All Posts by ‘Beth Nunnington

Memorial Park Japan
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Japan: Hiroshima

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During our time in Kyoto we spent one of our days visiting Hiroshima.

Although this was by no means geographically close, the super fast Shinkansen made it very accessible and we reached it in under 2 hours, making the most of the last day of our Japanese Rail Pass.

I had always wanted to visit Hiroshima due to my fascination with WWII history. As most of you will know, on the 6th of August 1945, the World’s first Atomic Bomb was dropped on the city.

The effects were devastating. It’s only when you go and visit the city yourself that you can even begin to imagine how truly horrific it must have been. 166,000 people died in the first 4 months following the bomb, this number increased in the years to come as radiation poisoning caused incurable diseases such as cancer.

Arriving into Hiroshima station it is fairly easy to get to the Peace Memorial Park – just come out and turn left and head to the tram stop. Once you’re on the tram you can’t miss it.

The first sight that hits you is the Atomic Bomb Dome. Everyone inside this building, when it was the Industrial Promotion Hall, was killed instantly due to the bomb being dropped almost directly above it. Surprisingly, the building was one of the few that stayed standing. Although at the time many of the locals weren’t happy about it – a decision was made to keep it as a memorial of the devastation.

As we walked around the Atomic Bomb Dome we came across a man who had survived the blast. He was openly talking to people and sharing folders full of information that he had put together. It included photos of his grandparents who had died as a result of the ‘black rain’ which fell after the blast and caused severe radiation poisoning. Although he was offering tours around the museum, he was more than happy to stand and talk, and to educate. It was an honour to meet him.

Atomic Bomb Dome

Visiting Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, which houses the museum, was a sobering experience – especially the museum. I wasn’t quite mentally prepared for how I would feel walking around. I didn’t speak to Howard whilst I was there, we both walked around separately.

The museum was silent and rightly so. The information, the photos, and the sights it displayed were extremely shocking and upsetting. The numerous pieces of children’s burnt and shredded uniforms, each accompanied with the story of their death, was really, really hard. One case even showed burnt skin and finger nails which was actually the most shocking part of the museum.

The story of a girl, Sadako Sasaki, who died when she was 12 really touched me. There is a sculpture in the park that was created especially in her memory.

Sadako developed leukaemia when she was 11 in 1955, after she survived the initial blast 10 years previously. She believed that if she created 1000 paper cranes (like swans) she would survive. Sadly Sadako died before she could finish her task and as such her sculpture is of a huge crane, with thousands of paper cranes in glass cases behind it.

Crane memorial sculpture

Another key aspect of the museum was an education into just how many nuclear weapons Britain, America, North Korea and other countries actually have. Japan has none and is campaigning for other countries to do the same, to avoid such devastation from ever happening again. It definitely gave me a lot to think about, and I would recommend spending at least a day in Hiroshima to anyone considering visiting Japan.

Leaving the museum, we walked around the park, which is lovely. The rest of Hiroshima is a typical Japanese city, full of modern buildings, busy roads and lots of culture. It’s amazing to see a city that has been completely rebuilt and full of life.

Hiroshima Memorial Park

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Japan: 5 Things to do in Kyoto

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Kyoto waFushimi Inari shrine s definitely one of my favourite places in Japan and I felt that three days there wasn’t quite enough to do the city justice.

Upon arrival, Kyoto could be just another city, but dig deeper, walk a little further (ok quite a lot further – wear comfortable shoes) and you will stumble into a place full of history, tradition and culture.

My top 5 things to do in Kyoto are as follows:

1) Fushimi Inari Shrine. This is one of the most unique set of temples I have ever seen. What can only be described as a tunnel of bright orange wooden columns, weave around the shrines. It is free to get in and only two stops from Kyoto station. Leave a good few hours to take the time to walk around and make the most of all of it. It is extremely unique and very special.
Inari temple

Fushimi Inari Shrine
2) Take the train and head out to Arashiyama’s Bamboo Grove. Once you get through the real tourist trap area, you can find (albeit brief) moments where you’re alone in the bamboo jungle. We both really enjoyed visiting here, I’ve never seen so much bamboo in my life and there were some beautiful Japanese gardens.
Fushimi Inari Shrine

Arashiyama's Bamboo


Japanese Garden

3) Read Memoirs of Geisha first, then head to the Gion district and soak up the atmosphere of bustling activity. Shops selling strange bean-curd sweets (my work friends were NOT appreciative of these) and if you’re lucky you may spot a real Geisha. We were exceptionally lucky in that we visited during the month of April which is the spring blossom festival in Kyoto. This meant that the annual Geisha dances were on twice a day, we bought tickets (£50 for two plus access to the tea ceremony) and it was definitely an experience…

Geisha tea ceremony

Japan tea ceremony

tea ceremony in Gion

4) Eat some of the best food you have ever had in your life!

Firstly, an amazing place to experience Izakaya (a bar which serves Japanese food) is the basement of Suishin near Kyoto station. Here we sampled raw horse meat (I must admit it was delicious) had beautiful sashimi and sushi and the best calamari I have ever eaten! We ordered a LOT of dishes and several glasses of plum wine for about £40. It was amazing, the photos don’t actually show all the food we ate either.

Our other amazing meal was in the centre of Gion – we splashed out and spent about £90 on a truly fantastic meal of about 5 different courses. Our main course was the delicacy of cooking raw beef and vegetables in a tasty bowl of broth. Our waiter had lived in London for most of his life and so was able to explain to us what everything was in perfect English. He recommended dipping the beef, (once cooked) into a bowl of raw egg. On seeing my concerned face he laughed and said “raw egg in England not so good, in Japan, all good!” Erm, ok.

Always keen to try new things, despite my reservations (I am prone to a spot of food poisioning) I followed his suggestion and tried it – to be honest it was actually quite nice!

 

Food in Suishin, Japan

 

Japanese foodMeal in GionMeal in Gion

Meal in Gion5) Finally, if you’re exhausted from all the sight-seeing visit Kyoto Imperial Palace Park. Take a picnic and just take some time to chill out. It really is a lovely place to spend a few hours – especially if the weather is nice.

Kyoto Imperial Park

Shinkansen
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Japan – Arriving in Kyoto

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Arriving in Kyoto the weather was a completely different story to Takayama.

Before leaving for Japan we bought a Japanese Rail Pass – for about £162 each which were valid for a week once first used. This was a fantastic option as train travel in Japan can be quite expensive and this allowed us unlimited travel across the country. If you’re planning on going to Japan, please note you CAN’T buy this pass once you’re in the country! It must be bought BEFORE you go – and make sure you leave enough time for delivery!

Anyway, we arrived in Kyoto fairly rapidly thanks to the super speedy Shinkansen and despite being in several feet of snow only a matter of hours previously, we were greeted with glorious sunshine. It was time to ditch the wellies and raincoat, and pull on our summer clothes – finally!

Shinkansen

It actually took us about 20 minutes to get out of the station – it is HUGE. Several times bigger than London St Pancras and so much more confusing.

Our hotel was very nice and the reception staff were very friendly – although they did practically force us to get on the free bikes as soon as we arrived! Before we even had checked in the receptionist insisted (she really was persistent) that we left our bags, and before I knew it we were being shown to a rack of bikes.

“But I don’t WANT to go on a bike right now” I moaned quietly to Howard.

Jumping on the bike I proceeded to instantly topple over, causing the bike to clatter to the floor, much to the alarm of the super polite receptionist.

A few minutes later my seat had been lowered (so I could actually get on the saddle) and we were cycling through the crowds of a busy city that neither of us had a map for, or had a clue what we were doing. Everyone else seemed to be cycling on the pavements so we followed suit. However, due to my terrible lack of balance and co-ordination, trying to avoid the many pedestrians on the roads was just too much of a disaster waiting to happen. Climbing off I started to push the damn thing when Howard (sensing my silent rage) suggested we just head back.

The receptionist looked very disappointed (and surprised) to see us back so soon but agreed to finally take us to our room and let us check in, phew.

The room was lovely – I would recommend the hotel (Kyoto Dai-Ni Tower) as it is very close to the station which makes it handy for those wanting to explore the outskirts of the city (see examples in my next post). We also received free tickets to go up the Kyoto Tower but sadly due to time constraints we never actually made it up there.

Be warned however – you will be persuaded to make use of the free bikes – but in hindsight, once you get onto the back roads and have a map – it is a great way to get round Kyoto!

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Japan – Shinhotaka Ropeway

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Moving further north in Takayama, Howard and I found ourselves in 8ft of snow. No seriously we did. There was even a snowman.

Jumping off the bus I was instantly relieved once again that I had bought those emergency wellies. I couldn’t believe how cold it was either, good job I had bought layers as that was all we wore for the last two days in northern Takayama.

snow

If you look behind me you can see the big mound of snow by the bus!

One of the highlights of our trip was our visit to the Shinhotaka Ropeway, which, if you get chance to go, GO!

Being crammed into a cable car full of people was actually quite unnerving as I was half expecting the cable to snap at any moment and plummet us all down the mountain. Howard and I were the only English people there, but everyone was extremely friendly (as were all the Japanese we met) and a couple even ‘adopted’ us during the trip. Telling us the best places to stand and asking us to pose for photos with them so they could show their children once they had returned home.

Japan

The lovely lady who took a shine to Howard and I

Japanese friends

More Japanese friends!

 

deep snow

I wasn’t joking when I said 8ft of snow

Of course, after another busy day, it was only right that we each had an onsen to recover. This time the pools were much bigger and there were even outside areas so you could bathe whilst looking out at the mountains. It was beautiful.

onsen

Outside onsen

 

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Japan – Takayama

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My boyfriend and I recently had an amazing trip to Japan (18th April to 5th May). After an exhausting flight and a bewildering 24 hours jet lagged in Tokyo we got the train to Takayama (north – west of Japan) for days 2 – 6.

Due to it being cooler up north we were extremely fortunate in that we managed to witness the famous cherry blossom. As the trees only bloom for 2 weeks before dropping their flowers, it can be easily missed.

Takayama was much more traditional (I would even describe it as quite ‘quaint’) than Tokyo and its peacefulness was really what we needed to get over the 24 hour journey from Wakefield to Japan.

Unfortunately due to the rain (and later snow) it became quickly clear that I had not brought the right footwear for this part (sandals and flip flops only) so wellies were quickly sourced and purchased. I definitely didn’t expect my first purchase in Japan to be wellies but half the things that happened on the trip were pretty unexpected, as it turned out.

We checked into our Ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn), Takayama Kanko, that was situated at the top of the town and had a lovely view of Takayama and the blossom.

The hotel concierge was the politest man I had ever met in my life. In his broken English he guided us around every single area of the Ryokan before taking us to our room where he insisted on making us green tea. Unfortunately I think I offended him by immediately making the school girl error of walking into our room with my shoes on, exclaiming with delight at how lovely it was. First lesson quickly learnt – ALWAYS take your shoes off in Japan, even in many restaurants.

ryokan

Treated to green tea in our ryokan room

ryokan view

Beautiful view outside the ryokan

Day 3 we decided to take a trip to Shirakowa Go as we had recently spotted it on the Lonely Planet guide to places to go in 2014. We took a local bus up there (about £40 each return – 45min each way) and it was free entry to the main area. We walked around dodging the tourists before stumbling across a more private part. We paid about £3 each to go into the ‘museum area’ and found ourselves in beautiful scenery, completely on our own. This instantly changed both our perceptions on the place and if you ever visit – head to the part where you have to pay – it’s so worth it.

Shirakawa go

Stunning scenery at Shirakawa go

thatched roofs

The thatched roofs is what makes Shirakawa-go famous

wellies

Spot the wellies that proved to be a life-saver

That evening we had booked a private onsen (you’re allowed 45 minutes inclusive of your room booking) and it was amazing. Japan is built on volcanic rock so it is home to many hot springs. It was a perfect way to relax as we were still struggling to get over our jet lag.

Onsen

Private onsen, wearing the kimonos that are provided at all hotels in Japan

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H&M Sale – Bargain Holiday Dress

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After work on Tuesday I nipped into H&M in Leeds Trinity before meeting my friend for drinks and dinner. She was running late so I took the opportunity to have a quick nosey at their sale items.

I wasn’t disappointed.

With my arms full of dresses I reluctantly rejected two, before buying four and a few pairs of socks. Total cost – £50.

The best bargain I picked up was this white, skater style dress in a size 10, it was only £14.99 to start with but in the sale it was £7 – the perfect dress to take on holiday, and to even wear in England on sunny days.

The sale is still on, so get bargain hunting!

In the photos below I’m also wearing it with size 6, elasticated sandals in black, recently bought from Office for just £24.99 and sunglasses for £4.99 from New Look.

dandelionphoto 4(5) photo 2(4)sitting

 

 

 

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Black House (Grill on the Square)

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My boyfriend, Howard, has recently ordered a Black House card through work which enables the user to have 20% off when they book online.

After receiving news last week that I had been promoted at work it was an obvious choice to go and celebrate.

We had been before for Howard’s birthday in January as they offer 50% off for the whole month (book early online to avoid disappoint – it gets booked up fast and I’m not surprised why).

We started off having a beer outside on the terrace due to it being a (rare) sunny evening in Leeds.

beers

Beers on the terrace

Moving inside we ordered 6 oysters (£12.50) to start, followed by deep fried brie with sweet onion and blackcurrant compote (£6) for me and thai fish cakes with sweet chilli dip (£5.75) for Howard. All delicious and reasonably sized portions.

rock oysters

Half a dozen rock oysters

For mains I had Rib Eye steak (225g, £14.95) with chips and a side order or peppercorn sauce (£2.25). Howard had the special Rib Eye steak with scallops and parmesan mash (£24.95) and we shared the French beans with garlic and shallots (£3.50).

 Rib Eye steak

Beautifully cooked Rib Eye steak

Neither of us could resist pudding, I opted for the super yummy summer berry pavlova (£5.75) and Howard went for black forest trifle (£6.00). We finished these off with a cappuccino (£2.50) and a liquer coffee (£4.75).

puddings

Summer style puddings

As we had booked online with our Black House card the discount was automatically added to our bill meaning it was a total of £102 – not bad for a lovely meal, attentive staff and great atmosphere. It’s worth mentioning that from about 8pm they have a pianist who sings – I personally loved it as it really added to the atmosphere and the songs were a different take on popular tracks.

For more information on Black House in Leeds see here.

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Holiday Shop: Bikini Bargains

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Unfortunately I don’t believe any girl enjoys bikini shopping, no matter what size they are.

I definitely do not enjoy it, standing in front of a mirror practically naked in a changing room and realising that everyone on the beach is going to be looking at the reflection staring back at you is never ideal. Sunday was no exception and despite attending five gym classes last week (yes, madness, I know) I still didn’t like what I saw.

Having bigger boobs makes it even harder (in my opinion) as hardly any shops even sell my size. What really bugs me is the fact most bikinis are simply sized 6 to 20 as opposed to cup sizes. Now I am a size 10 in clothes, but a size 10 bikini top is never going to be big enough!

George at Asda is one of the only places I have ever had any success in bikini shopping – mainly because they sell them by cup size – from A to F.

However, I was disappointed when I went in the one in Wakefield as the only one in my size had a broken strap! As I was coming out of the changing room, I spotted the sales rack and picked up a lime green and white striped bandeau bikini for a bargain prize of £2 (for top and bottoms). I tried on in a size 12 and the fit was actually pretty good, not perfect, but for £2 I’m really not complaining.

lime green bikini

Although you might be thinking the top looks a bit on the small side, the material is really stretchy so you can tighten or loosen it accordingly!

Due to the fact I was then traumatised by trying on approximately 103 bikinis already and having no luck, I then picked up another in a similar style for £6. Anything to avoid any more bikini shopping.

Once I got them home and tried them on again (in my more flattering mirror) I’m pretty pleased with them – especially as the great thing about bandeau style bikinis is the minimal strap lines when tanning!

pink and blue striped bikini

 

I think something needs to be done to help women love their bodies in bikinis more, any suggestions greatly appreciated 🙂

 

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Back to blogging.

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Not having blogged since my Uni days, when posts involved student woes, drunken disasters and general mishaps about my fellow housemates, I decided it was about time I got to it again.

Since leaving university I felt like I ran out of material, my life didn’t seem quite so interesting anymore, and writing so much at work meant it was then hard to come home and start typing.

However several things haven’t and never will change.

  • My love for writing and taking photos
  • My itchy travelling feet
  • My constant cravings for international all food
  • My inability to stop buying pretty dresses, nail varnishes and anything pink
  • The desire to live colourfully

As a result I figured a blog on travel, lifestyle and food would be the next best thing to my uni ramblings. Plus after working in PR for the past 14 months I have worked with, and met, many lovely bloggers, some of whom have inspired me to start again.

Enjoy x

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