| Explore | Beautiful Decay

Trudging through the City on my way to the 'job that pays the bills ', I must have walked passed this installation many times. I am disappointed in myself, as I am usually more observant and I would have liked to have seen it in its fresher stages. That said, catching sight of the flowers as colour begun to leave them appealed to my fascination with beauty in decay 

This living installation flourishes from the ceiling of the Guildhall Gallery's foyer. It is the work of artist Rebecca Louise Law, who's work will beguile flower fanatics everywhere. Inspired by London’s urban gardens, fresh flowers hang from copper wires and slowly they dry, preserve and decay.

| Links for the curious |

Rebecca Louise Law's website.

Design Boom's story on Rebecca's staggering installation of 8,000 flowers in San Fransisco. 

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Flat White Conflict

I enjoy a well made flat white as one of my little luxuries in life. But lately,  even the best of them has been leaving a sour taste in my heart. Not the fault of any barista, roaster or blend. The sourness comes from a conflict brewing in my conscience that leaves me feeling uneasy about how things are changing in east London, and the unaware flat white, smashed avocado and sourdough loaf among other things, seem to have become symbolic of this unease. 

There are 2 principles that I try super hard to consider as a consumer:

  •  Supporting independent businesses and;
  •  Being mindful of the social changes in my local area.

These days, my regular flat white has begun to epitomise the collision of these two principles. And I do not feel good about it.

As I witness more and more local high streets that have always been dominated by independent businesses, that locals can afford give way the invisible partitions of gentrification....I despair.

The pattern tends to follow a similar path wherever you are in London, from Brixton to Clapton:

1. An economically poor but vibrant area - becomes "cool" to many an outsider.  

2. Wealthy young people from outside of London, attracted by the "cool status" and affordability of the area move in and start up small independent businesses.

3. Tech, trend and Social savvy, they can attract the press, they attract other young wealthy cool-hunting people to support and endorse their businesses.

4. Rents and house prices go up. Many long-term locals have to move out of their homes.

5. Locals who stay - get priced out of their own neighbourhoods. Can't afford, nor want to buy the flat whites, sourdough loaves and organic produce that the new establishments sell. 

6. Locals feel excluded. New Establishments are not aimed at them. 

7. Local shops that can move with the changes begin to stock the things that the new people want. But some shops get left behind - the change is too big, and newcomers just won't shop there. So they close down.

8. More and more independent new shops open selling things that the long-term locals don't need, want or afford.

9. The divide between those who can afford to spend £12 each an avocado-laden brunch and those who have to feed their entire family on £12 grows and grows. 

Can anyone else see this? It makes my heart feel heavy. It makes me feel uneasy. I can't ignore it. 

I am conflicted because I want to and do support these new independent stores that have cropped up in places like Broadway, Chatsworth Road, Shoreditch etc. I would rather my hard-earned money went to an enterprising individual who really appreciates my custom than a huge soulless corporation. But there is more to this story than supporting an independent business. 

I don't want to feel that I am supporting social cleansing and the displacing of the soul of these places that I love so much. 

Supporting those business than have been there before the gentrification turned into an all consuming monster goes without saying. In my opinion, these are the real local independent establishments that we should all be supporting.

It is easier to turn a blind eye, close my heart and pretend that everyone is happily living side by side. But I can't. The divide between the rich and poor in London is getting out of hand. 

That is why my flat white doesn't taste so good these days.

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| Photo Diary | Red Moss

Before we went to Finland, I had no clue that there was such a thing as red moss. I also had no clue that the Finnish have a proper rug washing tradition that in rural areas involves super eco-friendly natural detergents, enormous mangles and stunning lakeside locations. I also didn't know the difference between a massive pond and lake of any size - actually, I still don't! 

One morning, my sister, Hiro, our boy and I went for a walk in the woods. Just like in those tales of old, we took off without a care in the world. Foolhardy in our ways, we sauntered down one path, and veered into another. Soon enough, it dawned on us that we hadn't a a clue which way we had come, nor which way we should go. We hadn't been walking very far so we assumed that we would find our way back home with ease. But. Just in case. Just like in those tales of old, we stacked stones in little piles to mark our way. It didn't stop us from getting lost. Our phones, didn't work. We were hungry and slightly, only slightly concerned.  The baby however, was fast asleep.

We did make it back home, of course. Curiously, though it felt like we were in the forest for hours, we weren't gone for half as long as we thought.

Oh, and another thing about the red moss!  It is really spongey, and if you stand on it too long - you sink into it.

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| Photo Diary | Ducks + Skyscrapers

Just a stone throw away from the dizzying buildings of Shimbashi, and the sprawling Tsukiji Market is Hamarikyu gardens. Here ducks splash about in seawater moats, diving into reflections of skyscrapers. 

Hamarikyu gardens don't have as spectacular a display of autumnal foliage as other places in Tokyo and its springtime efflorescence is on the subtle end of the cherry blossom viewing spectrum, so it remains a little more sidelined than Tokyo's more famous parks and gardens. 

If you ask me, Hamarikyu presents visitors with curious vignettes that juxtapose old and new Tokyo, botanical beauty and with skyward feats of engineering. It is just fascinating to watch these contrasts from this historic and placid park. 

Hamarikyu gardens originally belonged to the Shogun families of the Edo period. During the Meiji Restoration, the gardens belonged to the Imperial family and a palace stood on the grounds. The buildings were damaged beyond repair during the Great Kanto Earthquake and the bombings of WWII and in 1945, the Imperial family gave the gardens to the City of Tokyo and it opened to the public in 1946

How to get there:

Toei O-edo Line Shiodome Station. E-19, Tsukiji-shijo Sta. E-18 or Yurikamome Shiodome Station. (7 minutes on foot) JR or Tokyo Metro Ginza Line/Toei Asakusa Line, Shimbashi Station. (10 minutes on foot) G-08, A-10

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| Table Top | 13

My sister's boyfriend had a bespoke dining table made for their home. It has legs that look like scaffolding and is crowned with a truly beautiful glossy yellow surface. I couldn't resist shuffling my things about on it and before too long, there I was taking photos for my blog!

It's been too long since I shared one of my Table Top views hasn't it?

Now this my friends is real 'eye-candy'! It's so pretty! Made by UN ELEFANTE from Mexico, it is obvious why it is called the 'Pollock' bar. Made of 58% cocoa from Colombia, hand painted and not too shabby on the tastebuds.

I've had to crack open a new notebook this week. I seem to be more successful at  writing blog posts on paper than onto our actual blog at the moment. Ah well, there is something comforting about my words and ideas waiting for me on the pages of a fine notebook. The notebook of my choice is the a6 version of Midori's 5th anniversary MD Cotton Notebook. This is a notebook for proper paper and writing fans. Not a whiff of kawaii here. Just pure minimalist presentation for a notebook that enhances the joy of writing.  If you are curious, you can read my blog post about the A5 version HERE.

couldn't resist sharing this clip. It's so good to know that I am not the only one who likes the sound of someone writing/drawing on paper. It's one of my favourite sounds in the world.

The multi-pen is another bit of kit that I have been using for years. It is customisable Coleto pen by Pilot. I wrote about my love for these before HERE.

| Links For The Curious | 

UNELEFANTE's website

I love stuff like this. Here is an in-depth look at the manufacturing process of the MD notebook.

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4 Cities I'd Visit Mainly For The Architecture

The thought of lugging myself on a purpose planned architectural tour makes me feel a bit queasy, uneasy and a bit....bleurgh. It just doesn't feel natural to me. 

Each time we return from an adventure, folks tend to ask us if we saw this or that prominent architectural attraction, and more often than not, we don't even know what they are talking about. Sure, some people think we are missing out - of course, we don't agree.Otherwise we would never discover the marvels that have touched our travel memories so profoundly.  Remember when we hung out in this incredible car park? Or saw the abandoned human zoo rotting away in a Parisian park? Or closer to home, how about all our tower block adventures in London? All these places are rarely mentioned in travel guides yet are so much more interesting to us than the places that are.

But there are exceptions, even for us! And there are a fistful of places that I would LOVE to visit just so we can take in their incredible architecture. That said, in the way we view the world; no architecture can be appreciated fully without seeing the structures in context with their location and human stories.

Pictures found on Pinterest


I have tonnes of respect for Oscar Niemeyer. I think he was ah-may-zing both for his work ethic and of course his architectural style and vision. His career spanned a staggering 78 years. 78!! Years!!! Anyway I won't get into his story just yet. Let's stick to his mind-blowing work in Brasilia. The buildings on my hit-list would include: The Cathedral of Brasilia, The National Congress of Brazil, The Complexo Cultural da Republica and The Palacio do Planalto. Brasilia is a city planned and built from scratch on an empty plain in the heart of the country. With Niemeyer as the primary architect and Lucio Costa as the urban planner, a visually striking, optimistic modernist city was born. I am certain that it is largely due to Niemeiyer's buildings that Brasilia was made a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987.

Pictures found on Pinterest


Niemeyer, like droves of other architects, was influenced in one way or another by Le Corbusier, and so we come to a Marseilles. The city that holds a Le Corbusier work that tower block obsessives like I all want to see in the flesh.  Unité d’Habitation. Often cited as one of the initial inspirations of the Brutalist movement, it is first and foremost beautiful in my eyes. Seeing it in person would be an extraordinary experience for us I am sure.

Pictures found on Pinterest


Why Le Corbusier's attempt at materplanning is located in the unlikely city of Chandigarh still baffles us. I am sure that his ego had much to do with it, for it is astonishingly out of context and at odds with its location on so many levels. All this adds to the fascination that I have with the city and I long to visit and walk along the shadows of the High Court, the assembly and the Secretariat. As for the Tower of Shadows, I maybe I'd camp out there for a whole day - just to see how sunlight and moonlight move within it.

Pictures found on Pinterest


I don't think I personally gave a hoot about architecture till Hiro told me Tadao Ando's story. I was just fascinated by the tale of the man who was once a truck driver and a boxer before he acquired a book on architecture by Le Corbusier and BOOOOOOM. I love so many of his buildings. The way he works with concrete and makes something so cold and unforgiving seem sensuous and tactile is of course incredible but it is how he plays with light within his buildings that really moves me. It is no wonder then, that Naoshima in Japan is on this list. Designed largely by Ando, Naoshima is mostly known for its concentration of art galleries and museums.

If someone offered me a ticket to one of these places leaving tomorrow, I would pick Chandigarh. Or maybe Brasilia. No, definitely Chandigarh :)

| Links for the curious |

BBC discuss is Niemeyer's Brasilia works as a city with  Lord Foster, Lucy Jordan and Professor Ricky Burdett 

Naoshima Benesse Art Site Website

FT film showing footage of a visit to Chandigarh 50 years after the architect's death.

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