Japlanning! pt3

I’ve been all about my Japlanning recently!  And I thought I would share some of the useful websites that I’ve found.

If you are a veggie/vegan then you probably already know about this website but it’s usefulness can’t be stressed enough (I mean if you don’t eat meat obvs). Founded in 1999, it’s run by a bunch of vegans and vegetarians to help travelers find ‘safe’ food.  There are listings of restaurants, cafes, and shops all over the world (although presumably mostly in major towns and cities).  Happy Cow gives you an overview, the location, and opening hours, and allows users to upload photos and reviews.  Like a vegan Tripadvisor…



Since I brought it up…There is Tripadvisor, the massive review site.  It would be surprising if you hadn’t heard of or used this website already. It’s not new and is becoming increasingly annoying.  The reviews are either entirely fake (people paid to leave reviews using multiple fake accounts) or heavily influenced by the mad expectations of the individual leaving the review.  I remember reading a poor review of an otherwise 5 star hotel because breakfast started at 7am.  However, it would be lying if I said I hadn’t used it extensively when planning this trip.



Do you pin?  I love Pinterest.  It’s not for everyone, I get that.  However, you may think it’s just gym selfies or something but there’s actually a lot going on.  Companies and smaller bloggers are using Pinterest more for promotion, as well as people organically sharing stuff they find.  Anyway, you can type in Tokyo or Paris, or Hull or whatever and be guaranteed to find beautifully presented suggestions of things to do.




HyperDia gives you the route and timetables of public transport in Japan.  Thrilling indeed, but genuinely useful.  It can easily be searched in English, and apparently there’s an App that’s quite useful for when you’re in Japan.



I’ve done a lot of searching on Google maps to find things to do.  If you have a Google account you can log in and save things to your maps, and then see that on your phone (like the young people do).  It also makes it easy to see where you attractions are and plan your days accordingly.  You can then search hotels and restaurants near to your attractions.





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Japlanning pt 2


In my last Japlanning post I went through my initial process for finding things to do when we’re in Japan.  I knew we wanted a good mixture of the following:

Themed restaurants

I then needed to finesse my list.  I had a rough idea of what we could do each day in order to work out how many days we would need in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka respectively.   Then I needed to work out if all the attractions we had highlighted were feasible given their cost and opening hours. So I googled each one and noted down their prices and opening hours, and I also tried to estimate how long we would need in each place to work out how many places we could visit in a day without collapsing out of exhaustion.


Once I had created this spreadsheet I was able to put together a more detailed itinerary.  Other things to consider were the location of our hotels and their check in times.  Also we arrive into and leave Tokyo via the airport, but for Kyoto and Osaka is the train station so I needed to take into account the time we would arrive in each city and where we would be.  The holiday is over four months away so these plans are flexible, this was all just to make sure I got down everything that we wanted to do.


I also have to remain alert to last minute declarations from boyfriend, when he tells me 30mins before we set off to the airport that he wants to try sky diving whilst we’re out there.  Currently, boyfriend’s contribution to the planning are the asteroid post it notes he added to my notebook (which you can see in the first picture).  He has said he wants to eat some good sushi, which is slightly at odds with the veggie restaurants I’ve been researching…

In my next Japlanning post I’ll mention a few website I’ve found useful.


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Japlanning! pt 1

My trip to Japan has been booked for May 2019!  We’ll be there for 18 nights, and are visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. We’ve been talking about going to Japan for a long time so it’s very exciting.


Everyone keeps torturing me by telling me how pretty the cherry blossom will be BUT we are going after cherry blossom season.  It devastates me as I love cherry blossom more than anything else in the world but it would have been difficult to guarantee a decent cherry blossom sighting anyway.  It also would have been busy and, I think, harder to take off work. But May should bring warmer weather and some other pretty flowers.

I did a lot of planning before we even booked the trip.  If we were talking a shorter trip to Europe we could just book it and wait until nearer the time to think about what we wanted to do.  But with longer trips, that are more ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ I think it’s necessary to plan it before you book.  I did the same with the three week trip I took to the US in 2014.  Before we booked the flights we needed to know how long we wanted in Japan in total, and before we booked accommodation we needed to know how long we wanted in each city.  This required me to come up with an itinerary well in advance.  Well I think so anyway…Japlanning

I started with mad googling ‘what to do in Japan’, ‘what to do in Tokyo’, ‘vegetarian Tokyo’, etc to bring up the top or most popular things to do. I also bought a Japan guide which helped to narrow down where in Japan we wanted to go.  Tokyo was a definite but we wanted to get the most of our trip by visiting as many places as we could.  So once I’d hit on Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka I also did some research to make sure it was easy enough to get to each city.  I also made a list of anything in the guide book that sounded interesting and then did some more research online later on.

I marked them on map of the cities we’re visiting (using Google maps).  I also did a lot of searching on Google maps to find things in the vicinity of major attractions.  For example, Tokyo Imperial Palace is a major attraction that pops up on lists of top attractions in Tokyo.  So using Google Maps I looked in the area to see if there were any restaurants or shops nearby we might want to visit whilst we’re in the area.

CaptureMarking things on the Google maps is really helpful as it shows where things are in relation to one another.  This helps plan out your days and showed us how many days worth of activities we had and therefore how many days we needed in each place.

The vegetarian searches are also really important, and I do it before I travel anywhere.  Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are all known for their food but, unfortunately for me, it’s very fishy.  I know I can find things to eat in Japan but I’ll struggle if we just try to wing it and wander into restaurants and eat street food.  I need to look online at their restaurant website, blog posts, and happycow.net.  From this I can find places to eat and then basically plan my day around the vegetarian restaurant I’ve found.  People who think this strategy is nuts are people who haven’t spent many hungry hours wandering around Paris, or Dubrovnik, or Barcelona, or Gdansk looking for food getting increasingly hangry.

Anyway, come back next week and I’ll share more of my Japlanning!



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Packing for Glasgow

It’s coming up to Christmas (I’m scheduling this in advance!) and I’m making my annual trek to Glasgow!

Not much of a trek as my mum is doing the driving but the whole journey is about 5hrs.  So we’re setting off on Thursday afternoon, stopping overnight on the way and then completing the rest of the journey on Friday morning.  We’ll have Friday afternoon and Saturday in Glasgow and then spend Sunday driving back. That means I’ll be away from home for three nights.  And the weather has got a little chilly!

Packing For Glasgow

So here it is.  I’m taking a thick green hoody from Naketano, and a blur stripey jumper also from Naketano.  I love Naketano.  They no longer have a webshop.  This saddens me. I’ve also got an enjoyably flowery shirt from Monki (also like me some Monki).  I have a red long sleeve top, and a pink one. my blue jeans, PJs, tights, socks, and underwear.  I’m also taking my big infinity scarf, gloves, hat (not pictured), my keys, phone, purse.  I’ve also got a couple of Christmas books, one is a non-fiction history of Christmas and one is a Christmas murder mystery.

Non-picture is my Blacks 30l rucksack that I always use now to carry my stuff.  My little day bag (always take a day bag).  And a bags and bags of presents!

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Lake District- Mr H’s, Ambleside

Should you find yourself in Ambleside ambling along (see what I did there?) you could do worse than stopping at Mr H’s for lunch.

I had seen it online and it looked like a sweet cafe with a slightly quirky edge, which appealed.  So I added it onto a list of possibilities.  When we got to Ambleside it was the one boyfriend picked out, and he made a good choice.

Mr H

I ordered a goats cheese baguette that arrived stuffed with goats cheese! It was good!  Boyfriend got the Ploughman’s from the ‘light lunch’ section and was presented with a block of cheddar, an entire pig, as well as a pork pie, bread, and salad. I also got a nice hot chocolate in a mug with the funny little pig logo.

I also picked up a packet of loose leaf tea called ‘Apple Loves Mint’ which may be my favourite tea ever!  I’ve had it a few times in cafes but have never seen it for sale for home use before.  I don’t think it tastes like apple or mint, but it’s fruity and delicious.

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Lake District- Walk from Troutbeck to Ambleside

P1000692.JPGWe went to the Lake District for boyfriend’s birthday, without much of a plan as to what we wanted to do.  Given the beautiful surroundings we quite like the idea of a walk but, as I hadn’t been feeling great, we didn’t want it to be a long walk.  The B and B that we were staying provided us with a selection of local walks (and maps) and we found one to Ambleside that was 3.5 miles each way.Collages

It was pretty grey when we set off but the sun did eventually peek out in the afternoon.  The scenery around us did not disappoint even in the bleak weather, although I couldn’t help thinking it must look lovely in the summer.  The route was a fairly simple one that was well sign posted.  We pretty much get lost on every walk we go on so this was quite handy!  The walk was fairly easy going but it’s hill country and there were some ups, as well as downs.  I had tired legs the next day!Trip To Lakes Nov 2018

We entered Ambleside near a big garden centre, and I felt the need to wander in and have a look at there Christmas display.  Boyfriend bought some new walking trousers so it was non-stop excitement.  We then walked into Ambleside centre which is a cute, quaint little village full of really annoying people standing in your way on the pavement as they look in the window of shops!  We stopped off for lunch before heading back and were home before 3pm!Collages1

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Packing for a Weekend in the Lake District


For boyfriend’s birthday we going away for a weekend to the Lake District.  So here is my packing!  The weather has turned pretty cold so I’ll need warm clothes, and we might do some little walks so comfortable clothes and shoes.  Above are my clothes and bags.  I’m using my trusty Blacks rucksack to carry everything, but also taking my little pink back pack for my day bag.

I’ve also got my grey jeans and leopard print jumper (which boyfriend hates!), and two long sleeved tops.  Not pictured is some other new trousers I’ve got which are like sweat pants you can wear outside (I wear sweat pants outside anyway…) and my new snuggly green hoody which was in the wash.  There’s also my coat, hat, and gloves in the shot, my socks and underwear, and a t-shirt and shorts I can sleep in.


In regards to non-clothes stuff,  I am taking about 3 books very optimistically.  I always think I’ll read a lot on holiday but then don’t.  I’ve also got two of my analogue cameras, the La Sardina and Diana Mini.  I’ve got my toiletries, brush, and mini hair straighteners.  There’s also a tree guide from our new Woodland Trust membership, so we can look at trees…

I also need my phone and charger, my pillow, some trainers, and possibly (now I think about it) a nicer outfit in case we go out for dinner.

What do you think?  Any packing suggestions?

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Blakes- Newcastle


It was getting later in the day and we were both tired from walking.  With around an hour before our train we looked for somewhere to stop for some tea and cake.  Blakes popped up on google maps as being ‘cosy’.  Which is how they describe themselves on their website, ‘everyone is made to feel welcome in this cosy hipster coffee shop.’

It was actually a little larger than I anticipated a ‘cosy’ cafe would be, and pretty empty (it was about 4:30pm on Friday).  I also didn’t feel overwhelmed by hipster-ism.  They don’t even seem to have avocado on their menu (maybe that’s too mainstream now?), but they do have soup and ‘artisan’ bread.


Anyway, we weren’t really eating properly and I just got a mint tea and chocolate muffin.  The muffin was good (it had some kind of chocolate goo inside it), and the tea hit the spot.  Although they boast a large selection of locally sourced loose leaf tea on the menu it merely says ‘herbal tea’. So you have to ask what they have in stock. As well as being a bit annoying, it means your choice of drink is partial determined by whether the member of staff can remember all the flavours of tea they stock.

It’s part of a larger pet peeve of mine; when places don’t have soft drinks on their menu. Lucky for Blakes they do put their other soft drinks on the menu, and I wasn’t the one ordering so they didn’t have to feel my wrath.*

Apart from that we found Blakes to be very pleasant!  I was recommend if you’re passing along Grey Street.  Although it did seem that there were quite a few interesting looking places along that road.  Newcastle is spoilt for choice.


*My wrath sounds a lot like someone politely asking ‘what types of tea do you have?’

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Redhouse- Newcastle

On our recent trip to Newcastle we stopped at The Redhouse for one of their special pies.
Firstle, the exterior of the building is very cute. The Redhouse is indeed red (or pink at the least) and quite an old building. Inside the original features have remained so it is like a warren, be fore warned this means it’s quite dark due to low ceilings, small nooks, and low lighting levels.redhouse.jpg

Paper menus are on each table, and I ordered at the bar. The ordering process is reasonably simple; chose your pie filling, chose the type of mash potato, chose how you want your peas, and chose your gravy (they confusingly call it liquor). I was pleased that they have a couple of nice sounding vegetarian options (neither were vegan).

I got the sweet potato, spinach, goats cheese and onion pie which was nice although the pastry was a little tough. When the pie split open it did seem that the filling was essentially a slice of goats cheese, but it taste nice. The dijion mustard and honey mash was pretty perfect, the peas pudding was good (never had it before so can’t really compare it but it tasted like peas!), and the parsley ‘liquor’ was nice.  My mum got the chicken and chorizo pie and loved it, she very much enjoyed her meal.

I was impressed by the restaurant options I found online when researching Newcastle.  In the end I’m glad we went for pies.  It was a lovely old building, and the food was tasty.  On a cold November day it was just the ticket.
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Baltic Art Gallery- Newcastle

Long time- no write.

Sorry,  I haven’t been 100% recently, so I haven’t done much blogging here.  And my other blog and Youtube channel have been monopolosing my time (and also my actual full-time job).  Anyway, I’ve not done any real traveling but I did go on a day trip to Newcastle.


The Baltic Art Gallery in Newcastle is housed in a former flour mill and is now the largest dedicated contemporary art space in the UK.  It opened in 2002, and has since had 6 million visitors and 190 exhibitions.  This is on their website by the way, I’m not stalking them…

Viewing platforms on floors 4 and 5 give a great view of the Tyne and Millennium Bridge.  Technically, I think the gallery is in Gateshead as it’s on that side of the river but you can look out over Gateshead and Newcastle.

Oh and it’s free!


When we were there there were three exhibitions.  Our favourite was a retrospective of Rasheed Araeen.  Araeen was not an artist I was familiar with but the exhibition showed six decades of his work.  Most notable were the deceptively simple geometric structures in bright, bold colours of the 1960’s, and his much more political work of the 1970’s and 80’s.


The Baltic’s ‘mission’ is to ‘create greater understanding of the world through outstanding, experimental and inspiring contemporary art which has power, relevance and meaning for individuals and communities.’

I can see the experimental side coming out in the Heather Phillipson exhibition, The Age of Love.  Again, according to the Baltic’s website Phillipson, ‘presents a series of videos, sounds and objects that operate as landmarks in a remixed geology.’  I literally have no clue what that means and I walked through the exhibition.

‘Somewhere between agricultural vista and lunar wasteland, BALTIC’s galleries become a spatio-temporal ‘field’, punctuated by functioning farm equipment, holding pens and the noise of circling gulls.’

Yeah, sure.


My own interpretation is that it was like being inside a migraine.  Quite like a club but with no people (on the day we were there).  It’s pretty low light, but with flashing psychedelic imagery on numerous TV screens.  There was a giant screen of a cat with spinning eyes, and a large sculpture of a foot.  Also there was a noise.

The poor staff that have to work that exhibition…

The last exhibition was BALTIC Then and Now, a history of the Baltic gallery itself.  I wonder if 16 years is really long enough an existence to warrant a historical exhibition.  Perhaps a little self-indulgent, and the space could have been given to an actual artist?  Well, in a way the space has been given to a few artists as the exhibition is mainly a collection of short films showing the different exhibitions the gallery has showed over the years.  This includes some artist interviews as well as behind-the-scenes shots of the exhibitions being erected. There’s a timetable of the films which is worth taking a gander at when you arrive so you don’t miss your artist of choice.

This the second time I’ve been to the Baltic and I do think it’s worth a visit.  Despite being the largest dedicated contemporary art thingy in the UK, it doesn’t feel that big.  The key word is ‘dedicated’, so art galleries show casing contemporary and traditional are disregarded.  Also there are two restaurants, a nice shop, and two viewing spaces which all takes up a bunch of space.

The result is a visit-able gallery that won’t totally exhaust you.  And it’s free!


Heather Phillipson
The Age of Love
19 October 2018 – 24 March 2019

BALTIC Then & Now
3 November 2018 – 4 January 2019

Rasheed Araeen
A Retrospective
19 October 2018 – 27 January 2019

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