Island Gardens, E14

One sunny but cold Sunday lunchtime, Hubbie suddenly declared that we were to visit Island Gardens in the Isle of Dogs, East London.

‘Sure, I don’t mind. But why there?’

It turned out that he wanted to take photos of Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich from the north side of River Thames. And the garden would provide a perfect location for it.

Yeah, you are right. It looks magnificent, doesn’t it?

Before the site was occupied by the Old Royal Naval College in 1878, it accommodated numerous occupants over its long history, and the most famous one amongst them must be the notorious Tudor dynasty.

A view across the Thames in the Tudor time, facing then the Palace of Placentia, aka Greenwich Palace…

Before Henry VII decided to make the site as one of his royal residences in 1485, it was a royal manor house, owned by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. The manor was called Bella Court (!) and it was in his possession until the duke fell out of favour with the new queen, Margaret of Anjou, a consort of Henry VI. Margaret was one of the major figures during the infamous War of Roses, and Bella Court which she renamed as the Palace of Placentia, aka the Palace of Pleasaunce, was owned by her until her Lancastrian army’s defeat at Battle of Towton. After Battle of Bosworth, the ownership of the manor changed hands again. The estate now belonged to the newly crowned Lancastrian king, Henry VII. After defeating the Yorkist king, Richard III and creating the House of Tudor, the king set out to transform the existing riverside mansion to a much larger and more opulent palace with grandeur.

The Tudors loved the palace. The location was healthy and tranquil, thanks to adjoining Greenwich Park, and it was safe because of River Thames, a natural barrier, which kept London’s noise, filth and dangerous epidemics such as plague at arm’s length.

The Britain’s most famous king, Henry VIII was born at Greenwich Palace in 1491. Like his father, he was very fond of the palace, and as a result, two of his queens, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, gave birth to princesses, future Mary I and Elizabeth I.

A view towards the Isle of Dogs from the Greenwich side…

Henry VIII must have seen the same riverscape (minus Canary Wharf & etc, of course) from his royal barge, the Lyon and Greyhound on his way to the Royal shipbuilding yard in Deptford and Woolwich.

While Hubbie was busy with his Leica, l entertained Bella with a frisbee.

Off you go, my princess!

The ground was covered with fallen leaves and because of it, I lost the sight of the frisbee more than a few times.

Still a frisbee in neon pink was much easier to spot than a Chuckit ball.

Are you not throwing the disk for me again?

I will but my hands are icy cold! I rubbed my hands together, trying to keep them warm. How I wished if I brought my gloves! Or having furry hands like Bella…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Park life

One of the assets which London as a city should be proud of, is its parks and the abundance of them. Sprawling parks which are dotted all around the city, are oaseses for the many who need to escape from the daily grind of city life and to regain their equilibrium.

East London in which we reside, has a number of parks and gardens and the largest of all is Victoria Park…

Regent’s Canal, which connects Little Venice and Limehouse, borders the west side of the park…

As the name suggests, the canal was constructed during the Regency era (1811 – 1937). The waterway’s initial purpose was for transporting coal and building materials from the River Thames to central north London in where Prince Regent (later George IV) was undertaking remodelling of the area in a grand scale. However, using canals as a method of ferrying goods was made obsolete by the development of railway which became a mania during 1836 – 1846. The craze was as such that some even suggested to convert the existing canal as a new railway route.

Today’s canal is a quieter existence…

There are no longer toiling men or ponies who pulled and pushed the barges but they are replaced by quietly floating house boats.

The Dogs of Alcibiades guarding the main entrance of the park at Sewardstone Road…

The Dog of Alcibiades (also known as The Jennings Dog) is an ancient Roman sculpture of a dog with a docked tail. No one is certain but there is a local myth that the statue was made in honour of a dog which saved a drowning child from Regent Canal…

Our Bella wouldn’t be saving anyone from the water, fracture or no fracture…

We knew it because we tried to see if she could doggy paddle the other day by dipping her in a bathtub. We expected her to paddle even as a gesture but instead she sank like a brick! She was pulled out of the water immediately and we were concerned if the experience had traumatised her. However, we didn’t need to worry because she was still crazy about playing with a shower nozzle. Sadly, Bella will have to wait skinny-dipping for another few week so the scar after the surgery will heal properly.

Like St Jame’s Park, there are many waterfowl which call Victoria Park as their abode…

Some people were obviously being illiterate as we witnessed a women and her child feeding swans and a couple dog owners allowing their dogs swimming in the pond despite both actions were prohibited and signposted as such…

Feasting our eyes on gorgeous autumn trees…

It is a great shame that Bella can’t run around the park until the end of December…

Can hardly wait to see her galloping like a manic!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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…


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


Merry, merry, everyone!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Window Shopping on Broadway Market, E8

December dusk comes very quickly, doesn’t it? I was on Broadway Market, East London, to meet up with my acquaintance at 17:30. And the street was already cloaked in the darkness when I arrived there 30 minutes earlier.

A Christmas tree stand by the street corner…


More than a few shops were still open for Christmas shoppers. Their windows glowed in the darkness like Chinese lanterns in the sky.

The shop drew my attention was Kate Sheridan


Leather bags on sale were unique and beautifully made.

The Broadway Bookshop


The bookshop was small but the books on the shelves were well-selected and would be a godsend alternative if one was bored with family friendly Christmas TV listings.

Or for more art-minded bookworms, Artwords Bookshop


My brand’s occasional stockist 69b


A fishmonger, Fin & Flounder


Christmas trees on sale…


Donlon Books. For art book lovers with vintage twists…


The 30 minutes of window shopping passed surprisingly quickly and I headed to l’eau à la bouche where I was to rendezvous with Emilie…


After a cup of latte and chat, we wished each other a very happy Christmas & new year and went separate ways.
As I waited for a bus home, I gazed at the twinkling lights spun across branches of the tree, wondering how pretty they were…


The Christmas lights appeared even lovelier because of the quiet darkness on the streets…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Curious Yellow Kafe @ Pitfield Street

Curious Yellow Kafe, this place is a hidden gem in my neighbourhood.
The premises used to be an ordinary greasy spoon before it was taken over by a bunch of energetic young people in skinny jeans & Converse. And they transformed this once sun-bleached & much ignored place into a destination where the people purposefully trek to…


The cafe is situated at the very north end of Pitfield Street which is the furthest away from the heartland of the Hoxton bar & restaurant scene. Yet, they still manage to attract a sizeable crowd who make this eatery hip and lively. It is quite an achievement in itself…


When we arrived there well after 3 o’clock last weekend, the kitchen was already closed.
This sweet cafe’s pièce de résistance is their plat du jour which offers a variety of veggie / non-veggie menu.
Despite of its compact size, the kitchen manages to produce the dishes which makes me salivate by just looking at their blackboard…


Their Autumn menu is as follows;
(v) Cauliflower soup w/ sage butter & bread £3.50
(v) Roast beet root, grape, goat’s cheese & fennel salad & bread £7.50
Crayfish, orange, kohlrabi & rocket salad & bread £7.50
Chestnut mushroom, field mushroom, Parmesan & polenta £7.50
Swedish meatballs w/ linguine & Parmesan £6.50
Are you getting hungry?

No more hot food for the day, so we had tea & cake.
Hubbie had a slice of dates & banana cake…


And I had a carrot cake.
I had to defend my cake from Hubbie’s super stealth folk which kept on breaching the airspace of my cake.
Oi you, leave my frosting alone!


The cakes were accompanied by large servings of strong English breakfast tea.
It was so strong that it could grow hair on my chest (kidding!)…


There was something hugely satisfying about sipping a cup of tea with the loved one while watching the world went by…


It was Hubbie’s first work-free weekend since last May.
Darling, weekend is NOT extra working days. You can’t treat it as such. You must realise that…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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