Timber Yard & Leica

Mmmm… I am not sure if the new hay fever spray, Prevalin, I bought at Boots last Friday is working or not. I had such high hopes towards the bottle but so far it has made my nose more runny than dry…

I noticed it recently that the internet pages Hubbie was scrolling up and down often sported the same logo. He seemed to be hankering after a certain thing. Then last Saturday, over our customary fry-up, he finally confessed. ‘I’ve been thinking about buying a new camera…’
So that was what he was looking intently, burning the midnight oil.

Before setting out to fulfil his desire, we decided to have latte and cake at Timber Yard on Old Street. We sat along a bench outside and waited for our order…

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Timber Yard is known for their seriously well brewed coffee in Clerkenwell.
Accompanying my latte was a large piece of chocolate & walnut chewy cookie and it was one of the best cookies I ever had in my life! I ended up scoffing the entire treat even before Hubbie finished his apple and raisin cake…

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The camera dealer Hubbie was interested in would be shut at 4pm so we left the cafe at 3:30pm and headed to Southampton Row by cab.
We arrived at the shop in 15 minutes but the shop had no lights on and the staffs were about to leave. It’s not yet 4pm and why are you closing?? An old man answered, “Sorry we are closed for today”. But before he could close the door, our Mr.B slipped through us and dashed into the shop! I guess the old mam couldn’t resist our pleading looks so he turned the lights back on and invited us in.

The shop was R G Lewis Camera, one of the few Leica dealer in London…

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The camera Hubbie was lusting over was Leica M Monochrom digital rangefinder. The model was designed purely for black & white photography…

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While Hubbie was in a serious discussion with the staff, Mr.B was happy to roam around the shop floor. He was completely bewitched by the carpet behind the counter and couldn’t help keeping on going back there to have another sniff…

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Eventually Hubbie and the old man shook hand and we walked out of the shop with a shopping bag bulging with a camera body and two lenses…

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I was so glad that he finally bought something what he was yearning for. He had been taking beautiful images, notably in B+W and the new camera would give him endless joy. I can’t wait to see what he captures with it…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Tokyo To London…

After hopping off from the bus at the north wing, Narita Terminal 1, I scurried to a hand-over counter of Yamato Logistics in order to pick up my suitcase and complete checking in…

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I love Narita Airport, especially their departure lobby, because it’s airy and orderly…

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A vast expanse of the lobby definitely has a calming influence when one is stressed or anxious before boarding.

Colourful vertical tail fins against a cloudless sky of Chiba…

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Another brownie points Narita earns is a selection of shops which portrays the scene of contemporary Japan.
While Heathrow only offers bog standards fast food chains and high street stores before passport control, Narita provides yet more ample opportunities to indulge last-minute craving for retail therapy Japanese style.

How about treating yourself to a bag by Porter aka Yoshida Kaban (吉田カバン)…

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Or how about ogling at Akihabara shop if you couldn’t get enough of AKB48 or anime figures at the Mecca of Otaku…

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This souvenir shop stocked more conventional gifts…

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This shop was dedicated for Japanese style beauty products…

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A Japanese beauty trend of the past two decades is “whitening”. Japanese women are doe-hard crazy about protecting their skins from ultraviolet rays and they go to extraordinary lengths to avoid sunshine. Some years ago, I encountered a woman with a gigantic sun visor. The visor was shielding her face completely and the appearance reminded me Darth Vader! Unfortunately (or fortunately) I moved to the UK before this whitening craze captivated Japan and never experienced a skin brightening beauty regime and therefore my face is covered with freckles which has started to resemble constellations nowadays. Oh well, what should I do?

Anyone for green tea?…

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Ito-en is a well-known Japanese green tea brand. The shop was stocked up with not only their tea in various forms (loose leaf tea, tea bags and powdered tea) but also boxes of beautifully wrapped up cakes, paper fans and dainty knick-knacks.

This shop wasn’t typically Japanese…

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They collect products from less developed parts of the world and introduce them to a Japanese audience. I found the shop location very fitting because their colourful offerings would be sure to inspire the Japanese to travel more.

How about getting a pre-flight massage while you watch planes taking off at the observation deck?…

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A row of massage chairs were found on Level 2. 100 yen for 10 minutes of massage. Are you tempted?

A gigantic column clad with coloured glass tiles stands in the middle of the lobby…

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The decoration was elaborately executed and beautiful. It could have been even better if the column wasn’t surrounded by all those gadgets such as automated check-in terminals or fire-extinguishers…

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A view from the departure gate…

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Feeling a sense of relief as well as sadness, I slumped in one of the chairs overlooking the gate…

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I felt those three weeks with my mum in Japan flew past too quickly but also knew that I would never find it long enough no matter how lengthy my stay maybe.

A flurry of activities were going on around the boarding gate. Ground staffs were busy trying to allocate passengers who were not yet accounted for.

Eventually, all the passengers seemed to have turned up and so had our captain…

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A view from my window…

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We flew over frozen plains of Russia but the ground was covered with low hovering clouds.

A familiar scene greeted me when the plane touched down at Heathrow…

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A lead-grey sky tinged with pale blue spread above the wet runways.
Hello, my home. I am back.
With a sigh of relief, I grabbed my bag and joined a queue towards the exit…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Pain Free Tingle Free

My sciatica is completely gone!
I feel really great because not only I am no longer a prisoner of that nasty numbness but also have found a way to keep it at bay. A daily routine of stretches & massages using a tennis ball & a medicine ball has so far worked miracle for me. And I am a total convert!

Mr.B also loves my new regime, especially a yoga mat…

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And often, he gets in my way.
Please leave a pillow alone. I didn’t place it there for your nap…

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The problem with him is my inability to refuse him…

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How can anyone deny him when he pleads like this?…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

London Coffee Festival @ Spitalfields

I am very sorry for abandoning blogging for a long time. As the days passed and my blog unlogged, I felt extremely guilty but couldn’t summon enough willpower due to the sciatica attack I was suffering from since two weeks ago. The niggling pain was so uncomfortable and disturbed my life to no end. It stopped me from sitting down or standing up, let alone blogging.
It has got much better now thanks to gentle exercise and physiotherapy I have been prescribed for the past few days. How nice not to have tingly numbness in my foot!

One pre-sciatica attack Sunday, Hubbie and I were hailing a cab on City Road. Our destination was London Coffee Festival in Spitalfields.
We alighted from the cab by the Tesco Metro on Commercial Street and walked towards Hanbury Street…

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We followed the sign and soon found ourselves being absorbed into a queue formed by the side of Old Truman Brewery.
Once inside the venue, we were awestruck by the heady mixture of coffee aroma & a large crowd…

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The festival seemed to be a huge success, reflecting thriving coffee cultures in London. Queues for sampling the concoctions of the exhibitors were forming everywhere…

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The air inside was humid due to all those hissing coffee machines amassed under one roof.
Weaving through the lively crowd, who most of them with a cup of hot coffee in their hands, was a daunting task but Hubbie chaperoned me and we managed to reach a concession occupied by UNION, hand-roasted coffee…

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UNION not only prides themselves on their exquisitely roasted coffee but also their sourcing principle. Their beans are produced by small-scale farmers who cultivate them in a sustainable manner…

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A cup of tasty flat white, lovingly made by UNION’s staff…

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The coffee had aromatic, rich and rounded body without being too overpowering. I must admit the brew was one of the best I tasted in months.
In spite of being insanely busy, Matthew the manager cracked a smile for me…

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Another exhibitor I was impressed with was Beanworks Coffee from Derby…

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Darren from Beanworks explained to us that they were a small independent company aiming to bring high quality coffee beans from all over the world. Their attitude towards their pride & joy was also reflected on a beautifully designed presentation…

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I loved their packaging which was executed in a modern and stylish manner…

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The venue was extremely vibrant not only because of overflowing caffeine but also great live music in the main chilling-out area…

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A band playing Latin-American tunes…

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An outright success of the festival was a clear reflection of London’s thriving coffee culture. The town had been teeming with independent coffee shops with seriously able baristas in recent years but it seemed that we the Londoners couldn’t get enough of this dark aromatic liquid…

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I do love tea because tea-drinking is deeply ingrained in daily life in Britain. However, coffee gives us such a kick which tea can never reciprocate.
Don’t you agree that a swig of good coffee is the elixir of life even if it is potent for a very short while?…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Hakozaki to Narita

One January morning, I headed to the Narita Airport via T-CAT (Tokyo City Air Terminal) Limousine Bus service. My cab sped through virtually nonexistent Tokyo traffic and delivered me to the bus terminal building which stood right next to the entrance of Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway (首都高速). As my suitcase was already at the airport – thanks to a highly efficient & trustworthy Japanese courier service by Yamato Logistics, I was with just a handbag and a fold-all to tug along and therefore it allowed me to trot through the lobby and dive into the lift which conveyed me to the departure lounge, pronto.

The bus left the terminal on time, carrying a mixture of Japanese and non-Japanese passengers.
Good bye, Tokyo until the next time…

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Tokyo Skytree in the distance.
A newish landmark of Tokyo which opened its door to the public just over two years ago. I shall visit their observation deck with my mum one day, I thought. Then, I wondered if she manage to rendezvous with her friend safely. She arranged to meet her old school chum so my departure might not sadden her too acutely. Otherwise, how could I bear to imagine her being alone in the hotel room I just left?

Humongous apartment blocks sporting endless rows of balconies in a whitish hue were dotted along Wangan Expressway (首都高湾岸線), silently gleaming in the morning sun…

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A scene of everyday life built on a reclaimed ground over Tokyo Bay, being consisted of a school building with a huge sports ground…

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Or a chimney of refuse incinerating plant…

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A car carrier trailer laden with bland new cars overtook our bus. In the distance, another chimney, painted in red & white, belonged to a refuse incinerator could be seen…

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Multi-storied junctions at Minami Funabashi (南船橋)…

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Momentarily, the expressway ran side by side with Keiyō Way (京葉道路)…

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Time to time, the view from the bus was blocked by the fence made of noise-reducing boards…

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After a little shy of one hour journey, the bus had reached to the perimeter of the airport…

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I had a lovely time in Japan. However, all good things had to come to an end…

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The bus stopped at Terminal 1 first and half of the passengers disembarked…

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Ever courteous staffs bowed low as our driver manoeuvred to pull out, heading towards Terminal 2, my destination…

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The dry and cold air, typical of sunny wintry morning, slapped my cheeks as I stepped out from the warm cab and it helped me to snap out of contemplative mood. Oh well, no time to curl up with sentiment. I’ve got to get on with the task. So I went, with my right hand rummaging through the contents of the wallet, looking for a receipt for my suitcase…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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