A Long Walk @ Tokyo Station

Well, it must have been a longest connection walk mum & I ever did.
Even though, Keiyō Line (京葉線) terminated at Tokyo Station, a distance between Yaesu Exit and the platforms of Keiyō Line stretched nearly 900m, involving 20 minutes of walking.
Latter-day we learnt that the journey would have been much shorter if we traveled to the next station, Yūraku-cho (有楽町), using Yamate Line (山手線) and walked from there!

How ginormous Tokyo Station was, we were tragically unaware of then…

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So many shops within the station.
The concourse was lined with countless kiosks selling cakes, colourfully boxed baked sweets and bento box as well as espresso bars, juice stands, bookshops and even a small branch of Uniqlo.

Temiyage (手土産) is a distinctively Japanese custom.
Gift-giving has been a part of their social etiquette for centuries and it has developed into an art form.
In order to cater an appropriate gift for every occasion – for between close friends and families or for more formal relationships, for celebrations or for commiserations, Japanese retailers have developed sophisticated gift ideas to satisfy Japanese consumer’s insatiable eagerness to impress each other. Especially, at major mainline stations, people are more than happy to kill their time, wandering in & out of the kiosks and gift-hunting for loved ones and colleagues…

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A welcome sight of a travelator!
Overhead signboards for Keiyō Line kept on informing us how far (or close) we were from the platforms, showing “another 500m”, “another 200m”, etc…

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‘Isn’t calling it as Tokyo Station misleading?’ We grumbled as we dragged our weary feet.
We shouldn’t be walking this far just to change to another line. Ridiculous…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Urban Villages

The tranquil expanse of Grey’s Inn Fields greets me as I walk down Theobold’s Road.
For a long time, I believed that the garden was closed to the public.
Every time I passed there, on foot or on bus, I never saw a living soul except daffodils in the spring or mournful looking plane trees in the winter.
So I assumed the place was out-of-bounds to general public…

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Then, I googled about the garden and discovered that they were open to public!
The opening time is rather brief, between 12:00 – 14:30, Monday to Friday. Still, I CAN go in.
Once, I’ve been given a green light from my surgeon, I shall visit the garden and let you know how I find it.

At the junction with Grey’s Inn Road, Clerkenwell Road starts and it dips gradually towards Farringdon Road.
When will the road blocks around Farringdon be removed? It must be to do with the Crossrail project.
Every night after the London rush hour dies down, the area becomes full of workmen in identical orange overalls with reflective strips. As some of you know, I studied architecture. And the sight of men working in construction sites excites me (kind of). I do like to see humans working against the elements, let me put it this way. I find it heroic.

Anyway, I carry on sauntering along Clerkenwell Road for a short while and turn left into Aylesbury Street.
In the background, a spire of St James’s Church towers over Clerkenwell Green…

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I love the fact that London is full of these charming squares with a villagy atmosphere if I care to look for it.

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Open fields or woods which distinguished the boundaries between parishes have long gone as the city grew.
Yet, those churches which are dotted all over London are discreet backbones of the communities as a magnet to pull the people around it.

Seeing the church on the left, I walk up Sekforde Street.
On this street, there is a pub I have been intrigued for a quite sometimes…

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Sekforde Arms.
The reviews of this water hole are a mixed bag – 50/50 positive & negative.
For example, the food doesn’t sound like their strong point. However, all the reviewers praise the pub for not following the trend and refusing to turn itself to another gastro pub or smarting up for yuppies (aka tossers).

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Oh, I wish Hubbie was with me.
I would have gone inside if I were not alone. I am not a timid kind (far from it).
However, I am not comfortable with the idea of walking into a pub alone – I am ok with a bar but not a pub.

When I mentioned about the pub to Hubbie a while ago, he told me that he had been there already.
“Oh, it’s just an ordinary pub. Nothing special”, he replied.
But darling, all I want is a traditional pub where they have a dart board on the wall and a roaring fireplace in the winter! The pubs with small windows are endangered species in modern London. And I feel a certain nostalgia for it.
Therefore, I shall persuade Hubbie to accompany me in near future…

Night tea @ Maison Bertaux

About the picnic, I couldn’t make it in the end.
I woke up with a bad sore throat – a change in the weather always brings me a bunged up nose and a sore throat. Therefore, I wrapped a cotton scarf by Epice around my neck and stayed home.
Oh, bu**er…

After our ramen dinner the other night, Fei and I decided to have tea & cake at Maison Bertaux on Greek Street.
The weather then was still balmy, so Old Compton Street was overflowing with office-workers and tourists who couldn’t fit in pubs and bars.
Everyone was chatting and laughing with a glass in hand, having a great time. The people clung and buzzed like swarming bees around their apiary.
A happy sight of a typically London summer…

We dodged and shimmied through the raucous crowd and reached to Maison Bertaux in one piece.
It was obvious that Soho punters were more interested in booze than tea & cake, therefore, we settled in one of the empty tables straight away. What cake should I have?…

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There weren’t that many cakes on offer.
Though, their shelves were laden with creamy, chocolaty & fruity offerings during the day.

It was more than 20 years ago when I sat here and tasted their cake for the first time.

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The things hasn’t changed even the slightest in my view.
Don’t you find it remarkable in this modern world?
I sincerely hope that they will stay with us forever. I fear for it if they are bullied to pack up by a greedy landlord or a developer and the place is replaced by yet another chain restaurant or bar. We have more than enough uninteresting chain outlets in Central London already. If any harm comes to this gem of Soho, I will collect petitions and chain
myself to their showcase!

As usual, I had a fruit eclair with English breakfast tea.
Fei had a lemon cake and darjeeling…

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We poured each other’s tea and chatted tirelessly.

It seemed only fitting that I should walk home in order to burn the excess calories I consumed…

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It was a windless night.
The air still retained the warmth from daytime yet felt cleaner.
The streets were calmer and quieter. The pandemonium of a daily London chaos is swept away without a trace.

I looked into a window of the photography gallery at Clerkenwell  Green…

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Wished if Hubbie were there with me then.
I would have loved to know what he thought about those portraits…

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