Bonjour encore, Strasbourg!

Despite the pandemonium experienced during the final leg of our German road trip, we managed to travel to Strasbourg in three hours.

‘We are like an old pro now, aren’t we?’ I chatted to mum as we strode towards Hotel Cathédrale from La place Gutenberg. We were there a mere seven days ago and acquainted ourselves with the area already.

Bonjour, our one night nest!

Last time we were in the city, we only had a few hours to explore the place in reality. It was in a late Saturday afternoon when we arrived and had to leave for Würzburg next morning.

This time, we reach the city by lunchtime, therefore, we had ample time to explore the place further. Mum and I dumped our luggage in our hotel room and went out to see what Strasbourg’s Saturday was really like.

Saturday was market day, and there were stalls laden with antiques and crafts all around La place Gutenberg…

At one stall which specialized in vintage and second-hand books, I asked in my basic French if they had any book of Caroline et ses amis by Pierre Probst. An old vendor in a director’s chair with a Panama hat on looked very surprised and asked me why I knew about the books. I answered him in my basic French again that the series was my childhood favourite.

Caroline and her friends on summer vacation in original French…

Then, the Japanese version with which I grew up…

I loved all the characters in the series…

and especially Youpi, I loved the most because he was the naughtiest…

And I named my aunt’s Yorkshire terrier as Youpi as well!

It was before we had a family dog, and Caroline and her friends really made me fantasised about the life with furry friends…

The old man apologised that he didn’t have any Caroline book in stock and I had to walk away from the stall empty-handed.

It would have been wonderful if I could read the book with mum again…

Some years back, I did managed to buy a few copies of the vintage Caroline series at one of the antique bookshops in Passage Jouffroy, Paris. The books smelt rather musty, but they brought back all the memories of my early childhood.

‘Now, let’s stretch our leg further, mum!’ We turned northward and walked towards Rue des Grandes Arcades…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Saturday Lunch @ Charlotte Street W1

Even though the amount of grass pollens in the air was at its highest, Hubbie, Mr.B and I decided to have a leisurely lunch on Charlotte Street last Saturday.

We waited for Hubbie on tha pavement while he brought a car out of the underground car park. It was rather breezy and Mr.B looked like as if he was being blow-dried…

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We parked our car near Hubbie’s office and walked towards Charlotte Street.
BT Tower was standing tall against the sky decorated with wispy clouds like an Olympic torch…

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We found a table at Côte.
Mr.B was excited to be greeted with a basket of bread…

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Across the street, I saw Josephine’s Filipino Restaurant

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Come to think of it, I never had any cuisine from Philippine and am very intrigued.
I suggested Hubbie if we could have a go at the place one evening. However spice-shy Hubbie suggested that I should look for an alternative dining companion… *RAT*

We tucked in steak and French fries. The sirloin was slightly overdone which I found rather regrettable…

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To accompany the steak, we shared tomato, shallot & basil salad…

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Then, we rounded up our meal with apple tart with ice cream…

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After lunch, we strolled to Park Camera off Oxford Street to buy a tripod.
Mr.B waited patiently in the carrier while Hubbie pondered which one to buy…

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Being ever so workaholic, Hubbie couldn’t help checking his inbox while Mr.B looked up to him quizzically.

‘What are you looking at?’

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Charlotte Street glows in the mellow afternoon sun…

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On our way back to the car, we came across Pollock’s Toy Museum on Scala Street…

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The museum has been a place which I was meant to visit for years but not yet done so. I must must come back to it very soon…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Pop-Up Book Sale ICA @ The Mall

The recent London has been blessed with a blue sky and fluffy white wispy clouds. And the weather of the last Saturday was no exception.
‘We are going to the ICA today!’ Hubbie declared breezily. He explained that we were to visit a weekend-only pop-up bookshop held at the gallery. Oh, okay…

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I was not an avid Royal calendar follower and therefore I had no idea what was held at Horse Guard Parade that morning but along the stretch of The Mall, a row of crowd-control barriers was in place on both sides and onlookers were milling about…

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We had a quick bite at the gallery’s cafe before plunging our nose between pages of precious prints…

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The coffee at ICA was not bad at all and the sandwiches were really tasty.

After climbing two flights of stairs…

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And we were greeted with table tops and shelves laden with vintage art & photography books…

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While Hubbie was wandering between stalls, I came across intriguing looking pins at one of the venders…

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The staff explained to me that their designs were inspired by fonts and borders. I decided to take two of them home with me, the pins in the first and second row, because they reminded me the artworks of James Turrell…

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A corridor of the ICA…

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Once outside, we headed to the nearest ice cream van. They were making a brisk trade as customers swarmed around the window, wanting to have an icy treat…

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We licked our soft ice-cream and sauntered to the Royal Academy…

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Alas, the Summer Exhibition was not on yet so we headed home.

A back view of the statue in the courtyard resembled a bullfighter, squaring at a bull in the ring, I thought…

Do you agree with me?

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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

Saturday @ Broadway Market

During yesterday’s errand, I was caught out in a sharp wintry shower. The rain was driving into my flimsy leopard print umbrella and the scenery I glimpsed through the corner of the shaky brolly was just wet & grim.
However, against my pessimism, the weather is rumoured to be better by this coming Sunday. Let’s have our fingers crossed!

I can’t believe it was only a mere two weeks ago when Hubbie, Mr.B and I basked in the warm sunshine at Broadway Market.

Mr.B was leaving his calling card at one of his favourite lamp posts…

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We parked our car around the corner from the market…

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Look how keen Mr.B was…

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Apart from an original street market on Broadway Market, there were two more sites accommodating stalls…

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A profusion of blue sky with very little breeze…

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Every direction we turned, there were at least a couple of stalls which were offering tasty looking snacks…

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Dutch mini pancakes with various toppings…

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Some middle eastern snacks?…

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A mega cute sandwich wagon…

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This stall was specialised in honey…

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On Broadway Market, free music was everywhere…

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He was so into his zone…

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This adorable duo seemed to be captivated by a trio of French musicians…

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The only drawback of this particular market was a shortage of suitable seating. Those who managed to grab seats were lucky ones even if they were in the shade…

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Most of us ended up planting our butts on the pavement…

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With Mr.B in the carrier so he wouldn’t be trampled by the market visitors, Hubbie and I looked around the stalls…

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On our way home, we dropped in one of our favourite stalls and bought cakes…

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Raspberry bakewell slice for Hubbie…

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and chocolate M&M for me…

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We also bought a bunch of tulips too…

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Don’t they look lovely? I love tulips.
Let’s hope this weekend will be a warm & sunny one…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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