Planning my week and next month

Planning

It is no secret that I love to plan, not having a job means that I should be planning more. I don’t have to set time aside because time is the one thing I have lots of.

I cried when I packed up my desk and I tidied it all away last week.

So this week I set up my desk again, set my self some tasks and goals for the month for the week.

Last week

I was pretty happy with what I achieved last week but I can be more focused and do a lot more. I snuck in a few salads and veggie meals into our routine Gavin wasn’t impressed but he ate them and I will continue to sneak them in.

We have a lovely tiny Victorian home ( technically its Edwardian because it was built in 1905 built in the Victorian style etc etc.)We have lived here for 6 years now and it needs a bit of love. The walls need painting, I need a new kitchen ( its falling apart). but I know I can do some bits myself. So in our sitting room me have mold under the window so last week I scraped back and painted with a damp seal. It was a lot of work but it’s done now ready for repainting.

Meals

I like to meal plan, it helps me order food, we are still getting out food delivered so we can still isolate. I also made a vow at the start of this that I was going to cut down my

We are working from home so that means breakfast lunch and dinner, although at the weekend we generally just have two meals a day. Gavin sorts himself out for breakfast and we take it in turns to put the coffee pot on. Lunches and dinners are up to me. I love to cook so I am trying out lots of new

1959s house wife

I am starting to turn into a 1950s housewife, does that mean that I am allowed to drink from 2pm? I don’t actually mind the cooking and some of the cleaning but it’s only been a week.

I may share some of my planner with you like I did when I started my blog. I have been spending a bit more time in it, making lists and organising my week in a less structured way.

Hope you had a good week and you are all safe and well.

Osaka in 4 days, a food extravaganza

Japan, Travel

We wanted to spend a while in Osaka, but when we planned there was no Covid-19 so everything was open.

Sadly when we got there unless it was a bad or restaurant it was all closed! So our experience of Osaka was a little tainted. Yes we had the best Okonominyaki at the station twice ( it was so good we went back the next day before we went to Kyoto! It was so good we considered hoping on a bullet train back to the station to eat it again.

We had booked the sumo wrestling which we were so excited about but it was cancelled to the public just as we arrived. We planned our journey around the Sumo and the Nara festival. But what we didn’t research enough was that Nara was closer to Osaka then Kyoto, lesson learned.

We were told that people in Osaka are very helpful and friendly and we were struck by it immediately. If we looked lost someone would ask us if we were okay.

The bullet trains made it easier to visit places but it was still a slight hiccup that experience ha taught us.

The bars and restaurant culture in Osaka was epic but it was also the busiest place. We visited the castle on the first day and paid £10 to have a drink on the roof. Bar charges are a a common occurrence in Japan so get used to it, the most we ever paid was £14 each but it was in Kyoto and the place was a ghost town so we were happy to support the bar. The roof top was empty and beautiful so I am glad we did it. It was so quite that we took photos on our phone on the timer. There was no one around it felt very safe.

We had a few gins ( Hiroshima gin is beautiful) and we drank it a lot. Just make sure you ask for Japanese gins otherwise you will get imported British gin.

We also Skyped my mum to check on her, Aunty and the dog. The castle contrasted with the backdrop of Osaka felt unreal.

Osaka castle
Kamukura best gyoza and super tasty ramen

Food Osaka style

Ummm I have already mentioned the Okonominyaki which was amazing we had it on our last night and then just before we left and we loved it. But that wasn’t the most exciting meal we had. I had seen the Netflix show about Izakaya Toyo whet he cooks with his hands and a blow torch.

It’s all very theatrical and wonderful and for the tourists. I have mentioned before that Japan doesn’t really do street food, it is not ingrained in their culture but they do put it on and you will find it in most places. But this is for us the tourist.

Thank god because it’s so good.

We had to queue for our food for about five minutes and the food was so good. It was busy and we loved the hustle and bustle but it was full of tourists. Toyo was warm and funny and ran up and down the street! He encouraged pictures and filming and the tuna was great! All the food was great.

I accidentally picked gav a can of whiskey highball but he drank it and we ordered more food and helped ourselves to more drink.

I loved it!

Octopus

I was looking forward to the famous octopus balls and we ate a lot of them. It’s important to remember that these are napalm hot and even if you leave them for 10 minutes they are still going to burn your mouth so wait, then wait some more.

I love octopus it’s my favourite meat of choice, tender tasty I love it. In the UK it’s not common on the restaurant scene so I generally order it when ever I am out.

We also ate out in restaurants but Osaka is a foodie hotspot we also had amazing Ramen at a cool cafe where you had to use a machine to order. We would definitely recommend Kamukura for a cheap and tasty eat, and order the gyoza I think it was the best we had the whole time.

Umeda

We stayed in a great location in Umeda but if I was going to go back to Osaka I would stay closer to Namba station because we ended up there most nights.

Osaka is a busy city.

There were crowds everywhere.

It was a Stark contrast to the quietness of Hiroshima it almost felt like corona virus wasn’t there. There was so many shops so if you love shopping then this is the place to go. The Pokemon museum, rides were closed so we just had food, temples and bars again and they where just as impressive here!

The wonderful thing about Shinto religion is that you worship small local gods and there are so many.

Bar life

We spent a lot of time walking around this huge city. Exploring shrines, discovering melon pan and drinking.

On our third evening we walked past the a building that had a sign for 8 bars. It was down a flight of steps and looked like a scary basement. It was a labyrinth of doors so we just picked on and went it. We found a tiny bar that could seat no more than 8 people sat relaxed and had a few gins! We planned to go back the next night and try another door but we ended up at another bar.

It’s really important to explore the city. Japan is pretty safe so we never felt like we could explore. The basement below did look highly uninviting but spent a great few hours down there.

It enough room to swing a cat!!

I am putting this blog post together and remembering so much!

We took it easy in Osaka as we had four days and lots of our plans had been cancelled. So we stayed out late, slept in ( till 9am bliss) and hunted for fluffy pancakes.

I am going to leave this blog here but with one lasting image and that is the amazing okonominyaki Kiji oh yes! This was a ten minute walk from our hotel and we ate there twice. The next day we were there at 11am when it opened and there were two people in front of us and we both had backpacks on!

We sat at the grill table where they make them and we both ordered what we had the night before with beer ( of course). It was a great way to start outlet trip to Kyoto. With full bellies and happy memories of food, drink and the kindness of Osaka.

So some of the highlights!

  • Kuramon market for lunch
  • Dotombori street for crazy city life we had some octopus balls and ramen near here you can shop till late in the night
  • Izakaya Toyo, the raw tuna was my favourite it was also great for the drama and fun of it, it was a cold drizzly day and we had great time
  • Sumo wrestling ( we didn’t go but we watched it on tv)
  • Osaka castle was beautiful and quiet when we were there but definitely aim for sunset when you visit as the views and contras were amazing
  • Shrines are every where but the moss ( near donburi street) and the lion ( near Namba station) were like no other shrines we shrines seen!
  • Don Quixote is a great shop for everything but there is one on the river that has a Ferris wheel which was scary but fun to do ( I hate heights)
  • We can’t comment on the museums and sky towers we wanted to visit because they were closed.

Mini update: I just don’t know what to do with myself!

Personal Experience, Planning

Did you sing it too? Well that’s how I feel at the moment.

It’s a bit awkward.

I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life I just know what I don’t want to do. There is a lot of unemployment at the moment so it maybe tough time to start a new job. We have some savings so there is no immediate rush for me to work except for the fact I may go mad with boredom.

I sat down and wrote a list of jobs I wanted to do on the house and most of it included painting and freshening up the house.

Painting it all white

I am planning on painting most of the cappuccino walls white to brighten up the place. I am also obsessed with doing up the kitchen and bathroom but that will take a lot of planning and convincing Gavin because I would like to go all out in both rooms.

I bought some Dulux paint so I think I will clean and tackle the bathroom first. It’s a bright room so it can take a nice bright white! I will clean the ceiling first, then the windows and then the walls. Then it’s paint time.

Then I will think about what I want for that room. I think a nice white room with the wooden floors shelves and black and white tiles, perfect.

Planning and money

This doesn’t mean spending a lot of Money, the whole point of planning is that you save money. It’s not about buying everything new although we do need a few bits. I am going to love planning it.

Also if we time it right we can get better quality products in the sale by not rushing it.

I feel like my lockdown is happening when England is opening back up. But we are taking it easy, we are still limiting our contact with people. Yes we would love to go out into the world but we still feel it is being rushed. That our health and safety doesn’t appear to be a priority.

We will see, I hope I am wrong.

Skincare, looking after my face

My skincare is quite elaborate, I banned myself from buying anymore until I use it up. I can’t wait till I get to buy more but I need to use them first.

I have been reading Caroline Hirons book and it’s taught me so much already. Double cleansing every night has already improved my skin. I did buy some face flannels from John Lewis but I see that as an investment rather than another splurge.

I am also going to use up some of the products that Caroline doesn’t recommend because I like them and I can’t afford to waste them. Plus I am trying to reduce my waste full stop.

Crazy Plant Lady

Oh yes it’s definitely gardening time. I have planted some seeds and I have more seeds on the way. Some of my work plants haven’t liked the move and are in a bit of a poor state. So they are having a bit of tender care at the moment.

I can’t sneak any more plants in the house but Gav doesn’t have a problem with me trying to grow my own.

We will see! My garden is being looked after a bit better I get up at normal time and water it with all this sunshine we are having, it’s very thirsty!

I am growing tomatoes and planning out some healthier meals to help as loose a wee bit of weight.

Round up

So that’s it, it pretty similar to what I was planning during lockdown but I just didn’t have the paint nor the time.

I have to keep busy as I really don’t know what to do with myself.

My main focus is on my home, my family, my belly and my skincare.

I really hope you are all safe and healthy.

The Hungry traveller top 10 places to visit next!

Advice, Planning, Travel, Travel planning

Okay so with a lot of time on my hands I have been thinking about travel. Where I want to go to next and what food do I want to eat. When it comes to travel I am always led by my stomach. With unemployment dooming I know that I may have free time but I don’t have the money so these trips will contain careful planning of time and money.


But I will visit these places.


1 Korea


If Korea has taught us anything during the pandemic it is to show the rest of the world how to cope in a crisis. Just like I am still in love with Japan I feel the same sort of pull to Korea. There is something about the culture, the people and especially the food. We have been binge watching Korean dramas like Kingdom and Magic Pop up Bar, and don’t get me started on Train to Busan. Yes that is two Zombie references but Korean horror is equisite. I will need to do a lot more research but its my number one place to go to at the moment and I can’t wait.

  • Time of year: Spring
  • Flight time: 11+
  • Day allocation: 10-14

2 Japan


Okay I know its only been a few months since we have been back but I loved it. I still have a lot more blogs coming out about it (hope you don’t mind) but it was such an inspiring place and the food was amazing. It will be eye opening to see it when it is busy and buzzing. It will also be nice to see it with all the museums and galleries open. We missed Sumo wrestling, Team lab and the Ghibli museum to name but a few. I would like to visit in the autumn and do a tour of the gardens, we will revisit Yamagata and hopefully explore the more Northern districts.

  • Time of year: Spring
  • Flight time: 11+
  • Day allocation: 14

3 Vietnam & Cambodia


Are you sensing a trend?

Asia is so exciting to me.


When I lived in Australia my favourite thing was the food and they had excellent Vietnamese food. But there is so much more than food when it come to Vietnam and I cant wait to go. Hanoi looks insane but I really want to go into the country side and visit a few cities and towns, then finish on the beach for a few days. We may have our friends there with us.

I put Cambodia on here because if I visit Vietnam that it would be good to sneak a few days maybe even a week exploring.

These are both tropical countries so time of year is crucial.

  • Time of year: Spring
  • Flight time: 14+
  • Day allocation: 14

4 Canada Whistler


So, two of these holidays maybe birthday treats for me and my bestie. Yes they are long haul expensive trips but our partners get along and sometimes its nice to experience things in a group. Snowboarding is always best in a group. One of the nicest things about us as a foursome is that we don’t get offended if we want space from each other or want to explore different things. We just do it. No offence, no issues. We are both easy going and enjoy exploring. This will be a hiking and snowboarding activity trip. When everything was happening with Brexit and we ere considering leaving the UK Canada was one of our first thoughts. Its time to explore!!

  • Time of year: Winter
  • Flight time: 9+
  • Day allocation: 7-10

5 New York


This is Gavin’s Birthday present. We had it booked for September and it will be a Diehard 3, Ghost buster inspired trip. With a few restaurants and ‘Carrie’ moments thrown in for good measure. America is so expensive now but I have two places singled out. I think that New York is a magical place and although it would be amazing at Christmas I think I would prefer to see it in Autumn when the trees are changing colours and you have to wrap up warm and visit cosy cafes and bistros.

  • Time of year: Autumn
  • Flight time: 7+
  • Day allocation: 5-6


6 New Orleans


The Lafayette’s and Payet’s of this world a largely found in New Orleans. As my heritage is French/ African it will be amazing to see how the culture is so different from the Seychelles. In Seychelles they speak Creole and the food is creole in New Orleans cajun cooking is from here. They are very different cultures but it will be interesting to explore my heritage in a different part of the word. It will take a lot of planning to narrow down all the restaurants and bars I want to visit but it will be worth it. I have a vision of New Orleans is in my head I just hope it lives up to it. I also read a lot of Anne Rice when I was a kid and I loved all the big houses, witches and ghosts.

  • Time of year: spring
  • Flight time: 13+
  • Day allocation: 7-10

7 Iceland


This is solely about the northern lights and maybe a sleigh ride. This would be a short trip but it is definitely on my list of places I have always wanted to do. I will be wept away into his dark materials and trying to find Cities in the Sky, I just hope when we go we get to see them, the Northern lights that is. Iceland is a magical place I love the mythology. I am not sure my food obsession will be

  • Time of year: Winter New Year
  • Flight time: 3
  • Day allocation: 5

8 Montenegro


I have written a blog on Montenegro already, but there is something very exciting about this tiny country but it’s the food and the views that have me enraptured.
I think there is something truly amazing about this tiny country that needs exploring! I have a few books that I am reading about it. All the amazing seafood makes me drool.

  • Time of year: Spring
  • Flight time: 4-5
  • Day allocation: 6 days


9 Norway


Okay this may be due to my current obsession with Norse Gods and hiking. I really want to go on a Hiking Holiday preferably taking our little French bull dog with us. I don’t necessarily want to sleep in a tent or hostel but a nice bed and maybe a sauna. Is that too muc to ask. We will practice with the hiking holiday to Yorkshire and see how well the dog likes it. Maybe get a ferry across and and hike throughthe fjords. I need to do a lot more research but that would be a dream trip.


We are currently watching Ragnorok on Prime and loving it.

  • Time of year: Summer
  • Flight time: 3hrs
  • Day allocation: 5 minimun


10 Great Britain


Without getting to political I feel like in my lifetime we will lose Scotland. This will really break my heart as I love Scotland but they are right when they say that the Government ignores there needs, yes they have some privileges over England but being ignored and not heard is not okay. So I took Gavin to Edinburgh for his 3oth and he loved it, we have been back for a wedding, me for a hen do but it would be great to explore more of Scotland.

I am looking at the islands and north of Scotland, this my also coincide with my new love of whiskey and my first love Gin but I think staying closer to home and exploring the countries that you live in is really important.
I mentioned above a hiking trip to Yorkshire which we will take the little dog with us.

  • Time of year: All year time
  • Flight time: 1-2 hours
  • Day allocation: 3-4

Summary

We won’t be stepping on a plan this year, we just don’t think it’s safe right now so this will be a bucket list for the next ten years. I will continue to follow my stomach and plan my trips!

Have you got any trips planned?

Purpose over Privilege

Personal Experience

I had a conversation with a friend who veers towards the right but is fairly level headed. Like lots of conversations we couldn’t agree about current events and I feel that this is the issue we have to deal with when it comes to tackling racism. It’s the quiet ones, the ones who have underlying racism that don’t understand the importance of what is happening all over the world. The ones who would never outwardly say it but focus on the destruction rather than the protest.

I have seen a lot of negativity about the Black Lives Matter protests.


Some of the points have been valid and that is that the virus is still out there.


Unfortunately, the virus is less of a killer then racism.


George Floyd didn’t choose his death but we all watched it.


I just want to say this.


The weekend before he died was sunny in the UK and Britain’s flocked to the beach. This is privilege because you didn’t have to do this. Our government said they could, so they did. Beaches were packed, germs were spread and the virus had a free for all.


This was a choice; families went to the beach even though they knew there was a chance they may catch it.

Privilege

George Floyd went to buy cigarettes and never came back because of police brutality. If it hadn’t been caught on camera I wouldn’t know his name. This happens all the time and in the UK we see it even less. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, it just means it’s not covered enough.


Fighting for a cause is a choice but it’s a choice with purpose.


Protesting is the right thing to do.


Fighting racism is the only choice we have.


If I wasn’t shielding, I would have been there.


Protests are not comparable to people sunbathing, you cannot compare the amount of people shopping in Primark throughout the country to people protesting.


This really is a case of Purpose over privilege, the protests couldn’t wait.


You shopping for unnecessary items could have.


Purpose over Privilege.

Lock down maybe easing up in the UK but this conversation still needs to continue and I cannot ignore what is happening.

Image was from the BBC news.

11 Things that lock down has taught me

Personal Experience

Okay this is just a little blog to sum up the last few months. I have mentioned before that I have worked throughout all this so I haven’t had a break at all. That’s about to change but I will get to that later.

1. A whitewashed life

I mentioned in my last blog that I live a multicultural life, my family our friends. But over the past few weeks it is become apparent that my life is still whitewashed and I have much to learn. It also starts with my family and learning a bit more about the past.

Systemic racism doesn’t have a place in the world so it’s time to oust it.

2. Family is everything

I know this is obvious but it is. My parents live in different countries so I am used to not seeing them but it still make you think about the separation and worrying about them and there health.

I wish I could be with them but keeping them safe is more important. I can’t imagine getting on a plane right now. So I am resolved to texts and zoom for now.

I miss my family and friends so much.

I wouldn’t want to miss them more.

3. Frank therapy has helped

I really couldn’t have gotten through this without my dog. Having a pet and something to adore you has been a gift. I have to put his needs before my own, he gets fed before us, get cuddles and walked once a day.

The walking has helped, get me and Gav out of house to the local park. It’s a pretty empty park so we never come into contact with anyone.

Having a dog has been wonderful I hope I never take him for granted.

4. Baking is a skill

I know it’s a bit of a joke that banana bread is lockdown prerequisite but we love it. It took me 3 failed banana breads before I bought scales. Baking is a skill and it’s so important to have the correct measurements and not add or take away.

The fourth banana bread was perfect and was so good. Since then I made a gin and tonic lemon drizzle cake… so good. A coffee cake which had a strange icing but I am confident now.

I can bake.. oh and I made very rich brownies.

Baking is a skill.

5. The kitchen is never tidy

With baking and having 3 meals at home everyday the kitchen is constantly a mess and needs tidying. It is draining me, I feel like I am going mad. I hate cleaning at the best of times. Eventually when I start working again, we will save for a new kitchen.

I refuse to get a new kitchen without a dishwasher. I refuse. I would rather not have a washing machine I would rather have a dishwasher.

Lock down has made my kitchen dreams become focused.

6. I love gardening

So having a dog means your garden always needs a bit of attention, mainly cleaning but also tending my flowers. When I tried to grow my own bouquet last year.

This year my dahlias are growing back and I am elated. I also have some tomatoes and peppers growing too. Home grown tomatoes are the best and I can’t wait to have our own.

Gav is researching smoking and bbqing at the moment. So when it’s nice we cook outside and spend more time in the garden.

7. Korean films are amazing

We have been watching a few Korean films and Netflix series and now I am a little obsessed with Korea.

We watched the Kingdom with is a perfect Zombie series that we loved.

This has made us look at more series and we are now watching the Magic Pop up Bar..

Now I want to go to Korea, it’s my next country I want to visit.

8. The pounds have been piling

I have been putting on weight, I know this is fine, I am exercising less only walking once a day. Eating more I guess.

I am not happy with it so it’s time for me to start running again.

9. Cancelled plans

For Gavins 40th I started saving for a trip to New York. We would go in September so it would be our first anniversary and his birthday treat. COVID-19 has put a stop to this. I understand and I am grateful.

I am grateful that I don’t have to chase my money or that we don’t have to visit another place where everything is shut.

Now me and Gav are planning New York together.

But we won’t be getting on a plane this year.

It is still just to scary.

10. Back to planning

I am back to my bullet journal. I was just working through my day but now I am back to my bullet points, planning out my days and weeks.

I love to write things down. All the apps in the world aren’t going to help me.

Analogue is best for me so I am going to stick with it. Plan my work days ( whilst I still have them) and plan my time when I don’t have work to do.

11. Starting over is daunting

So I had to come to a hard decision. My working wanted me in but I am still shielding Gav. So I had to hand in my notice. It wasn’t an easy choice but we couldn’t come to an agreement. I still think the government is wrong to open up everything so soon.

I hope there is no second peak.

So now I have to start over. I loved my job it was unique I will never get that sort of job again. So now I have to decide what to be when I grow up.

It’s daunting.

I don’t really know where to begin.

What lock down has taught me

I always new how much my friends and family meant to me but I need to let them know more. I miss my freedom but I would miss a dead loved one more. So I am happy to keep isolating to protect everyone.

Everyone has sacrificed during this time and a lot of people have lost so much. So I am happy to learn.

Happy to keep learning and isolating.

Between a Rock and a White Place

Advice


Like lots of you I am a wash with shame right now. Whitewashing over racism on so many levels that I didn’t think I was capable of.


I thought because I was mixed raced that means that I know and understand.


I don’t


I didn’t


My skin is white so I will never understand despite my heritage.


So, like everyone else I am learning.


I am reading, listening and watching.


But more importantly I am asking questions.


I am challenging my family.


My dad was a light skinned black man in the British army where racism is rife and you grow a skin so thick you don’t talk about it.


He doesn’t talk about racism for many reasons.


His nickname in the army was Choco.


I have a lot more to learn about racism.


I have a lot more to challenge.

It starts with me.

My backpack love: buying a backpack a quick review

Advice, Planning, Travel

When we knew we were going to Japan I knew I wanted a back pack. It was an essential for travel and for just meandering around. I really wanted a cute bag but it had to be practical. We were travelling around Japan and had two single night trips planned. This meant all our bits in our back packs.

I also want to use it for work. To use every day.

What I wanted

  • Compartments
  • A water bottle holder
  • A strap for my luggage
  • A place for the passports
  • A charging port

So I did some research and my contenders where

Fjallraven, man , I want one

I love these bags, but there was a shop in London so I thought I would check them out but they felt cheap. Then I did a bit more research and discovered that there are a lot of fakes everywhere. So when you do your research on a bag it is important to see where the retailers actually sell.

When you want to invest in a brand I really wanted an actual bag. Not a fake knock off. This is brand that gets attacked all the time. You see instagram ads for 40% off….. yeah they aren’t real.

I love the colours and the brand but for practical reasons I didn’t want a top loading bag. I know they have other bags but it wasn’t in the style I wanted. It didn’t really have anything I was looking for.

The main reason I didn’t get this bag is that I didnt want a bag that was a fad! I wanted something I could use all the time. I think after all this time I will buy one. They are gorgeous bags and they last.

Fjallraven to research.

Instagram influenced by Nordace

I loved this bag. It seemed to have everything I wanted. But it’s a fairly new brand for me so I did some research. I even messaged someone who I saw on Instagram who was using one and asked her opinion and she loved it.

The main reason I liked this bag is the colour? Not very practical but it looks so nice.

The main reason I was attracted to this bag was the marketing all the Instagram images were packing videos. I love a packing blog. I watch and read them all the time. I loved how much you could fit into this bag. It’s great.

It’s pricey but great.

Again I couldn’t check the quality because they are not in shops also there was some concern on the zips mentioned in the comments. The main reason I didn’t get this bag was the fact it’s took 6 weeks to arrive and even though I had time, I didn’t want to invest in this if it wasn’t going to arrive.

Nordace to research.

What I actually bought , Matein

This was nothing like the style of what I wanted but it had everything right including the price. It did give me Nordace vibes but it wasn’t in any great colours however I love grey. So I thought I couldn’t go wrong. It was similar to the Nordace but without the elegance. I love this bag, I just wish it came in yellow or green!!

I was taking far too long to decide what I wanted and in the end this arrive two weeks before we flew to Japan. So I tried it out was happy with and it was very spacious without being bulky.

It has pretty much everything on the list! I am someone who where’s something until it falls apart and then I generally patch it and wear it for a bit longer.

I am not some one who has a lot of bags. I have a few but because I like tan leather I feel like one bag does everything. I do have some other colours and some dressy bags but I generally only have one everyday bag at a time and then I wear it all the time. Being practical a backpack is the best thing ever. It’s on your back so your hands are free and it has masses of storage!

I love this grey bag. It’s light and strong and lets me fill it to the top. Because the weather was ever changing my backpack generally held my Mac and Gavins hoodie. The rest was my charger, cables, etc. I will do a what’s in my bag in a later blog.

This bag was half the price but it did the job. I still want a fjallraven maybe Gavin will get me one for my birthday!!

Matien to research.

A surprise Hunter back pack

So Gavin bought me a backpack for our honeymoon without talking to me he surprised me with a gorgeous bag.

But it wasn’t practical at all. The side pocket zip broke on the way to the airport so Gavin contacted the brand and when we arrived at Japan the other side zip broke.

I was surprised because hunter is a good brand. We did use it but only when we went back pack only. When the crisis is over I may see if my local Tailor can fix the zip as I love the colour.

I think Gavin was disappointed that I wasn’t more enthusiastic about the bag but a top loading bag isn’t great for travel and this was proved time and time again! We organised for our luggage to be sent on ahead at every destination but it was my grey backpack that was crucial to travelling!

Hunter to research.

In summary

It’s really important to do your research when investing in a back pack. I didn’t go for my dream bag because it wasn’t quite right, but I did go for a sensible one. A someone who doesn’t believe in fast fashion but function over style I know I will have this for years. It is understated and brilliant.

I think when buying luggage you should write what you need it to do and how important access is! To me this bag had lots of pockets and compartments and is so practical. I only had to repack a few items but the majority stayed in my bag. I will write a what’s in my day to day in another blog!

Hope you enjoyed! What backpacks do you use and would recommend?

Little catch up in all this madness

Planning

I am still here, still sharing my Japan experiences with you, I have a few more blogs so I hope you are enjoying me taking you away from what is going on in the world.

Covid 19

It’s still a scary place, people are still dying every day. My family are safe and healthy which I am so grateful for.

I am still working which makes me lucky at the moment but I am dreading the time that the English government tells me I have to go back to work when this is still going on. I say the English government because Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all seem to be more cautious and caring than ours.

How am I coping?

Am I? Yes I am coping working six days a week helps takes my mind of things and I have started drawing with my sister so I am keeping busy.

It makes me furious that our government want to say we may not be the worst in Europe because other countries don’t count there deaths properly. The truth is to date we have reported 34466 deaths in this country. It doesn’t matter if we don’t belong at the top of the scale all those people have died all those families are grieving and they don’t care what ranking we are at.

Cooking 3 meals a day is a bit crazy and although me and Gavin are used to it now it means that the kitchen is constantly in use and constantly a mess.

We have been cooking so much that we have invested in a few more pieces of Le Crueset we bought a cast iron such oven in black and some new pans that you can move from the stove to the hob which makes me really happy. The cleaning doesn’t.

Gavin has banned me from using art materials in the sitting room and I have agreed although I am sitting here with a sketchbook as we speak. but now our sitting room is tidy all the time which is great when the dog wakes me up at 5am and I snooze with him on the couch.

Frank

Walking the dog everyday is great. Even when it’s cold and rainy he gets us out of the house and we never regret it. It’s like going to the gym you may not want to go, but when you do you never regret it.

I hope everyone has something loving and warm to cuddle up to at the moment. I am really missing my cat but she has been gone a year now so she really isn’t coming home.

Plans

I am the dysfunctional planner and this stand well every day. Full of good intentions but peepers to plan rather than actually do.

Gardening

So we have been spending a bit more time in the garden. Gavin has repainted the BBQ with special heat paint so we could use it, then the next day he cooked a beer can chicken and brisket we ate for days.

A little boy down the street is selling home sewn plants. Obviously my bathroom is now covered in planting pots and cuttings. I invested in some rooting powder and cut some lilac leaves. I am just waiting for the soil to arrive and then I can sort out the garden a bit more.

I can’t wait.

House stuff

I need to sort out my house with the exception of the sitting room and bathroom it’s not good. My kitchen is my big tackle for today and I want to sort out the rest of the house in the next month. I just need to get on with it, maybe at the next bank holiday it will get done!

I also need to dye my hair with is looking bad but it with look healthier

Over it

The truth is like most people I just want to go to the pub and have a drink with my friends. But I understand the importance of staying home and staying safe. The NHS is our life line at the moment and if I have to give up going out to saves lives then I will do it.

It’s fine

We just won’t take it for granted again.

The biggest truth is I would rather be bored than dead! Harsh but true. We will get over this.

My love of Japanese wooden dolls and changing my spending habits

Honeymoon, Travel

So even though I love to travel and explore, I am not on the biggest wage so when it comes to spending money there are only a few things I like to invest in. Travel and experiences, I don’t mind, meals and nights out I think are memory makers, so if I blow my budget on a weekend then I don’t go out for the rest of the month and I am fine with that. I try not to live above my means but my credit card will definitely tell you a different story. I don’t have issues spending my money on food or skincare but that’s where it stops.


That is when I doubt myself and go no further.
I have had a look at my wardrobe in recent years and I am not really happy with it. Even though I didn’t spend hundreds I still indulged in fast fashion of Primark and although I actually have some nice pieces from there, I need to invest more in myself. I made a conscious effort to not be so frivolous and invest in better quality everything. Because I teach art I do get covered in paint and ink a lot so I do have a cheaper work wardrobe but I have started buying better jeans etc.


In Japan I bought a lot of skincare but that is a passion of mine. I also bough a fair few kimono jackets that I adore. They are all second hand and Gavin encouraged me as they are beautiful and I will have them forever. Because we were at the end of our holidays and because I hadn’t bought a souvenir Gavin (again) encouraged me to buy some wooden dolls.


These are frivolous, but I wont have the opportunity to buy them in Yamagata any time soon. So I took the plunge and bought three.
I love them.


In our vast and winding hotel in Yamagata we discovers Kokeshi dolls. They had cabinets full of them and I oved the display. These Wooden dolls that are hand painted with beautiful flowers and expressions. The original Kokeshi dolls were connected to the mountain gods and were said to bring fortune such as health recovery and good harvest to them. So what better reminder of my time on the mountain then 3 lovely wooden dolls.
I don’t mind if you don’t like them.


I spent ages selecting the ones I liked arranging them to see if they work together. I played around and selected my 3. The shop was empty so the man was delighted I was buying 3. I wanted more and if I had found them in Tokyo I would have bought more.


But I didn’t.


When I got home and put them in my red dining room Gavin produced a tiny doll. Then the next day he snuck another one in. I love them and I love him for being so thoughtful. They wont be to everyone’s taste but I think they are a wonderful reminder of our time in the slopes.


What strange item did you bring back from your holidays?


Or do you have any shopping regrets that you wished you bought?