Four days in Hida-Takayama

It’s been just a bit more than a month since we came back from our holidays. We decided to spend three weeks in Japan, for a second year in a row. And to be honest I don’t think it’ll be our last trip there, the more places I see in Japan, the more I want to see those that I couldn’t fit in those weeks.

Looking back, what I am missing more is the quiet of the beautiful rural region of Hida in central Honshu, where we stayed in Takayama for three nights. A town famous mainly for its beautifully preserved old town and its beef, Takayama is particular in many ways. Despite being a small town a long way off from the main cities, most restaurants have their menus translated to english, its old town is bustling with tourists during the day but the town becomes deserted after 6pm after the day-trippers’ buses leave.

We also took a day to explore the neighbouring village of Furukawa, where the old streets are lined with narrow canals full of carps and easily the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. It didn’t hurt that the locals in Furukawa were the friendliest bunch, from stopping us on the street to giving us free platters of local specialties along with our lunches to try. Incidentally, Hida has an impressive regional cuisines, not only the ubiquitous beef but also wild mountain vegetables, delicious apples, and my personal favourite: local miso roasted in a magnolia leaf.

After our time in Hida and a sunny sunday we spent in Matsumoto, I think the Japanese Alps are already set as my favourite part of Japan so far.

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A belated end of year list

Whoa, what happened here? I can’t believe my last post was really two months ago. Let’s pretend it was the other day and get things started again with a tiny and belated list of my favourite things in 2013.

Strictly speaking, my favourite record of 2013 was Okkervil River’s The Silver Gymnasium. In fact I don’t think I could even name any other record published in 2013 that I’ve actually listened to, instead of hearing it in the supermarket or something. In a parallel reality all I’d ever want to do is marry Will Sheff and grow vegetables in our backyard, that’s how much I love Okkervil River. (Will Sheff also wrote this brilliant piece when Lou Reed passed).

Also in the past few months since my disappearance, I’ve been slightly obsessed with spanish late-60s duo Juan y Junior’s complete recordings. They’re gold.

My favourite book I read was The Real Frank Zappa Book, a sort of autobiography-essay by the man himself. He is hilarious and awesome and I’m only upset that it took me 29 years to get the awesomeness of Frank Zappa’s music and persona.

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The best film of 2013 was Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises in english), Hayao Miyazaki’s last movie and to me one of his best works. An absolute masterpiece and one of my favourites from the whole studio, the main theme has also been playing on repeat at home, much to David’s despair.

The best comic I read I definitely can’t remember because I fail at end of year lists. But some of my favourites I’ve read this year were Kinou Nani Tabeta? by Fumi Yoshinaga, NonNonBa by Shigeru Mizuki and Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton.

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Hope you all had a brilliant start of the new year!

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Alive and well (on Ganymede)

Excuse the little joke on the title, if you got the reference kudos to you, that’s a fun book.

I am in fact alive and well, and finally blogging from my new home. We’ve been here for more than a week now, but everything is still a mess and the living room is full of boxes. My little studio is nowhere near done with nothing but my computer and printer set up and I have taken over the dining room table with piles of work-related stuff. And clothes. Piles and piles of clothes everywhere, in spite of the mountain of bags I donated.
Panda and Gatsby have taken to the new place very quickly, and I have already baked a rustic-looking but delicious rye and honey cake flavoured with aniseed and Earl Grey tea in my new electric oven. In our old place the oven was a relic with no gas or temperature marks and it took me over a year to get to know it and avoid overcooking everything.

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So things are looking good over here, word is we might even get a bit of cool weather next week but for now it’s still summer clothes. I was so happy about being able to iron my clothes after a week that I had to take photos to share.

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Style inspiration: Susan Dey

Long ago, when I was living in London, I used to have a blog. I would blog from my small bedroom (I lost at the draw) in a shared council flat in Whitechapel. It was also my first time living on my own and I used to kill the hours between dinner and betime watching TV shows on my computer with a cup of tea sitting on my bed. It was then that I first watched The Partridge Family and instantly fell in love with the gorgeous Susan Dey, I remember writing an inspiration post about Susan/Laurie’s style. Recently I re-watched the series and obviously still love Susan Dey in it, (I’ve also come to love Tracy, who would’ve thought!) I thought I had written that post on this blog but of course couldn’t find it. So here’s a new version of my love for Susan Dey as Laurie Partridge.

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Saturday antiques

Last weekend Dave and I took the train to Mataró, a seaside town outside Barcelona to take a look at an antiques fair that’s hold monthly.

I had been looking forward to it so much because just last week we paid the deposit for a new apartment. We’re moving! We’re only moving like four blocks at most but hey, we’re moving. We had been looking at the local listings of apartments for rent for a while and visited a few, in the end however we ended up going back and taking the first one we saw, jeez. It’s not perfect and lacks some of the things I was hoping for, like a big patio/terrace, but there’s only so much we can do with our budget in the city.

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So we hit the antiques fair hoping to find the much elusive coffee table and some bits for our new home, only to find its new location was quite a long walk away from the train station. After we got there dehidrated due to the walk in the sun we found out that there wasn’t any drinks stall.

The fair was somewhat smaller than the last one, but still we found some interesting bits and after checking out all the stalls I bought a german formica wall clock in a very mid century style. Still no luck with the coffee table, much to my dismay.

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