To Toulouse

After swinging by the famed train station so mum could admire it from a car window, we headed towards A20 which would lead us to Toulouse.

The distance between the two cities was about 290km and the journey took just under four hours.

We had a break at a service station near Masseret…

In the inside of the motorway services, we found loads of local souvenirs…

Many violet related products were sold there. Mum later regretted that she didn’t buy boiled sweets which were made from violet then. ‘It would have been fun to try them with my friends when I was back in Japan!’ Mum lamented.

However, we bought a box of canelé to try later at the store and moved on to have coffee and apple pie.

Coffee tastes nicer if it is made by a human behind the counter, not by a vending machine, mum and I agreed as we shared the cake.

One thing I remember very distinctly about this service station was some idiot parked his van very very close to my car and it caused a huge problem! If I weren’t this petite and flexible, it would have been impossible to climb into the seat from the co-driver’s side and therefore we would have to wait until the idiot returned to his car…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Cake break @ Zugspitzplatt

So mum and I came down from the windswept summit of Zugspitz by hopping on the cable car again.

Say hi to the climbers!


We found out that a return cogwheel train back to Eibsee had just left, therefore, there was another half hour wait for the next one. ‘Shall we have some tea & cake?’ We headed to a cafeteria.

The interior of the cafe was very Tyrolean.

Mmmm, there are so many moreish looking cakes…

I must say that the cost of food and drink up the Zugspitzplatt was rather high. I can’t remember exactly how much we paid for two cakes and two mugs of coffee but it was more than a double we paid normally in Germany. However, transporting all the supplies up the mountain didn’t come cheap and which must have reflected on the prices in the cafeteria.

It was around 11 o’clock when we queued at the till behind a group of workmen with high-visibility jackets and srturdy work boots. Unlike our tray with just coffee and cake, their trays were laden with plates of pasta and meatballs, a proper construction worker’s grub.

Our morning treat after being beaten by the wind.

Can you see how huge their cake was? And they were delicious too.

We chilled out at the cafe much longer than we first intended because their (pricy) coffee was very agreeable.

Now, we must get back to the car and travel to Salem, I urged mum. The place was 194 km away from Eibsee and the journey was expected to take four hours, therefore, we couldn’t do dilly-dally too long.

Bye bye, Zugspitzplatt.

We left the cafe and headed to the cogwheel terminal…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Ozone Coffee Roasters @ Leonard St EC2

I am standing in the queue at my local post office with a few parcels which are to be returned to the stores so I can claim refunds. For some unknown reason, all the self-service machines are out of order and therefore I have to join a looooooong line trailing from the counters. At least, I am grabbing this detour so I can update my otherwise sluggish blog…

Around Old Street tube station, there is another notable coffee joint, named Ozone Coffee Roaster. They not only offer carefully brewed cups but also an extensive breakfast & lunch menu which has proved to be hugely popular amongst the City workers as well as the tech crowds around the vicinity…


My flat white. I must say it was not the best one I tasted from them. A faint but noticeable bitterness was left on my tongue as the liquid trickled down my throat. Roasting and brewing a perfect cup of coffee is quite an art, isn’t it?…


For late lunch, I had Eggs Benedict with salmon…


The poached eggs and rashers of smoked salmon were laid on top of bubble & squeak cakes instead of usual English muffins.

My friend went for the same except changing the filling to Portobello mushroom & spinach…


As the knife was thrusted into the bulging egg yolk, a delicious golden ooze seeped out and slowly disappeared into the warm starchy bed. It tasted absolutely divine…


My friend’s brand new Dr.Martens…


He bought a pair of 1461…

Next to us, an incredibly well-behaved Airdale terrier was lying down…


He hugged the floor quietly as his owner went through his lunch…

By the way, while England’s World Cup dream is prematurely over and done with, the Wimbledon has kicked off. Thank god! Come on Andy! Show us what you’ve got!!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Flat White Face-off @ Old Street

It was the biggest dismay and disappointment of my recent days! A wholesaler who had been supplying yarns for my work informed me that one of the particular yarns I loved to work with was discontinued. It was Rowan’s Drift range and they were gorgeous! How could this happen?! The phone call left me speechless. I still don’t know what the range is replaced with nor what they look like. I am just praying they will not be garish and bilious…

I am still cowering behind closely shut windows and doors most days of the recent weeks due to pesky pollens drifting in full force. Even though I am limiting the time I spend outside when it’s sunny and taking antihistamine diligently every morning. my nose is still partially blocked and my eyes are easily irritated. I am very sorry to moan incessantly like this but I do hate spring & early summer!!! Next year, I will give a local honey therapy a shot instead of dosing myself with drugs, sprays & drops…

By the way, a cup of exquisitely brewed flat white is one thing which lures me out of this self-imposed seasonal exile. If a tasty treat is ensured to accompany the palm-size velvety froth with brown ripple, I am willing to come out of my den, clutching a pair of sunglasses!
Since the area around Old Street is reputed to be the Silicone Valley of Britain, the number of coffee shops, with well-trained baristas, aiming to cater for those tech-savvy folks have surged like islets of daffodils in the springtime. Shoreditch Grind, OZone, Salvation Jane, Look Mum No Hand, Timberyard, Fix…etc, you name it. There is a cluster of seriously good coffee places in my neighbourhood. And amongst them, my particular favourites are Shoreditch Grind and Timberyard.

Flat white at Shoreditch Grind


I must say, Shoreditch Grind’s flat white is the smoothest and the tastiest for me. Rich yet devoid of bitterness. The aroma envelopes my nose like a dream. I just love it.

As I savoured this amber coloured concoction, Old Street Roundabout was jettisoning cars like a pinball machine…


I also enjoyed a small pastry filled with chocolate….


The flavour of the filling was intense without being too fatty or sugary. The right amount of bitterness was there to complement the sweetness of the biscuit.

Can I taste it too?


I am afraid not, sweetie. Chocolate is no-no for doggie.

A coffee break at Timberyard with Hubbie. I had flat white and a giant cookie…


Hubbie & I both agree that our favourite flat white has to be Shoreditch Grind’s,. A counterpart at Timberyard comes very close but the aftertaste of each swig leaves a touch of bitterness on our tongues which we don’t find favourable. Therefore, it has to be our runner-up. However, their cakes, which are piled up around the serving counter, are absolutely divine though….


A slab of their breakfast cookie. I used to be not so keen on cookies. However, their scrumptious discs have swept aside my lifelong reservation.

Another coffee & cake moment at Timberyard one Saturday afternoon. We had flat white with raspberry almond slice and chocolate cherry square…


As usual, Hubbie grumbled that he was not a big fan of chocolaty treat but he was obviously lying. Because his fork was constantly landing on my chocolate cherry square and curving out a substantial morsel each time! Oh, the cake was delicious. The tangy cherry bits helped to enhance the flavour of the dark rich chocolate batter, creating this disarmingly regular-looking cake an absolute star.
I don’t think they bake their sweets on site but must have a very good supplier.

Can I have a bit of almond slice?


I shall remind Hubbie to leave some for you before he cleans the plate…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

YCN @ Rivington Street EC2

I have just sorted out a heap of freshly laundered black socks which were brought back from the Down Under by Hubbie yesterday morning. Mixing & matching almost identical black socks isn’t as easy as one may think. But I have managed to find each rightful pair. Bliss! Also, Mr.B is very happy to have a complete “pack” back.

A few Saturdays ago before Hubbie embarked on his very first Australian visit, he, I & Mr.B were enjoying a leisurely stroll around Hoxton / Shoreditch.

Mr.B was demonstrating his wish. ‘Don’t you dare even thinking about leaving me behind!’


Hubbie wanted to browse Artwords Bookshop on Rivington Street. After buying a couple of coffee table books, we carried on towards Shoreditch High Street.

Being situated on the opposite side of Rivington Place, a well-known gallery designed by David Adjaye, was YCN


YCN is a creative organisation which provides its members opportunities to network and share their experiences and ideas, as well as mentors fledgling designers valuable career advice.

This was how it looked when we visited them…


The works on display were mainly graphic design and photography.
The price was between £10 – 70. They were not only very affordable but also achingly original. They would make a very cool gift, I thought.

Slingshots by Christopher Jaratt…



The sight of the slingshots made me smile. A simple toy I ran around with when I was a kid. Even though I was rubbish with it, carrying it in my back pocket made me feel very resourceful and adventurous.

In the back of the shop, there was a library with bookshelves laden with rare and interesting old books….


Hubbie and I agreed that the place would definitely be worth a visit if we were in the neighbourhood in future.

Then, we settled ourselves comfortably in the seat at Leila’s Shop on Calvert Avenue for a well-deserved coffee break…


My flat white & a slice of Victoria sponge.

Mr.B wanted to know if he could have any crumb…


Mmmm… I shall save a crumb or two if you promise to let me scrub your teeth more diligently than usual once we get home…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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