us and has since travelled with us to mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar , South Africa and even our local park. I think it is now fair to say that I've given it a pretty thorough testing!

5 Reasons why I love this stuff:
  • La Roche-Posay's Anthelios Invisible Nutritive Oil contains broad photostable UVA/UVB filters and a high SPF 50 so it holds its own under the extremely strong sunlight of equatorial east Africa.  
  • This is a skin nourishing oil which contains La Roche-Posay's thermal spring water that helped to soothe the skin and kept our appendages moist and healthy in the arid heat of South Italy. 
  • Days spent lolling about in the parks of London or being a beach bum are a breeze. Its non-sticky, non-greasy formula works a treat so we never end up being grass/dust/bug magnets or sand monsters. 
  • Works great in humidity because it is a very lightweight oil (there were days in Dar es Salaam where humity reached 92%). 

La Roche-Posay's Anthelios Invisible Nutritive Oil is my hands-down favourite body sunscreen. I would not head to a beach without it. It is reliable, smells great (like holidays), is paraben free and looks like sunshine in a bottle! What's not to like? If it didn't contain mineral oil I would probably use it on my face too, though I have been known to use it on my hair. 

LINKS Escentual |  La Roche Posay UK | 

\\ This item was sent to us for review purposes. The above information is based on our honest and impartial opinion after trialling the item for nearly 1 year in various hot climates.\\
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| Visit | Koncent

One rainy day in Tokyo, three of us went wandering around the Kuramae area where we stumbled into the Koncent Design and Product shop.

Koncent is owned by h-concept and is a brimming treasure trove of unique and interesting fun stuff. It is also a hub for new talent and great ideas. The owner works with emerging product designers to assist them in developing their ideas into commercial items that begin their journey into the world right here.

The dreamy translucent Leaf Memo by Ryosuke Harashima who also designs some other quirky desk objects that make me just want to hold them. I especially like the | Clip Nest |

Another leaf shaped item that caught my eye was the Leaf Thermometer by Hideyuki Kamagai. Seemingly magical little leaves that change colour in different temperatures, shifting from brown when cold to yellow when warm. 

Sticking to the leaf theme, this is what I brought home. Some cute little leaf drawing pins! Designed by Joonhyun Kim and made of polycarbonate and stainless steel in Japan. 

"This pushpin resembles a sprouting plant with a unique shape that keeps the needle from facing upwards if dropped. I designed it with the innocence of a sprout emerging from concrete in mind."

I think that they are nothing short of adorable as well as practical so I brought back 2 sets. One for me and one for a lucky winner:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to enter:

To enter fill out the Rafflecopter form above. 

- This giveaway is open to international entries. 

- You MUST be a follower of this blog via Bloglovin' or Google Friend Connect (see "members" at the bottom of the blog). Please don't forget to leave your name/blog name/tag in the comments so I can find you and follow back.

- If the winner does not contact me in 1 week of announcement, then I will pick a new winner.

- Closing date May 22nd 2014


LINKS | Koncent | H concept | Ryosuke Harashima |
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