Sunday, 13 August 2017

OUTFIT: Oversized smock


Dress: ASOS
Top: Topshop
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban *
Trainers: Vans

Another outfit post in the space of two weeks, what are the chances?

I love this smock style dress, it's been somewhat of a wardrobe over the last few months. It's something about the oversized fit, that makes this dress so easy to wear. I love the simple nature of it, and teamed with a pair of trainers I find it to be the perfect easy day outfit, without looking too casual. I have a thing for stripy tops (don't we all) so you'll usually find me wearing this dress with one of my favourite breton numbers underneath.

I've also got a new pair of sunglasses which I'm pretty excited about. Smart Buy Glasses sell designer frames at reduced prices, and very kindly gifted me with a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses. I'd been after a new pair of Wayfarers ever since my last pair broke so I'm delighted to have my hands on the signature black style. I love the iconic cat eye shape of these, they're so easy to wear and are quite affordable for such a well know brand.

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Monday, 31 July 2017

OUTFIT: Spotty jumpsuit

Playsuit: ASOS (sold out I'm afraid)
Denim jacket: Gap
Sunglasses: Celine
Trainers: Vans

It's been a long time since I did an outfit post, over a year in fact. I spend a lot less money on clothes these days for a couple of reasons, I'm spending more on travel and I'm just not feeling that inspired by fashion recently. However, when I spied this jumpsuit on ASOS a few months ago I had to pick it up immediately. I've always found jumpsuits problematic, they never fit right, or feel comfortable, or look good on me. But this stars aligned on this occasion and I was left with a jumpsuit so perfect that I end up wearing it at least once a week.

My denim jacket was an extreme case of impulse shopping. I was struggling to find a non-oversized, non-cropped denim jacket to take on holiday. ASOS failed me so the night before Steve and I left for Denmark I raced around Oxford Street looking for something appropriate. I found this and whilst I don't love it, it suits my needs just fine. I've been jazzing it up with my pin collection and it's now feeling more me.

In other news, I've had a good chunk of my hair chopped off. Thanks to the lovely folk at Rush I was invited down to their brand new salon in Shepherd's Bush for a cut and blow dry. I like my hair on the shorter side as it's quite thick and unruly but for some reason I'd been keeping it around shoulder length for the last year or so. Even with my undercut and a huge chunk of shaved hair at the back of my head, my curls have a way of getting the better of me. Cue a visit to the lovely new Rush salon, my stylist understood exactly what I was after. My undercut was shaved back into a number 2, and after a relaxing hair wash and head massage I was whisked back to my chair where the real work began. Snip snip went the scissors and after what felt like no time at all, my hair was being dried and I was presented with a cut, and a much breezier neck, that I absolutely loved. 

When it comes to matters of the hair I am lazy. I wash it, I brush it, I put in a little oil, and then I leave it to air dry. My stylist understood my needs, or lack thereof, and whipped up a style that is easy for me to manage. No fuss, not tantrums, just my hair doing what it does, and for this I am extremely grateful. Rush Shepherd's Bush are currently offering 50% off so if you're in need of a trim, restyle, or just a blow dry then I recommend checking it out. Thanks so much for giving me a great do!

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Thursday, 27 July 2017

How to have a Scandi day in London

It's no secret that I love Scandinavia, I've declared it many times on this blog. Whether it's the design, the people, or the lifestyle, the Nordic countries feel like home to me. Despite visiting this part of the world at least once a year and travelling extensively around the individual countries I always want to discover more. Fortunately, London is full of Scandinavian shops, cafes, and restaurants that help keep my lust of all things Nordic in check until it's time for my next visit.

There are Scandinavian delights scattered all over London but because quite a few central locations are in close proximity to each other, it's quite fun to make a day of it. Make sure you're hungry because there are a lot of foodie stops to be found.



Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Memories of Denmark




I'm not long back from a two week and a half road trip around Denmark and my goodness I cannot wait to tell you how amazing this country is. Having visited Copenhagen back in 2009 I was expecting the rest of the country to be wonderful, but I was blown away by just how charming, pretty, and full of joy Denmark is. Denmark isn't like Copenhagen, well maybe Aarhus is a little. Cities are small, villages are full to the brim of cutesy, colourful houses, and day-to-day life is peaceful. Not to mention that the people are some of the friendliest you'll find.

A couple of years ago Steve and I did a road trip around Iceland which was indescribably out-of-this-world. Whilst Denmark doesn't have the same dramatic landscapes, it does have it's own unique style of beauty. Denmark is flat, when you come across a hill it's a big deal, which is why there are so many cyclists. The luscious, green landscapes stretch as far as the eye can see. The coast is an eclectic source of glorious white beaches and dramatic cliffs. The architecture is stunning, from rainbow coloured bungalows, end-of-the-world light house and sand swept churches, stunning design museums that will make you want to move in immediately, and ancient Viking fortress ruins that are so incomprehensibly old it's hard to believe they're real. Denmark has it all and when you take into account how small and easy to travel the country is, it's the perfect place for a stress free and beautiful road trip.

Whilst I'm hardly a pro on Denmark I feel like we covered so much ground that I can give you an excellent overview of the country. Some of the places we visited I would return to in a heartbeat, whilst others I could happily never visit again, not because they weren't nice but because I left feeling satisfied. Plus there's still a few parts of the country I need to save for another trip.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Where to eat in Copenhagen, Denmark


A big reason for wanting to visit Denmark was to indulge in New Nordic cuisine. I love the concept of using only the most local of ingredients in your cooking. Not only does it promote local business and environmentally friendly practices, but it also leads to innovation, exciting and unique flavour combinations, and dishes that you can't find else where.

Had we not been spending over two weeks in Denmark, I would have liked to have visited a Michelin starred restaurant such as Geranium, Kadeau, or Relæ. But with Noma closed during our visit, I had this all or nothing mentality - if I couldn't visit the restaurant that invented the New Nordic movement then I'm not going to bother with the others. Anyway, my wallet breathed a sigh of relief when it realised it wouldn't be forking out for these types of meals.

That being said, Denmark, as I'm sure you've heard many people say, is not a cheap place to eat. With a 25% sales tax, the cost of eating out can rocket. Most of our dinners hit the £70 to £90 mark which is of course expensive, but also comparable to some of the restaurants Steve and I frequent in London. While this is extremely far from a budget dinner, the thing I will say is that the food in Denmark is some of the best I have ever experienced. The quality of the ingredients, the inventiveness of the flavour combinations and the exceptional service meant that I never once felt a meal wasn't worth the price.

What I did come to realise is that there's isn't a huge difference in price between your casual all-day cafe type places and somewhere a little higher end. If you can afford to spend a little extra per person when it comes to dinner then it's worth seeking out those higher quality restaurants, you will not be disappointed.

If you want to eat well without going bust then my best advice is to avoid alcohol, or at least wine. Steve and I don't tend to hit the booze too hard on holiday, a few bottles of local beer will do us just fine which is great because this is a much more affordable option.

So onto the food. I did a lot of research for where we were going to eat and it absolutely paid off because everywhere was wonderful and I cannot wait to share my recommendations with you.

BREAKFAST / BRUNCH



Friday, 26 May 2017

Out of Office: Danish Edition


Today Steve and I are off on a two and a bit week road trip around the gorgeous country of Denmark. The last time I was in Denmark was way back in 2009 when I spent a couple of days in Copenhagen during my inter rail trip. I remember loving the city but I don't really remember doing that much in terms of sightseeing (I was broke). This time around I am armed with a long list of sights, shops and restaurants I want to visit so it will be all stations go.

We will be spending out first five days in Copenhagen, three days in the actual city, one day driving around the island of Zealand visiting castles and galleries, and another day across The Bridge in Malmo, Sweden. My obsession with Scandinavia really kicked off back in 2009 so I am really excited to revisit the country, especially as I've developed a love of Danish design, Nordic Noir TV, New Nordic cuisine and the great outdoors since I was last here.

After Copenhagen we will be driving over to Jutland to stay in Odense for a couple of days. There's a few Viking related sights I want to stop off at en route and once we're there we'll be spending a day on the lovely island of Ærø. Odense is the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen so I'd like to visit his home and indulge in a bit of Danish literature.

Our third stop will take us over Jutland as we'll be staying in Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark. I'm excited to wander around the cobbled streets as well as visiting some of the small nearby islands like Fanø and Rømø. It's from here we will be driving down to the German border one day which should make for an interesting diversion.

After Ribe, it's on to the Danish Lake District. We'll be spending a couple of days in Silkeborg as well as visiting Legoland which I am beyond excited about. There's not a ton of stuff to do in this part of the country so it'll be nice to spend a little time relaxing after a busy week of sightseeing.

We'll then be travelling up north to Aalborg for one night. There's quite a bit to do in the city but we'll be shortly heading up to Skagen for beaches and down time. I can't wait to hit the sand dunes and relax in our beach house for a couple of days. 

Are final stop is Aarhus which happens to be one of the European Cities of Culture this year and there's a ton of stuff I'm excited to visit. Nearby Djursland is meant to be a lovely part of the country and I'm sure we will visit some of the beaches around there as well. There's a few museums I want to make time for in Aarhus as well as a plentiful food and shopping scene.

After a couple of days in Aarhus we'll be catching the ferry back to Zealand, visiting Rosklide, a couple of sights in Copenhagen suburbs, and a final Danish dinner before our flight back to London.

As with all of our big holidays I have a rather detailed itinerary but I'm prepared for plans to change. You never know what could happen when you're on the road for two weeks. If you've been to Denmark and have a burning recommendation to tell me about then please do leave them it in the comments as I am always eager to hear tried and tested holiday places.

Follow my #HyggeHobs hashtag on Instagram for lots of holiday snaps.

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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

My Travel Wish List


I am always day dreaming about travel, whether it's my next holiday, a future plan, or a wish list destination, travel is firmly on my mind. As I discover more about the world I am constantly adding new destinations to my ever growing wish list. Some of these are small city breaks, while others are big, grand road trips. However, my top five wish has been the same for quite a few years now. Fortunately I managed to tick one of those places off last year, Japan. But unfortunately for me I think it's going to be a while until I visit the remaining locations.


Antarctica

Antarctica has been the top of my wish list for as long as I can remember. The vivid landscapes, the magnificent wildlife, and the midnight sun appeal to me like no other destination in the world. Seeing penguins, whales, and seals in their natural habitat and visiting part of the world that not many people get the chance to explore is a dream I hope to achieve one day. A Planet cruise, is how I'd want to visit this corner of the globe, as it's pretty inaccessible otherwise. I don't think this is a trip I'll be able to do for a while but it's something I will continue to think about for years to come.


Peru

I've wanted to do the Inca Trail for many years but somehow I'm yet to visit South America, let alone make it to Peru. The trek is a challenge, mentally and physically, but I'm sure it's worth it for the views over Machu Picchu. Plus, I absolutely love Peruvian food and I can't even begin to image how good ceviche tastes in some of the incredible restaurants in Lima. Here's hoping I can plan a trip in the next few years.


India

India is a country that appeals to me more with every passing year. Whilst it may not be the most easy of places to travel around, it's bursting with a rich heritage, full of history and tradition. And that's before we even mention the food. The country is so big I'm not even sure where I'd start but of course I'd want to see the Taj Mahal

Trans-Mongolian Express

I know it's not everyone's dream to spend a week on a train but the journey from Beijing, through Mongolia, and finishing in Moscow is something I am desperate to do. Of course I'd want to stop off en route instead of spending a solid week on the train but the chance to ride through the Gobi Desert and Siberia in a little carriage for two feels beyond romantic to me. I am desperate to visit Russia but I'm saving myself for this once in a life time trip.


Indonesia

Since bumping off Japan, Indonesia has made the final five. I'm planning to visit my little sister in Bali next year but that's only a tiny part of this huge, varied country. There are so many islands I want to visit (hello Komodo) as well as spending a few days in Jakarta. Indonesia is definitely a place that will require multiple visits. I can't wait to visit the rice fields in Ubud next year, and see my little sister of course.

This is a collaborative post

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Monday, 1 May 2017

My Travel Book Collection


I have an addiction, a travel book addition, and it's got to a ridiculous stage.

I've always had a love for travel books as I find the process of planning a holiday as enjoyable as the holiday itself. I love reading as much information about a city as possible, finding out the best places to see, eat and drink. I'm not very good at wondering around without direction on holiday, instead I like to have a list of things I want to see and use the time in between to wonder around different parts of the city. But even with a love of travel books as intense as mine, they aren't my only resource. Blogs play a big role, especially when it comes to food. But it's not all about the most peak Instagram interiors. I like places with history, a reputation for producing the best produce, and places that a local would happily frequent.

I like to use travel books as the initial building blocks when it comes planning a trip. Find out what attractions I need to see, which areas are the best for dinner and drinks, and what sort of prices everything will cost. But to plan the best possible trip I don't think travel guides should be you're only source of reference as there's still so much to find online.

Go back 10 years and city guides didn't really stretched beyond Lonely Planet and Wallpaper. In the last few years more and more independent publishers have been popping up and releasing their own spin on the city guide concept. In turn, I've become addicted to checking out new series, so when it comes to planning a trip I'm inevitably left with a ton of different guides to check out. Fortunately for my bank account, most of these new series only feature guides for big, popular cities which means when I travel to somewhere less popular (like my recent trip to Romania) quite often the Lonely Planet is the only guide available.

My big holiday this year is a 2.5 week road trip around Denmark where we will be spending 5 nights in Copenhagen. Copenhagen is currently having a bit of a moment, which means all the new city guide publishers are bringing out Copenhagen city guides. Most of the city guides I collect feature a Copenhagen guide so I thought it would be best to use this city as an example.

The first thing I do when planning a holiday is pick up a Lonely Planet. I've been a fan of Lonely Planet ever since I went inter railing in 2009. A friend recommend the company so I picked up Europe on a shoestring and have never looked back. I love the way the books are laid out, with detailed descriptions, helpful maps, and a ton of tips about what to see, drink, eat and do. The more you use a guide like Lonely Planet the easier it is to navigate their future books as everything is presented in the same style. 

Lonely Planet publish many different styles of guides but I always pick up the traditional city guide, or in the case of a smaller country, the country guide. If you're going to a large city like NYC, London or Paris you don't need to pick up the country guide as it'll be far too big, but for somewhere smaller like Copenhagen, they only publish a Denmark guide. That's fine for me as I'm travelling around the country but even if I wasn't I'd probably still buy it as the book isn't that big, yet the Copenhagen section is extremely comprehensive. I always bring the Lonely Planet on holiday with me as it's such a great all rounder. The only thing I don't think they excel at is food recommendations. The books are fine for smaller places but for large cities, or those like Copenhagen where the food scene is one of the best in the world, the books fail to cover a lot of really exciting options. Yes, all the big names will be mentioned, but for those new, trendy places, the books are somewhat lacking.

I'm also a big fan of the Lonely Planet pocket guides. These are great for on the go whilst you're away (I'll leave the big one in the hotel if a pocket guide is available) as they're small and compact. While a lot of the information in my Denmark guide is repeated in my Copenhagen Pocket Guide, the sights have a more detailed description and there are lots of interesting facts about local life. Bear in mind that the pocket guides don't include hotel recommendations.

My next port of call is a Wallpaper city guide. I've been collecting these for over 10 years and thanks to the beautifully colour coded spines, they make quite the impression on my bookshelf. The first thing I will say about these guides is that they shouldn't be used as a stand alone city guide. They tackle cities from a design perspective so expect lots of unique looking buildings, fancy hotels, design concious shops, and the most exclusive bars and restaurants. This is especially useful for Copenhagen which is positively bursting with cool design. I love these books for their beautiful photography and unique take on a city. You'll find lots of unusual suggestions that'll take you far beyond the usual tourist sights. For the budget concious traveller, you'll definitely find the occasional 'cheap' recommendation amongst the high end restaurants and hotels. When looking for a boutique hotel I always check out the Wallpaper guide first and have subsequently found plenty of reasonable priced options. Most, but not all, Wallpaper guides are available in an app which I always download to save me from taking the book away. Yes, I'm paying for the same thing twice but I did say I had a pretty serious addiction.

The only city guides I buy regardless of if I'm visiting the place or not are the Herb Lester guides. These fold out paper maps are small but mighty. They are beautifully designed and every city is depicted in a completely different way. They definitely don't contain a huge amount of information but they're full of trendy eating, drinking and shopping recommendations. The Copenhagen guide is lovely and I'll probably bring it on holiday with me, using it as a book mark in my Lonely Planet so it stays in a good condition. A few years ago I was gifted the European and American box-set of guides which has lead me to continue buying new guides every time one is released. Blue Crow Media make similar fold out city guides but their range is a lot smaller.

I really like the CITIX60 series of city guides and despite the collection being on the small side, most major cities are covered. These can definitely be used as a stand alone guide as the content is pretty comprehensive, plus you'll find a bunch of maps at the back. I like to think of these as a 'hipster' series due to the types of restaurants, bars and shops included. The sightseeing section isn't as comprehensive as the Lonely Planet but everything major is included. The guides are full of photography which is something you don't get in your traditional travel book so they really give you a feel for what the city will be like. The Copenhagen guide is full of places I'm looking forward to visiting. I probably won't bring the book with me as I'll just make a reference of places on my Google maps.

The 500 Hidden Secrets is a series I have recently discovered that I absolutely love. These guides are presented as a series of lists. 100 different lists will give you an oversight into all things happening in the city, many of the choices being things you won't see in other guides. I wouldn't recommend the book as your only form of travel guide as it's not really comprehensive in terms of sight seeing. However, if you're looking to get off the tourist trail then you will find so many exciting options. The Copenhagen book is jam packed with amazing recommendations that I can't wait to check out. The series is relatively new so there aren't a huge number of guides available but the brand is growing. These books are on the chunky side so it's worth making a note of interests in Google maps instead of lugging it around on holiday.

Another new set of books I've recently discovered is the LOST iN series. These are definitely more of a magazine than a travel guide with lots of editorials about new openings, trends and insider stories. Packed full of glossy photos, this is the book to pick up for the low down on the hottest shops, restaurants and bars in town. The Copenhagen edition is full of exposes on the city and a ton of exciting recommendations. I like to read these guides at home, just before embarking on the holiday as it really gets me that new city state of mind.

Another magazine type of travel book are the city guides from Cereal. At the moment these only exist for London, Copenhagen, Paris and NYC. They are quite hard to get a hold of but I picked up the Copenhagen guide in Snaps and Rye, near Notting Hill. These guides are beautiful coffee table type books with a curated list of hot places to eat, drink and shop. I treat these as a list of the best places to go, and while the choices they include pop up in most other city guides, having a list of the coolest places to frequent makes picking a place to eat a little easier. Plus the beautiful imagery is a huge bonus. Copenhagen is a hugely foodie city and I spent a long time deciding where to eat, taking into account what's hot and what represents the best of the city. I think the Copenhagen guide more or less mentions everywhere I intend to visit.

The MONOCLE travel guide series fell on my radar a couple of years ago when my friend bought me the Tokyo version. First of all, I love the way these look. The illustrations are adorable plus the actual guide if full of photography and laid out in sections for eating, sleeping, seeing etc. which makes it easy to navigate. A lot of the suggestions covered you'll find in other guides, especially those the lean on the side of 'hipster'. But the thing that really makes these stand out is the collection of essays about the city, shopping lists of recommended products, and the sports section which includes walking, cycling and running routes. I picked up the Copenhagen guide from the Monocle cafe in Marylebone. As far as I'm aware the cafe is the cheapest place to buy the guides plus it's a lovely place to stop for a drink.

A few years ago cycle brand Rapha released a collection of eight European city guides focused on cities designed for cycling. Despite not being a cyclist I bought the box-set of eight guides (you can also buy them individually) as the books are full of cool drawings and sightseeing cycle routes, with lots of stops for refuelling. They're a nice collection of guides for whether you're a cyclist or not as the proposed itineraries are pretty detailed. Copenhagen is a famously cycle friendly city and even though I'm not sure we will get much bike-time done, I like to think the guide will give me push in the right direction.

Black Sheep Guides is a series of food specific city guides that only exist for a small number of cities, Copenhagen being the most 'mainstream'. They cover around 20-30 independent restaurants and are split into different areas. The Copenhagen guide covers a few of the popular names and a bunch of restaurants I've not seen in other guides. If you're serious about food these are good guides to purchase as you can use them to plan meals and make necessary reservations before you travel. The guides recommend what to order from each restaurant which is a really nice touch. A few of the guides are available as apps.

The Secret series of travel guides are excellent for lesser known attractions. I almost find them a little overwhelming as they cover so much information that isn't found in any other travel guide. The Copenhagen guide covers small museums, specific works of art, historical landmarks, and unusual shops. These are great guides for those looking for 'unusual' things to visit as well as people who have visited a city many times and want to find something new. I'll probably tag a lot of the places mentioned on my Google maps to look out for when I'm visiting some of the mainstream attractions or for public artwork when I'm wondering around.

The Top 10 series by DK are actually the travel guides Steve likes to buy. He started using these before we met and I've now become a bit of a fan over the years. These guides are presented as lists of 10 for things to see, eat, drink etc. Many of the big attractions in Copenhagen have a top 10 lists themselves which is really helpful. I find that a lot of the recommendations are on the traditional side, especially when it comes to dining, so if you're looking for more contemporary options then you might want to look elsewhere. Saying that, I find these books excellent for sightseeing as they cover a lot of attractions, many of which are provided with in-depth content

I forgot to include my Analogue guide in the above photo which is a shame as this is another nice, smaller, series. The Copenhagen guide splits the city into areas and give the best recommendations for sleeping, eating, drinking and shopping. It's a little light on sights but it's great for what's hot when it comes to everything else. Packed full of photography, these are small guides filled with helpful suggestions.

Other guides I like that don't exist for Copenhagen include LUXE city guides, which are a collection of small, fold out guides full of high end recommendations for sleeping, eating, drinking and shopping. Streetwise produce really nice laminated maps of different cities, they aren't the most effective travelling resource but I'm fond of their aesthetics. A Hedonist's guide to is another series of what's hot travel recommendations. I used to like their old, leather bound books but they changed their design and I'm not a huge fan of the cover art any more. Despite that, their website always has great tips.

So that's my enormous list of travel book recommendations. If I had to pick my favourites I'd probably choose Lonely Planet, Wallpaper, Herb Lester, CITIX60, Monocle and 500 Hidden Secrets. I certainly don't recommend buying them all, I just have a bit of an addiction. I hope you found this helpful and do let me know if there's any series I should check out that aren't mentioned here.

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Monday, 24 April 2017

Welcome to my new home


Steve and I moved house in February. We moved from a 'seen better days' flat share in Wimbledon to our very own, brand new, one bedroom flat in Putney. The novelty of having our own place is still strong and every day I look around the flat and think to myself how lucky I am to have a place to call my own.

When it comes to interiors I'm a fan of the less-is-more mentality. I am not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination but I like reasonably clean styles. I am not a fan of obvious colour schemes. Instead, I like white walls, wooden floors and lots of neural colours that flow with each other, with maybe one or two bright items like this yellow stool. Our flat is full of white walls, wooden floors, and a complimentary kitchen aka the perfect backdrop to fit my Scandinavian interior dreams.




Up until now, Steve and I had always lived in rented accommodation so we didn't own much furniture when it came to moving. We had a couple of vinyl storage solutions, an IKEA TV cabinet, an old bookcase, and Steve's Fortnum and Mason hamper. While the flat is far from finished, we have enough furniture to make life comfortable. In fact, we could probably get away without having to buy anything else. However, I have a vision of how I want the place to look and that means buying a few more pieces over the next year.


When it came to buying must needed furniture when we first moved in, bar stools were top of the list. We have a rather large kitchen with a generously sized breakfast bar, instead of space for a table. I'm not a fan of eating on the sofa so bar stools were a top priority. I knew I wanted them to be white with wooden legs and after quick Google I found the perfect piece from Normann Copenhagen. I took a risk and bought these without ever sitting in them. This is not something I'd usually recommend, but there was no way of testing them out in real life. Fortunately, they are extremely comfortable and I couldn't be happier with my choice. They look great which was a key factor as bar stools quite often look awful.



A sofa was another important piece for maximum Netflix comfort and fortunately my parents had an old sofa to give us. It's doing a great job for now but it's not a forever piece. I know I want a mid century style 2.5 person sofa with little wooden legs, in a soft grey, textured fabric. But I haven't yet found my dream piece. I really like these sofas (1, 2, and 3) from West Elm, but I'm not 100% sure yet. For such an expensive purchase I want to make sure it's perfect.

We've already bought this gorgeous arm chair from IKEA that I'd been lusting over for years. It's a great Finn Juhl / Hans Wegner replica so if you're into Danish design, it's a wonderfully affordable alternative. Along with the sofa, we have room for another armchair and I've fallen head over heels for this blush pink, velvet piece from Made. I had a look in the Made showroom recently and it's even more gorgeous in real life. I really like the idea of our seating area being a mixture of colours and I think grey, blue and blush pink will work nicely together.

I've always had a thing for chairs, they're probably my favourite item of furniture due to their versatility and design. They can be real show stopping pieces which is why I'm keen to invest in some good designs once I have a larger home. In the meantime I'd love to get this cute dining chair for our bedroom, however I'm not totally sure we have the space.

I also want to get a coffee table and I've fallen in love with this round, marble piece from West Elm. It's on the expensive side but considering we don't actually need to buy a lot of furniture, I don't mind splashing out. I think it'll look great in our space, plus who doesn't love a bit of marble to luxe things up. Eventually I want to upgrade our TV cabinet for a vintage, Danish teak sideboard, but who knows where I'll go about getting one of those for a reasonable price.

While it's lovely having wooden floors throughout the flat, sometimes it gets a little chilly so I'd love a rug to make the seating area more cosy. I'm in love with this rug from Swoon Editions and think it'll work nicely in our open plan room, plus it's quite affordable compared to similar pieces I've seen online.







Out kitchen is more or less sorted. I want to buy a KitchenAid food processor at some stage (I already have the mixer and blender) but other than that we have everything we could possibly need. Despite having a few bright red KitchenAid appliances I've been trying to keep the kitchen neutral. I love my mint green washing up bowl and I've been slowly building up a collection of plants on the windowsills to inject more green. I love my Dualit toaster and kettle, the cream colour works so well in the space and I even found a matching retro microwave.

I didn't think my old bookcase would fit into the area so well but it's actually perfect and makes an ideal display piece for my cooking and travel books. As you can see, I have quite the collection.


We only have a small bathroom but I asked the builder to put up some shelves above the toilet and they are terrific. I have a lot of junk that I need to store in this room and thanks to the big shelves and Muji storage containers, I can keep everything in one, reasonably neat place. Steve has about five products here (bottom left corner) while everything else belongs to me, oops.

 

I've got a few ornaments scattered around the place to add a little personality and colour. My gold and copper pineapple ice buckets are great fun plus the little green cacti pot Elodie bought me when she stayed over is just gorgeous.

Steve and I found the above mid-century style vinyl storage cabinet in a charity shop last year and it's probably my favourite piece of furniture. Inside you'll find our favourite records but on top I've been using it to display my collection of hygge books as well as fresh flowers (none today, boo). I love the pop of yellow this Ricard jug gives. Steve found it on eBay a while back after I'd seen one in a French restaurant. Steve's Edward Hooper canvas was only placed on top of the cabinet as a temporary fix but I'm quite fond of it now plus I'm not sure where else we'd put it.


The walls of our flat are still a work in progress. We've created a gallery wall above the sofa using posters we've bought at gigs. There's plenty more space to fill so hopefully we'll pick up more posters from upcoming gigs and festivals. I want to get a wire clip board for above our vinyl cabinet and I've got my eye on a white Uten.Silo piece for wall space next to my bookcase. I also want to invest in more plants as I love the contrast of green leaves against white walls. I think a couple of statement cacti will look great alongside a monstera.

I haven't included any photos of our bedroom as it's quite a small space with built in wardrobes so it's not very exciting. We have a double bed and two bedside tables so there really isn't that much to show. We're using an old bed frame at the moment so I'd eventually like to upgrade for something a little more contemporary. I really like this frame from Made but my choice isn't set in stone. This room is definitely at the bottom of my list for styling as I'm more concerned with our large living space.

Even in a one bedroom flat it's a slow pace getting everything just right but I don't mind as it's a rewarding journey. While my interiors vision stays the same I do change my mind when it comes to items of furniture so I don't want to rush into any big decisions without being 100% sure. Hopefully the flat will be more or less finished by the end of the year but I'll be sure to update you on the journey, however long it takes.

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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

PHOTO DIARY: Tokyo, Japan, October 2016 Part 2


With every passing day in Tokyo I fell in love with the city more and more. I also started to take more photos which means this post is a lot more visual than the previous one.

The Japanese are some of the friendliest people I have ever met and new days brought new conversations and experiences. Because we were on a three week holiday the days didn't fly by which I was very grateful for. It felt like we spent a really long time in Tokyo but maybe that's down to the fact we did so much sightseeing. After three days it felt like we'd come to grips with the subway, and navigating our way around the city was becoming easier with each journey. Shibuya Station, our local transport hub, had become child's play and the vast building no longer felt like a maze of construction work. The selection of sweets and take away food options in the local convenience shops were becoming familiar and I had developed an obsession with avocado and feta crisps. I was in love with Japan and everything it had to offer.

Day 4:






I had originally planned a day trip to Nikko for our fourth day in Tokyo but due to a late night of birthday antics and the fact there was still so much to see in this huge city we decided that the 7:30 am train departure was no longer that appealing. Spending the day discovering the area south of Shibuya instead was relaxing and incredible rewarding. Away from the hustle and bustle we had time to discover little shops, hidden alleyways and local life.

Steve, Steph and myself started the day at Tokyo Tower, the orange, Eiffel Tower like structure. Whilst the observation platform is nowhere near as high as the likes of Tokyo SkyTree or Tokyo City View I really enjoyed our visit here. The tower was really quiet when we visited so we almost had the vistas entirely to ourselves. It was great to finally see the city from a high point during day light, the views are vast and incredible.








Next to Tokyo Tower you will find Zōjō-ji, a Buddhist temple. It was here we sat and watched monks chant while breathing in their pungent incense. I am not a religious person but the entire experience felt deeply spiritual. The temple is beautiful and being able to witness the monks felt really special.



After a short subway ride to Ebisu Station, we settled for lunch at AFURI, a small ramen chain that specialises in yuzu shio ramen, with Helen and Holly. You place your order in a vending machine at the restaurant entrance before giving your ticket to a waiter and taking a seat at the open kitchen bar. The ramen was delicious, with a subtle pop of citrus thanks to the yuzu. I wish I'd ordered an extra slice of pork as the dish only comes with one small piece. We ate a lot of ramen in Japan and this place definitely sticks in my head as one of the most enjoyable.

This is a great spot to grab lunch in a lovely area full of fascinating museums like Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum; Museum of Yebisu Beer; and Tokyo Photographic Art Museum. Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit these but they're definitely on my list for next time.



Around the corner from AFURI you'll find Japanese Ice Ouca, an ice cream shop that specialises in homemade flavours. Now, I've mentioned on this blog before that when it comes to dessert I'm a vanilla ice cream kinda person and unfortunately Japanese Ice Ouca wasn't able to convert me to its Japanese flavours. Steph and Steve really enjoyed their purchases but I just couldn't get on board with the non Western flavours. I'm not a fussy eater by any stretch of the imagination but I guess ice cream is a different ball came.


Helen and Holly left to visit the Harry Hedgehog cafe in Roppongi (spoiler: one of them was bit after a minute so they did what any rational person would do, pose for cute Instagram pictures before leaving). Steve, Steph and myself headed over to Meguro River which is a popular cherry blossom spot in the spring and walked over to Daikan-yama a wonderful shopping area that feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of Shibuya. We visited Kyu Asakura House, a traditional Japanese house built in 1919, surviving WWII air raids.

I loved walking around the wooden building and getting a feel for what a traditional Japanese home looks like. The sliding paper doors were beautifully constructed and the surrounding garden felt peaceful and fresh, I felt a million miles away from city life. If you're in Tokyo and you know you won't get a chance to visit somewhere traditional like Kyoto then this is a great place to experience a piece of Japanese history.


We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the shops of Daikan-yama. I adored T-site, the local Tsutaya Books branch. The shop has everything you could possibly want from a book store including a huge selection of magazines, comics, and music while still looking like a beautiful building. I loved the little winding streets in this area and we spent ages checking out all the independent boutiques and record stores. I imagine this would be a really cool place for a young person in Tokyo to live.


Helen came to meet the three of us as we made our way to Tokyo's version of a high line. While not quite on a par with the likes of New York, Log Road is a cute pedestrianised walkway built on top of the old Tokyu line tracks and is lined with a collection of little wooden cottages and plants. We stopped at Spring Valley Brewery for a late afternoon snack and beer tasting session. Sitting outside on the wooden benches, surrounded by greenery, felt far more European than Japanese.

Definitely consider popping by for an afternoon drinks and a taste of the non-hectic side of Japan. The avocado and crisp bread bowl and chicken wings we ordered weren't exactly Japanese but they were delicious.



It was time to head over to the Park Hyatt Hotel in Shinjuku for drinks at its New York Bar, something I had really been looking forward to. Lost in Translation is one of my favourite films and if you've seen it you'll know that many of the scenes take place in the New York Bar. Not only is there live jazz every evening, but the bar has incredible views across the city thanks to it's 54th floor location. You have to pay a cover charge during the jazz sessions and cocktails are on the expensive side, but it is so worth it for an indulgent and memorable experience.

Whilst the hotel evokes a luxury image with gorgeous rooms and price tags to match, the location isn't brilliant. It's situated a good 20 minute walk from Shinjuku station which means it's a little out of the way.








Our final stop of the night was the famous Omoide Yokocho aka yakitori alley aka Piss Alley on the north-west side of Shinjuku station. This famous, winding alleyway is full of cute little bars that serve yakitori (grilled meat skewers) and beer. The alleyway is a total contrast from the airy, vast spaces we'd become accustomed to in Tokyo. It's cramped, noisy, and full of life.

I'm not sure where we stopped for dinner but the restaurant had a huge cauldron at the front and our group of five just about managed to squeeze around the bar amongst a bunch of Japanese men. The restaurant specialises in pork and we were served skewer after skewer of delicious grilled meat until we'd had enough. Our meal was wonderful and a total bargain. We probably paid less than a tenner each for a huge pile of skewers and beer. If you're a foodie then you must absolutely pay this place a visit. The restaurants on Piss Alley each specialise in different food, there are sample dishes displayed at the front so it's pretty easy to figure out what each place sells.

We wandered around the Golden Gai area of Shinjuku, checking out the tiny, historic streets before emerging into a sea of neon lights before it was time to head home.

Day 5:






Our last full day in Tokyo was of course another busy one. Helen, Holly, Steve and myself caught the train to Yokohama, Japan's second largest city which is only a 20 minute train journey away. Our first stop was the Yokohama Landmark Tower where we were able to check out the views over the vast city.

Despite being in a different city, our train ride to Yokohama was through a constant metropolis so you couldn't tell where Tokyo ended and Yokohama began. Landmark Tower was a great way to get an overview of the huge city, especially as we were only visiting a tiny part.





As a hardcore lover of ramen I was beyond excited to visit one of the TWO ramen museums in Yokohama. The Cup Noodle Museum aka the original Pot Noodle was honestly one of my favourite memories from the holiday. We must have been the only adults in the place amongst a thousand Japanese school kids. The museum has a small section on the history of the company but the big win for me is the kitchen zone where you can create your very own Cup Noodle. Steve and I took great pleasure in designing our pot, complete with a lovely picture of the Yokohama Ferris wheel we'd be riding later in the day. We then choose a sauce (curry) and four ingredients (shrimp, spring onions, sweetcorn and smiley faces) before the pot was sealed up.

We ended up eating out Cup Noodle in Osaka on our last night in Japan but of course we kept the pot which is sitting proudly in our kitchen cupboard. We spent a small fortune in the museum shop which I have no regrets about because my Cup Noodle candle is probably one of the weirdest things I have ever purchased. On the top floor of the museum there's a section of ramen restaurants which made for a perfect lunch time stop.

Next time I'm in Tokyo I want to visit the Shin-Yokohama Rāmen Museum which looks even more amazing!






Our final stop in Yokohama was Cosmo World, the amusement park next to the Cup Noodle Museum and Landmark Tower. We wanted to ride Cosmo Clock 21 which is one of the world's biggest Ferris Wheels. Helen and Holly insisted that we ride in the transparent car which was slightly overzealous as the spent the entire ride terrified. The wheel is huge and whilst I'm not scared of heights I was pretty relieved once our car started to make it's downwards trajectory.






Back to Tokyo, we met up with Steph in Shimokitazawa, a little shopping area west of Shibuya that's full of boutiques and little restaurants. The roads are pedestrianised which makes for a very stress free shopping experiences. Similar to Shoreditch, this felt like quite an alternative area and a bit more geared towards adults compared to Harajuku. I wish we could have spent more time here, especially during the day as there are so many wonderful shops to explore.

I was desperate to visit a conveyor belt sushi restaurant as the raw fish in Tokyo is meant to be the best in the country. We found a hidden gem of a restaurant next to the station called Sutadonya. Each plate had two portions of sushi which is great for two people sharing. The tower of plates you can see is the remnants of mine and Steve's selection. The sushi was some of the best I have ever tasted, and also the cheapest. Everyone had a similar amount to eat and the bill came to less than a tenner per person. Had this been Yo Sushi in London, you'd be looking at around £20 each, at least. This place was such a great find and I'd visit again in a heartbeat.



Steve, Steph and myself waved off Holly and Helen who needed an early night before they headed off to Kyoto in the morning, we'd be seeing them again in 48 hours. The three of us headed to Shinjuku for a final evening of neon lights and Tokyo chaos. We paid a visit to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings to check out the views over the city for a final time. The building is made up of two towers with observations decks on the top floor. The towers are free to visit and whilst they aren't the highest views in the city, they're a great way to save yourself some money. I can't remember which tower we ascended but the view is more or less the same from each. The observation deck is quite cramped compared to the other towers we visited but considering it's free, you can't really complain.







The three of us enjoyed one final walk around the busy streets of Shinjuku, taking in the neon lights and crazy atmosphere. We walked past the Robot Restaurant which looked totally bonkers. I'd considered visiting when planning the holiday but it didn't fit in with our plans, and quite honestly I don't regret not going. We stopped for some drinks at the tiny but decadent Albatross Bar and gamers paradise 8bit Cafe before saying a final farewell to Steph. It was so nice to catch up over the five days we had together but she had to head back up north for work.


Steve and I had a final walk around Shibuya, including Dogenzaka aka love hotel hill, which made me sad about the end of our time in Tokyo. I loved this city more than I ever thought possible and vowed to return as soon as possible. Similar to London in terms of constant hustle and bustle, but also a million miles away in differences, it's one of the most exciting places I have had the pleasure of visiting.

Day 6:








The two of us were able to spend one final morning in Tokyo before heading off to our next destination. Our first stop was the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. I'd booked tickets a month previously and had been counting down the days until we could visit. The two hours we spent here were quite possible the best two hours of our entire holiday. As a huge fan of Studio Ghibli, the museum is a dream come true with many of the films being brought to life. You aren't allowed to take pictures inside which is great because no one deserves to have the magic of this special place spoilt before they get the chance to visit. Discovering how the animations are created and sitting in a life sized cat bus took my breath away. If you ever have the chance to visit, make sure you bring plenty of money for the gift shop because you will want to buy everything.



Back to Tokyo I wanted to have a final walk around Harajuku, especially as we planned to visit Harajuku Gyozaro for lunch. The gyoza here are famous across the city and the long queue is a testament to their popularity. We decided to speed things up and get a portion to takeaway. The fried pork gyoza are delicious with the crispy parcels stuffed with succulent meat melting in your mouth. I'd nearly return to Japan just to try these again.



Steve and I hadn't spent much time during the day in Shibuya so we made sure we would spare a few hours for exploring before catching our train. There are so many shops here that you could spend days visiting them all. We made the conscious effort to only check out the record stores in hope of narrowing down our options. Our first stop was the enormous Tower Records which should be your go to stop for all things music related. I think there's around 11 floors, including a roof terrace, with every genre you could imagine on sale. We made our way to the indie / rock floor and proceded to split up in search of our favourite band sections. I bagged myself a Japanese Green Day release whilst Steve found a few Japanese New Order goodies.

We also visited HMV Record Store which as you can guess is an HMV shop that only sells vinyl. It was tiny in comparison to Tower Records but had a good selection of new releases on sale. We didn't buy anything from here (records are expensive in Japan) but it was still nice to browse.

Our final shop was the even smaller but just as prestigious Manhattan Records which specialises in Hip Hop, R&B, and dance. While not my genre of choice it's a nice shop that's easy to find amongst the warren of buildings in Shibuya.

There's far more than these three music shops in this part of Tokyo but you would need to give yourself an entire day to visit them all. Shopping in Japan is on a level I have never experienced before. There is so much choice!



Our final stop before leaving Tokyo was to check out the Shibuya Hikarie skyscraper which is found next to the station. On the 8th floor you'll find d47, a little museum that displays speciality items from each of the 47 prefectures in Japan. There's a little cafe called d47 Shokudō that serves food and drinks from the various prefectures as well. I enjoyed a tasty apple juice (can't remember where from unfortunately) while Steve had a cute custard pudding.



Before catching our train we paid a last visit to the famous Shibuya crossing and sought out the Hachikō statue which I'd been meaning to visit every single day. We picked up our bags from the Shibuya station lockers and caught our train to Odawara where we would catch a second train to Hakone, our destination for the night.

I was so sad to leave Tokyo but I know it won't be the last time I visit this incredible city. We managed to see so much but there is still a long list of things I want to do next time. I'd love to visit 

Next time I’d love to visit Shinjuku during the day and check out the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen. I also want to spend more time in Ginza, visiting the incredible department stores as well as finding the famous Nakagin Capsule Tower. We didn’t manage to visit any animals cafes in Tokyo despite having many intentions to so I'd like to visit the goat cafe, the hedgehog cafe and of course a cat cafe. I’d love to spend more time in Ueno Park, visiting some of the museums and temples that are found within the huge area. I really want to go back to Shimokitazawa, Daikan-yama, Ebisu and Meguro as there’s are so many cute shops and cafes lining the streets. I’d love to spend more time in Yoyogi Park and the area west of there as it’s a part of the city we didn’t visit at all. Of course I need to pay another visit to Akihabara and I wouldn’t mind spending more time in Roppongi to visit some of the art galleries. Tokyo Dome Attractions had to be cut of my list this time around but it would be fun to check out some of the rides one evening as well as visiting the famous Kappabashi Street for everything kitchen related. I’d love to visit Yokohama again, as well as Kamakura which is the next city over and hopefully I’ll actually make it to Nikko next time.

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