Friday, 30 May 2014

London Fashion Exhibitions

Super excited! We have just booked a trip to London in August. Most 19 year old girls look forward to the shopping when they go to London, but what I love is all the great exhibitions (I won't say no to a bit of shopping as well though!) In recent years exhibitions I have gone to see are Valentino, Grace Kelly, Hollwood costumes, Ballgowns and many others.

In preparation for my upcoming trip to London I have been researching current fashion exhibitions in London. I thought I would share these with you all in case you are planning a trip to London or live there and are looking for something to do at the weekend.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk
A collection of more than 165 couture and ready to wear garments designed by the French couturier. Highlights are famous pieces worn by Madonna and Kylie Minogue.
Location: Barbican
Dates: 9 April 2014 - 25 August 2014
Times: 10am- 8:30pm
Prices: Adult-£14.50 Student-£9 

Wedding Dresses 1775-2014
Wedding dresses old and new, including the purple wedding dress worn by Dita von Teese.
Location: The V&A
Dates: 3 May 2014- 15 March 2015
Times: 10am- 5pm
Prices: Adult-£12 Student-£8

The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014
Yet another must see fashion exhibition at the V&A this summer. Am so dissapointed that it will have finished by the time I go in August. There are pieces by Armani, Missoni, Valentino, Gucci, Prada, Versace.. (basicically every well known Italian fashion designer.)
Location: The V&A
Dates: 5 April 2014- 27 July 2014
Times: 10am- 5pm
Prices: Adults-£12 Students-£8

Return of the Rudeboy
An exhibition of the Rudeboy style which originated on the streets of Kingston in Jamaica during the 1950's.
Location: Somerset House

Dates: 13 June 2014- 25 August 2014
Times: 10am- 6pm
Prices: Free!

Made in Mexico: The Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion
The Rebozo is a Mexican shawl which was made famous by the artist Frida Kahlo. This is the first ever exhibition on the Rebozo.
Location: Fashion and Textile Museum
Dates: 6 June 2014- 31 August 2014 
Times: 11am- 6pm
Prices: Adult-£8.80 Student-£5.50

So there you have it, 5 must see fashion exhibitions on in London now or coming very soon. Are you going to any of these exhibitions? Have you already been to one which you would recommend?

Friday, 23 May 2014

Brymor Ice Cream Parlour

I had a lovely day last Sunday, the sun was out and we met up with friends for a picnic at Jervaulx Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales and then stopped off at Brymor Ice Cream Parlour. Brymor is one of those places that is popular both with locals and tourists and because of the cows and other animals it is a perfect place to bring the kids.

Despite the fact that they have over 35 flavours, I used to always get Vanilla (although when I reached 10 years old I did get a bit more adventurous and tried Honeycomb!) This time I had much more difficulty deciding what to get, I eventually made up my mind and chose Strawberry Crumble, I can confirm it's just as delicious as it sounds!

A recent addition to the flavours is Tour de France. For those of you who either don`t live in England or have been walking around with a box over your head, the Tour de France is starting off in Yorkshire this year and the route goes right past Brymor on the 5th of July. They have parking and a campsite especially for the Tour so this would be a perfect place to watch the bikes whiz by with plenty of ice cream to keep to going!

Location: High Jervaulx Farm near Jervaulx Abbey between Masham and Leyburn.
Times: Open every day 10am - 6pm

I highly recommend a visit to Brymor if you're in the Yorkshire Dales, which flavour would you pick?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Travel Tuesday: 20 Festivals in 10 Months

Now that I'm back in England I keep getting asked the question, what was the best thing you did in Japan? Which of course is an impossibly hard question to answer, however I must say one of my favourite things was all of the festivals.

In Japanese, festivals are called matsuri, there are matsuri ranging from Children's Day, to welcoming back your ancestors' spirits. Below are the first 10 festivals I saw while living in Japan for 10 months, some are the most famous in Japan, others are very small local matsuri.

1: ???
What? A small dancing festival as part of the lead up to Gion Matsuri. I can't find any information on the internet about it and can't remember it's name.
Where? In front of Kyoto City Hall.
When? July 9th.

2: Yoiyoi-yama

What? Another festival in the lead up to Gion Matsuri. The three nights before Gion Matsuri the streets are filled with lanterns, food stalls, floats and of course crowds of people. Out of all the festivals this one had the most interesting atmosphere as everyone was gearing up to celebrate the big day.
Where? Various streets around Kyoto.
When? On July 14th, three nights before Gion Matsuri is Yoiyoiyoi-yama. On July 15th is Yoiyoi-yama and on July 16th is Yoi-yama.

3: Gion Matsuri
What? Gion Matsuri is one of the largest and most famous festivals in Japan. It is technically a month long festival, however the main event (Yamaboko-junko) is a parade of 32 floats. However starting from this year Gion Matsuri is going to have a major change and there will be two smaller parades on different days. I am so glad I was in Kyoto last year as it was the last chance to see all 32 floats together.
Where? Various streets around Kyoto.
When? July 14th

4: Mitarashi Matsuri
What? River water is diverted into the grounds of the shrine where it creates a shallow river and pool. It is believed that by walking through this water you will be blessed with good health. It is very popular with school children as a fun summer activity and leading up to the shrine there were many food stalls.
Where? Shimogamo-jinja Shrine to the north of Kyoto.
When? July 20th

5: Hanagasa Junko
What? The second largest public event of Gion Matsuri after the Yamaboko-junko. It is a parade of children, dancers, floats and even Maiko (apprentice Geisha.)
Where? The parade starts at Yasaka-jinja Shrine and then goes around the nearby streets.
When? July 24th.

6: Bon Odori

What? In mid-August it is Obon, a time of year when it is believed that ancestors' sprits return to visit. As part of Obon, every communtiy has a Bon Odori (Bon Dance.) This dance is to welcome the spirits home.
Where? There are Bon Odori all over Japan. The one I went to last year was in Nishijin, the older, less famous Geisha area in Kyoto.
When? August 4th

What? Tanabata is the star festival. It is believed that two lovers in the stars are separated by the milky way and can only meet on this night, if the sky is clear. A popular activity on Tanabata is writing your wish on piece of paper and tying it to a bamboo tree.
Where? There are Tanabata celebrations all over Japan, however my photo is from Horikawa River in Kyoto.
When? August 7th.

8: Seiryu-e
What? Possibly the most recent addition to Kyoto's festival calender is Seiryu-e which was started in 2000. The style is very Chinese influenced, there is a dragon and musicians which go on a parade around the temple grounds and nearby streets of Gion.
Where? The parade starts at Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
When? September 15th.

9: ???

What? Erm, I have no idea! I was traveling near Kobe and just happened upon this festival which I like to call the Pink Festival!
Where? Somewhere near Kobe..
When? Mid-October sometime...

10: Jidai Matsuri
What? Along with Gion Matsuri and Aoi Matsuri (which unfortunatley I missed) Jidai Matsuri is one of Kyoto's three big festivals. It is a parade of people dressed up in costumes from various era's and many poeple are dressed up as specific historical figures.
Where? The parade starts from Gosho (the Imperial Palace in Kyoto.)
When? October 22nd.

These are the first 10 festivals I saw while in Japan, next week I will post about the next 10 which I saw! Please note that the dates are the dates I went to the festivals in 2013, in some cases the dates might change each year.

Linking up with Bonnie Rose for Travel Tuesday.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Life Lately

So, what has been going on in my life lately? Well I have a perfectly reasonable explanation for my recent lack of blogging; moving back to the opposite side of the world. And if that isn't a reasonable explanation then I don't know what is.

This Wednesday I left Japan and arrived back in England. What with time difference and all that it was a very long day I can assure you. None of which was spent sleeping. About 10 hours of which were spent having a movie marathon on the plane. Surely the best thing, and only good thing, about long haul flights is the movies. I watched 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire', 'What Happens in Vegas' and 'The Book Thief'. But the best by far was 'Like Father Like Son,' a Japanese film, which has been nominated for many awards including the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

My last couple of days in Japan were spent celebrating my birthday (yep my birthday was two days before my flight) frantic packing (I left it all until the day before my flight because obviously who wants to pack on their birthday) and somehow I also managed to fit in time for sunbathing at my favourite spot by the river.

Once I arrived in England I was tired to say the least. Not really jet lag but just general exhaustion. The past few days have been spent catching up with friends and indulging in afternoon naps.

No doubt it will take a while for me to get back into the whole blogging routine but I still have plenty of photos to share and stories to tell so please keep visiting my little corner of the internet.

Oh and by the way, the photo at the top has nothing to do with recent events, I just thought it looked very 'English!'

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Ryoanji Temple

Hundreds of people from all over Japan visit Ryoanji Temple every day to see the famous rock garden. The place was converted from an aristocrat's villa to a Zen Temple in 1450 but as for the rock garden not much else is known. Nobody is certain when it was made, who designed it and what the meaning of the rock formation is.

Some think the rocks are islands in the sea whereas others think they represent tigers carrying cubs across a pond. If you visit there yourself you may find that you come up with an entirely different theory. Whatever the meaning, it is lovely to just sit, relax and view the garden.

Location: 7 minute walk from Ritsumeikandaigaku-mae bus stop (from JR Kyoto Station/Hankyu Oomiya Station) 1 minute walk from Ryoan-ji-mae bus stop (from Hankyu Sanjo Station.) Or 7 minute walk from Ryoanji-michi Station on the Keifuku Kitano Train Line.
Price: Adults ¥500 Children ¥300
Times: Open everyday. March to November 8am to 5pm. December to February 8:30am to 4:30pm.

The photo above was taken in one of the smaller gardens where there is a round stone trough with four kanji on it. When these kanji are combined with the square in the middle it cleverly makes up a Zen inscription. In the gift shop they sold a special type of traditional sweet in the shape of this stone. The sweet was made from sweetened red beans and inside was a chestnut, it was delicious!

Linking up with Nicole

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Kamakura Daibutsu

Personally my favourite place in Kamakura was Hasedera Temple, but you can't go to Kamakura without paying a visit to the 13.35 meter high Daibutsu. It is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan, the tallest being the one at Todaiji Temple in Nara. 

This great statue was originally inside a temple, however due to typhoons and tidal waves it was destroyed many times so since 1495 it has been left standing outside. I quite like the fact that it is out in the open surrounded by trees and sky, not walls.

Out of the two Daibutsu I would say that although the one in Kamakura is more scenic and photogenic, I prefer the one in Nara. This is not because it is bigger but it just feels more mysterious because you can't see the statue until it is towering right in front of you as you enter the temple.

One thing though which I did prefer about the Kamakura Daibutsu was that you can go inside it for an extra ¥20. It was really interesting to see where the neck had been reinforced to stop the head from falling.

Location: Take the Enoden train line from Kamakura Station and get off at Hase Station from where it is a 10 minute walk.
Price: ¥200.
Times: Open every day. March to September 8am to 5:30pm. October to March 8am to 5pm. Statue interior closes at 4:30pm.