A Twinkle On Pitfield Street

Last Sunday, I had cups of latte, a pecan tart and shared lots of catching-ups & giggle with my friend at Pitfield London.
While West End was choking with last-minute shoppers, Pitfield Street was awash with tranquility.

The street was cloaked in winter darkness and Christmas lightings in the cafe’s window looked ever so inviting…

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Whatever the shape, colour or design, Christmas lights warm my heart every time I behold them…

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Merry, merry, everyone!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Moomin Valley @ Covent Garden

It’s only two more days before Christmas Day!
Apparently, today’s lunchtime will be the busiest shopping time of the year. I can imagine the people scrambling for a last-minute shopping on the shop floors all over the Britain. On last Christmas Eve, I was one of them, being lost at the cosmetic counter in John Lewis, and didn’t know which till was available to pay. The frenzy transformed normally queue-respecting British shoppers into a desperate crowd, jockeying for position at the counters, doing everything to catch the attention of the staffs. It was a crazy sight and I vowed myself never to repeat the experience again.

For a more leisurely and magical Christmas retail escapade, Covent Garden is more apt for it…

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A unmissable reindeer will be a perfect landmark for meeting up.

The arcade is beautifully decorated with giant baubles…

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One shop I especially recommend for gift-hunting is The Moomin Shop

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As a child, growing up in Japan, the Moomins had been a familiar fixture through animations and cartoons…

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Therefore I was very excited when I learnt that the Moomin Shop were opening in Covent Garden – apart from Tokyo, London would be the first city to house the plump troll family out of their native Finland.

The shop is upstairs and adorable murals depicting the Moomin Valley gently nudge you up the stairs…

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The shop floor is compact and cozy…

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The staffs are knowledgeable & helpful and huge Moomin fans, of course!

On display are a collection of Moomin merchandise.
Cutlery, plates and lunch-boxes for children…

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Toys & bibs for babies and toddlers…

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Books & shopping bags…

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More bags & toiletries…

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Satchels & cushions…

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Cookie cutters…

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And a pretty apron with Snork Maiden for a little princess…

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I highly recommend the shop for anyone who is stuck with gift ideas but can’t face the crowd on Oxford Street.

It is rather sad that we will have to say good-bye to those pretty lights once Christmas is gone…

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Thanks to them, longer winter nights have been turned into more enchanting experience, haven’t they?
I shall miss them very much…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Day Out With SC…

After enjoying our brunch at Salvation Jane, SC and I headed towards Spitalfields Market while Hubbie walked back home – he was not a market-going kind of guy, you know.
Instead of walking through a busy concourse of Liverpool Street Station, we approach it via Exchange Square, Broadgate. On Primrose Street, we saw a huge lone reindeer towering over the pavement…

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The Christmas display was well made and pretty. However, it was ruined by some over-zealous fencing around its footings…

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Is this another example of modern-day disease, health & safety?
Without those heavy-handed precautions, the reindeer could have been much more beautiful and elegant. Who cares if some idiot, who is too busy tweeting or updating FB, walks into the ornament and knock his forehead? All of us should look where we are heading, not our eyes glued to phones. It’s common sense, isn’t it? By the way, SC and I also witness from the upper deck of a No.8 bus, a Christmas tree dedicated from Tiffany & Co at the Royal Exchange was pretty much spoiled by the fences around it. It’s just a Christmas tree, for Chrissake! What harm or threat will it present? It’s nothing like uneven pavement or loose potholes which can be discreet and potentially dangerous, is it? Utterly ludicrous…

At Old Spitalfields Market, we tried to locate my friend, Howie’s stall but couldn’t find it. The market was much busier than normal Saturdays, more stalls and more punters. So we gave up our search and headed towards Brick Lane.

On Dray Walk, we encountered a huge crowd queuing up to get inside of a sample sale at Ely’s Yard…

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Behind a Christmas tree sale hut, a long queue was formed and the people were standing in the cold patiently. It could have been an amazing sale since the interest it attracted among the crowd spoke volumes. However, waiting all day for possibilities of bargain didn’t appeal to us that much so we carried on walking towards Brick Lane.

At Vintage Emporium on Bacon Street, we managed to find a table and had a well-earned tea break…

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The place was busy with the customers who were like us, only too happy to find a warmer place to sit and chat over a cup of hot drink and some snack. And SC kindly bought me a huge mug of tea…

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Over the tea, we chatted about each other’s plan for the coming festive season. She was spending her Christmas and New Year Day in Hawaii with her family. How nice! Comparing with her plan, my New Year will be in wintery Nagano, Japan. Brrrrrr….!
Then, SC mentioned how much she coveted the sunglasses produced by my dear friend, Fei. We both thought it would be great if she could go away with a new pair of shades. So I phoned up Fei and invited her out for dinner and to show SC her amazing collection.
From Bethnal Green Road, we caught a No.8 bus and traveled to West End. At Heal’s on Tottenham Court Road, SC bought a sleek bedside lamp and we walked towards Oxford Circus through Fitzrovia. By the way, the way Oxford Street was clogged up with shoppers was a sight to behold!

We arrived at Tonkotsu, our favourite the ramen bar, on Dean Street around 7pm and had to wait for a table over 30 minutes. While I was in the queue, a gorgeous smell of the freshly cooked ramen tickled my nostrils all the time. It was undoubtedly one of the longest half an hour in my life…

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In the nick of time, Fei managed to join us and we were eventually ushered to our table.
Once seated, we promptly ordered our favourites, Chicken Karaage…

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Pork Gyoza…

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And a bowl of Soho Ramen each…

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It had been quite a while since I had eaten at Tonkotsu, therefore, I found the ramen extra tasty.
We chatted over so many subjects and had so much laughter.
After dinner, we moved on to our usual place for more chat & tea (& cake)…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Sneak Peek @ Fortnum & Mason

It may sound like being a kill joy but I am not a big fan of Christmas in general.
Every time I see the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street leading up to Christmas Eve, I can’t ignore how commercially driven our modern-day Christmas has become. A supposed to be festive and charitable season now appears to be marred by anxiety and frustration which stems from materialistic obsession. Gifts, parties, drinks, nibbles, expenses, weight gains, etc…

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Hubbie is not a kind of guy to make much fuss about Christmas either, therefore, it doesn’t help. I would love to be more starry-eyed about the biggest festive season of the year. Maybe I should make more noise. Should I decorate my window side with brand-new decorations this year?

Before the brunch date last Tuesday, I dropped by Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly in where Mrs.Bentley and I were to rendezvous.
Even someone like me who was a semi-cynic about Christmas, their festive shop floor was captivating…

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It was all commercial, no doubt. However, the charm, glamour and opulence of traditional Christmas was oozing from every merchandise on display…

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Hmmm…, nostalgia must be one vital component to create the elixir of Christmas tradition, I admired their splendid ornamentation…

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Regrettably, my visit was all too brief, not long enough for a pre-Christmas conditioning therapy.
I must go back there very soon for a proper gift hunting…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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