| Photo Diary | Tsukiji Night

It amuses me how often we are led by our bellies both on adventure and in everyday life. And it was while thinking with our bellies that we decided that there was only 1 place we wanted to get our dinner from during our stay HERE. TSUKIJI! (Another good reason for staying in Shinbashi). 

Is there a more famous fish market in the world I wonder? 

We got here too late to snoop around the big money business end of the market which was fine with us as we had the baby with us and besides we had dinner on our minds. The arteries of side streets that sprawl out of the main market area are clustered with little restaurants, food stalls and traders with their doors open to serve the market workers from the crack of dawn late into the evening. Of course they will happily serve hungry passers-by too.

It was very quiet when we visited. Perhaps because it was a weekday. We saw no obvious tourists that night. Instead we were engrossed with so many things to see in the fading light. 

We found a place served by a very vocal old lady and a diligent young sushi master and we got the freshest of the freshest sushi to take back to our room to enjoy with that immense view. Unforgettable.

Even today, months after our trip, I can still remember every moment of that day so vividly. Walking around the market as darkness fell around us was an unlikely magical experience. I think it was something to do with the dull hum and glare of the florescent lights, the sounds of the workers still vigorously slogging away, the calls of the restauranteurs attempting to tempt passersby into their establishments, some shops closed up for the day, others just opening and at the edge of it all, a shrine gleams out of the shadows. It's left enduring memories with us.

If you are visiting Tokyo this year. Head towards Tsukiji, it's about to be relocated and this feeling, these sights, will soon pass into memory.

| For the curious |

About the relocation of Tsujiki Market

This is where we stayed when we visited the market.

Take in more of our night light adventures 

More of our Japan adventure can be found here.

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| Life + Plants | Don't Rush

I bought a fern recently. An asparagus fern (protasparagus setaceus) to be exact. Stringent plant crazy folks will tell me it's not a real fern. That it is more accurately part of the lily family but sod them. It's a fern to me.

After I bought it home, it sprouted a disproportionately long branch. I was about to trim it off till I noticed tiny little buds forming on its tip. I'm glad I left it awkward though it looks, as I've enjoyed watching it unfurl into lacey featherlike fronds in just 1 week.

While watching my ferny friend grow, Its occurred to me that my life right now seems mainly about watching and helping things grow. It's a curious pursuit. Mainly because I cannot observe growth as it happens and so often refer to the past to see the progress in the now. My son is 9 months old now, and during our time together he's taught me many new things and honed abilities I didn't even know I had. Patience is one example that stands out. Here I am, a former multi-multi-tasker. A  rush to get everything and more done, endless list making, list ticking kind of girl enjoying and learning how to take things 
S L O W.

I feel as though I'm going against the grain of the crowd and I like it. I more than like it. I am savouring it while it lasts. I am learning to appreciate the right here and the right now and the beauty of watching, caring, enduring and gently guiding over life as it grows. Multi-tasking, I still do that. But I am more able to focus on what is before me wholeheartedly and completely without mentally straying to what is next on my list. Somehow it's made me appreciate the process, the journey, the learning and enjoy the result so much more than before. 

I think, maybe, my new found patience and nurturing nature is behind this penchant of plants that I have developed. 

We mustn't try to rush things that need time to grow. Some how, these slow moments are also some of the most important I may have in life. 

P.S. Our home is slowly turning into a Jungle. Wickid, wicked...................... I N C R E D I B L E.

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| Home | Hinamatsuri

I brought out our little imperial happy couple out of the box they've been resting in this week. They seem content sitting on their designated shelf watching and waiting for the 3rd of March. 

I also swapped our shoal of fish for this beautiful handmade mobile Hiro's grandmother sent us last year. I thought the colours and the fans compliment the dolls and together they both hint at Spring. The mobile is handmade with bamboo and handmade and hand printed paper by a paper specialist that has been trading since 1864.

Little things move, appear and disappear in our home throughout the year. It's just our little nod to the shifting of the seasons. 

Seasonality is at the heart of Japanese culture and we want to encourage our boy to appreciate this as he grows. An easy way to do this away from Japan, is to mark the many events and customs throughout the year.

Appreciating our place in the movement of the seasons and the transience of life is important to us.  

| For the curious | 

What is Hinamatsuri all about?

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| Beauty | Sweet Scent of Skincare

Pregnancy messed with me. I've come out on the other side with a few likes and dislikes rearranged in my head and there is no sign  going back yet. One such rearrangement was my former dislike of scented skincare, floral scented in particular. Fast forward to the now and my skincare routine is peppered with sweet smelling, mood elevating, smile inducing  delicate floral fragrances. (Did I really say that?)


This is one of my favourite morning cleansers. It is quite a full on blast of flowers 'in yer face' but it's nice to start the day smelling of roses these days and even nicer to have my skin feel not only fresh, but also smooth and gently pampered into the day. 


It's quite unusual to find a cream that refreshes and moisturises the face at the same time but this manages to do just that for me. It serves me well in the summer and pulls its weight in the winter too (over my face oil) never failing to leave a dewy finish to my skin. I'd feel greedy asking for anything more from a £20 cream especially when I got in the the sale for a chunky third off!


Winter plays havoc with my scalp. And going about my daily business itching my head is not a good look on any level (even if no one is looking). I give Klorane a virtual hug for coming up with this. It soothes my scalp and gets my hair squeaky clean. It smells like I've landed head first into a massive bouquet of flowers but most importantly..... I don't itch! 

I have no idea if my new found floral fixation is here to stay. I wonder?

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| Tower Block Stories | Sulkin House

Denys Lasdun is considered by many to be one of the most important British architects in the last 50 years. Known mainly as the architect of the stunning National Theatre of the South Bank, he was also instrumental in the redevelopment of London after the war by designing many social housing developments. Sulkin House was his first contribution to rebuilding London. Completed in 1958, 15 years after the war on a former bomb-site in Bethnal Green, the short tower stands eight floors high with 24 maisonettes. The wing-like structure is referred to as a 'cluster block' which is a theme that Lasdun revisited many times in this work. The hallmarks of his cluster block includes a central tower where the lifts and service utilities are and protruding accommodation 'wings' to its sides.

Sulkin House is part of the Greenways Estate, and it is from here that she has been rather shyly peering at us each time we roll past. This is a bold example of Modernist architecture that shuns the repetitive facade of the regular run-of-the-mill London tower blocks. 

Compared to the tower blocks we have visited over the years, this stands out in my mind as one of the most compact. The Greenways Estate is on a human scale, no crazy tall towers looming here (those can be found on the opposite side of the road). Despite its association with one of Britain's most prominent architects, there is no pretence here. Developers haven't swooped in to turn the place into more piss-taking luxury apartments. Like a lot of east London, things feel a little shabby. Just how we like it.

| Sulkin House Info | 

- Architect Denys Lasdun

- 8 floors. 
- 25 Maisonettes.

- Grade II listed
- Completed in 1959. 

- Part of the Greenways Estate  
- Has an identical twin sister, Trevelyan House who is just a stone's throw away.
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets

| Links For The Curious |

Denys Lasdun died in 2001, the eloquent obituary in the Guardian makes a succinct summary of his time as an architect.

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| Kid Stuff | Light Notes

Our Christmas gifts to each other last year were mostly playful. We indulged in things we could use throughout the year to add laughter, curiosity and mischief to our family life.

I bought us the decorative Light Box. It is designed by A Little Lovely Company who make an assortment of quirky stuff for kids and playful big folk too. Our little Light Box has become more than just a decorative light, and we've had lots of fun sliding in the plastic letters and symbols to create little messages (and the occasional unsuspecting visitor too). It's quite impossible not to smile at the happy notes that shine at us each evening.

The Light Box has so many possibilities! A generous set of 85 letters and symbols is included in the box and you can buy additional sets to keep the fun going. 

It's such a nice way to leave a message and brighten up a cold dark evening. It will come in handy on special occasions and I'm sure you will see it again on this blog again too. If you are looking for a gift for someone with kids, this is an ace pressie. And it's only £18.00.

| Info |

  • There is an A5 and A4 box. Ours is the A5 version with 2 rows and it measures 20 x 15 x 4,5 cm 
  • Made of black PVC surrounding 
  • Battery operated (6 x 1,5V AA) or via mains using a 9V DC500 mA adaptor neither of which are included in the box. 
  • Designed by A Little Lovely Company in Netherlands.
  • Made in China 
  • Available from This Modern Life
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| Abandoned | Limbo

We are coming across more and more abandoned buildings on our walks the days. The everyday sort of buildings that are easy to ignore despite their smashed up windows and obvious signs of neglect. We imagine these places are pending demolition to clear the way for developers. Interestingly, most of these buildings are relatively new but  because they lack architectural interest and are too young to have enough of a historical background, they languish in a state of limbo while someone, somewhere waits to give the bulldozers the green light.

We were on our way to nose around a housing estate that has been staring at for a while, when we came across this especially mundane office block. Its state of abandonment actually made it more interesting to our eyes. As Londoners, we are so accustomed to having CCTV cameras shoved into our faces and seeing every empty building boarded up so securely that it was odd to see this place left so open on a main thoroughfare.

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| Photo Diary | Free The Monkeys

Do you ever read through your old notebooks? I do especially the ones where I have kept travel tales in. It can be therapeutic to relive them through the pages of my sun stained books. They can inspire all sorts of memories to float out and cheer up a gloomy day. Of course it is vital to be present in the now and appreciate what is before us, but there is artistry in entwining memories into our paths. It all adds up to a more thoughtful appreciative lifestyle I think.

I recently corresponded with a friend who visited Kinugawa Onsen. Three things immediately sprung to my mind. The looming abandoned hotels, the strange atmosphere and colossal demons. Funny enough, she didn't notice any of that. 

So, in an attempt to remember things other than the abandonment,  I fell into my notebooks and remembered that we found ourselves on a rickety ropeway heading up 'monkey mountain'.

I loathe to see monkeys in cages. It hurts me to do so, therefore we spent our time up Maruyama  wandering around to the parts no one else seemed interested in. I recall the constant hum of bees in the sunshine by the Gokoku Shrine that guards the foot of the mountain. It was such a warm spring day, the sweet sickly scent of decaying flowers swayed in the breeze. We had missed the sakura display in Kinugawa which was a bit of a pity as the path leading up to the shrine is said to be quite a sight to behold when flanked with the ethereal blooms.

It ended up being really enjoyable before we headed back down and were met with yet more abandoned sights. 

How curious it is that two people can have entirely opposite memories of the very same place.

| For The Curious |

More of our Kinugawa Onsen adventures

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| What I Wore | Wooliest Time of Year

Hiro bought a pair of wool trousers from 2 X H Brothers in the January sales. They turned out to be a tad small for him and he was very disappointed about that. But they fit me comfortably well so, instead of returning them, he let me keep them. I am delighted with them. They are made of wool and are lined throughout and they are the warmest trousers I have ever worn. When I wear them, my legs feel like they are walking in a different season to the rest of my body.

I've always liked wearing mens clothes.  I think menswear is one of the most constant elements of my evolving sense of personal style. 

P.S. I must tell you about this curious section of East London we accidentally walked into soon. Rows and rows of neat looking red brick faced houses and of course, one stunner of a tower block. 

| Details |

Trousers from 2 X H Brothers
Fine knit Merino jumper from GAP 
Adidas Superstar trainers bought in 2008 

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| Plant Life | Botany

BOTANY is a little shop on Chatsworth Road, Hackney. It is also near the hospital where I have to visit for my dreaded regular check-ups. 

These days BOTANY has become more than just another shop to me, for passing through its doors inspires me to abandon my prickly mood outside and I feel right again. Its a nice place to reset my mind after each hospital visit. There is a good air here. It is a nice place to just breathe in the good vibes proliferated from Angela's creativity and the  thoughtfulness shown in her carefully selected and lovingly tended for plants. I think she's created a moment of magic here, and rather selfishly, I am so glad that it is where it is.

BOTANY is an independent lifestyle shop founded and run by Angela Maynard. In her own words BOTANY is;

"Inspired by nature & simple living.....Here you’ll find a carefully curated selection of ethically sourced hand-crafted homewares, organic skincare products, stationery, paper goods and other objects, alongside an ever-changing abundance of indoor plants life, from unusual succulents, cacti and other house plants to a weekly selection of cut and wild flowers." 


Visit the BOTANY website

Follow BOTANY's stunning Instagram account.

Explore Chatsworth Road

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| Photo Diary | River Bus

Pick a day. Any day, though a sunny day would be better. Top-up your trusty Oystercard, get yourself on the river bus (not to be confused with one of those tourist cruise boat thingies) and head out as far out as possible and then go back again.This kind of aimless meandering is good for you, and it is by far the most relaxing way to traverse London. 

Take the slow route down her major artery and as much as you think you already know the city, she will still chuck a few revelations your way. I know that we've mentally bookmarked a fair few destinations to explore when the time (and weather) is right.

We hopped onto the river bus from Canary Wharf and headed out beyond the Thames Barrier to Woolwich. We'd never seen the Thames barrier before and it was interesting to get close to the sentinels that keep London safe from flooding. 

P.S. There is a bar on board!

| For the curious |

Thames Clipper website has all the info you will need, timetables, route maps and prices

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