| Creatures | Simba vs Twiga

Around this time of year, our minds habitually return to east Africa where the sun is shining, mangos and pineapples are ripening and the days have a more sensible length. So with these feelings in mind, we thought we would take you on a sort of safari today. 

When we go on safari there are 2 animals that we really look forward to seeing - both are quite easy to find and we are never disappointed.

Hiro loves giraffes ('twiga' in Swahili). He is in awe of their size, their statuesque elegance and the  undulating way in which they move. They have an air of being so chilled out and at ease with themselves yet the truth is that they are always vigilant and never miss a trick.

I love lions ('simba' in swahili). I am in awe of the mighty vibes that they give out, their natural arrogance and their formidable power. They know that they are king of the savannah. And when they let out that low guttural growl that they do, my skin shivers into goosebumps. Awesome in the truest sense of the word.

Lions and giraffes aside, there is one animal we BOTH cross everything to catch a glimpse of and that is the Cheetah. When you see a cheetah in the wild, they seem so small, so fragile in the vastness of the savannah and when compared to the other animals that share their hunting grounds. Yes they maybe speedy but they cannot rely on speed alone so they are always on edge. Yet they are to us a symbol of survival. They have so much to contend with, their battle is great and unrelenting but they still survive and we love a surviver. 

So, are you with Hiro and his tower of giraffes? Or perhaps my pride of lions is more to your liking? Maybe you are also taken in by the tear-marks of the cheetah? Let us know!

Read More | More safari stories here |

Location Notes: These photos were all taken by Hiro during various trips to Tanzania. Some were taken in Mikumi National Park and some in Serengeti National Park.

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| Lifestyle | For The Record

I have never downloaded any MP3 music. I did buy a CD 21 years ago but that was the 1st and last time that happened. I am a record fan. Vinyl is my drug.  

I bought my first proper pair of turntables with a year and a half's worth of money I'd saved from my paper-round from a shop that my mate Dave use to work at. Since then, I've amassed a lovely collection of records that encompass various black music genres. The pride and joy of my collection is my box of 7inch ska, boss reggae records many of which are original press and would impress any original dapper-dan Jamaican Rude-Boy.

When people ask me why I prefer the sounds from a vinyl I say that it's a fuller, richer, warmer sound. It moves me. In many ways it is like comparing candlelight to LEDs. I can play records in a way that digital formats don't allow. Mixing music with records is a real skill and requires much more attention than beat-matching with one of these modern things. There was a time when I used to play out quite often. These days things are different. Convenience took over and begun to kill an old fashioned sound boy like me.

Records turns sound into a physical object. It also holds a memory as I often remember where and when I bought the record and listening to it takes me back to that place and time. I like playing music as much as, if not more than listening to it. Switching the amp on, mixer on, decks on, headphone on. Flicking through the sleeves, looking at the jackets, removing the record, checking which side to play. Lifting the needle, carefully placing it, the anticipation of the first beat while the vinyl crackles into play.

I also enjoy record shopping. Book lovers often harp on about the smell of old books and the atmosphere of old bookshops. It's a similar thing for record lovers. We have grown comfortable in the musty dusty cluttered confined space of an old record shop. We've grown accustomed to the unspoken etiquette of such places. We are like treasure hunters flicking through miles of vinyl in hope of one day finding that gem - unscathed, original and at a good price. We are hooked on that anticipation.

There was a time when I would traverse London at a drop of a needle to buy records. From Soho - Brixton - Tottenham I'd go where the music was. Sadly many of London's great record shops have long gone. But there are still some quality shops out there with real music lovers working in them...Eldica in Dalston, Flashback and Haggle in Islington, Supertone of Brixton and Massive International in Camden top my current list. 

These days I've noticed a slow revival of vinyl love. New enthusiasts have entered the society and now independent record shops are beginning to appear again. It is good to know that the legacy is fighting to survive instead of dwindling into memory. It feels good to know that more people are learning and rediscovering the undeniable beauty of quality over convenience when it comes to good music.

So with that I say "Puuuull uuuuuup n come again!!" to all the original sound boys still keeping it real. 

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| Thoughts | I Don't Get It

The internet is swarming with bits of dubious advice. Little throwaway comments that shouldn't be taken to heart, yet people do exactly that don't they?

FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT is one of the most annoying for me. 

What is wrong with good old honesty? I've always stuck to the view that it is better to be humble, honest and prepared to work my socks off till I learn what I need to and have all I need to achieve a goal.

Maybe it is because I dislike having the word FAKE anywhere near my sense of achievement that this saying irks me so much. 

Am I missing something? Are you faking it till you make it? Is it working for you? 
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| 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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