Mr.Sponge’s Sporting Tour

Last Saturday, I stumbled onto rather a serendipitous discovery in Chelsea.

Our Saturday morning ritual of breakfasting at the Shepherdess…

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Mmmm… the kitchen could put a bit more effort into their presentation skill. Oh well, never mind.

Then, we were off to Michael Hoppen Gallery on Jubilee Place.
The nearest tube station was Sloane Square and we strode down Kings Road, weaving our way through the milling weekend shoppers. Hubbie and I agreed with a tinge of sadness that Kings Road was getting more banal every time we visited the street. The invasion of big brands and chain stores steadily eroded the charm and character and now the stretch was sporting a generic high street which could be found in any well-off parts of the UK.
However, all was not lost (thank god) because John Sandoe (Books) Ltd on Blacklands Terrace was one place which emanated certain old charm of Chelsea’s artistic and intellectual communities…

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While Hubbie stuck his nose between piles of coffee table books, my attention was drawn straight to one particular book in the middle of the shelves…

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The appearance of the book was inconspicuous to say the least. It had no paper cover and the title “Young Tom Hall” was inscribed in gold on the spine. That was it.
But something intrigued me and before I knew it, the book was in my hand and my fingers were leafing through the content. My eyes were soon glued to the pages because the style of writing rang a bell loudly. It reminded the book I lost more than a decade ago. What was the title of the book? During my nomadic flat-share years, I lost more than a few possessions which had certain sentimental value and the book in question, was one of them. It was a secondhand paperback I picked up at one of the used bookshops on Charing Cross Road. It wasn’t even on the shelf but being piled up on the floor amongst other paperbacks in had-seen-better-days condition. Damn, I wished if I remembered that title…, the thought raced through my mind as my index finger traced old-fashioned typefaces on the crisp white page. Still, I decided to make a note of the name of the author because my sixth sense somehow nagged me to do so.
In the mean time, Hubbie had a better luck. He found a copy of Irving Penn’s book he was looking for for years and it made him one very happy chap…

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After John Sandoe, we hurried to our another favourite haunt, Michael Hoppen Gallery on Jubilee Place…

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On the ground floor, “Frontcountry” by Lucas Foglia was on…

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However, our main aim was to see the Sarah Moon exhibition on the first floor…

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Oh how much I loved her work! Her method, hand made pigment transfer print, was breathtakingly beautiful…

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During our journey home, I checked the name, R.S.Surtees, in Wikipedia with my iPhone and can you guess what the search threw at me?
Robert Smith Surtees turned out to be the author who penned the book I was chasing!! When I saw the titles of his work, I remembered that it was “Mr.Sponge’s Sporting Tour” …

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How could this have happened? Why did I beeline to that book in the first place? The book was definitely calling me. It wanted to be found by me.
After all these years of on/off search, I was reunited (not physically yet, however) with the book under the most serendipitous circumstance. Isn’t life so mysterious and wonderful?…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Magazine Hunting @ Jinbōchō

Ohhhh, I was stomping and squealing in front of the TV as Japanese women’s ice hockey team struggled against the Swedes. Even though the Japanese was defeated with a narrow margin of 1 – 0, they played really tenaciously and made me proud. I am also very much looking forward to watching more ice hockey later on on BBC2.
Oh, what a treat!

Now, let’s rewind my memory to our escapade in Tokyo…
We got off metro at Jinbōchō, the heart of used book trading in Tokyo…

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The first shop we headed to was Komiyama-shoten (小宮山書店), located along Yasukuni-dōri Street, 1 minute walk from the metro exit A7.
They were specialised in vintage art books & magazines…

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Their shelves were crammed with valuable volumes. I imagined Hubbie would have gone nuts if he were here…

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The magazine I was after was a copy of Harper’s Bazaar from the 60’s. Unfortunately, they had nothing in stock. So we headed to our second destination, Magnif (マグニフ) on Suzuran-dōri, stone’s throw from Komiyama-shoten…

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Magnif was much smaller in scale but it made much easier for us to look for what we were after…

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They did have more than a few HB from the 60’s and I was over the moon! The magazine was meant to be a souvenir for Hubbie who was an avid fan of Avedon & Brodovitch…

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A trip down memory lane.
I was happy to find copies of “Olive” the magazine of my youth on the shelves…

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The shop was so much nicer than that snobbish and unhelpful bookshop, Comptoir d’Image in Paris. And they had more stock than that miserable old man behind the counter did too.
And instead of being piled up on a filthy floor and covered with dust, each copy of vintage magazines was kept in a plastic sleeve and recorded meticulously. All in all, they were more professional…

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I will definitely be visiting those two amazing bookshops again and exploring the area further.

Ta-dah!

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Phew! So relieved that I managed to find something Hubbie would love. I could hardly wait to see a big smile on Hubbie’s face…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Danchi-Do @ Gondo

Oh dear, what a miserable weather we have been under in recent London. How much I miss a cold but sunny wintry sky of Nagano!!! It’s so depressing to find every morning that an endless blanket of texture-less grey sky spreading above us…
While antique shops in Nagano was a disappointingly minor affair, I was very happy to discover their used book trading was alive and kicking. Like the aforementioned vintage bookshop, Yureki-Shobo, unique used bookshops were spouting all over the city.

A used bookshop, Danchi-Do, was located in the middle of the Gondo arcade…

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This place used to be a fruit seller…

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The shop was filled with used magazines and books but also with some unexpected objects…

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A shallow conical object hung on the upper left was a braided straw hat and a stick with inscription propped against the wall was a cane. They were traditionally carried by a pilgrim travelling from a temple to temple.
And a pile of the boxes on the right were cigar boxes! It was ¥300 each.

Some books were bundled-up and on top of them, there were old suitcases. And above them, I found two masks and a cluster of dolls in the box…

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Those masks were of Ebisu (恵比寿) – the Japanese god of fishermen, luck, and workingmen, as well as the guardian of the health of small children. Their smiling face is infectious, don’t you agree? A small blue chair was a typical swivel chair found in any Japanese children’s room.
The shop floor resembled someone’s attic stuffed with all sorts of bygone items.

A tray of toys…

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Toy cars, ¥300 each…

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Comparing with Yureki-Shobo, books were displayed in rather a haphazard manner. However, it increased a sense of treasure hunting…

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From the ceiling, charts and theatre posters were hung…

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The shop also dealt with framed artworks too…

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In spite of being a cold afternoon, locals were showing keen interest in what Danchi-Do offered…

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People were flicking through pages of old magazines, studying covers of books and stroking spines of the books with their finger tips. A good supply of nostalgic books would be a perfect antidote for Nagano’s long & cold winter. I bought a book for my mum and a magazine for me and headed home, carefully treading over icy pavement…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

London Review Cake Shop @ Bury Place

Ewwww!
My throat hurts like hell right now. I think some pesky bacteria latched on me sometime this week and I have succumbed to its evil spell…

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Even though I am far from being a happy bunny health-wise, I have an urgent order to fulfil, therefore, pull on my hoodie like a tough chick and slog away. Can anyone help me with this damn sore throat? It’s killing me.

Before I was struck by a cold, I visited a cafe run by London Review Bookshop on Bury Place near British Museum. I was long intrigued by this cafe within a bookshop…

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However the place’s close proximity to British Museum concerned me.
Wouldn’t it be saturated with tourists?

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Maybe something to do with the weather – it looked certainly grumpy with thick grey cloud hanging low threatening to turn worse at any minute, the cafe was only half full.

The cafe was smaller than I imagined and nearly one third of the space was taken up by their open kitchen…

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The counter was laden with tempting looking offerings.
And the staff handed me to study their extensive tea menu…

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And I decided to try their aubergine quiche with salad, accompanied by a pot of Assam breakfast tea…

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Their food, especially the salad, was delicious.
I could taste pear and walnuts as well as Parmesan amongst finely chopped up parsley and peppery rocket.
The quiche was also creamy and moreish. The portion might be a little on the modest side. However, they have lots of baked goodies on offer to quell anyone’s hunger totally.

The cafe proved to be a worthwhile place to replenish during the day.
I certainly dog-ear it’s page in my little address book for future reference…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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