Slider

Friday, August 18, 2017

Finding The In-Between in Life


I'll be honest, I haven't seen real sunlight in about two weeks now. These recent long work days means I basically get in before the sun gets all sunshiney, and totter out sleepily of the building then rinse and repeat for five days.

Taking a break from the regular programming of my Japan posts, I'm going to keep it real and say that finding an in-between and a right balance is something I am struggling with at the moment. I'm tired and frustrated, and feeling like I can't change anything... basically a mini existential crisis, shall we say.



THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Finding a balance is something we talk about so much these days – a need to recalibrate, having equal measures of work and pleasure, and yet, it's increasingly hard to achieve this seemingly easy idea. For me anyway. Endless to-do lists, more chores to do, a totally senseless overconsumption of information and Life in General stops us from the necessary pauses of life, making it hard to find clarity and calm.

I wish I had the magic solution to these troubles, but I don't. What I can say is this: I'm thankful for the 20 minutes bus ride into work where I can plug into my newest podcast (current play: The Art of Charm) and concentrate on something else other than chores and work emails, at least. I used to spend my evenings watercolouring and learning a new language from my app, but it's proving to be hard these days when I don't even have time to eat dinner at home.




Maybe it's as simple as taking a 5 minute break just to have a chat, or watch a funny YouTube video. We're often too busy to afford even our own time, so we end up spiralling into a maze of anxiety and panic. Or maybe just me?

When we shot these photos last Sunday, strolling down Bermondsey Street on the way to BBQ ribs (!), it was nice, being able to walk around and think of nothing for a while.

Taking these photos were much easier than normal too, and I didn't have to keep asking for them to be retaken and I could enjoy my lunch and the post-stroll afterwards. Thinking about it, I think a large part of tuning out for me is the enjoyment of dressing up, styling outfits and feeling good about it - playing around with colours, textures and fabrics. The thrill that comes with seeing the complete outfit put together, from head-to-end, is a small victory in the mindless iterations of everyday life.



We shot these photos as part of the Boohoo Summer Day into Night challenge - using this vibrant floral frilly skirt* as the highlight, my daytime choice was a sweet scalloped top* (actually a bodysuit) which makes a fun silhouette to match with any bottoms! I threw on a soft duster jacket* for the occasional breeze and it was up to me to sashay down the streets... We saw 42nd Street the weekend before and I can't get over the dances, such mad love (side note: y'all should watch it it's amazing)!


My PM pick was a sensible one: a long-sleeved blouse* which was still floaty and breathable for the suitably erratic midsummer evenings. It has the softest material ever and I love it! Paired with my ever-trusty Clarks mules (I love Clarks so much, guys), it was like I was almost a cool blogger. I try, you know?


THERE IS MAGIC IN EVERYDAY

The process of creating these outfits was filled with excitement: choosing the skirt, matching it with the right shoes – and brought me to me think of how I should be the same finding pockets of time to achieve that glorious 'in-between' which I allegedly found burdensome; these moments of creative joy, as simple of picking an outfit for work, choosing pearl earrings over studs, doing the crossword. I suppose in the end, it's about finding joy in the everyday things, and appreciating the magic of these small wonders. 

Just as how I enjoyed wearing and picking these outfits, I'm now semi-convinced that there can be happiness is doing the dishes (I hope?) or taking a shower that's longer than usual. Hug more, listen more, breathe... more. 




I know I don't get too personal on here (part laziness, part real struggle) but this year was one where I worked on decisions that I mentioned at the beginning of the year. Learning to shift perspectives has made me aware of so much more, and learning to be kind is a continuing lesson that is teaching me compassion and understanding in many new ways. I know this is all very vague, but I have a feeling that the in-between is vague and unpredictable, like so many things in life.

(Brief comical pause to break the almost-awkward flow: look at my upside-down bag and me tryna act all cool LOL who am I kidding.)


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend - it's an extremely busy one for me so wish me luck! Share with me your in-between moments and what you do when life is getting too much?

*Outfit kindly gifted by Boohoo

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Midsummer Hair


The bamboo groves of Arashiyama has many a times come up on my auto-rotate Chromecast screensaver and friends' travel photos on Facebook – a sea of perennial green lit up throughout the year, you could feel peaceful just looking at the pictures... So while we were in Kyoto, I knew that I wanted to do a short half-day trip to the grove.

Only half an hour train ride away from central Kyoto station, we hopped on the JR Sagano Line towards the western outskirts of Kyoto for 240 yen (~£1.80!). Many people rent bikes for about 1000 yen just outside the station to ride around the town but it was warm and crowded, so we skipped that and decided to walk the 10 minutes from Arashiyama station to the bamboo groves.



It was pretty early in the day but man it was crowded. I know a lot of the advice was to wake up and get there as early as 6am but I don't think I'm very good at waking up early when traveling (I blame jetlag, ha) so while we usually end up getting out slightly earlier than usual it'd still be pretty crowded. The groves are open 24 hours, so you could technically come any time of the day...

Like I said in my sneak peek of Japan, Japanese summers are truly unforgiving and that day was no different. Although we sped through the sunny streets as quick as we could, it wasn't long before I was completely soaked in sweat. No one tells you about the unglamorous side of traveling, do they? (But that's a topic of another day)

This didn't stop a lot of people from donning yukatas (the summer equivalent of a kimono!) and embracing summer like a real boss.



The thick green stalks are tall and billowy giants which still manage to illuminate a shady path - and a well-deserved rest from the sun! I love how the path snakes into a curve, opening up to even more forestry as you turn round the initial bend. The bamboos are used for manufacturing many household products and I was still getting over how amazing it was being whisked away to a preserved piece of nature for less than a Pret sandwich (no kidding).

It takes about about 20 minutes to stroll leisurely down the path, and it's dotted with minor attractions like the Okochi Sanso villa (belonging to a famous late actor) and shrines...


Despite the path filled to the brim, it was a relaxing walk (minus my need to pee hahahah oops), it's not everyday you can ride half an hour to come into a middle of a bamboo forest! In fact, it takes me half an hour at least to leave the concrete jungle in Londontown... I wish we were as close to nature as this. That's what made our trip so amazing, you could find yourself deep in the heart of greenery within an hour from the bustling city. Pockets of vast greens like these make me so happy! Definitely a contrast when you're trying your best not to get lung cancer walking down London streets.




The glow is real and the sweat doesn't stop! Thankfully I chose my outfit well - a floaty see-through tulle top, my fave bralette from Victoria's Secret, and some easy breezy shorts.


Outfit: Top - H&M (old) / Shorts - Zara (old) / Bralette - Victoria's Secret (highly recommend and sooo comfy, especially in preventing dat gross underboob sweat!) 

Before coming to Japan, I had the chance to dye my hair again with the wonderful Naturigin. I've sung high praises endlessly before so I'll keep this one short - I wanted a refreshed and fun look for summer and opted for Natural Medium Blonde* this time, and it was a beautiful contrast against the painfully beautiful green hues of the forest. Brown hair ftw or what?!

If you're interested, I have reviewed them in detail before (here and here) if you want to learn more about them: in short, their ingredients are naturally derived, free of chemical nasties and cruelty free :-) psss, and they're under £10! The dye doesn't strip my hair out and is one of the easiest box dye to use in the market. Naturigin has 19 Natural Hair Colours so if you're thinking of switching up to something warm for autumn, look no further. Thank you Natalie for always being so accommodating!



At the end of the winding path, there's a small gift shop and snack bar and of course I jumped at the chance at a simple fare of green tea kakigori. An icy treat in the sweltering heat was a real treat. Next to it you could also hop on the Saga Scenic Railway which oversees the beautiful nearby Hozu river, and was also very popular when we were there. 

Arashiyama actually has much more to offer than its resplendent bamboo groves, and in spring and autumn where colours come to life, the nearby Togetsukyo Bridge (translated: Moon Crossing Bridge - how cute is the name?!) and Iwatayama Monkey Park with hundreds of free-roaming monkeys are popular attractions too! We skipped on both because of the weather but I imagine the bridge to be absolutely stunning in the changing season... 


While the bamboo groves were one of the more touristy thing we did, I really did enjoy it. It was fun t get away from the city and the shops and enjoy the quietness of the town. It also helped that it was easy to get to! The forest are signposted all the way from the station so it's definitely foreigner-proof, hahaha.

Hope you guys enjoyed the first Japan post (of many, I hope), we've been back two weeks and I'm already regretting leaving the summer season behind. Nothing is worse than having cold feet going to bed at night *cough* rainy London *cough*.  Have you been to the forest or Arashiyama?

*I've been generously gifted my hair colour by Naturigin, but y'all know I love them fer real. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Sneak Peek of Japan


After what seemed like an endless week of jetlag and late nights (not due to jetlag), I've only had time to sit down today (read: Sunday evening) to sort through some of my Japan holiday snaps. It's been a fantastic time away, even though it was 99% sticky and humid and I was sweating buckets.

I wanted to share a small piece of the charm of Japan before I start going through the bulk of my photos for more in-depth stories about the places and cities we've visited, all of which had its own quirks and funny tales.



Being away has been part-stressful (navigation in a foreign country is always hard) but mostly enjoyable and for two weeks, I didn't have to check work emails (also because I forgot my work phone) or post Instagram photos because being in a completely different time zone is awesome, and just spend time wandering around and looking at new things, eating great food!


Late night Izakaya meal of intestines - definitely not everyone's cup of tea but I grew up in Asia where beef and pork noodles were made yummier with these, haha!



After seeing the fiery Tokyo skyline, we were so hungry and made it to what I now consider to be the best tonkatsu restaurant ever... If you were following me on Instagram, you would've known that I was pretty much obsessed and bent over backwards to have two bowls of daikon miso soup till my tummy literally hurt.


My fave summer dress made it to the trip - the cutouts were a lifesaver because it was warm and ventilation was much appreciated. Guys, Asian summers are not to be messed around with. Japan definitely beat our Korea summer trip last year in terms of the heat scale.... whew.  My skin was loving it though, it 100% does better in humidity than back in grey, dry, and dull London :(


Endless markets selling all sorts - I picked up a couple bags of bonito flakes (mm), pickled plums, mochi (!) and knick knacks in our frequent trips to the local markets.


Of course, who could forget soft serve ice cream! As you know, being lactose intolerant meant I was disqualified from majority of the ice creams, except for soy bean ice cream (!!) which was bomb-diggity and way easier to find than any western countries.

I can't wait to share more photos from the trip, I think you'll love them as much as I will enjoy reliving it once more. Follow along on Instagram if you aren't already (I love having mini chats there) to see all the Japan photos so far and the new ones to come. Have a nice week ahead, friends and tell me how you've been - feels like ages!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Weekend in New York: Eat, See, Do


New York is like a familiar friend, it greets you with sunshine hues but also at once, is filled with mysteries and surprises.  My second time in this city felt more at ease, and not one that was filled with a desire for closure and certainty, like so many moons ago.

I thought I'd share some of the places that I really enjoyed during this extremely quick pitstop (I was there for work)!

STAY

Westin Grand Central



We had the pleasure of staying at the Westin Grand Central, right down the street from Grand Central station with a beautiful view. From the 18th floor, I could see the Chrysler building and my colleague's room on the 24th overlooked the Hudson! It's a typical business hotel but also family friendly, comes with an insanely well-equipped mini fridge...

But I hated the fact that you had to pay for WiFi in your room - how ridiculous is that?

212 E 42nd Street
New York

Check out
Pod 39 (East 39th St)-  Smaller rooms than the Westin but more modern, lively and contemporary, it also has a great rooftop bar. I stayed here last time!
Ace Hotel (20 West 29th St) - Stylish and modern hotel (much like Pod hotels) with free wifi and in-house art gallery, a blogger favourite or so I hear.
The Bowery Hotel (335 Bowery) - Loft-like suites with marble bath tubs (!) and an outdoor lounge.


EAT



What's New York without a diner experience? We hunted one which was opposite the hotel the next morning but it wasn't super great, but I was very impressed with the number of eggs it came with - THREE. I will also be forever in awe of refillable coffee (I don't drink coffee which is a pity)... 

Those pancakes were huge too. Unfortunately being lactose intolerant, mine was a good ol' sunny-side-up with hash, still very yummy and very filling! 

Try
Sarge's Deli (548 3rd Ave)- Wholesome and traditional diner foods like meatloaf, pastrami (I LOVE), matzo ball soup and less touristy than Kat's 
Zucker's  (370 Lexington Ave) - They had the best pastrami bagel I've had (not that I had many but still) and the portions are h u g e, check out this photo when I last went. Pick one up and nibble as you walk around city! 

A post shared by Cherie (@delicately) on


EXPLORE

Bryant Park & Herald Square



Take a stroll after breakfast down to Bryant Park and make your way towards Herald Square where Macy's and a giant Victoria's Secret is - just for the fun of it.

Union Square



Keep walking until you get to Union Square - another dandy area filled with shopping and just very quintessential New York scenery. Walk past the Flatiron building (it really is so strange!) 



DRINK


The Refinery Rooftop Bar





We wanted somewhere with a view and found reprieve from the sun at The Refinery hotel and rooftop bar. It boasts an industrial chic theme, with exposed bricks and lots of sunshine! Drinks aren't the cheapest but go for the atmosphere and the views.

It does get crowded on the weekends but I think they take reservations so you could make one for a larger party.

The Refinery
64 West 38th Street



SNACK


I needed a bagel break after two beers and that's exactly what I did! It was from a stall on the street which cost $2 but tasted so darn great. We meandered back towards the hotel, but not without a quick stop at yet another eatery (I felt bad for my colleagues putting up with my foodie habits) at X'ian Famous Foods.

Hannah recommended this small and cosy place, famous for its hand-pulled noodles and spicy beef soup. And my gosh, the noodles were top-notch and all you ever wanted: chewy but not rubbery, soft enough to go with the melting beef, and down it all with the spicy and soupy broth. It's actually a small chain, so they have a couple of shops in different areas. I went to the one nearest to our hotel!

X'ian Famous Foods
24 West 45th Street


EXPLORE 

Times Square by night



There's nothing better than taking a walk after dinner in the city that never sleeps. And it's true, I stole a midnight walk to Times Square and it was filled to the brim with tourists, 24-hour convenience stores, late night H&M (and a few sneaky purchases!) and the world's most famous billboards.

The lights were terrifyingly bright and acted as fuel for my jet-lagged body, and I couldn't fall asleep even if I wanted to. Take a few selfies and stroll back down to see Grand Central in the dark...

Grand Central


Serena van der Woodsen must have walked down these streets, right?! Or at least be ferried through these hallowed paths... Somehow New York becomes mystical when night comes, as you spy through smoke and cool air, a wonderful and most magical feeling - because it doesn't feel like you're alone at all.

EXPLORE

West Village


Where the soulful and youngins go for Sunday brunch... We hopped on the Metro and emerged from Bleecker Street and made our way to find a place to fill our (or my) bellies...


Very popular brunch place serving modern American brunch with great cocktails - we didn't make it in because the queue was too long but many friends have recommended it to me.

Jack's Wife Frieda
50 Carmine Street





Because we didn't want to wait long, we turned around and went across the street to the café opposite which was actually pretty good! They had the best fries (which came cubed, so I was very confused) and sausage patties and I was so full and ready for more exploring at this point...

The Grey Dog
49 Carmine Street

This whole area is littered with great places to explore, here are some more places I wished I had more time for:

by CHLOE  (185 Bleecker St) - A vegan bakery! The perils of being lactose intolerant means I get to indulge in cool and funky treats these days.
Buvette (42 Grove Street) - I saw this pop up in my Instagram feed so much I had to add it to my list. French-style bistro with brunch and lunch on the weekend, in the most beautiful and airy space (or so it seems!).
Freemans (Freeman Alley) - Recommendation from a friend, supposed to have some of the best ribs in town.
Bite Beauty Lip Lab (174 Prince St) - Where you can make your own lipsticks!


WALK



Between West Village to The High Line are some truly timeless architecture that makes you feel like a real New Yorker. The fire escape stairs zig-zagging down brick red buildings, those dulcet tones in between the yellow façades... everything moves at a slower and more enjoyable pace here, and that's the way it should be.

The High Line




I made it my mission to make it to The High Line - a suspended park 30 feet from the ground, built around an old train line with self-seeded greenery and beautiful views of Manhattan. The skyline looks almost unreal, and you wouldn't think you're actually standing in a dense metropolis if not for the sun glaring back at you from the neighbouring opaque reflective windows.

The Last Hurrah 


We went into Grand Central terminal this time, just to walk through it and then made it back to our hotel for our taxi to Stamford (lol I told ya it was a work trip aight?).

Even though it was only two days, I really did enjoy our quickfire trip in such a brilliant and lively city and can't wait to return as my best friend has now moved there!

Other places I wanted to try but of course, ran out of time for:

Milk Bar (251 East 13th Street) - David Chang's Momofuku offshoot, great desserts and pick-me-ups
Tarallucci e Vino (163 1st Avenue) - All-day Italian cafe with pastries, coffees, wine and nibbles
Please Don't Tell (113 St Marks Place) - Hidden 60s-themed (?) speakeasy bar
Smorgasburg (90 Kent Ave, Brooklyn) - Seasonal outdoor foodie market in Brooklyn
TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie (21 East 16th Street) - Udon restaurant! My colleagues laughed at me when I said I wanted Asian food so we couldn't go :(

What are your favourite places in NYC?
SINONYM © . Design by FCD.