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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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