Sunday, September 30, 2012

Won't Miss #4: parking charges

I know that parking charges are not exactly news, and I've been to some big cities in the USA where they are a normal part of life. However, I lived in a small Pensacola, FL and I rarely ever seen parking charges there. I don't think even downtown there had any charges, because I don't ever remember paying any. 

Here in UK however, parking charges are EVERYWHERE! Forget London, even smaller towns have a fee. The picture above is from one of the parking garages in Cambridge, and I ended up paying £23 to park there for a day. I can tell you I won't ever do that again, but on that day a friend I went with didn't want to take a Park & Ride bus because she had a stroller and I listened. Let's just say I won't ever listen to anyone with a stroller, unless they are willing to pay the parking bill. Two people are more than capable of getting a stroller on the bus, especially when these buses are very low to the ground. Sorry for the off-topic rant. 

Other places don't have such high rates, but it all adds up after a while. For example, to go my usual Bury St. Edmunds, I have to pay £2 for up to 1 hour, £2.80 for up to two hours, £3.30 for three, and £4 for up to 4 hours, and if I want to stay longer, I have to pay again. There is also an additional charge of £1.10 to park there after 6pm, but everything closes at 5:30 anyway so all we ever go there at that time is a movie theater. It used to be free after 6pm just last year, but since I've moved here the charges went up 3 times and the night rate was added. 

In other places, the parking is outrageous during the day, but generally free after 5-6pm. The problem, like I've mentioned before, everything clothes at 5:30pm or around that time, so there is really nothing to do in order to benefit from that free parking. Another thing that drives me crazy is how even if I manage to find free parking at the outskirts of the city, it's timed. I'm referring to a nice retail part outside of Cambridge specifically, which has lots of different shops I would have liked to visit, but I can only park there for 2 hours max. There are cameras which are used to catch those who just re-park after two hours. Really, 2 hours is not enough to go to a big retail park. 

Overall, parking in England is really annoying, and those who know me personally know that I constantly complain about it. I don't have a luxury of a train station right next to me, so I have to drive everywhere and as a result, I have to think about first finding the parking, then how much it will cost me, and then how long I can actually stay there.  A lot of time it takes away the enjoyment of going anywhere, and I will not miss that. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Imitating Art

Few month ago Hong showed me the above picture and said that she really wants to make a kimono like that, if she can find the fabric. Fast forward a little, and she found fabric that looked similar enough. Then she told me that she will give the kimono to me because I will definitely rock it, and my jaw absolutely dropped to the ground. Incidentally, I had a similar juban, same color haneri and obiage. The only thing missing is the obi, because surprise, surprise, I don't have any in yellow and blue combo.

We were looking for a chance to wear this kimono and replicate the photo, but because of her wedding and my school work, we were pretty busy for the past month. The opportunity came about when I found out that Yumi Yamamoto will visit London for a few days. As many of you know, back in 2010 I got to meet Yumi Yamamoto at one of the Japanese festivals in London. Every year around September she comes to Paris, and every year since then I say that I'll go and see her again. And every year something comes up that prevents me from going. Well this year there was a possibility that she would come to London again, not for a festival, but just to visit. It was up in the air, but last week I got an official confirmation that she was coming, so we made plans to meet up. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to wear this kimono that Aoi made, and also for her to wear a kimono that she made, to meet Yumi. After all, both kimono were made using her first book. 

We met up in London and went to get some traditional afternoon tea, but I don't have any photos yet unfortunately. Lets just say it was super yummy, the place was great and I want to come back. Afterwords we went to do some window shopping, and Tomoko wanted to check out a chocolate store. I had no idea which one, but when we walked in, it was FABULOUS. Apparently it has a TV show too, but I've never seen it. The name is Choccywoccydoodah btw. Of course we proceeded to take photos with the fabulous chair and couch that they had there. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Just Arrived #17

This week I got some epic things in! First of all, this juban is actually a bright pink with turquoise, so really striking. I can't wait to wear it! It is also lined, but thankfully we are approaching the cold season, so I shouldn't wait too long to wear it. 
 I also finally got myself a ship obi! This is a vintage chuya (or soft fukuro) with ship design painted on. Usually I don't like handpainted obi because of paint cracking with age, but since the painted surfaces are pretty small, it doesn't look too bad.
 This is probably the most epic purchase in a long long while! Do I even need to say anything?
 Another set of accessories, because there are never too many!
 This datejime is seriously wide. I love it!
 Another obi ita, but this one is getting a spotlight because it's really long. I wonder what's the reason for different lengths?
Have you got anything nice in the mail lately?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Meowmer Thursday

Because "meowmer" is a new scientific word, meaning kitty in general, and my cats specifically.
This is what Echo looks like after the rain. She is not afraid to go out and play in the rain, goofy cat. 
Every time Mittens sees me while outside, she rolls on her back with the cutest little meow, and starts showing off. 
I wake up to this exact face every day! So I can't really stay mad at Echo for waking me up at 5 am right?
I also wake up to this every morning. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Will Miss #4: magazine freebies

I rarely bought fashion magazines while in the US, and I still don't buy them as often as I could here. When I do buy them, it's mostly for pretty photos or fashions, because I don't consider fashion magazines to be a great reading material. Now that I lived in the UK, I find a great incentive to get them though, and that's the free samples or full sized products that are frequently included with a magazine.

The cool thing about these magazine freebies is that they frequently include high end stuff that I would never buy otherwise. In the photo above you can see three Benefit products, which normally would cost an arm and a leg for a full sized product, but only cost me £2 each for this sample. I got a chuckle out of the cashier when I brought three identical magazines to the checkout. I think I actually saw this same set on Sephora for $15, where I only spent  £6(around $10). 

It's not just make up, crafting magazines have craft projects in them, gardening magazines have seeds and planting wheels (calendar type things), home magazines will have plates. Sometimes I see tank tops, sunglasses or nail polish, other times it's a free book. Heck, I rarely buy magazines for the magazine itself, but instead choose them based on the freebie. 

I know when I'm back in the USA, I will really miss these magazine freebies.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Won't Miss #3: cobblestone

I used to think I can walk without tripping in any type of shoes, but not so much after I moved to England. I don't know if my inner clumsiness had finally came out (and as a result I should start cosplaying Usagi instead of Rei for authenticity purposes), or the roads are simply different. I tend to lean toward option B because of COBBLESTONE! It's freaking everywhere here! And I get that England is old, and cities are old, and that's what people used to pave the roads, and then something about cobblestone shifting instead of cracking so it lasts longer. I get it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it!

Cobblestone is pretty hard to walk on, especially when every little stone had shifted and there are big gaps in between. Now, no matter which shoes I wear, I guaranteed to trip at least once. Yes, even when I wear flats. It's extremely annoying, especially when I wear kimono, because I know everyone is staring at me, so the last thing I want to do is trip while whole bunch of people are watching.
Photos taken during our last trip to London.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My outfit for Hong's wedding

I spent this past weekend in London because of a wedding. Hong was getting married, and she had a non-traditional Japanese wedding, so of course I had to wear kimono. She said to go all out, and so I did! I choose to wear my newest furisode, although I had it for close to half a year now. Technically, this is only my second time EVER wearing a furisode, the first time being my birthday in 2008. But since it was a non-traditional wedding, I didn't care that I'm married and shouldn't be wearing furisode anymore.

My husband and I checked into the same hotel as she was staying at on Friday. On the day of the wedding, we actually switched rooms for the morning because our room turned out to have the most space, and Hong needed all the space she could get to get dressed. She hired Kimono de Go to dress her, but used all of her own kimono. I got dressed in the other room and came back to our room at the last minute to watch Mamiko-san from Kimono de Go put finishing touches on Hong.

We encountered a semi-minor set back when we found out that the car that was supposed to take us to the church had left, because the front desk idiot person  told the driver that he saw a bride to get into another white car... Who knew there were more weddings going on and more white cars picking up brides? Regardless, the driver shouldn't have left without his bride and the front desk person shouldn't have said anything other than please call the person who hired the car. Hong said that I looked like I was about to throttle him because he tried to make chit chat (his words) while we were waiting for the taxi we asked him to get. It was all confusing and annoying, but we finally got to the wedding fashionably late.
 My husband wore a formal kimono set that we borrowed from Hong, because we actually don't own a formal set that fits him properly. Incidentally, we matched! And also incidentally, he is in love with that set now, so I'm going to be on the lookout for another one for him :).
I was very excited to be in the wedding party! Afterwords, I helped Hong to take off her kimono of doom uchikake so she could breathe again and not risk falling over.
We took some photos in the church, and while everyone else stayed behind, I went to the reception place with the other bridesmaid and several other people. She set up the cake while I got Robert to take photos of me.
This is not a proper musubi, but something I've made up on the go. Hong actually let me borrow her biyosugata, but I took one look at that thing and decided that it would be better if I could just tie my obi without. Even if it's not a proper musubi, it held up for a whole day and looked pretty good, so I was happy.
Yes, I did wear okobo too! Not for a whole day, but only during reception, because I wasn't going to take any chances and fall on my face while walking in the wedding ceremony. Of course, I still had to make it really hard on myself since I had couple of glasses of Rekorderlig cider and got super tipsy, but I've managed not to make a full of myself. I even managed to walk up and down several flights of stairs in those okobo, so at this point I'm going to start considering myself an okobo pro! :P :P

Overall it was a great wedding and I had a blast. Hong looked absolutely GORGEOUS and I can't wait to see the professional photos!

~ Lyuba