BOB Best of Britannia @ Clerkenwell

When my best friend, Fei Wang, invited me to join her at an exhibition, Best of Britannia on St John Street near the Smithfield Market, I was a little sceptical. Wouldn’t it be another trade show alike of 100% Design? I had possessed more than enough home-making paraphernalia at home, therefore, I didn’t have much interest nor enthusiasm for whatever the show in that kind of nature.
Then, my another best chum, Letizia, endorsed the show as a must visit. Therefore, there I was, meeting up with Fei at Barbican Underground…

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The earlier rain was cleared and the sun came out to greet the London commuters on their way home.

The venue was on St John Street – a stone’s throw from the restaurant St John which was celebrated for their hedonistically carnivorous cuisines.
We received wristbands at the registry and proceeded along the exhibits.

The first one we encountered was a speed boat…

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A sleek James Bond-esque craft was an exhibit by Fletcher Boat.
I didn’t know much about speed boats (or any boat!) but this vessel looked like an ultimate boy’s toy.
With this “Stop me if you dare” kind of bodywork, I could imagine an aging multimillionaire rock star sitting in the cockpit with a scandalously young blond hot chick sitting next to him looking nonchalant and bored.

The boat was followed by wheels of all forms and sizes…

Old Empire Motorcycles

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And Moulton Bicycles

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Irresistibly glamorous offerings by Morgan Motor Cars

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Being a tom boy, I used to make model cars and the Morgan 4-4 was one of them.
I painted my Morgan with British racing green and was mightily pleased with it.

Wow, this is their famous three-wheeler…

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Morgan Super Sports.
This 3 wheelers is not considered to be a car but a “cyclecar” – classified as a motorcycle. Whereby, the owner is exempted from paying the British tax on cars!
Then, how about the notorious Congestion Charge? Will it be exempted because it’s not a car?

Being a self- confessed brogue mania, I couldn’t resist visiting a stall of  Joseph Cheaney & Sons

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Amongst mainly men’s shoes, I found three pairs of ladies brogues…

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I did love the pair with  Co-respondent style.
I must try one at their shop in the Piccadilly Arcade soon.

Then, we stopped by a stall of Harry Brompton’s Alcoholic Iced Tea

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I was handed a glass of the iced tea with a piece of lime in by a friendly exhibitor. The tea was incredibly moreish.

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It was sweet but was delicately flavoured, therefore, it wouldn’t spoil any food if they were to be consumed together. I would prefer this iced tea to the Pimms in the summer. Or I would love to drink it with my gourmet burger any day.

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I loved their logo too. The air of nostalgia, that was what I was impressed with.
Don’t you agree that we are surrounded by too many mediocre & vulgar logos nowadays? Let’s try bringing back happiness & beauty back into our life by supporting good products and honest manufacturers.

Another exhibit I was impressed was by Michaux

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They produce well-designed cyclist bags targeting female cyclists.
The bags are made with water-proofed canvas with leather trimmings. A clever use of leather straps secures the bag on the cyclist’s back whereby she / he is allowed to focus on the traffic.

The exhibitor demonstrated how it would work…

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The dots on the bag would work as reflectors. How clever!

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I would definitely want one for myself! I loved the black one she was wearing.
Before that, I would have to dust off my Brompton and put some air in the tyres  however. I had been a reluctant cyclist ever since I was hit by a careless black cab. Stop being a chicken and get back to a saddle, shouldn’t I?

The bands in the courtyard offered non-stop entertainment to the visitors and exhibitors alike…

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While wandering around the venue, Fei & I came across a trio of striking looking gentlemen…

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Their relaxed yet observant demeanour impressed us and eventually, Fei approached them to introduce ourselves.
It turned out that the three of them were artists / designers and their installation was exhibited at the venue.
Learning insights from creative minds like them would be always fascinating and rewarding and I asked them to keep in touch when we exchanged our name cards.

Best of Britannia was one of the best creative events I had visited so far.
The venue size was perfect for an in-depth interaction between exhibitors and visitors. And the exhibits were fairly diverse and interesting.
Even though I had no chance to sample them, yummy looking artisan foods & drinks were on offer in the courtyard and even well-behaved dogs were allowed in too.

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Therefore, why don’t you visit the exhibition tomorrow? It will be a fab day out, I promise…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Sunday Tea @ The Canal

Last Sunday after becoming more than full with the lunch at the Eagle, we decided to pay an homage to the Sandwich Barge.
The weather for the weekend supposed to be unstable, a mishmash of sunshine, cloud, rain, wind, etc.
Because of it, we even cancelled our trip to Holland Park. Then came Sunday, it turned out sunny and less windy than the day before. We were rather cross about this misinformation.
It was nearly 3pm already and wouldn’t have enough time left to travel across to West London.
By the canal, we could still bask in the sun while sipping tea & munching on a cake, so we reasoned.

The path along the canal was fairly  lively with the Sunday crowd…

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Next to Lorraine’s barge cafe, there was another canal boat, selling vintage clothing.
From the speakers on its roof, the ’50s pop music was played and the atmosphere around the barges was cozy and good-natured.

Most of the diners were enjoying oysters on Lorraine’s weekend menu…

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I wish if I could join them!
However, the pleasure had been denied to me ever since I developed a severe allergy to oyster 15 years ago. *SOB*

Instead, we ordered tea and just-out-of-oven chocolate brownie…

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We sipped our tea in the mellow afternoon sunshine.
Lorraine’s chocolate brownies were amazing. She mixed in walnuts in the dough. Baking made the walnut so soft, it melted in my mouth like magic. It was divine!

Then, we saw a family of swans went gliding past…

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A swan mama and her cygnet.
She chaperoned her four offspring up and down the canal gracefully.

After savouring our afternoon tea, we bid farewell to Lorraine and headed home…

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Instead of crossing the canal via Wharf Road Bridge, we carried on towards Shepherdess Walk.

Then we saw a cat cringing on to the side of the barge rather precariously…

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The cat appeared not too concerned about the situation it was in.
So I whispered to it ‘Puss, puss, puss’. And the cat meowed me back, like saying hello…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Mr.B @ Studio North & The Canal

I never saw how quickly Mr.B’s tiny feet could move!
He darted towards the exit as soon as I put him down on the floor, never looking back.
He was scampering away from the vet in his fifth gear. You never know how hard a mere 2 kg Chihuahua can pull!  Anyway, Mr.B slowed down to a cruising speed once he thought the danger was over and we pottered along New North Road, the southbound.

Then, we came across a jewellery studio…

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We hardly came this way on foot therefore it had slipped below our radar…

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One of the designers, Chrysanthe, showed me a collection of mainly silver jewellery they created at the premises…

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On the wall, there were coloured architectural drawings…

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Chrysanthe explained to me that her husband who shared the studio as his architectural practice, had participated in Open House London 2013 last weekend and the drawings were a part of the exhibits.

Mr.B had a good nosing around of the shop floor…

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The works exhibited there were distinctly original and innovative.
Highly recommended to pay a visit if you are in & around the area.

After leaving the studio, we turned into Linton Street.
What a beautiful day!

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The sky was criss-crossed with vapour trails…

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Hello, Bilbo barge…

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While Mr.B waited in the carrier by the chair, I chatted to Lorraine…

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Lorraine was just releasing a lemon drizzle sponge from the tin when we dropped in…

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The sponge was cut in half and, she spread ginger preserve very very carefully…

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Then, the other half of the cake was placed on top of it. Tickety-boo!

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Ta-dah, my tea & cake at the canal! Absolutely priceless…

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Once Lorraine finished a meeting with her plumber, we had a good old chitchat in the sun…

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Mr.B nibbled on the cake too. Oh I mustn’t forget to brush his teeth once we’ve got home…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Tea & Cake @ Regent’s Canal

After satisfying myself with vintage-browsing, I headed home via Regent’s Canal.
The path leading towards the canal was paved with cobbles and the angle was steep…

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The hue of leafage matured and deepened which made the foliage appeared denser and if not slightly doleful.
Even those barges floating on soupy water of the canal looked to be holding their breath.

It was overcast and windless. The canal reflected its surrounding like a mirror…

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Regent’s Canal was constructed in the early 19th Century under the supervision of Prince Regent’s pet architect,
John Nash. It starts from Paddington Basin, flows through Little Venice, Camden Lock, St.Pancras Lock and arrives at City Road Basin, my neighbourhood…

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‘Oh I wish if I could sit down with a cup of tea’, I sighed.
My hand started to ache with the weight of my shopping bag which I stuffed overzealously at M&S, Angel.
Then, a canal boat with a teapot sign on its roof appeared in the distance like a mirage!
Am I daydreaming?…

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It was a barge converted to a floating cafe!
I was less than 10 minutes walk away from home. However the allure of this unusual place was too strong to resist.
Who can forgo an opportunity to have tea at a cute cafe like this?…

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The mistress of the barge was Lorraine, a charming lady with the Land Girl hair do and twinkling blue eyes.
When I asked about cakes on offer, she brought out a cake tin, piping hot from the oven!

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Ahhh, a freshly baked cake! I must have it with my tea.
The cake was concocted from the mixture of banana, plantain, apple, walnuts and caraway seed and it was truly scrumptious. Especially, the plantain, I never tasted it in my life but I am a convert now.

The cafe offers not only tea & cake but also freshly cut sandwich and home-made soup daily between Wednesday to Sunday…

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However, the barge may change its location time to time. Therefore, please check an update on their Facebook page.

Sipping tea from a proper china set and munching on a home-baked cake by the canal…

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Mmmm… Priceless…
A breather like this is so necessary in hectic urban life. Without it, time will just roll by at an alarming pace, leaving one with nothing worthy to recollect at the end of the day.
As I will have to go back to Mr.B’s vet on Thursday in order to sort out the discrepancy caused by their mistake, I may drop by to pay a quick homage to the cafe again.
Any excuse will do to have another cuppa (& possibly a cake) by the canal with ducks and geese…

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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!

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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!)…

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

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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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